Plato is not Platonism
This is a friendly response to darkecologies’ take on Platonism. See http://darkecologies.com/2014/12/07/the-phaedo-part-two-the-art-of-recollection/
The chief problem of reducing Plato to an idealist is the assumption rarely interrogated that Plato is Platonism. History should be our guide. Platonism is not Plato.
The point of the reductive function of any ‘ism’ is to forge an axiomatic memory as against what preceded it—axioms being the destroyer of non-sense, of indefinability and the dark precursor out of which the present emerged. By all means, the present is the founding temporal locus of organization, or rather, a decisionistic displacement of the past onto a memory bank forged in the now. This officially becomes Platonism when, at some point after Plato, philosophy declares (the pronouncement is more evident in Heidegger) that truth cannot be had by fabulation, by storytelling (which in fact Plato did in his theory of recollection) in terms of “defining entities as entities by tracing them back in their origin to some other entities” (Heidegger, Being and Time, 26).
The Phaedo is a case in point when Socrates talked about the origin of everything, by tracing something to another, until the story reached its culmination in death—the origin of everything. But death is not physical death; rather it is traced to an indefinable past that memory attempts to penetrate, not without the difficulties it has to bear. But the difficulty is there to keep thinking alive, to keep it away from the reductive machination of definition, finality and organization. Recollection has the sole function in Plato to sustain something irreducible; something that would linger even after the most systematic reduction of calculative thinking is done with the most sinister intent, beginning with Aristotle. In most recent forays into this irreducible, isn’t Laruelle rehearsing Plato in his concept of Man-in-man in which “Man” (in the Man-in-man) is the irreducible in the reduction of man to animal rationale? The Man-in-man is Laruelle’s generic definition in place of Aristotle’s animal rationale in which arguably man becomes human under the protection of logos apophantikos. Plato is entirely different. The logos is not to be reached by reason alone, but also by the good beyond being, which already offers us an alternative to reason, namely, fabulation. Aristotle rejected fabulation and recollection in favor of reducing the uneasiness of imagination to the categories of reason. This is the start of Platonism proper—the reduction of Plato’s intoxicating irreductions.
In short, the greatest legacy of Platonism is the refusal of storytelling. This is strictly played out in Aristotle’s critique of Plato’s Timaeus in Physics in which Aristotle rejected the former’s concept of the chora, or the third kind that actually preconditions the possibility of being and becoming out of which the physical world emerges; the chora as the errant causality, totally indefinable, something that must be left outside of the bounds of known and intelligible sense. We must not lose sight of Plato’s point that the chora as an errant cause is the whole essence of necessity itself, namely, pace Meillassoux, contingency. Here, contingency is the avenger for the irreducible. In the Timaeus, the cosmos is created by fabulation which the chora demands as no reason can account for it. As characteristic of recollection, fabulation qualifies as the condition of possibility of creation.
So what is Platonism? Our brief answer is: It is the being of us as animal rationale that demands we must secure ourselves against the temptation to indulge in chorology. But isn’t chorology the power of the false?