Are there hidden codes in Plato?

Take this one with a grain of salt, but here is the latest:

Kennedy's breakthrough, published in the journal Apeiron this week, is based on stichometry: the measure of ancient texts by standard line lengths. Kennedy used a computer to restore the most accurate contemporary versions of Plato's manuscripts to their original form, which would consist of lines of 35 characters, with no spaces or punctuation. What he found was that within a margin of error of just one or two percent, many of Plato's dialogues had line lengths based on round multiples of twelve hundred.

The Apology has 1,200 lines; the Protagoras, Cratylus, Philebus and Symposium each have 2,400 lines; the Gorgias 3,600; the Republic 12,200; and the Laws 14,400.

Kennedy argues that this is no accident. "We know that scribes were paid by the number of lines, library catalogues had the total number of lines, so everyone was counting lines," he said. He believes that Plato was organising his texts according to a 12-note musical scale, attributed to Pythagoras, which he certainly knew about.

Do note this:

Kennedy believes his findings restore what was the standard, mainstream view which held for 2,000 years "from the first generation of Plato's followers, up through the renaissance". This held that "he wrote symbolically and that if you worked hard and became wise you could understand the symbols and penetrate his text to his underlying philosophy." Only in the last few hundred years has an emphasis on the literal meanings of texts led to a neglect of their figurative meanings.

It also explains why it is that Aristotle, Plato's pupil, emphatically claimed that Plato was a follower of Pythagoras, to the bafflement of most contemporary scholars.

I used to consider allegiance to this idea (Montaigne, also, for symbolic codes) as one of my absurd beliefs, but maybe now it is looking better.  I will have to look elsewhere.

Comments

Is there really anything useful in an esoteric 2500 old philosphy text? Surely modern science has completely superseded it all. And sure Plato may have literary value, but I mean useful in terms of helping understand the world and our place in it.

Plato's rubbish; Aristotle is The Man.

Was the original hypothesis that the lines would be multiples of 12? If they had turned out to be multiples of another number would that have also been considered no accident? How many ancient texts were analyzed thus before it turned out Plato was The One? If Plato was counting lines so closely, why would there be a margin of error at all -- was Plato a sloppy counter? Why "many" dialogues but not all?

Sounds like classic data mining. I wouldn't use this finding to trade with.

Plato's Republic is all about the best way to govern. He eventually comes to the conclusion that rule by a philosopher-king would be the best, but unfortunately, any philosopher worth his salt would not want the job. So he has to be (unjustly) forced to do it.

Of course that's not going to work. The best you can do is let people who want the job have it, but limit their power as much as possible. Behold the philosophical argument for limited government. It's been around for over 2000 years, but most people still don't know it.

got pattern seeking?

"like garbage", rather.

I swear English is my native language. I just can't edit sometimes.

"Plato's Republic is all about the best way to govern. He eventually comes to the conclusion that rule by a philosopher-king would be the best, but unfortunately, any philosopher worth his salt would not want the job. So he has to be (unjustly) forced to do it."

Of course, Plato looks like an idiot when it comes to practical governance. But building a city isn't Plato's real focus. It's an analogy on how one should live their life (philosophers should govern the city, likewise reason and wisdom should govern our lives).

The thing about this is that it doesn't give deeper insight into Plato's work, so who cares? For instance, one part of one of Bach's songs is composed using only the (German letter scale, not cdefgab) notes B, A, C and H... and that doesn't help you appreciate the music any more, it's just a wink at someone who sees it.

Bob: Ah, but since we don't have them, we have to worry about this guy making it up in his "restoration".

When someone's "restoration to original form" reveals new "hidden codes" and "secret patterns", that's the obvious thought, always.

Or, more likely, a scribe facing a 1500 line manuscript, and a 1200-line-capacity papyrus scroll, would edit down by 300 lines by hook or by crook.

At least, the scribe would if the additional, mostly-empty papyrus would cost more than the scribe would earn from the 300 lines; or if the scribe was under strict orders from the boss to limit material consumption.

The publishing artifact hypothesis sounds reasonable, and it can be tested by reconstructing the works of Xenophon.

@skeptic

"Is there really anything useful in an esoteric 2500 old philosphy text? Surely modern science has completely superseded it all."

Sure. That reminds me of something Wittgenstein said: "The answer to the question, 'Do you know Rome?' is easy only if you've never been there."

Barbara Thiering's discovery of the 'peshar' technique used in the Dead Sea Scrolls lends credence to the Plato concept. Using this technique she arguably unearths the true history of Christ.

Back then some people (philosophers/religious leaders) really, really had a lot of free time on their hands.

I could be wrong, but I think Dearieme said he was from England. The English are big fans of Aristotle for some reason.

Don't want to hate, but exactly how is this useful? Does it lead to a better understanding of what Plato wrote? Or is there an idea behind this that mathematics is to be found in everything?

I've done further work based on Kennedy's, using string sequencing generated through a function based on the Fibonacci series, but treating the encoded content prescinded by Kennedy itself as ciphertext. The output was as follows:

O N E B O R N E V E R Y M I N U T E

Not surprised. Plato was a poet/tragedian before he became a follower of Socrates.

O N E B O R N E V E R Y M I N U T E
Michael's onto something, it's not Aristotle, nor Zeno, Thales even - rather Barnum (PT that is). And I see there are 4 E's, 2 O's, but only a single I and U - so that's it, "I" and "You" are about individualism detracted by the other vowels of confusion. But where's the A? Ah, therein lies the real mystery (but that's for the sequel ;-)

Skeptic,

Read Plato on democracy, particularly on the 'democratic man'. He very likely understands the modern world better than you do.

Just as you have "Markets in Everything" you need a tag for "People with Way Too Much Time on Their Hands" or "A Misallocation of Talent."

The mystical strain in Plato is undeniable, stronger in some Dialogues
than in others. He himself shows you how to go beyond the literal to
the figurative and the symbolic. I think he would have responded
sympathetically to Pythagoras, and his triad of music, mathematics, and
philosophy, but not in a rigid scheme.

Jon H has hit the nail on the head.

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