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bowlwoman
06-29-2010, 12:06 AM
This is pretty nifty, if I do say so myself. Maybe this discovery will put us on the brink of the Age of Legends...discovering the song...:D

http://www.manchester.ac.uk/aboutus/news/display/?id=5894

Science historian cracks "the Plato code"

28 Jun 2010
A science historian at The University of Manchester has cracked “The Plato Code” – the long disputed secret messages hidden in the great philosopher’s writings.Plato was the Einstein of Greece’s Golden Age and his work founded Western culture and science. Dr Jay Kennedy’s findings are set to revolutionise the history of the origins of Western thought.

Dr Kennedy, whose findings are published in the leading US journal Apeiron, reveals that Plato used a regular pattern of symbols, inherited from the ancient followers of Pythagoras, to give his books a musical structure. A century earlier, Pythagoras had declared that the planets and stars made an inaudible music, a ‘harmony of the spheres’. Plato imitated this hidden music in his books.

The hidden codes show that Plato anticipated the Scientific Revolution 2,000 years before Isaac Newton, discovering its most important idea – the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics. The decoded messages also open up a surprising way to unite science and religion. The awe and beauty we feel in nature, Plato says, shows that it is divine; discovering the scientific order of nature is getting closer to God. This could transform today’s culture wars between science and religion.

“Plato’s books played a major role in founding Western culture but they are mysterious and end in riddles,” Dr Kennedy, at Manchester’s Faculty of Life Sciences explains.

“In antiquity, many of his followers said the books contained hidden layers of meaning and secret codes, but this was rejected by modern scholars.

“It is a long and exciting story, but basically I cracked the code. I have shown rigorously that the books do contain codes and symbols and that unraveling them reveals the hidden philosophy of Plato.

“This is a true discovery, not simply reinterpretation.”

This will transform the early history of Western thought, and especially the histories of ancient science, mathematics, music, and philosophy.

Dr Kennedy spent five years studying Plato’s writing and found that in his best-known work the Republic he placed clusters of words related to music after each twelfth of the text – at one-twelfth, two-twelfths, etc. This regular pattern represented the twelve notes of a Greek musical scale. Some notes were harmonic, others dissonant. At the locations of the harmonic notes he described sounds associated with love or laughter, while the locations of dissonant notes were marked with screeching sounds or war or death. This musical code was key to cracking Plato’s entire symbolic system.

Dr Kennedy, a researcher in the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, says: “As we read his books, our emotions follow the ups and downs of a musical scale. Plato plays his readers like musical instruments.”

However Plato did not design his secret patterns purely for pleasure – it was for his own safety. Plato's ideas were a dangerous threat to Greek religion. He said that mathematical laws and not the gods controlled the universe. Plato's own teacher had been executed for heresy. Secrecy was normal in ancient times, especially for esoteric and religious knowledge, but for Plato it was a matter of life and death. Encoding his ideas in secret patterns was the only way to be safe.

Plato led a dramatic and fascinating life. Born four centuries before Christ, when Sparta defeated plague-ravaged Athens, he wrote 30 books and founded the world’s first university, called the Academy. He was a feminist, allowing women to study at the Academy, the first great defender of romantic love (as opposed to marriages arranged for political or financial reasons) and defended homosexuality in his books. In addition, he was captured by pirates and sold into slavery before being ransomed by friends.

Dr Kennedy explains: “Plato’s importance cannot be overstated. He shifted humanity from a warrior society to a wisdom society. Today our heroes are Einstein and Shakespeare – and not knights in shining armour – because of him.”

Over the years Dr Kennedy carefully peeled back layer after symbolic layer, sharing each step in lectures in Manchester and with experts in the UK and US.

He recalls: “There was no Rosetta Stone. To announce a result like this I needed rigorous, independent proofs based on crystal-clear evidence.

“The result was amazing – it was like opening a tomb and finding new set of gospels written by Jesus Christ himself.

“Plato is smiling. He sent us a time capsule.”

Dr Kennedy’s findings are not only surprising and important; they overthrow conventional wisdom on Plato. Modern historians have always denied that there were codes; now Dr Kennedy has proved otherwise.

He adds: “This is the beginning of something big. It will take a generation to work out the implications. All 2,000 pages contain undetected symbols.”

Notes for editors

The paper ‘Plato’s forms, Pythagorean Mathematics, and Stichometry’ is available.

Plato quoted:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

“If women are expected to do the same work as men, we must teach them the same things.”

“Ignorance: the root of all evil.”

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.”

“The price good men pay for indifference to publiuc affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”

“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.”

Frenzy
06-29-2010, 01:58 AM
agreed. this is pretty awesome.

yks 6nnetu hing
06-29-2010, 01:59 AM
er... so the big discovery is that he used musical references in a regular pattern in order to sway the emotions of the readers? In just one of his books? And that will lead to unraveling the symbolism of his other books?

I'm sorry, I don't buy it. A monkey could have typed that up given enough time.

I was of the understanding that Plato was just a sidekick to Socrates who never deigned to actually write anything down and so all we know about Socrates is via Plato. And all Plato ever wrote about was Socrates.

I mean, not to downplay Plato, obviously he wrote about things that were close to his heart and sometimes just used Socrates as a sort of a mouthpiece... maybe. In any case, it was more than 2000 years ago and all we have are translated books to go by, none of the originals. Which by the way makes this discovery even more strenuous.

Uno
06-29-2010, 02:30 AM
er... so the big discovery is that he used musical references in a regular pattern in order to sway the emotions of the readers? In just one of his books? And that will lead to unraveling the symbolism of his other books?

I'm sorry, I don't buy it. A monkey could have typed that up given enough time.

I was of the understanding that Plato was just a sidekick to Socrates who never deigned to actually write anything down and so all we know about Socrates is via Plato. And all Plato ever wrote about was Socrates.

I mean, not to downplay Plato, obviously he wrote about things that were close to his heart and sometimes just used Socrates as a sort of a mouthpiece... maybe. In any case, it was more than 2000 years ago and all we have are translated books to go by, none of the originals. Which by the way makes this discovery even more strenuous.

In general, I'm skeptical of hidden codes, but the ancients did mess about with strange magical-numerological systems, so I suppose it's possible, if really rather strange. I withhold judgement until I've heard the reactions of other experts in this field.

There's more than translations to go on, as several of Plato's works have been preserved in the original Greek. Beyond that, though, there's some hyperbole here. This is no doubt important to understanding some aspect of Greek philosophy--such as the relationship between Plato and Socrates and the followers of Pythagoras--but suggesting that it'll somehow reconcile religion and science is just a bit much. The idea that investigating nature sheds light on the divine is not that original. Maybe it was in Plato's days--I don't really know--but it's sure been a thought hatched by many thinkers throughout the ages, and I don't see why it should make us go "aha!" now.

Also, Plato "played a major role in founding Western culture"? Maybe the culture of the antique Mediterranean world, but western culture surely means the culture of Christian western Europe.

From the disintegration of the western empire until the 15th century, Plato's works were only indirectly known in Europe outside of Byzantinum, and I think it's fair to say that these were the formative years of western European culture, at least more so than the rather shorter period between the Renaissance and the so-called Enlightenment, when a different set of philosphical-scientific approaches took the upper hand. Italian Renaissance Neoplatonism (Pico et al.) was an important movement for a while, but not that important.

I'd venture to suggest Plato's pupil Aristotle was of far greater importance to the formation of European intellectual life, at least when it comes to direct influences. There's obviously the question of the influence of Platonic thought on early Christianity, but that came (as I understand it) more from ancient Neoplatonist thinkers than from Plato himself. Apparently, Medieval thinkers thought they knew Plato quite well, but most of what they had to go on was what other authors said he had written, together with some excerpts translated into Latin here and there, and when Renaissance scholars found that many of the things Plato had written seemed repugnant to Christian sensibilities, they were rather shocked.

At any rate, if I am to approach anything resembling a point here, it is that this alleged code was only discovered now, it can't possibly have had a great influence. I gather that the ancients hadn't figured it out, and the moderns sure didn't know about it, so it can't really have had a great impact on their thought.

yks 6nnetu hing
06-29-2010, 03:08 AM
Also, Plato "played a major role in founding Western culture"? Maybe the culture of the antique Mediterranean world, but western culture surely means the culture of Christian western Europe.

From the disintegration of the western empire until the 15th century, Plato's works were only indirectly known in Europe outside of Byzantinum, and I think it's fair to say that these were the formative years of western European culture, at least more so than the rather shorter period between the Renaissance and the so-called Enlightenment, when a different set of philosphical-scientific approaches took the upper hand. Neoplatonism was an important movement for a while, but not that important. Plato's pupil Aristotle was of far greater importance to the formation of European intellectual life, and those two chaps didn't agree on a lot at the end of the day.

That. Aristotle was the one most mediaeval and reneissance scholars looked to in order to reconcile religion with science. Of the Ancients, he was second only to Augustine.

Plato... not so well known. According to Wikipedia (have to trust that as I'm not really that big an antiquities fan to know this myself) the oldest surviving translation of Plato's works is from the late 9th century - a good 1250-1300years after the original texts must have been written. a Google search didn't give any good idea of any non-surviving texts that might have been used for the rest of the knowledge base we have on Plato.

Uno
06-29-2010, 03:27 AM
That. Aristotle was the one most mediaeval and reneissance scholars looked to in order to reconcile religion with science. Of the Ancients, he was second only to Augustine.

That's been my understanding, although I'm just pulling this stuff from what I remember from preparing for a comprehensive exam as an MA student, and that's a disturbingly long time ago. I think that many Christian scholars rather liked Plato because they thought his ideas rather neatly backed up basic Christian concepts, but they didn't actually know the old man that well, not having access to most of his texts in Latin and none of them in Greek, which hardly anyone in western European knew, anyway. Graeca sunt, non leguntur, and all that.

Also, I feel mildly bad about the massive editing I undertook whilst you were apparently typing your post, but only mildly. I'm rather callous, after all.

Terez
06-29-2010, 03:28 AM
I'd be interested in reading this research; a lot of what we know about music in ancient Greece is really spotty. Western music is derived from (supposedly) Pythagorean mathematical principles, and even in ancient Greece it was hardly a secret that anyone would get killed for. Of course the early church people screwed up the Greek modes in order to create the church modes (like they screwed up everything to do with the ancients really), but the twelve tones that Pythagoras (supposedly) discovered still haven't changed beyond a slight alteration to tuning to make them equidistant from each other (the human ear can barely detect the difference).

Terez
06-29-2010, 03:42 PM
By the way, all this guy's research is available online. I'm going to read his whole article later, but for now, I'm reading this (http://personalpages.manchester.ac.uk/staff/jay.kennedy/).

DahLliA
06-29-2010, 06:20 PM
given enough time and enough words, can't you find hidden codes in pretty much anything?

Terez
06-29-2010, 09:06 PM
given enough time and enough words, can't you find hidden codes in pretty much anything?
Sort of. But from what I've read, this is pretty obviously deliberate. The only real bitch is that they were a little dramatic in their presentation of it, especially with the bit about healing the rift between science and religion (paraphrase - too lazy to look). But scholars have boring lives; they tend to get overexcited when they discover something. Especially when it's something substantial like this that other scholars have failed to discover despite centuries of obsession. The importance becomes a little exaggerated in their minds; Uno would understand if he'd ever discovered anything exciting.

He and yks also bitched that Plato didn't really influence anything in the formation of the church/Western world/whatever. But Aristotle was a student of Plato's, so there is a bit of legitimacy in the claim that everything Aristotle influenced was indirectly influenced by Plato. Then there is the fact that Plato was forgotten for a few centuries, but again, the indirect influence seems to be what they were getting at. You could go back to Socrates if you wished, but the only reason we know anything about Socrates is because Plato wrote about him. My dad has a philosophy degree (from a Southern Baptist university, so obviously it's worthless); I remember him telling me when I was a kid that Socrates didn't actually exist, and that he was just a figment of Plato's imagination.

Also, since I missed this earlier:

At any rate, if I am to approach anything resembling a point here, it is that this alleged code was only discovered now, it can't possibly have had a great influence. I gather that the ancients hadn't figured it out, and the moderns sure didn't know about it, so it can't really have had a great impact on their thought.
From what I read, they believe it was 'secret' knowledge, in the secret society kind of way, which was of course common at the time. As to how much impact it had...who knows? That would be something for future research; this guy basically just opened up a new and interesting path for Platonic thought in general.

Uno
06-29-2010, 09:51 PM
given enough time and enough words, can't you find hidden codes in pretty much anything?

Yeah, but this researcher is a serious scholar, not some internet crackpot looking for messages hidden in the works of Shakespear by Knights Templars working in conjunction with reptilian aliens from Alpha Centauri. We'll see how the scholarly community receives the idea, but, you know, people who work with ancient history have fine-combed and reanalyzed the same limited body of sources for a very long time. Finding any new material in that field is a pretty big discovery in itself.

Kimon
06-29-2010, 11:18 PM
I've read quite a bit of Plato, both in the original Greek, and in translation, and to be honest, this strikes me as completely ridiculous. These patterns are a stylistic device that Plato adopted from Gorgias, designed by Gorgias to aid in argumentation. The style is horrid by the way, it's the reason that both Gorgias and Plato are so horrible to read. Aristotle, thankfully has a much more pleasant writing style, and also happens to be the much more gifted philospher. Of course both men failed miserably in mentoring their philospher kings- Aristotle with Alexander, and Plato with Dionysius II of Syracuse.

Oh, and Terez, Plato is not the only extant source on Socrates. Xenophon and Aristophanes both wrote about him in detail (others, like Thucydides in lesser), albeit in different ways. Xenophon, like Plato was a friend and acolyte, and he authored one of the defenses of Socrates (the other being Plato's). Both Xenophon and Plato fled Athens rather than risk sharing Socrates' fate at the hands of the mob. Aristophanes, on the other hand played a significant role in Socrates' downfall. His play, The Clouds, was written over a decade before the trial, but the charges on which Socrates was executed all come directly from the play.

Terez
06-29-2010, 11:39 PM
I've read quite a bit of Plato, both in the original Greek, and in translation, and to be honest, this strikes me as completely ridiculous. These patterns are a stylistic device that Plato adopted from Gorgias, designed by Gorgias to aid in argumentation. The style is horrid by the way, it's the reason that both Gorgias and Plato are so horrible to read. Aristotle, thankfully has a much more pleasant writing style, and also happens to be the much more gifted philospher. Of course both men failed miserably in mentoring their philospher kings- Aristotle with Alexander, and Plato with Dionysius II of Syracuse.
What does that have to do with anything? This is not about hexameter; it's about symbols that were used at specific places.

Oh, and Terez, Plato is not the only extant source on Socrates.
You mean my dad doesn't know everything? How disappointing....

Aristophanes, on the other hand played a significant role in Socrates' downfall. His play, The Clouds, was written over a decade before the trial, but the charges on which Socrates was executed all come directly from the play.
hmm...

Kimon
06-30-2010, 12:00 AM
What does that have to do with anything? This is not about hexameter; it's about symbols that were used at specific places.



I wasn't trying to suggest it having anything to do with hexameter, neither Gorgias nor Plato were poets, they were both prose only authors. But these "symbols" as he calls them are clusters of words which he is associating with symbolic language and references to a music scale- hence a code. There likely is a pattern here, but it is likely nothing more than euphony.

Terez
06-30-2010, 02:36 AM
I wasn't trying to suggest it having anything to do with hexameter, neither Gorgias nor Plato were poets, they were both prose only authors.
That wasn't why I mentioned it. From the paper:

Measurements of the absolute lengths of the dialogues also suggest that the number twelve has some architectural importance. There is substantial evidence, reviewed at length in Birt [12] and Ohly [54], that the lengths of classical prose compositions were typically measured by the number of standard ‘lines,’ which were each as long as one of the hexameter lines of epic poetry. Perhaps verse compositions like Homer’s poems were the first longer texts written down in Greek and thereby established his line-length as a conventional unit even for prose. Ohly finds the earliest reference to measuring texts in these heroic lines in Plato’s Laws, and concludes from a variety of pieces of evidence that “... in Platos alter wurde also der Hexame ter bereits als Maßeinheit verwandt ...”34 Some surviving fragments of earlier Greek papyri with historical, philosophical, or literary prose compositions are written in such lines.

But these "symbols" as he calls them are clusters of words which he is associating with symbolic language and references to a music scale- hence a code. There likely is a pattern here, but it is likely nothing more than euphony.
Okay then...what's 'ridiculous' about it?

Kimon
06-30-2010, 09:43 AM
That wasn't why I mentioned it. From the paper:




Okay then...what's 'ridiculous' about it?

On your first point, on hexameter, what you mean is stichometry- he seems to use the two interchangeably, but they aren't.

As for why I think it ridiculous, here's an example from his text, from one of his descriptions of his musical code:

At each point in the text of the Symposium corresponding to a musical note,
Plato included a passage with a special structure. To maintain a balance
between concealment and communication, he varied the content of these
passages. If they were all the same or obviously similar, the underlying
musical structure would be too apparent.

NOTE 0.0 I believe I have got the story you inquire of pretty well
by heart (ouk amelet¯etos). HARMONY: RECITING SPEECHES The
day before yesterday I chanced to be going up MOTION to town from
my house in Phalerum, when one of my acquaintance OPPOSITES
caught sight of me from behind, some way off, and called in a bantering
tone ‘Hullo, Phalerian! I say, Apollodorus, wait a moment.’ So I stopped
and waited 1/8 HARMONY: AGREEMENT; STOP
Then, ‘Apollodorus,’ he said, ‘do you know, I have just been looking for you, as
I want to hear all about the banquet that brought together Agathon [172b] and
Socrates and Alcibiades and the rest of that party, and what were the speeches
they delivered upon love. For somebody else was reciting to me the account he had
from 2/8 Phoenix, son of Philip, and he mentioned that you knew it too. But
he could not tell it at all clearly so you must give me the whole story, for you are
the most proper reporter of your dear friend’s discourses. But first tell me this,’
he went on, ‘were you at that party yourself, or not?’ To which my answer was:
‘You have had anything 3/8 but [172c] a clear recitation from your reciter, if you
suppose the party you are asking about to have been such a recent affair that I
could be included.’ ‘So I did suppose,’ he said. ‘How so, Glaucon?’ said I, ‘You
must know it is many a year that Agathon has been away from home and country,
and not yet three years that
2.3 A New Kind of Commentary 35
Note 0.0 (172a1)
Plato is pioneering a new kind of symbolism. In the opening sentence of the
Symposium, the narrator says he has practised reciting the story of Agathon’s
party: he is ‘not unpracticed’ (amelet¯etos). The symbolic import of
this word is revealed by two facts. First, at the location of a later musical
note, Diotima says just this kind of repeated practicing preserves intellectual
creations and thereby gives them and their authors a kind of immortality.
‘Through this device, a mortal thing participates in immortality ...’ (note
8.1, 208b2-3). Second, such ‘participation’ is an example of the blending or
krasis which marks the notes in the Symposium. In this dialogue, participation
is a species of the genus of harmony. This places a brief allusion to
a kind of harmonisation in the opening sentence, and this symbol serves to
mark the initial wholenote in the musical scale.5
Since music is, for Plato, motion (through time) and harmony (of pitches),
the initial notes are marked by references to motion and the agreement of
opposites:
• Activity/Motion: Apollodorus was recently going up to the city
(a2).
• Opposition Between Wise and Unwise: the narrator studies
philosophy, the questioner, Glaucon, turns out to be ignorant (c3 ff.,
b8-9).
• Agreement/Harmony: Apollodorus assents to a ‘call’ from behind
by stopping (a4, 1/8).
• Inactivity: Apollodorus stops and waits (a5).
Much of the activity in the dialogue’s frame serves as a pretext for introducing
and repeating this symbolic structure.
Octads, The Markers Between the Quarternotes: Brief phrases mark
locations between the quarternotes. Here, the octads are marked by further
references to harmony: 1/8 by agreement, and both 2/8 and 3/8 to ‘recitation’
or practising of speeches.
5Although the evidence is too extensive to collect here, Plato elsewhere uses words
with the syllable mel, like amelet¯etos, to refer to music, perhaps because of its connection
to ‘melody’ (melos).


The whole premise seems quite a stretch, but I picked this section, with its footnote on "mel" as illustrative. Αμελετητος should not be taken automatically as a marker simply based on the "mel". The word means unpractised, as he notes, but it is linguistically connected to the verb μελεταω and the noun μελετη. The verb means to take care, take thought, study, or practise. The noun means care, study, or practise. But neither are connected to μελος, which literally means a limb, and came to mean a song or melody.

He also has tenuous claim to Plato being a Pythagorean. His basis for this comes mostly from references from much later Pythagoreans:

There is a report in Vitruvius, in the first century BCE, that ‘Pythagoreans’
mathematically organised their writings.4 The following provides evidence
that Plato was such a Pythagorean. The lengths and structures of Plato’s
dialogues have already been examined by scholars in a range of small-scale
studies, but these depended upon hand-counts and were riddled with errors.
5
The so-called neo-Pythagoreans, also from about the first century BCE,
claimed that Pythagorean doctrines were symbolically embedded in Plato’s
dialogues. Tarrant summarises the fragmentary remains of these neo-Pythagoreans
(italics original):
All this suggests [their] belief that Pythagorean doctrines
are hidden in Plato, who for one reason or another is reluctant
to reveal them, and that true Pythagoreanism can be teased
out of Platonic texts by in-depth interpretation. Like Thrasyllus,
[other Neo-Pythagoreans like] Moderatus, Numenius, and
Numenius’ friend Cronius were all supposed to have written on
the first principles of Plato and Pythagoras in such a way that
they had somehow anticipated Plotinus... So it would seem safe
to say that something quite esoteric is regularly being detected
beneath Plato’s text, concealing details of the allegedly Pythagorean
metaphysic that Pythagoreans, almost as a matter of
faith, supposed to exist there.6
Thrasyllus, the editor of Plato’s works and court philosopher to Tiberius, is
paraphrased at length in Theon’s On the Mathematics Useful for Reading
Plato. This work has puzzled historians because it reviews topics which
seem to have little connection to the dialogues. In particular, it discusses
at length a musical scale of twelve, regularly space notes which is nowhere
mentioned by Plato.7

Two things should be noted here. First, these writers who are asserting the link are 1st century BCE, 400 years removed from Plato. The second is that last line in Kennedy's text. They, like Kennedy, are seeing this connection because they want to see it, not because it is necessarily there.

Nota Bene:

The Scale. Plato’s Socrates distrusted mere appearances and knowledge
based on the outer senses. In the Republic, Socrates criticises the scales
used in the music of his time for being based upon mere sensation and
custom.13