Was Plato a precursor of Freud?

Despite the twenty-four centuries separating the two men, both Plato and Freud shared the same pessimism regarding human nature: man is driven by his desires or what Freud called ‘drives’ or instincts. The latter was a scientist who firmly believed in the power of rational enquiry. As a father who lost one of his sons in the First World War and who had to leave Austria for England in his old age in order to avoid the systematic anti-Semitic repression ...

Nietzsche, the Inverted Platonist

For Nietzsche (1844-1900), philosophers are prophets or seers who only appear after the twilight of the gods at a time when humanity is in desperate need of new myths. These fortuitous individuals are not the bearers of truth but of their truth. They do not impose their vision of the world to compliant and gullible disciples. They do not reveal a new ‘clearing of Being’ where man would become reunited with his metaphysical half. The task of the new philosopher ...

Plato’s pessimism in The Republic

Despite its enduring appeal and timeless celebration of the sovereign power and beauty of Philosophy, The Republic reflects its author’s pessimistic views on human nature and the world of politics. The description of the prisoners in the cave sadly demonstrates how easily the masses can be manipulated and turned into consenting slaves as they are reduced to the condition of children, foolishly entertained by a mere clay puppet spectacle. Also, the human potential to become philosophically enlightened is only realised ...

Ethics and Eternity

Eternity is, at first glance, a more spiritual than a philosophical notion. Yet, philosophers have often presented their system of thought from the perspective of eternity itself. Plato is the first among them to posit the perennial existence of pure Forms or perfect Ideas which the philosopher’s mind is meant to strive for. In the absence of an eternal Being, the world of Forms constitutes a permanent moral backdrop and a constant source of intellectual inspiration. According to Socrates’ disciple, ...