• Apollodorus
    2.7k
    They translate εἶδος as form and as kindFooloso4

    Of course they do. However, "form" and "kind" do not seem to be the same thing.

    Normally, "form" refers to shape or the visible aspect of something. "Kind" refers to species, group or class. They are not one and the same thing.

    For example, English "Form" is given for Greek "eidos" and "kind" for Greek "genos" (Republic 435b). So, Form and Kind cannot be the same.

    "Form" also seems to have a particular meaning in Plato's philosophy. For example, "there is one Form (eidos) of excellence or virtue" (445c), etc. I don't think "Kind" can be substituted for "Form" here.

    Besides, you started a thread on "Plato's Metaphysics" and I have heard that according to scholarly opinion Forms are central to Plato's metaphysics. So I thought maybe you wanted to share your views on the subject with us.
  • Apollodorus
    2.7k
    What you are looking for is in the remainder of the sentence. The grammar requires four words but the phrase you are asking for is underlined. The γενναῖόν (true to one's birth) modifies the noun ψευδομένους (a single lie). The grammar of τι ἓν says something like 'put forth a particular thing'. The thing being referred to is the lie.Valentinus

    Well, that's where the problem is.

    1. How would you say "a noble lie" in Greek?

    2. The English phrase "a noble lie" is only three words. It should not require 4 (four) Greek words when translated back into Greek. There is no grammatical requirement for four words to translate "a noble lie".

    3. ψευδομένους (pseudomenous) cannot be "a single lie" because it is plural.

    4. The four words you have underlined there are not one phrase, and they don't translate "a noble lie".
  • Valentinus
    1.6k
    And ψευδομένους cannot be "a single lie" because it is plural.Apollodorus

    Yes, the form is a plural neuter accusitive participle. What makes the reference to a single lie is the τι, which is a singular neuter accusative pronoun. Otherwise, the form would have been τίνα if the reference referred to many lies.

    The English phrase "a noble lie" is only three words. It should not require 4 Greek words when translated back into Greek.Apollodorus

    Wow. That is a spectacularly ignorant comment. That principle does not work in modern languages, even those sharing many rules of word order to give parts of speech. To apply it to an inflected language borders on the moronic.

    I will no longer respond to claims you make about Greek texts. Life is too short.
  • Apollodorus
    2.7k
    Yes, the form is a plural neuter accusitive participle.Valentinus

    I don't think so, Mr Valentinus (Fooloso4?). Ψευδομένους is masculine. Nothing whatsoever to do with what you are claiming there!

    Wow. That is a spectacularly ignorant comment. That principle does not work in modern languages, even those sharing many rules of word order to give parts of speech. To apply it to an inflected language borders on the moronic.Valentinus

    Really?! How about the following inflected languages???

    French: un mensonge noble

    German: eine edle Lüge

    Spanish: una mentira noble

    Modern Greek: ενα ευγενές ψέμα (ena eugenes psema)

    Ancient Greek: ἓν γενναῖον ψεῦδος (hen gennaion pseudos)


    IMHO the principle seems to work very well in most if not all European languages. In fact, far too well for what you are claiming to be true.

    So, dodgy translations, invented “grammatical rules”, false statements ... accident or design?
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.1k
    compulsive mendacityApollodorus

    I would appreciate it if you did not accuse forum members you disagree with of lying.

    I can appreciate it more forcefully if need be.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.1k
    It is not difference that makes things similar. Things that are similar are in some way or ways the same and in others different.Fooloso4

    Each thing is different. The "way" that it is similar can be said to be "the same way", but there is no need for "same" here, there is simply a way in which they are similar. And the "way" is artificial, as what is said about the things. Therefore sameness is not part of the things themselves, but only what is said about the things which are said to be similar, in a way. However, to say that they are similar, is to say that they are different, and this is to say that they are not the same, so this is a false form of sameness, which you propose, as property of the judgement rather than property of the things, which are said to be in some way, similar. Aristotle's law of identity, on the other hand attributes true sameness to the thing itself, by saying that a thing is the same as itself. But this means that no two things are "the same", and "the same way" is a completely different meaning of "same", because a way is not a thing. It's a superfluous use of "same", which serves no meaning.,

    Rather than show it is mistake to assume sameness and difference as both necessary for intelligibility, your example shows why they are necessary.Fooloso4

    No, it just demonstrates that by some corrupt and undisciplined meaning of "same" , which allows that any two things are "the same" in some way (even if just by the fact of being things), and they are therefore similar, then any two things can be said to be the same kind. This sort of ambiguity is a feature of unintelligibility rather than intelligibility.

    Things can be classified according to those that are at rest and those that change.Fooloso4

    This is very obviously another feature of the unintelligible metaphysics you are promoting. Any thing can change from being at rest to being in motion at any moment. So any thing which might be classified as a thing at rest will also be classified as a thing which can change, unless that rest is eternal. Since "rest", to be distinguished from "change" requires that change is impossible, your classifications would be better stated as "eternal" and "temproal". But the classification of the eternal cannot be said to consist of "things" because no things are eternal. Therefore the category of "eternal", or "rest" cannot consist of things at rest, and the eternal cannot be a "kind", as "kinds are how we classify things. Nor can "at rest" be a kind of thing. Of course you just need to look at relativity theory to see that there is no kind of thing which is at rest.

    I will have to think more about your charge of a 'category mistake' in this context. The method of division is used throughout the dialogues. Socrates has been charged numerous times for being sophistical on account of it. See the Greater Hippias at 301 for a particularly exquisite example of the style.Valentinus

    The mentioned argument in Greater Hippias is not that type of argument at all. Hippias had said that if the same thing is true of each of us, then it is true of the both of us. But Socrates demonstrates that this is not the case, because it is true that each of us is one, but also true that both of us is two.

    The category error I referred to, can be understood better through the premise of The Symposium. Remember when Socrates tells about his teacher, in love, Diotima? Diotima teaches him to see beauty in all sorts of different things. First, the beauty in bodies, then the beauty in souls, then in activities, customs, laws and institutions, and finally the beauty in knowledge and wisdom.

    Now, if we were proceeding by the method of division, we would take the kind, "beautiful things", and divide it into further types, bodies, souls, institutions, etc.. And of course, each of these could be divided again. The problem is that with this method we are always dealing with things, dividing them into kinds, and we do not ever approach, or apprehend the idea of beauty, or form of Beauty itself.

    So the method of Diotima differs because it goes in the opposite direction from dividing, Diotima proceeds in what is called the upward direction. Instead of dividing, Socrates is taught to see that in all these different classes of things, there is one thing in common, which unites them all. This is Beauty itself. Then the "Idea", or "Form" of beauty is apprehended as what all beautiful things partake of.

    This is what it is to go aright, or be led by another, into the mystery of Love: one goes always upwards for the sake of this Beauty, starting out from beautiful things and using them like rising stairs: from one body to two and from two to all beautiful bodies, then from beautiful bodies to beautiful customs, and from customs to leraning beautiful things, and from these lessons he arrives in the end at this lesson, which is learning of this very Beauty, so that in the end he comes to know just what it is to be beautiful — Symposium 211c

    That, in itself, is a beautiful description of the method of Platonic dialectics. Dialectics, in the Platonic sense, is not a matter of dividing things into types, in a downward direction, as if we might find the Forms in that way. It is a matter of starting with particular individuals, following what they have in common, in an upward direction, until one grasps the reality of the Form itself, which accounts for the reason why they have such in common.

    Understanding of the Idea itself is derived from observations of the things which partake in that Idea, but the Idea is not a thing which can be divided, like a class, or a kind is said to be divided. Socrates explains this in The Parmenides, but I don't have the reference off hand. The Idea is like the day. No matter how many different places are taking part in the day, it is never more or less than what it is, i..e. the day. Likewise, the divisions which we make of kinds, are not divisions of the Idea itself, they are divisions of the things which partake in the Idea. To say that the Idea itself is what is divided is a category mistake, the groups of things are divided.
  • Apollodorus
    2.7k
    I would appreciate it if you did not accuse forum members you disagree with of lying.Srap Tasmaner

    As a matter of fact, it was they who accused me of being "ignorant" (and of lying) and not for the first time:

    Having come to the point of demonstrating your ignorance of a fundamental element of the language, I stopped trying to make my interpretation more clear to you.Valentinus

    I didn't accuse anyone of anything. I simply asked what they would call the obviously incorrect statements they keep making. Hence the question mark.

    1. There is no grammatical rule that says that to translate English "a noble lie" into inflected languages like Greek requires four words.

    2. τι ἓν does not mean 'put forth a particular thing'.

    3. ψευδομένους (pseudomenous) cannot be "a single lie" because it is plural.

    4. ψευδομένους (pseudomenous) is not "neuter".

    5. ψευδομένους (pseudomenous) does not refer to τι ἓν.

    6. γενναῖόν τι ἓν ψευδομένους (gennaion ti hen pseudomenous) is not a phrase and it does not translate as "a noble lie".

    7. As I repeatedly pointed out, the phrase "a noble lie", Greek ἓν γενναῖον ψεῦδος (hen gennaion pseudos) is not in the Greek text of the Republic or anywhere else in the Platonic corpus.

    8. As I repeatedly stated on the thread "An analysis of the shadows", the Wikipedia article has the following correct translation:

    "... a contrivance for one of those falsehoods that come into being in case of need, of which we were just now talking, some noble one..."

    Noble lie - Wikipedia

    9. As can be clearly seen, the translation does not contain the phrase "a noble lie" and the relevant section of the text stops before "pseudomenous" (ψευδομένους). The obvious reason for this is that the participle "pseudomenous" means neither "lie" nor "lies" and does not refer to the preceding "some noble one".

    As anyone with some knowledge of Ancient Greek can confirm, "a noble lie" is not in the Greek text. Therefore, it is incorrect to state that it is.
  • Apollodorus
    2.7k
    I think that to say that a Form is a kind, is a misunderstanding of Forms.Metaphysician Undercover

    Correct. For the previously stated reason(s) the answer to the question "what are Plato's Forms?" cannot be "Kinds".

    So, Forms and Kinds are not the same thing.

    I think it is important to eliminate misunderstandings, otherwise no meaningful discussion is possible.

    If Forms are not Kinds, what should we call them? Any suggestions?

    the eternal cannot be a "kind", as "kinds" are how we classify things.Metaphysician Undercover

    Yes, I think it is important to see the difference between how or what things are and how the human mind classifies them.

    "Kinds" are a posteriori classifications, Forms exist prior to human cognition. Therefore, Forms cannot be kinds.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.1k

    I think this issue demonstrates the area where language does not serve us well, at the fringes of our knowledge. The reason for this is obvious, what we do not know, we cannot talk about. However, philosophy is the desire to know, and this desire inspires us to expand what is known, beyond the currently existing boundaries, thus expanding the evolving body knowledge.

    Our knowledge of Forms is such a thing. Some participants in this thread seem to think that a Form is a kind, and I have been saying that "kinds" are the way that we divide things, and I put Forms into a different category, as something other than a group of things. Now there is a clear need to distinguish between a group of things, divided by kind, and the principle itself, which supports the division of groups of things. Without this distinction here is much ambiguity and confusion in philosophical discussions.

    The issue is well exemplified, and exposed in discussions of set theory in the philosophy of mathematics, particularly in reference to "the empty set". If there is such a thing as an empty set, then "set" cannot refer to a group of things, because it's incoherent to say that there's a group of things which consists of no things. This means that in the case of the empty set, "set" must refer to the defining principle, which allows that we might define a 'type", a "kind", and talk about that that "kind", as if it is itself, some sort of "thing", independently from any members which are supposed to be of that kind. This is the only way that we can have an empty set, if the thing referred to as "the set" is something completely independent from the members which compose the set. However, we find in the philosophy of mathematics, some people will assert that "set" refers to the group of things itself, but also assert that there is such a thing as an empty set. This is incoherent.

    In relation to understanding "Forms" now, if "Form" refers to the defining principle of a group of things, then we must allow that the Form is independent from the group of things, as evidenced by "the empty set". Someone might propose "a kind" which has no members of the group This makes the Form itself something which needs to be understood as something independent from the group of things which serve to exemplify it. Therefore no degree of analysis of different groups of things can give us an adequate understanding of Forms themselves. To understand Forms, we need to separate the Form from the group of things, and grasp its independent existence. If we deny that a Form is something independent from the group of things, we will never understand how it is that there could be an empty set.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.1k
    As a matter of fact, it was they who accused me of being "ignorant" (and of lying) and not for the first timeApollodorus

    1. We are, all of us, ignorant and stupid, and have to expect others here will point out where we have shown that we are. (Our patron saint is famous for proclaiming his own ignorance.) We are not, all of us, liars.

    2. "He did it first" is a an excuse, not a justification.

    I didn't accuse anyone of anything. I simply asked what they would call the obviously incorrect statements they keep making. Hence the question mark.Apollodorus

    Uh huh.

    It's right here in the guidelines:

    2) Tone matters:

    A respectful and moderate tone is desirable as it's the most likely to foster serious and productive discussion. Having said that, you may express yourself strongly as long as it doesn't disrupt a thread or degenerate into flaming (which is not tolerated and will result in your post being deleted).
    TPF Site Guidelines

    Accusing your interlocutors of lying, no matter the grammatical form of the accusation, is not "respectful and moderate".

    I respectfully ask you to reconsider whether, upon reflection, you want that accusation to remain in the record of this otherwise vigorous and valuable discussion.
  • Apollodorus
    2.7k
    if "Form" refers to the defining principle of a group of things, then we must allow that the Form is independent from the group of things, as evidenced by "the empty set". Someone might propose "a kind" which has no members of the group This makes the Form itself something which needs to be understood as something independent from the group of things which serve to exemplify it. Therefore no degree of analysis of different groups of things can give us an adequate understanding of Forms themselves.Metaphysician Undercover

    I think one of the factors leading to the misconception of Forms as "kinds" may be the tendency of looking at them through Aristotle's categories.

    In terms of how Forms are seen by Plato himself, at least as evident from the dialogues, I think "paradigm" (paradeigma) would be a much more accurate description of Form than "kind".

    Essentially, Forms are paradigms of the generated world as indicated in the Timaeus and elsewhere:

    Everything which becomes must of necessity become owing to some Cause; for without a cause it is impossible for anything to attain becoming. But when the artificer of any object, in forming its shape and quality, keeps his gaze fixed on that which is uniform, using a model (paradeigma) of this kind, that object, executed in this way, must of necessity be beautiful; but whenever he gazes at that which has come into existence and uses a created model, the object thus executed is not beautiful (Tim. 28a-b).

    Incidentally, Aristotle himself says that being a paradeigma is "especially characteristic of Ideas".

    Plato's concept of participation (metoche) is particularly enlightening. Sensible objects exist by participation in a Form's property. On this subject, Proclus distinguishes between (1) that which participates, (2) that which is participated in, and (3) that which is unparticipated.

    The Form's being a Form is its being a paradeigma whose property or properties are participated in by sensible objects. In other words, a Form is the eternal paradigmatic cause of the things that are eternally constituted according to nature:

    I think the most likely view is, that these Ideas exist in nature as patterns, and the other things resemble them and are imitations of them; their participation in Ideas is assimilation to them (Parm. 132d)

    As the Timaeus shows, the Form is perfect, the sensible objects fashioned after it are not so. The Form itself is the perfect paradigmatic original which is "unparticipated" and therefore transcendent. Its image, on the other hand, is an imperfect version of the perfect paradeigma or model, is "participated" and therefore immanent.
  • Apollodorus
    2.7k
    I respectfully ask you to reconsider whether, upon reflection, you want that accusation to remain in the record of this otherwise vigorous and valuable discussion.Srap Tasmaner

    Personally, I would have preferred the discussion to remain free of any accusations. Unfortunately, given some participants' persistent claim that certain statements are true when they patently are not, I think my "accusation" was not entirely unfounded. If it is not "mendacity", then what shall we call deliberately and knowingly making inaccurate statements? I am open to suggestions.

    Meantime, if they retract their uncalled-for and evidently false accusations of "ignorance", I am prepared to retract mine. In fact, I think this would be the ideal solution and I have already removed the "compulsive mendacity" bit.
  • Valentinus
    1.6k

    I do not understand the Stranger to be saying that "proceeding by the method of division, we would take the kind, "beautiful things", and divide it into further types, bodies, souls, institutions, etc."
    I realize just now that I failed to type in the full quote from the Stranger. My apologies. Let me try again:

    And the man who can do that discerns clearly one form everywhere extended throughout many, where each one lies apart, and many forms, different from one another, embraced from without by one form, and again one form connected in a unity through many wholes, and many forms, entirely marked off apart. That means knowing how to distinguish kind by kind, in what ways the kinds can or cannot combine.

    So there is a limit to proper division and designating what combines into wholes. That relates to the Hippias passage of how a whole relates to the parts it unifies. Socrates distinguishes a difference between the whole and its parts. Hippias says Socrates is needlessly dividing things to say that.

    The matter does relate, as you say, to the Parmenides where it is asked if a unity is like a sail covering particulars or a day they occur within.

    The Stranger's statement in the Sophist can be compared to the issue raised in the Theaetetus:

    Socrates: Because, if a thing has parts, the whole thing must be the same as all the parts. Or do you say that a whole likewise is a single entity that arises out of the parts and is different from the aggregate of the parts?
    Theaetetus: Yes, I do.
    — Theaetetus, 204, translated by F.M. Cornford

    The comparison between Socrates and the Stranger does show an important difference. When Socrates ends the dialogue, he declares as a midwife that none of the births survived. When the Stranger comes to an end, he doesn't say that he had made no progress.
  • Valentinus
    1.6k


    Thank you, Fooloso4, for all the challenges you have given me and others.

    Je pars, TPM.
  • Fooloso4
    2.6k
    So any thing which might be classified as a thing at rest will also be classified as a thing which can change, unless that rest is eternal.Metaphysician Undercover

    The Forms are at rest and eternal. Being may be eternal but is not at rest.

    Therefore the category of "eternal", or "rest" cannot consist of things at restMetaphysician Undercover

    The Forms are said to be eternal and at rest. The category things that are eternal and at rest consists of Forms. Beauty itself is unchanging but things that are beautiful are not. The Small itself is unchanging but things that are small are not.

    No, it just demonstrates that by some corrupt and undisciplined meaning of "same" , which allows that any two things are "the same" in some wayMetaphysician Undercover

    First, according to your argument no two things are the same. No two dogs are the same dog, but all dogs are the same in so far as they are dogs. It is this sameness that is fundamental to Forms. To be the same does not mean to be identical. Things of a certain Form are not just similar, they are, by virtue of being of the same Form, the same. Second any two things may be the same in some way are not thereby the same kind of thing. Dogs and cats are the same in some way but dogs are not the same as cats.

    This is very obviously another feature of the unintelligible metaphysics you are promoting. Any thing can change from being at rest to being in motion at any moment.Metaphysician Undercover

    You are confusing the Forms 'Rest' and 'Change' with things that are at rest or change.
  • Fooloso4
    2.6k


    I am truly sorry to hear that.

    Dialogic quickly degenerates into quarrelous disputation when some are more concerned with staking out and defending their views through heedless attack on whatever and whoever does not fit the parameters of those views.

    We are all impoverished when such tactics have their intended effect and a valuable member of the forum is silenced.

    I hope you will reconsider. When time allows I will be introducing some other elements of Plato's metaphysics that have not been addressed yet. I and others would miss reading your carefully considered comments. Perhaps by judiciously ignoring deliberate provocation and endless disputes you can avoid the worse of what the forum has to offer and retain what is best.
  • Apollodorus
    2.7k
    Things of a certain Form are not just similar, they are, by virtue of being of the same Form, the same. Second any two things may be the same in some way are not thereby the same kind of thing. Dogs and cats are the same in some way but dogs are not the same as cats.Fooloso4

    Of course different things are the same as others to the degree they share the same property or properties with them, and different to the extent they do not. It may also be said that a thing is the same as itself but different from others, etc. There is nothing new about it.

    The Forms are said to be eternal and at rest. The category things that are eternal and at rest consists of Forms. Beauty itself is unchanging but things that are beautiful are not. The Small itself is unchanging but things that are small are not.Fooloso4

    However, Forms may be said to be "at rest" in relation to the sensible world, but being themselves outside the spatio-temporal dimension, Forms cannot ultimately be susceptible to rest or change. So, it is a mater of perspective or point of view.

    This is why Plato insists that the Forms can be fully understood only in the light of the One (or the Good). We cannot selectively critique some aspects of the Forms in isolation of the Whole.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.1k
    Plato's concept of participation (metoche) is particularly enlightening. Sensible objects exist by participation in a Form's property. On this subject, Proclus distinguishes between (1) that which participates, (2) that which is participated in, and (3) that which is unparticipated.

    The Form's being a Form is its being a paradeigma whose property or properties are participated in by sensible objects. In other words, a Form is the eternal paradigmatic cause of the things that are eternally constituted according to nature:
    Apollodorus

    This is where Neo-Platonism can become inconsistent with Aristotle. Aristotle's description necessitates that forms, and therefore Forms. are actual. And actual as active is distinct from potential, which is passive. In the theory of participation, material objects (actively) participate in the Forms, which (passively) are participated in. This problem is evident in Plotinus' description of the One. He describes the One as pure, or absolute potential, but he also says that everything else follows from the One as the cause of everything. But in Aristotle's metaphysics, pure absolute potential cannot have any actuality, and therefore cannot be the first cause (cosmological argument), a cause necessarily being active..

    This is the problem with the theory of participation, as addressed in the Timaeus. Forms, as prior to the material things which follow from them in creation, must be actively involved in the act of creation, as causes. Therefore we cannot accurately describe the Forms as passively being participated in, they must be described as actively creating the material things.

    As the Timaeus shows, the Form is perfect, the sensible objects fashioned after it are not so. The Form itself is the perfect paradigmatic original which is "unparticipated" and therefore transcendent. Its image, on the other hand, is an imperfect version of the perfect paradeigma or model, is "participated" and therefore immanent.Apollodorus

    This is why Christian theology has adopted a distinction, based on Aristotelian principles, between perfect independent Forms, and the forms, or ideas, created by the human mind. The latter are imperfect, being derived from, and therefore dependent on, the material existence of the human being.

    I do not understand the Stranger to be saying that "proceeding by the method of division, we would take the kind, "beautiful things", and divide it into further types, bodies, souls, institutions, etc."
    I realize just now that I failed to type in the full quote from the Stranger. My apologies. Let me try again:
    Valentinus

    As I said already, I find that passage in The Sophist to be very ambiguous and confusing, subject to many different translations. I don't think it's a good indication of what Plato says about ideas, that's why i gave what I thought was a better one, from The Symposium. I think that passage in The Sophist represents what the stranger (who is a sophistic philosopher) is saying about forms, intentionally creating ambiguity to make it look like Forms are the same thing as kinds.

    So there is a limit to proper division and designating what combines into wholes. That relates to the Hippias passage of how a whole relates to the parts it unifies. Socrates distinguishes a difference between the whole and its parts. Hippias says Socrates is needlessly dividing things to say that.Valentinus

    But Socrates' point here is valid and very important. There is a fundamental difference between a part and a whole, involving dependence and independence, such that parts cannot be treated as wholes, and wholes cannot be treated as parts. This important difference is almost completely ignored in modern scientific enquiry, as atoms, electrons, protons, etc., which are fundamentally parts, get treated as wholes. But a part, by the definition of "part" is necessarily dependent on the whole which it is a part of, while a whole, by the definition of "whole", is in itself complete and independent, and cannot be a part of something else.

    So in Socrates' example, if each person is "one", then they are described as independent individuals which are not part of any further whole, but are themselves, in themselves, whole.. But if two people are described as "two", then each of the two are necessarily parts of a whole. Then each , therefore, is not an independent whole, but a part. And, we cannot call each of them "one", because we'd have to call each of them "half" or something like that.

    The Forms are said to be eternal and at rest. The category things that are eternal and at rest consists of Forms.Fooloso4

    This is the problem I address above, in this post. Forms are described by Plato in the Timaeus as causally active in creation. Therefore to say that Forms as conceived of By Plato, are eternal and at rest is a mistaken proposition. We must account for the reason why a thing comes into being as the very thing which it is, and not something else. The Form must be prior to the material thing and play an active, causal, role in making the thing be what it is. Therefore Forms cannot be in the category of "at rest". Forms are active causes.

    Further, eternal things must be actual and therefore cannot be passive . This is what is exposed by Aristotle's cosmological argument, anything eternal must be actual (Bk9,Ch8, 1050b). So Aristotle straightens out all this confusion caused by the deficiencies of the theory of participation, by placing forms in the category of active, or actual. This inclines the Christian Theologians to posit active independent Forms, like God and the angels.

    First, according to your argument no two things are the same. No two dogs are the same dog, but all dogs are the same in so far as they are dogs. It is this sameness that is fundamental to Forms. To be the same does not mean to be identical.Fooloso4

    By the law of identity, "same" refers to the very same, particular thing. A thing is the same as itself. That's what "same" means by the law of identity, one and the same, no two distinct things are the same.

    No two dogs are the same dog, but all dogs are the same in so far as they are dogs. It is this sameness that is fundamental to Forms.Fooloso4

    Again, I really think that this is a mistaken proposition. Any particular thing has a form unique to itself. This is what Aristotle describes with the law of identity, This form which a particular material thing has, is complete with accidentals (what the human description, using kinds, or "forms" in that sense does not include". This means there are two distinct meanings of "form", the form which a particular has, and the form which a human being attributes to the thing in description. The latter being a description of kinds. What the latter does not include is what we call accidentals. So the latter sense of "form" does not involve "sameness", it involves similarity. And "similar" indicates a type of difference, not sameness, which by the law of identity is a things relation to itself.. So "sameness" in the philosophically disciplined sense, is reserved for the former sense of "form", what an individual has unique to oneself.

    You are confusing the Forms 'Rest' and 'Change' with things that are at rest or change.Fooloso4

    This is a typical example of Parmenidean sophistry. Next you will say that 'Change" is at rest, because change is some eternal unchanging form, and argue some absurdity from this contradiction.
  • Apollodorus
    2.7k
    This is the problem with the theory of participation, as addressed in the Timaeus. Forms, as prior to the material things which follow from them in creation, must be actively involved in the act of creation, as causes. Therefore we cannot accurately describe the Forms as passively being participated in, they must be described as actively creating the material things.Metaphysician Undercover

    Good point. However, to begin with, we need to establish what is meant by “create” or, rather, who creates.

    The way I see it, it is not the Forms that create the material things. According to Plato, the Cosmos was created by the Creator-God by means of Forms. If the Forms were to create anything then there would be a multitude of creators and this is not what Plato is saying.

    The creator of the Cosmos is God’s Creative Intelligence or the One in its aspect as Creative Intelligence (Nous Poietikos):

    Midway between the Being which is indivisible and remains always the same and the Being which is transient and divisible in bodies, He blended a third form of Being compounded out of the twain, that is to say, out of the Same and the Other; and in like manner He compounded it midway between that one of them which is indivisible and that one which is divisible in bodies. And He took the three of them, and blent them all together into one form, by forcing the Other into union with the Same, in spite of its being naturally difficult to mix ... (Timaeus 35a-b ff.)
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.1k
    The way I see it, it is not the Forms that create the material things. According to Plato, the Cosmos was created by the Creator-God by means of Forms. If the Forms were to create anything then there would be a multitude of creators and this is not what Plato is saying.Apollodorus

    To say that the Creator-God creates by means of Forms, is not to deny that the Forms are themselves active causes. In fact, the tools, in this case the Forms, must be themselves causes, or else they would have no role in the creative process. The human being creates through the means of machinery and all sorts of tools, but that does not mean that the tools are not active causes. And, if there is a multitude of tools being used, as distinct causes, this does not imply that there is more than one person using those tools.
  • Apollodorus
    2.7k
    To say that the Creator-God creates by means of Forms, is not to deny that the Forms are themselves active causes. In fact, the tools, in this case the Forms, must be themselves causes, or else they would have no role in the creative process. The human being creates through the means of machinery and all sorts of tools, but that does not mean that the tools are not active causes. And, if there is a multitude of tools being used, as distinct causes, this does not imply that there is more than one person using those tools.Metaphysician Undercover

    That is correct. I am only saying that the Forms cannot properly be said to create - in any case not on their own - as it is the Creative Intelligence which creates by means of Forms. Humans, do indeed, create things through tools and machinery but it is still the humans who create, not the tools or machinery.

    As regards Forms, they certainly are one of the causes involved in creation. The question is their exact role in the process or their relation to the actual creator, viz., the One in its aspect as Creative Intelligence.

    In other words, if they cooperate in creation, which appears to be the case, in what capacity do they do so?

    One way of looking at it is that Forms exist within the Intellect in which case they are inseparable from it and if they act at all, they do so in conjunction with Intellect.

    Plato mentions various types of causes, among which the primary are always associated with Intelligence:

    .... Now all these are among the auxiliary Causes which God employs as his ministers in perfecting, so far as possible, the Form of the Most Good; but by the most of men they are supposed to be not auxiliary but primary causes of all things—cooling and heating, solidifying and dissolving, and producing all such effects. Yet they are incapable of possessing reason and thought for any purpose. For, as we must affirm, the one and only existing thing which has the property of acquiring thought is Soul and Soul is invisible, whereas fire and water and earth and air are all visible bodies; and the lover of thought and knowledge must needs pursue first the causes which belong to the Intelligent Nature, and put second all such as are of the class of things which are moved by others, and themselves, in turn, move others because they cannot help it. And we also must act likewise. We must declare both kinds of Causes, but keep distinct those which, with the aid of thought, are artificers of things fair and good, and all those which are devoid of intelligence and produce always accidental and irregular effects ... (Tim. 46c-e).
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.1k
    That is correct. I am only saying that the Forms cannot properly be said to create - in any case not on their own - as it is the Creative Intelligence which creates by means of Forms.Apollodorus

    OK, but the point that I was making was that the theory of participation proved to be inadequate because it represented the Forms as passively participated in, when in reality they are active in causation. This is relevant to what Fooloso4 was saying about Forms being eternally at rest. When Forms are understood as being passively participated in, they appear as something eternally at rest. But when they are understood as active in causation, it is impossible that they are at rest.

    One way of looking at it is that Forms exist within the Intellect in which case they are inseparable from it and if they act at all, they do so in conjunction with Intellect.Apollodorus

    It is doubtful that Forms are inseparable from the intellect, in an absolute way. In the act of creation, the form which exists in the intellect comes to exist in the material object. So for example, the form which a building has, is in some way "the form", which was in the architect's vision. But here we have to be careful about the use of "same", as I explained to fooloso4. Even so, a material object has a "form" proper to itself, as stipulated by the law of identity, and it appears like that form, being the effect of the Creator's act of creation, rather than a cause in the act of creation, is independent from the Creator's intellect.

    Plato mentions various types of causes, among which the primary are always associate with Intelligence:Apollodorus

    That's a very relevant passage. Notice how he says the causes which most men consider as primary (the efficient causes dealt with in science), are really secondary causes. They are secondary because they do not act with reason, like Soul does, so Soul employs these as auxiliary causes. The first causes belong to the Intelligent Nature, causing what is good, whereas accidents are attributed to the secondary type of causes
  • Apollodorus
    2.7k
    But when they are understood as active in causation, it is impossible that they are at rest.Metaphysician Undercover

    Sure. But I’m not saying that Forms are “at rest”. On the contrary, Forms seem to be nothing more than a particular function of intelligence (in which case they are not separable from the Intellect within which they have their existence). And, personally, I find the idea of “motionless intelligence” hard to imagine, a bit like “dead soul”, really.

    At the same time, as I pointed out earlier, something that is outside the spacio-temporal realm cannot be susceptible to either rest or motion in a conventional sense. Presumably, there is some form of "activity", but it wouldn’t be what we normally understand by that term.

    In any case, Forms and Intellect seem to stand in a relation of cognitive identity to one another. At the end of the day, Forms are not ultimate realities and they depend on an ultimate principle. They have no separate existence.

    As regards the theory of participation, I tend not to find it quite as problematic as others do. After all, we are talking about things that humans have no direct experience of. And I can see no evidence that Plato’s views on the Forms have been conclusively refuted by anyone.

    That's a very relevant passage. Notice how he says the causes which most men consider as primary (the efficient causes dealt with in science), are really secondary causes. They are secondary because they do not act with reason, like Soul does, so Soul employs these as auxiliary causes. The first causes belong to the Intelligent Nature, causing what is good, whereas accidents are attributed to the secondary type of causesMetaphysician Undercover

    That’s what I meant. There are causes that operate with Nous and others that don’t. The real issue is how to classify or prioritize them. According to Proclus and others, there are at least six different causes of which some are primary and others are contributory.

    Primary Causes (aitiai):

    Productive/efficient (poietikon)
    Paradigmatic (paradeigmatikon)
    Final (telikon)

    Contributory causes (synaitia):

    Formal (eidos)
    Material (hyle)
    Instrumental (organikon)

    But what Plato is really saying is that the ultimate cause (aition) of the Cosmos or Universe is the One in its aspect as Creative Intelligence, but that for a more precise human understanding several causes (aitiai) are introduced.

    Obviously, the Absolute has no need of human explanation for its activities or existence. Explanation(s) is for the sake of man that he may grasp a higher truth and elevate himself to its level. Otherwise put, for lower intelligence to understand the higher intelligence that is its source and return to it. In Plato, everything starts with intelligence and ends with intelligence.

    In fact, the Parmenides (127e ff.) expressly states that the purpose of introducing Forms is to solve the puzzle raised by things being both one and many, and like and unlike. The puzzle is a human one and different solutions may be deemed satisfactory or otherwise by different minds. So, it all boils down to how we choose to classify the causes and how we, humans, think they relate to one another. But this is not necessarily how things are from a higher perspective ....
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.1k
    Sure. But I’m not saying that Forms are “at rest”. On the contrary, Forms seem to be nothing more than a particular function of intelligence (in which case they are not separable from the Intellect within which they have their existence). And, personally, I find the idea of “motionless intelligence” hard to imagine, a bit like “dead soul”, really.

    At the same time, as I pointed out earlier, something that is outside the spacio-temporal realm cannot be susceptible to either rest or motion in a conventional sense. Presumably, there is some form of "activity", but it wouldn’t be what we normally understand by that term.

    In any case, Forms and Intellect seem to stand in a relation of cognitive identity to one another. At the end of the day, Forms are not ultimate realities and they depend on an ultimate principle. They have no separate existence.
    Apollodorus

    For the sake of argument, I'll assume that forms are dependent on an intellect for their existence, and cannot be separate. You know that's problematic, because each individual person has one's own intellect, therefore one's own forms, which are proper to one's own understanding of things, and so we have no "Forms", the capitalization signifying something independent from individuals, and proper to humanity as a whole.

    From this principle you propose, we have no unified human "body of knowledge", only the knowledge which each individual has. Furthermore, the communication of ideas becomes a very difficult problem, because we cannot say that one idea is shared between us through the means of communication. So to be consistent with what you propose, we need to deny the reality of what is represented by our common way of speaking, that we share ideas, we all have the same idea of "two", the same idea of "square", etc..

    This proposal of yours, may or may not be consistent with Plato, depending on how you account for the reality of independent Forms. Plato was concerned with independent Forms, and the difficulty he approached was the effort required to bring your perspective, that forms are properly dependent on an intellect, to be compatible with the idea of independent Forms. As much as Plato elucidated this problem, and pointed the direction toward resolution, I tend to believe as Fooloso4 has said, that Plato exposed the problem, but did not resolve it.

    This is why, following Plato, we have a division, the direction taken by Aristotle, and the direction taken by Platonists and finally that of Neo-Platonists. Aristotle assumed to have a solution, which involved two distinct definitions of "form". We have "form" in the sense of formula, and this is dependent on the human intellect as you say, but he also proposes that every particular thing has a "form" which is proper to the thing itself. The latter sense signifies a form which is independent from the human mind, so we could capitalize "Form" and we can conclude that if these independent Forms are dependent on an intellect.it is a divine intellect.

    This is the direction Christian theology took, following Thomas Aquinas. There are two types of forms. The forms of the human intellect are deficient, because the human mind is dependent on the soul's union with the material body. This dependency on the material existence of the body inhibits our capacity to know the true form of the particular, the individual, the whole, the one. On the other hand, the separate or independent Form, which is the form of the particular, one or individual, is dependent on a divine mind of an angel, or God Himself, for its existence.

    And I can see no evidence that Plato’s views on the Forms have been conclusively refuted by anyone.Apollodorus

    I don't think it is possible to conclusively refute Plato's views on Forms. This is for the reasons that Fooloso4 points to, Plato does not propose a coherent theory of Forms. He exposes problems with the theories which were current at his time, pointing to incoherencies and incompatibility with the scientific knowledge of his time, but does not propose a solution. This is why Aristotle claims to refute Pythagorean idealism, and what he calls "some Platonists". What is taken to be "Platonism", at that time, has already become divided, dependent on interpretation, and this is prior to the problem we have today with translation, which only increases the divide. One might argue that the true followers of Plato (Platonists) adopted a position of skepticism, and because of this we cannot claim that they have a "view on the Forms" to refute.

    But what Plato is really saying is that the ultimate cause (aition) of the Cosmos or Universe is the One in its aspect as Creative Intelligence, but that for a more precise human understanding several causes (aitiai) are introduced.Apollodorus

    As far as I can tell, you have still not demonstrated to me, where you derive this idea from Plato, that "the One", is the creative force of the Cosmos. He refers to a divine mind, and a creator, but I don't see that it is consistently called "the One".
  • Apollodorus
    2.7k
    if these independent Forms are dependent on an intellect it is a divine intellect.Metaphysician Undercover

    Correct. “Intellect” means the Divine Intellect. The Divine Intellect contains the Forms, the human intellect thinks or philosophizes about the Forms (until it has elevated itself to a level from where it can directly grasp or “see” them). The Forms are independent of human intellects but dependent on the Divine Intellect of which they are a part. The Creator-God who creates the Cosmos is the Divine Intellect.

    Individual human souls are each endowed with an intellect (nous) of its own that contains something of the Divine Intellect within it. In addition, according to Plato’s Theory of Recollection (anamnesis), due to its pre-existence, a soul possesses latent knowledge or memory of knowledge it once had, including of Forms, and this is reactivated in the right circumstances and under the right stimuli.

    Plato does not propose a coherent theory of Forms. He exposes problems with the theories which were current at his time, pointing to incoherencies and incompatibility with the scientific knowledge of his time, but does not propose a solution. This is why Aristotle claims to refute Pythagorean idealism, and what he calls "some Platonists". What is taken to be "Platonism", at that time, has already become divided, dependent on interpretation, and this is prior to the problem we have today with translation, which only increases the divide.Metaphysician Undercover

    If we look at some of Aristotle’s criticisms of Plato’s teachings, it can immediately be seen that they make no sense.

    For example, Forms are supposed to be causally inert and so cannot explain change or generation:

    To say that the Forms are patterns, and that other things participate in them, is to use empty phrases and poetical metaphors; for what is it that fashions things on the model of the Ideas (Aristot. Meta. 991a)

    The obvious answer is the Creator-God or Divine Intellect (Plat. Tim. 28c, 29a).

    In everything that is generated matter is present, and one part is matter and the other form. Is there then some sphere besides the particular spheres, or some house besides the bricks? Surely no individual thing would ever have been generated if Form had existed thus independently … Obviously therefore the cause which consists of the Forms (in the sense in which some speak of them, assuming that there are certain entities besides particulars), in respect at least of generation and destruction, is useless; nor, for this reason at any rate, should they be regarded as self-subsistent substances (Aristot. Meta. 1033)

    However, Plato does not say that a Form is a substance. A Form is not a substance but a characteristic, etc.

    So, it does look like Aristotle’s criticisms refer to earlier, incomplete teachings of Plato, or indeed, to positions held by different currents within the Academy. Or he may have had other reasons.

    But you are quite right, we cannot “refute” any of Plato’s supposed theories without an exact knowledge of what those theories entail. A small missing detail can cause even the most credible “refutation” to fail. A large dose of caution seems advisable and not too much emphasis should be placed on Aristotle’s criticisms – unless there is some anti-Platonist agenda. :smile:

    Besides, what matters at the end of the day is not whether an argument is 100% watertight but what Plato is trying to tell us. Logic for Plato is just a means to an end. Logic is a particular modification of intelligence. And Plato is not particularly interested in particulars. What counts in the Platonic project is the Absolute or the One. The Platonic philosopher must go beyond logic which is a product of the human mind and elevate himself to the plane of Universal Intelligence or Divine Intellect itself.

    One might argue that the true followers of Plato (Platonists) adopted a position of skepticism, and because of this we cannot claim that they have a "view on the Forms" to refute.Metaphysician Undercover

    This is entirely possible. There is some evidence to suggest that under Arcesilaus and others the Academy took a turn in the direction of skepticism. This does not necessarily mean that Plato himself was a skeptic, though. Only that his school went through a period of skepticism.

    As far as I can tell, you have still not demonstrated to me, where you derive this idea from Plato, that "the One", is the creative force of the Cosmos. He refers to a divine mind, and a creator, but I don't see that it is consistently called "the One".Metaphysician Undercover

    For obvious reasons, Plato cannot be expected to give a detailed account of the One, and he tends to refer to it indirectly, using the language of analogy and myth. His intention is not to provide his readers with an exact description of the One, but to point them in its direction. Still, I believe that he provides sufficient information for us to form a fairly clear idea of what he is talking about.

    1. The One is the First Principle which is “beyond being” and “beyond essence”.
    The One cannot be many (Parm. 137c).
    The One is without parts, without beginning or end, unlimited, formless, etc. (Parm. 137d-e).

    2. The Good is One over many Forms (Analogy of the Sun) and beyond being. Therefore it must be fully real and creative (Rep. 509b).
    The Forms are good in virtue of the Form of the Good.
    Plato predicates “good” and “one” of all the Forms.
    Therefore the Good is the One.

    3. The Good is the cause (aitia) of knowledge and therefore a form of intelligence.
    The Creator-God who is called Maker and Father of the Universe (Poietes kai Pater toude tou pantos, Tim. 28c) and endows the Universe with intelligence is identical with Intellect or Nous: “All the wise agree that Nous is king for us of heaven and earth" (Phileb. 28c6-8). Nous or Intelligence arranges, orders, and rules the Cosmos (Phileb. 30c), etc.

    I think that when all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle have been put together, the logical conclusion is that what Plato is describing is one ultimate reality that is the cause of the Cosmos or Universe. Accordingly, a hierarchy of causes may be identified as corresponding to the various aspects or manifestations of the One:

    The One is (a) efficient cause as the One, (b) paradigmatic cause as Intellect and Forms, (c) final cause as the Good, (d) formal cause as Creator-God (e) material cause as the Dyad, etc.

    The One, which is infinite and formless, imposes limit upon itself by means of the Dyad of (1) Unlimited (apeiron) and (2) Limit (peras), and then through (3) the interaction of the two (“Mixed” or meikte), it produces Ideal Ratios or Proportions (Forms) that become the content of (4) Intellect (Nous). The Intellect, the fourth element, which is nothing but Creative Intelligence with Forms, brings forth the Universe (Phileb. 27b-31b).

    So, Intelligence is the creative force of the universe and the three basic aspects or levels of reality are:

    1. The One a.k.a. the Good.

    2. The Creator-God or Creative Intelligence.

    3. The Cosmos or Universe which is a living being endowed with an intelligent soul.

    This is entirely consistent with the inner logic of Plato’s metaphysical system. Plato says that whenever inquiring into intelligible things (e.g., Forms), the philosopher must always rise to the first principle (arche) and apprehend everything in conjunction with that. He reduces the Forms to the transcendent first principle of the One and then deduces all things from that (Rep. 511b-d).

    Plato inherited Socrates’ constant quest for the truth, but whilst Socrates’ main concern was ethics having the Good as final end, Plato focuses on metaphysics which has the One for its ultimate goal. But the Good and the One are the same one ultimate cause and creative force of the universe.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.1k
    Correct. “Intellect” means the Divine Intellect. The Divine Intellect contains the Forms, the human intellect thinks or philosophizes about the Forms (until it has elevated itself to a level from where it can directly grasp or “see” them). The Forms are independent of human intellects but dependent on the Divine Intellect of which they are a part. The Creator-God who creates the Cosmos is the Divine Intellect.Apollodorus

    Here's the problem I have with these principles. The "intellect" which we know about is the human intellect. And this intellect is a property, or attribute of the soul. The human intellect is deficient in its capacities because of the soul's union with the material body, as explained by Aquinas. But there is also a need to account for the reality of the independent Forms, as we've discussed.

    The question is, why would we assume an "intellect" to account for the independent Forms? The "intellect" as we know it is something which follows from the soul's union with the material body, it's posterior to that union, and dependent on it, but here we are talking about "Forms" which are prior to the soul's union with a material body. So why would we think that this is a type of "intellect"? When we look back in time this way, we see the soul as prior to the intellect, and we see that the soul somehow takes part in the independent Forms. To move further, and look to see what supports the independent Forms, why would we turn back around, to look toward an "intellect", when "intellect" refers to something posterior to the soul, not prior to it?

    Individual human souls are each endowed with an intellect (nous) of its own that contains something of the Divine Intellect within it.Apollodorus

    So this doesn't really make sense to me. The human soul has an intellect as an attribute. And the human soul has a connection to something Divine, the independent Forms. We might even say that the soul uses the intellect as a means toward understanding the Forms. But the connection is between the soul and the Forms, not the intellect and the Forms, and this is why the Forms are so hard for the intellect to understand. Furthermore, the intellect creates its own forms, which are categorically different from the independent Forms, and since they both have the same name "forms", this confuses the matter. So as much as the human soul has a direct connection to, or relation with, something Divine, which we call "Forms", I don't think it's correct to call this Divine reality an "intellect".

    If we look at some of Aristotle’s criticisms of Plato’s teachings, it can immediately be seen that they make no sense.Apollodorus

    I wouldn't say this. I would say that it takes a lot of work to understand Aristotle's criticisms of Plato, but once the effort has been made they make a lot of sense. For me, it required a lot of reading of Thomas Aquinas, someone who made that effort. Then I had to return to Aristotle to reread and confirm that Aquinas' interpretations actually were consistent with Aristotle's words in context, and in some instances right back to Plato.

    The problem is that the idea of independent Forms was a new idea at Plato's time, so it was very confused and not well worked out. Prior to Plato there was an idea of an independent soul, which was supposed to be immortal. But the immortal soul needed logical support (substance), and this was proposed with eternal "Forms". But the issue was very confused by the fact that human ideas, "forms" are not eternal. So now there was two distinct types of ideas, human ideas, dependent on human minds, and independent ideas which are supposed to be eternal. This is what Aristotle describes in the passage from 1033 which you refer to. Independent forms are the forms of particulars, and if independent "Forms" are supposed to be something other than particulars, these "Forms" cannot account for the reality of particular things.

    And Plato is not particularly interested in particulars. What counts in the Platonic project is the Absolute or the One.Apollodorus

    Don't you see this as a contradiction? The "One" by the fact that it is one, is a particular. So to say that Plato was interested in the One, but had no interest in particulars cannot be true.

    This is entirely possible. There is some evidence to suggest that under Arcesilaus and others the Academy took a turn in the direction of skepticism. This does not necessarily mean that Plato himself was a skeptic, though. Only that his school went through a period of skepticism.Apollodorus

    The character in Plato's dialogues named Socrates, was definitely a skeptic.

    For obvious reasons, Plato cannot be expected to give a detailed account of the One, and he tends to refer to it indirectly, using the language of analogy and myth. His intention is not to provide his readers with an exact description of the One, but to point them in its direction. Still, I believe that he provides sufficient information for us to form a fairly clear idea of what he is talking about.Apollodorus

    There are two very distinct meanings of "one", as the first in an order or hierarchy, and as a unit, particular, a whole, or individual.

    1. The One is the First Principle which is “beyond being” and “beyond essence”.
    The One cannot be many (Parm. 137c).
    The One is without parts, without beginning or end, unlimited, formless, etc. (Parm. 137d-e).
    Apollodorus

    Here, the two are conflated, and called the One.

    2. The Good is One over many Forms (Analogy of the Sun) and beyond being. Therefore it must be fully real and creative (Rep. 509b).
    The Forms are good in virtue of the Form of the Good.
    Plato predicates “good” and “one” of all the Forms.
    Therefore the Good is the One.
    Apollodorus

    Plato does not equate "the good" with "the One" at this point in The Republic. There is no mention of "the One". That's a blatant misrepresentation.

    This is entirely consistent with the inner logic of Plato’s metaphysical system. Plato says that whenever inquiring into intelligible things (e.g., Forms), the philosopher must always rise to the first principle (arche) and apprehend everything in conjunction with that. He reduces the Forms to the transcendent first principle of the One and then deduces all things from that (Rep. 511b-d).Apollodorus

    Nor is there any mention of "the One" here.
12345Next
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.