Monthly Archives: January 2018

Plato Does Us a Solid

Plato Does Us a Solid

Okay, so we all know there are five Platonic solids. The tetrahedron, the hexahedron, known as the cube to you squares out there, the octahedron, the dodecahedron, and the icosahedron. They have four faces, six faces, eight faces, twelve faces, and twenty faces, respectively.

We also all of us know that three of them have the same flat polygons for all their faces. And we all know, of course, that that shape is the equilateral triangle. I need not explain what an equilateral triangle is, because we all know that.

The other two Platonic solids, the hexahedron and the dodecahedron, have a square for each of its faces and a pentagon for each of its faces, again respectively.

Now, as we all know, Plato didn’t come up with these solids on his own. Some other Greeks talked about them before Plato fixated on them, most notably Pythagoras and Plato’s pal, Theaetetus.

Plato wrote most of his ideas about his solids in his dialog “Timaeus”, which we have all read and therefore know well. I’m sure you all thought as I did, that he just went on and on and on about his precious solids until poor Timmy Timaeus damn near fell asleep. I know I nearly did.

I perked up a lot though, when Socrates and the gang at Plato’s academy started equating each of the solids with one of the elements. The real elements, earth, water, fire, and air, not those fancy shmancy ones we have these days. Earth was associated with the cube, air with the octahedron, water with the icosahedron, and fire with the tetrahedron.

Now, if you’ve been counting, that’s only four elements and four solids. Where did the dodecahedron scoot off to? What was its element? Plato only said, “…the god used [it] for arranging the constellations on the whole heaven”. That would require a whole other quasi-theory to explain, a bunch of them, really. We all know, though, that the dodecahedron is the ether. That’s what most of the other ancient Greek philosophers thought. The ether is the first element from which the other four evolve.

Why would Plato say the god used ether to paste the stars in the sky? Well, we all know that the Sanskrit word for ether is akasha, and the akasha, in the form of chidakasha, the ether of the mind, is the mind of god wherein all of everything exists. God thinks and the thought appears in the ether, later to be manifested successively in, and through, the lower elements. But we all knew that.


First shared on the Squatcher’s Lounge Podcast:

For the reading impaired, an audio version of this quasi theory may be found here: