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Theaetetus 156a to 157c
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, TP, thank you for that splendid little demonstration of tyrannical 'self control'.

Jason, I'm sorry about that childish rant. In my first reply I mentioned the presence of a 'tripwire'. You get a feeling about this sort of stuff. I'm just surprised it took so long to activate. I'll leave it up for a few days to serve as an example of how not to conduct oneself on a forum. And in the meanwhile maybe TP will be able to return to Republic 4 and re-acquaint herself/himself on the true meaning of sophrosune .
Pete

Philosophy can never be about abusing people.
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ThePlatonist DotCom



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Self-control is not defined as the lack of emotion, rather the ability to live life according to reason. When the head realizes that something is disgraceful, it should be able to enrage the spirit, sending the individual to war. The Socrates we see in Plato is by in large brimming over with easy going love, but when he was young he fought like a lion in hand to hand combat.

Anyhow, for the record, as long as it stands here, I have written an introduction to this topic at my web site:

Theaetetus 156a to 157c Commentary

My experiences here have had a profound effect on me, I want to rid myself off all the sentimental playfulness in my writing and become as dry and sharp and relentless as possible.
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Remember, we have no knowledge of Greek grammar until Plato's own exposition towards the end of Sophist and there he doesn't touch upon what we now call Voice (active/passive). Grammar is not philosophy, obviously, and we shouldn't load it with such an imperative.

Now, quite apart from the context of the Theaetetus passage (roughly 150-160) I would like to question you on how it presents itself, (ie face value) as a true reflection of Protagoras' 'secret' doctrine to his followers.

Why do you equate power only with that which 'acts' denying it to that which is acted upon? Surely this is a very unsophisticated and certainly un-Greek way of approach. Put in simplistic terms, the earth has the power to activate a seed. Iron filings lack this power. This is exactly what is being said in the 156 passage, is it not, when he talks of the aptness of one motion to another? A potential 'seeing' does not coalesce with 'that which hears' (ie no offspring arise from this frictionless non-encounter); whereas there is potential union and arising plenitude between the seeing eye and the seeable motion. Active/passive is here a superficial 'outward sight' of the situation.

I reiterate, the word dunamis can be seen as 'the ability to...' or 'capacity'. If you wish to expand your dossier on the meaning of power I strongly recommend (once more) Metaphysics Theta. This is what it is about. We are not privy to the agrapha dogmata of the Academy but I strongly hold that the young Aristotle imbibed these ideas of action and passion which figure so tellingly in Metaphysics from his sojourn there. He takes it as understood that a power embraces both the maker of the action and that in which the act takes place, the patient. They are interlinked by the power to give and the power to receive. At the most fundamental level the only property hule possesses is that it desires form. And Heidegger also talks towards this when he says that a man may be blind but a chair cannot be. ie it lacks that power.

Now, TP, I'm taking your words seriously. I would like you to reciprocate. If you begin the silly stuff which is unworthy of such an important argument, I'll be out of the discussion. Whatever you call sophrosune I call it self-discipline, and it is not only in battle that this virtue is exercised, but also to keep andreia in sight of sophia. This is what Book Four of Republic exhorts us to see.

By the way, your article is very thought provoking - I look forward to its continuance. The points I make here only concern the technical issue of 'power' as used by the Greeks.
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ThePlatonist DotCom



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You seem to be saying several things at the same time including talking about Plato's knowledge of grammar and the best word to translate dunamis. But let's cut through all that smoke and focus on the something that matters and I can respond to in a businesslike way. I will summarize it like this:

You are saying you don't agree with this paragraph:

But the grammatical concepts of active and passive are defined as "that which does" and "that which is done to". This definition does not comprehend the passive as a power, only the active as a power. So a grammatical active and passive contradict Socrates' description. Furthermore, the idea of the grammatical active and passive rubbing together and giving birth to offspring is absurd because there is no competition between these mechanical concepts, rather they are perfectly complimentary logical partners that generate no philosophical fire.

Do you agree yes or no? Don't give a speech say yes or no.

I assume you say "That's right I don't agree which that paragraph, I get the first sentence but not the second sentence onwards. I don't understand why that 'which is done do' can't be a power and can't rub."

Note: this is the way to write, see how I tore apart Jason's Musings, treat it like mathematics, recall your adversaries precise words and sentence and point out exactly where you think the argument went wrong in a very forensic way. In this case, it must be the second sentence, it's obvious that I have defined grammatical passive correctly. You make this clear in you point because you ask me "why can't the partner that 'is acted upon' have power as well as the partner that 'acts upon'.

You give an example, seeds coming from the earth, but that makes no sense because clearly conceiving offspring is a making and is active, and in fact that example, which occurs in Diotima's speech, appears in my article.

You're making the mistake of assuming that, for example, a woman is the passive and a man the active, but then pointing out a woman has power too. But that's bad poetry not science, we have to forget about the fuzzy way ordinary people think.

So the question at issue is how can something which is defined precisely as the passive (ie that is effect not cause) have power? Even if something can be passive at one time and active at another, or passive in one way and active in another, that doesn't matter to us in this point of logic. We want to know how can the passive have power as well as active in the same sort of way that inertia exerts a force at the same time acceleration does.

Yet you don't understand, so either you haven't give it sufficient though, or I haven't written well enough, or of course my argument is incorrect.

Clearly I will have to edit the article, expanding the single paragraph above to make the point much clearer. That's going to mean several more paragraphs with examples, I hope it works, I hope I don't wreck the article by over-lengthening it.

One of the things I am going to do when I edit it is point out that the point is subtle, you must make an effort to grasp it. First you must try and get hold of what I am saying, why I have written what I have written, and then once you have seen through my eyes you are in a position to disagree. You can't disagree with something unless you understand why the person said it, you should really make that plain in your philosophical conversations. Eg "I understand your point but I refute it", or "I can't fathom you point at all". Here you are wavering between both sides.
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
But the grammatical concepts of active and passive are defined as "that which does" and "that which is done to". This definition does not comprehend the passive as a power, only the active as a power. So a grammatical active and passive contradict Socrates' description.


I disagree with this section and do not understand clearly the rest.

By the way, its dumb to utter a composite and demand whether I agree or disagree. One might have diverse thoughts about the diverse parts.

As to Jason's mail, I think it sailed by you, while you huffed and puffed.
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ThePlatonist DotCom



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes obviously I know you disagree with that part, although you don't disagree with the first sentence, just the second onwards, and i already wrote a rejoinder for you above explaing all that.

But have you read the rest of what I wrote just a moment ago for heavens sake? Ie all this:

-------------------------------------------

You give an example, seeds coming from the earth, but that makes no sense because clearly conceiving offspring is a making and is active, and in fact that example, which occurs in Diotima's speech, appears in my article.

You're making the mistake of assuming that, for example, a woman is the passive and a man the active, but then pointing out a woman has power too. But that's bad poetry not science, we have to forget about the fuzzy way ordinary people think.

So the question at issue is how can something which is defined precisely as the passive (ie that is effect not cause) have power? Even if something can be passive at one time and active at another, or passive in one way and active in another, that doesn't matter to us in this point of logic. We want to know how can the passive have power as well as active in the same sort of way that inertia exerts a force at the same time acceleration does. But surely this obvious because Newton's each has an opposite power on the other is the opposite of 'passive is what is done to' and 'active is what does to', surely it's obvious that genius of Newton's trinity was that it abolished the slavish old idea of active and passive!!

-------------------------------------------

I would like to know you are actually reading these things carefully because you are asking me to do a lot of work to explain things, but if you're not paying attention you're just wasting my time. There is no-one else reading this who can judge the point, but I am not entirely confident this paragraph does need more explanation...
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was coming to that little inaccuracy next, but was being careful not say 'several things at the same time'.

Quote:
You give an example, seeds coming from the earth, but that makes no sense because clearly conceiving offspring is a making and is active, and in fact that example, which occurs in Diotima's speech, appears in my article.


Perhaps you are not as intelligent as I assumed. You certainly did not read wot I wrote.

The seed meets the earth and in this arrangement it activates, not uselessly like a ear of wheat on the quiet room floor, but in plenitude because its active power has met a passive power that receives it and allows itself to be drawn into the nature of what drives the seed (its eidos).

So that is the power of the earth. To be drawn into the seed. We mispeak if we say the seed is activated by ... because it ignores the fact that it is the very nature of a seed to activate. As I said, it might well activate and die on the larder floor but that is not what nature wants. It wants the two powers, active and passive to coelesce and have offspring and thereby grant everlasting happiness to the world.

Walt Whitman said 'patient as the earth'. First it receives the plough, then the seed, then the rain. the sun, and finally the reap/rape of harvest gathering.

Please no more on this. The whole passage is a hoax anyway, an elaborate piece of pdeudos concocted by a genius, but with an ironical smile on his face and another agenda in his mind. How that smile would widen if he could hear our discourse!
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ThePlatonist DotCom



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of course the passage is not a hoax, the worlds greatest modern philosopher C S Peirce seems to have called the Theaetetus the greatest examination of human thinking ever written. I don't like people who try to win arguments by name dropping instead of rigorous debate, but really it's absurd to wall yourself off like a Tea Party supporter from the worlds greatest logicians. Of course Plato is trying to teach something extremely important here. Of course those dingy 1970s liberal atheist pseudo-intellecuals who called Plato a great big joke devoid of any underlying teachings were talking absolute nonsense.

I can hardly answer you actual argument I am afraid. "The power of the earth is to be used by the seed." It's got nothing to do with our argument about grammatical passive, it's just you playing with words, keeping yourself safe from having to think about real philosophy. In the grammatical active and passive the powers are partners, but by introducing a whole new dimension, so its not earth and water married to each other, but rather earth and water married, and beyond them seeds using the earth, you have escaped the problem- but it's a ridiculous escape.

I started to write several pages of new explanation, but I am going to give up on it. Unless someone else asks me, I going to assume its clear enough already why grammatical passive is neither a power nor generates methodological tension, and why Plato is therefore obviously talking about the Eastern active-passive, not the grammatical active-passive. But I do have some small edits to what I have written which is not yet published but soon will be.


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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 4:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Taken with Sophist I think I would tend to agree with Mr Peirce. But I believe this passage that is being passed of by Socrates as the work of Protagoras is by Plato himself. I probably think it as brilliant as you, maybe even more so, but he still is making Theaetetus walk the plank, only to suddenly withdraw it.

The question is, is this a truthful account of untruth, or an untruthful account of the truth? I'm not being clever. When we align it with the two great propositions offered at the beginning of Timaeus' monologue I think the answer becomes clear.

But this is a sovereign issue for each soul, and you must make up your own mind; Do you not think it is significant that the concept of eidos is suppressed throughout this dialogue and left virtually unexplored until a good way into Sophist? Perhaps you don't and that's fair enough, and perhaps you've had enough of me. So I won't push it.

There are also other important issues here, concerning that part of Aristotle I mentioned. Were we sitting in leisured peace in the agora, we could tease them out to our mutual benefit. And you would be able to see that I am not a contentious fellow at all, just a jobbing musician trying to earn a crust.
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ThePlatonist DotCom



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The question is, is this a truthful account of untruth, or an untruthful account of the truth? I'm not being clever.


Since you don't know what it's account of, don't you think it's shameless to engage in these speculations? It's totally and utterly un-academic to speculate on such things without understanding the arguments. It's not living your life according to reason, it's like witch doctoring, and that's why we call it "disgraceful" and "shameless".

Do you understand this argument? It's incredibly important, and it sums up the disgraceful state of modern liberal arts and the appalling dark hole you have tumbled into. And once you have understood all this, and it has shocked you and transformed your life, move onto my next paragraph below:

So instead of speculating endlessly in this terrible way about things that are way over your head, and you couldn't possibly know, and which would do you no good at all even if you did know, go back to my web site and read the argument again, and see if you can make sense of it.

Tell me if you finally get it! Be a man not a zombie!
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The image that comes over is of someone jumping up and down in some lonely attic renting their hair. It seemed so promising en arche, ou de nun. One of the marks of this kind of stuff you trot out (it's quite a common trait on the net, you know) is that its full of overblown polemic and hyperbole, ever promising but never delivering.

Now I expect you'll be off to another forum spinning out the same yarn, about the intermediate dyad (what's that?!) etc. girding the loins of the hoplites and telling derring do tales of Platon the wrestler when you don't have the decency or courage to put your real name to your rantings - which I must say are becoming increasingly troll like. My sincere hope is that you sign off the forum.

Anyway, I don't think I want to play any more (though if you follow the usual pattern you won't let go so easily.)
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ThePlatonist DotCom



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2014 7:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
SOCRATES: But I’m afraid we're being quite shameless?

THEAETETUS: How?

SOCRATES: By consenting to say what knowing is like.

THEAETETUS: And why should that be shameless?

SOCRATES: You don’t seem to realize that our whole discussion from the beginning has been an inquiry about knowledge, on the assumption that we do not yet know what it is.

THEAETETUS: Oh but I do.

SOCRATES: Well, then, don’t you think it is a shameless thing that we, who don’t know what knowledge is, should pronounce on what nowing is like? But as a matter of fact, Theaetetus, for some time past our whole method of discussion has been tainted. Time and again we have said ‘we are acquainted with’ and ‘we are not acquainted with’, ‘we know’ and ‘we do not know’, as if we could to some extent understand one another while we are still ignorant of what knowledge is. Or here’s another example, if you like: at this very moment, we have again used the words ‘to be Theaetetus ignorant of’, and ‘to understand’, as if these were quite proper expressions for us when we are deprived of knowledge.

THEAETETUS: But how are you going to carry on the discussion at all, Socrates, if you keep off these words?

SOCRATES: Quite impossible, for a man like me; but if I were one of the experts in contradiction, I might be able to...


But you're in a different league my friend, you spend you whole time speculating on whether or not this was really Protagoras' argument, or Plato believed in the theory of forms etc, without ever getting down to the proper technical arguments such as the ones I have been trying to publish for you. And the harder I try the more you brush me off with journalistic put downs such as "one of the marks of this kind of stuff is that its... ever promising but never delivering" (perhaps that projection is some kind of self-justification for never starting).

The fact that Plato gave a lecture on the good and talked about some mysterious dyad, the fact that he wrote the seventh letter making clear he has a teaching, that's all the idle chatter we need to motivate us to do some work.

But if we never do that work we are like a bat flying round a cave gibbering about the shadows of the great philosopher the bat thinks it sees with the fellow bats who also claim to 'study' the great man's works. And when a human being who walks into their forum comes along and tries to tell them to actually read what is being said and think about it like scientists, examining sentences and concepts in minute detail instead of waffling in the way the bats are used to, hoping to rescue one of these godforsaken creatures from the underworld like the story of Orpheus and his lyre, all the bats go crazy and start accusing him of shamelessness. But they are living their life upside down, and it's not him who is shameless but them!

But perhaps this human being should lean from the wise words of his Christian ancestors, namely when the dead are dead let them "rest in peace" (not that they really live in peace, rather they live in hell), do not stir them back to live, lest they wake up without their minds and run around like zombies grown from dragons seeds devouring each other brains.

And that reminds me of a passage in Plato:

Quote:
SOCRATES: Those that are awakened in sleep, whilst the rest of the soul, the rational gentle and ruling part still slumbers, then their beastly and savage part, full of food and drink, casts off sleep and seeks to find a way to gratify itself. You know that there is nothing it won’t dare to do at such a time, free of all control by shame or reason. It doesn’t shrink from trying to have sex with a mother, as it supposes, or with anyone else at all, whether man, god, or beast. It will commit any foul murder, and there is no food it refuses to eat. In a word, it omits no act of folly or shamelessness.


R.I.P.


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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2014 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been reading Seth Bernadette's commentary.Tell me what you think of his description on p.1.139 "The point of intersection ...." to the end of that section on 1.140.
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