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Ancient Greek philosopher Plato’s Theory of Forms suggests that beyond physical reality, there resides a non-physical World of Ideas. Within this world there are pure forms, or essences, that are perfect in nature. There are many types of form, from objects (such as trees, or chairs), to concepts and abstract ideas (the colour red, shapes, numbers), and virtues (justice, goodness, wisdom, beauty, love).
Because the World of Ideas exists outside of time and space, it is, by definition, timeless and eternal. Plato considered that the role of a Philosopher King or Queen was to integrate these perfect ideas into the physical world. For example, the pure essence of wisdom resides in the World of Ideas, and a wise person is able to integrate this perfect form, increasingly so, by conscious direction.
In his dialogue, Memo, Plato explains how we inherently respond to the discovery of knowledge of this dimension, in a process of recollection. This feels like remembering, because the deepest essence of our being — the soul — resided in the World of Ideas before being manifest into the physical reality.
For Plato, the World of Ideas is the true reality. The physical reality we perceive is just a shadow of this reality. Plato uses the Allegory of the Cave, in which prisons, chained and stationary, mistake shadow’s projected on the cave’s as reality, when it is only a tiny fragment of reality.
Bethany Butzer returns to the podcast to explore this theory, its relevance to modern thinking, and its practical benefits. Our discussion looks at Carl Jung’s theory of Archetypes, psychic patterns inspired by Plato’s work, synchronicity, pure awareness, the relationship between mind and matter, and the quantum potentials of implicate order and fundamental reality.
Are humans the bridge between the imaginal, and the manifest? What is our special relationship to integrating these essential forms? What is the role of metaphor and myth in the unfolding of reality and the subjective experience? And is sacred geometry and patterns that repeat to scale, from the atomic to the cosmic, evidence of an underlying, fundamental reality, in the way Plato suggested?
Title music: Monday Morning Wake Up Call by David Birch