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Science Historian Deciphers Plato's Code 402

Posted by kdawson
from the rewriting-the-foundations-of-western-civ dept.
Reader eldavojohn tips the news of a researcher in the UK, Jay Kennedy, who has uncovered a hidden code in the writings of Plato. From the University of Manchester press release: "[Dr. Kennedy said] 'I have shown rigorously that the books do contain codes and symbols and that unraveling them reveals the hidden philosophy of Plato. This is a true discovery, not simply reinterpretation.' ... The hidden codes show that Plato anticipated the Scientific Revolution 2,000 years before Isaac Newton, discovering its most important idea — the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics. ... Plato did not design his secret patterns purely for pleasure — it was for his own safety. Plato's ideas were a dangerous threat to Greek religion. He said that mathematical laws and not the gods controlled the universe. Plato's own teacher [Socrates] had been executed for heresy. Secrecy was normal in ancient times, especially for esoteric and religious knowledge, but for Plato it was a matter of life and death." Here is the paper (PDF), which was published in the journal Apeiron: A Journal of Ancient Philosophy and Science.
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Science Historian Deciphers Plato's Code

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  • by jjohnson (62583) on Monday June 28, 2010 @07:13PM (#32724202) Homepage

    Aristotle was a student of Plato, and lived a long life that didn't end in execution. Socrates was the teacher of Plato who drank Hemlock after being sentenced to death the by the Athenians.

    • by Sique (173459)

      At least Aristotle was banned from Athens and died shortly after the ban in exile in Chalkis (Euboia).

    • I came here to make the same correction. What lowbrow editor posted this summary with such an ass-backwards statement in it?

      *checks*

      ....
      ...

      kdawson....\sigh
    • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Monday June 28, 2010 @07:27PM (#32724362) Homepage Journal

      Furthermore, as if it weren't wrong enough already, Socrates was not executed for heresy but for corruption of youth.

      • by maxwell demon (590494) on Monday June 28, 2010 @07:32PM (#32724410) Journal

        "Think of the children" obviously already worked back then.

        • by cheesybagel (670288) on Monday June 28, 2010 @07:54PM (#32724604)
          You are probably joking, but some of his pupils were some particularly nasty, infamous bloodthirsty tyrants [wikipedia.org]. When Athenian democracy was restored people associated with the tyrants were purged, as per custom.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Vintermann (400722)

            It wasn't quite that reasonable, since there had been granted an amnesty for the crimes Socrates were really accused of. Therefore the charge was the more nebulous "corrupting the youth" rather than "getting cozy with Critias" - which he probably was guilty of.

            In his defense, he boasted that he had ignored orders to round up the tyrant's political enemies - which may be noble in itself, possibly, unless it was just to avoid getting his hands dirty - but the fact that Critias and the tyrants were comfortable

        • by glwtta (532858)
          "Think of the children" obviously already worked back then.

          This is Athenians we're talking about, they "thought of the children" quite often. Lithe, athletic children.
      • What he was actually accused of most frequently gets translated into English as 'impiety.' There were multiple counts of impiety according to Plato's retelling. Some of these were inclusive of corruption of the youth but others involved introducing "strange new doctrines."
      • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday June 28, 2010 @07:47PM (#32724540) Homepage

        I'm not sure that's a fair distinction. He was executed for teaching the youth things that were disruptive to conventional beliefs. That's heresy.

        • by SlappyBastard (961143) on Monday June 28, 2010 @10:35PM (#32725798) Homepage

          Didn't you ever watch Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure? Everyone knows the Greeks were jacked when they saw Socrates go into a phone booth, disappear and then reappear. Worse, when he came back, he kept trying to tell the Greeks to "be excellent to each other". Unconventional beliefs, indeed.

          The final straw came when the Greeks repeatedly insisted there is only one time traveling phone booth, and it belongs to The Doctor. Socrates said, "Nu-huh!" Heresy, indeed.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        What's even worse, the circumstances of his death weren't just for corruption of youth, but also for his lack of remorse for his "crimes". In Athenian law, the condemned is permitted to suggest an alternative sentence - exile, imprisonment, a fine - Socrates suggested he pay about the equivalent of $5. The tribunal then voted on whether or not to sentence the condemned to death or this other sentence. He was sentenced to death by a larger margin than he was convicted :).

      • by Jhon (241832) on Monday June 28, 2010 @08:04PM (#32724698) Homepage Journal

        Socrates was "executed" for several crimes -- including heresy.

        An argument can be made that Socrates caused himself to be sentenced to death by pissing off his jury -- essentially insulting them by saying his punishment should be to have himself, wife and kids should be taken care of for the rest of their lives. After pissing them off, his friends basically said "NONONO! He'll pay a fine! We'll cover it!" The prosecution offered death. The "jury" picked death.

        Further, can it REALLY be called an "execution"? The Athenians' bent over backwards to let him escape. He refused. When the day came, he happily drank the poison -- even offering a bit to gods before drinking. I'd say it was more of voluntary martyrdom...

      • by cas2000 (148703)

        WTF do you think they meant by "corruption of youth"? his teaching of "heresy" was the so-called corruption.

    • by MrHanky (141717)

      And besides, the idea that "the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics" was hardly original to Plato, nor to modern science, it was a pretty widespread belief among the pythagoreans. I would have read the article if it wasn't for the idiotic sensationalism.

    • by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Monday June 28, 2010 @07:54PM (#32724598)

      Socrates was the teacher of Plato who drank Hemlock after being sentenced to death the by the Athenians.

      "I drank what?"

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Alanonfire (1415379)
      If you wanna get even more nit-picky, Socrates was not Plato's teacher. Socrates was not a teacher, as he claimed. Plato was a follower of Socrates. Basically an intellectual stalker. There was no formal student-teacher relationship between them.
    • by pacergh (882705)

      In addition, it is not entirely clear that Socrates was executed for hearsay. If anything, he was executed for challenging the social order. Part of that order were religious powers in Athens, but it was as much the political power he challenged as anything.

      I hope these oversimplifications were made by the submitter and not the author of this paper. Otherwise, I'd take a healthy dose of salt with anything the guy said. Not knowing your basic Plato is not good for someone trying to unravel the greater my

  • by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Monday June 28, 2010 @07:13PM (#32724216) Journal

    Plato was always talking about mathematics being the language of God, mathematics explaining the heavens, mathematics being central to philosophy, etc. What he got wrong was assuming that something seductively appealing and simple from a mathematical PoV should be assumed to explain the world, rather than actually incorporating empirical evidence to test his models. Whence the Platonic model of the planets, etc.

    • And that whole "let no one ignorant of geometry enter here" thing...
  • by MessedRocker (1273148) on Monday June 28, 2010 @07:14PM (#32724224)

    Dan Brown just came.

  • Hmmm (Score:2, Funny)

    by Vinegar Joe (998110)

    It's all Greek to me.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      tg;dr?

  • Riiiiight (Score:5, Informative)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday June 28, 2010 @07:20PM (#32724290)
    Right, and Dan Brown is always right in his books.

    According to Wikipedia

    The oldest surviving manuscript for about half of Plato's dialogues is the Clarke Plato (MS. E. D. Clarke 39), which was written in Constantinople in 895 and acquired by the Oxford University in 1809

    So lets see here, our oldest manuscript is over a thousand years old and we still think that we can accurately "decode" his code? Because everything was faithfully reproduced? Lets see here, some books of the Old Testament of the Bible were written in later than 500 BC and the dead sea scrolls date from around 150 BC - 70 AD depending on who you ask, making the Dead Sea Scrolls a more faithful reproduction more likely than our copies of Plato's writings.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)
      By over a thousand years old, I was referring to a thousand years after Plato had died, not just the age of the manuscript.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by MightyMartian (840721)

        I agree. This is clearly a load of bullshit, but of course the idiotic will lap it up as they put it on the shelf next to other wonders of modern "scholarship" like the works of Erich von Daniken and David Icke.

        • Re:Riiiiight (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Grishnakh (216268) on Monday June 28, 2010 @08:28PM (#32724920)

          What, you don't think George W. Bush is a reptilian?

          As for Erich von Daniken, his theories are far more sound than the things that the majority of humanity believes. After all, he believes that alien astronauts came in ancient times and influenced human development, and that this explains religious writings, such as the Wheel of Ezekiel.

          Compare this to a majority of Earth's population, who believe that various religious writings are actually real, and the work of an omnipotent, omniscient "god" (or gods), and that these gods have actually visited humans and still talk to them.

          Which one is the "kook"? It seems pretty obvious to me that Erich's ideas, while fairly silly-sounding, are less fantastical than the things that most living humans believe.

          If you don't buy Erich's ideas, what's your explanation for the Wheel of Ezekiel? The way I see it, there's three or four possibilities:
          1) (which just about all Christians believe, comprising at least 1 billion people) that Ezekiel really was visited by God.
          2) that Ezekiel was visited by an alien spacecraft.
          3) that Ezekiel was piss-drunk, or on some drug and hallucinating
          4) that Ezekiel was a shyster of some kind and was lying

          Obviously, #3 and #4 are the most plausible, and would fit Occam's Razor the best. However, if you have to choose between #1 and #2, which one is more plausible? #2, easily. Spacecraft are unlikely, but not impossible, and much more likely and allowable by the laws of physics than #1. However, at least a billion people (including most of the USA) believe #1. So if you think von Daniken is a nutcase, what does that say about most Americans, just about all Latin Americans, many Europeans, most Jews, etc.?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by vonWoland (615992)
      Luckily, we have numerous texts and hundreds of years of scholarship. There is good consensus on what is and what is not authentic. This is not some sort of code like in an Enigma machine; you don't need a decoder ring. RTFA.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by magsol (1406749)
      It reminds me of the whole "Bible Code" fiasco. I'm of the opinion that if you want really to see a message in your soup, you will. But to everyone else, it's just another bowl of spaghetti-O's.
      • by FooAtWFU (699187)

        The difference is that the Bible Code was all about "by twiddling this code we arrive at predictions about the future!!!" where as this was more "Plato's works are structured in twelfths; it sounds like he was one of those Pythagorean-Secret-Society types who conflated religion and math."

        No doubt this will be fodder for more "ooh secret-society" drama and such anyway.

    • by FooAtWFU (699187)
      If you read the PDFs, there's a lot of line-counting involved; apparently, all the works examined have similar concepts or tones at various portions of the way through. They then relate the tones of various passages to the Greek musical scale as understood at the time (harmonics, dissonance). Apparently they believe that the variance due to such things is within half a percent or so, and that they tend to balance each other out in each direction. The implication is that Plato was reasonably concerned with s
    • Re:Riiiiight (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 28, 2010 @09:04PM (#32725198)

      You know how I know you didn't read the paper?

      First off, because the author (Kennedy) doesn't ever talk about decoding anything.

      The author uses previous research into Platonic line length to arrive at 35 characters per line on average, and then he uses this line length as a metric into which to divide up the dialogues. So far he's very safe.

      He finds that numbers of lines in dialogues suddenly become very, very round and that the works can be broken apart easily, usually into twelfths. That's his first conclusion. The only major problem here is that he doesn't show his data but keeps pointing to "works in progress," which undermines his credibility somewhat, but not fatally. If what he publishes later bears all this out, he's golden.

      Later on, he uses spurious works attributed falsely to Plato as a control group to see whether or not the roundness of lines and the twelve-fold structure is valid, and he finds that the control group, in which he didn't expect to find the same characteristics as the experimental, indeed does not conform to the same principles. So far, so good.

      Kennedy looks at the twelve part structure and determines that ideas or shifts of tone seem to follow a progression strongly correlated to what we understand of ancient musical theory, which makes a lot of sense given that Plato knew some of this (Plato mentions Damon of Athens, a math/music theorist, repeatedly). Basically, he's connected a lot of dots that classicists already had in front of them but hadn't assembled yet.

      I have no clue where the fuck the Slashdot summary came from, but it's horribly, horribly wrong both in terms of summarizing the research and in terms of general history (Aristotle as Plato's teacher?).

      As for the age of the manuscripts—the whole point of the exercise is to work on larger chunks of ideas, not on individual characters like in those BS "Bible Code" shenanigans. While the exact character for character accuracy of ancient texts is a problem at times and for some texts (we call that textual criticism), it's not such a big deal for Plato, and it's definitely trivial when working at the scale of ideas and moods rather than individual characters.

      • Re:Riiiiight (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @12:29AM (#32726530)

        The author uses previous research into Platonic line length to arrive at 35 characters per line on average, and then he uses this line length as a metric into which to divide up the dialogues. So far he's very safe.

        He finds that numbers of lines in dialogues suddenly become very, very round and that the works can be broken apart easily, usually into twelfths. That's his first conclusion. The only major problem here is that he doesn't show his data but keeps pointing to "works in progress," which undermines his credibility somewhat, but not fatally.

        I have just now attempted to check the accuracy of the article's counts. They're not staggeringly good.

        I have taken the TLG text of the Symposium, stripped everything but letters of the Greek alphabet, divided it into 35-character chunks (not finished yet, since I'm having to do it manually; Unicode Greek causes serious hiccups in automated search-and-replaces done with regular expressions).

        Kennedy claims that in the Symposium "Pausanias’ speech is aligned with the point two-twelfths of the way through the dialogue," which according to Kennedy is 2400 lines long. Based on that, Pausanias' speech should start very close to line 400. In fact it starts at line 377, an error of -23 lines. Not miles off, but hardly exact enough to be very striking. Eryximachos' speech is supposed to start at the three-twelfths point, i.e. line 600; in fact it starts at line 619, i.e. an error of +19 lines.

        If we're allowed to have errors ranging from -23 to +19 in 200-line chunks, there's really no argument to be based on precision. Colour me unimpressed.

        • Re:Riiiiight (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:21AM (#32726822)

          Addendum: I've now divided the Symposium into 35-character lines. This dialogue, which Kennedy talks about on pages 7-8, 10-11, 14-15, and 17-18, works out as follows. I offer no interpretation of the differences between Kennedy's claims and the actual figures, except to acknowledge a very approximate correlation.

          Total length of dialogue

          • Kennedy's claim (p. 10): 2400 lines.
          • Actual: 2375 lines plus 2 characters (error: -25 lines).

          Pausanias' speech

          • Kennedy's claim (p. 7): begins at line 400, lasts 200 lines.
          • Actual: begins at 377 (-23), ends at 599, i.e. lasts 222 lines (+22).

          Eryximachos' speech

          • Kennedy's claim (p. 7): begins at line 600, lasts 200 lines ("including the repartee over Aristophanes' hiccups": cherry-picking?).
          • Actual: speech extends 619-758 (139 lines); repartee extends 599-778, i.e. 179 lines (-21).

          Aristophanes' speech

          • Kennedy's claim (pp. 7-8): begins at line 800.
          • Actual: begins at 778 (-22).

          Agathon's speech

          • Kennedy's claim (p. 8): ends at line 1200.
          • Actual: ends at 1180 (-20).

          Socrates' speech

          • Kennedy's claim (p. 8): lasts 600 lines "including his conversations with Agathon and Diotima".
          • Actual: extends lines 1180-1833, i.e. 653 lines (+53).

          Alcibiades' speech

          • Kennedy's claim (p. 8): lasts 400 lines.
          • Actual: extends lines 1955-2302, i.e. 347 lines (-53).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by elrous0 (869638) *
        The hyperbole of the claim that this somehow shows that "Plato anticipated the Scientific Revolution 2,000 years before Isaac Newton" is what struck me as most ridiculous part of the summary (and article). This shows pretty clearly that the article's author not only has no appreciation for what was ACTUALLY found, but also no appreciation for Newton and the scope and importance of his work.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jedidiah (1196)

      > So lets see here, our oldest manuscript is over a thousand years old and we still think that we can accurately "decode" his code? Because everything was faithfully reproduced?

      That's kind of the entire point of writing to begin with.

  • Aristotle? Really? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 28, 2010 @07:21PM (#32724302)

    Kdawson, your are an idiot. You're dumber than a pack of matches. I've had cats smarter than you. My cats have had hairballs that are smarter than you.

    Even Bill and Ted knew the difference between Aristotle and Socrates. You're dumber than Bill and Ted.

    Seriously. Re-evaluate your life, dude. You're doing the wrong thing.

  • by IICV (652597) on Monday June 28, 2010 @07:29PM (#32724386)

    The summary and press release it links to both completely miss the part where this is "News for Nerds". This paper is apparently the first time Plato's writings have been stichometrically [wikipedia.org] analyzed by computer. Somehow, people have managed to miss him while analyzing other works. Apparently, it was commonplace back then to arrange parts of your work according various mathematical structures, though honestly I'm not sure how you get from that to this press release; I'll have to finish the paper to see if it is reasonable.

    Seriously though, RTFP. It's not written very densely at all.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Well, the leap from the conclusion you describe (that parts of the work are in fact arranged according to various mathematical principles) is quite a leap. If we grant that the conclusion is true, and that Plato was a Pythagorean philosopher, then I fail to see how this means that he anticipated the scientific revolution. The scientific revolution depended on the discovery (or better, clear articulation) of the practice of science and experimentation, that leads to theories and laws. Not too dissimilar to h
    • by fermion (181285)
      In 100 years the Simpsons might still be the longest running scripted show. Someone might take a look at the structure and note the amazing similarities between shows. How certain transitions happen at certain times. How certain characters appear and disappear. How themes reemerge. They would likely ascribe meaning to these, beyond the real meaning, that, for instance, Kesley Grammer had scheduling conflicts or whatever. Or that acts had to break at certain places for commercials, or that to minimize
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sous_rature (969750)
      As a historian of science myself, alarm bells went off immediately at the `anticipated the Scientific Revolution' line. The actual claim in the paper was the Plato was a Pythagorean, not that he had secretly already achieved the chief scientific insights of the 17th century. Sounds a lot more sensible in that light, and I don't know what to make of the thought that the paper needed to be dressed up with the sort of claim few serious historians would make. Kennedy's "non-expert" description on his Manches
    • by jfengel (409917)

      I'll have to finish the paper to see if it is reasonable.

      It sure doesn't look that way to me. Certainly not enough to justify the self-aggrandizement in the press release. It's not so much a "code" as a structure. It's not steganography.

      It may reveal some details of how Plato himself thought of things, but it's not really any sort philosophical revelation. (From a scientist's point of view, philosophers have an odd fascination with the original sources, of which descendants are treated as degraded versions rather than improvements. Nobody would think to look

  • It would appear that the mention of Aristotle was added by the slashdot editor...who might want to rethink their position given the level of incompetence displayed herein.

    • > ...who might want to rethink their position given the level of incompetence
      > displayed herein

      At Slashdot that sort of thing qualifies one for a promotion (not that this sets /. apart from the media in general...)

  • by MoellerPlesset2 (1419023) on Monday June 28, 2010 @07:33PM (#32724422)
    Fortelling assassinations! [anu.edu.au] (This originally being a refutal of Drosnin's "Bible Code" nonsense)

    Seriously, in any given cirumstance I'd be extremely skeptical of this stuff. But in this case we don't really know whether all of "Plato's" writings were actually written by Plato, and certainly not if they're verbatim. Given that ancient Greek had five grammatical cases, it didn't have very strict word order (much like Latin). So it's even less of a coincidence if someone manages to string the words together into comprehensible sentences.

    I doubt this will be the revolution Dr Kennedy thinks it will be. It'd be interesting to hear what others have to say. But of course, this is a press release, not a real article.
    • Fortelling assassinations! [anu.edu.au] (This originally being a refutal of Drosnin's "Bible Code" nonsense)

      Seriously, in any given cirumstance I'd be extremely skeptical of this stuff. But in this case we don't really know whether all of "Plato's" writings were actually written by Plato, and certainly not if they're verbatim.
      Given that ancient Greek had five grammatical cases, it didn't have very strict word order (much like Latin). So it's even less of a coincidence if someone manages to string the words together into comprehensible sentences.

      I doubt this will be the revolution Dr Kennedy thinks it will be. It'd be interesting to hear what others have to say. But of course, this is a press release, not a real article.

      Dr. Kennedy wants publicity, but nowhere in his paper does he even begin to describe a code. All he does is point out that Plato, like most of his contemporaries, mixed rhythm and narrative structure. There's no hidden message, there's simply a supposed emphasis put on certain already well studied sections. No, magical-thinker Plato didn't invent science.

  • by ThorGod (456163) on Monday June 28, 2010 @07:35PM (#32724442) Journal

    How reputable a journal is Apeiron?

  • Smells like Hype (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CheshireCatCO (185193) on Monday June 28, 2010 @07:43PM (#32724510) Homepage

    OK, first of all, never trust a press-release, especially from the researcher's own college or university. No one in research is more self-aggrandizing than those offices are. (The researchers have to face their colleagues later, so tend to be more careful.) If they could get away with it, I'm sure that every press-release would claim a Nobel prize was pending for every discovery.

    Second, is the discovery here just that Plato likes math? Because if so... duh? He didn't bury that in his writing, he was pretty clear about that. He loved abstract material. What he was contemptuous of, as I recall, was more "applied" disciplines, like what we'd now call Physics. (He liked Astronomy because it was like math and music. The fact that he made that distinction over Physics tells you how well he grasped how important math was in understanding Nature on Earth as well as in the sky.)

    Also, in no way does say, "Hey, math is useful for understanding Nature!" predate Newton. That wasn't Newton's discovery. That wasn't any of his discoveries, in fact. Quite a few Greeks had the notion that mathematics was important to understanding Nature. Pythagoras comes to mind (in his own eccentric was). Heck, the quote about nature being written in mathematics isn't even from Newton, it's a paraphrasing of a well-known quote of Galileo's. (The significance of that distinction is this: Galileo recognized the importance, but he didn't invent Newtonian mechanics. Why? That math is helpful wasn't the important discovery.)

  • Er, if you actually try to go read TFA, it seems they analyze the text by semi-numerological means.
    Like noticing that one particular argument is about 1/12th the length of the chapter, from that somehow drawing some far-fetched conclusion.
    Sounds like a particularly bizarre form of BS to me.

  • No, the most important idea in the Scientific Revolution was NOT "the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics."

    The important idea was to get off your butt and do stuff. As it says in the library of the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, "Study nature, not books." Point telescopes at Jupiter. Dissect sea urchins. Scrap off the crud between filthy teeth and put it under a microscope. Test your theories against nature, not against scholastic debates with other scholars.

    If the secret c

  • Code or die (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Monday June 28, 2010 @08:18PM (#32724830) Journal

    I think the Renaissance was when a sea change in the attitude towards learning began to take hold. Before that, was pretty routine for leaders, especially those whose power rested on religious beliefs, to regard much of education, exploration, and discovery as a waste of time, if not outright subversion. Guilds and other clubs of that sort treated knowledge as proprietary secrets and weren't above murder to preserve those secrets.

    So, yes, Plato would have had to hide certain things, or leave them unsaid. The execution of Socrates was certainly a powerful example and motivation.

    Why the steganography, though? Why not write it down plainly, and hide the manuscript?

    • by jbeach (852844)
      The argument for not writing it clearly and hiding the manuscript, is so that it could be disseminated among many while the few who could agree would decipher it's deeper meanings.

      I am curious to see the actual analysis. If its based on *concepts* and not words, then I can see how that could be hidden in the text and make it's way through multiple translations and copies. If it's based solely on matching word order, that's a bit more difficult for me to swallow.
  • by handy_vandal (606174) on Monday June 28, 2010 @09:06PM (#32725214) Homepage Journal

    Mary Renault's excellent historical novel The Mask of Apollo [wikipedia.org] is a masterful portrait of -- among other things -- Plato and his world. Engaging, informative, and moving: highly recommended.

    We commonly think of Plato as a philosopher, and philosophers as unworldly; but Renault reminds us that Plato was also a soldier, a statesman, a man who repeatedly put his life on the line, for his friends and for his ideals, in the face of deadly opposition.

  • So much for feeling inferior about State U and not having a British Education.

    Aristotle, notwithstanding, I'd really like the code to be true so I suppose I should read on.

  • Page 147, paragraph 2:

    z3u5 1s 73h 5uk

  • Oh, the things that are wrong with these sentences:

    "Plato's ideas were a dangerous threat to Greek religion. He said that mathematical laws and not the gods controlled the universe. Plato's own teacher [Aristotle] had been executed for heresy. Secrecy was normal in ancient times, especially for esoteric and religious knowledge, but for Plato it was a matter of life and death."

    Okay, I spent most of May and June TAing a course on Greek and Roman Myth and religion - and this really misrepresents how Greek reli

  • I have (quickly) read the paper. The author does a stichometric analysis and concludes that there is a mathematical structure in the texts (which seems reasonably solid) and that (as Aristotle said), Plato was thus a Pythagorean (they were big on numerical mysticism). I would regard that as a "definite maybe." And that's pretty much it. To go from that to that he "anticipated the Scientific Revolution 2,000 years before Isaac Newton" is, IMHO, a stretch.

  • You will see patterns if you stare at anything long enough. Simple fact of man. Man sees design where there is none.

From Sharp minds come... pointed heads. -- Bryan Sparrowhawk

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