Plato's Language

One of the greatest challenges of reading Plato is the language barrier. Obviously, Plato didn’t write in English, Chinese, or French. He wrote in Ancient Greek, a language that is mostly taught in universities and a few private schools. As a result, the majority if not all of the translations are targeted at university students and professors. It is in my opinion that much of the intent and purpose the dialogues has been lost. And that is why I am maintaining this website, as well as working on a full translation of the Phaedo.

All of Plato dialogues are designed to facilitate the development of higher consciousness for the sake of creating “heaven on earth”. In the Republic, Socrates says that it is the task of the one who is able to ascend out of the cave, to return in order to assist others in a similar ascendance. As such, it makes no sense at all to keep Plato’s dialogues in a university setting, subject to the scrutiny of philosophy and classicists, without any interaction with those who are interested in the path of ascension and higher consciousness.

I created this page in order to elucidate some of Plato’s language. I will always use the Greek word and the approximate English translations as appropriate. I want to enable English readers to get a better idea of what Plato was saying and how limited the English translation can be. This will allow English readers with no knowledge of Ancient Greek, to be able to get a richer and deeper experience of the dialogues.

I will be updating this page as I go along, so it is in no way complete. Nor will it probably ever be complete.



Logos

This is probably one of the most important words for you to be aware of when reading Plato’s dialogues. The word is often translated as “speech” or “account”, depending on the context. It also can mean something like “logic” or “reason”. This is the same word that is used in the Bible to refer to the Word of God. It is also the same word used in Thoth’s Emerald Tablets to refer to a magical spell used to destroy the world with the great flood.

The logos is associated with the soul and the intellect, for the logos is something that is invisible. Logos does not refer to the letters in words or sentences on a page. It does not even refer to sounds in particular. The word for letters is grammata. Logos is associated with the invisible realm of mind and soul. In fact, you can look at the logos in the following way. In the Phaedo, Socrates mentions how the fives senses can perceive only the visible world, while the soul is able to communicate and create logos (logisesthai). Logos is the both perception and means of creation of the soul.

The word dialogue is cognate to the word logos. The entire corpus of Platonic works are dedicated to the interchange and motion of the logoi. Through the logoi, different perspectives can be shifted and so consciousness can shift. The logoi are powerful, not because they are in this or that language, but because they are expressed and understood through mind, no matter the time and no matter the place. You are reading these words now, but when you walk away, you will take with you the logical form of what you read (logos). It doesn’t mean you remember my exact words. What you remember is something seen and known by you and you alone. You can carry that knowledge wherever you go, regardless of time or place.

In this sense, the logoi can correspond to what many modern spiritual teachers call “templates” or “programming”. The logoi, if they remain intact and do not change, can determine the course of someone’s thoughts, emotions, and actions. They can bury themselves so deeply that we even believe they are us. We defend those thoughts, emotions, and actions in terms of what we now call “ego”. The logoi in an individual that doesn’t change is the ego. The dialogue, on the other hand, is that which can transform us from ego-logoi driven to being soul-logoi driven; from ignorance to enlightenment.