It’s 9:30pm on Saturday October 27th, and there are three things on my mind: 1) Why did I have to get knocked down with a nasty cold on Halloween weekend — my favorite party weekend of the entire year in Montreal? 2) Why the hell do all my friends get to paint the town red in fabulous costumes and hop from one amazing party to the next while I’m here stuck at home eating chicken soup and popping Tylenol Cold & Flu? and 3) How would Plato (429–347 B.C.) be celebrating Halloween if he was here right now?
Chances are Plato would be hosting the biggest bash of all, trading in his white toga for a Dr. Frank-N-Furter costume, and swapping his bar full of red wine for a bar full of everything under the sun — or moon I should say. But even though he’s not here physically, he himself believed he would have been here spiritually. Plato’s belief in ghosts and the spirit world emerged from his conclusions to the Mind-Body Problem, the formidable philosophical problem of understanding how the mind relates to the physical body — perhaps the grandfather of all metaphysical questions. Plato argued that, since the body is from the material world, the soul is from the world of ideas and is thus immortal. He believed the soul was temporarily united with the body and would only be separated at death, when it would return to the World of Forms. As Alan Silverman writes in Plato’s Middle Period Metaphysics and Epistemology (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy): “‘Forms’ exist outside of space and time and that are both the objects of knowledge and somehow the cause of whatever transpires in the physical world […] the immortal soul, in a disembodied state prior to its incarceration in a body, viewed these Forms, a knowledge of which is then recalled by incarcerated souls through a laborious process.” For Plato, ideas (or Forms) are the True Reality, and are experienced by the soul.
The great ancient Greek philosophers understood the soul as spectral movement, behaving very much in the same manner and with the same properties as magnetism. In an essay entitled Do You Believe In Ghosts?, the author writes: “Plato made a distinction between a soul and an apparition – believing that an apparition was a soul that was weighted down by bodily impurities, impurities taken on while the soul was in the body. Now, he believed that apparitions were able to be seen by the living because of these impurities. Thus, he believed an ‘apparition’ was a ghost. Another philosopher, and one of the most educated of his time, Plutarch (46-120 A.D.), was a believer in the supernatural. He went on to argue in the existence of ghosts, stating that even the educated, and great minds from even his past, had given strong reports of encounters. Pliny the Younger (61–112 A.D.), a lawyer, author and magistrate of Ancient Rome, had also given accounts of ghosts in his letters.”
In a fascinating piece entitled The Metaphysics and Logical Philosophy of Ghosts (by far the best philosophical analysis on this subject that I have ever read) the author writes: “Metaphysicians and now too modern physicists demonstrate that matter is most likely no more than a bundling of wavefronts of something else antecedent to the matter itself, a mere attribute to a metaphysical Subject. Platonists, namely Plotinus (205-270 A.D.) have abducted that matter is nothing more than the byproduct of emanation by the Absolute; a temporal manifestation of the Good. Moving ahead with the subject, spirits, or noetic beings; logically that the noetic might find and make congress with matter in the form of empirical, consubstantial, and temporal being, so too will be the case, albeit the rarer occurrence (or is it so?) that spirits make mimetic intercession into and with ‘our’ (one must say ‘our’, since the phenomenal world is no more ‘ours’ than the Sun is ours by illogical reasoning that by proxy, light from the Sun falls upon our very faces) world in many fashions, some of which are readily apparent through the profane and extremely limited spectrum senses of human beings. Logically and rightly so, by implementation of an ‘extension’ of our limited senses, near-infrared, and out-of-human-range audio, electrostatic, magnetic-field, and video electronics have opened wide 100X fold, the interest and uncovering of these spirit-phenomena or intercessions, by resultant that through usage of this instrumentation, a far greater spectrum or bandwidth of data as pertains spirit/ghost-activity has been made readily available for examination.”
You can read this brilliant essay The Metaphysics and Logical Philosophy of Ghosts in full by CLICKING HERE. As Plato himself infers, ghosts are exceptionally rare in the sense that they are the manifestations of troubled souls riveted to a traumatic event in one’s past or an event which occurred at the moment of one’s death. So the odds of seeing one are perhaps not as impossible as winning the lottery, but still up there nonetheless. My fascination with ghosts goes back as long as I can remember, and the older I get I realize it stems from a passionate curiosity of what’s beyond the veil. Although I’m not a religious person, I am deeply spiritual, and share an appreciation with the world’s great religions that there is most definitely something afterlife that not only meets us when our time is up, but surrounds us in the fabric of our daily lives to a significant degree as well.
From my understanding, however — whatever this realm consists of — mankind will never have access to this information. A lucky few might get a glowing glimpse of this dimension somewhere on an old wooden staircase at some point here or there, but to paraphrase Arthur C. Clarke, “Not only is this realm stranger than you imagine, it’s stranger than you can imagine.” And I’d bet good money that somewhere on the other side Plato and his buddies are having a grand ol’ Halloween party of their own, toasting one another with those famous last words, “Told ya so.”
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