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Proof of the One

 
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Jack Sadie



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 10:15 am    Post subject: Proof of the One Reply with quote

I recall reading a dialogue in which Socrates proves that the qualities of "twoness", "threeness" or indeed all multiplicity is utterly dependant upon unity; this was done by showing that what enables us to group things is by their similarity or "one-ness".
I may have phrased this rather crudely but that should identify it.

Can someone kindly point me to this dialogue as I would like to read it again.
Thanks.
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, Jack, it sounds as if you might be talking about Philebus where Plato has Socrates say:

"There is a gift of the gods - so it seems evident to me - which they let fall from their abode, and it was through Prometheus, or someone like him, that it reached mankind, together with a fire exceedingly bright. The men of old, who were better than ourselves and dwelt nearer the gods, passed on this gift in the form of a saying.

"All things, so it ran, that are ever said to be consist of a one and a many, and have in their nature a conjunction of limit and unlimitedness. This then being the ordering of things we ought, they said, whatever it be that we are dealing with, to assume a single form and search for it, for we shall find it there contained: then, if we have laid hold of that we must look for two, if the case admits of there being two, otherwise for three or some other forms. And we must do the same again with each of the 'ones' thus reached until we come to see not merely that the one we started with is a one and an unlimited many, but also just how many it is. But we are not to apply the character of unlimited to our plurality until we have discerned the total number of forms the thing in question has between its one and its unlimited number. It is only then, when we have done that, that we may let each one of all these intermediate forms pass away into the unlimited and cease bothering about them. There then is how the gods, as I told you, have committed us to the task of enquiry, of learning, and of teaching one another, but your clever modern man, while making his one - or his many, as the case may be - more quickly or more slowly than is proper, when he has got his one proceeds to his unlimited number straight away, allowing the intermediates to escape him, whereas it is the recognition of these intermediates that makes all the difference between a philosophical and a contentious discussion."
PHILEBUS 16D

He then goes on to explain what he means using first the subject of phonetics and then musical harmony. The 'men of old are in my opinion the early Pythagoreans.

Pete


Last edited by Peter Blumsom on Sat Jan 31, 2015 8:17 am; edited 1 time in total
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2015 8:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the sake of philosophy let’s hear Marsilio Ficino’s opinions on the passage in the previous post.

“Plato refers here to three arguments that were handed down by the ancient theologians. First everything that the one universal principle itself has made is composed from one and the many. Second, in the universal order the species are finite, the individual things infinite. Third, you mustn’t pass from one extreme to another without mediation.”

Philebus Commentary, Chapter 27 – Marsilio Ficino



Here is a simple example: You go to a night club and there is a brilliant guitarist playing. You are mesmerised by the movements of his hands as they seem to caress the instrument. Their motions seem limitless, and beguilingly hard to follow. You have a desire to play in such a way and after the show you seek this guitarist out and ask to learn to play like him. Now, this guitarist does not say to you, well, you just perform this infinity of movements with you hands. He will say something like:

You are the guitarist, a complete unity, which includes the guitar you are holding in the correct way. Though you are 'one', you have two hands and each performs its separate functions individually as well as in combination, having its own technique: one depresses the strings, the other strikes the strings. And each hand has its own separate discipline as to how it moves. First we look at the language of the right hand, where the fingers each has its own designation, ‘p’ for thumb, ‘i’ for index finger, ‘m’ for middle and ‘a’ for ring finger. And whatever you are seeing the guitarist doing, the right hand is performing simple percussions on any of the 6 strings with these four digits (the pinky isn’t used in classical guitar). The left hand also has its own discipline or language, which is to press down whatever strings behind the required frets so as to give the correct pitches … You get the idea. The tutor has at once cleared your mind of the dazzling outer display of virtuosity, which has the effect of confusing the senses, and brought your mind towards a Limit, which it can certainly comprehend given time and practice. And it’s only by understanding this limit that you can then approach the Unlimited variety of effects that is held within the performance.

When my grandson first picked up a guitar he mimicked these unlimited movements that he thought he saw me playing. But as he concentrated, and with a little help from gramps, he began to appreciate the Limit, which is the discipline through which good results can arise. The tutor should rescue the student from the unlimited and by limit bring him towards the One, which in this case is a happy musician.

Socrates is not just speaking philosophically, i.e. in the area of knowledge (episteme), but also of accomplishment in the world about of the many techniques (technai ) that are on display EVERWHERE there are human beings – each techne being a limit providing the means (or 'mediation', as Ficino calls it) by which the 'one' becomes 'many', or conversely, by which the infinite/unlimited is prepared for unity.

It is through techne that man gains happiness

It is this important 'mean' so characteristic of Greek philosophy, which fulfilled the role of species. It should be noted that One can specify 'class' or 'genus' (point of becoming). It specifies by distinguishing species, which are the limit say between 'animal' and a dog walking down the street. In the original passage Plato writes:

"And we must do the same again with each of the 'ones' thus reached until we come to see not merely that the one we started with is a one and an unlimited many,..."

This seems to be relevant here because dogs themselves can be separated into subspecies. Socrates might say, one thing you would never see walking down the street is an animal. It must be a kind or Form (eidos) of animal. That is the only way an 'animal' may be manifested. And in the case of 'dog' before we can see it though the senses, it must be a kind of dog - an Alsatian or a mongrel etc.. Such as these we can see through the senses, and such as these will exhibit qualities made available to the sensorium such as 'colour' 'size' 'smooth or hairy' 'smelly' etc. etc.

I wonder whether in this late dialogue Plato is already taking note of the thoughts of his brilliant pupil (and reader) Aristotle.

Anyway that’s the way I read it.

Pete
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Jack Sadie



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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks so much for your generous response, and I will certainly pursue that source. It is not however the reference for which I am searching.

The argument had mainly to do with the fact that different things are only rally related by their sameness and thus unified.

It is obviousl that Fork A and Fork B can be seen as 2, but what about a knife and a fork ? The only possiblke way that they can be described as 2, or knife and fork and spoon as 3, is by finding that which unites them - "utensils" for example.

Thus multiplicity is totally and utterly dependant upon One, which in truth is all there is !
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2015 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, Jack, I kind of thought that might not be your ref. but as it's one of the most intriguing passages in the whole of the Dialogues I thought I'd take it out for a 'dusting'. I hope you don't mind me continuing to talk about it on your thread.

It's probably not what you are searching for but there is an amusing passage in Greater Hippies

Socrates is speaking:

"Each of us two, you and myself, is one, but that taken together, we cannot be that which each of us is singly - for we are two and not one. 301d

He goes on to discuss the odd and the even.
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Plato DNA



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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2015 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe the part you are searching for is in Phaedo, it is about causation.

It kind of begins around 97…

“I cannot even convince myself that when you add one to one either the first or the second one becomes two, or they both become two by the addition of the one to the other. I find it hard to believe that, although when they were separate each of them was one and they were not two, now that they have come together the cause of their becoming two is simply the union caused by their juxtaposition.”

With the discussion continuing and when you get to 101c…

“Suppose next that we add one to one. You would surely avoid saying that the cause of our getting two is the addition, or in the case of a divided unit, the division. You would loudly proclaim that you know of no other way in which any given object can come into being except by participation in the reality peculiar to its appropriate universal, and that in the cases which I have mentioned you recognize no other cause for the coming into being of two than participation in duality, and that whatever is to become two must participate in this and whatever is to become one must participate in unity.”


Of course when talking about the one you have to include Parmenides, although so many concepts are tossed around that it makes it hard to follow.

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


“A twofold tale I will tell you: At first one comes from the many and then it divides and many comes from one. There is a continuous exchange of position. At one time there is coming together (Philia) and at another time there is moving apart (Neikos).”


Empedocles Sicily 492-432 BC



“Reality cannot be found accept in one single source because of the interconnection of all things with one another. I do not conceive of any reality at all without genuine unity.”


Gottfried Leibniz (1670)


Jason
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2015 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, Jason, the Phaedo quote did come to mind. I think it trawls the same water as my lesser known quote from Greater Hippias. Let's see what Jack thinks, though if it's neither of these he may be too embarrassed for us to answer.

Any other offers, anyone?

By the way, good to hear from you,

Pete
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Jack Sadie



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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2015 7:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks to both of you. I see I have some incentive for further research anyway.

And no; I'm not embarrassed to report that I'm not entirely convinced I have found my quarry. I will certainloy report back when, and if, I do.
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Tim Addey



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 5:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just to add a further possible line of research, you might consider Proclus' masterly metaphysical treatise, The Elements of Theology, especially the first five or six propositions. Here is the first of them:

Proposition - Every multitude partakes in some respect of The One.

Proof - For if it in no way or degree participates of The One, neither will the whole be one, nor each of the many things from which multitude arises, but each multitude will originate from certain or particular things, and this will continue ad infinitum. And of these infinites each will be again infinite multitude. For, if multitude partakes in no respect of any one, neither as a whole nor through any of its parts, it will be in every respect indeterminate. Each of the many, whichever you may assume, will be one or not one; and if not one will be either many or nothing. But if each of the many is nothing, that likewise which arises from these will be nothing. If each is many, each will consist of infinites without limit. But this is impossible. For there is no being constituted of infinites without limit, since there is nothing greater than the infinite itself; and that which consists of all is greater than each particular thing. Neither is any thing composed of nothing. Every multitude therefore partakes in some respect of The One.


Coming as he did, after the best part of a thousand years of Platonic development in the ancient world, Proclus offers to the thinker some of the most wonderful fruits of true philosophy. He was one of the last heads of the Athenian Academy, and perhaps the finest commentator on the dialogues of Plato.
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2015 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tim,

This is a wonderful work by Proclus. For some reason I haven't got T.T.'s translation, but Dodds is good and gives the Greek. It might not be pertinent to Jack's question as its ground is more quantative than qualitative, though I certainly think he should check it out. Platonically speaking we are in the world of his Parmenides though I have found these first 6 propositions significant regarding my initial post on Philebus. Another point of interest is that now I see Proclus' hennad as a 'unit' - something I hadn't taken on board.

Pete

P.S. At the moment I am trying to juggle with my dates and see if I can attend this year's Prometheus Trust Conference. I wanted to come last year as it was 'local' but prior commitments intervened. I would recommend anyone wavering to take the plunge.
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