Saturday, November 22, 2008

"They are what they fancy they are not."

Plato on the Punishment of the Unjust

Via Scott Horton's blog, No Comment, on

Evil… can never be done away with, for the good must always have its foil; neither have they a place in the divine world, for they must needs be haunt this region of our mortal nature. That is why we should make all haste to take flight from this world to the other, and that means becoming like the divine so far as we can, and that again is to become righteous or just with the help of wisdom. But it is no easy matter to convince men that the reasons for avoiding wickedness and seeking after goodness are not those which the world generally gives. The right motivation is not that one should seem innocent and good—for that is no improvement, to my thinking, over an old wives’ tale—but let us state the truth this way. In the divine there is no sign of unrighteousness, only the perfection of righteousness, and nothing is more like the divine than any one of us who becomes as righteous as possible. It is here that a man shows his true nature and power—or he shows his lack of spirit and nothingness. For to realize this is the most profound form of wisdom and the most genuine type of excellence; and failing to recognize it, a man is condemned to be blind and base. All other forms of seeming power and intelligence in those who sit in authority over men are as crude and vulgar as the work of a common tradesman. If a man knows justice in his words and deeds, he had best not persuade himself that he is a great man because he sticks at nothing, glorifying in his shame as men do when they worry about what others think of them. They are not fools, nor useless burdens to the earth, but men who have the craft to weather the storms of public life. Let the truth be told, then. They are what they fancy they are not, all the more for deceiving themselves, for they are ignorant of the very thing it most concerns them to know: the penalty of injustice. This is not, as they imagine, stripes and death, which do not always fall on the wrongdoer, but a penalty they can never escape.

Plato (Πλάτων), Theaetetus (Θεαίτητος) 146a—e (ca. 395 BCE)(transl. after F.M. Cornford).

I take exception only to one clause: "That is why we should make all haste to take flight from this world to the other;" this world IS the Other. Heaven and Hell are right here and now. We arise at the intersection of countless dimensions, all mutually orthogonal to each other.

Here in the center is all there Is.

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