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David Tang



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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2018 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You still don’t paraphrase your answer to the question what is soul. You said it is in the middle, which I don’t clearly understand. If you are to assail our ears with things we can not hope to grasp plainly, I would ask you to say as much. Otherwise, when I don’t understand you, I must demand to have the matter stated more clearly and you ought to make an effort to be less obscure.

If someone had a dream, that they were in a yard at the base of a hill of grass, under a shapley orange-red persimmon, which alone hung on a small tree, just above them when they stood up, with a few absolute green leaves at the edge of small branches, and they were sure it was reality, in waking do they come to any wider a world than in the dream? What one has, so far as anything is there, is a whole. Now I sit typing at a keyboard, and there are walls and books about, and even though I can see some way into the distance, distance is not “more” in the sense that the dream gives the same as does any waking surround. It would only be “more” in terms of a metric of meters. Each is “one”. It is all being ever is.

What being gives is not itself being, but only initiates being in that which can be. It answers the question: where does heat happen? Where is the small smaller than the large? And so on.

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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2018 10:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You clearly don't know how to conduct a philosophical enquiry, O Third Man, demanding like a child. I can almost hear your feet stamping. The account we have of soul in Plato, which is all that concerns me, is that it resides between the intelligible/the Forms which are above it and the body which is below. It has different levels, one is thumos - spirit, one looks after procreation, one experiences the delights of this world and, in untutored ones, learns not to let them go, one looks to the delights of That world There. To 'live at ease' is There said Plotinus. That is all you can get approaching it in this silly unmeasured way, and yes, you could get all this information out of a fortune cookie. What you clearly haven't realised is that it is how you come to know what soul is that gives what you call the 'inner' thing. Be a bit more patient, patient as the earth Walt Whitman said. And when you've learnt how to be patient, then, try being patient. Or are you late for your train coming over yon grassy hill? Or go and suck a persimmon fruit before they get overripe, otherwise the ants will eat them. Your approach is really nonsensical. There are other more important aspects to the soul but I get the feeling I'm chucking good currency after bad here.

Now you tell me what Being is.
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David Tang



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2018 1:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is strange. You have led us into an odd difficulty. What exactly is the soul supposed to be "between"? Is the lower part of the soul closer to the earth, and the higher to heaven? But in that case, are you shrouded in dust? You yourself, the very center, the human desire for glory? How can the soul be floating over three regions? It makes no sense. Is the desire for glory, itself, the true middle?

So, you say that the equal itself, your subject matter, is a god? And that the higher part of the soul, the part that is higher than the other two parts, reaches it? And not, presumably, the lower parts of Plato's humanology, if I may call it that way.

However, I must tell you, all this disturbs me. Even though, as I know, you think that I only say so in order to make it more difficult for you to do the work of turning over your patch of field with the plough. You never consider that others might have serious worries.

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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2018 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And that folks was why I said it was virtually impossible to conduct a dialectic type investigation over cyber space. Of course, as I also said, we only have record of those successful attempts in the Dialogues, and they were conducted by intelligent men rather than a couple of idiots. At some point I will put the story of heteros on a post and of course such other things as soul would enter the story at the right place. And it is quite an interesting story shorn of the distractions.
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Tim Addey1



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2018 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The great advantage Plato had was that he was able to put the question and the answer into the mouths of his characters - in life, however, nobody possesses this power.

A couple of things might be worth adding to this long thread: firstly, most dialogues are conducted in a co-operative manner, and with little or no insulting language thrown in. Parts of the first book of the Republic and the Gorgias are obvious exceptions: but where genuine philosophers are seeking the truth, friendliness should be the foundation of any exchange. As Socrates says about Philosophy when she finds someone bound to the ignorance of the sense life, "the lovers of learning therefore, I say, know that philosophy, receiving their soul in this condition, endeavours gently to exhort it, and dissolve its bonds." (Phaedo, 83a)

Secondly, if we are looking at what the soul is rather than what it does or suffers (its essence, rather than its pathos), this little passage from Socrates in the Phaedrus might be a useful starting point:

"Since then it appears that a self-motive nature is immortal, he who asserts that this is the very essence and definition of soul, will have no occasion to blush. For every body to which motion externally accedes, is inanimate. But that to which motion is inherent from itself, is animated; as if this was the very nature of soul." (245e)

Plato very carefully does not say that this is the complete picture - having "no occasion to blush" is hardly a claim for his description as the final word. However, it does allow the following wonderful speech (known as the palinode) to explore with a degree of safety the profound mysteries of the journey of the soul.

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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2018 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wise words from a true Platonist.
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David Tang



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2018 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very well; you will follow your own devices about that as the discussion proceeds; but now you and I must investigate in common, beginning first, as it seems to me, with the sophist, and must search out and make plain [218c] by argument what he is. For as yet you and I have nothing in common about him but the name; but as to the thing to which we give the name, we may perhaps each have a conception of it in our own minds; however, we ought always in every instance to come to agreement about the thing itself by argument rather than about the mere name without argument. But the tribe which we now intend to search for, the sophist, is not the easiest thing in the world to catch and define, and everyone has agreed long ago that if investigations of great matters are to be properly worked out we ought to practice them on small [218d] and easier matters before attacking the very greatest. So now, Theaetetus, this is my advice to ourselves, since we think the family of sophists is troublesome and hard to catch, that we first practise the method of hunting in something easier, unless you perhaps have some simpler way to suggest.

---

Why not take seriously what is written and simply answer? I've responded seriously to all that is put down. If you can make no answer to the objections simply admit it.

Asking for clarification is a normal part of the dialogues as presented by Socrates. It has to do with going beyond mere verbal agreement, agreement about words, towards understanding what is spoken of. That is, indeed, the essence of philosophy, as understood by Plato and his Socrates, itself.

I don't see any evidence that Plato held what you do about the soul. You gave none. But, rather, you run away as soon as the least problem is raised with your dogma. I find that amazingly eccentric. If you want to appeal to the general opinion of text books, why not say so? Then we would see that the basses is rather questionable, if that is all there is to it.

Do you see the issue? I don't say, here is what Plato said, and you got it wrong. But, rather, I don't understand even what you want to say. It makes no sense, is unintelligible. Or, do we have to leave it at the level of mere verbal intelligibility. But, then you should say so. Ergo, make some pains to make it more clear. If this can not be achieved, we can pass on, but you are so lazy you won't even fight for the very essence of philosophy.

My view is, like those who killed Socrates, you don't like to be embarrassed. You are concerned your reputation will be hurt like one of the sophists.


Stranger
The method of dialogue, Socrates, is easier [217d] with an interlocutor who is tractable and gives no trouble; but otherwise I prefer the continuous speech by one person.

What does this mean? Does it not mean that one must answer, and not run away? And, also, that one must not be intractable, and dogmatic? And insist obdurately to know what one doesn't, and not to either give evidence, or at least admit that one can present no argument for one's conviction. Either way things would be made more clear.

The issues are too serious to make a gross huff about one's dignity into an impassable obstruction.

-----

Beside from this, I'm not sure if you asked any direct questions requiring answers. Of course, you refuse to answer my questions, claiming they might be motivated by the desire to trap you in a contradiction. Or, by saying they are too trivial to lead to anything. Ergo, you evade the glory of bright discourse in advance by obstinate fiat.

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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2018 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Note how carefully Sophist, as a drama and a dialectic, is structured. How they happen upon things, then because of the subtlety of the subject matter delicately the Zenos withdraws - the moment is just not quite right for them to close in. Look how patient he waits before he even looks at the philosopher, and more importantly note how he happens upon him by accident without Theaetetus braying from the sidelines "You are perplexing me Zenos, tell me now. I'm very worried. What is the philosopher? What IS the philosopher!?

Here's how it happens:

"Then, Theaetetus, what name shall we give to this science? Or, by Zeus, have we unwittingly stumbled upon the science that belongs to free men and perhaps found the philosopher while we were looking for the sophist?"

This is the way, my friend. But it didn't happen until 253c. Soul is of course important to the discussion of Difference, but we have to let the discussion find its way to the correct account. Tim's example from Phaedrus is beautiful, to be sure, but it isn't the one that fits the problem. Note, I use the word 'fit' - a carpenters term - but actually the Greek is harmonia, which gives me a kind of clue as to where I will find it.

I don't know how well you know Sophist but one of the moments I talked of earlier occurs at beginning at 235a and running into an impasse at about 236e. You might find that passage interesting, or perhaps you know it well already.

There are plenty of clues about heteros in Sophist but it's still not the way I want to go, because it doesn't deal with soul in the way I find useful for our problem.

I think Timaeus and a section of Republic Book 4 will do the job nicely to tackle the problems that Phaedo has raised regarding heteros. Or do you think it can all be resolved in a post. "The flower grow at its own pace." said Master Po. "Glasshoppah, he try make it grow fast by pulling it and look it die."
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David Tang



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2018 12:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If one would endeavour in some sort to explain an angler, one must not have only name and definition, but also the thing. In the case of the angler, the clarity of the thing is easy, since we can point. Yet, it is said in Phaedo, that the soul is life. To say that the soul is life brings one intuitively closer to the thing. It is almost pointing. However imperfectly a definition flutter nearby, in the wonder and fascination of what is of incalculable difficulty, it is more closely approached through removal of the tumultuous confusion which accompanies mere naming.

By the way, in passing, allow me to say that the ergon or work named Heidegger endows a field with a word of Angelus Silesius: The flower has no why, it blooms because it blooms. Ergo, therin is denied even the necessity of the soul. Thales, if you recall, endowed even the stars with magnetic souls. Such is the slough of metaphysics, in its dim recesses is ever the power which drew us to this world and still keeps us bound.

However, as yet you never tell us if your heteros, and, also, inequality, are meant to be understood as the same thing?


--

Note: I would analyse in this way: Though one may recognizes a corpse, in contradistinction to a living body, this is seemingly because of the freeze of death, the unnatural figure, or by some other manifest irregularity which almost imperceptibly leads us to the inference. Ergo, one does not strictly speaking see life or the soul. This means also that, a living body becomes a corpse, in a full transformation of substance. Ergo, the question of whether there is body and, also, soul is not settled on the basis of observation. The question of substantial transformation, of change of the genos, is darker than the eyes of the body are up to seeing.

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David Tang



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2018 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What is the meaning of this prolonged sullen lacuna? Plato's dialogues never suffered such a gloomy pool of simple silence to obstruct their ingress.
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2018 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My silence may be complex.
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David Tang



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2018 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And yet, Meister Eckhart speaks of "die einveltic stille", the simple silence.
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2018 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shall I start then with soul then difference?

The soul that I talk about here is not the final breath, the gasp that is wrenched from the dying body - a strange unsettling experience seen in another but it does not complete the picture. So before we talk of heteros, on your beckoning we must turn to this question of soul

Phaedo’s soul is a unity, it suits Plato’s purpose. But even a unity has distinctions and in other dialogues it suits his purpose to tease them out.

In Book Four of Republic he likens the soul to the microcosm of his ideal state:

“Then, my friend, we shall thus expect the individual also to have these same forms in his soul, and by reason of identical affections of these with those in the city to receive properly the same appellations.” “Inevitable,” he said. “Goodness gracious,” said I, “here is another trifling1 inquiry into which we have plunged, the question whether the soul really contains these three forms in itself or not.” “It does not seem to me at all trifling,” he said, “for perhaps, Socrates, the saying is true that 'fine things are difficult.” [435c]

Socrates names two faculties and a condition. The first faculty and ruler of the soul is reason (logos), the premier faculty, but for reason to rule what Plotinus calls the ‘couplement’ (sunthetos), that is body and soul, the second factor, thumos or spirit, must come under the persuasion or sophrosune of reason rather than appetite of the senses. This is the condition that comes to light in the finale of Book 4.

“So the reason ought to rule, having the wisdom and foresight to act for the whole, and the spirit ought to obey and support it” [440e]

This still does not satisfy any desire to give an account according to the precepts you set many posts ago – that the soul is ‘the inner thing’. Breath is not ‘inner enough’ it is a wind which expires eventually and goes its way, either to another suitable abode or to extinction. The ‘inner Republic’ described in the above passage is a constant striving until justice within is achieved (or not).

The prevailing thought - I desire to know about my soul and its cosmic counterpart.

“The just man will not allow the three elements which make up his inward self to trespass upon 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 might be) will in the truest sense set his house to rights, attain self mastery and order , and live on good terms with himself. 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 the authentic journey for the experiential aspect of soul, though connected to the ‘inner thing’ does not entirely plumb its depths. It is still the image of the man in search of something greater that is not at all an image.

Timaeus gives more, explains more of what is said at the end of Republic 4, but we stand at a crossroads here and I have a question. Do you want me to complete the picture in all its immensity or do a ‘Timaeus Light” version? Or perhaps shall we abandon the project?

My hesitation (my lacuna, if you like) is because some simple graphics would help at this juncture and would need to be 'cooked up'. No doubt there were illustrations available for Timaeus' first discourse.
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David Tang



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2018 12:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For they do not know in what way the real philosophers desire death, nor in what way they deserve death, nor what kind of a death it is. [64c] Let us then,” said he, “speak with one another, paying no further attention to them. Do we think there is such a thing as death?”

“Certainly,” replied Simmias.

“We believe, do we not, that death is the separation of the soul from the body, and that the state of being dead is the state in which the body is separated from the soul and exists alone by itself and the soul is separated from the body and exists alone by itself? Is death anything other than this?”

I wouldn't dream of regarding soul as breath. We only know that the soul is not visible. Or, so Socrates says. For the soul's struggle is not as clear as a mirror, such is the old teaching. And when it is said that it is not seen in the looking glass, this is to be read even as the vulgar read, quite straightforwardly. And yet, if it be not found crouching amidst what is visible, still, it must be inferred somehow to exist. Since we say, this is a corpse, this is a living man. And one who is living is an in-souled body. The body does not, I grant, have breath added onto it, like a worsted coat, an insane notion.

In any case if you have something that appears to you worth putting forward I should not oppose that.

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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2018 7:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Then let me ask you a question or two:
Do you think that soul is something that is anxious, jubilant, and at once has no care for consequences yet has a strong tendency to fret and worry about its own death?
Or, is it an entity that is able to comprehend the cosmos with a capability of harmonic resolution regarding anything that is flung at it?
Or perhaps neither - or both?
Please feel free to comment in your usual way (but let's make sure we don’t drift from the point).
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