• Apollodorus
    2.5k
    You don't seem to be grasping the issue. The body only exists as an arrangement of parts, you said so yourself, above.Metaphysician Undercover

    The truth of the matter is that there is no interest, desire, or intent to grasp the issue.

    Socrates in the dialogue explains how things come to be from their opposites - from cold to hot, from asleep to awake, from being alive to being dead and from being dead to being alive, etc. (71b - d).

    If we apply this to this thread, how did it come about?

    It came about from its opposite, viz. my thread on Reincarnation.

    Someone didn't like my thread because it implied belief in the soul and they commissioned this thread to "demonstrate" - by means of Straussian sophistry and nihilism - that belief in soul is unfounded:

    At Banno’s suggestion I am starting a thread on Plato’s Phaedo.Fooloso4

    In other words, this thread is not about Socrates or Plato but about some people's atheist agenda.
  • Fooloso4
    2.6k
    Saying that the soul is like a harmony, or attunement, is to assume that there is such a thing as "the soul" which is being talked about.Metaphysician Undercover

    Right and this is what Simmias says:

    ... our soul is as it were, a blend and tuning of these very things, whenever, that is, they're blended with one another in a beautiful and measured way. (86c)

    Simmias could have insisted that there is no such thing as the soul,Metaphysician Undercover

    He could have said that if he was denying that there is such a thing as a soul, but he does not deny it. The Pythagorean concept of the soul as presented in his argument is that it is not some separate thing. Cebes and Simmias are said to have "spent time with Philolaus.(61d) It is Philolaus who is the "somebody" who might give the account Simmias does. (85e-86a)

    From the Wiki article Pythagoreanism:

    The surviving texts of the Pythagorean philosopher Philolaus indicate that ... the soul was life and a harmony of physical elements. As such the soul passed away when certain arrangements of these elements ceased to exist.[53]

    Therefore the thing which directs the parts is necessarily prior to the bodyMetaphysician Undercover

    According to Simmias' argument there is nothing prior to the body that directs its parts. The body is self-organizing.

    ... which would also be composed of an arrangement of parts, ad infinitum.Metaphysician Undercover

    Right, and that is the problem with your argument. Not only do you assume that all the parts together must be arranged, but for the same reason each of the parts individually must be arranged. If the soul arranges all of the parts together what arranges each of the individual parts? It can't be the soul because then the soul would be the cause of the body.
  • Wayfarer
    13.6k
    The question of the soul is the very thing that will be the focus of the discussion, but argument is made that at death the soul is alone by itself. It is simply accepted from the start as a given.Fooloso4

    Every argument starts with axioms, and as we now accept, not all axioms can be proven. In Socrates' culture, belief in the soul was generally accepted, so was axiomatic, one might say. In secular culture the opposite is the case, but it's still a question of belief, as today's science is created on the assumption that no such powers or entities exist, and then proceeds to frame its approach on the basis of that assumption, such that inside that framework it is impossible to disprove, save by stepping outside it. (c.f. Kuhn's 'paradigms'.)

    A reborn soul is one that has previously died. It exists in Hades as a dead soul.Fooloso4

    'Dead soul' is an oxymoron. If the soul is immortal then it cannot be dead, although it can dwell in different planes of existence (sometimes for aeons).

    Socrates shifts from things perceived to “the equal itself”.

    "Then we must previously have known the equal, before that time when we first, on seeing the equals, thought that all of them were striving to be like the equal but fell short of it. "(75a)

    It is through the combination of sense and thought that we perceive that things are equal.
    Fooloso4

    Stepping outside the framework of strict textual intepretation, consider that the concept of 'equal' represents a fundamental breakthrough in the development of abstract consciousness and reason. Being able to see that one thing equals another, or that two numbers equal a third number, and so on, are easy for us to take for granted, but the discovery of this intellectual skill is fundamental to arithmetic, geometery, language and rational thought generally.

    Again from outside the explanatory framework of Platonism, couldn't this idea of 'recollection' be an attempt to fathom such innate abilities as the ability to acquire language, to learn, to make mathematical discoveries, and the many other abilities that reason provides? Consider, at the dawn of civilization, how intoxicating the discovery of the power of reason must have been - how it promised release from creaturely existence and never-ending toil, the discoveries of the mathematical sages, such as Archimedes. This power must have seemed miraculous (whereas us jaded moderns nowadays rationalise it in terms of the pragmatic criteria of 'adaptation').

    Perhaps the ancients had an intuitive wonder at the nature of reason which appeared to them as recollection of what must have been previously known. They certainly saw it as an innate power, contra today's empiricist dogma of the mind being a 'blank slate'.

    The other problem with the cycle of opposites argument is that obviously the living come from the living.Fooloso4

    Implicit in Platonic dualism is the belief that the soul is 'joined' to the body. So I don't think Plato would seek to deny the role of the reproductive act! But what makes the being alive is the same as what withdraws from the body at death. Other traditional philosophies have an account of this - it is why Christians oppose abortion. Of course that doesn't make it right, but it is characteristic of belief in the soul.

    Obviously, not everything that is unseen is unchanging. More to the point, Socrates talks about such things as the corruption of the soul "polluted and impure" (81b) and the soul of a human being becoming the soul of an ass or some other animal or insect. (82a-b) So, the claim that the soul is unchanging is questionable at the least.Fooloso4

    One of the things that got me interested in Platonism was the sudden realisation - an epiphany, I like to think - about the nature of number. (This was the subject of the first question I posted on philosophy forums.) Very briefly, everything in the sensable domain is composed of parts and comes into and goes out of existence, so is temporally delimited. Number, on the other hand, is not composed of parts (or any parts other than numbers) and neither goes into or out of existence (hence, 'imperishable'.) That, in my opinion, is why Platonic epistemology believes that 'dianoia' is of a higher order than 'opinion concerning visible things' - because it provides apodictic certainty that is not obtainable from knowledge gained by the mediation of sense. (See Augustine on Intelligible Objects.)

    The 'impurity' of the soul is owed to its attachment to sense-impressions and sensual pleasures. It causes a sense of false identification with the sensory realm, with the domain of perishable things and transient pleasures. You will find exact analogies for this attitude in Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, in fact, it is universal in pre-modern philosophy, although of course is profoundly at odds with much modern philosophy.

    The snow does not retreat, it melts.Fooloso4

    However this is followed by the qualification:

    "The fact is,” said he, “in some such cases, that not only the abstract idea itself has a right to the same name through all time, but also something else, which is not the idea, but which always, whenever it exists, has the form of the idea." — 103e

    I take this to mean that although snow melts, wherever snow exists, it instantiates 'the idea of cold', because it has the form of the idea of cold.

    The failure of the arguments does not mean that the soul is not immortal, it simply means that Socrates has not shown that it is. He says it is worth the risk of believing that it is, but if the philosopher seeks truth she does not settle for a belief. What the soul is and what its fate may be remains unknown.Fooloso4

    I accept that many people will find the idea of the soul archaic and anachronistic and that these arguments will fail to persuade them otherwise. Indeed there's a lot of people who think Plato has been superseded, that it's all ancient history. But I don't accept that the texts show that Plato himself doesn't believe them. I think the difficulty is that while Plato is recognised as one of the foundational figures of Western culture, this aspect of his thought is impossible to reconcile with this secular age. That's what I think is the underlying motivation in many modern intepretations.

    There's also another factor which I have to state, which invariably gets a lot of pushback. It is the idea of the 'ascent to truth'. This example is from a Catholic philosopher, but I could find similar passages from other traditions:

    Our minds do not—contrary to many views currently popular—create truth. Rather, they must be conformed to the truth of things given in creation. And such conformity is possible only as the moral virtues become deeply embedded in our character, a slow and halting process. We have lost the awareness of the close bond that links the knowing of truth to the condition of purity. That is, in order to know the truth we must become persons of a certain sort. The full transformation of character that we need will, in fact, finally require the virtues of faith, hope, and love. And this transformation will not necessarily—perhaps not often—be experienced by us as easy or painless. Hence the transformation of self that we must undergo perhaps resembles passing through something akin to dying.

    A philosopher, practising for death.
  • Apollodorus
    2.5k
    We cannot say that the fundamental parts are bodies because we do not understand what these parts are.Metaphysician Undercover

    The body here is thought of as consisting of the four elements:

    And I fancy, Socrates, that it must have occurred to your own mind that we [Simmias, Echecrates, etc.] believe the soul to be something after this fashion; that our body is strung and held together by heat, cold, moisture, dryness, and the like, and the soul is a mixture and a harmony of these same elements (86b – c).

    The elements and their properties were represented by a diagram with one square inscribed in the other, with the corners of the main one being the elements air, fire, earth, water, and the corners of the inscribed one being the properties hot, dry, cold, wet. When the properties are read diagonally across the inscribed square, they are “hot – cold” and “dry – wet”.

    Four Classical Elements – Wikipedia

    Being non-composite, the soul of course cannot be made of any elements. Therefore it cannot be a harmony of elements or parts. Therefore Simmias' analogy fails.
  • Fooloso4
    2.6k
    In Socrates' culture, belief in the soul was generally accepted, so was axiomatic, one might say.Wayfarer

    Cebes later calls this assumption into question. (70a)

    'Dead soul' is an oxymoron.Wayfarer

    It is, that's the point. Based on the argument that the living come from the dead. He skirts around the problem:

    the souls of men exist in Hades when they have died ... living people are born again from those who have died ... living people are born from the dead
    . If the soul was alive then it would not be true that living things come from dead things.

    Stepping outside the framework of strict textual intepretation, consider that the concept of 'equal' represents a fundamental breakthrough in the development of abstract consciousness and reason.Wayfarer

    Does it? If so then more and less and same also represents a fundamental breakthrough in the development of abstract consciousness and reason. Only it may not be so abstract. It is something that can be seen. It is a practical skill. Primates can count.

    Number, on the other hand, is not composed of parts (or any parts other than numbers) and neither goes into or out of existence (hence, 'imperishable'.)Wayfarer

    See Jacob Klein's "Greek Mathematical Thought and the Origin of Algebra". Number for the Greeks was always an amount of something. It is the count. It tells us how many.

    I take this to mean that although snow melts, wherever snow exists, it instantiates 'the idea of cold', because it has the form of the idea of cold.Wayfarer

    Right, not only the Form Cold has that name, snow too has the name cold. The question is, what happens to the snow? As it melts it becomes less and less cold.

    I accept that many people will find the idea of the soul archaic and anachronistic and that these arguments will fail to persuade them otherwise. Indeed there's a lot of people who think Plato has been superseded, that it's all ancient history.Wayfarer

    I still remember my intro to philosophy class as a freshman. The professor told us the week before that next time we were reading Plato's Phaedo and that it proves the immortality of the soul. I was very much looking forward to the class because this was something that interested me and that I thought was important. I was receptive to the idea but not convinced. When reading the dialogue I thought I might have missed something that would be brought out in class. The next week I was disappointed to find that the dialogue did not do what was promised. When we later read the Republic I was for several years convinced the Forms existed and that through transcendent experience could be found.

    I have related all of this in order to show that my reading of Plato was not based on pre-existing opinions. If anything, I was far more inclined toward the discovery of mystical truths.
  • Wayfarer
    13.6k
    If so then more and less and same also represents a fundamental breakthrough in the development of abstract consciousness and reason. Only it may not be so abstract. It is something that can be seen. It is a practical skill. Primates can count.Fooloso4

    I am nonplussed when people are inclined to equate h. sapiens reasoning ability with other animals. Crows and monkeys can count insofar as if they see 3 people going into a banana grove and two coming out, they know one is left. But anything more and they can't tell. You can call that counting if you like, but they will never understand the concept of prime.

    When h. sapiens evolved to the point of being able to count, reason, speak, tell stories, paint, and so on, then it opens up horizons of being that are not perceptible to other animals. That's why I agree with the Aristotelian designation of man as the rational animal. I see an ontological distinction between humans and animals - not on account of 'special creation', as I fully accept the evolutionary account of human origins, but because of the ability of the human to see beyond the sensable. I think this is deprecated in modern philosophy because it is hard to reconcile with Darwinian materialism. (This is the subject of Nagel's book Mind and Cosmos.)

    See Jacob Klein's "Greek Mathematical Thought and the Origin of Algebra".Fooloso4

    I have started on that, courtesy of your previous recommendation. I will have a lot more reading time on my hands soon.

    The reference to the living being born from the dead is a clear reference to the indo-european myth of reincarnation in my view. As already discussed this was characteristic of Orphism.

    My remarks about Plato and 'this secular age' were not directed at you in particular, it's a general observation. I understand that our interpretations are at odds, but I have appreciated the opportunity of explaining my approach.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9k
    According to Simmias' argument there is nothing prior to the body that directs its parts. The body is self-organizing.Fooloso4

    These two ideas, that there is such a thing as the soul, and that each part of the body is itself a "self-organizing" entity, is what Socrates demonstrates are incompatible. If there is such a thing as "the soul", it is what directs the parts, to make a unity, a whole, the body, therefore the parts are not self-organizing.

    Right, and that is the problem with your argument. Not only do you assume that all the parts together must be arranged, but for the same reason each of the parts individually must be arranged. If the soul arranges all of the parts together what arranges each of the individual parts? It can't be the soul because then the soul would be the cause of the body.Fooloso4

    Huh? This makes no sense. The argument leads to the conclusion that the soul must be prior to the body, then you conclude "It can't be the soul because then the soul would be the cause of the body." When the logic tells you that the soul must be the cause of the body, what premise tells you that the soul can't be the cause of the body, so you may conclude that the logic is flawed? When the logic gives you a conclusion which you do not like, due to some prejudice, that is not reason to reject the logic, it's reason to reject your prejudice.
  • Fooloso4
    2.6k
    I see an ontological distinction between humans and animals - not on account of 'special creation', as I fully accept the evolutionary account of human origins, but because of the ability of the human to see beyond the sensable.Wayfarer

    I see it first as a matter of degree rather than a difference in kind, and second as a difference that grew considerably due to the power of conceptual thinking, which is not simply a matter of difference in capability but of cultural history, In other words, the difference expands not simply because humans are different but because of the power of conceptual thought which develops as a second nature.

    I have started on that, courtesy of your previous recommendation.Wayfarer

    Not an easy book but one well worth the effort.

    My remarks about Plato and 'this secular age' were not directed at you in particular, it's a general observation.Wayfarer

    Understood. I agree with you that we always bring our own assumptions to our reading of the text. I also think that the Platonic dialogues allow us to examine our assumptions.

    I understand that our interpretations are at odds, but I have appreciated the opportunity of explaining my approach.Wayfarer

    I appreciate that our differences can be discussed respectfully.
  • Fooloso4
    2.6k
    These two ideas, that there is such a thing as the soul, and that each part of the body is itself a "self-organizing" entity, is what Socrates demonstrates are incompatible.Metaphysician Undercover

    It is what he argues against. He does this by changing the terms of the argument. His argument is based on a pre-existing soul, something that is not part of Simmias' argument.

    The argument leads to the conclusion that the soul must be prior to the bodyMetaphysician Undercover

    Just the opposite. Immediately prior to Socrates' refutation, Simmias says that he has been persuaded that:

    “… our soul is somewhere else earlier, before she is bound within the body.” (92a)

    Socrates points out that the two premises are incompatible:

    But it is necessary that you have different opinions as long as this thought of yours sticks around - that a tuning is a composite thing and a soul a sort of tuning composed of bodily elements tensed like strings. (92b).

    He then asks:

    “But see which of the two arguments you prefer - that learning is recollection or soul a tuning.”
    (92c)

    Simmias chooses recollection and a pre-existing soul. All of Socrates' arguments follow this premise.

    When the logic tells you that the soul must be the cause of the body ...Metaphysician Undercover

    Nowhere does Socrates claim that the soul is the cause of the body. He says that the soul is the cause of life in the body. An arrangement of parts is not the cause of those parts that are arranged.
  • Apollodorus
    2.5k


    I think that the question as to what or who causes the body is an interesting one.

    As related in the Timaeus, in the beginning God created the World as a living being endowed with a soul and reason. He next created the Cosmic Gods, i.e., the Earth, Sun, Moon, Stars and other heavenly bodies as living creatures (38e), from whom were born Cronos and Rhea, Zeus and Hera, and the other Gods (41a). After this, he commanded the Gods to fashion men and other living creatures and endow them with souls he himself created from the same substance he had used to make the soul of the world and the Gods.

    He placed a number of souls on each Star and, after the Gods fashioned the bodies of mortal creatures, they implanted the immortal souls in them. And God ordained that those who have lived their appointed time well shall return to their native Star and gain a life that is blessed and congenial but those who have failed to do so shall be reborn into inferior shapes after the similitude of their own nature until they once again become as pure and good as before (42c).

    On this account, the human body is created by the Gods from some material substance (e.g. the four elements, air, fire, earth, water, to which may be added ether). So, the Gods would seem to be the efficient cause of the body.

    The soul simply imparts life and motion to the body.

    However, Plato’s intention in the Phaedo seems to be to present his own theory of soul as more consistent than that of the Pythagoreans who apparently held contradictory views concerning the soul, one view stating that the soul is imprisoned in the body, another that the soul transmigrates and another stating that the soul is the harmony or attunement of the four elements constituting the body.

    Simmias’ own conflicting views may be a reflection of those of the Pythagoreans. If so, Plato (via Socrates) successfully rebuts inconsistent Pythagorean doctrines.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9k
    t is what he argues against. He does this by changing the terms of the argument. His argument is based on a pre-existing soul, something that is not part of Simmias' argument.Fooloso4

    No, Socrates argument is not based on a pre-existing soul, as I explained. First he demonstrates the faults of Simmias' position. Then he demonstrates that if there is such a thing as the soul, it must be pre-existing, as that which orders the parts to create the harmony. So the argument supports the notion of the pre-existing soul, with reference to the directing and ordering of the parts. Therefore the argument is based in the idea that a harmony requires the directing and ordering of parts, to cause the existence of the harmony, and concludes that what is commonly called "the soul" is what directs and orders the parts.

    The conclusion is a pre-existing soul. It does not matter that the conclusion (a pre-existing soul) is presented first, as the thing to be proven. This does not make the argument based in the presumption of a pre-existing soul. What matters is the logical procedure. We can proceed from the premise of "harmony" to a need for something which directs and orders the parts, to the conclusion that the thing which directs and orders the parts (commonly called the soul) pre-exists the harmony. A pre-existing soul is not the base of the argument, but the conclusion.
  • Fooloso4
    2.6k
    We can proceed from the premise of "harmony" to a need for something which directs and orders the parts ...Metaphysician Undercover

    First, there is no need for something to order the parts. If you assume that the parts together need to be ordered, then each part would also need to be ordered because each part of the body has an order.

    Second, in accord with Socrates' notion of Forms something is beautiful because of Beauty itself. Something is just because of the Just itself. Something is harmonious because of Harmony itself. Beauty itself is prior to some thing that is beautiful. The Just itself is prior to some thing being just. Harmony itself is prior to some thing being harmonious. In each case there is an arrangement of parts.

    The question is, why did Socrates avoid his standard argument for Forms? It is an important question, one that we should not avoid.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9k
    First, there is no need for something to order the parts. If you assume that the parts together need to be ordered, then each part would also need to be ordered because each part of the body has an order.Fooloso4

    Right, each part needs to be ordered, towards one end, purpose, function, or whatever you want to call it. Each particular has a specific role within that one unity.

    How do you proceed toward the conclusion that there is no need for something which orders the parts toward that unity? Do you think that the parts just happen to meet up, and decide amongst themselves, to join together in a unity? The evidence we have, and there is much of it with the existence of artificial things, and things created by other living beings, is that in these situations where parts are ordered together toward making one united thing, there is something which orders the parts.

    There is no evidence of any parts just meeting up, and deciding amongst themselves to create an organized, structure, though there are instances, such as the existence of life itself, where the thing which is doing the ordering is not immediately evident. So your claim that "there is no need for something to order the parts" is not supported by any empirical evidence, while "there is a need for something to order the parts" is supported by empirical evidence and solid inductive reasoning.

    Second, in accord with Socrates' notion of Forms something is beautiful because of Beauty itself. Something is just because of the Just itself. Something is harmonious because of Harmony itself. Beauty itself is prior to some thing that is beautiful. The Just itself is prior to some thing being just. Harmony itself is prior to some thing being harmonious. In each case there is an arrangement of parts.

    The question is, why did Socrates avoid his standard argument for Forms? It is an important question, one that we should not avoid.
    Fooloso4

    I don't see the point here. What you are referring to is the theory of participation, which I believe comes from the Pythagoreans. There is a problem with this theory which Plato exposed, and Aristotle attacked with the so-called cosmological argument. The problem is with the active/passive relation. When beautiful things are portrayed as partaking in the Idea of Beauty, then the thing which partakes is active, and the Idea is passive. Then we have the problem that the Idea is needed to be prior to the particular thing which partakes, to account for the multitudes of thing being generated which partake. But there is no principle of activity within the Idea, which could cause participation, because the Idea is portrayed as passively being partaken of.

    So Aristotle associates "form" with "actual". And, by the cosmological argument, he determines that there must be a Form which is prior to any particular material thing, as cause of its existence, being the unique and particular thing which it is. This type of Form is associated with final cause.

    So, we have the Form which is prior to the particular thing, and responsible for its existence, but we cannot represent this relationship between the particular, and the Form, with the Pythagorean theory of participation, because "participation" does not provide the required source of activity (cause). The source, or cause of activity must come from the Idea, or Form, rather than from the particular thing, which by the theory of participation is said to be doing the partaking. .
  • Apollodorus
    2.5k
    I don't see the point here. What you are referring to is the theory of participation, which I believe comes from the Pythagoreans.Metaphysician Undercover

    Good point. There is a very obvious agenda behind straw men like "Form of Harmony".

    1. To being with, the Ancient Greek word harmonia is not the same as modern “harmony”. The primary meaning of harmonia was “arrangement” or “joining together” of separate things, for example, a linear succession of musical notes or scale.

    A “harmony” would at the most be a good and/or beautiful arrangement or order as opposed to a bad one, not a separate class of things requiring an universal.

    Even the Pythagorean harmony of the heavenly spheres was based on the concordant intervals between astronomical bodies.

    For Plato, “harmony” is simply a form of Justice (or Proper Order). What we call “harmonious” city is a just city in Plato. “Harmonious” man is a just man, i.e., a man in whom the virtues such as temperance, courage, and wisdom, function properly and in the right proportion, etc.

    2. Therefore there is no need for a “Form of Harmony” when there is a Form of Justice, i.e., Right Order and Proportion.

    3. The theory of harmony is a Pythagorean one, here represented by Simmias.

    4. Socrates rebuts the Pythagorean theory of soul as harmony by showing that the soul is not like the harmony of a musical instrument.
  • Fooloso4
    2.6k
    Right, each part needs to be ordered,Metaphysician Undercover

    Socrates does not claim that the soul orders [each part of] the body [to be as it is]. [The soul does not cause the parts of the body. The soul does not take an undifferentiated mass and make fingers and hands and the other parts of the body]* The soul, according to his argument, brings life to the body.

    *Bracketed statements are edits.

    [His response to Simmias' argument is that you can't have it both ways. You can't have both the soul existing before the body and the soul being a harmony of the parts of the body.]

    Do you think that the parts just happen to meet up, and decide amongst themselves, to join together in a unity?Metaphysician Undercover

    Your version of the clock makers argument is not found in the dialogue.

    The problem is with the active/passive relation.Metaphysician Undercover

    The hypothesis is problematic. As he says:

    I will not insist on the precise nature of the relationship, but that all beautiful things are beautiful by the Beautiful. (100e)

    He does not, however, reject the Forms hypothesis, he affirms it. Beautiful things are beautiful by the Beautiful. It follows from the hypothesis that harmonious things are harmonious by the Harmonious.

    The source, or cause of activity must come from the Idea, or Form, rather than from the particular thingMetaphysician Undercover

    Right. In this case the Form would be Harmony. Just as a beautiful body is beautiful by the Beautiful, the harmonious body is harmonious by the Harmonious.
  • Apollodorus
    2.5k


    I think you are being taken for a ride. There is no "Form of Harmony".

    The terms “harmonious body” or “harmonious” anything do not occur in the dialogue. There is harmonia, “attunement”, but that is Simmias’ Pythagorean theory that has nothing to do with Socrates’ or Plato’s Theory of Forms.

    There is no “Form of Harmony” in Plato for the simple reason that what we call “harmonious” in Modern English, is “rightly-ordered” or “just” (depending on the context) in Plato. So, the corresponding Form would be Justice, not “Harmony” which does not exist.

    In Plato, the proper functioning of a whole, be it a city or a human, is not harmony but justice or righteousness (dikaiosyne). Dikaiosyne is the state of the whole in which each part fulfills its function:

    Plato finds justice in the city to consist in each part “having and doing its own,” and since the smaller is just like the larger, justice in the individual consists in each part of the psyche doing its own work.

    Justice as a Virtue - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

    Plato's dialogues are not about harmony but about justice or righteousness, i.e. proper or right order as a reflection of the cosmic order which in turn is a manifestation of the Good.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9k
    The soul, according to his argument, brings life to the body.Fooloso4

    I don't think this is quite what he is saying. In fact, this is the problematic perspective which Plato believed needs to be clarified. Think about what you're saying, that there is a body, and the soul brings life into it. This is not right. The body does not come into existence without life in it, as if life is then brought into the body. That is the problematic perspective further analyzed to a great extent in the Timaeus. To say that there is a body first, and then life is put into it is not consistent with our observations of living things. The living body comes into existence with life already in it. So it's not a matter of the soul putting life into an already existing body. This is why Plato posited a passive receptacle, "matter". The form is put into matter, which is the passive potential for a body, and then there is a body. But matter is not by itself a body, as Aristotle expounds, it is simply potency which does not exist as a body, because it requires a form to have actual existence.

    So we are lead toward the conclusion that life creates the very body which it exists within. And this is why Aristotle defined soul as the first actuality of a body having life potentially in it, to emphasize that the soul is the very first actuality of such a body. The body doesn't first exist, and then receive a soul, the soul is the first actuality of that body. For him, the soul couldn't exist without a body, so he assigned "soul" to the very first actuality of such a body, as a sort of form, which provides for the actual existence of that body. For Plato and the Neo-Platonists, it is necessary that the soul is prior to the body to account for the reason why the body is the type of body which it is. Therefore the soul doesn't only provide the general "actuality" of the living body, but also the more specific type.

    [His response to Simmias' argument is that you can't have it both ways. You can't have both the soul existing before the body and the soul being a harmony of the parts of the body.]Fooloso4

    He demonstrates that the soul cannot be a harmony, but allows that the body might still be a harmony created by the soul.

    Right. In this case the Form would be Harmony. Just as a beautiful body is beautiful by the Beautiful, the harmonious body is harmonious by the Harmonious.Fooloso4

    I think you are being taken for a ride. There is no "Form of Harmony".Apollodorus

    Right, I think Fooloso4 is reaching for straws here, going outside the argument. and I don't see the point.

    There is no “Form of Harmony” in Plato for the simple reason that what we call “harmonious” in Modern English, is “rightly-ordered” or “just” (depending on the context) in Plato. So, the corresponding Form would be Justice, not “Harmony” which does not exist.

    In Plato, the proper functioning of a whole, be it a city or a human, is not harmony but justice or righteousness (dikaiosyne). Dikaiosyne is the state of the whole in which each part fulfills its function:
    Apollodorus

    I think that's right. In The Republic, justice is described as a type of order, in which each person minds one's own business and does one's own part, fulfills one's own function without hindering others from fulfilling their functions.

    The question of whether there is an Idea of Justice is similar to the question of whether there is an Idea of Good. These questions cast doubt on the theory of participation. It can be argued that Plato rejects the theory of participation in the Timaeus, when he introduces "matter" as the medium between the Form and the material object.
  • Apollodorus
    2.5k
    Right, I think Fooloso4 is reaching for straws here, going outside the argument. and I don't see the point.Metaphysician Undercover

    Absolutely. It is imperative to understand that there is no point using English words like “harmonious” to analyze a dialogue when they make no sense whatsoever in Greek.

    If we want to understand Plato, we need to be able to put what we believe to be a “Platonic concept” into Greek. If we were to literally put English “harmonious” into Ancient Greek, we would end up with harmonikos.

    Where does Plato use harmonikos? Certainly not in the Phaedo. In the Phaedrus, he writes:

    … if he met a man who thought he understood harmony [literally, harmonikos]because he could strike the highest and lowest notes … (Phaedrus. 268d)

    A harmonikos is someone who has an understanding of musical scales (or music in general), not a “harmonious person”!

    So, depending on the context, and whether it is an object or person, you would need to use “well-fitted” or “arranged”, “well-ordered”, “just”, etc., and in the Platonic framework this would come under the category or universal of order, justice, beauty, and ultimately, good.

    For example, you could translate English “harmonious” back into Greek as tetagmenos, arranged in orderly manner from tasso, to arrange or place in order, for which the universal would be taxis, order. Even if you were to use euarmostos, well-joined, from harmozo, join together, it would still have the sense of order.

    It follows that “Form of Harmony” is complete and utter nonsense and is just part of Fooloso4's usual repertoire of Straussian diversion and evasion tactics.

    In any case, the bottom line is that people need to choose between reading Plato’s dialogues or their own dialogues. They can’t do both.

    You are of course right about justice as a type of order. We need to bear in mind that God created the world by establishing order out of disorder (chaos) in order to manifest the Good. So Order as a manifestation of the Good is certainly fundamental in the Platonic framework.

    The question of the soul imparting life to the body is a complex one but Socrates definitely rebuts Simmias' Pythagorean theory and this clearly is Plato's intention here.
  • Fooloso4
    2.6k
    I don't think this is quite what he is saying.Metaphysician Undercover

    This is what he says:

    “… our soul is somewhere else earlier, before she is bound within the body.” (92a)

    “... the soul in its very entering into a human body was the beginning of its destruction, like a disease.” (95d)

    “Answer me then, he said, what is it that, present in a body, makes it living?

    Cebes: A soul.” (105c)

    That is the problematic perspective further analyzed to a great extent in the Timaeus.Metaphysician Undercover

    Whether or not the perspective is problematic is not at issue in the Phaedo.

    To say that there is a body first, and then life is put into it is not consistent with our observations of living things.Metaphysician Undercover

    And yet, that is what is said. You are trying to do two different things at the same time. On the one hand, you argue about what the text says, and on the other reject what the text says without distinguishing between the two.

    To deny that there is a Form Harmony is arbitrary. The term is used in different ways with regard to different things. Here, given Simmias' analogy, musical harmony must not be ignored. Harmony itself is not the harmony of a particular lyre. The ratio of frequencies exists independently of any instrument. The octave is 1:2, the 4th is 4:3, the 5th is 3:2. It is not just the sounds that are harmonious. In the Republic he says that these numbers are harmonious. (531c) These are things known to the intellect, not to the senses. There are of a Kind distinct from their opposite, Dissonance.
  • Apollodorus
    2.5k
    1. Republic 531c is part of a criticism of Pythagoreans and musicians.

    2. Simmias does not use the word harmonia in the sense of musical harmony but in the sense of “a joining together”:

    … we believe the soul to be something after this fashion; that our body is strung and held together by heat, cold, moisture, dryness [i.e. the properties of the four elements], and the like, and the soul is a mixture and a harmony of these same elements, when they are well and properly mixed … Now what shall we say to this argument, if anyone claims that the soul, being a mixture of the elements of the body, is the first to perish in what is called death?” (86b, 86d)

    Here is Simmias’ argument black on white:

    “The soul, being a mixture of the elements of the body, is the first to perish in death”

    Ergo harmonia = “mixture” or “joining together” in an orderly fashion = ordered arrangement = order.

    Therefore the universal is Order.
  • Fooloso4
    2.6k
    It is probable that as the eyes are fixed on astronomy, so the ears are fixed on harmonic movement, and these two kinds of knowledge are in a way akin, as the Pythagoreans say and we, Glaucon, agree ...

    we'll inquire of the Pythagoreans what they mean about them ... (Republic 530d-e)

    It isn't these men I mean but those whom we just now said we are going to question about harmony.
    They do the same thing astronomers do. They seek the numbers in these heard accords and don't rise to problems, to the consideration of which numbers are concordant and which are not, and why in each case. (Republic 531c)

    The numbers in the heard accords are the ratios of the octave, fourth, and fifth. Knowledge of harmonic movement is not auditory, in is intelligible, it is knowledge of the ratios. What all harmony, whether it is music or parts of the soul or body or city, has in common is proper proportions of the parts or elements. It is not just a mixture or an ordered arrangement, it is a properly proportioned arrangement, one with the correct ratio of parts.

    Simmias says:

    ... the tuning is something invisible and bodiless and something altogether divine in the tuned lyre ... (Phaedo 86a)

    The tuning is not the thing that is tuned. The tuning is the octave, 4th, and 5th, the ratios according to which the strings of a lyre are tuned. Analogously, the tuning of the parts of the body too is in accord with the proper ratios. Again, the tuning should not be confused with the body that is tuned.
  • Apollodorus
    2.5k
    1. Simmias claims that the soul is a composite thing like the harmony or attunement of a lyre:

    we believe the soul to be something after this fashion; that our body is strung and held together by heat, cold, moisture, dryness [i.e. the properties of the four elements], and the like, and the soul is a mixture and a harmony of these same elements (86b).

    And:

    The soul, being a mixture of the elements of the body, is the first to perish in death (86d).

    2. Socrates reminds Simmias of his argument:

    You must, my Theban friend, think differently, if you persist in your opinion that a harmony is a compound and that the soul is a harmony made up of the elements that are strung like harpstrings in the body. For surely you will not accept your own statement that a composite harmony existed before those things from which it had to be composed, will you?”
    “Certainly not, Socrates.” (92a – b)

    3. Socrates points out to Simmias that his argument is flawed and that he must choose between “soul as harmony” and “knowledge as recollection”:

    “Well,” said he, “there is no harmony between the two theories. Now which do you prefer, that knowledge is recollection or that the soul is a harmony?”
    “The former, decidedly, Socrates,” he replied (92c)

    4. The primary meaning of Greek harmonia is “a joining together”. Harmonia here does not mean a harmony in the sense of melodious sound, but the state of the lyre, brought about by a combination of things, that enables it to produce a certain sound:

    The word translated as ‘attunement’ (harmonia) is often given as ‘harmony’. But the associations of that word in modern music are misleading, and the forthcoming argument will focus mainly upon the tuned state of the instrument
    - D. Gallop, Phaedo, p. 91

    5.. Socrates dismisses Simmias’s harmony argument.

    6. Simmias’ acknowledges that his argument was based on mere probability and was deceptive and flawed.

    7. No “Form of Harmony” is mentioned anywhere in the dialogue.

    8. Harmony being a composite thing (syntheto pragma), i.e., a thing made of parts joined together in an orderly fashion, it reflects the properties of order. Therefore the corresponding universal would be Order.

    9. Either way, Socrates’ arguments for the immortality of the soul are indisputably accepted in the dialogue.

    10. There is no evidence whatsoever that Socrates, or Plato, teaches atheism.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9k
    The tuning is not the thing that is tuned. The tuning is the octave, 4th, and 5th, the ratios according to which the strings of a lyre are tuned. Analogously, the tuning of the parts of the body too is in accord with the proper ratios. Again, the tuning should not be confused with the body that is tuned.Fooloso4

    I already explained how this interpretation is faulty. "The tuning" is the act which tunes. It is not visible in the tuned instrument because it is prior to it, in time. But the act of tuning is logically implied by the existence of a tuned instrument. This is clearly what Socrates is talking about, because he describes how the soul is active in directing the parts. You continually ignore Socrates' reference to the activity of the soul, which is the way toward understanding that the soul is necessarily prior to the body. Appolodorus gets it:

    Harmonia here does not mean a harmony in the sense of melodious sound, but the state of the lyre, brought about by a combination of things, that enables it to produce a certain sound:Apollodorus

    .
  • Apollodorus
    2.5k


    Absolutely correct.

    I think that it is imperative not to make things up or insert things into the dialogue that are not there.

    The fact is that Simmias’ argument is based on his comparison of soul with harmony or attunement (harmonia).

    Comparison of soul with attunement means that if the soul is like the attunement, then the attunement is like the soul.

    For the attunement to be comparable to the soul, it must have the same features F as the soul.

    The soul according to Simmias has F1 viz., “being composite like the body” and F2 viz., “being a blend of the things in the body (86d) when these are held taut (92b)”.

    Similarly, the attunement has F1 viz., “being a composite thing (syntheton pragma) (92b)” and F2 viz., “being a blend of the things in the lyre, body of the lyre, strings, and notes when these are tuned (86a, 92c).

    Therefore, the “harmony” is simply the attunement or compound of its material constituents.

    As observed by scholars and ancient authors, Greek harmonia comes from harmozo, “to fit together”. Therefore harmony or attunement here means “being in tune”, hermosthai. This is precisely why Simmias speaks of a “blend” or krasis (86d) and Socrates calls attunement “composite thing”.

    Greek harmonia is closer to Greek krasis than to English “harmony”. Modern Greek for "wine" is krasi, literally "mixture" because wine already at the time of Socrates was mixed or tempered with water. And krasis is used here by Simmias himself to describe the soul and, by analogy, the attunement, hence a "mixture" or "blend".
  • Fooloso4
    2.6k
    I already explained how this interpretation is faulty. "The tuning" is the act which tunes.Metaphysician Undercover

    The tuning is not the act of tuning, it is the ratio of frequencies according to which something is tuned.

    ... the tuning is something invisible and bodiless and something altogether divine in the tuned lyre ... (Phaedo 86a)

    The soul accordingly is the attunement, the harmony, the condition of the body, not the act of tuning or something that does the tuning.

    The cause of the lyre being in tune is not the activity of tightened and slackens the strings. If I give you a lyre you cannot tune it unless you know the tuning, unless you know the ratio of frequencies. It is in accord with those ratios that the lyre is in tune. The cause of the lyre being in tune is Harmony.

    You continually ignore Socrates' reference to the activity of the soulMetaphysician Undercover

    Whether the body requires something else acting on it is never discussed. Simmias says:

    ... our body is strung and held together by warm and cold and dry and wet and the like, our soul is, as it were, a blend and tuning of these very things, whenever, that is, they're blended with one another in a beautiful and measured way. (86c)


    The soul is embodied. It exists when the body is in a harmonious condition. This is never pursued because he has accepted that the soul is prior to the body based on the story of recollection.

    Harmonia here does not mean a harmony in the sense of melodious sound

    That is correct. That is the point of the quote from the Republic in my last post:

    It isn't these men I mean but those whom we just now said we are going to question [the Pythagoreans] about harmony.
    They do the same thing astronomers do. They seek the numbers in these heard accords and don't rise to problems, to the consideration of which numbers are concordant and which are not, and why in each case. (Republic 531c)

    These numbers are the ratios identified by the Pythagoreans. As I said above:

    Knowledge of harmonic movement is not auditory, in is intelligible, it is knowledge of the ratios. What all harmony, whether it is music or parts of the soul or body or city, has in common is proper proportions of the parts or elements. It is not just a mixture or an ordered arrangement, it is a properly proportioned arrangement, one with the correct ratio of parts.Fooloso4
  • Apollodorus
    2.5k
    The Republic is a different dialogue with different arguments.

    There is no mention of proportions in Simmias' argument in the Phaedo.

    Pythagoras does not say that harmony is not mixture or ordered arrangement.

    A mixture or ordered arrangement is a mixture or ordered arrangement irrespective of "proportions".

    If the text says "mixture", "blend", "composite thing", then it is totally wrong to claim that it does not say that.

    Ditto, if the text defines "attunement" as "composite thing composed of the features of the lyre as the soul is composed of the features of the body when these are held taut" (92a - b), then it is unacceptable to say that this is not the case.

    On Simmias' account the attunement is not separate from the lyre, in the same way the soul is not separate from the body but is made of bodily elements, air, fire, earth, water, and their properties (86b).

    If the attunement is like the soul which Simmias says is composed of bodily elements, then the attunement is composed of the elements of the lyre, i.e. body of the lyre, strings, etc.

    Were this not the case, the comparison would be invalid from the start and would not stand for even a second.

    Plus, Simmias eventually dismisses his own argument and chooses recollection and immortality of the soul as the correct argument (92d - e).
  • Fooloso4
    2.6k
    Simmias' argument is influenced by Philolaus. (61d) Perhaps the following will clear up some of the confusion:

    Limiters and unlimiteds are not combined in a haphazard way but are subject to a “fitting together” or “harmonia,” which can be described mathematically. Philolaus’ primary example of such a harmonia of limiters and unlimiteds is a musical scale, in which the continuum of sound is limited according to whole number ratios, so that the octave, fifth, and fourth are defined by the ratios 2 : 1, 3 : 2 and 4 : 3, respectively.

    Philolaus presented a medical theory in which there was a clear analogy between the birth of a human being and the birth of the cosmos. The embryo is conceived of as composed of the hot and then as drawing in cooling breath immediately upon birth, just as the cosmos begins with the heat of the central fire, which then draws in breath along with void and time from the unlimited. Philolaus posited a strict hierarchy of psychic faculties, which allows him to distinguish human beings from animals and plants. He probably believed that the transmigrating soul was a harmonious arrangement of physical elements located in the heart and that the body became ensouled when the proper balance of hot and cold was established by the breathing of the new-born infant.

    Fragment 1:

    …since these beginnings [i.e. limiters and unlimiteds] preexisted and were neither alike nor even related, it would not have been possible for them to be ordered, if a harmony had not come upon them… Like things and related things did not in addition require any harmony, but things that are unlike and not even related … it is necessary that such things be bonded together by a harmony, if they are going to be held in an order.

    In Fragment 6a Philolaus goes on to describe this harmony and what he describes is a musical scale, the scale known as the Pythagorean diatonic, which was used later by Plato in the Timaeus in the construction of the world soul. This scale provides Philolaus’ only surviving explicit example of the bonding together of limiters and unlimiteds by a harmony.

    In the case of the cosmos as a whole, as we have just seen in Fr. 6, Philolaus argues that three starting points must be assumed, limiters, unlimiteds, and harmony, as a third element to hold these two unlike elements together.
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/philolaus/#Har

    A harmony is not simply the combination of elements or any arrangement of elements, it is a particular order. There is no need for a separate soul to order the parts of the body. It is harmony that bonds together the elements.
  • Apollodorus
    2.5k
    The dialogue under discussion is Phaedo.

    Simmias makes no mention of proportions in his argument in this dialogue.

    Simmias' argument is that the soul is like the attunement of a lyre.

    The formula he uses is:

    (A) x has F1 and F2
    (B) y has F3 and F4
    (C) F1 = F3
    (D) F2 = F4
    (E) Therefore x = y.

    The soul (x) has F1 (“being composite like the body”) and F2 ("being a blend of the things in the body (86d) when these are held taut (92b))”.

    The attunement (y ) has F3 (“being a composite thing (syntheton pragma) (92b)”) and F4 (“being a blend of the things in the lyre, body of the lyre, strings, and notes when these are tuned (86a, 92c)).

    Therefore x (the soul) is like y (the attunement).

    If y (the attunement) does not have features F3 and F4, then Simmias is unable to make his argument.

    If y (the attunement) does have features F3 and F4, then y (the attunement) has the same features as x (the soul), viz., F1 (being a compound) and F2 (being a blend of the elements of the lyre when these are tuned), exactly as stated in the dialogue.

    If "proportions" were the core of his argument, we can be certain that Simmias would have mentioned them in the discussion. After all, he was an educated person. The fact that he does not mention proportions but both he and Socrates mention "blend" and "composite thing" indicates that attunement here means "ordered arrangement" or "ordered compound".

    "Harmony" can mean many things to many people and it may well be the case that Pythagoras or Philolaus would have presented the argument differently. But here we are dealing with the argument as presented by Simmias and it is unacceptable to put words in his mouth that he is not saying.

    In any case, if a harmony is a "particular order", then a harmony is an order. And orders participate in the universal or Form of Order.

    If Pythagoras has a "Form of Harmony," that is his problem. Plato does not need one, it does not occur in the dialogue, and it is nonsense to claim that it does. And even if it did occur, it would change absolutely nothing about the fact that in the dialogue Socrates proves the immortality of soul and that his conclusion is accepted by Simmias, Cebes, and Socrates himself.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9k
    The tuning is not the act of tuning, it is the ratio of frequencies according to which something is tuned.Fooloso4

    Do you not grasp the "ing" suffix on "tuning"? The ratio of frequencies, according to which something is tuned is the principle, or rules, applied in the act of tuning. But these principles do not magically apply themselves to the instrument, an agent is required. The agent is "the cause" in common usage. That is what you are consistently leaving out, the requirement of an agent, and this is what Socrates says is traditionally called "the soul", the thing which directs the individual elements, the agent.

    The cause of the lyre being in tune is not the activity of tightened and slackens the strings. If I give you a lyre you cannot tune it unless you know the tuning, unless you know the ratio of frequencies. It is in accord with those ratios that the lyre is in tune. The cause of the lyre being in tune is Harmony.Fooloso4

    This is utter nonsense, and you should know better than to say such a thing Fooloso4. Clearly, "the cause" in common usage of this term, is the activity which results in the instrument being tuned, which is the tightening of the strings. Yes, knowing the principles (ratios), is a necessary condition for the agent which acts as the cause, but the ratios do not constitute the cause of the instrument being tuned, as "cause" is used in common language.

    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. Would you see a circle drawn on a paper, and say that pi is the cause of existence of that circle? Or if you saw a right angle would you say that the Pythagorean theorem is the cause of existence of that right angle? Normally, we would say that the person who produced the figure, as the agent, is the cause of the figure's existence, and the principles are static tools which the person employs

    Whether the body requires something else acting on it is never discussed.Fooloso4

    Yes, the requirement of something else acting on it is discussed, throughout 94, and I provided the quotes. The body requires something which rules over the parts, and this is the soul. Ruling over, directing the elements, and inflicting punishment on them, clearly constitutes "acting on".
  • Fooloso4
    2.6k
    Do you not grasp the "ing" suffix on "tuning"?Metaphysician Undercover

    When he says:

    ...the tuning is something invisible and bodiless and something altogether divine in the tuned lyre ... (Phaedo 86a)

    he is not talking about some invisible act. The tuning of what is tuned is not the act of tuning, but rather the result. When a musician asks "what is the tuning" she is asking what the pitches are. [Edit: Examples: open E tuning, E flat or half-step down tuning, drop D tuning]

    noun [ U ]
    the way an instrument or a string on an instrument is tuned:
    The tuning on this piano is awful.
    https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/tuning

    However, there is still a need for an "efficient cause", as the source of activity.Metaphysician Undercover

    From the Stanford article quoted above:

    Philolaus presented a medical theory in which there was a clear analogy between the birth of a human being and the birth of the cosmos. The embryo is conceived of as composed of the hot and then as drawing in cooling breath immediately upon birth, just as the cosmos begins with the heat of the central fire, which then draws in breath along with void and time from the unlimited.

    In the case of the cosmos as a whole, as we have just seen in Fr. 6, Philolaus argues that three starting points must be assumed, limiters, unlimiteds, and harmony, as a third element to hold these two unlike elements together.

    There is in this theory no outside agent or principle acting:

    Philolaus begins his book:

    Nature (physis) in the world-order (cosmos) was fitted together out of things which are unlimited and out of things which are limiting, both the world-order as a whole and everything in it. (Fr. 1)

    the requirement of something else acting on it is discussed, throughout 94Metaphysician Undercover

    I was referring to Philolaus' argument. There is not discussion of Philolaus' argument. No discussion of a self- contained, self-sufficient system of limiters and unlimiteds, tied together by harmony.
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