Plato – as much wise man of the East, as philosopher of the West

Plato is the greatest of all Greek prose stylists, and through his tightly woven sentences run threads of delicate beauty and allusive grace. He doesn’t sound like anyone else; and he convinces us not only of the largeness of his mind, but of the genuine mysticism of his spirit. He tells us from the start that he is using metaphor, but we cannot help believe that he has glimpsed the world beyond the veil. He has at least as much in common with the wisdom of the east – with Buddhism and Taoism – as he does with the subsequent philosophy of the west. He is simply the great philosopher, and the difficulty one experiences in understanding him is not a difficulty based on superficial obfuscation but on his genuine profundity. No one grasps Plato by reading him through quickly or once.

– Thomas Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1995.

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