Where have I heard this before?

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this theory, so it’s a real question: Leiter has up a synopsis of a classicist who claims that Plato’s works can be broken down into musical notes. I think Michael Naas told me that he had talked to someone during his grad school days who had huge diagrams on this, working out how this all worked. After all that work, though, I’m lost on the point: it’s not new to claim that Plato was deeply influenced by the Pythagoreans. But…then what?

The presence and nature of the hidden codes suggest that Plato may have signed up to the same belief – and that 2,000 years before the birth of modern science, he was leaving a message in his writing that maths and logical patterns ruled the universe, not the gods.

Dr Kennedy argues that Plato did not use the code for pleasure, but for his own safety. Plato’s own teacher had been executed for heresy….

Dr Kennedy added. ‘This is the beginning of something big. It will take a generation to work out the implications. All 2,000 pages contain undetected symbols.’

That’s what been missing from my work thus far: hidden musical stylings…


  1. I read a paper–publication details escape me–which was, shall we say, hyper-Straussian insofar as he argued that Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws had to be read numerologically–chapters and books with symbolic numbers more important than others, paragraph counting, etc. (Strauss never went this far: he counted chapters and paragraphs, but didn’t seem to impose a second-order structure on them besides “really long paragraphs and abnormally short paragraphs are likely more important than the others.”) If I recall correctly, he came to the standard conclusion: the chapter on the English constitution and the chapter on the liberalizing forces of commerce were the most important.

    Ultimately, all that I came out of the paper with was a fantastic table counting the books, chapters and paragraphs in the work–surely time-consuming work. I hope he used an original edition…

    1. Well, that’s the beauty of it: you have to do all that work before you can hazard any “conclusions,” even if they don’t end up changing anything….

    1. I’m sure someone is working on it, though I think the scales don’t coordinate at all. I remember someone explaining Greek music to me once, with growing impatience, over an hour or so. But there’s a research funding proposal out there for someone: the hidden Platonic chorus….

      1. We could at least use the text-to-midi generator for our own texts. Or texts by others. We could find out if Adorno’s writing actually produces smooth jazz, etc.

        Although, come to think of it, using it in reverse could be scary: imagine writing an instrumental song and crunching it through the program and it produces a text that says things like “the best allocation of resources is determined through free market competition…”

  2. And Leiter has the usual unexplained dismissive comments about this work. The Leiter style of critique appears to amount to posting long block quotes and then gawking and putting things in scare quotes. (“this ‘discovery,'” etc.)

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