[MD] Good and Truth in Platonic system

David Harding davidjharding at gmail.com
Thu Dec 6 13:13:06 PST 2012

Hi John,

> Many thanks to David Harding for this reference in ZMM.  That was exactly
> what I needed.  Paul Turner also sent me a quote from Plato that
> demonstrated this subordination of Good to Truth.  What I think I see from
> both references is that Good is the highest Form, but Truth is not a Form as
> such, but the result of the dialectic process.  

You mean according to Pirsig or your own opinion?  My previous quote from ZMM contradicts your above statement if you mean that this is Pirsig's opinion:

"The difference was that Plato's Good was a fixed and eternal and unmoving Idea, whereas for the rhetoricians it was not an Idea at all. The Good was not a form of reality. It was reality itself, ever changing, ultimately unknowable in any kind of fixed, rigid way."

Good is not a form. It is not ultimately knowable in any kind of fixed or rigid way.  Truth on the other hand - is a form. It is an attempt to *intellectually* understand this ultimately unknowable good in a fixed and rigid kind of way.   

> Can anyone confirm the
> correctness of that understanding?  Is the Symposium the best dialogue to
> read for this subject?  Finally, what is the difference between a Form and
> an Idea?  Thanks to all who respond.

Any idea is a form - a truth.  Anything which is knowable and fixed and rigid can have a 'form'. This is in direct contradiction with good which is ultimately unknowable in any kind of fixed or rigid way.   

In Lila, Pirsig's second book, he goes on to deal with this contradiction by defining the ultimately unknowable good as Dynamic Quality and all other 'goods' or 'forms' as static quality.  If you haven't already I recommend you give it a read.


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