A science historian at The University of Manchester says he has cracked 'The Plato Code', secret messages purported to be hidden in the writings of history's most famous philosopher.

Plato likely needs no introduction here but, in brief, he was one of the most influential authors in history; philosopher, mathematician and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the West, which laid the foundations of both Western philosophy and science.

Dr. Jay Kennedy is publishing his findings in the journal Apeiron and says that Plato used a regular pattern of symbols, inherited from the ancient followers of Pythagoras, to give his books a musical structure.  Pythagoras, scientist and religious teacher when such a thing was possible without a lot of drama, had declared that the planets and stars made an inaudible music, a 'harmony of the spheres' and Kennedy says Plato imitated this hidden music in his books.

Kennedy says the hidden codes show that Plato anticipated the Scientific Revolution 2,000 years before Isaac Newton, discovering its most important concept – that nature is written in the language of mathematics. Kennedy further says the decoded messages open up a surprising way to unite science and religion because the awe and beauty we feel in nature, Plato says, shows that it is divine and discovering the scientific order of nature is getting closer to God. 

plato's musical code

Whew.  Good thing that whole culture war between science and religion can end now.

"Plato's books played a major role in founding Western culture but they are mysterious and end in riddles," Kennedy says.  "In antiquity, many of his followers said the books contained hidden layers of meaning and secret codes, but this was rejected by modern scholars.  It is a long and exciting story, but basically I cracked the code. I have shown rigorously that the books do contain codes and symbols and that unraveling them reveals the hidden philosophy of Plato.

"This is a true discovery, not simply reinterpretation."

If so, it will change perception of the early history of Western thought, including the histories of ancient science, mathematics, music, and philosophy.

Kennedy spent five years studying Plato's writing and and says he found that in his best-known work "The Republic", Plato placed clusters of words related to music after each twelfth of the text – at one-twelfth, two-twelfths, etc. This regular pattern represented the twelve notes of a Greek musical scale. Some notes were harmonic, others dissonant. At the locations of the harmonic notes he described sounds associated with love or laughter, while the locations of dissonant notes were marked with screeching sounds or war or death. This musical code was key to cracking Plato's entire symbolic system.

"As we read his books, our emotions follow the ups and downs of a musical scale. Plato plays his readers like musical instruments," Kennedy says.  Presumably he means those among us who can read ancient Greek.

But Plato did not design his secret patterns purely for pleasure, it was also for his own safety, because his ideas were a dangerous threat to Greek religion. He said that mathematical laws and not the gods controlled the universe. Plato's own teacher had been executed for heresy, secrecy was normal in ancient times - especially esoteric and religious knowledge - so Plato may have regarded confidentiality as a matter of life and death. Encoding his ideas in secret patterns was the only way to be safe.

Plato led a dramatic life. Born around 400 BC, at a time when Sparta defeated Athens, he wrote 30 books and not only founded the world's first university, he was arguably the first feminist, because he allowed women to study there.   He is also considered the first great defender of romantic love (as opposed to marriages arranged for political or financial reasons) and, in good Greek fashion, defended homosexuality in his books.

If that's not exciting enough, he was once captured by pirates and sold into slavery before being ransomed by friends.   

Says Kennedy, "Plato's importance cannot be overstated. He shifted humanity from a warrior society to a wisdom society. Today our heroes are Einstein and Shakespeare – and not knights in shining armour – because of him."

Kennedy says the effort took so long because he carefully peeled back layer after symbolic layer.  "There was no Rosetta Stone. To announce a result like this I needed rigorous, independent proofs based on crystal-clear evidence.  The result was amazing – it was like opening a tomb and finding new set of gospels written by Jesus Christ himself.

"Plato is smiling. He sent us a time capsule."

Modern historians have always denied that there were codes but Kennedy says he has proved otherwise.   "This is the beginning of something big. It will take a generation to work out the implications. All 2,000 pages contain undetected symbols."

Kennedy has a blog - http://jaybeekennedy.wordpress.com/ - where he updates his research.

Some select Plato quotes you will recognize:

“Ignorance: the root of all evil.”

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.”

“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”

“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.”

Citation: Jay Kennedy, ‘Plato’s forms, Pythagorean Mathematics, and Stichometry’, Apeiron, in press.