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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2015 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A little bit further on from where Socrates talks of the ‘blind man of opinion’ [Rep. 484c] we get him asking whether we should make our blind men into Guardians (irony here, for phulakis actually means ‘watcher’) “or shall we prefer the philosophers, who have learned to know each true reality”. adding that they “have no less practical experience”. The text assents to the second option and I believe it must be taken into account however awkward it may prove to our separate notions.

You remarks about the fifth I consider sacrosanct, but I would like to interrogate you a little on this, if you so wish.
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Joseph Milne



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PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2015 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Peter,

First, please forgive my long silence, but the conversation has gone rather swiftly ahead of me at a busy time.

You write:

Quote:
A little bit further on from where Socrates talks of the ‘blind man of opinion’ [Rep. 484c] we get him asking whether we should make our blind men into Guardians (irony here, for phulakis actually means ‘watcher’) “or shall we prefer the philosophers, who have learned to know each true reality”. adding that they “have no less practical experience”. The text assents to the second option and I believe it must be taken into account however awkward it may prove to our separate notions.


Here you strike a note that resolves my original dilemma. I was perhaps caught on the idea of the 'philosopher king' ruling rather than justice and wisdom ruling. I was also caught in the dilemma of the vocations of the 'philosopher' and the 'ruler' being exclusive to one another. Yet it is clear here that the lover of wisdom and the person of virtuous action cannot really be separated. Only the good person is a lover of 'eternal things' and only the lover of eternal things can truly be good. I feel rather stupid that I missed this! I am also grateful to our unnamed interlocutor for raising the question of the relation between justice and wisdom. A difficulty in our times lies grasping how the virtues are themselves acts of knowledge.

Best wishes,
Joseph
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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

“or shall we prefer the philosophers, who have learned to know each true reality”

This does not read, who have come to know true reality. It says, who have come to know each true reality.

So, someone might know a true reality, that of justice, but not each true reality. Otherwise, how could one be a shipbuilder, and not merely an actor who had the right instructions, without actually knowing each true reality. They know a true reality, that of shipbuilding.

If that were not so, each shipbuilder would also have to be a philosopher. A clear absurdity.

The insistence that (dike) justice is the same as (agathos) the good must be doused, and sacrificed, and so overturned. One needs the bringing of a shadow, which will let what is under the nose as obvious seeing of what is manifest, become available to illumination.

The good can not be just. Since if the just man were good, he would stay all the time with the true realities, by nature. Whereas, to be just, is to be active among the things down here, in the city. One needs to see the problem Plato is setting here, if one is to bring a shadow to the whole text. That would make us see it with new eyes, as if by force.


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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 9:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
“A little bit further on from where Socrates talks of the ‘blind man of opinion’ [Rep. 484c] we get him asking whether we should make our blind men into Guardians (irony here, for phulakis actually means ‘watcher’) “or shall we prefer the philosophers, who have learned to know each true reality”. adding that they “have no less practical experience”. The text assents to the second option and I believe it must be taken into account however awkward it may prove to our separate notions.”


Here, it seems what is spoken of is the training Plato speaks of in the Seventh Letter. So that one can bring oneself to the eidos. To be able to see the eidos of justice is surely not the same as being just. Is having this training the main thing for a philosopher?

There is a preliminary matter. Does the eidos mean also the low opinions, say about justice? Or do you believe it means only the highest opinion? For my part, I would say it must mean all the opinions about justice. However, for practical purposes, in the city, we would distinguish the best opinion, and put it to work.


Quote:
“You remarks about the fifth I consider sacrosanct, but I would like to interrogate you a little on this, if you so wish.”


There's a question about words. Since we can go on in an indefinite number of expressions, letting ourselves know what we are speaking of, how can we ever reach what is true? I speak until I see the idea of justice as eidos, but I make this come clear to myself in my speech, which is only this or that speech. Of this or that age.

There seems to be a difficulty here that it is not wise to cavalierly drop into the oblivion of the self evident things.
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 7:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Here, it seems what is spoken of is the training Plato speaks of in the Seventh Letter.


I’m glad that you interpose ‘it seems’ as it takes us from the realm of the categorical and allows the following material to be that which can be debated.

I’m not insisting I’m right, and we cannot ask Plato’s words as they will simply keep saying the same thing, but will you not allow the word ‘every’ (ekaston in the text) to be also the particular of ‘all’ (pan) - that ‘every A is B’ is the same as ‘All A’s are B’? If not, debate becomes problematic if not impossible.

Can I say that you may be right that Plato never meant the just man to be identical to the man who sees the eidos of justice, but I cannot find where he even hints that this may be so. It’s distasteful for me to say that you only, at best, offer circumstantial evidence regarding the Seventh Letter, for this should be a free man’s discourse not a court room.

Perhaps I can offer this, to bring us little more closer in thought. A guardian under training is learning to see, but a guardian after training simply sees. I cannot agree that a man can be just in the way that Plato talks of Justice, which is novel, and also be unconscious of his thoughts and acts, as we might be. Think, this would mean that Plato would be seeking, in the form of a just man, something inferior, in fact someone of minimal philosophical interest – which would further mean that something ‘better’ was added when Socrates decided to investigate the man ‘expanded’ to state at Republic 368d and when he discovered a satisfactory definition for justice and transposed it back to the individual, that this ‘something better’ was lost again. It would also mean that the extensive education that Plato presents as necessary for the young guardian-to-be would be simply to create a ‘man of opinion’.

There is more but I sense a certain weariness at the contemplation of further “quotations at twenty paces”. Perhaps we can agree to disagree on this.

Regarding the ‘fifth thing’ I want to assure you that I have no fixed thoughts on this that I am aware of. I am kind of in awe of it. The recurring thought that I do have is: how does this fifth thing differ from the combination of the other four, accepting that it does? And this, if you don't mind, is the question I pass over to you.
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2015 6:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I’ve been wondering whether to respond to this (below) for a day or two, but as it deals with an important distinction, I think I have to.

Quote:
<<So, someone might know a true reality, that of justice, but not each true reality. Otherwise, how could one be a shipbuilder, and not merely an actor who had the right instructions, without actually knowing each true reality. They know a true reality, that of shipbuilding.>>


Techne and episteme are used loosely among the Greeks to mean roughly the same thing - skill. Heidegger looks at Aristotle’s N. Ethics and sees something different, a more ‘scientific’ usage but will this be of interest to you? In his Sophist (Commentary) he characterizes the two terms in this way. Episteme he says, relates to beings that always 'are' whereas techne applies to that which is ‘not yet’ and by implication ‘can be otherwise’.

Regarding your shipbuilder, as shipbuilder he does not necessarily need to know a ‘true reality’ because he deals more in techne or ‘know how’ - a ship ‘comes to be’. Philosophy, arithmetic, geometry are studies embedded in things that ‘are’. These are ‘scientific’ studies as described by Plato’s Academy in Epinomis 991d.

I don’t know if you will find the above of interest. I think it deals with your query. You may not.
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Joseph Milne



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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2015 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Peter Blumsom wrote:
I’ve been wondering whether to respond to this (below) for a day or two, but as it deals with an important distinction, I think I have to.

Quote:
<<So, someone might know a true reality, that of justice, but not each true reality. Otherwise, how could one be a shipbuilder, and not merely an actor who had the right instructions, without actually knowing each true reality. They know a true reality, that of shipbuilding.>>


Techne and episteme are used loosely among the Greeks to mean roughly the same thing - skill. Heidegger looks at Aristotle’s N. Ethics and sees something different, a more ‘scientific’ usage but will this be of interest to you? In his Sophist (Commentary) he characterizes the two terms in this way. Episteme he says, relates to beings that always 'are' whereas techne applies to that which is ‘not yet’ and by implication ‘can be otherwise’.

Regarding your shipbuilder, as shipbuilder he does not necessarily need to know a ‘true reality’ because he deals more in techne or ‘know how’ - a ship ‘comes to be’. Philosophy, arithmetic, geometry are studies embedded in things that ‘are’. These are ‘scientific’ studies as described by Plato’s Academy in Epinomis 991d.

I don’t know if you will find the above of interest. I think it deals with your query. You may not.


There is another aspect to this to wonder about.

Let us grant the shipbuilder acts from 'true knowledge' of shipbuilding, which would most likely involve both episteme and techne.

Now we may ask what it would mean to build a ship in 'justice', or 'justly'. I do not think this is an arbitrary question since it brings to the fore that knowledge and action in justice embraces other modes of knowledge and is therefore above them in some way.

Because justice can embrace every action, and every other kind of knowledge (since one can know geometry or arithmetic justly or unjustly), justice is hard to understand simply from particular instances. Plato, like Aristotle, understands virtue as a form of knowledge. Yet a virtue is an activity, and this is why only the just person can know justice. Justice is a clear example of where theoria and praxis converge.

Our general problem is that we normally can neither really contemplate justice nor act in it, and so our discussions help us see our ignorance of justice -just as the dialogues of Plato do.

Since justice applies to any kind of knowledge and every kind of action, it cannot be listed alongside the branches of knowledge it may embrace or transform. It is universal and shipbuilding is not, though the shipbuilder may build in justice if he is also a philosopher.

Joseph
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2015 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Joseph,

I’ve thought a lot about this distinction between techne and episteme, because it is by no means always clear to me where one ends and the other begins. It’s right what you say about the difficulty of understanding justice from particular cases. Some eidei also have morphe or ‘shape’. Justice has no shape and appeals beyond the eyes. What continually comes back to me on this issue is the case of the master craftsman. After all, is not the Demiurge the master craftsman. There is this passage in Timaeus that brings this to the surface for our viewing:

“When the maker of anything keeps his eye on the eternally unchanging and uses it for the form and function of his product the result must be good: whenever he looks to something that has come to be, the result is not good.” [28B]

If one substitutes dikaios for agathos we have something resembling your assertion:

Quote:
<<It is universal and shipbuilding is not, though the shipbuilder may build in justice if he is also a philosopher.>>


The master craftsman, say a Leonardo, who is part artist and part scientist but fully a man of insight, to me is possibly an example of someone who works justly. To bring the living presence of a Form into the phenomenal realm must take wisdom, courage and discipline. I recall the story of his commissioners complaining that ‘he sits in front of the painting for hours without moving and then delivers but a single brush stroke.’

It’s this question of the master craftsman that has for a long time fascinated and puzzled me. That’s why I underlined necessarily in my previous post, because, although Heidegger/Aristotle’s distinction is a fine one, I think there is more to it. It needs developing.

Quote:
<<Because justice can embrace every action, and every other kind of knowledge (since one can know geometry or arithmetic justly or unjustly), justice is hard to understand simply from particular instances. Plato, like Aristotle, understands virtue as a form of knowledge. Yet a virtue is an activity, and this is why only the just person can know justice. Justice is a clear example of where theoria and praxis converge.>>

There are a couple of comments I’d like to make here. Socrates spends quite some time in Republic differentiating between Arithmetike and Logistike. The first is the study of number ‘in itself’ which he calls 'the path to reality' - whereas the other is ‘what shopkeepers use’. Secondly, the knowledge which resides in the virtues is, of course, one of the virtues, Sophia – wisdom. I don’t know if I’m agreeing with you or not, because it is ambiguous. When one has the courage to obey wisdom, which, remember, does not assert itself, and if discipline or temperance is in place, that is, if all three cardinal virtues are in balance, Justice is this ‘divine equilibrium'. The only concrete example I can remember Plato giving of justice is ‘minding one’s own business’ – which hardly anyone seems to be able to do - perhaps because we never know what our business is!

Regards Pete
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Joseph Milne



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PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2015 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Peter,

Can I come back just to the question of justice, and virtue as knowledge?

It seems to me that Plato holds that virtue is a type of knowledge. This is quiet strange to modern ears because we have largely forgotten the tradition of virtue ethics and moved to the deontological ethics of Kant and ethics of rights. Thus ethics as character, or quality of being, and of action in accord with the order of nature has been lost. Ethics has been located in the 'will' or 'emotion' rather than in reason or intellect.

You write “the knowledge which resides in the virtues is, of course, one of the virtues, Sophia – wisdom”. That suggests that 'virtue' is really only one thing, and that the division into distinct virtues, especially the four cardinal virtues, is only a matter of analysis, rather like the rays of the sun may be divided into the colours of the rainbow.

If that is so, then no particular virtue can be divorced from an act of knowing. Justice, for example, involves a particular act of knowing, or a specific type of wisdom. So also does courage.

Since you mention courage, I think it interesting to see how Aristotle speaks of this virtue. First he says courage can be measured against the best example (rather than a definition), and the best example is the courage in war before death, because in this instance courage is for the sake of the beautiful or most noble. Aristotle says:

Quote:
So one who endures or fears what one ought, for the reason one ought, as one ought, when one ought, and is confident in similar ways, is courageous, since the courageous person undergoes things and acts in accordance with what is worthy and in a way that is proportionate. Now the end of any way of being at work is what corresponds to the active condition it comes from, and to a courageous person, courage is a beautiful thing, and so its end is something beautiful as well, since each thing is determined by its end. So it is for the sake of the beautiful that the courageous person endures and does the things that are in accord with courage. (Nicomachean Ethics, Book 3, Chapter 7, translation Joe Sachs)


First we see it is a question of enduring or fearing what one ought. Courage is not blind, or fearless before all things. That would be foolhardy courage. Next, the courageous person acts for the right reason and when he ought. Next, courage is present when action is in accord with what is worthy or good. So the criminal who risks his life to commit a crime is not courageous, even if he masters his fear of getting harmed. Next, the courageous person acts from the ground courage comes from, which is its noble end. Courage is known, then, by its end, and this is why such courage wins honour, as Aristotle goes on to say.

Perhaps the important point here is that a brave act performed for the wrong reasons is not an act of courage. Courage is inseparable from its noble end, and this is what makes it a virtue. So there is not a kind of courage that lacks wisdom and another kind informed by wisdom. That is a false separation, since it is the end that determines whether an act is virtuous or not. It seems clear then that the virtue of courage is a kind of knowledge in action, like the skill of the musician in performing. And just as there is something called 'skill-in-itself', so there are different 'skills', and in the same way as there is 'virtue-in-itself', so there are different 'virtues'.

In Aristotle's discussion of courage we can see that the courageous person acts justly, prudently, and temperately, so that all the virtues may be said to be present together in some sense in each virtue. So virtue is an activity of knowledge. We may also say that each virtue is grounded in and is aimed at the good and the true.

I think Aristotle helps us here. For the Greek philosophers, seeing things includes seeing the manner in which they are underway and their end, and so knowledge of things is not a kind of static abstraction, as in modern physics, but rather of seeing their place as part of the whole, which itself is always in-act.

Your quotation from Timaeus may be said to apply to any act performed in accordance with knowledge of the truth of things:

Quote:
When the maker of anything keeps his eye on the eternally unchanging and uses it for the form and function of his product the result must be good: whenever he looks to something that has come to be, the result is not good.


That fits perfectly with what Aristotle says of the genuinely courageous action.

Joseph
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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2015 6:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
“I’m not insisting I’m right, and we cannot ask Plato’s words as they will simply keep saying the same thing, but will you not allow the word ‘every’ (ekaston in the text) to be also the particular of ‘all’ (pan) - that ‘every A is B’ is the same as ‘All A’s are B’? If not, debate becomes problematic if not impossible.”


If the knowledge is one, and not several, we must conclude the philosopher has knowledge simpliciter. Thus: not persons of blind opinion, but of true knowledge. Yet, Plato himself speaks of the circle. How do you reconcile the specific knowledge of the circle, as the truly existing, with the claim about the ‘pan’? How do we know the pan without knowing each one? Do you deny the Seventh Letter establishes, or shows the path to establishing, true knowledge of the circle?

Quote:
“Perhaps I can offer this, to bring us little more closer in thought. A guardian under training is learning to see, but a guardian after training simply sees.”


But how would this be different from the training of a shipbuilder. Who when he learns his craft still does not know anything about what always is? Does the training only concern the intellectual then? Yet, why do we need this intellectual training to rule? If it has no part in the practical execution of the necessary actions which concern the affairs of the Polis.

Joseph Milne remarks: “Let us grant the shipbuilder acts from 'true knowledge' of shipbuilding, which would most likely involve both episteme and techne.”

--

Quote:
“It’s distasteful for me to say that you only, at best, offer circumstantial evidence regarding the Seventh Letter, for this should be a free man’s discourse not a court room.”


Do you want to be a philologist then? Only listening at the foot of the language we deem Plato, only taking away from the intransgressible text, to what the thing written down tells us. If we are to talk to Plato we must bring something of our own. The matter really concerns what Plato is. We have only the language to disclose the fifth to us. We must treat Plato as the thing understood to have a real existence of its own, apart from the text. Otherwise, you concede from the beginning a principle foreign to Plato himself, slavish attachment to the thing written down which perishes.


Quote:
“Regarding the ‘fifth thing’ I want to assure you that I have no fixed thoughts on this that I am aware of. I am kind of in awe of it. The recurring thought that I do have is: how does this fifth thing differ from the combination of the other four, accepting that it does? And this, if you don't mind, is the question I pass over to you.”


It is said to be imperishable. If the fifth is each eidos, then it is the eidos of the the true circle. Not the one we have here in our minds, or the word, or the one there. But, the not is deceptive. It is ‘not’ only in so far as we do not have right knowledge. The higher nous. When we know not only by doxa, when we run through it in understanding, we see it is this one here, this one in the mind, this one spoken. It is then the task of the student to find this fifth, and see it.

Plato himself, do you not recall, cautions against this awe in the Letter. One must not be seduced to a kind of idol worship. I believe this running through is what Heidegger calls the work of thinking, it is the coming to see the work. The work is what comes prior to us, and as such we are first it before we are ourselves.

Joseph Milne remarks: “Plato, like Aristotle, understands virtue as a form of knowledge. Yet a virtue is an activity, and this is why only the just person can know justice. Justice is a clear example of where theoria and praxis converge.”


---

Quote:
Techne and episteme are used loosely among the Greeks to mean roughly the same thing - skill. Heidegger looks at Aristotle’s N. Ethics and sees something different, a more ‘scientific’ usage but will this be of interest to you?


May I suggest that Heidegger sees the seeds of this, but not this scientific itself. He finds the scientific only in the Medieval schools, who teach an elaborated Aristotle. For him the material, hyle, is not scientific. It is only the answer to the question, why if there are two things with the same shape, eg twins, are they different, in actual experience? Different hyle. The hyle is broken in itself, it is primordial reality. But, it is not the fifth thing.

Quote:
In his Sophist (Commentary) he characterizes the two terms in this way. Episteme he says, relates to beings that always 'are' whereas techne applies to that which is ‘not yet’ and by implication ‘can be otherwise’.


We should keep in mind that when Plato speaks of episteme, in the letter, he speaks of the thing that is like the fifth. It is not the fifth because the knowledge of this or that person is destructible. Even if it refers to what is imperishable.


Quote:
Regarding your shipbuilder, as shipbuilder he does not necessarily need to know a ‘true reality’ because he deals more in techne or ‘know how’ - a ship ‘comes to be’. Philosophy, arithmetic, geometry are studies embedded in things that ‘are’. These are ‘scientific’ studies as described by Plato’s Academy in Epinomis 991d.


Quote:
I don’t know if you will find the above of interest. I think it deals with your query. You may not.


Then what does the philosopher as philosopher, who is a god, have to do with running a city, which is a kind of craft? I think this is the disturbance Plato is bringing to us. And we must be impressed by this apparent aporia.

---

addendum: I don’t see why Joseph tendentiously reads Dike as the highest thing, there is agathos, the good.

A just man might be killed because is is just. A wise man might be kidnaped for his wisdom. The good is perhaps neither of these. Socrates, the phronimos, likewise, was slaughtered by the Thirty Tyrants.


-----

Quote:
“When the maker of anything keeps his eye on the eternally unchanging and uses it for the form and function of his product the result must be good: whenever he looks to something that has come to be, the result is not good”


I add a pedant's comment, but not entirely a useless one to this statement of Joseph Milne:
Quote:
“This is quite strange to modern ears because we have largely forgotten the tradition of virtue ethics and moved to the deontological ethics of Kant and ethics of rights.”


This has some practical verity, but only because of the superficial treatment Kant gets in the universities. Kant does not teach duty ethics. He teaches a teleological ethics, based on the notion that nature is good. That is what he fails to prove, and so the destruction of his work. The reason Kant is concerned with the practical is because the universe itself is supposed to form our character according to a concealed idea.

This is important, because Heidegger too, like Socrates, is chiefly concerned with the finite, the practical nous. This does not bar the possibility of the higher nous, but rather it insists on the difficulty. Justice, the return of the withdrawn god, can’t be laid down by assertion.
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Joseph Milne



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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 9:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would like to make two brief observations here.

First, we have yet to resolve the question of the relation of knowledge of particular things and the wisdom of the philosopher who comes to knowledge of 'all'.

I suggested this may be helped by the question of the relation of theoria and praxis – contemplation and action.

Can there be a just act without knowledge of justice itself? This question breaks down into deliberate acts of justice and injustice and inadvertent acts of justice or injustice. Plato speaks of this distinction in the Laws where the penalties for injustice are different according to knowledge or ignorance, what Plato calls 'involuntary' acts of injustice. What is clear is that only acts of justice done in knowledge of justice are 'virtuous' acts. Likewise, only acts of injustice done in knowledge of justice are vicious acts.

Aristotle makes the same distinction. A person may do acts of justice or injustice without knowing it, or intending it. But only the person who acts in knowledge of justice acts virtuously. This involves understanding the right action to take, for the right end, at the right time, and in the right manner. It is because just acts are always specific that no universal rules can be made about just actions. They are the application of universal knowledge (theoria) to a specific situation (praxis). Thus the universal and the particular are brought into relation, and that only is virtue.

Second, there is a danger that, with Plato, we make the contemplative life so far above practical life that we miss what Plato is pointing us towards, which is 'to live well'. But to live well means to live in accord with truth, and therefore that all actions have truth as their proper end.

It is precisely the tendency to speculate only on the contemplative aspect that Heidegger accuses the west of reducing philosophy to mere 'metaphysics' or 'ontology'.

It is clear in experience that when I do a just action I have a knowledge of 'justice itself', and I do the action in the name of justice in itself, and as an affirmation of justice in itself. This knowledge may be of an intuitive or indefinite nature, which cannot be formulated, yet if that knowledge was not there I could not see my action was just. I measure a just action by justice pure and simple. This is not something an outside observer can verify.

If the disputants about justice in Plato's dialogue did not have this intuition of justice in itself, they could not dispute about justice at all. The difficulty that Socrates entices us to confront is that, although we have an intuition of justice, it gets clouded in opinion when we try to articulate it. I would go so far as to say that the human soul by nature loves justice, but the manner of life lived determines how far that love of justice will be fulfilled. This is the meaning of the word philosophy.

It follows from this that it is only through a knowledge of universals that we have apprehension of particulars. We know this act of justice is just because we know justice. We know this numerical ratio is true because we know number. We know this tree is in being because we know being. Always the two orders of knowing are engaged. Understanding how this is so is where philosophy begins, since we know yet do not know at the same time.

The philosopher King would need to be the one who has come to understand these things fully.

Joseph
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
“First, we have yet to resolve the question of the relation of knowledge of particular things and the wisdom of the philosopher who comes to knowledge of 'all'.”


This all, as “pan” or panta, then, as I have realised, as the many, is not the one. That is the problem Peter was bringing out above, which I missed.

Of course what Joseph seems to speak of, interchangeably, as virtue and justice, is dike, which is one of the ideas alongside the others in this “many”. He never condescends to show us anything that might contradict that opinion. We can see that we must pursue the issue of agathos in the way it stands with regard to being. That is always a problem in Plato, is it not, the regression of the highest idea? It is no mere vulgar idea; alongside the others. The ideas are the gods. But being is not one of the divine things.

Quote:
“Aristotle makes the same distinction. A person may do acts of justice or injustice without knowing it, or intending it. But only the person who acts in knowledge of justice acts virtuously. This involves understanding the right action to take, for the right end, at the right time, and in the right manner. It is because just acts are always specific that no universal rules can be made about just actions. They are the application of universal knowledge (theoria) to a specific situation (praxis). Thus the universal and the particular are brought into relation, and that only is virtue.”


Aristotle gives the example of hearing, one hears, but can not learn to hear better, or become a good hearer. One might train to the fine listening of music, but that is not the improvement of hearing. But of its content.

However, with a matter such as making jokes, one might one day make a joke, accidentally. If one can also make a joke habitually, because one practices joke telling, then one, according to what Aristotle teaches, can learn to tell jokes in the best way.

Becoming: as the practitioner gains in skill at some point they become simply a master of their art. This seems to be based on the sound judgment of the reasonable members of the community. I do not believe it is an inner truth in the style of Kierkegaard, as Joseph presents it. That would have been distasteful to the Greeks, they found in psychologising, speculating about the inmanifest (as for example the bad dreams at the end of Republic), a bad procedure. (this is, parenthetically, the root of Nietzsche's nasty comment: Plato is boring.)

In the same way, this visible thing, I believe, is seen by people acting reasonably who are assumed to find in some selection of great thinkers, eg, Hume, Descartes and Berkeley, a series of peaks, of which one can argue which is somewhat higher, but can not deny as peaks.

In this it seems to me we observe the Aristotelian practicality, as opposed to the Platonic issues. That one is a master plainly, does not say one is the eidos, or that one is perfectly such a being. Because the things here are not the imperishable and perfect.

Quote:
“It is precisely the tendency to speculate only on the contemplative aspect that Heidegger accuses the west of reducing philosophy to mere 'metaphysics' or 'ontology'.”


For the reason of the concern with knowledge interpreted as the logical, the raising up of logos. Heidegger does not read Aristotle that way, but rather he finds that the tradition often did. (For the reason of such misinterpretations of Heidegger, we have a great number of people who believe themselves to be going against Heidegger, when in fact they are only retarded laggards, who have not seen as much as is there in the text with that name.) What he, the rubric, calls theoria, is the thinking of the work, he finds this as the Greek view. The work is the being of a thing, a house, a citizen, a library. The notion is that Aristotle says that animals do not have such beings, for they do not do the work of thinking. Or grow into the things being thought by any “one”.

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It follows from this that it is only through a knowledge of universals that we have apprehension of particulars. We know this act of justice is just because we know justice.


Then why not from outside? From the one who sees rightly because they know rightly. It seems to me that penetrates the whole of Plato. Doxa is seeing, but so is the knowledge. Seeing, however, is an action.

The problem we have here, is an attempt to replace agathos with virtue or dike or justice. Because the eidos is not only the highest opinion, the aristos. Even the bad opinions about dike are dike. Otherwise, how could a tree be a tree? Are only the true trees trees. Absurd.
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Joseph Milne



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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An unknown thinker writes:


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Quote:
It follows from this that it is only through a knowledge of universals that we have apprehension of particulars. We know this act of justice is just because we know justice.


Then why not from outside? From the one who sees rightly because they know rightly. It seems to me that penetrates the whole of Plato. Doxa is seeing, but so is the knowledge. Seeing, however, is an action.


Because the knowing is in the act, as Aristotle plainly says and Socrates in the Gorgias. An outside is nowhere. This is why Socrates cannot persuade his accusers at his trial that he has only ever acted for the good of others and the Athens. They cannot see whence he acts from.

Joseph
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Peter Blumsom



Joined: 09 Mar 2007
Posts: 1105
Location: Wembley, London, UK

PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2015 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry but there are so many points being made on this thread that they are forming a log jam in my brain, so I’ll deal with them in the order that my thoughts offer them.


Quote:
<<So, someone might know a true reality, that of justice, but not each true reality. Otherwise, how could one be a shipbuilder, and not merely an actor who had the right instructions, without actually knowing each true reality. They know a true reality, that of shipbuilding.>>


I was disappointed that you didn’t take on my point; here is another, perhaps more unusual, approach

When Allan Turing sketched out the model for the modern computer in the ‘thirties’ what he did was to turn peoples notions away from the concept of having a different machine for every task (like adding machines, ticker tape etc.) and towards one single machine that could be programmed for any purpose. We are so accepting of that idea today that dedicated technology like say the satnav continually finds itself being transplanted by a single non-dedicated system such as the computer/tablet/mobile phone. The computer itself doesn’t need to know how to deal with all the different requirements, it simply is programmable.

Now deal with me fairly on this by not making distracting remarks about the good man not being programmable like a machine, for the analogy is there and holds as far as I can see - the principle being that when the good man is not seeing he does not know, nor does he need to know. Neither by not knowing is he ignorant, for ignorance only arises when one needs to know something yet is not capable; when there is something to be seen, he sees; he does not have to know every form for if he knows the good he will see the other forms as he needs; he is not like a man who has been trained to see a certain form for he sees every and any form as it is revealed, and because he sees the good, which may be seen without the fourth – 'knowledge of' - the essence of all other eide are seen through the good. To use a rather corny analogy he sees 'down from' and through the good. The blind man of opinion however well trained he may be, still sees in separation, by looking ‘upwards’ through the image (eikones).

Such a man (of opinion) I would say is not fit to be the Lawmaker of Magnesia, nor the Philosopher King of the ideal polis of Republic. You, O Third Man, perhaps disagree on that one.

My point is that although the philosopher sees each form he doesn’t need to see every form, yet there is nothing, no darkness, that intrudes on his vision, and in that simple way, knows all (panta) eide. I cannot see this as anything but uncontroversial.

Pete

To pre-empt the obvious, that surely seeing the good itself is a kind of knowledge, I would agree, but it is of a different order, like saying the knowledge of the fifth is also a kind of knowledge, but more like vedantic self-knowledge, and not to be confused with the kind of knowledge-of and compounded-from definition, shape, etc. Knowledge of the knower is, I argue, unlike knowledge of anything else, though there would be no other without it. But, of course, this last is debatable for it is not main-line Greek Philosophy, though Socrates often hints of it.


Last edited by Peter Blumsom on Sat May 30, 2015 1:56 pm; edited 4 times in total
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2015 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Joseph,

You wrote on the 25th May:

Quote:
<< It seems to me that Plato holds that virtue is a type of knowledge. This is quiet strange to modern ears because we have largely forgotten the tradition of virtue ethics and moved to the deontological ethics of Kant and ethics of rights. Thus ethics as character, or quality of being, and of action in accord with the order of nature has been lost. Ethics has been located in the 'will' or 'emotion' rather than in reason or intellect.

You write “the knowledge which resides in the virtues is, of course, one of the virtues, Sophia – wisdom”. That suggests that 'virtue' is really only one thing, and that the division into distinct virtues, especially the four cardinal virtues, is only a matter of analysis, rather like the rays of the sun may be divided into the colours of the rainbow.

If that is so, then no particular virtue can be divorced from an act of knowing. Justice, for example, involves a particular act of knowing, or a specific type of wisdom. So also does courage. >>


If we home in especially to what you say here:


Quote:
<< That suggests that 'virtue' is really only one thing, and that the division into distinct virtues, especially the four cardinal virtues, is only a matter of analysis, rather like the rays of the sun may be divided into the colours of the rainbow. >>


but if we replace ‘analysis’ with ‘dialectic’ - the former suggests a kind of 'mincing up' by dianoia - is this so bad? What your account omits is the all important (to me, at least) dynamic (in the modern sense) that Socrates tries to convey in Book Four of Republic - the reliance of courage upon wisdom, and the necessity of sophrosyne (temperance/discipline) to allow that just action to take place. So in a way we are, in Aristotle’s terms, talking of ‘being at work’ or energeia. Justice that is not seen as an act becomes, again in Aristotle’s philosophy, a ‘capability’ or ‘potentiality’.

I am, as you probably realise, being influenced by Jacob Klein’s interpretation of Aristotle’s view; but Republic 4 is the overall framework that guides me, because I think it is here that Plato speaks most clearly on Justice.

I must say that I do consider Aristotle’s approach in his Ethics a bit disconcerting, if one takes it that he is discussing courage – andreia or ‘manliness’ in real separation. But if he is, then your statement that each virtue is a type of knowledge holds true; the carpenters knowledge also may be seen as separate from wisdom itself and called a kind of knowledge. However the dialectical view is to collect and then divide - but without shattering the collection. So though Justice is seen by Plato in act as a divisional ‘harmony of parts’ (I thank Ficino for that phrase) each part must keep to its own function, just as the notes of a musical harmony. Listen to how Socrates talks of the just man:

"Justice, therefore, we may say, is a principle of this kind: its real concern is not with external actions, but with a man’s inward self, his true concern and interest. The just man will not allow the three elements which make up his inward self to trespass on each other’s functions, or interfere with each other, but by keeping all three in tune, like the notes of a scale (high, middle , and low, and any others there may be) will in the truest sense set his house to rights, attain self mastery and order, and live on good terms with each other.

When he has bound these elements into a disciplined and harmonious whole, and so become fully one instead of many, he will be ready for action of any kind …” 443D


This is my reading of Platonic doctrine. As Platonic eide or Aristotelian dunameis these great Forms are brought into participation/act in the just man. What is more, even taken purely as eide, there is this dialectical division (what could be called ‘gentle separation’) in that the Form of wisdom combines with the Form of courage, but they each have their own quiddity. That is, they are part of a koinon - or congress. This congress is Justice itself.

The beauty of it is that what we both say is true, for, as far as I can see, the definition of courage must have wisdom in it, and yet wisdom is not courage.

I’m not sure whether I have put my point clearly enough, but it seems the best I can do with my present level of understanding.

Regards Pete
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