Reason, religion, and Plato: Orphism and the mathematical mediation between being and becoming
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)
What does religion have to do with philosophy? More specifically, what does a long-abandoned 6th c. BC Greek mystery religion have to do with Plato, to whose intellectual contribution all the rest of western philosophy is sometimes said to be footnotes? I argue that the role played by mathematics in the philosophy of Plato is integrally influenced by Orphism. Plato transformed the distinctive Orphic anthropological, eschatological, and theogonic concepts into a philosophical system. His work largely secured the cultural conditions necessary for the very practice of philosophy. In Part One I delve into just how different culture was before Plato from what it must be like in order for there to be philosophy. I consider Orphism as a novel mythological form, synthesising Apollonian and Dionysian religious motifs. I examine some of its intellectual effects. In Part Two I consider what was to come from this under Plato's own masterful influence. In these ways I resuscitate a once traditional emphasis on Orphism in the understanding of Plato. But I bring a greater than usual attention to bear upon mathematics.