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David Tang



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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2018 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Soul, in the analogy of the chariot, and in the several determinations of eros, points to the living soul, in its full range. Something else is sought in the Phaedo. The furrowed abyssal gorges of Plato’s thought, which is one and the same as the dialogue, struggle with the question of the soul itself. The soul itself is dimly presenced in the talk of the soul of the dead. The soul of the dead is identified with the source of the recollection, or, that which is brought out through a peculiar manner of association. The soul of the dead is synonymous with, but not identical to, the true soul and the unconcealed soul. The true soul, and the unconcealed soul, however, speak of the same subject matter, insofar as unconcealment is the correct understanding of the true.
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2018 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It seems that quite early in our investigation you have hit on the very thing we are searching for: the true soul is ‘unconcealed’. If you can just let us know what this means I believe we will have the opportunity of cutting out much leg-work and interminable door to door enquiry, the thought of which is quite daunting to a bear of little brain. The individual soul, dead or alive, helps us little in our enquiry, and at every turn heteros taunts us – what is the difference between a dead and living soul, or between individual or universal soul?

In my desperation I was thinking of leaving Phaedo completely at least until we are in a position to throw much needed light on these passages I so casually laid down at the outset. At the moment I can only think of a single path by which reach we can reach our Temple of Zeus, but that means a trek through Timaeus, where the water-holes are scarce and the terrain mountainous; and, as I said, for which I must prepare some graphics, no doubt beautiful to behold but wearisome to construct and embed. So if the unconcealing of soul is truth of soul it must at least lighten my load, for it was I that got us into this mess.

Let me tell you a little of the nature of the mess. Of the four possibilities I offered you before, I felt sure, and still do I suppose, that the last is the only ‘safe’ choice, as Socrates might put it. The soul not only can calculate, comprehend reversal (look at Republic 524) and contemplate the All, it also can be seen everywhere seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.

But then the question must be asked, are we not merely seeking two things rather than a single entity? Pleasure seeking is after all an activity of a different genos to the contemplating of cosmos.

To which I reply to myself in Plotinian vein:
Not if in some way we can somehow draw them together.

But how can such diversities be one?

A cat has a soul no doubt and pursues its pleasures while skilfully avoiding pains, but this cat-soul doesn’t contemplate existence (we assume). When a human frets over his mortality my conviction is that the fear that touches him is not merely a natural instinct of life preservation (which the cat has most vehemently), but is something that may occur quite independently and importantly, unbidden. It may occur at a moment of great happiness or pleasurable gratification. How could this be? How could we fear in such a way if we had no concept of eternity?

But then I come to an impasse which makes me want to abandon this whole line of thinking. For do we deny an animal its own soul by limiting it to a mere animal thumos and therefore condemn it to a mortality that the human thumos would also be prey to, if it did not have this connection to reason and universality in the higher soul, if it lacked this 'inner touch' that makes it fear for itself ‘in the dead of night’ as it were.

I cannot see if we deny this connection there can be any case for a soul which embraces eternity, a psuche kosmike. Eternity would be itself up there and the body disconnected down here, rather as Plato’s Parmenides offered.

If there is a true soul its unconcealment may prove a catharsis for this depressing state of affairs and lead us to a correct understanding of the situation. Otherwise it will be the nodose path of Timaeus that we are forced to take, graphics et al.
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David Tang



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2018 10:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

“But, I think, [81b] if when it departs from the body it is defiled and impure, because it was always with the body and cared for it and loved it and was fascinated by it and its desires and pleasures, so that it thought nothing was true except the corporeal, which one can touch and see and drink and eat and employ in the pleasures of love, and if it is accustomed to hate and fear and avoid that which is shadowy and invisible to the eyes but is intelligible and tangible to philosophy—do you think a soul in this condition [81c] will depart pure and uncontaminated?”

“By no means,” said he.

“But it will be interpenetrated, I suppose, with the corporeal which intercourse and communion with the body have made a part of its nature because the body has been its constant companion and the object of its care?”

The animal soul, like the living soul, is not the soul itself. Just as the soul with attachment to the body is not the soul itself. A perfect circle is but the conceptual circle, equidistant from its center at each point, any fool can think that. Ergo, the commonplace teaching of Plato’s “ideal” circle, a little more perfect, is wholly erroneous. For Plato says, knowledge of it is only gained with difficulty, and then only after great study. And that it leaps from one to another like a flame from tree to tree. Or to him with the gift to see it through a singular study on his own. No, the ideas themselves, like the equal itself, are that that let the world be there at all.

Plato attempts to draw towards the soul itself, for he says, there is a soul in companionship with the living soul, the body, even in death. Even in this, he does unconceal something of the mystery. He lets something draw towards his most reflective and still readers. This is still a passionate soul. Even the highest eros, that which draws towards wisdom, is of a frenzied soul, and not of the simple still soul. Plato, however, if we are not drawn utterly into more shadows, cast between his days and our own, is wrangling with a special form of his essential difficulty. That of the genuine grounding of the ideas. For, it is manifestly inadequate to merely solve the problem verbally by saying they rest in the soul itself. For the soul too is an idea, even if the most perfect. Here, the work with the name Plato, even thinks the soul as the place of the idea of the good.

An account of the true soul is, at first, not so difficult. If we are simply content with verbal formula. However, Plato will shun us, and even flee from us, if he perceives us to despise him in the modern manner. Even to cultivate a sense of humour towards him. When Bertrand Russell adduces his paradox of the “set of all sets”, that the “set” that contains all books, and has on it the title “book”, becomes involved in a regress if it is dragged into the group of “sets” it itself is meant to contain, one can hear Plato’s neck crimple as he looks askance and pulls the drawstring on his cowl, realizing that Russel merely want to “solve” this difficulty by announcing that there is a rule by which no “set” can be “self referential”. Plato senses, then that we despise him, and he evades us utterly. Such quasi-disclosing is defective. Yet, if we are to learn genuine disclosure we must revere Plato, as best we can, and thus perhaps he should give himself up and turn his glance upon us.

The true soul, on first blush, is the name for the place of all the ideas. Just as nature is the name for the place of all the visible bodies. However, we must be on guard against superficial schematic posing of this fundamental subject matter of Plato, which he is still thinking as was his thinking in his original days, for his work is a fetus, full of growth, which we may abort and bring to ruin.

Again, if your account appears to you worthy of consideration, I would have you bring it out and make it plain.

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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2018 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I would like to get on with it but now you have provided me with some new impasses.
First, your reverence of Plato is making you say things that sound peculiar to me, but which I hesitate to question for fear of treading on hallowed ground. You paint a picture of the philosopher hiding or darting around behind the words of his dialogues and only revealing himself to a chosen few. Indeed, I remarked on this tendency of yours I believe in an early post.
If I didn't feel so intimidated I would ask where is your authority to state that the true soul is the name of the place of the Forms? If this is so, my whole thesis collapses to the ground, and certainly my reading of Timaeus. I take it, along with many others, that soul in Platonic doctrine stands, among other things, for a kind of bridge or dicastes mesites between that world of Forms and the world of Body. So there’s little point in starting my journey on a possibly fallacious basis now that you have revealed what you think soul’s unconcealment is.
Let’s hammer this one out.
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David Tang



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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2018 1:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You must know what heteros means, so far as it speaks of the apple and the orange, where does the not knowing come from? The subject matter is there, and so too the word, and to boot it wouldn’t be the hardest thing to cook up a definition. If we are to show that we find heteros questionable, that we know that we don’t know about it, supposing we could do that, would it not then be the ring of a hollow bell to sound off that your views about soul differ from mine and thus are inadmissible?

Now, are they not perhaps right, who say that when Plato, thinking of the leaping of fire, prohibited writing, and prefered speech, he thought how a teacher, having there a student, could sense the motion of the understanding of the student? However, this understanding does not mean meer intelligibility, for all can see the bare intelligibility of the statement that the surface of the circle is equal in distance from the center at any part. In reciting such definition we speak like a book, that is, we say what could as easily be transmitted by mere words which always speak in the same way.

I see nothing, as yet, out of harmony with my view in your in-between. Ergo, you must find the initiative to dance, for when the bride dances, even if she fall, people will say the floor is crooked. So you must take courage in this. Formally, it amounts to this, we do not even know what body is, how little, then, can we say it is different from form? It is perhaps, I gather from what you write, more true to say that form is the most perfect form (rather than what I have written). For form itself is surely a more perfect form than the good or soul. However, we must not be too carried away by mere statements of abstract intelligibility.

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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I apologise for being absent on this thread for a period. Musicians must take their work where and when they can get it. I hope to post on this coming Sunday afternoon.
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2018 9:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I apologise for my tardiness. Suffice that it was unavoidable. Due to your acknowledgement of soul as an intermediary I have been saved an intimidating detour through Timaeus, although I suspect this is only a postponement.

Your circle has no ‘straight’ in it; that lathe-turned circle is an effigy constructed not of the circular but of tangents. An infinity of tangents for Plato cannot escape the otherness* of the 'straight', as here you talk of the 'circle itself', probably from the Seventh Letter. You perhaps agree with this.

Falling under the same edict is Beauty itself in which we will never find otherness. The dialectic here would go: Beauty itself contains no otherness for if it did that otherness would be other than Beauty and our Beauty would fall under another Beauty and another until it rested in Beauty itself with no otherness.

But how then would the unbeautiful exist as other than beauty? That is a legitimate concern. Let’s leave it there for now.

Socrates then speaks of two Forms/eide that together seem to form a dyad. Can you have a large without a small? It would seem not. Yet they are a natural opposition and perhaps he brings them out for the restatement of the passage of [96d] at [100e]. Nevertheless he seems not to make it clear at this point what he clarifies later. that the Large has no otherness, that is, in this case, nothing of the Small, and the smallness likewise contains no hint of largeness.

The needs of mathematics are particularly dyadic presupposing an underlying structure of two. Each number is ultimately a Form and as such has no otherness, existing in itself alone. If it is larger than another number it is by largeness alone that it is so, for it seems, and Klein agrees, that number forms are non-calculable and form no part of the reckoning art, logistike, but belong to that ‘superior’ study arithmetike. Socrates' mathematician friends might have shaken their heads in bemusement at this passage, until they saw what he was up to. We, today, have to start again, and think it out for ourselves. This is my attempt. You may think little of it.

So each number in itself is a Form. It has one value and that is its own value. But a number as a difference is not ‘in itself’, and some things can be said of it. First, being heteros it has two values. Whenever we mention difference there must be the involvement of at least two things. Later this increases to three. The nature of this ‘two’ as heteros condemns it to existence in a Heracleitian flux. Thus its value is not only twofold but infinitely manifold (just as the indeterminate dyad is manifold).

In the passages at [97] and [101] of Phaedo Socrates has placed the difference, two, into the arithmetic field in such a way that it is a quarter of eight yet only a fifth of ten. Though we calculate here we are not thinking as a modern mathematician. The calculation is a sop to our own inadequacy to grasp Socrates' basic notions, which are severely pre-mathematical, as will be shown in my follow up posting

Therefore difference, although the same as itself (as is everything utterable - even non-being can be called 'itself'), is shown to exist as disproportionate to everything else. Yet, as with all otherness, without ‘everything else’ it cannot exist at all. If, in this case, difference were to be proportionate ‘both ways round’ as it were, the two which is a quarter of eight would have to become two and a half to be a quarter of ten. And this would no longer be a single difference, more an inexpressible absurdity, the mathematical matrix being as it is.

Note also that eight is eight because of itself and is neither large nor small; and ten also for the same reason. Two as a difference can be seen as a result rather than as a cause; but this necessitates a more general look at number Forms in order to give a closer assessment of what Socrates is saying in his re-sailing of the passage at [101]

We hardly have touched anything yet, but I believe this has opened a new portal on a rich field which will clarify many things to those that have this particular perplexity of mine.

Here is a diagram that makes clear the basic point that I believe Socrates is making:

Fig. 1


I'm afraid it is not as beautiful as the visualisations that flow effortlessly from the Timaeus text but here we see that 'two' as heteros, ill at ease within the arithmetic flux, is a different entity to the eight, ten and even two itself, when at complete rest in their respective roots.

That will have to end this strand - at least temporarily.
___________________________________________________________

* For those confused by Greek terminology, heteros can be translated as 'other' or 'different'. Thateros adds the definite article - 'the other/different'.
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David Tang



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2018 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Even though it will displease you, I must post this initial interlude. Though, I shouldn’t like you to think of it as contradicting what you write, but only as flowing over it like a river of thought.

I regard “circle itself” as our ‘ability’, or the soul’s tendency, to draw towards the subject matter of the circle. That is about nous. The perfection of the circle belongs, in contradistinction to this, to the region of episteme. Any fool can grasp the epistemic meaning (of the phrase “circle itself”), but not the noetic. Right instincts and habits are more difficult to acquire there (or to regain). The subject matter is in the circle on the lathe, the name, the definition, the empirical coming upon of the quality, and the epistemic perfection (this names 5). The circle itself for nous, rather than for episteme, is what lets itself be shown, and what we draw towards, as being. It is the source of the river of beings, if you like. It is because it is, not by a cause.

The circle itself has nothing to do with a more perfect circle. That is how episteme leads us to it. Weaning us as it were. Because even the most imperfect circle is only there by the idea, circle. Is it not so? Even in speaking of the straight line, we are ready to say, it is not a circle, and thus to measure it by the circle itself. The perfect circle of episteme, like the worst circle of the empirical, is only there because we have at our disposal the circle as idea. The idea is never the thing without or within. It is unqualified. Simply the circle, and that means, if we try to explain it by setting it alongside other things, the unique nature we call circular, we loose its fire. We put the fire in a vacuum of cognition. To oppose it to the straight is already to speak as a scientist. We loose the simple circle, as it first appears to us, as what is neither impeccable nor merely average.




Now, in a certain sense, I would propose that the distinction between the early numbers, and the strict mathimatikos, must, perhaps paradoxically, lean towards the early numbers. Moderns think the perfection of the abstraction, for we now think of inner objects as abstract, is the mere concept. And so they speak of Platonic numbers, of the perfection. But, nous is to be found in direct inspection, in the early numbers. Now, I am still meditating on this, is it that both cause and result in the question of the heteros of 8 and 10, are thinkable as mathimatikos and as early number? What does cause mean, what does result mean? Are they, indeed, the fruit of the division of the early numbers and the scientific numbers?


Can you make this more clear?: Two as a difference can be seen as a result rather than as a cause; but this necessitates a more general look at number Forms in order to give a closer assessment of what Socrates is saying in his re-sailing of the passage at [101]

My natural impulsiveness, may, at first, be an impediment to thought, but I am still thinking over what is said.

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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 8:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Before we move on, regarding your query, can I ask you if you see, think or feel that there is anything different in the status of the 'two' which stands between eight and ten, in my diagram, and the two which stands upon the same base as the eight and the ten? In other words, can we yet move on or do we need to discuss this further?
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