transmigration     forms

The Egyptian-Orphic concerns with the afterlife and Pythagoras’s mysticism led to a curious “wheel-of-fate” image representing reincarnation, a telos of the soul towards “the one”, and a commitment to a particular ascetic way of life. Socrates-Plato further differentiated the concept by separating soul from body and allowing the former to persist beyond corporeal existence for a time before returning (transmigrating and being later bound) to a body. In my conception (left), the soul is enlarged during life on earth via a way of living. In Plato’s world, this may be done by acquiring knowledge (“Ideas”) which are not from sensory impressions (that are distortions/illusions) but come from without (the mind/insight). This can be told in his “parable of the cave” but I render this by simply juxtaposing an ideal triangle (straight lines) to a perceived triangle (curves) (right).   


Plato’s utopia or ideal society was influenced by Lycurgus’s Sparta but can be broken down into 3 class systems (guardians, soldiers, commoners) with distinct virtues (wisdom, courage, temperance). I summarize each of them as follows: Wisdom is penetrating thought and insight. Courage is a firm center surrounded by uncertainty. Temperance is the rejection of extremes. 

forms and matter    essence

Plato’s protege, Aristotle tried to clean up (remove) much of the former’s mysticism out of his concepts. Our impression of things are now derived from how “form” shapes “matter” in a teleological manner (left: circle into triangle). The incompleteness of ideas have been concretized into the notion of “essence” or the observed qualities that a thing must possess to be classified as such (right: 3 sides make a triangle).


Aristotle’s politics were more practical than that of Plato’s Republic as he had enough sense to recognize power dynamics inherent in the tension between body (material) and soul (ideals). Here I signify the relations in terms of where power is concentrated (central v.s. egalitarian) and the form of the relation (material v.s. ethics).


Last, we have Aristotle’s syllogistic logic which I summarize in terms of venn-diagrams. See the concept map for more elaboration.


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