I have a very complex relationship with Plato.
As a theoretical physicist, a surprising amount of my methodology is, when you come right down to it, based upon his philosophy. Obviously, I’m not talking about the actual scientific method, with its ideas of falsification by controlled experimentation (of which Plato probably would not have approved, and which antedate him by a good long time), but the means in which we go about forming theories. This is done, generally, by looking at a physical system, abstracting it’s “ideal” case (which, in practice, consists mostly of just making a series of simplifying assumptions), and working out how it would work absent all of the messy problems that come with living in the real world. Of course, this is not always to the best; for example, it’s easy to abstract musical instruments as being nothing more than standing waves in open-ended tubes (which, of course, is what they essentially are), but this not only does away with all of the beauty and variety in music*, it also doesn’t even make accurate predictions**.
This is fine for physical science. In a field which is fundamentally utilitarian, this is what works, and I am tempted to say that there would be no progress in science whatsoever without it.
However (to repeat, once again, what has become my standard refrain), this does not work when applied to Humans. Not only are “simplifying assumptions” problematic politically, but frankly, you can’t even talk about what constitutes an “ideal Human.” There does not exist an archetype of what a Human Being is supposed to be. And I have noticed that, when people start thinking that there is such an ideal, the ideal naturally ends up taking either the form of who they, personally, wish that they were, or the form of what is considered (by their own particular society of course) to be the ”default” Human. Thus, all differences from the norm are considered to be ‘defects,’ rather than natural variations in the spectrum of possible modes of Human existence. And when people set about analyzing Human nature with this as their starting assumption, their analysis naturally tends to be prescriptive rather than simply descriptive***.
Now, understand, I am perfectly willing to interrogate Human nature. I am, as an individual, perfectly willing (and indeed eager) to find answers to all sorts of questions about why I am the way that I am. Why am I autistic? Why am I transgendered? Why am I asexual? But what I am not at all interested in doing is asking “why am I the way that I am instead of how Humans are ‘supposed’ to be?”
It is a very important distinction.
*Which arises, interestingly enough, from all sorts of “messy, real-world” considerations,
**Seriously, even a trombone is so much more complicated than a mere ‘ideal case’ that you can pretty much only make predictions about its behaviour through numerical modelling with a computer
***Indeed, it is precisely for this reason that I am inherently suspicious of psychoanalysis, particularly in its earlier forms.