"Platonism describes idea as prior to matter and identifies the person with the soul. Many Platonic notions secured a permanent place in Latin Christianity." - Wiki
As a non-philosopher, it may be slightly presumptuous to dismiss the founding philosopher. But something really needs to be said. Plato and his school were obsessed by the abstract- by forms and ideas. The idea(!) is that abstractions are real-er than real, since we need ideas to make sense of sensations. They paid homage to the soul as the ideal figment of man, and to idealized forms of the universe as the shape or expression of god. Christianity, formed out of the meeting of Greek philosophy and Jewish theology, lapped all this up, treating Plato as a church father who led the way towards making the metaphysical and the supernatural into respectable intellectual topics. But Plato was wrong.
Who makes forms? Nature doesn't. Nature can (sometimes) be described using formal mathematics. We can abbreviate its vast clockwork using abstract ideas. But they are only helpmeets and makeshifts to make up for our paltry cognitive capacities. They are our creations, confined to our minds and writings. We discover them in the sense of developing those ideas the most efficiently describe large collections of phenomena. But we don't discover them in the sense of going to Antarctica to discover new equations. They are found in our heads, and there they remain.
It is frankly bizarre that people could get so carried away with the power of abstract thought, (their own or that of others), that they project these powers onto the universe at large, characterizing it as a giant computer, or as a "thought" of a deity. And go far as to deprecate the very reality they are faced with, regarding it as less real than the true realities that are hidden behind in the shadowy realms of mathematics, celestial spheres, simplifying concepts, and the rest.
What does this amount to? It is the oldest form of thought in the book- magical thinking, which sees hidden forces, agents, spirits in all the vexing phenomena of our world. This is not to say that phenomena can't be analyzed ... where would we be without germ theory, geology, or Newtonian physics to make sense of the bewildering chaos around us? But never have we come face to face with what we most desired and feared- that vengeful deity or merely conscious being that, to be frank, sprang entirely from our own imagination.
Plato cleaned this up in his image as forms rather than gods, but the same process was at work- the projection of human capabilities and motivations on the canvas of reality. So, isn't the quest of physicists for a grand unified theory of everything an indication that he was on the right track? Wouldn't the ultimate reduction of physical reality into, say, an enormous Lie group, or a tiny string, vindicate the Platonic position? No it wouldn't, because such an abstraction, enormous as its explanatory power would be for us, wouldn't change the reality before us.
Biology has taught us the dangers of casual projection in place of detailed empirical engagement when dealing with bizarre, even alien, technologies. How much more inscrutable is the fabric of the universe? Whatever its cause and nature, it would be madness to assume that it follows the outlines of psychological projections which have been consistent over millennia, persistently invoking a thinking, emotional, sentient, powerful, intelligent, and caring, etc... being.
If forms were really the real reality, then we should be able to stretch reality into new shapes by altering those forms. Admittedly, this is the ultimate magical thinking, but it follows directly from the Platonic argument (as well as all the related theologies of prayer, intercession, etc.). If, on the other hand, the forms we use to describe reality are mere desiterata of our mental mechanics while reality exists outside them, not caused by form or embodying form, but capable (sometimes) of being represented through forms and formalisms... then the empirical reality is what we get, adamantly resistant to formal manipulation.
And what is the cause of this reality that we can abstractly understand by our formalisms? Is it something / someone which thinks, and whose thoughts actually conjure reality in elegant mathematical relations? This again is a projection from our mode of understanding onto the world. Biology has taught us the dangers of casual projection in place of detailed empirical engagement when dealing with bizarre, even alien, technologies. How much more inscrutable is the fabric of the universe? We simply have no idea what its ultimate cause is or was. While we can be thankful that it exists, there is no reason to think that there is anything cognizant at its core, let alone cognizant of us, much as we may wish to please it and understand it.
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