Platonism

Both systems are united with one another and cut off from some—not all—modern thought by their conviction that Nature, the totality of phenomena in space and time, is not the only thing that exists: is, indeed, the least important thing. Christians and Platonists both believe in an “other” world. They differ, at least in emphasis, when they describe the relations between that other world and Nature. For a Platonist the contrast is usually that between an original and a copy, between the real and the merely apparent, between the clear and the confused: for a Christian, between the eternal and the temporary, or the perfect and the partially spoiled. The essential attitude of Platonism is aspiration or longing: the human soul, imprisoned in the shadowy, unreal world of Nature, stretches out its hands and struggles towards the beauty and reality of that which lies (as Plato says) “on the other side of existence.” Shelley’s phrase “the desire of the moth for the star” sums it up. In Christianity, however, the human soul is not the seeker but the sought: it is God who seeks, who descends from the other world to find and heal Man; the parable about the Good Shepherd looking for and finding the lost sheep sums it up.

- Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature
Stacks Image p36_n3
Stacks Image p36_n5