Friday, October 02, 2015



I would say without hesitation that among modern philosophers Santayana was the one who understood Plato best. Yet Santayana calls himself a materialist. I see no paradox or contradiction here. There is a sense in which it can be said that Plato is a materialist. It’s a common error to say that Plato regarded the physical world as an illusion. Plato was not an Idealist à la Berkeley or à la Hegel. We live in a physical world, encompassed by matter, whatever the final stuff of that matter may be. But Plato would not call the uncertain and inconstant things of the world real. Only the mind is real and what pertains to the mind. The reality of the mind and what pertains to the mind does not negate the actuality of the physical world. The metaphysical reality of the mind is a world apart from all existent things. The philosopher while not denying the actuality of the physical world gives wide berth to it while exploring the realm of metaphysical reality. This is what Socrates meant in insisting that investigation in things and investigation in ideas be kept apart.

D. R. Khashaba

Cairo, October 2, 2015.


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