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Document Details :
Title: De vleugels van de ziel - On the Wings of Reminiscence
Subtitle: Over de metafysische dimensie van het herinneringsvermogen bij Plato - The Metaphysical Dimension of Memory in Plato
Author(s): VANDEN BROEK, Machteld
Volume: 59 Issue: 2 Date: 1998
The importance of memory as a metaphysical concept throughout the history of thought was first discovered by Plato and elaborated in his famous though controversial doctrine of recollection.
Various myths and metaphors in the dialogues Phaedrusand Theaetetus refer to the divine origin of memory and the a priori nature of true ‘scientific’ knowledge, as different from the ‘second-hand’ knowledge acquired from external sources, as well as to the function of earthly beauty, which is to remind the soul of the eternal, transcendent beauty of truth itself. The philosophical practice of recollection aims – as we read in the Phaedo– at turning away the mind from beguiling sensuous appeareances. It is an ascetic self-purification finally culminating in death, which is but the liberation of the soul from the bodily impediment, so that it can fly back to its homeland to be reunited with its divine origin, the transcendent Good. This is the true destiny of mankind. This divine origin is vaguely remembered and longed for, thanks to the divine gift of memory, the metaphysical place where heaven meets the earth and – as Saint Augustine put it – the seeker can find God.