Though they often gesture in his direction, few contemporary philosophers or writers engage Plato’s ideas. Yet C.S. Lewis and H.P. Lovecraft, two relatively uncelebrated authors of science-fiction fantasy (in academic circles, at least), treat Plato’s notion of human enlightenment extensively. The two authors seem to agree with Plato’s premise that knowledge is possible. While they concur that the metaphorical journey outside the cave is feasible, they differ on the benefits of such an ascent. Lewis is reassuring to his readers; like the Neo-Platonists to which he links his trilogy of science-fiction fantasy, he theorizes that the outside of the Platonic cave is the realm of God, in which humble humans find the salvation and love they merit. Lovecraft, however, seems convinced that the cosmic realm of the Old Gods, so oddly reminiscent of Plato’s realm of the forms, has but one lesson for seekers of enlightenment: it is better not to ascend too far up the proverbial ladder of knowledge.
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Mythcon 52: The Mythic, the Fantastic, and the Alien
Albuquerque, New Mexico; July 29 - August 1, 2022