Art, Culture & Society

Awestruck with Astronauts and Plato’s View From Above

Have you ever felt awestruck by the beauty of the night sky? Imagine the view astronauts are privy to from above and could sympathize with Plato’s perspective. Plato sought to bring order and clarity to our minds. He proposed that our lives go wrong because we do not dedicate time to think carefully and logically about our plans. This results in a path that leads to unhappiness in our careers, relationships, and values according to Stoic philosophy “Plato’s View”. 

Astronaut Rubio and Team Have View From Above

However, after 371 days in space, would astronaut Dr. Frank Rubio agree with Plato? According to NASA, he completed approximately 5,936 orbits during his time in space. This would be equivalent to about 328 trips to the moon and back. He completed the longest single spaceflight by an American astronaut. Imagine their reaction when they were expected to arrive on Earth on March 28, but plans changed. They had to spend an additional six months inside the International Space Station. 

Apparently, a piece of space junk or meteoroid hit their spacecraft and caused an uncontrollable radiator leak. Without a doubt, it must have not been easy living in a cramped enclosure in the company of cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin for a year. Rubio said he had a difficult time being away from family but tried to remain positive during the extension period of his mission. 


The U.S. astronaut claims that if he had known the extension of his mission, he would’ve declined the offer. He regrets missing time with his family. In a live-streamed press conference on Friday, October 13, 2023, he admits: “I was able to … see what things I had done well, what things I had done poorly and try to improve on those for the next half of the expedition,” Rubio said. He emphasized that he still wasn’t perfect but was “incredibly lucky in the fact that you’re able to take those lessons learned and immediately implement them. A lot of people have to wait five, six, or 10 years [for a second mission] until they are able to implement those things that they just learned.”

Can You Have Plato’s View?

Can we suggest that living a year in space would help us value “Plato’s view”? Can we evaluate what is important in life? The argument remains. Do we dedicate enough time to carefully think about our life decisions? Can we, so to speak, “pause” our lives and reflect on what matters the most? In the case of U.S. astronaut Rubio, he was obligated to make the time and improve. Other astronauts do not have the luxury to do so while they are in space. Is it possible to take the “real view from above”? 

Another renowned astronaut, Apollo 14’s Edgar Mitchell. He became the sixth man on the moon and photographed Alan Sheppard raising the American flag on the moon. Mitchell had the opportunity to have a “real view from above.” He claimed, “You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty…” 


It is humbling to take a step back from our own problems, concerns, and worries to realize there is more to life than ourselves. We do not live in a society by ourselves, but we have a duty to serve others. According to Marcus Aurelius, this is the Stoic ideology of sympatheia. We are interconnected with each other and automatically have an affection for one another. This philosophy provides us with the beautiful insight to view how small we are in the grand scheme of things. 

We might not be an astronaut or have the privilege to view Earth from above. However, we could take a moment to “pause”. The Stoics philosophy can be implemented in our day-to-day routine, by reflecting on our personal lives and how it can affect others. If we could look at the “big picture”, we are only 1/8.000.000th of the pixelated picture. Whatsoever, that pixel could make a difference. The question remains, is there more to life? That is up to you. 


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