MoM 2 – METHODOLOGY OF MYTHOLOGY© – PART TWO.
PLATO’S LOGIC AS MYTHOGRAPHER.
LIGHT IS SHED ON PLATO’S METHODOLOGY
IN HIS MYTHOLOGICAL REPORTS.
It is generally accepted that in order to correctly identify and convey the Logic of writings, it is necessary to make a connotatively accurate rendition of the words, sentences, passages, units, in short, of the literary output as a whole. So too with Plato’s two books, Timaeus and Critias. The initial challenge of defining the true meanings had already been met and overcome via an exhaustive enquiry as to what Plato indeed wished to convey through these two books of his. So there remained to conduct an in-depth and in breadth analysis by applying the MoM to the texts so as to locate the Logic articulated therein and by this means identify, to the extent possible, what the structure, function, audience etc of a myth might be.
To this end, a methodology was developed which was a combination of the methodologies of Rene Descartes and Francis Bacon and, by extension, of Platonic Rationalism. If the myth of Atlantis was found to bear up to this ‘truth test’, then the Myth or section(s) of it, would undoubtedly come under the category of True Word. If not, it would be False Word, in which case,
the individual aspects of Atlantis carry on being the subject of multifarious analysis and speculation, in the way they have been through the centuries.
Indeed, after two important axioms were identified and Boole’s Algebra was applied, confirmation was given that the entire logical progression, analysis and many of the conclusions reached, had indeed been well thought out.
Following the interdisciplinary and connotatively accurate translations of Plato’s writings, attention was focused onto his distinctive form of literary expression as a mythographer; which was the main reason for examining his texts of Timaeus and Critias in the first place. The question was not so much to find out why Plato, this giant of rationalism or, in other terms, an arch exponent of the True Word, should choose to fabricate a false myth such as Atlantis appears to be on the surface, but to find out the Logic by which this mythological work was created. Plato wrote on other myths as well, but the myth of Atlantis was chosen for analysis because it is not exhaustively long like Homer’s The Odyssey, for example, while it is self-contained as a narrative and with a great deal of detailed information. These attributes were regarded as useful in facilitating further research into Plato’s Logic.
1. SEQUENCE OF RESEARCH.
Turns of phrase or forms of expression were categorized as being:
A) True, i.e. containing a truth that is easily discernable through the application of logic or common sense.
B) False, i.e. containing an untruth which is also easily discernable as per the above reasoning.
C) True OR False i.e. containing an either/or situation which can be identified through the application of logic.
D) True AND False. Again through the application of logic, a statement may be characterised as a ‘fusion’. Such are the rhetorical devices of hyperbole/exaggeration, metaphor or allegory, where, despite evident falsehood, seeing as the recount of events is not what can normally be considered as probable and rational, there is truth nonetheless. The reader cannot readily distinguish the whole truth from the falsehood.
Apart from the application of logic, current scientific knowledge of whatever discipline or area of expertise that the text is dealing with can also be called upon. In truth, the rational aspects of a myth have enduring value.
The above mentioned four categorizations by which to define the contents of a myth as either true or false, was the most valuable guide to further study. Subsequently, ‘signals’ within the myth had to somehow be identified that would provide for said categorization of each point -possibly by some special method devised by Plato himself-. This was required so as to rule out the possibility of anything other than True or False.
Thus, the analysis hereby synoptically presented takes account of the following:
– A connotatively accurate translation. This had already been made [i].
– The Identification of a myth. The Contents of a myth. The category of Topics.
– To who is a Myth directed. Categorization of the Audience, Classification.
– Enquiry into givens that validate, confirm or clarify the previous assessments.
– Enquiry into givens that lend themselves to syllogism and evaluation.
– The function or purpose of the myth.
Also, by applying the Methodology of Mythology, six additional elements were found:
1) Laws and Axioms of genuine Myths.
2) Their application in Timaeus and Critias.
3) Their Application in the Iliad.
4) Their Application in the Odyssey.
5) The Apocalypse*of the Myth of Atlantis [ii].
6) The Apocalypse*² of the Myth of ER.
Moreover, a relatively small number of applications have hitherto been made to the Orphic poems and to the works of Hesiod.
When examining the logic of all the mythological references, an attempt was made to comply with the following basic principles and procedures which are a combination of the methodologies of Rene Descartes and Francis Bacon. Specifically:
1) Nothing obvious is necessarily true.
2) The breakdown of a subject into its smallest constituent parts.
3) Subsequent to orderly analysis, to recompose the original whole.
4) Comprehensive enumerations and re-evaluations so as to rule out the possibility of oversight.
Furthermore, the Logic was subject to the:
1) Method of agreement.
2) Method of difference.
3) Method of concomitant variation.
In other words, the following methods were applied: Method of Conformity – Method of Disparity and Method of Consequential Disparity.
The result of analysis was laws and axioms which were found to govern the structure of each Platonic myth. The above approach was applied to the Homeric texts in similar fashion. Those texts also demonstrated the same laws but, as expected, contained more axioms.
Apart from the findings thus far, several new chapters of research have been opened in application to other writers and writings. The developments on this issue will be revelatory, since the genuine myths and the mythographers who wrote them, can be easily identified from the pseudo myths and tall stories and the fabulists who wrote them. Thus will be shown which writers occupied themselves with this special form of literary expression when philosophizing and each ones purpose will be divulged, while pointing out any interrelationships.
Another significant issue concerns the development of the reasoning process and philosophy of the ancient Greeks. It is evident that this intricate, while at the same time easily comprehensible and functional form of Literature that is associated with a mathematical way of thought, did not simply just evolve. It requires time and tuition for such a method to be developed and refined. Preliminary research conducted into the reasoning and logic of the Orphic poems initially, afterwards of the Iliad and the Odyssey and followed by a similar analysis of Hesiod before culminating with Plato, shows clearly the progression of mythography, while at the same time it revealed hitherto unknown aspects of the culture of those times. There is no doubt that there is scope for further research and even more findings.
[i] Sarantitis G. – Methodology in Mythology. Part one. New connotatively accurate translations of Plato’s books Timaeus and Critias reveal another dimension in Plato’s way of thinking.
[ii] The Greek derived word ‘apocalypse’ is relevantly used in its original definitions of ‘uncovering’, ‘disclosure’, ‘exposure’ or ‘revelation’.
[i] Table from Panteion University – Social Sciences – Notes and references from : S. I. Seferiades / G. Sartori / Papanoutsos E.P. / Hospers, J. / Salmon, W. C.
2. THE IDENTITY OF A MYTH.
Before embarking on examining the myth’s structure, the meaning of the word ‘myth’ must be defined. If one refers to a dictionary for the definition, one will be ‘lost’ in a range of often contradictory interpretations. Plato however, within a few lines in Timaeus, defines what a myth is. But he does it in his own characteristic way, calling on the reader to use inductive logic to find its definition through analyzing the meanings contained in the texts. As always, Plato promotes education in his audience by constantly setting challenges of logic. Figure 2.
[i] S. Papamarinopoulos.(2008). University of Patras. EMAEM. (Only the diagram). The nature of the Myth.
3. ANALYSIS OF TRUE AND FALSE. CATEGORIZATION OF THE CONTENTS OF A MYTH.
The basic categories of truth or falsehood can be sorted out by applying common sense. Subsequently, by rational evaluation, figure 3 is derived:
1) The red zone represents those sections of the text that are immediately recognizable and easily distinguishable as belonging to the category False. For example, references to gods or demigods or supernatural beings and suchlike untruths that cannot bear up to logical evaluation.
2) The core (green zone) represents the readily recognizable truths and meanings that rational thinking cannot disallow, such as concepts of good vs. evil, descriptions of people, buildings, cities and territories for which there exist historical cross-reference or archaeological evidence that supports their veracity. Also comments with no reason to be rejected as non truth.
3) The purple zone depicts a special category, statements that are TRUE AND FALSE. Such ‘fusions’ of truth and falsehood are hyperboles, metaphors and allegories. Such are the dialogues of the gods, for example. They contain logically sound concepts but these conversations never actually took place nor was there someone present to record and pass them down. This is a simple example. There are many statements, comparable in essence but considerably more involved in what they report, that merit analysis in defining them as to what are True and what are False.
4) Finally, the blue zone represents the category of questionable truth or the category of concepts that may be either TRUE OR FALSE. For example, is the story of Atlantis a true story or is it a figment of the imagination?
Categorization of the contents of a myth.
4. CAN TRUTH OR FALSEHOOD BE GRADATED?
A meaning that is examined as to its truthfulness must be either True or False. It is in fact so when one has concluded as to whether something is true or false. However in the course of searching for the truth –just as in the course of an ordinary conversation or simple narration- the receiver of the commentary may question a point on which he or she is unconvinced as to the credibility of the person making the statement. Thus, one can be undecided “equally” as to whether a piece of information is true or false. This is a 50-50 situation (figure 4). Thus, there is here a case where one needs a strong piece of evidence to be convinced of the truthfulness of what was conveyed. In other cases, the reader/listener requires a single simple confirmation as to the truth of the statement. This is characterised as a 75% True situation. This means that an opposite situation exists of course, where a small confirmation suffices to verify the untruth. This is characterised as a 25% or ¼ True situation (figure 5).
5. SCALE OF TRUTH AS DEALT WITH BY PLATO
Undoubtedly, by following the same logical sequence, infinite transitions can be found from truth to falsehood and vice versa. However, what was identified in Plato’s writings was that wherever he considers it necessary to confirm the truth of some statement or concept to his reader, he does so be repeating it once; but only once! Thus, after a report in Timaeus or Critias that is open to incredulity or scepticism (in the present author’s opinion, evidently) he provides a single conceptual repetition on this point elsewhere in the text so that the reader is assured that the information is true! Plato, in these two works, employs this device as in figure 6. Thus, the initial hard to believe statement is graded as being 50% true or false. When Plato, in some way, restates it once again, he establishes it as being 100% true!
In general, repetition is used to convince an audience that what is conveyed is true. In today’s world, advertising uses the instrument of constant repetition to influence the psychology of the consumer who becomes convinced that the publicized product has the stated qualities and buys it. In exactly this way, the mass media act to pass off dictatorial leadeships as democratic. The same applies in the day-to-day communication between people where oftentimes, in wanting to convince the other party, one will emphatically say “I repeat… that’s the way things are. Trust me (or believe me!)”. This method of making repetitions so as to provide verification, is observable also in Homer’s writings but with certain important differences.
a) Homer’s output is often subject to more gradations, with the number of reiterations depending on the degree of scepticism, whereas the only exception Plato seems to make to his “once only “ rule of a single repetition as confirmation of the truth is when he repeats several times in the book of Timaeus that the story of Atlantis is true! And yet, there is no exception to this rule of ‘Initial Statement + One Repetition = True Statement’ because what Plato has ingeniously done, is to apply the rule by having the conversationalists in his books accept the story of Atlantis as being true and by saying so twice! For example, Socrates acknowledges in advance that the story Critias is about to narrate must be true, evidently because he considers Critias a credible co-conversationalist. Socrates’ validation of the truthfulness of the story of Atlantis comes immediately after Critias ends his narration, when he unhesitatingly accepts the story as true (21a.5 / 26.a.6-7). Hence the Initial Statement + One Repetition = True Statement. Similarly, Plato applies his rule by means of the ‘voice’ of Critias (20d.8 / 21.a.7-8). It is palpably evident that Plato wishes to verify to his reader that the story of Atlantis, despite its sounding unbelievable, is in fact true; at least for the most part and definitely in essence. Thus, by having each individual conversationalist saying it twice, Plato makes several verifications of the truth (interestingly, by two (!) conversationalists) without deviating from his rule for backing up what is True in his narrative.
b) In Homeric myths, in a few cases, certain special repetitions play another role, such as for example, to ‘signal’ his reader that there is a concealed issue at that point that requires analysis to discover what it is.
c) Homer makes use of elements from everyday social reality, elements which Plato avoids because he – probably- has rejected them as non rational or existed. For example, repetition of prophesies, premonitions, decrees by oracles and discrimination against women credibility, are common place in Homer.
d) The writer, whether he is Plato or Homer, requires of his reader to consider his initial statement as being true. If there in no repetition of the information carried in that statement, the reader can use common sense and find out if this statement belongs to the category of False or not. In other words there is a ¨Principle of Credibility¨ that governs the function of myth. Indeed, this is no different to what sensible parents instruct their children, namely, that they should consider their fellow humans as trustworthy unless proven otherwise.
6. TO WHO IS A MYTH DIRECTED – AUDIENCE.
Simply put, one could say that a myth is a story for everyone. But is this so? To begin with, Plato’s myths do not have the same audience as those of Homer. As in any narrative, each intellectual age group retains from a myth that which is most relevant to it. Alternatively, each characteristic element of a myth presents more or less interest to different -intellectual- age groups.Thus, in attempting a general separation of the reading public on the lines of intellectual maturity, receptiveness or perception to be (or not be) able to identify, distinguish and reason out the subject matter as per the categories previously analyzed, four distinct categories of audience are derived (figure 6 ). It must be noted however, that Plato’s myths, because of the nature of his reports, lack appeal for children and adolescents. Plato directs himself to an educated and intellectually adequate audience. This is not the case with the Homeric epics where long sections can be easily appreciated by young readers (or listeners –either under the category “children” or under the category ¨adolescents¨).
But both types of myth contain sections that address the 3rd category of ¨grown-ups or adults¨ and the
4th category of audience which is that of the ‘hyper-mature’ intellectuals or wise literati or ‘initiates’.
Interestingly, a similar research conducted on the Homeric epics, yielded findings which are herein included to demonstrate the similarities and dissimilarities in the myths written by two individuals very unlike in temperament and idiosyncrasy who lived and worked in very different times; namely, Plato and Homer whichever he was*.
The myth is addressed to:
1) ‘Children’: As a pleasant story, imprinted on their memory by exaggerated and fantastical anecdotes, by music and poetry, offering easily comprehensible teachings (i.e. Good vs. Evil) (figure 7. 1st level)
2) Adolescents’: Provides knowledge. Presents subjects such as for controversy and discernment of True from False, Religion, Contemplation, Substantiation, Emotion, and Tuition. (figure 7. 2nd level)
3) ‘ Adults’: Provides knowledge of a higher level. Considerations of values and honour. Precepts for maturity. Principles. Deliberations of logic, intellect (figure 7. 3rd level)
4) Initiates’: The whole truth. Hitherto unknown knowledge. Provides in convoluted fashion, information which is strange or obscure. It stimulates investigation, reconciliation and offers substantiation (figure 7. Core – 4th level)
Audience of a myth
7. PLAN OF MYTH AND MYTHOGRAPHER
It has already become apparent from the preceding rundown that a structured plan exists to achieve specific objectives and there is method by which the mythographer imparts these to his audience. Figure 8 shows the entire plan of action underlying Homer’s writings. As for Plato, who never employs obvious poetic or lyrical aspects in his writings, aspects which in their musicality or when accompanied my musical instruments facilitate the memorization of the contents and the retention of the correct spelling, the other difference with respect to Homer, is that his ‘audience’ does not include the categories of ¨children¨ and ¨adolescents¨ while maintaining the categories ‘themes’ and ‘stimuli’.
As regards Homer’s poetry, the rules of the dactylic hexameter that employs long and short syllables are known. These rules were easily recognized through its constant repetitions over 27.803 lines of the Odyssey and Iliad. It is now apparent that apart from the musicality and rhythm that allows orchestration with a variety of musical adaptations, it is an ingenious ‘security lock’ on the Greek language in order for its spelling not to be lost in the course of the centuries.
8. ANALYSES OF THE TACTIC ΤΟ DECODE THE TRUTH IN A MYTH.
In order to examine a myth, as depicted in figure 3 (also on the left in figure 9), so as to identify as many falsehoods as possible and to define and categorise dubious truths as True or False, one must proceed according to the layout in the diagram of figure 9.
9. ALGEBRAIC EXPRESSION OF TRUTH AND FALSE.
The main challenge in rationally analysing myths is the simultaneous existence of true and false reports and the difficulty in identifying and separating them. In order to depict these two situations, there needed to be found appropriate symbols and relationships. Because of their simple duality, a binary mathematical format would suffice to describe and express the logic of certain phrases or sentences. The result would be an algebraic expression whereby ‘Truth’ corresponds to 1 (one) and ‘False’ to 0 (zero).
An algebra that perfectly suits the subject matter, criteria and the applied methodology, is Boole’s algebra with the use of Truth Tables and Logic Gates. (fig. 10).
This algebra cannot be applied to any text, narrative or poem that does not follow the ingenuous and systematic method of structuring a myth. The Homeric epics especially, in the way in which they are structured, lend themselves to ‘automatic’ -to some extent- analyses of the truth through a simple computer program, since it usually contains the same words and phrases by which to express a meaning. These words can easily be traced by a simple software program. The job can of course be done without software but it is extremely difficult to examine 27,803 lines for such items. Ultimately, it is a human who will define what is the meaning expressed by these words or phrases since Artificial Intelligence is not in a position to do so[i].
10. FUNCTION OF MYTH.
Undoubtedly, the main objective of a myth is to instruct. This is manifestly obvious because even if persons in mature groups are not in a position to evaluate the educational content directed to them by the author, they are nevertheless still able to discern that that there is intention there for the less mature. Plato’s Myths not only impart philosophical, ethical and sociological teachings but also lessons on history, geography, complex rules of verbal and written communication and even information not for the general public. The Homeric myths, in addition to the above, also instruct on musicality and on elementary and complex grammar, etymology, rules of syntax of any level of difficulty, etc. In other words, to declare that the function of myth is didactic is to mean it in the broadest possible sense. Accordingly, it also acts as a vehicle for the reliable transfer of things unknown or not to be made public, by reason of the author considering the information as inappropriate for disclosure at that time and thus best recorded as esoteric or hidden.
11. PLATONIC AND HOMERIC MYTHS
Even though evidence was given in Part One of the Methodology in Mythology that Plato ‘links’ the myths of Atlantis and the Odyssey, there follows a second example in strong indication of this relationship. It is evident that Plato has adapted Homer’s instructive tactics to his own idiosyncrasy. Even so, he leaves perceptible traces of logic that cannot but make his reader aware of his references, since, in his writings of Timaeus and Critias, he gives noticeable indications in conceptions that are directly comparable to themes in the Odyssey but also to the Orphic poems, because even with these, there are distinct conceptual cross-referrals. The figure 13 (11.1) displays an example of reference in recognisable relation to the Odyssey.
11.2. REFERENCE TO THE ORPHIC POEMS
Plato ‘guides’ his readers logic to the Orphic poems. Clearly, a reason is to indicate the relationship of the logic in the myth of Atlantis not only with the Odyssey but also with the Orphic poems. One example is given below:
Orphic: (64.8-13) Hymn to the Law.
αυτός γάρ μοῦνος ζώιων οἲακα κρατύνει
γνώμαις ὀρθοτάταισι συνών, ἀδιάστροφος αἰεί, …..
Translation:Because only this (the law) commands the rudder of living things, because it has plainspoken opinions, is resolute…
Critias 109.C.3-5.ἐκ πρύμνης ἀπευθύνοντες, οἷον οἴακι πειθοῖ ψυχῆς ἐφαπτόμενοι κατὰ τὴν αὐτῶν διάνοιαν, οὕτως ἄγοντες τὸ θνητὸν πᾶν ἐκυβέρνων.
Translation:…as we govern a ship by the rudder from the stern, thus similarly by persuasion influencing the soul according to their disposition, they governed over all the race of mortals.
11.3. REFERENCES TO HERODOTUS
The most indicative example of Plato referring to Herodotus is in the description of the length of Atlantis, which Plato gives as being longer than that of Asia and Europe combined. Herodotus, who came slightly before and was, for a while, contemporary to Plato, does not equate it like that but instead writes that that Europe is as long as Libya and Asia together. Seeing that with great accuracy Herodotus gives the east and west boundaries of Europe as being 4.300 km of each other, plain inductive reasoning leads to the conclusion that Atlantis is longer. (This is another author’s work).
Timaeus 25.e.6 – 7.
… ἠ δε νῆσος ἂμα Λιβύης ἢν
και Ἀσίας μείζων,
…Whereas the island was of together larger than Libya and Asia
Length of the Island – Continent of Atlantis > Length of Libya + Length of Asia=
=1.600 + 2.700 = 4.300 Km
Herodotus 4.36, 37, 39, 40,
Reports in several references that the:Length of Europe = Length of Libya + Length of Asia = 1.600 + 2.700 = 4.300 Km.
After making sense of the Logic in the myth of Atlantis and having extracted all the geometric shapes therein, the length of the Continent of Atlantis was found to be 5.100 km.
The Methodology in Mythology derived from investigating the logic underpinning the writing of myths was demonstrated to be an ideal way of analysing myths, whether by Plato or Homer. Myths which do not obey governing laws and their axioms or generally lack a definable structure in their writing or Logic, are proven to be fairytales or fantastical falsehoods or paramyths[i] that lack deeper instructional value or data ingeniously concealed to be imparted to the well versed, such as is found in the Platonic and Homeric myths and which are thereby characterized as being True (truthful) myths.
Research has made steps. The present synoptic introduction presented in two parts, can rightly be regarded as the very beginning. Much new information has resulted while a number of questions raised by many researchers and scholars, past and present, on previously irreconcilable issues in Plato’s or Homer’s reports, have been answered while brand new issues and queries have been raised.
One amongst many important outcomes is the ease by which from the small but significant distinctions of the axioms in the various writings, from the most ancient to Plato, the evolution of the Methodology can be traced while at the same time providing insight as to the identity of the writers.
Another interesting characteristic of true myths is that through hyperbole or metaphor or allegory or even simple straightforward text, there is sometimes revealed a hitherto completely unknown hidden anecdote or item of information for which there is no manifestly obvious word or phrase in the text to betray its presence, while this information is usually of great political, societal or strategic import. For example, the location and characteristics of unexplored regions are revealed as are certain geological or other natural phenomena that are explained away as the actions of gods. This latter ‘disguise’ is observable as such, because at least as far as Plato and Homer are concerned, it seems from the analysis of the deeper meanings in their myths that they did not believe in gods, certainly not in the ones conventionally believed in by their fellow ‘adults’.