Charles Taylor, in Sources of the Self, contrasts Augustine and Plato by pointing out that Plato does not actually hold to “innate ideas” in the way that Augustine does. For Plato, even memory is really a means to point one outside of himself to the prenatal vision of the forms. Augustine, on the contrary, believes that God planted a certain amount of moral knowledge into man in creation, thus making man the image of God. To look to one’s self, for Augustine, is not necessarily to look away from God.
For Plato, things are always different. Man has to get outside of himself, to look outward to the divine order which rules over him. Man has a certain natural capacity, but that is only a capacity to grasp something else. Man is always ruled by the laws above him.
You always hear that Plato is a rationalist, the great promoter of brains in the sky. He certainly didn’t want man’s emotions getting in the way, and thus he didn’t appreciate the arts or music.
I have some idea of where this came from, but it has to be said that it is demonstrably false. Here’s Socrates from Plato’s Republic, book III:
And therefore, I said, Glaucon, musical training is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the sound, on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated graceful, or of him who is ill-educated ungraceful: and also because he who has received this true education of the inner being will most shrewdly perceive omissions or faults in art and nature, and with a true taste, while he praises and rejoices over and receives into his soul the good, and becomes noble and good, he will justify blame and hate the bad, now in the days of his youth, even before he will recognize and salute the friend with whom his education has made him long familiar.
Yes, he said, I quite agree with you in thinking that it is for such reasons that they should be trained in music…
Oh to have more Platonism in schools these days!