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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 01, 2019 10:59 am    Post subject: Discussion of a Short Passage of Text Reply with quote

What I’d really like to do is to invite somebody, anybody to submit a possible text for discussion from Plato, Aristotle or even Plotinus. It doesn’t have to be a particularly ‘profound’, learned or intense exchange of views but I like the idea of people learning from each other against a Platonic background. There are plenty of interesting books written today on Platonic themes. Plato’s Revenge by William Ophuls is one – but there are many others.
Pete
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David Tang
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[51a] So likewise it is right that the substance which is to be fitted to receive frequently over its whole extent the copies of all things intelligible and eternal should itself, of its own nature, be void of all the forms. Wherefore, let us not speak of her that is the Mother and Receptacle of this generated world, which is perceptible by sight and all the senses, by the name of earth or air or fire or water, or any aggregates or constituents thereof: rather, if we describe her as a Kind invisible and unshaped, all-receptive, and in some most perplexing and most baffling way partaking of the intelligible, [51b] we shall describe her truly.
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At 48e Plato has introduced a third form the Receptacle into the proceedings. What it receives are those 'things that come to be'. They need a place to 'become' and it's as simple as that - as if! It is a truly puzzling conception, as Plato keeps telling us. Perhaps the closest analogy would be a cinema screen upon which a film, a narrative, an imitation of life is played out.The film is meant to be believed, the screen itself is hardly noticed except when the projector breaks down (which still happens occasionally!). All life is here, yet when the lights go up there is no trace, not even an echo of all these things we have been accepting as real for the past ninety minutes or so. The screen is real enough though - untouched by all the drama. That's the receptacle

Some points of note.

(1)There is a decidedly female character to this receptacle. It is called 'the nurse of all becoming'. A little before your passage [50d] it is referred to as 'the mother- matri and we see a close link to "matrix" or "plastic material" (which Aristotle calls it) and "matter" - just as we note patri - father, cf.'pater'; and 'pattern' appearing in the same piece of text and in the same context regarding the franking of an image into a mouldable entity. Of course the 'matter' would not be the same as Aristotle's hule. Plato never used that word except in its conventional meaning of "wood".

(2) Plato carefully avoids the term stoicheion a term coined by Empedocles for elements although the latter term appears in various places in the translation. Plato's conception of what we call elements was "such-like" and were qualities rather than entities you could point at and say 'fire' etc. The reason for this is that he considered these qualities to be in a constant flux, perpetually transforming one to another. Earth is different, it does not combine, being formed differently, yet even the atoms of earth combine with themselves to form different earthy qualities.
Of course, beneath all this activity is changeless and characterless space (kora).
(3)
There is a third point which is very important but I'll add it tomorrow when I'll also check for typos. It's getting late.
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David Tang
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 19, 2019 9:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Does becoming mean a change in form or a change in accident?

Aristotle says when an arm is seen laying about the battlefield it is no longer part of the form of a human being. In the moment when the arm is severed, do we have a change in form, with respect to the "arm", which, is, I suppose, now a piece of meat or rubbish?

In a gradual change, such as the desiccation of a redwood tree, deprived, amidst dry soil, and getting no moist air, which slowly dies. Different stages, perhaps quantifiable, would lead to a total change is from, from living tree to dead wood. The dryer tree is still a tree, but the dead tree is, perhaps no longer properly a tree. Or, perhaps, the case of a tree cut down and made into boards is more clear. Since, the essence of the tree is lost in becoming a part of a general contractors means for making things.

Or, does becoming simply mean a moment, that of typing the last paragraph, is no more?
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2019 7:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, strangely, all those things you spoke of are things that come-to-be including the body from which the arm was so rudely severed, whether it still lived or not.
Criminal pathology would consider an arm discretely placed on the battlefield still to belong to some body somewhere.
Timaeus would consider that body, even if still alive, a temporary abode of the immortal soul, I believe.
The drying tree that still partly lives seems still a tree; and a dead tree, you said it, is still a tree. Aristotle would invoke genesis-steresis at this point: coming to be, leaving being. After all, you don't call it a dead squirrel do you?
I think you also showing us a little of the perplexity and wonder of this Receptacle and Nurse of all Becoming. We see this not in the Receptacle which is itself so strange but in life and death all around us.
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David Tang
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2019 10:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

However, is becoming what happens (tout court)? If I read what is written in answer, and so being effected I feel the breath of disturbance upon my soul, I must have become other than I was. And yet, is becoming, therefore, a question concerning being? Just as is the question in the Sophist concerning "the being of not being" which pretends a fateful division in or of being?

According to Aristotle, or so one gathers, Aristotle perhaps never says so very clearly, a horse in the wild has a different telos by phusis, then the domesticated horse, whose soul has come upon it now grown over with wisdom, and so come to wrap itself around the sinewy limbs of the speechless brute and give it to a divine star to glitter and show its light. And this change, domestication, is itself a becoming of the highest dignity, by what the old philosopher does teach.

However, perhaps, here, we should not be distracted by disturbances in being of higher and lower gravity? And yet, the horse, as a horse, suffers, it seems, a transformation of its essence. For now it falls under a different light, that of logos, and no more of naked phusis.
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2019 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear David Tang,
Do you feel trapped in your own ‘becoming’? You really shouldn’t, although perhaps you speak through the curtain of a literary device. Think of becoming as your potentiality expressing itself. That’s why I deny a horse a change in its essence when it ‘learns’ from man. It merely invokes its capacity to act and be ‘grown over with wisdom’. Each species of animal has in its essence as part of its differentia its own capacity or incapacity to be trained. Think of cats and dogs. Try training a cat to guide the blind. Note that such potentiality is entirely in contrast with a tadpole becoming a frog.

But there is more to education than training. Androcles and the lion is an example. If we take the old tale to be true the transformation of the lion is the result of education not domestication. This shows also the distinction between education and training. Androcles didn’t give the lion instruction, merely showed him a kindness, a very human trait. Such a capacity is at a higher level. I find nothing embarrassing about the terms 'higher' and 'lower' in terms of soul and body.

I doubt if you will touch the perplexity the receptacle along this route, for you are talking of soul and education – which has its own mysteries.
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David Tang
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2019 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aristotle says that animals have no other than the biological purpose prior to their domestication and coming to the logos. So, you have your own argument about that. And one can separate it with humans as well, for, as Aristotle teaches, there are barbarians, who are no better than brutes. Domestication and education mean the same thing in Plato, since, as you know, domestication is said of those able to participate in dialogic discussion, which involves certain rules. Without the rules, there is a talking over one another. Schopenhauer says that early on the different schools must have come to this convention which by Plato's time was a part of the common inheritance which allowed Socrates to speak to the other schools. According to Aristotle this can only happen in a polis, and the difference between village and polis is an essential difference, and not only one of degree or size.

However, do you say becoming does not effect a soul? Doesn't learning happen in a soul? If the rational part of the soul wraps the other parts around it, so the appetitive and egoistic parts, like two prostitutes, almost do exactly what they are told, it seems to have undergone a change from its rude and disordered state prior to education. Do you, therefore, deny that becoming happens in and to the soul? This seems amazing.
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2019 10:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

O Tang,
I never heard that before, that domesticated meant the same as educated. What is the Greek for domesticated? I know ‘tame’ as hemeros, and that certainly hasn’t the same meaning as paideia. I take paideia as human education and not animal nor human domesticity. You have a reference I suppose. Otherwise I’ll put that aside.

Quote:
Aristotle says that animals have no other than the biological purpose prior to their domestication and coming to the logos.


I think I agree with Aristotle here, at least. it doesn’t tread on the toes of what I have written, I believe. To ‘come to the logos’ is to have the potentiality (dunameis) to understand at least in part the logos. It’s a form of energeia, if your taken with that sort of approach. But I can’t see the relevance of Aristotle’s remarks about the polis here:

Quote:
According to Aristotle this can only happen in a polis, and the difference between village and polis is an essential difference, and not only one of degree or size.


I know this quote. Aristotle and Plato never spoke with one voice on this. Are you discussing Plato or Aristotle?

Quote:
However, do you say becoming does not effect a soul? Doesn't learning happen in a soul? If the rational part of the soul wraps the other parts around it, so the appetitive and egoistic parts, like two prostitutes, almost do exactly what they are told, it seems to have undergone a change from its rude and disordered state prior to education. Do you, therefore, deny that becoming happens in and to the soul? This seems amazing.


I think you are being a little unfair here. The topic you posted was referring to the receptacle. As such, that side of becoming isn’t really directly relateable to soul. It is something else, has a different function and, as you know, soul is not thematic through these passages. The soul’s brush with becoming and heteros is well documented towards the end of the first discourse.

You are too easily amazed.
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David Tang
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Likely, you would say, I am undomesticated in my rustic manners. And so, require a form of education to the laws of conversation. However, what I am darting towards is this, what is becoming? Surely we must answer this to reach the receptacle.

Now, it does seem that becoming must name all change, and not merely, as according to a study of physical dynamics, the most crudely observable changes. And then, should it not include learning? As when any crafts person learns their art, and so has it branded on them?

So, do you say becoming only refers to physical changes, in the style of modern science?

In passing, I agree that a red pine tree, if it were made to grow taller and healthier, and perhaps placed in a beautiful garden beside a clear pond, might be improved. Or, for instance a sprig, treated in the Wenren or Literati style of Bonsai, might possibly have come to hang on the threads of nous, though it itself has no direct vision of nous. On the other hand, if it were cut up, it could not be conceived of as improving as a tree. So, on a side issue, there is a faint difficulty. Nous seems to want some beings to sacrifice themselves, cease to be themselves, and in this way serve the cosmic order. Which is strange.
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 23, 2019 5:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually you are quite tame compared with previous incarnations but you still give no references. Yet here you are darting towards that which is too dark for your brightness, too bright for your darkness. It is Plato’s eiko kineton aionos “moving image of eternity”, a thing of transient beauty of which it is recommended you dialectically centre upon the beauty and release the transience, the part that belongs to the Receptacle, of which it is said you can have no true knowledge.
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 23, 2019 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Addenda
Quote:
So, on a side issue, there is a faint difficulty. Nous seems to want some beings to sacrifice themselves, cease to be themselves, and in this way serve the cosmic order. Which is strange.

What's so strange? Nous might say, there is a price to pay if you want to sample the goods, as it were. How can you complain about ceasing to be, you didn’t complain much before you came to be?
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David Tang
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 23, 2019 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Supposing a shipwright, with wimble at the ready, should smart at a piece of oak still growing, at a fresh turgid branch. This oak is as well called the receptacle of the Shipwright's future timber, of what he should carve his plank from. So, this receptacle, is nothing but the visible dough, if you like, and the shipwright father is the yeast. And at length the bread will rise out of the oven which is his messy workshop, full of wood fillings and the usual things.

However, on your view, as you SEE the receptacle, we are not speaking of what is mentioned in our small piece of text. Since, is it not said, the receptacle is not, as you want us to believe, the visible mother.

Now, why is it the becoming of the mere empirical things does not satisfy us? Have we merely invented a problem for our amusement, a low kind of amusement, suitable to clever people under a washed out blue sky in the mid august months? O! Simple one! Do you not perceive that form must come into our becoming? It is just this that makes the receptacle what does not show up in a mirror, what is invisible.

Now, I ask you, ye simple one, tell me, does the text say the receptacle is the visible, or invisible? Or, will you drive us all to desperation, through your usual refusal to put your own soul to the test, and so to answer a question for the sake of our journey into parts unknown....
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2019 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK Let’s see if I can do a bit better.

Quote:
Supposing a shipwright, with wimble at the ready, should smart at a piece of oak still growing, at a fresh turgid branch. This oak is as well called the receptacle of the Shipwright's future timber, of what he should carve his plank from. So, this receptacle, is nothing but the visible dough, if you like, and the shipwright father is the yeast. And at length the bread will rise out of the oven which is his messy workshop, full of wood fillings and the usual things.


Are you putting this forward as a failed or successful attempt at describing the Receptacle?
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2019 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Supposing a shipwright, with wimble at the ready, should smart at a piece of oak still growing, at a fresh turgid branch. This oak is as well called the receptacle of the Shipwright's future timber, of what he should carve his plank from. So, this receptacle, is nothing but the visible dough, if you like, and the shipwright father is the yeast. And at length the bread will rise out of the oven which is his messy workshop, full of wood fillings and the usual things.


The artisan does not make the originals, which are Forms. They are There pristine (not here). Compared, ‘this here’ is a little local confusion. Do you mean that your shipwright and master baker work in the receptacle even as each holds his vision of There? Of course these are visible things – horoton was the term given at the outset of Timaeus - but we can refine considerably. Refine and refine to ever closer approximations just as you would use a trusted algorithm to deduce an ever closer approximation of the square root of two. If we could develop it correctly this analogy could be quite masterful. That is, if we think of the rational integers as discrete entities which can never quite close in on that irrational, and by analogy we may behold the receptacle itself as an irrationality – hence the perplexity it engenders in the rational soul.

I take this as a first but possibly decisive step, you no doubt will be less impressed. You never thought much of my thoughts on heteros.
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