38 Chapter 3
PLATO AND ARISTOTLE
So, all things that we can ever experience are like "shadows" of
Forms. All we will ever find, because all that we can ever find, are
Ones in free motion. They exist at all, and we can find them, only
because they are somewhat Formed, "shadows" of Forms. However,
these shadows of Forms are like shadows not only in being
insubstantial, but also in being inherently unstable. We will only be
able to find a fragmentary meaning in the universe as it appears to us,
but even worse, even that fragmentary meaning will be a temporary
m a t
Shadows are constantly changing, warping -- and disappearing.
The meaning of the only universe we can ever know is the meaning of
Ones in free motion -- and that meaning is constantly changing,
warping -- and disappearing. Even further, Ones are so poor at being
Formed that Forming them is about as successful as trying to make a
sand castle on the beach -- without having any sea water to bind the
Ones actively resist being made even temporarily coherent, just as
there is absolutely nothing in the nature of grains of sand -- existing by
themselves -- that would ever get them into the shape of a sand castle.
Not only is the only universe we can ever know a universe whose
meaning is fragmentary and unstable, it is a universe whose meaning is
inherently fragmentary and unstable, a universe that actively resists
efforts to find the meaningful, the coherent, the intelligible, in it, a
universe whose meaning sifts through our fingers, like grains of sand,
every time we try to grasp it.
s m r o F
F o r m sF or m s
rFoms s m r o F or smsm F o r
Indeed, "Matter" exists as active resistance to Form: "Matter" is
defined as everything that 'wants' to remain Form-less.
Thus the very sentences we speak, the thoughts we have, are also
not Forms, but -- at best -- only shadows of them. The process of
giving our sentences a temporary, a provisional, a fragmentary
resemblance to time-less Forms is called by Plato "dialectic."
Also, Numbers seem to be a time-less remnant of, or at least, the
best shadow of, the world of the Forms, just because they seem so
time-less, so immutable. Numbers like One, Two, Three, seem to be
able to exist by themselves, apart from all else. Counting things,
measuring them -- in short, turning them as best we can into the
Numbers that are the plainest remnants, or at least the best shadows, of
the Forms -- is "science," our closest approach to real knowledge of
If we somehow hitch things to Numbers, the closest thing we have
to Forms, that seems to anchor those things in the most solid reality
possible for us. Nonetheless, even our best efforts to question and to
know will still only result in likely accounts -- shadows of the solid
N.B. This is an html-ized copy of a page from the pdf file, The Knucklehead's Guide to Covenantal Theology.