why Plato asserted that the Greek gods were “perfect” despite many stories, legends, and myths where they were fallible and “immoral”


why Plato asserted that the Greek gods were “perfect” despite many stories, legends, and myths where they were fallible and “immoral”

In: 60

Plato never said they were perfect.

He just said that they had ‘perfect understanding’ of higher concepts like justice and beauty, as they were higher beings, not weighed down by mortality.

Zeus was a complete shithead rapist who went to extremes at the drop of a hat, but his immortality gave him unique insight into things like…real beauty. Or justice.

Plato also asserted that those legends and myths describing the gods doing immoral things were invented by poets for the sake of telling an entertaining story, and not indicative of the actual nature of the gods.

Quoting from ‘Did Socrates “Teach New Deities”? Or: Homer’s Gods, Plato’s Gods* : a Public Talk by Dr. Jan Garrett

>’In Plato’s view, the gods are beings that have no difficulty perceiving the absolute ideals; the gods are not the standards of justice, beauty and goodness, but they are living beings who have perfect knowledge of these standards.’

I’ll try not to go too far into Non-ELI5 territory, but that’s kind of hard when speaking of philosophy, so I may not entirely succeed.

For clarity and context, in speaking of ‘the absolute ideals’, Dr. Garret is referring to Plato’s ‘theory of Forms’.

According to Plato, everything has two forms: the ‘ideal’ form, and the ‘real’ form. The ideal form is a thing’s inherent, unchangeable non-physical essence, while the ‘real’ form is an *imitation* of the ideal form.

Justice, beauty and goodness, then, derive from the unchangeable ‘ideal form’ of those concepts; while the gods are not *representative* of those ideal forms (that is, they’re not ‘perfect beings’), they are, by their nature, possessed of *perfect knowledge* of the ideal forms of those concepts.

So, while we can only perceive and experience a shallow imitation of ‘justice’ and ‘beauty’ and ‘goodness’, the gods are capable of comprehending the true, unchanging nature of those concepts, in their ideal forms.

I’m not sure I’m expressing myself properly; language is remarkably insufficient for discussing such immense concepts…

Perhaps recognizing the fallible qualities of even immortals was the point of recognizing them as being perfect? Because perfection doesn’t actually exist in any other format.