School of Economic Science
Plato Republic: possible or not possible?
Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    School of Economic Science - Study Forums Forum Index -> Plato Forum
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
redundant fallibility
Guest





PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2015 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I’m adding this because it’s related:

Quote:
Two things that are identical? Twins we call ‘identical’ but they are not in truth. Not even two atoms of the same chemical element are identical. Maybe you can give me an example of two things that are identical because I myself cannot think of any? Physicists don’t even know what they mean by matter.


As I said in the original post, I’m not appealing to an extreme theoretical ‘identity’. But to common sense. That’s the chief point. Don’t we speak of identical cups in ordinary life? Two cups from Starbucks coffee for example? You're deep in theory, model, or rule if you like, here.

I’m not asking what is or is not true, but what Aristotle said. It’s helpful to do that, because then we can think without our political allegiances to some view or other come in. Or, put another way, our prescription as to what we think humanity ought to do. And all sorts of outrageous theoretical assertions attendant on our religious fervor about what humans ought to believe, on what truly is.

We say, these cups are the same. So long as we don't make secondary theoretical reflections about 'atoms.' Or some absurd 'Planck particle,' which only exists in a possibly helpful current model. Aristotle gave more attention to our direct views. That's really why we are interviewing him in this case, in connection with this thread.

The same means in the case of Aristotle not a mathematical sameness. I mean he's not asking a question about scientific nature, a conceptual nature, he's saying, we have this pattern in our soul, 'cup', the form or eidos. Yet, in reality I see two of them at once, or more. How can the real things be multiple when they are visibly the same? It's a different question than you're asking. We need to try to make that more clear to ourselves. It's hard.

In natural science we try to make something 'work', but that is not the main thing here. It is not even relevant.

Quote:
I do not have the answers and I don’t think I am right; there is no fight to be won, only ideas and speculations to be discussed.


I'm not only discussing ideas and speculations. When I say tree I mean a tangible thing. Or do you deny that we can discuss the tangible world with words?


Quote:
Quote:
For example, there is not one math, but an indefinite number of which we know a few, geometry, arithmetic, algebraic geometry, and so on to M theory etc. Now each of these seize on their object in a different way, and there is no end to the ways they master that object.


I would have to disagree with this. There is only one math. Geometry, arithmetic, algebraic geometry, and whatever else, are just shadows and reflections of the Form that is Math. They are expressions of math. They all consist of number and their four interactions …or math. That is what math is isn’t it? What would be the simplest definition of math?


Symbols with an axiomatic foundation. There are an indefinite number of logical axioms we can make a math with. Each as logical or consistent as the next. In practical terms we can assess these by looking at what results they give, what they can achieve. Of course in a sense we can say there is simply math, but that is something like saying there are simply things.

One should consider the great difference between the maths that can represent algebra graphically and those which came before. And then think of the revolution of the differential calculus, think in practical terms of what one can do with that math.

The distinction between maths is practical and theoretical in each case.

I think it is interesting and possibly helpful to point out that in medieval times music was taught as 'math in time.' The concept of math can be proliferated until it subsumes all manner of things in theory.
Back to top
Peter Blumsom



Joined: 09 Mar 2007
Posts: 1126
Location: Wembley, London, UK

PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2015 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I apologize for not contributing over the last week or two. There has been good reason. Now, reacquainting myself with what has been written by others over that period, its probably best to continue where I left off and hope to catcth up eventually. It's not worth responding until I have laid my whole thought out here. There's quite a lot to come and it will do so over this coming weekend.

1. Eternal - sempiternal

Quote:
<<There seems to be an objection to the ‘what always is’ interpretation of Greek episteme. I would say that is perfectly correct. Peter says that the Greeks understood math to be inside, or one might say, behind the things. Put another way the emptiness is always there behind the place. This is a necessary feature of Aristotle’s account of movement and time.

What might seem strange, and I wonder if it is what has struck Peter, is that something connected to the natural world could be called eternal or, more precisely: “always”. It is only strange for common sense. The argument is that for philosophy oppositions must share a ground, and philosophy finds identity in the “always” and the things that change in time. Put more clearly, “always” is understood here to be the sempiternal. It is what is frozen in time, enduring. It is, by analogon, like something standing still in contradistinction to something that moves. It is there in the emptiness which is natural, and not in the Cartesian space which is an abstracted representation. >>


I’m sorry if I misled. By ‘always’ I am not referring to sempiternal, but ‘at any instant this state of affairs is unchanging’. I follow Plato here.

“For simultaneously with the construction of the Heaven He contrived the production of days and nights and months and years, which existed not before the Heaven came into being. And these are all portions of Time; even as “Was” and “Shall be” are generated forms of Time, although we apply them wrongly, without noticing, to Eternal Being. For we say that it “is” or “was” or “will be,” whereas, in truth of speech, “is” alone is the appropriate term; “was” and “will be,” on the other hand, are terms properly applicable to the Becoming which proceeds in Time, since both of these are motions; but it belongs not to that which is ever changeless in its uniformity to become either older or younger through time, …” Timaeus 37e

But I must be careful not to preempt myself. It is of interest but is at the heart of the mythical section of the text, and we may take of it as we will. The eternal seems a recurring instant, but is not, for that would put it in time. The phrase ‘eternal recurrence’ has always seemed to me to be a contradiction in terms.

Quote:
<<The question that we should ask is this: Does the emptiness behind the things refer to an understanding of the heavens, outer space, as a sempiternal but natural surrounding? Or is it that only through philosophic thinking we clear away, say the city of Athens, in the mind, and then see mentally that something must remain there as a container? Is the container the “ether” (Ancient Greek αἰθήρ (aithḗr, “upper air). Either way this kind of analysis is quite different than modern mathamatical analysis, ie, of algebraic geometry. Actually this question is of great importance, and quite exacting inner effort is required by it.>>


This is about as perplexing as one can get, in the way of conundrums, and perhaps the rewards of sticking with it might be equally thaumatsai. But I see no point in investigating unless we are going to approach it with vigour.

Jason’s objection to the word ‘frozen’ is understandable to me. It gives the wrong signals, for nothing in time is frozen in a permanent way, nor out of it. Eternity is not frozen, merely unchanging, not on its own account, more on the inability, the adunamis, of time to match it. Eliot’s “but neither call it fixity” from Burnt Norton comes to mind.

τί τὸ ὂν ἀεί, γένεσιν δὲ οὐκ ἔχον, καὶ τί τὸ γιγνόμενον μὲν ἀεί, ὂν δὲ οὐδέποτε; [Timaeus 27d]

(My minimalist translation with an extra word.)
“What is that which ever is but has no becoming, and what is that which always becomes yet never [really] is?” Asks the proposition upon which Timaeus’ monologue is based. But apparently the second ‘aei’ (ever – always) was, according to Proclus, not present in the original text. (See Cornford. Plato’s Cosmology; p.22, n.1) If this is true we see Plato making a statement on the status of eternity as ‘aei’ whereas sempiturnal is not granted ‘aei’. That’s of interest of a partial kind.

Even if you cleared Ancient Athens away, stone by stone, you would not reach eternity, you would reach something else, which can be discussed; that is, Plato’s radical interpretation of space.

To be continued...


Last edited by Peter Blumsom on Thu Jul 02, 2015 6:04 am; edited 6 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Peter Blumsom



Joined: 09 Mar 2007
Posts: 1126
Location: Wembley, London, UK

PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2015 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

2. Disorder and Waywardness

The first phase of Plato’s radical appraisal of space begins to be discussed in Timaeus at [48e] and is not at first presented as ‘space’. Rather he entices you into thinking of it as ‘something’; and that this something is a new addition to all that has been discussed before – that is - in the first part of the Timaeus. The things dealt with in this first part are what are given in the very first proposition composed of the two premises translated in my previous post, that is, ousia – being and gignomenon – becoming. Plato stipulated that although there is no need for ousia to dwell, gignomenon needs a place of residence, a place in which becoming ‘becomes’.

Timaeus, the Pythagorean, isn’t clear in the beginning how to deal with his very difficult solution to the problem of those things that knowing cannot know, i.e. ‘becoming’ itself. We have before us the word ‘gignomenon’ but try as we might, it does not convey to our thoughts a settled kind. In other words there can be no understanding of gignomenon, just as, in the same way, we cannot measure how deep is the oasis that shows before us as a mirage in the desert. These ‘becomings’ are the progeny of what Plato calls ‘the errant cause’ and are steeped philosophically in bastardy.

Plato’s problem is two-fold. He must give a clear account of the Receptacle he has introduced at [49a] and he must explain to us the things that go on within it. That is, as reasonable account as is possible of the visible realm of oroton (c.f. Divided Line -Republic 509d)

He deals with the second first.

As far back in Timaeus as [30a] he has revealed to us the enemy of reason, a certain something in oroton that is both ‘discordant and disorderly’. But now that the receptacle has given ‘becoming’ a dwelling place he prefers to use another description of this prime materia, that of ‘waywardness’. As far as I know he never uses the term matter - hyle or if he does it is not meant in the Aristotelian way. This errant cause is the source of the planets - planeta, meaning ‘wanderers’ and ‘vagabonds’ - and how easily we accept that name today without understanding their lowly position in the Platonic pantheon. They are the representatives of thateron – 'the Other', and again, they are objects (or in the modern sense, ‘mere subjects’) of the motions of time that rule them. Proclus rather pompously inflates Time to the rank of a god, but as Ficino points out, first (arche) are the soul motions that the planets, as ‘instruments of time’, merely follow, and it is these that hold together what Plato calls the Living God. Aristotle objected fiercely to the idea of a motion without an object, and here is another of the important points of departure between them over the character of the Cosmos.

So even in this unmoving Receptacle there is movement within, but movement bereft of order is merely action and reaction in the Presocratic way. It is the pledge of the Demiurge that it will have order [30a]. That is the point of the Timaeus.

To be continued...
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Peter Blumsom



Joined: 09 Mar 2007
Posts: 1126
Location: Wembley, London, UK

PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 7:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

3. Lesbian Marriage

The whole concept of the Receptacle demonstrates a Pythagorean feel for the ‘universal feminine’. The materia – mater receives the ordering of the efficient cause in the form of the Demiurge, and this ordering [kosmousa] represents masculine pattern – pater – within chaos. This is the way the text inclines, and we ignore it at our peril. At this point it is as if the Timaeus is saying: this (receptacle) is always before our eyes, and also, if we have the wit, in our ears - But he never pins it down as merely the object of sense perception, because he is ultimately talking of the bigger picture, the cosmos itself.

This female characteristic with its unwritten allusion to ‘womb’ (Ficino writes it in!) - gives rise to the spurious birthing of endless copies from a finer pattern. It is the Platonic way to see this female characteristic as providing only the material; and this can only furnish an illusion, an image of something else. We might try and make these images real, like your Starbucks cup of coffee, or even your “something standing still in contradistinction to something that moves.” But the mind fails to receive anything substantial – hence the conundrum.

(I am moving round the things you mention but in my own way, which is, I believe, the way of Timaeus.)

The female mentioned here is obviously not Pallas Athene. This is not a place for virgins, especially those who are themselves of immaculate conception. This one, she is neither wise nor temperate. She desires shape in the same way that Aristotle’s hyle craves form, and as Aristotle has the Pythagoreans say:

“The relation of male to female is similar [to form and matter] for the latter is impregnated by one copulation, but the single male impregnates many females.” – Metaphysics 988a 5>

It is as a result of Plato’s new technology that he can present the Pythagorean theme in simple number terms:

“…and his [Plato’s] making the other entity besides the One a dyad was due to the belief that the numbers [except primes] could be neatly produced out of the dyad as out of some plastic material.” Metaphysics 987b 30.

Clumsy as Aristotle’s interpretation is, I have no doubt here that he is alluding to the Receptacle; using as he does the same term for plastic – ekmageion – as Plato uses at Timaeus 50c when describing the Receptacle as “matrix for everything”. (Tredinnick’s Loeb edition also translates ‘plastic’ in Metaphysics as ‘matrix’.)

This female entity which rules of the matrix/receptacle is named by Plato at 47e as Ananke – the Goddess Necessity – ‘she whom even the gods fear’. Her realm lies among the wandering chains of non-evolutionary cause and effect arising from the sloshing around of atoms in a kind Democritean winnowing basket, these temporarily forming elements as conceived by Empedocles which irrationally break apart again in a cycle without cosmic purpose.

It’s a moot point whether the results of such fleeting intercourses can ever form what we call ‘things’. Timaeus leaves this open for further exploration by others (e.g. Plutarch). His most important aim is to fulfill the Demiurgic pledge-to-order at this lower level.

In Timaeus Necessity is immanent working within matter, it is only in Republic Ten, the Myth of Er [617b], that she comes into her own as a goddess, enthroned within her great Spindle with an all-female cast; her octave of sirens and her daughters three, the stern Fates, they who cast the lots that contain the fortunes and misfortunes of mankind. In Timaeus she is anonymous, having even lost the grim humour by which she tempted the good man, (but good 'by custom not philosophy') into accepting the lot of a tyrant in his next life.

Generally she seems not to like humankind, perhaps on account of their reason. In Laws Ten she is presented in the form of unthinking nature as the one who persuades men to demean themselves by elevating the visible world above invisible soul in dignity.

The great and important stroke of genius in Timaeus is the way that nous - reason is sent into the dark heart of materia in order to persuade this fearsome goddess to forge evolutionary pathways (met- hod) a kind of Lesbian marriage between Ananke and Athene.

This is the roundabout way I tackle your conundrum. For into this Receptacle of ananke drop the seeds of number, music and geometry and the worth of these is in nothing else but that they are harbingers of something we prosaically call ‘universal order’. Through these three sciences, transformed into natural forms, the beauties of being are saltated and recreated in the Receptacle as illusions. It is outlandish and astonishing to me that the transcendent eternity thus protects itself from the prying senses and tangible mind which are persuaded rather to look at things that are not really there, and make distinctions where there is only homogeneity; and we, on a night full of stars, can be forced into countless erroneous conclusions about eternity and the sempiturnal. The real dance is far beyond eyes, ears and thoughts – but strangely not elsewhere; beyond in the way that they can still be in Starbucks even while you sip out of your cup.

To be continued…
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
redundant fallibility
Guest





PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2015 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wrong thread...
Back to top
Peter Blumsom



Joined: 09 Mar 2007
Posts: 1126
Location: Wembley, London, UK

PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2015 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I apologise for not corresponding over the past few weeks. My wife has been gravely ill, and that has been my only priority. Thankfully she now seems to be in remission and I can begin to get my mind around both what I want to write myself and how I want to respond to all your interesting posts in the interim. Below I am working out something that has been on my mind for quite some time and there are at least two more sections before I bring it to completion. Jason, I am going to work what I talked to you about into my final section, which deals with the persuasion of Necessity by nous . It would be too much to ask you to agree with it, but at least I think you will be interested in what I have to say. I'm not sure what you, O Third Man, will think of any of this, but I hope you don't dismiss it out of hand.

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

4a. The Final Frontier.

Plato regarded his ‘invention’, the Nurse and Receptacle of all Becoming with a kind of wonder:

“We shall not be wrong if we describe it as invisible and formless, all embracing, possessed in a most puzzling intelligibility, yet very hard to grasp.” [51a]

He makes many similar comments.

I’d like to tease out what I think Plato is implying in the text from [48e] to [53c], and expand his thought perhaps beyond what he may have wished himself (at least out loud)- the Seventh Letter shows that he has no desire to make things easy even though he never tries to deceive us. Bear with me for this is a novel and tentative interpretation, and I have no real exemplar other than Plato’s rather truncated text. Though Cornford and a few others are helpful, Heidegger is curiously flat-footed in handling Time and Space in the way presented in Timaeus, that is the Pythagorean way. (Yes, I am available for conversion on that issue.)

A description from the Chandogya Upanishad:

“just as through a single ingot of gold all that is made of gold would become known, for all modification is but name based upon words and the gold alone is real.” [Chandogya Upanishad; 6-1-5).

Below Plato describes the elusive passivity of the Receptacle at [50a]:

“Now imagine that a man were to model all possible figures out of gold, and were then to proceed without cessation to remodel each of these into every other, then, if someone were to point to one of the figures and ask what it is, by far the safest reply, in point of truth, would be that it is gold; but as for the triangle and all the other figures which were formed in it, one should never describe them as “being” seeing that they change even while one is mentioning them; rather one should be content if the figure admits of even the title “suchlike” being applied to it with any safety.” [50a]

The similarity is curious but not an isolated occurrence. For example, the charioteer analogy in Phaedrus is also startlingly close to a description employed in the Katha Upanishad [1-3-3]. The two philosophical systems obviously share an affinity even though they are not identical in their approach, something that we can explore soon.

Timaeus says, no matter how real these triangles seem they disappear into the gold leaving in it not one echo of their existence. The gold is offered as an analogy for a plastic material (ekmageion) to which all natural and manufactured things owe their physical existence (probably the prototype of Aristotle’s matter – hyle, though not identical)

The Vedantic project is different. Brahman is the gold. The quest is to immediately realize Brahman as the substratum of all reality.

Plato finds his own analogy somewhat inadequate for his purpose and he immediately follows it with a second. For him the relationship between ‘image’ and ‘what it is imaged in’ is crucial.

“For if it [the Receptacle] were like any of the things that entered it, it would badly distort any impression of a different nature when it received it, as its own features would shine through.”[50e]

In other words, as far as possible, it should have as little or no character of its own. Gold is a powerful essence and gives something overarching of its own. Therefore it fails the test of characterlessness:

"So anything that is to receive in itself every kind of character must be devoid of all character.” [50d] (My emphasis.)

Plato then moves on to his second analogy which redresses this defect to a degree by subtly shifting the alignment of our attention away from the triangles to whatever that may be which surrounds them.

“Manufacturers of scent contrive the same initial conditions when they make liquids which are to receive the scents as odourless as possible.” [50e]

I’ve never heard anyone comment on this perspicacious observation of Plato’s, which loosens our grasp of the tangible, persuading us towards that which seems totally intangible, and into a particularly alien landscape for a culture dominated by the visual because Plato addresses this second analogy to one of the ‘lower’ senses. This is unexpected yet consistent with the simplicity of his aim. The mind needs to be disoriented from ‘seeing’.

We are asked to hold in conception both a scented image together with what surrounds it - an odorless, characterless base. This base is to provide no resistance to pungency or sweetness or whatever character the fragrance presents to the sense of smell. This odorless base is, by analogy, not an image of a Form, but the very plastic material of the receptacle - the ekmageion we look for.

This second analogy offers a new approach to khora – space, while striving to avoid the magnetic pull of the image. Odourlessness is less distracting than gold.

Yet the attraction of the eye is great for us as vision has greater dignity than smell. It is space that we seek rather than a liquid distilment and we have a kind of intuition that we can ‘see’ space, rather than smell it, and it is the visible world – horaton – that Timaeus constantly refers to when describing Kosmos throughout his monologue.

So can we provide a new analogy that will take us as close to a visualisation of the receptacle as is possible?

In this opening post on Space I have presented more or less what Plato says, with a little interpretation on my part. In my next section, 4b, I’d like to explore the implications of the above, well beyond the words he writes, but perhaps in line with his agrapha dogmata or unwritten teachings. I hope you, whoever you are, will find it as interesting to read as I am putting it all together.

Pete
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Peter Blumsom



Joined: 09 Mar 2007
Posts: 1126
Location: Wembley, London, UK

PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2015 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

(there is a short lexicon of Greek words at the end of this post}

4b Space and Time

Just as an invisible point, too fine to see, can be marked by something visible such as a dot, a similar representation can bring eye and thought (dianoia) towards that invisible aspect of space which, by their own nature, they would not ordinarily approach. The dot or line drawn on the page undoubtedly brings us nearer to its reality in the mind (noesis).

What I am thinking of is something like the method used by ancient mathematicians when they searched for an irrational value such as the square root of two. Just as the first approximation is always quite coarse and inaccurate, subsequent values given up by the algorithm close in quickly until, within a remarkably short sequence, it is possible to obtain a very close approximation. Of course we are not working mathematically here but simply mimicking the mathematical method, so a little imagination is called for.

Following the example of the scent makers given by Plato [50e] where an odourless base was as important as the perfume caste in it, we will need a visible mark to bring towards our sight the unseeable - space, and the image it surrounds. But we will not grasp the nature of khora unless we include both image and surrounding space in our examination, as they are, in the way that Plato has presented them, an inseparable twofold.

This is not so difficult as long as we adjust our example towards the eye and make its first approximation as easy to see as possible. From this position we can proceed to refine it to the required accuracy.

A gravel path accepts the foot placed upon it but gives little or no image of that foot than to say ‘something was here’. But this is only a first approximation and at least has the virtue of treating both image and space as equally comprehensible.

Our second approximation considers the same foot but placed in clay or soggy earth. The medium is finer and the image accordingly more accurate. Sherlock Holmes could do much with such a footprint, but what can it tell us? That space and image are connected in a kind of inverse relation: as space becomes less ‘body’ and more ethereal, image becomes more fulsomely ‘body’ and less ethereal. And as space concedes a characteristic, the image becomes in receipt of it. If space was gold this would deny anything but gold from the image, but if such a characteristic were withdrawn, the image could display any of an array of colours, and we see now why Plato’s first analogy [50a] was not comprehensive. But then neither was the second, for although the liquid base ‘withdrew’ from, and therefore released, scent, it would still retain, as a liquid, the characteristic of ‘touch’.

But khora withdraws from everything. It is both the ultimate withdrawal and therefore the ultimate release of everything that can have characteristic. And yet this is its very character; and this is why we cannot call it ‘nothing’. An image cannot shine in ‘nothing’.

So in a series of ‘withdrawals’ space – khora - is ‘unshaped’, ‘unquantified’, ‘unqualified’, ‘unplaced’, etc. One can see that because all these ‘properties’ are privatives, this may well have been the determination of Aristotle’s finest conception: matter as potentiality (dunamis) and its enactment (energeia). Yet it is Plato’s radical conception which allows Aristotelian progress in this direction.

There is a privative omitted here, that of ‘unchanged’.

What arises from the withdrawal of change-in-space is its inverse, change-in-the-image, not merely as metabole but more importantly as gignomenon, and we remember from the Divided line, that image is pistis, what we trust as the ‘real thing’. Without this privative in khora things would never move, become or die. Life could never get on with its business.

The 'sanctification' of becoming is the second real property of the receptacle, and it is as baffling to our thoughts as characterlessness itself. Whereas the relation of eidos to receptacle needs separate treatment, a simple investigation shows that, according to the way this pans out, a Form can no more be expressed by a frozen image than a symphony, cantata or rock anthem can be expressed by a single note. Both eidos and music are too complex to be disclosed in anything but a sequence of changes. Take as an example the Form of man. It is what? – a foetus, a child, a man, a life of body, of soul? They are all eidos anthropou. Raphael’s St. Catherine, Manet’s Gypsy with a Cigarette and Leonardo’s Studies of Old Men are all equally contemplations (theoria) of anthropos.

Thus the naivety of the question - what does a Form look like? - is put firmly in its place. What we perceive through our ‘sense’ is a negotiation between ourselves, Receptacle and Form; and nothing more can be said on that account without a full scale investigation, however please read Jacob Klein who tackles the same topic from the point of view of Aristotle. [[i]Lectures and Essays: Aristotle, an introduction. pp171-195] - Joe Sachs cited this as a seminal influence.

The true nature of space only appears in that which it displays. Without a focal point it is like a mirror in an unoccupied banquet hall that reflects no viewpoint and is powerless to reveal the riches within, for the mystery of the Receptacle is that it is a Seeing, in the full Greek meaning of sensorium.

That is why I say that image and space is an unbreakable twofold.

Any movement in the image, even if only a single molecule should shift, reveals this final, property of the characterlessness of the receptacle – unchangedness. And all movement within the Receptacle arises from this privation as surely as all other aspects arose from the previous privations. For were the Receptacle to move through the same becoming as the image, that is move in company with the image, there would be no movement. Reason tells us this.

Therefore the Receptacle changes not with change, and is itself unmoved by the time-bending motions of light itself. None of the implications of Relativity affect it though it affects them utterly. It is the same space which oversees the paradoxical motions of time here on earth, or in Alpha Centauri, Betelgeuse, or any of the island galaxies beyond - the same space and the same images 'becoming' within it.

And even if the displaced molecule is replaced again this would not make things as before. There is no backward step (as far as we know it) but a continuum in the same direction. The molecule would return not to the original state for that is no longer available. It changed with the change; and the flow of this change arrows itself in a single direction. This flow is gignomenon – becoming, and if measured 'becomes' time.

But mythically (i.e. in Timaeus) this only happens when the Demiurge (remember him?) created the instruments of time.

“So time came into being with the heavens …[38b] …

“and God, for this purpose [the birth of time], the sun and moon and five planets, as they are called, came into being to define and preserve the measurement of time.” [38c]

And these were called The Instruments of Time – organou khronou [42d], though it should be said that they do not cause time any more than a wrist watch causes the passing of the hours. The cause of time is a condition of space itself that allows a moving image and gives rise to becoming.

And therefore by implication Time arises from Space and isn’t a separate intuition. This I read from Plato’s text.

Next I want to explore where Plato’s ideas arose from, how he took them, improved them and made them his own.

To be continued...


This little lexicon might prove useful.

Anthropos - man
Aporia – perplexity or any impasse in the understanding of things.
Autos – same
Dianoia – thought – in its highest form, reason.
Dunamis – potential, ability to,
Eidos – Form
Energeia – activity, the fulfillment of dunamis.
Eteros - Other
Gignomenon – becoming
Hyle - matter
Khora – space
Khronos - time
Kosmos – for now divine order will do, but the following section will give more.
Materia – matter (Ltn)
Metabole - ordinary change
Noesis - insight
Oraton – visible world
Ousia – Being
Pistis - trustworthy
Planeta – planet – vagabond – waywardness
Tautos – The Same
Thateron – The Other
Theoria - contemplation
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Plato DNA



Joined: 14 Nov 2012
Posts: 44
Location: Illinois, US

PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2015 4:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pete,

Sorry to hear about your wife. I am glad to know she is recovering. Hope all is well.

I really like these last couple posts, especially the ancient Indian references. The two seem to be able to supplement each other. Further exploration of these concepts could be really interesting.

As far as the use of gold as a description of the Receptacle, I think (like you mention) that gold is used as an analogy for a plastic-like material, but maybe furthermore for its ability to ‘shine’ or reflect, also in general, as a way of showing the value of this concept. In the ancient Indian, Brahman is the gold, is a little bit different perhaps, but maybe not altogether. I think the main point is that one should be void of preconceived notions.

Empty your cup so that it may be filled; become devoid to gain totality.” -Bruce Lee

Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it in a tea pot, it becomes the tea pot. Water can flow, or it can crash. Be water my friend.” -Bruce Lee

In the description of the Receptacle compared to gold there is this…
Quote:
one should never describe them as “being” seeing that they change even while one is mentioning them; rather one should be content if the figure admits of even the title “suchlike” being applied to it with any safety.” [50a]

It might be worth noting, that just before this description he speaks of the elements in a similar way…
Quote:
”as the several elements never present themselves in the same form, how can anyone have the assurance to assert positively that any of them, whatever it may be, is one thing rather than another? No one can. But much the safest plan is to speak of them as follows. Anything which we see to be continually changing, as, for example fire, we must not call ‘this’ or ‘that’, but rather say that it is ‘of such a nature’, nor let us speak of water as ‘this’, but always as ‘such’, nor must we imply that there is any stability in any of those things which we indicate by the use of the words ‘this’ and ‘that’ supposing ourselves to signify something thereby, for they are too volatile to be detained in any such expressions as ‘this’, or ‘that’, or ‘relative to this’, or any other mode of speaking which represents them as permanent. We ought not to apply ‘this’ to any of them, but rather the word ‘such’, which expresses the similar principle circulating in each and all of them”. (49d)


Many people get hung up on the idea of the four elements. Taking them to mean actual air, earth, fire, and water and defining them as actual substances. Not realizing they are symbolic of something more general, maybe you could call them four types of stimuli, or describe them as four types of interactions. When talking about fire, air, water, and earth it is important that they are not given their ordinary everyday meaning.

Quote:
Just as an invisible point, too fine to see, can be marked by something visible such as a dot, a similar representation can bring eye and thought (dianoia) towards that invisible aspect of space which, by their own nature, they would not ordinarily approach. The dot or line drawn on the page undoubtedly brings us nearer to its reality in the mind (noesis).


I really like this. I am immediately reminded of two different, seemingly opposite things. One is a passage I read in a book about physics. Now, I cannot find the actual passage, but it said something about how any object can be observed to have point-like characteristics, given the right amount of distance or ‘space’. The other is a description of ‘paramanus’ or how “things with no magnitude can produce things having magnitude.” (how points can produce lines) –Hindu Realism –J.C. Chatterji

Quote:
The molecule would return not to the original state for that is no longer available. It changed with the change; and the flow of this change arrows itself in a single direction. This flow is gignomenon – becoming, and if measured 'becomes' time.


So if the molecule ‘changed with the change’ then why wouldn’t its original state be no longer available? I am not being too serious here, but if a molecule was in a certain state and this state changed with some other change. Then wouldn’t the original state still be available because the molecule ‘changed with the change’? I do have a little trouble with ‘change being an arrow in a single direction’. I have read quite a bit that suggests time is an illusion. I would have lots more to say about this but I have not had much time for serious reading. So at minimal I give this…”time is defined by the means used to measure it.” –Hermann Bondi. I know for us in our everyday experience we seem to measure time in one direction only, but we have an innate ability to add experience on top of experience and see things in a steady state of movement or progression in one direction. Our calendar system, for example, is linear and moves in one direction, though the days and months repeat. Others, like the Maya and Aztec, used a circular calendar system which suggests cycles of time or that history more or less repeats itself.

I don't want to say too much, I want to see your ideas on Plato's source of these ideas and see what else you have to say.

Oh, I also really like your little lexicon at the end, it is really helpful!


Jason
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Peter Blumsom



Joined: 09 Mar 2007
Posts: 1126
Location: Wembley, London, UK

PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2015 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Jason, for your concern regarding my wife. She’s up and down a bit at the moment, but at least I have time to think and write (and play the guitar).

I’m pleased you are enjoying our discussion of Timaeus. Many ideas I’m talking about here I’ve had on my mind for a long time but have not committed to writing before. They are bound to be modified in detail, as we proceed, but not in essence. I read Vedantic sources quite a lot as they have the same philosophical integrity as Greek philosophy, even though their system is different. (Think of different paths up the same mountain, they at least share the same summit.) The gold analogy is technically the same in both disciplines. But, Vedanta has no transcendent world of Forms as far as I know. Therefore the gold refers to Brahman and its realizing by the individual jiva (soul). Therefore, as you hinted, gold, as a resplendence, would be entirely appropriate as used in the Chandogya Upanishad.

But, as is often the case, things are not entirely straightforward, for a Vedantin will often ascribe the ultimate of everything as a kind of representation of Brahman, for if only Brahman exists, then even the elephant or snake is Brahman. There is this passage in the Brahma Sutra that has interested me for years regarding akasha - Sanskritic ‘space’.

The sutra itself merely announces cryptically:

“Akasha is Brahman because of the declaration of being something different, and so on.” [1 3 40]

Sankara the eminent commentator on these ancient scriptorial texts directs us to another passage in the Chandogya:

“That which is indeed called Space is the manifester of name and form [nama-rupa]. That in which they are contained is Brahman. That is immortal. That is Self. [8 14 1]

Sankara reiterates that name and form are contained within akasha. That is remarkably near to Plato’s concept of the Receptacle, but it is not the same simply because the Forms (eidei) in Timaeus are not the images in khora and it would be misleading to think they were. They are of course, the 'imaged'. Rupa I believe is nearer to morphe or ‘shape’ in Greek. However although the approach is slightly different the destination is undoubtedly the same. The Vedantin would understand Plato, and he, the Vedantin.

I have some more comments on your mail before I post up my next section.

Pete
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Plato DNA



Joined: 14 Nov 2012
Posts: 44
Location: Illinois, US

PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2015 3:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pete,

Hope all is well with the wife.

Indeed Plato and ancient Indian thought are different paths up the same mountain. The ancient Indian literature is immense, and could be confusing to navigate. There are different ‘schools’ and different levels of thought, but always with the same mountain in view.

I am glad to hear you are finally putting together some ideas you have had for some time. Sometimes it is hard to commit these things to writing but is always worthwhile to sort things out.

I myself was reading all different sources of ancient Indian literature, but lately have focused on the work of J. C. Chatterji, namely Hindu Realism, and The Wisdom of the Vedas. I have found such striking similarities with Plato’s work that it makes me pause for a moment to try to reflect on the ideas. I am unsure as to Chatterji’s experience or influence from Plato, but the manner in which he presents his interpretations keep me intrigued.

He discusses one system of thought that comes to ‘nine realities’, and another system which does not deny these realities but narrows them down to two ultimate realities, which initially reminds me of Plato’s two triangles while also expressing the same idea that can be found throughout Plato’s works…”one of the two classes of ultimate Realities remains for ever unaffected and unchanged while out of the other is produced everything which can ever form an object of experience.”

While I am apt to look at these ‘nine realities’ as the 1-9 of the number system and possibly the two ultimate realities as the odd and even numbers, I have yet to investigate enough to even see if this is a possibility, and at first glance it seems nearly impossible to sort something like this out. I may be over generalizing here but there may be some sort of connection with this.

When Chatterji starts to explain these nine realities I am carried off in another direction. He says the first is…”Four classes of minima of those things which are discrete and are perceived by the senses. Each of these minima is an eternal and changeless Reality which has absolutely no magnitude whatever and is called an Anu, a Parimandala, or a Paramanu. We shall refer to these minima as Paramanus." Then he says of the second…"An all-pervading Continuum, called Akasha, which may perhaps be translated as Ether; although, from the Creationist point of view, it does not possess exactly the same properties as the Ether of which modern Western Science speaks." I am immediately drawn to Plato’s Timaeus and his description of the so called ‘solids’ which relate to the four elements and the fifth one representing aether.

---------

A couple side notes here…

The aether that science used to speak of is not the same as what ancient literature spoke of; science tried turning it into a substance with a measurable quality. They tried measuring the ‘ether wind’ and when they couldn’t they said it didn’t exist. But something which is all-pervading and a continuum would have no displacement to be measured. Although ancient sources gave aether qualities such as elasticity or malleability, it was never considered an actual ‘substance’ or tangible thing.

Redundant’s interpretation of aether as upper air=sky=heaven=space, is pretty reasonable, I myself have had a similar notion. Chatterji seems to relate akasha to space and aether also. But I have become hung up on a couple points here. The less important being that heaven can be interpreted as the ‘sky’ or ‘space’ i.e., the stars and everything surrounding the earth, but heaven can also be the abode of the gods or a ‘divine’ place somewhat different than the place the stars and planets are in. While the two ideas could be pulled together, they could also be pushed apart. My main hang up is with the phrase ‘upper air’, upper here does not necessarily mean a spatial direction, or elevated. It could mean exceeding the common, or exalted. I mention this because in Plato’s Phaedo he uses the same description to refer to the earth. He tells his tale about the ‘true earth’ and refers to it as the ‘upper earth’ and describes it as being under the heaven. If we take ‘upper air’ to be air above the earth or sky, what are we to say about an 'upper earth', the earth above earth but under the heaven? So it appears that in Phaedo ‘upper earth’ refers to a level of earth exceeding or exalted above the normal view but not spatially higher, so maybe ‘upper air’ should be taken the same way.

---------

Ok, back to the ancient Indian, Chatterji writes…”the Universe, with its infinite variety, is and must be but an appearance, namely , of mere ‘names and forms,’ i.e., concepts as such and concepts objectified. That is to say, it shows how it is one and the same thing which, remaining what it is, yet appears as many, under many names and concepts."

---------
(So if Brahman is the substratum of all reality, I have no problem with Brahman being an elephant or a snake, or anything else. Wouldn’t it be part of anything we could imagine?)
---------

Chatterji continues...“The manifold of the Universe, according to this standard, no doubt consists only of ideas as such and ideas objectified –of “names and forms” as they are called-which are, as it were, backed up and made substantial by the one and only Reality.”

Here we have names and forms (nama-rupa) but in one of his notes he calls ideas nama-rupa also

I would like to point out the terminology in what he writes, it seems to follow the same ideas Plato laid down in Timaeus (49-50), where Plato describes it necessary to talk about the elements and things appearing in the receptacle to be referred to ‘as such’ and ‘suchlike’.

I have tons more I can write about this but I will stop for now.


Jason
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
redundant fallibility
Guest





PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2015 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
“My main hang up is with the phrase ‘upper air’, upper here does not necessarily mean a spatial direction, or elevated. It could mean exceeding the common, or exalted. I mention this because in Plato’s Phaedo he uses the same description to refer to the earth. He tells his tale about the ‘true earth’ and refers to it as the ‘upper earth’ and describes it as being under the heaven. If we take ‘upper air’ to be air above the earth or sky, what are we to say about an 'upper earth', the earth above earth but under the heaven? So it appears that in Phaedo ‘upper earth’ refers to a level of earth exceeding or exalted above the normal view but not spatially higher, so maybe ‘upper air’ should be taken the same way.”



The anabasis or assent is to what is ‘far more real’ or unconcealed. If we labour under the illusion that the Greeks have an interest in the invisible we miss what is meant. The distinction between the high and low is between the sceptical vision of the senses, which sees reflections, and the upper psuke’s vision, that of the true thing. The true thing is also the thing in front of us when we have run through the teaching and seen it so.

The teaching is easily intelligible: Space is right here just as it is nakedly up above in directional terms.

One stumbling block is translations that say things like “the visible realm” when they mean, with the sense of sight rather than with the mind that sees. The word for invisible is only used in the case of the Ring of Gyges story.

That being said the teaching never remains of a piece through the dialogues and often warps and coils against its inner essence.
Back to top
David A Taylor



Joined: 20 Aug 2015
Posts: 73
Location: Penang, Malaysia

PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2015 4:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

few poets venture here and despite foreboding as to the outcome
I admit to my clandestine visiting of the Plato forum and its heady
vocabulary which might make an astro physicist swoon
on the grounds that pursuit of Truth should allow no boundary or barrier to its enquiry.

Part of an address given by Swami Vivekananda (12 January 1863 to 4 July 1902) delivered before the Graduate Philosophical Society of Harvard University, on March 25, 1896.)
http://www.ramakrishnavivekananda.info/vivekananda/volume_1/lectures_and_discourses/the_vedanta_philosophy.htm

“All the Vedantists agree on three points. They believe in God, in the Vedas as revealed, and in cycles. We have already considered the Vedas. The belief about cycles is as follows: All matter throughout the universe is the outcome of one primal matter called Âkâsha; and all force, whether gravitation, attraction or repulsion, or life, is the outcome of one primal force called Prâna. Prana acting on Akasha is creating or projecting4 the universe. At the beginning of a cycle, Akasha is motionless, unmanifested. Then Prana begins to act, more and more, creating grosser and grosser forms out of Akasha — plants, animals, men, stars, and so on. After an incalculable time this evolution ceases and involution begins, everything being resolved back through finer and finer forms into the original Akasha and Prana, when a new cycle follows. Now there is something beyond Akasha and Prana. Both can be resolved into a third thing called Mahat — the Cosmic Mind. This Cosmic Mind does not create Akasha and Prana, but changes itself into them.
We will now take up the beliefs about mind, soul, and God. According to the universally accepted Sankhya psychology, in perception — in the case of vision, for instance — there are, first of all, the instruments of vision, the eyes. Behind the instruments — the eyes — is the organ of vision or Indriya — the optic nerve and its centers — which is not the external instrument, but without which the eyes will not see. More still is needed for perception. The mind or Manas must come and attach itself to the organ. And besides this, the sensation must be carried to the intellect or Buddhi — the determinative, reactive state of the mind. When the reaction comes from Buddhi, along with it flashes the external world and egoism. Here then is the will; but everything is not complete. Just as every picture, being composed of successive impulses of light, must be united on something stationary to form a whole, so all the ideas in the mind must be gathered and projected on something that is stationary — relatively to the body and mind — that is, on what is called the Soul or Purusha or Âtman.”

_________________
David
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Plato DNA



Joined: 14 Nov 2012
Posts: 44
Location: Illinois, US

PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2015 11:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi David,

I am glad you decided to post in Plato forum. Your post was a nice addition to the Vedic concepts. I was waiting for Pete to post some additional comments that he mentioned and awaiting the next section of his ideas about Timaeus, but I was going to suggest a new thread for Vedic concepts and how they could relate to Plato’s.

I come across Sami quotes occasionally and always really enjoy them, but I have yet to do any research into his actual work. I see he refers to mind as Manas, and Chatterji tends to do the same thing but also explains how there is no English word to convey the exact meaning but mind does come close. I am hesitant on the calling Akasha matter but it is understandable and the distinction is made that it is ‘primal matter’. Matter itself has multiple meanings, even among the scientific views, and could give some people the wrong impression. I will definitely have to check out more of Swami’s works and see what else he has to offer.

Very nice poetry too!


Redundant…

Quote:
“The anabasis or assent is to what is ‘far more real’ or unconcealed.”


‘Far more real’ is probably the perfect way to put it, but I am not so sure on the unconcealed part.

Quote:
“If we labour under the illusion that the Greeks have an interest in the invisible we miss what is meant.”


I am not sure who you are talking about when you say ‘the Greeks’. But we are talking about Plato’s writing, so could you elaborate on how this statement applies to Plato’s writings?


Jason
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
redundant fallibility
Guest





PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2015 6:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
““The anabasis or assent is to what is ‘far more real’ or unconcealed.” ”

‘Far more real’ is probably the perfect way to put it, but I am not so sure on the unconcealed part.

““If we labour under the illusion that the Greeks have an interest in the invisible we miss what is meant.””


One needs to run through the teaching to kindle the sight. Lethe speaks of the river of the dead who are in oblivion or utter darkness. The suitable apportionment of light brings lucidity to the shadowy ones. Ergo, a-lethe, aletheia, the lighting by removing (of ignorance).

This ‘far more real’ is the translator’s embarrassment. It is absurd and misleading. There is no question of something like realism for Greek being. The so-called ‘naive realist’ view of the things is always assumed. I.e., that they are there, a stone, when we aren't. For stronger reasons the sense of German realism, e.g. Marx or Feuerbach, is never dreamed of.

Real might be taken to mean the finding of the worthy thing, eureka!, where the sense of the worthy remains remote from us, and can not mean anything like value. But the translator has meant real by comparison to the shadows. As life under the sun is more real than dreams. That implication is utterly misleading.

Wirklichkeit, as the coincidence of what is true and what is real, echoes this in a confusing way. Since if the real is conflated with what is wanted, i.e., the coffee I like best, a real or proper cup, superschon!, I miss the sense of the being drawn towards the eidos as the god. As too much is given over to the subject with the preference in their simple arbitrariness (or, at best, in their cultural-world relativity).

Quote:
I am not sure who you are talking about when you say ‘the Greeks’. But we are talking about Plato’s writing, so could you elaborate on how this statement applies to Plato’s writings?


Plato begins in the Greek world (Greek being), which is his ground. That Plato has a ground means his seeking makes its steps from that ground to what is higher. But since Plato never questions his ground, that which he grew into, a stone, mud, he does not attempt to discover all beings, but only those of the highest things, e.g., justice.
Back to top
David A Taylor



Joined: 20 Aug 2015
Posts: 73
Location: Penang, Malaysia

PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 4:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Jason,

thank you for your kind and warm response.
It was also pleasing to learn that the poetry is appreciated. Such feedback is rare indeed!

Examining parallels in Plato with Vedic Philosophy would be most interesting.

We should broaden our concept of Akasha. It is not nothing. Most scientists will also support the concept that space or Akasha comes into existence and is created. Subtle Akasha is also said to be the space in mind. One (challenging?) description is given below.

Where Does the Mind Reside?

Where does the mind reside, that is, where do all these thoughts take place? They take place in the subtle space, which is called AKASHA. This AKASHA is not same thing as physical space. This AKASHA is one of the five TANMATRAS, or subtle states of matter that are manifested (along with AHAMKARA, or Self-consciousness) before the physical Creation comes into existence.[1] This subtle substance (AKASHA) holds the impressions (SAMSKARAS) from innumerable previous births of the soul.

When we talk about the ‘waves of the mind’, we are talking about the movement of AKASHA, the movement of superfine (seemingly non-material) particles of subtle space. In other words, thought waves are movements of consciousness[2] through space.[3]

Mental Space

The space of the mind is the space (AKASHA) associated with the living soul (Jivatman). This is the space that you see when you close your eyes. Thoughts take place in this inner space. The outer space is enveloped by the inner subtle space. Everything in the universe exists in the mind, but when we are preoccupied with our mind we only perceive a small piece of it. In other words, when we are self-involved we do not see the whole picture, instead, we only perceive what we are used to thinking about. This is called ‘self-involvement, and self-involvement is the act of involving the mind with itself.

The Effects of Self-Involvement

Self-involvement results in many negative effects, but the worst effect of all is the lack of power of discernment. It is the lack of power of discernment that leads one to make choices that result in pain and suffering. The remedy or cure for this ailment is the acquisition and application of Wisdom.

Attainment of Divine Wisdom

Before wisdom can be applied it must be acquired. We acquire wisdom through the study of the teachings of the Wise. When the mind is inundated with Wisdom, it is purged of misunderstandings and false knowledge. We say that the mind is ‘blown away’. It means that the mind becomes awe-stricken by the vastness of that knowledge and decides to shut up (or rather, open up). The mind begins to become quiet, and then begins the exploration of Consciousness, the ‘final frontier.’

The realm of the mind is limited to time and space, but the realm of Consciousness is Eternity and Infinity. There is no end to the expansion of Consciousness. The Universe expands and contracts, with each inhalation and exhalation of Consciousness, but Consciousness just goes on expanding and has no limits. That is why it is called ASEEM, or Boundless.

The Universe has its outer limits. The Universe is bound by Consciousness. Only the ignorant think that Consciousness is bound by the Universe. The seam, or boundary between the Universe and Consciousness is the Unmanifest (PRAKRITI). That Unmanifest is experienced in the fourth state of consciousness (Samadhi), but beyond the fourth is another. THAT cannot be described. THAT is the Supreme Consciousness, and THAT is our Goal.




[1] The first element of the physical Creation is the physical space, which itself is the manifestation of the subtle space. Both are referred to in the Shastras as AKASHA, which is sometimes translated as ‘the Ether’.


[2] That is, the ‘expression of consciousness by means of the movement (vibration) of superfine particles of subtle space.’ Consciousness itself is unmovable because it is all-pervading.


[3] This is the subtle space (one of the Tanmatras) from which physical space later devolves.

_________________
David
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    School of Economic Science - Study Forums Forum Index -> Plato Forum All times are GMT
Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4
Page 4 of 4

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You can attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum
This forum is sponsored by the School of Economic Science for use by its members; members of its branches; members
of affiliated schools worldwide and by all other Internet users interested in the study subjects presented.
Powered by phpBB Copyright © FSES, 2007. All Rights Reserved