Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Form of Cuteness


According to Plato, these kittens are both cute...and ugly. In his famous explanation of how we know what we know, which includes his Divided Line simile describing the different degrees of knowledge, Plato says that some sense perceptions 'summon' thought while others do not. When I see these kittens frolicking in the garden or sleeping together in one big intertwined ball of fur I am not compelled to ask if a kitten is at the same time the opposite of a kitten. However, what about their bigness? Their smallness? And what about their cuteness?? Now, Plato says, my understanding has been awakened, or summoned, by the perception of these qualities. Big compared to what? Small compared to what? Cute compared to what??

Compared, of course, to the Forms, the perfect, intangible, objective, transcendent First Principles which Plato believed exist independent of any object and can only be known by the reasoning soul. Thus, the Form of Cuteness. And while these kittens, as physical beings, can only represent the Form of Cuteness I just have to think that they must be in one of the very highest categories of things cute. And sweet. And adorable.



macmahon7 said...

Guinevere and Snickers are the Form of Cuteness personified. Did Plato touch on personification?

desert mom said...

That would be Aristotle; he believed the forms existed in matter, not separate from them. We just finished reading some of his Ethics so if I ever find some time I'll write a little about that : ) But next, I have a bread recipe that will revolutionize your baking--really!