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Science Historian Deciphers Plato's Code

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the rewriting-the-foundations-of-western-civ dept.

Education 402

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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Socrates, not Aristotle (4, Informative)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724202)

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.

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724250)

Morons.

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724284)

Morons.

Not "morons", it's "cretins", you cynic.

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724336)

Not "morons", it's "cretins", you cynic.

Inconceivable!

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724260)

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

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724288)

I'm really glad we are getting quality articles that get their facts right the first time.

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724304)

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

Absolutely IMPORTANT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724568)

Jews own and run 96% of all USA media companies. [wordpress.com] That's quite an accomplishment considering that they are a 2-3% minority. So, all of you diversity-minded folks, I have one question for you: should any single group control all of the mainstream information we see, hear, and read about? Might that be a tad over-representative of that one small minority's interests at the expense of the interests of the other 97%+ of the population? Might it be a tad dangerous for any one group to control something so vastly powerful and important as the media, something that all by itself can start wars, end wars, sway elections, and tell people what they should fear?

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (3, Interesting)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724626)

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

What is worse is that the majority of the submission is copy and paste. All except the "[Aristotle]" inclusion.

So the ONE THING that was added (apart from a couple of links in sentences circumfixing the quote) is wrong.

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (3, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724812)

Just be happy the story is actually interesting news, and not just propaganda and/or flamebaiting...

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (4, Informative)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724362)

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

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (5, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724410)

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

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (3, Informative)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Actually, heresy is a better description (3, Informative)

brokeninside (34168) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724528)

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."

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (3, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724540)

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.

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724580)

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 :).

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (3, Interesting)

Jhon (241832) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724698)

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...

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32725080)

He was executed for being too annoying to have around.

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (1)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724366)

I'm glad you pointed that out. People 3 states over could hear my jaw hitting the ground as I read that statement.

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724384)

Aristotle was a student of Plato

Wait a minute, those people were real?

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724402)

If you'd seen Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, you'd know that Plato and Socrates were real. Sheesh. :)

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (5, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724430)

Aristotle was a student of Plato

Wait a minute, those people were real?

Even more, they were rational!

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (3, Funny)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724668)

Even more, they were rational!

yes yes, but they were also somewhat negative, at times, too.

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (4, Funny)

Big_Monkey_Bird (620459) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724822)

Well, Socrates was executed for being a radical.

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (3, Funny)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724960)

"Well, Socrates was executed for being a radical."

Socrates was not executed, you cretin: he suicided.

Of course, the difference is transcendental.

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 4 years ago | (#32725120)

But are they whole?

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (0)

catmistake (814204) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724440)

And Sappho the Lesbian (prostitute?) was Socrates' teacher.

Socrates was also merely a character in many of Plato's dialogues... meaning, Plato used his character as a device to teach philosophy, and there is little connection between the character and the man. We're pretty sure that's the real Socrates in Plato's Apology, but most of what Plato attributed to Socrates through the dialogues was Plato (speaking through the Socrates literary character) and not the real historical Socrates.

Nietzche calls Plato decadent, and attributes to him everything we think Socrates said. For him, Plato was to blame for the Dark Ages, and the lack of intellectual advancement for a thousand years. A bit extreme... but a valid opinion.

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (2, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724538)

Plato isn't the only person who wrote of Socrates' life. Xenophon was also a student of Socrates and depicted him in his works. While it is indeed true that often Socrates in Plato is a mere mouthpiece for Plato's ideas, Xenophon's testimony serves to show that Plato didn't completely depart from the historical man.

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724602)

Not entirely and always, no... yet in some of his dialogues, it is clear that historical Socrates never participated... and all words must be Plato. It comes down to the experts being able to decipher what is style and what is a poetical representation of history.

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (3, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724620)

Nietzche calls Plato decadent, and attributes to him everything we think Socrates said. For him, Plato was to blame for the Dark Ages, and the lack of intellectual advancement for a thousand years. A bit extreme... but a valid opinion.

It's extreme and also obtuse, and I'm reluctant to say that about someone like Nietzche. One man cannot possibly retard intellectual advancement for a thousand years except that legions of other men play follow-the-leader and imitate him like little robots instead of finding their own way. So let's say for argument's sake that Plato's contributions were entirely negative and unworthy (something I do not believe); Plato could only harm himself with that if people had any real self-hood. If they do not, this is not Plato's doing.

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724984)

"And Sappho the Lesbian (prostitute?)"

From Lesbos Island moreso.

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (1)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724562)

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.

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (3, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724598)

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

"I drank what?"

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (2, Interesting)

Alanonfire (1415379) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724716)

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.

Re:Socrates, not Aristotle (1)

pacergh (882705) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724954)

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 mysteries of said Plato.

Wrong teacher (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724214)

Socrates, not Aristotle

what the fuck? (2)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724216)

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.

Re:what the fuck? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724308)

Actually, Plato's secret message said:

Dontforgettodrinkyourovaline

Re:what the fuck? (1)

pinkj (521155) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724330)

This whole "code cracking" smells fishy. Too close to Nostradamus nonsense for me.

Re:what the fuck? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724466)

And that whole "let no one ignorant of geometry enter here" thing...

Dan Brown just came. (4, Funny)

MessedRocker (1273148) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724224)

Dan Brown just came.

Re:Dan Brown just came. (5, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724358)

Yeah, right, because the first thing he is worried about is having some basis in reality.

Re:Dan Brown just came. (0, Offtopic)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724472)

Did you get any on you?

PhilosoFAIL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724234)

Socrates, ffs! Plato's teacher was Socrates!
Socrates --> Plato --> Aristotle

Hmmm (2, Funny)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724244)

It's all Greek to me.

Re:Hmmm (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32725092)

tg;dr?

Riiiiight (5, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:Riiiiight (2, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724310)

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:Riiiiight (1, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724344)

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 (4, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:Riiiiight (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32725132)

at least a billion people (including most of the USA) believe #1.

I'm fairly confident that most of the USA barely knows anything about Ezekial beyond vaguely recognizing his name as one of those guys in the old testament, much less having a clue what his wheel was.

Re:Riiiiight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32725138)

Why is it impossible that there is actually a God and that Ezekiel did meet it?

Re:Riiiiight (2, Informative)

vonWoland (615992) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724392)

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:Riiiiight (2, Funny)

magsol (1406749) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724778)

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.

Re:Riiiiight (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#32725156)

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 structuring his works to make pretty magic-number thingies happen. (It also might have helped that he was probably already planning how much space he would use when the scrolls were copied, since that was an expensive proposition at the time).

The line-counting tool works off the letter counts, and (among other things) observed that a discussion of the Golden Mean in one work took place 61.7% of the way through one work (the mean itself being .618033989). How convenient.

Aristotle? Really? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Aristotle? Really? (5, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724342)

You misunderstand. The errors are not really errors. They are part of the secret kdawson code.

Re:Aristotle? Really? (1)

Spazntwich (208070) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724816)

I suppose you could say kdawson is the Flash of /. editors. Ubiquitous, slow, and frustrating for many.

But not even Flash deserves that insult.

Obli... (1)

mmcxii (1707574) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724338)

Drink your Ovaltine.

Wow! Historical, transformative (1)

vonWoland (615992) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724372)

I would like to say that I was one of those who said that there must be something more there when reading Plato, but this news has me stunned. If this holds true, it will be an epochal discovery. Me, I can't remember the last time we had one of those in philosophy. Just hope it won't turn out to be cold fusion.

Completely misses the "News for Nerds" bit (5, Interesting)

IICV (652597) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:Completely misses the "News for Nerds" bit (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724684)

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 how science is practiced today. But there is no clear link between the logic and philosophy of Plato and Pythagoras and the principles of science from Bacon, Descartes, etc. Certainly no textual or subtextual evidence is presented that Plato anticipated how science was to be practiced. So while the article is pretty interesting, and may in fact open up new interpretations of Plato's philosophy in the future, for now the conclusions reached in the summary are, as far as I can see, totally unsupported. Go Slashdot!

Re:Completely misses the "News for Nerds" bit (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724744)

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 writing costs a formula had to developed so that time wasn't wasted on developing a new structure 20 times a year.

My problem with this is that it is too optimistic. The first sentence says it all. The purpose is not explore possibilities, to discuss the evidence, or even to present results. It is advance a strong thesis. As such it is a persuasive paper not looking to discover a fact, but to pur forth an opinion, which is the authors right, but is one reason why some say that history and truth would never get along at a party.

Re:Completely misses the "News for Nerds" bit (3, Interesting)

sous_rature (969750) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724750)

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 Manchester webpage does a nice job of explaining why his finding is interesting without resorting to such tactics.

Mention of Aristotle isn't in press release (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724396)

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.

Re:Mention of Aristotle isn't in press release (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724608)

> ...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...)

ecretsay odedcay essagesmay areway oolcay (1)

abbynormal brain (1637419) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724406)

isthay isway igpay Atinlay itchesbay!

Well, let's not forget the Moby Dick code! (4, Insightful)

MoellerPlesset2 (1419023) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Well, let's not forget the Moby Dick code! (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724630)

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.

Philosophy graduates/phds in the house? (3, Informative)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724442)

How reputable a journal is Apeiron?

Re:Philosophy graduates/phds in the house? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724500)

Simply: it's not. It's a crank journal, which specializes in publishing papers other journals won't touch with a ten foot pole. That doesn't mean that once in a while a proper paper can't filter through the dross, but you should be careful what you accept coming from such a source.

Re:Philosophy graduates/phds in the house? (4, Informative)

John Whitley (6067) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724654)

Watch your step there, friend! There are apparently two journals with that name, quite different from one another.

The traditional academic journal, apparently out of UT Austin's philosophy department: Apeiron: A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science [utexas.edu]

Then the online journal: Apeiron, Studies in Infinite Nature [vif.com] .

This paper was published in the UT academic journal, not the (somewhat questionable looking) online journal.

Beyond that, I have no experience with the UT publication or its track record.

Re:Philosophy graduates/phds in the house? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724506)

Rather less reputable than New Scientist. And I'm speaking as someone who worked for the equivalent of New Scientist (and has read Plato in the original). This has about the same credibility as the Baconians who claim that Shakespeare was a front for Francis Bacon based on "mathematical structures." Cranks are writing and publishing stuff like this all the time; I've been first reader in comparable stuff. Next he'll claim that the GPS coordinates for Atlantis are encoded in the Allegory of the Cave.

Depends on which Apeiron (4, Informative)

brokeninside (34168) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724762)

If it's the one put out by the school of philosophy at UT Austin, it's very reputable. If it's the forum for 'dissident' researchers and opinions not accepted by the conventional system [wikipedia.org] , not so much.

That said, his thesis doesn't sound all that far fetched to me. A large number of interpreters of Plato through the ages have argued for a "hidden" doctrine. And Plato's emphasis on mathematics is unquestioned. He would not accept anyone into his school that did not already have a good grasp of mathematics. The real question is whether Kennedy is just picking up noise or has found a legitimate code.

I'm a bit doubtful mostly because we know next to nothing about what ancient Greek music. There are various reconstructions, but it's all highly speculative.

Re:Depends on which Apeiron (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32725094)

Do you actually know something about the Apeiron journal or did you just do a quick google search and then post to sound smart ?
 
  The "UT Austin" journal you are talking about "Apeiron: A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science" is the one he published in, is says so in the summary. The reason I'm questioning you on this is that the journal is not published by UT Austin, an information page is just hosted there. It appears to be published by Academic Printing and Publishing in BC. There is no index or online articles that I could find so I can't evaluate the quality of the journal. If you actually know something about it, I would be interested to hear.

Re:Philosophy graduates/phds in the house? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724910)

I don't specialize in ancient philosophy, and don't know much about the journal, but I looked up their editors. I know some of them. It's a legitimate peer-reviewed journal.

Ancient times? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724470)

Way to under-estimate the Scientoligist threat.

typical scientist hypocrisy (0, Troll)

bitt3n (941736) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724486)

oh, so apparently now it's just fine to get your facts out of a 2,000-year-old book?

Next thing, you godless eggheads will want to be teaching this Plato in our nation's schools. You people won't stop until every first grader in America has sacrificed a goat to the Pythagorean principle.

Re:typical scientist hypocrisy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724728)

Plato wrote his own shit, so yes to your first question. If some other people wrote a book pretending he's divine, then I would have a problem. Hopefully, you will teach your children the perils of illogic straw men arguements, in spite of your own stupidity.

Ignorance: the root of all evil

Re:typical scientist hypocrisy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724856)

I've got a secret code for you to decrypt:

77 68 6f 6f 73 68

Re:typical scientist hypocrisy (1)

cream wobbly (1102689) | more than 4 years ago | (#32725006)

In a remarkable display of critical analysis, the facts it's atypical and there are lots of people making incredulous comments have completely passed you by.

Good article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724488)

I love the quotes at the end. It seems little has changed in the day to day affairs of man.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

“If women are expected to do the same work as men, we must teach them the same things.”

“Ignorance: the root of all evil.”

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.”

“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”

“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.”

Re:Good article (3, Informative)

Randle_Revar (229304) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724664)

>It seems little has changed in the day to day affairs of man.

Not only has it not changed much in 2,400 years, if you read about ancient Mesopotamia, you will find that not much has changed in 5,000 years

Hype (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724504)

Give me a break-

It's well known and understood that Plato was a rationalist and believed that nature could be described with mathematics. There's no need for a "secret code" to show this. His epistemology was in fact the polar opposite of the empiricist movement behind the scientific revolution.

It's also no secret that Plato wasn't exactly a disciple of the Greek gods- and he was certainly in no danger in Greek society for hypothesizing that nature can be described with mathematics.

Oh- and Aristotle was a student of Plato. Not the other way around.

Smells like Hype (2, Insightful)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724510)

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.)

Style choice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724526)

Given the 'musical' setup used in Plato's work (or so the researcher claims), couldn't it be that this was more of a style choice rather than a 'secret code'?

Considering the importance of music to Greek culture (which the author explains), it doesn't seem that odd to use the same methods (organization in 12ths) for essays just as in music.

Imagine an orchestra playing a musical piece. Now imagine a person making a speech. If the way a piece is organized creates a certain effect, shouldn't the same apply to a speech? (Opera...)

The writings could well have been a transcript of a speech or organized in a manner familiar to an orator as a style choice or as a tool.

As for the controversial thoughts? He had an academy, he was a very well-known teacher. I'd guess its pretty hard to teach someone when you're supposed to keep some pretty important things secret (things important enough to be written down in code).

This'll be interesting to look at in a few years.

A really full load of cobblers (1)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724582)

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.

the real article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724600)

here's the article...
http://personalpages.manchester.ac.uk/staff/jay.kennedy/#Links_to_Papers_and_Files.

What other codes? (1)

BlackRookSix (943957) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724606)

This is not the first time that writers have been accused of creating codes in their books. Let's assume that this is true, just for the sake of consideration. Given that assumption... what knowledge is being "hidden" now by authors that will come to light in the future, hidden now for fear of ostracization or somesuch?

Utter drivel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724642)

This is the same dreck as "Bible Codes." I can't believe this got published in an academic journal.

This is a technique, not a "code" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724694)

"Code" implies that there is a literal message hidden or obscured in the text.
If the author is correct, what he has discovered is a technique Plato used to construct the analyzed writings.
To claim that "Plato anticipated the Scientific Revolution 2,000 years before Isaac Newton" based on this finding seems more than a little far-fetched.

No, that was NOT the important idea. (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724696)

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 codes don't show that Plato was out there making observations and doing experiments, than I don't care a bit what brand of rhetorical claptrap he was spouting, no more than I care about the differences between homoousios and homoiousios.

Greek logic in Arabic literature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724712)

Naturally, old scriptures become less and less available by time.
A lot of the greek logic existed in the 8th to 10th century, books written by Plato's followers quoting his logic, building a whole school upon his logic, taking from other greek mathematicians too. Most of the sources that were available in the 8th - 10th century are lost by now.
The thing is, in this period, Arabs translated a lot of the greek logic, I'm not aware of direct translations available now, but reading a lot of these sources that discuss and debate greek knowledge in old Arabic books, I believe it's possible to establish a solid structure of the greek school of logic,
I'm not sure if this kind of research has been done, but I know that examining the greek literature through arabic literature is one strong link.

All these "codes"... (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724760)

What do you suppose is in the Magna Carta and the US Constitution? Or all that L. Ron Hubbard stuff?

Code or die (2, Interesting)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724830)

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?

GET IT RIGHT! (1)

ProteusQ (665382) | more than 4 years ago | (#32724878)

Plato's own teacher [Aristotle] had been executed for heresy.

Aristotle was Plato's student. Socrates was Plato's teacher.

Re:GET IT RIGHT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724976)

A little late fuckwad.

That's not all the code says! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32724934)

If you delve further, you'll read his scathing review of the iPad.

YuoN fa1l it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32725040)

Their 4arting [goat.cx]
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