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Plato and Aristotle, by Eric Voegelin

A Micro-Review/Essay

“Thanatos orients the soul toward the Good by relieving it from the sickness of appearance; Eros is the positive desire for the Good.”

Plato the mystic. Aristotle the scientist. Right? No. They were both mystics. Sure, Plato was more mystical than Aristotle, but Aristotle’s science (and political theory) merely pursued the mystical he absorbed from Plato. These were ordered men. They were highly ordered men, grappling with truths their ordered souls glimpsed but couldn’t grasp. They hovered on the shoulders of Homer, Hesiod, Heraclitus, and earlier Hellenes. They saw far. All philosophy over the past 2,300 years has been nothing but commentary on Plato. I used to object to that statement because I thought it left out revelation and the Christian philosophy that incorporated it, but then I grew to accept it because I realized that Augustine and other Catholic thinkers reconciled the pagan Plato with Christian revelation. After reading Voegelin, I realized that Augustine didn’t have to do very much reconciliation. Plato was no pagan. Plato was a Christian before there was a Christ.