What Remains

Alexander indeed overran, with men and horses, some countries of the planet. But countries, and things of which countries are made, elements, planet itself, laws of planet and of men, have passed through this man as bread into his body, and become no longer bread, but body. So all this mammoth morsel has become Plato. He has clapped copyright on the world. But the mouthful proves too large. Boa constrictor has good will to eat it. But he is foiled. He fails abroad in the attempt and biting gets strangled. The bitten world holds the biter fast by his own teeth. There he perishes. Unconquered nature live on and forgets him. So it fares with all. So must it fare with Plato. No power of genius has ever yet had the smallest success in explaining existence. The perfect enigma remains.

– RW Emerson “Plato, or the Philosopher”


4 thoughts on “What Remains

  1. I think that’s the point of many religious beliefs (both traditional and secular) that seem to make no sense. Reason and science can answer a lot of our questions, but we can barely articulate some of our most vital questions, if we can articulate them at all. Life and reality have an element of mystery that eludes the logical mind, and it is often at the center of that mystery that we discover who we really are.

    • Most often when people tell their followers to believe something ridiculous it’s to put them into a receptive childlike state so they can have power over them. If you convince people that Moses could ride around in a flying carpet or what have you, and they accept that, it’s easy enough to then get them to burn down houses in the West Bank.

      • I’m not blind to what people often are, but I firmly believe that they can be better and that they usually *want* to be good — even if they sometimes get confused or afraid. I freely admit that it’s an article of faith for me, since it can neither be proven nor disproven.

  2. That which we attempt to conquer, conquers us. Wars prove us foolish and foolishness proves us mortal. We should not give into greed or feelings of superiority. Love one another and we can survive longer, go further in our quest to become whole.

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