"None of the philosophers have come so close to us as the Platonists have." - St. Augustine
I expected this comment. There's a quote by St. Robert Bellarmine where he says its precisely the "closeness" of Platonism that makes it more dangerous than Aristotelianism.
I know that you like Plato Graham as I've seen some of your posts before on Plato. I remember you saying that it was Nietzsche who woke you up from sentimental slumbers, and that Plato prepared the way for you to Catholicism. Actually, I took an identical path myself, but we both know that Nietzsche is more or less a Satanist who undermines all objective truth and preaches the dominance of the will unguided by truth or morality. I don't know about you but it was seeing the incoherence of Nietzsche's philosophy that lead me to the philosopher Nietzsche perhaps despised the most, Plato. The good thing about Plato is that he's a kind of antidote to materialism in that his idealism is so strong that you can't read him for very long without realizing that you do in fact have a soul, and so in age of mass materialism Plato can be very useful as a counterbalance. However, for every one of us who came to Christ through Plato like St. Augustine, how many went instead to the Neoplatonists or to the Hindus or to some other sect?
When I allude to Plato being part of a satanic sect I'm alluding to the ancient mystery schools. I heard somewhere that Socrates himself never thought it was worth joining a "mystery school", but that Plato did and that he put the doctrines of these schools into his dialogues is obvious. For example, the transmigration of souls / reincarnation. This myth had been floating around the world long before Plato was born, and it floats around still today. It undermines the true story of salvation, it also undermines the very basis of our identity by making our bodies out to be recyclable husks that can be thrown away for a new one an infinite number of times, which leads to the Manichaen/Gnostic tendency of hatred of the body that Plato himself is suspect of. Another thing. Plato's God, or the form of the Good, is emphatically not a person. It's more a geometrical figure, an abstraction. This heresy is one of the worst, I believe. Instead of seeing God as a venerable old man on a throne as the prophet Ezekiel saw Him, they see Him instead as a triangle or a circle, or a triangle within a circle, like the Brahmins do. They also tend to look down on those who see God as a person (or three persons) as crude thinkers, sentimentalists, not capable of abstract thought. It's this tendency which I believe gives Plato's dialogues that unmistakable light-hearted, Pelagian tone. I think you know what I'm talking about when I say this. Socrates is an endlessly jovial spirit whose "fear of God", though admittedly present in the dialogues, is not at all like the fear of God we know. Reducing God to a geometrical abstraction not only undermines the fear one might have of Him (who is afraid of a triangle?), it also undermines the love of Him by reducing into a purely mathematical, contemplative, intellectual love as opposed to a fully human love which involves all the faculties of our soul. Also, as the text I quoted in my previous post played out, the entire plan of salvation in Plato's account is radically different from our own. His is indeed an evolutionary process which is about releasing the divinity within us so that it can return to the World of Ideas where it belongs. This is Pelagian to the extreme in that it puts far too much emphasis on our own part in our salvation than on God; salvation is not seen as a gift benevolently bestowed from above, but as something that we work out for ourselves through a dialectical process. What prayer is to us, dialogue is to the Platonist. One more thing. I take Plato's plan for the ideal state in the Republic seriously; you can read it allegorically as applying to the ideal ordering of one's soul, but I don't think that discredits the literal interpretation. As Plato sees salvation as coming from a dialectical process rather than from above, he seeks his Laws for an ideal state not in the way of Moses, which is to receive them from above, but to work them out for reasoning. That this reasoning process ends up going so against God's natural order that it would remove children from their parents and educate women to be equal to men, is proof of just how inadequate the dialectic is in reaching the truth. This myth of an Atlantis ruled by scientific knowledge harkens back to before the flood, it harkens back to the tower of Babel, it harkens back to Babylon and Egypt, and more recently to Bacon's The New Atlantis, and I think Atlantis represents Satan's view of the ideal society since ancient times as much as Jerusalem represents God's, and that it's he who has been keeping this myth alive in the mystery schools even to today.
The closest I have found to the truth among the pagans is not Plato but the Stoics. Read the hymn of Cleanthes or the Golden Sayings of Epictetus. However, overall I am struck by the utter uniqueness of our faith in the history of the world. I know that some of the Fathers thought that Plato and Aristotle where preparation for the gospel and that this opinion has continued since then. Despite this, I think that Plato has more in common with the Hindus than with us, and that Aristotle can lead to a rationalist or materialist philosophy. For every St. Augustine redeeming Plato and every St. Thomas redeeming Aristotle, there's a Pico Mirandola mixing a false Neoplatonic mysticism with Catholicism, and a William of Occam sending Aristotle in the direction of nominalism and materialism. In other words, I don't think that Plato or Aristotle are in heaven, and I think that Greek philosophy in and of itself is dangerous. It's only by God's grace that we came to Him stumbling through Nietzsche and Plato. We can't put that down to Plato and we certainly can't put it down to Nietzsche.
One more thing. There's a certain sense in which Plato is superior to Aristotle, even though I think St. Thomas has proven that Aristotle's metaphysics is more comfortable to our Faith than is Plato's. That's this: Plato is far more a mystic and poetic and therefore you are more likely to have a life-changing epiphany reading Plato than you are Aristotle. In a way, Plato's dialogues aren't about any particular doctrine but are about forming the habit of intellectual humility and about achieving that mystical state where one comes face to face with one's ignorance and with the reality of one's intellectual soul. This mysticism is what makes Plato more loveable than the somewhat dry Aristotle, but it's also what makes him more dangerous, as St. Robert Bellarmine has said. It opens the way for a false mysticism to enter.