On The Essential Nature Of Whatever Over It People Might Be Worked Up And Ridiculous

“I have this beetle here in one hand,” Aristotle proclaimed one day, “with a single oval shell and eight jointed legs, and I have here in my other hand this second beetle of lighter hue which has twelve legs and a shell that is longer and segmented. Can you explain the differences?”

“Yes,” said Plato. “There is no such thing as a beetle, in either of your hands. There is no such thing as yorealur hand. What you think of as a beetle and a hand are merely reflections of your recognition of the idea of a beetle and a hand. There is only the idea, which existed before these specimens came into being. Otherwise, how could they come into being? And the form of the idea, of course, is always eternal and real, and never changes. What you are holding in what you think are your hands are shadows of that idea. Have you forgotten my illustration of the cave in my Republic? Read it once more. That the two beetles you have are different is clear enough proof that neither is real. It therefore follows that only the form or the idea of the form is susceptible to study, and it is something about which we will never be able to learn more than we already know. Ideas alone are worth contemplating. You are not real, my vain young Aristotle. I’m not real. Socrates himself was but an imitation of himself. All of us are merely inferior copies of the form that is us. I know you understand me.”

—Joseph Heller, Picture This

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