Crazy Horse and Plato

Crazy Horse in 1877 shortly before his death. ...

Crazy Horse in 1877 shortly before his death. Authenticity of the photo is disputed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Philosophy 111 – Introduction to Philosophy (Fall 2002)

Crazy Horse and Plato

[Students and professors, please read.]

It seems like Socrates (Plato? whatever…lol) and Black Elk saw many things the same. They would probably feel like they had found eachother out of all these cave-dwellers who had no idea they were only seeing shadows. They would say “I don’t know why we ever come back to this hole!” ha ha ha (I’m just kiddin’). Seriously, though…

Black Elk says Crazy Horse seemed like he was “always partway into that world of his vision,” and Plato notes that if we came out of our cave we wouldn’t want to return and take part in the affairs of men. Plato mentions that this world is like the shadows in the cave, and Crazy Horse agrees everything here is like a shadow from the real world. Plato calls it the world of mind (rather than senses), and Crazy Horse only has to think of that world to return to it again (while still remaining in this one). Maybe Plato would ask Crazy Horse why he returned? Plato mentions we see it with our soul, and Crazy Horse says there is nothing there but the spirits of all things. Crazy Horse’s vision gave him this power, which Plato says is the instrument we all posses, by which we learn. Maybe Plato would inquire as to Crazy Horse’s vision that even inanimate objects have spirit?

Side note: reminds me of the “fourth dimension” in theoretical physics, and “store of Nature” in Chuang Tzu.

My take about the ‘spirit world’ or ‘world of mind’ is that it is not distinct from the one we’re in now. It seems more real because it is a more complete view of reality. Like when I mentioned the fourth dimension thing — in the zero dimension you have a point, in the first dimension you have a line, in the second dimension you have (say) a square, in the third dimension you have a cube–in the fourth dimesion you have (theoretically) a hypercube–and (theoretically) there are potentially an infinite number of dimensions. The zero dimension is not unreal, neither are the first or second–we see the third as “more real” than the “lower” dimensions because this is our perspective. If the fourth was our perspective, it would seem “more real” than 3-D, but it wouldn’t make 3-D “unreal”. But–this is my opinion, not necessarily Socrates’ or Crazy Horse’s.

Maybe asking why Crazy Horse returned would be an off question. Because really he never left…

The School of Athens (detail). Fresco, Stanza ...

The School of Athens (detail). Fresco, Stanza della Segnatura, Palazzi Pontifici, Vatican. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you think their differences would make them feel like they were not thinking of the same thing, and then maybe to avoid offending eachother they might avoid the issue altogether? Like maybe Socrates would say, “No, I was just speculating, I have never actually experienced, but I am sure you would not see a horse in this more-real reality,” and then maybe Crazy Horse would say, “Socrates, speculation is not what makes reality, I have experienced it, and I saw the horse!” And Socrates would say, “It’s not a place you go away from here, it’s a state of mind,” and Crazy Horse would say, “You sound more crazy than I do,” and Socrates would say, “I’m not the one having ‘visions’ that make me ‘invincible’,” and then, a deafening silence… Or do you think their similarities would wash away all differences (or atleast they would not view their differences as something negative) and they would feel like “kindred spirits” so to speak?

It would definitely be beneficial to “be” Crazy Horse and experience what he was talking about, and to “be” Socrates and experience his version, so that you would know exactly what they were talking about and if they were even close to talking about the same thing. I tend to be skeptical of visions and escaping harm in a metaphysical way. It’s always a bummer to wonder if historical figures who were so looked up to are actually just folks who made up stuff about themselves, or the cool stuff you hear about them was just rumors that spread… Maybe they both got the “essence” that our senses corrupt our view of reality, but I think what Crazy Horse saw in his vision is not something Socrates would have been able to relate to. I don’t think Socrates was referring to a place (I think the cave analogy was just an analogy, so the fourth dimension thing I don’t think even applies in Socrates’ case) I think he was referring to a type of awareness, and I don’t think he ever felt this awareness would free us from physical harm. Although they use similar metaphors and words to describe their more-real realities (as they saw it), I think maybe Socrates and Crazy Horse were not talking about the same thing…

I say “speculate” because Plato writes “God knows if this is really true,” –does that mean Plato doesn’t know this for sure?

Where Plato writes, “the firelight there to the sunlight here” and “but their souls strive to remain above”–maybe Plato is actually talking about a place, not just an awareness?

He also writes “the ascent and the view of the upper world is the rising of the soul into the world of mind.” So I still think he is not talking of a different place than the one we already know–just a different way to know it. Heck, maybe it’s the same deal with Crazy Horse…after all, he didn’t leave here, he just escaped harm (as Black Elk writes).

I don’t know what they would say to eachother, but if they let me ask one question, I would ask how Crazy Horse could escape harm, and why he didn’t use that ability to escape death. I’d feel like a jerk for asking out of skepticism, but I’d be none less curious to hear the answer.

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