Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Platonic Form (of Bed)

Considering Plato (a highly entitled specimen)
One of the first philosophical ideas that most students must grapple with is Plato's legendary Theory of Forms. One interesting aspect is that while Plato had a theory of forms, there is no such thing as a Platonic Form of Interpretation of Plato's Theory.

Should I even dare summarize it here? Throw out an oft-heard, but ultimately misleading sort of generalization such as the standard "Hegelian 101" process of ascribing to Hegel the idea of thesis, antithesis, synthesis. (Again, it was Fichte)

There is one constellation of thoughts that people glean: that what we see in the world are imperfect copies of what is, in principle the "perfect form" of something.

The Platonic Form of Bed is the everlasting principle of bed. The problem herein is that I'm using a word for a fairly concrete thing and you're probably thinking of your bed. Is it wide? Narrow? Hard? Soft? On the Floor? Is it a couch? Or are you heading off into the more abstract usages such as "nail bed" (at least two meanings there!) or river bed?

For me, I find it helps to think beyond sight. The visual sense is one that supplies us with form, usually in the "form" of geometry. A bed is square, etc. Unless it's a heart-shaped bed and then you are usually having sex upon that bed in some cheap hotel.

This presupposes a human bed. A dog bed is round. Or is the human bed the dog's version as well? The human bed make become the symbol of perfection, that once attained usually requires the Dog to lie across it at an perpendicular angel which takes up most of the room (and crowding me off the edge).

But what of the other senses? What is their "shape" of the Platonic Form of bed. I have been aquainted with several dogs that were never very happy when their beds were washed, presumably because the complex olfactory worlds were disturbed. Perhaps it's even akin to dumping out all the books in a library and then proclaiming "but look how clean the shelves are now."

Touch is one we can all understand. For myself, in the Winter, my bed reaches a Platonic Form of perfection. Usually around 6:00 in the morning when I wake up. It is warm, but not hot. My pajamas feel just right as well because I am not sweating. Nor am I cold. There is a warm softness to the flannel so that my feet feel like they are being lovingly caressed. It is profoundly dark and cold, even in my room outside, which offers a thermal chiaroscuro to the nest I find myself in. My mind, shut off from sight and in the quiet of the morning, sinks back deeply into this most complex, and primal of Forms.

Unless there is a dog crowding me.


  1. The individual portrayed in the photograph may have very well been one of the few I have met who transcended the Ordinary Will to Life, not as a means of escape, but that the Will to Sleep and Deny the illusory nature of the world had become something she didn't even think of. Which was the whole point.

  2. the Platonic Form of the perfect dog will always be with you at 6 a.m. That's something!