Egypt : PLATO's Debt to Ancient Egypt... by Alice C. Linsley

Discussion in 'Egypt' started by skuderjaymes, Dec 15, 2011.

  1. skuderjaymes

    skuderjaymes Contextualizer Synthesizer MEMBER

    Nov 2, 2009
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    Judaism and Christianity draw from ancient Egyptian-Sudanese belief, religious practice, and cosmology. [1] The ancient Greeks were also influenced by Egyptian-Sudanese ideas, especially their observation of sidereal astronomy.

    The Egyptians regarded the Sun as the symbol of the Creator because it was the source of light and life. [2] They observed that whereas the Sun is the source of light, the Moon merely reflects light. This is why the Bible criticizes Mesopotamian moon worship and why Abraham's father was regarded as an idol-worshipper (Joshua 24:2) since he maintained households in Ur and Haran, cities dedicated to the moon god Sin.

    Note the binary distinction between the source of light (Sun) and the reflection of light (Moon). This observation is the basis for Plato's famous Allegory of the Cave. Those in the cave are able to see only passing shadows, not the true objects that cast those shadows. Yet they believe that the shadows are the real objects. They continue to do so until they turn toward the cave's opening and walk out of the cave.

    Plato believed that the soul is eternal. He believed that the soul existed before it entered the body in the realm of eternal Forms. He believed that we are able to recognize a tree as tree or a mountain as mountain because our souls knew the true Forms of tree and mountain in that place of eternal Forms. What we experience in this world is ony a reflection of the true Forms which are in that realm where body-less souls exist. This seems strange to us today because we think that something exists because we see, taste, touch, hear or smell it. But while our senses suggest that something exists in the temporal realm with us, the senses don't explain how we re-cognize the essence of that object. Plato argued that we are able to re-know (re-cognize) the essence of an object because the soul knew it first as an eternal Form.

    Might Plato have borrowed these ideas? It certainly seems possible. The ancient Egyptians were concerned about the afterlife because they believed the soul or "Ba" to be eternal. To avoid being counted among the damned of the afterlife, one had to live by a high moral code and standard of righteousness. In the Egyptian view, the soul or personality, called "Ba", lives after the body dies. Ba is sometimes depicted as a human-headed bird flying out of the tomb to join with the 'Ka' in the afterlife.

    The unification of Ba and Ka happened after death by means of the proper offerings, prayers, and mummification. There was a risk of dying the second death if the unified soul and life force were condemned in the afterlife. Dying the second death meant not becoming an "akh." Only as an akh could one enjoy the resurrection life.

    Ka is the life that animates the body. Ba is the eternal soul and Ankh is the Spirit of Life. The Ankh for the ancient Egyptians was the hieroglyphic sign of life. It is symbolic of the Sun's daily course from east to west, with the loop representing the Sun.

    The horizontal crossbar symbolizes the path of the sun from east to west. To put this in terms more familiar to Christians, life is possible where the Sun, the Creator's emblem, sheds light and warmth. The ancient Egyptians believed that these elements - Ka, Ba and Ankh - became separated at death. By mummification, with prayers and sacrifices, they attempted to keep the KaBa together and prepared to receive Ankh in the afterlife. [3]

    see the complete article at
    Ethics Forum: Plato's Debt to Ancient Egypt