Plato & Augustine

Plato & Augustine

There are many great philosophers that have passed through the ages, but none more intriguing than Plato and Augustine. These two men have very different views, yet are similar on many levels. Their ideas on death, the spiritual realm vs. the physical realm, and an added preference for the spiritual are aspects in which these two philosopher’s views of reality are similar, yet insufficient biblical models.

To both Augustine and Plato, death is a release form the physical realm into the spiritual. Plato feels that death is a positive aspect of reality because the physical realm is eternally changing and is based on opinion, so nothing can be real or achieve perfectness while inhabiting the physical form.

Another aspect in which these two men are similar in thought is the dualistic perspective of the spiritual realm over the physical realm. The physical realm is full of misconceptions and is not perfect, but the spiritual realm is the inverse of that. For this reason, the spiritual realm is sought out and favored by both philosophies.

The third portion of the reality views these two truth-seekers have in common is setting a preference for the spiritual realm over the physical. The physical realm is eternal but is also flawed by either human opinion (Plato) or by the lack of “goodness” in God’s descending creation (Augustine). The spiritual realm is eternal, but is not plagued by the faults of the human body and physical realm; therefore “perfectness” is achieved in the spiritual realm.

Plato and Augustine may have shared views of reality, but these examinations of reality are not sufficient models of biblical principle. The preference of soul over body is not biblically sound because, as humans, we are meant to live in the physical world as a part of God’s creation. The body is equally important as the soul. The great thinkers also assert that salvation comes through a pre-destined selection by God of those He will reveal His will to. Only if the pre-chosen enlightened humans act on this revelation can salvation be obtained. The Bible states differently. Salvation, according to the Bible, is offered to anyone who accepts Christ wholly and lives according to the guidelines set by Christ’s example in the Gospels. In each of these ways, Plato and Augustine’s scrutinizes of reality do not adequately fit the biblical view of reality.