Plato's Atlantis on the left... and on the right.
Plato's entire life and all of his works were efforts to reconcile intellect with the vision which haunted him and which
he finally committed to writing in his last work: the myth of Atlantis. Yes, Plato made it up. Now, in the
philosophy department at Catholic University of America (from which my son graduated in 2010 as a philosophy major) the subject
of Atlantis did not arise. Wake up, specialists. Plato's yarn is not an inconsequential blot on an otherwise sterling
career; it is the entirety of his thought in a vision which he could not quit and which would not quit him. Plato was
haunted by images of his own conception and gestation and, unable to identify the source or meaning of his memory, he allotted
to its component parts a lifetime of collected mental images to fill out the scenario. Your professors may be excused
for not directing your attention to the only composition which explains Plato's body of work because Plato himself was ignorant
of its meaning.
Plato remembered his own conception and gestation but could not comprehend the experience other than to draw an extended
analogy. He saw only the shadows of his incipient life and explained them by drawing from the template of his adult
life to complete a picture he called "Atlantis." Atlantis and Plato are one. He turned it into a story so
preposterous that he could not bear to commit it to writing until the last years of his life. And even then left it
The Doctrine of Ideas. The Myth of the Metals. The Equivalence of Man and State. These are the headwaters
of Plato's thought but they themselves have a source, unknown to the Master himself. Many intellectual giants are
in effect pawns of a far larger idea of which they have no consicous knowledge yet which infuses everything they say, do or
write. Zygomnesis, not Socrates, is Plato's master. Haunted by its imagery, its insistent themes of creation and
destruction, of order, fragility and immortality, Plato wrote endlessly but only in the end did he turn to the one subject
over which he was not master, but servant. He wrote (because he had to) the story of Atlantis. That's where this
dubious tale comes from. And in describing the creation of Atlantis, he describes his own creation and the parallel
story can be told thus: and, if you will permit, I will use the technique of the dialectic in which Plato himself will be
allowed to speak. Fair?