The most important discovery in the history of thought
Science journalists, reliant as they are on the people who they cover and generally don’t understand, are prone to overstatement, because otherwise no one would read their work. Every fossil find will revolutionize our understand of the evolution of something or disrupt settled theory or otherwise cause all sorts of startling consequences. Every new cosmological theory alters our place in the universe. Every new biochemistry paper has the potential to end something that kills or otherwise bothers us.
ScienceDaily, in an unsigned article entitled “Science Historian Cracks the ‘Plato Code'” has possibly set a new standard for breathless reporting. Granted, the glory really belongs to the (also unnamed) author of the University of Manchester press release which apparently went unedited except for “editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff,” but it was still published in Science Daily and that is how credit is assigned.
In the first sentence, the article announces “Plato was the Einstein of Greece’s Golden Age and his work founded Western culture and science.” Socrates and his predecessors can of course go screw off. And all that stuff about how medieval Platonists retarded the growth of science is all just sour grapes from the pathetic followers of Aristole, the Arabs, Galileo, and that lot.
The second sentence: “Dr Jay Kennedy’s findings are set to revolutionise the history of the origins of Western thought.” You got that right. One guy is about to explode the myth that a variety of people all over the planet contributed to philosophy, art, technology, engineering, science. It’s all in how Plato coded his texts! That’s the basis of Western thought! And it’s miraculous how it formed the basis, since nobody knew about it until Dr Kennedy found out.
Third sentence: “Dr Kennedy, whose findings are published in the leading US journal Apeiron, reveals that Plato used a regular pattern of symbols, inherited from the ancient followers of Pythagoras, to give his books a musical structure.” Wait a minute. Apeiron is a leading American journal? Leading in what? Those other journals like Science and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science and the New England Journal of Medicine, must be really envious. I suppose journals like the American Journal of Philology, Classical Antiquity, Helios, Lyceum, and The Modern Schoolman didn’t have a prayer of landing this paper once Apeiron started throwing its weight around. And what’s this about Pythagoras, I thought Plato himself founded Western thought? Maybe Pythagoras wasn’t part of Western thought?
The article must be read. While there is a mildly interesting observation about some mystical encoding done by Plato, it is presented like the discovery of God’s first draft of the book of Genesis. (The sequence of sea creatures, land creatures and flowering plants went through much revision before the final version appeared in the King James Version.)
The article ends with this statement:
Dr Kennedy’s findings are not only surprising and important; they overthrow conventional wisdom on Plato. Modern historians have always denied that there were codes; now Dr Kennedy has proved otherwise.
He adds: “This is the beginning of something big. It will take a generation to work out the implications. All 2,000 pages contain undetected symbols.”
Current classic professors and Ph.D. candidates are bursting with joy at the thought of years and years of government grants pouring forth like blood on the Plains of Marathon to people who improvidently (according to their parents) took Attic Greek instead of business administration. ζωή είναι καλή!