• Valentinus
    1.5k
    If we refer to Aristotelian terminology, and his effort to disambiguate the use of "cause", we'd see that the ratios would constitute the "formal cause". However, there is still a need for an "efficient cause", as the source of activity. Efficient cause is "cause" as we generally use it. We do not, in our common language use, refer to principles like ratios as causes.Metaphysician Undercover

    I am not sure how the observation relates to your dispute with Fooloso4 but Aristotle did wrestle with distinguishing "cause" from essence in a use of language sort of way:

    We should not ignore the fact that sometimes we are unaware of whether a name signifies the composite substance, or the actuality or shape, for example, whether "a house" signifies the composite, that is a covering made of bricks and stones laid in such-and-such a manner, or actuality or form, that is, a covering, whether a "line" signifies twoness in length or twoness, and whether an animal signifies a soul in a body or a soul; for it is the soul which is the substance of the actuality of a certain body. The name "an animal" may also be applied to both, not as having the same the same formula when asserted of both, but a being related to one thing. But, although these distinctions contribute something to another inquiry, they contribute nothing to the inquiry of sensible substances, for the essence belongs to the form or actuality
    For a soul and the essence of the soul are the same, but the essence of "a man" is not the same as a man, unless the soul is called "a man" accordingly, in some cases, a thing and its essence are the same, in others this is not so.
    — Aristotle, Metaphysics, translated by Hippocrates G Apostle, Book Eta, Chapter3
  • Apollodorus
    2.5k


    I'm afraid it looks like Fooloso4 is totally unaware of the fact that the discussion is not about Pythagoras or Philolaus but about Simmias. In the Phaedo. Not in some other book, world or universe.

    Admittedly, the confusion sometimes arises from the fact that Ancient Greek harmonia is not the same as English "harmony".

    In English, the primary meaning of "harmony" is "combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes, especially as creating a pleasing effect".

    In Greek, the primary meaning of harmonia is "a joining or fitting together". It does not even need to be a particularly good or "harmonious" one.

    In musical terms, harmonia can mean the stringing of an instrument, a scale, mode or harmony, or music in general.

    There is no doubt that various theories comparing the soul with a "harmony" were in circulation and that Simmias uses one version of these in his own argument.

    However, it is clear from the context that in Simmias' argument, harmonia refers to the combination of the various parts of the lyre, viz., body, strings, pegs, notes, etc. that together make up the state of the instrument that enables it to produce the desired sound.

    It is precisely for this reason that harmonia in better translations like the one by Sedley and Long (that I am using), is rendered as "attunement", not "harmony".

    As Sedley and Long point out, "no reliable source explicitly attributes to him [Philolaus] the thesis that soul is an attunement" (p. 78).

    In fact, there is no evidence that would link Simmias' argument with any theory of soul other than the one he himself describes in the dialogue, period. And what that theory is, I think has been more than sufficiently demonstrated.

    As already stated, had "ratio", "proportion", or anything of that kind been central to Simmias' argument, he would have made this very clear. Instead, both he and Socrates keep talking about component parts of the body (elements and their properties) and of the lyre (lyre, strings, notes), and of both soul and attunement as being a "blend" or "compound" of those parts.

    IMHO instead of making up his own dialogue, Fooloso4 should concede that he is mistaken and that he has lost the argument. Unfortunately, when people have taken the path of Straussian esotericism and sophistry, they are in constant danger of becoming lost in a fantasy world where every word, sentence or paragraph has a "secret meaning" that they alone can know and interpret for the rest of us ....
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9k
    he is not talking about some invisible act. The tuning of what is tuned is not the act of tuning, but rather the result.Fooloso4

    At 86 is how Simmias describes what you translate as "tuning". At 94 is where Socrates corrects Simmias,.with a more true description of "tuning", as an action consisting of the ordering or directing of the parts .

    This is the Socratic method, he allows participants to offer their own representations of what is referred to by a term; "beauty" in The Symposium; "just" in The Republic; etc., and he demonstrates how each one is deficient. Then he moves toward a more true representation.

    You are refusing to accept Socrates' correction, that the true representation of "tuning" must include the act which directs the parts, causing them to be in tune. So you're still insisting that Simmias' representation is the true description of "tuning", despite the deficiency demonstrated by Socrates, and the obvious absence of agency, which is an essential aspect of "tuning".
    .
    There is in this theory no outside agent or principle acting:Fooloso4

    Yes, that's the whole point, in that theory, the one offered by Simmias, there is no outside agency. This description, offered by Simmias, requires no agency for "a tuning" to come into being. But Socrates demonstrates that Simmias' position is untenable, as has been thoroughly explained by Apollodorus. Then, Socrates offers a more realistic description of "tuning", a description which includes the agency which is obviously involved in any instance of tuning.
  • Fooloso4
    2.6k
    where Socrates corrects Simmias,.with a more true description of "tuning"Metaphysician Undercover

    It is not a correction. It is a series of weak arguments.

    “Therefore it follows from this argument of ours that all souls of all living beings will similarly be good if in fact it’s similarly the nature of souls to be this very thing - souls.” (94a)

    The argument is as follows: soul is an attunement, vice is lack of attunement, and so the soul cannot be bad and still be a soul because it would no longer be an attunement. What is missing from the argument is that being in or out of tune is a matter of degree. Vice is not the absence of tuning but bad tuning.

    You previously denied that something can be more or less in tune, but, as any musician or car mechanic can tell you, that is simply not true.

    At 94b Socrates locates the passions in the body. This is questionable. In fact, so questionable that in the Republic he locates the passions in the soul.

    The problem with 94c is that there is such a thing as singing out of tune, internal conflict, acting contrary to your own interests, and so on.

    Socrates closes this discussion by citing the authority of Homer, the “Divine Poet” (94e-95a). He uses Homer’s authority in support of his argument against attunement on the grounds of the separation of body and soul, and the rule of the soul over the body. But the passage cited (Odyssey XX 17-18) is not a case of the soul ruling the bodily desire, but of the soul controlling its own anger, not the soul controlling the body. But according to Socrates' claim that the soul is without parts and so he cannot account for the soul controlling itself.

    In the Republic passions and desires are in the soul. It is a matter of one part of the soul ruling over the other parts of the soul. Why does Socrates give two very different accounts of the soul? Does the soul have parts or not? Are desires and anger in the soul or in the body? Why would he reject attunement in the Phaedo and make it central to the soul in the Republic?

    You are refusing to accept Socrates' correctionMetaphysician Undercover

    It is not a correction, it is a different concept of the soul. It is a soul that is completely separate from the body. This raises a host of problems. In addition to those above there is the problem of the identity of Socrates himself. He is neither his soul or his body. And if he is some combination then Socrates does not survive death.

    Yes, that's the whole point, in that theory, the one offered by Simmias, there is no outside agency.Metaphysician Undercover

    There is no need for outside agency. This view is much closer to our scientific understanding of physiology and homeostasis.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9k
    There is no need for outside agency. This view is much closer to our scientific understanding of physiology and homeostasis.Fooloso4

    You might place the agency within, as immanent, but the main point is the lack of agency in Simmias' argument. And, when agency is accounted for the agent must be prior to the body, because the body only exists as an organization of parts. Therefore a separate soul, prior to the body is a necessary conclusion.

    It is not a correction, it is a different concept of the soul. It is a soul that is completely separate from the body.Fooloso4

    It is a correction, a move toward a more realistic conception of the soul. It's more realistic because agency is a very real part of life (look at Aristotle's potencies of the soul, self-nourishment, self-movement, sensation, intellection), and therefore must be accounted for. And when it is accounted for, the agent which causes the parts to be ordered is necessarily prior to the ordered parts, which is the body. Therefore it is necessary to conclude the existence of a soul which was prior to, and independent from the body.

    The argument is as follows: soul is an attunement, vice is lack of attunement, and so the soul cannot be bad and still be a soul because it would no longer be an attunement. What is missing from the argument is that being in or out of tune is a matter of degree. Vice is not the absence of tuning but bad tuning.Fooloso4

    We went through this already, bad tuning cannot be called tuning. If I go to an instrument and start adjusting it to put it out of tune, I am not tuning the instrument. One can change the tuning, by altering adjustments, but if you move toward being out of tune, this cannot be called "tuning".

    You continually refuse to recognize that tuning is an act, so you refer to "the tuning", as a static state, But if you would recognize the true nature of tuning, as an act which cause the instrument to be in tune, you would see that if you change the instrument in the wrong direction it cannot be called "tuning".

    This is why at 92, the soul as a harmony (static thing), is contrasted with learning (an activity) as recollection The two are incompatible because one is described as a static thing while the other is an activity. What Socrates demonstrates is that "the soul" is better described as an activity "tuning", which causes the harmony, rather than the static thing which you all "the tuning". But since "the body" is understood as a thing, this produces the necessary separation between soul and body.

    You previously denied that something can be more or less in tune, but, as any musician or car mechanic can tell you, that is simply not true.Fooloso4

    The point is that the activity, which will affect "the tuning", which we call "tuning" when we respect the "ing" suffix, will alter the instrument in one way or the other, and if it is the other, it cannot be called "tuning". You continually deny the reality that "tuning" properly refers to an activity, insisting that it means "in tune".

    The problem with 94c is that there is such a thing as singing out of tune, internal conflict, acting contrary to your own interests, and so on.Fooloso4

    Right, this is acting in a way which is contrary to the direction of the soul, and the reason why the soul needs to inflict harsh punishment to break bad habits, as described. It is not a problem to Socrates' argument, but the first step to you acknowledging the difference between a static state, and an activity. You think there is a problem, but it only appears as a problem because you haven't moved toward recognizing "the soul" as an activity, and breaking away from that static state you call "the tuning". That's why the soul is a "form" for Aristotle, and forms are actualities.

    In the Republic passions and desires are in the soul. It is a matter of one part of the soul ruling over the other parts of the soul. Why does Socrates give two very different accounts of the soul? Does the soul have parts or not? Are desires and anger in the soul or in the body? Why would he reject attunement in the Phaedo and make it central to the soul in the Republic?Fooloso4

    I do not see that this is a "different account". The soul, as an activity which rules over all the parts of the body must be present to all parts. So passions and desires, as emotions, are movements of the soul, and there is no inconsistency.

    . In addition to those above there is the problem of the identity of Socrates himself.Fooloso4

    I don't see any problems above, except your failure to recognize the distinction between an activity and a state. I agree that "identity" is an issue when we assign personality to an activity, but that's why Aristotle formulated the law of identity, in an explicit way, to resolve this problem. Aristotle's law of identity allows that a thing which is changing may maintain its identity as the same thing, despite changing.
  • Apollodorus
    2.5k
    I do not see that this is a "different account". The soul, as an activity which rules over all the parts of the body must be present to all parts. So passions and desires, as emotions, are movements of the soul, and there is no inconsistency.Metaphysician Undercover

    Correct. Not "different account" but different perspective.

    In the Phaedo, Socrates' objection is that the soul is non-composite in the sense of "not made of separate elements like the body" as implied by Simmias.

    In the Republic, where Socrates is concerned with moral theory, the three "parts" of the soul are really psychological functions of the same one soul, in particular, as determinants of choice and voluntary action.

    In addition, they are all governed by justice, dikaiosyne, which is the cardinal virtue of the soul and a manifestation of the Form of Justice that is responsible for order in all things including among Forms. (Which, incidentally, is why in Plato there is no need for a "Form of Harmony".)

    Though the three functions of the soul (thought, emotion, desire) are often misconstrued as "parts", they were correctly seen as aspects of the same one soul.

    For example, Aristotle in discussing the faculties of the soul, states that the soul is part rational and part irrational, adding that these may be seen "like the convex and concave aspects of the circumference of a circle and distinguishable as two only in definition and thought, and by nature inseparable".

    By analogy, the soul's three psychological functions may be seen as the three sides (or corners) of one triangle or whichever way one chooses to illustrate it.

    In any case, it is quite obvious that they can be understood only as pertaining to one inseparable whole.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9k
    We are at an impasse.Fooloso4

    It appears to me, like you refuse to accept that agency is an essential part of harmony, and that Socrates' description of harmony, as something produced by agency, is a much better description than Simmias' which neglects the role of agency.

    There is a similar issue with modern physicalism and the physicalist's conception of emergence. Order, and organization, by the conception of emergence, is said to simply emerge from disorder. Of course this is contrary to empirical evidence, as it totally neglects the observed role of agency in the creation of orderly structures. I believe that this type of conception is promoted by atheists who approach this issue with a bias which encourages them to unreasonably reject the requirement of agency.
  • Apollodorus
    2.5k
    I believe that this type of conception is promoted by atheists who approach this issue with a bias which encourages them to unreasonably reject the requirement of agency.Metaphysician Undercover

    Good point. Simmias’ theory of the soul as harmony is just a materialist proposition with a “Pythagorean” twist. It seemingly resembles the view attributed to some Pythagoreans, but there is no evidence to link it with an actual theory that makes exactly the same claims.

    As observed by Sedley and Long, “no reliable source explicitly attributes to Philolaus the thesis that soul is an attunement”.

    According to H. B. Gottschalk, the theory is actually Plato’s own creation. We need to recall that Plato’s main object here is to test his theories of Forms and Recollection and Simmias’ thesis presents a convenient opportunity to refute the views held by the materialists of the time.

    H. B. Gottschalk, Soul as Harmonia – JSTOR

    Socrates refers to it ironically at 77d-e and Cebes himself laughs at it just as Socrates smiles when Simmias presents his argument:

    However, I think you and Simmias would like to carry on this discussion still further. You have the childish fear that when the soul goes out from the body the wind will really blow it away and scatter it, especially if a man happens to die in a high wind and not in calm weather.
    And Cebes laughed and said, “Assume that we have that fear, Socrates, and try to convince us”

    As shown by Lloyd Gerson, the whole Platonic project is based on an anti-materialist position. Plato believes in non-material intelligence and assumes an intelligent agency as ultimate cause.

    So I think the issue of agency is an interesting one especially as at 86c Simmias generalizes his theory to include all the harmoniai found “in all the products of craftsmen.”

    This reminds the careful reader of Plato’s Craftsman or Maker of the Cosmos ....
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9k

    I like the way that Plato introduces the idea of agency in relation to harmony, at 92c, where he has Socrates say: "How will you harmonize this statement with your former one?" Then by the middle of 93, he's right into the need for agency: "Does not the nature of each harmony depend on the way it has been harmonized?"

    I understand Pythagorean cosmology to have been very scientifically advanced for the time. I think they promoted the idea that the entire cosmos consisted of waves or vibrations in an ether, and the various existents were harmonies in the vibrations. Anyway, the cosmos was understood to be highly ordered, as consisting of harmonies. I believe Plato has done a very good job arguing that such an ordered system of harmonies requires agency for its creation. The fact that agency was implied, but not accounted for, was a serious flaw in the Pythagorean cosmology So it had to be dismissed, and the Neo-Platonists produced a replacement cosmology which allowed for the reality of agency.
  • Apollodorus
    2.5k


    Correct. At 92c Socrates makes fun of Simmias by pointing out that his previous statement to the effect that soul pre-exists the body does not work in harmony with his statement that harmony in the lyre comes after the lyre has been put together from its component parts. Socrates then stresses that if any argument should work in harmony it is an argument about harmony.

    This can be seen again at 97c – 99d where Socrates mocks Anaxagoras for failing to use his intelligence. Anaxagoras held that intelligence both orders things and is cause of everything, a view that Socrates was delighted to learn. But to Socrates’ great disappointment Anaxagoras failed to use his intelligence in that he assigned the ordering of things not to some intelligent cause but to the four elements.

    I think it is pretty obvious that this is, in fact, Plato’s position. He does not mock the belief in the immortality of the soul, afterlife, God, etc. but materialist views that lead to atheism.

    The same views leading to atheism, according to which the four elements are primary and soul posterior to them, are criticized in Laws:

    It appears that the person who makes these statements holds fire, water, earth and air to be the first of all things, and that it is precisely to these things that he gives the name of “nature,” while soul he asserts to be a later product therefrom. (891c)

    As shown by A. E. Taylor:

    Atheism is treated by Plato as identical with the doctrine that the world and its contents, souls included, are the product of unintelligent motions of corporeal elements. Against this theory, he undertakes to demonstrate that all corporeal movements are, in the last resort, causally dependent on “motions” of soul, wishes, plans, purposes, and that the world is therefore the work of a soul or souls, and further that these souls are good, and that there is one ἀρίστη ψιχή [ariste psyche], “perfectly good soul,” at their head.

    - A. E. Taylor, Plato: The Man And His Work

    This is not to say that people are not allowed to be atheists if they so choose, only that Plato in his dialogues does not teach atheism. On the contrary, he is committed to showing that intelligence is the ultimate cause of everything and that belief in this intelligence is the right belief for philosophers. Otherwise they would not be philosophers in a Platonic sense but materialist scientists.
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