Today, in a routine full of needs, unpleasant problems and circumstances, lack of stable anchors of reference we seems to have indefinitely forgot the recognizable building blocks (or elements), components of the material world we lived in. In fact, we can see how people are more or less conscious about fire, water, earth and air.
Plato can offer us a clue of interpretation about them in his Timaeus, where he explored the theory of elements that are defined by what was called, even at that time, atom.
Each of the elements is built from a different variety of atom. The atoms take the form of Platonic solids. The atom of fire are tetrahedra, the atom of water are icosahedra, the atom of earth are cubes, and the atoms of air are octhaedra.
Despite show a certain degree of immediate skepticism, we can ask ourselves why this estimated Greek philosopher assigned these particular geometrical features to these tiny structures of matter, regarding them as regular solids. Plato says that the plausibility to these peculiar assignments is matched by their mechanism of function: as the atoms of fire have sharp points they hurt us when we try to touch it, the atoms of water are smooth and well-rounded to flow one up to the other without friction, the atoms of earth need to pack very closely, without gaps to give solidity and strength to objects. While air, defined by a hot and wet nature is able to feature its atoms between fire and water shape-line.
Today we know that Plato’s vision doesn’t fulfill a scientific theory, but his success in his capacity to envision, to intuit that our physical world must embody beautiful concepts: the beauty of perfect symmetry and mathematical regularity.
Mind and matter should be in harmony, when we start to define – properly – how matter is build from the purest products of mind. On this issue the deepest core intuition of Plato’s vision can be saw – at the same time – as a sort of faith and guiding principle. Through the building blocks for matter that Plato proposed are very different from the one we know today, scientifically speaking, the idea that there are just a few kinds of building blocks – in many identical copies – remains foundational. The tentative of Plato is to derive structure from purely mathematical considerations, associated then back to Nature, as candidate elements for matter fundamental design.
Today the idea that there is a symmetry motive at the root of Nature has gained momentum when the brightest minds we take as reference today dedicate their life to understand the origin and development of physical reality. If it is true that the first detained the instructions to built the latter structures (using stringent requirements of mathematical perfection to restrict all possible realization on a small list saw as a small bucket with seeds that dispose our world model potential) we can decode the demiurge working methods and suggest precisely how to sophisticate or economize their appearance, their laws and sub-parts.
Let me make a brief explanation on the word demiurge, used by Plato: he wanted to denote the creator of the physical word as we know it. Maybe the word ‘artisan’ can fit properly with his idea of maker that chose the shape of our world quickly, not for innate lack of patience, cause this physical world is not the ultimate reality.
There is an eternal, timeless and astonishing ensemble of ideas which exist prior to what we are able to experience, as it is independent from any physical secondary world embodiment. In fact the explanations capable to state how this little elements are formed by sub components anticipate the modern tendency to analyze ever deeper. Such as the statement that these component cannot exists separately, assembled only in pairs, triplets, until complex objects, very similar to what defined in physics as quarks and gluons confined within nuclear interiors.
Somehow Plato’s intellectual intuition was quite correct, if we dedicate a think to that. Our naturally given view from the world is a shadow projection of the world as it truly is. Our senses fail more than once to catch the potential abundance of information enclosed in our world. With the helps of 3-D technologies and microscopes we are able to experience a true discovery of tiny or abnormal creatures, enemies or friends of the case, elements that follow the weird rules of quantum mechanics.
Using and continuing the optimization of optical telescopes we discover the vast size of cosmos, reflecting on our place and our future desires or actual conclusions, we can figure the vast, dark, apparently empty spaces studded with billions of billions of stars, planets, constellations, galaxies and suns. With the aid of radio technologies and ultimate devices we “see” and analyze the invisible radiations that fill space in and out our Earth. By the aid of applied sciences we run the long marathon of fundamental research to let our ethical and moral inner side manifest its principles making the right choices and fantastic experiments capable to guarantee us a first trigger: pursuing knowledge.
What is true for the senses it is for the mind. Developing passion on something, that can be sciences or arts, is a matter of training. That is in fact a democratic principle, as it go beyond any inner ability, poorness or richness associated with our person by default or somehow during life development.
The feeling (inner and outer) that we have not arrived to the end of the research symbolized, in this case, by the training attitude, encourage us to understand what we face when we go to school or during a reading session, when we tap something on google or try to master the tricky instructions of the latest enjoyable computer program and other tools that the human being invent to keep complicate ideas in order.
An aid for inner sensation and imagination to gain the necessary alignment and strength to open the door of genuine perception, that will not let us waist time, intuitions and energy.