Plato for Dummies (I'm the Dummy)

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by seattlegal, Jun 29, 2012.

  1. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    This is my attempt to understand Western Philosophy, which often sounds like some sort of weird acid trip to me. I'm gonna try, however, even if I have to loosen my own grasp of reality. :p

    I'm going to start with Substance Theory and The Theory of Forms.

    I'm prolly gonna start sounding as if I'm rambling really quickly, so if anyone wants to jump in and clarify anything for me, please feel free to do so! :eek:

    I'll be posting things here in an attempt to keep these arguments handy so I can refer back to them.
     
  2. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    From the wiki article on Substance Theory:


    In the millennia-old Aristotelian tradition, as well as early modern traditions that follow it, substances or ousia are treated as having attributes and modes or things.
    This concept helps to explain, for instance, state transitions. Let us take a quantity of water and freeze it into ice. Substance theory maintains that there is a "substance" which is unchanged through this transition, which is both the liquid water and also the frozen ice. It maintains that the water is not replaced by the ice – it is the same "stuff," or substance. If this is true, then it must be the case that the wetness of water, the hardness of ice, are not essential to the underlying substance. (Essentially, matter does not disappear, it only changes form.)
    The Aristotelian view of God considered God as both ontologically and causally prior to all other substance; others, including Spinoza, argued that God is the only substance. Substance, according to Spinoza, is one and indivisible, but has multiple modes; what we ordinarily call the natural world, together with all the individuals in it, is immanent in God: hence the famous phrase Deus sive Natura ("God, or Nature"). Aristotle was creating his theory of substance in response and counter to Plato's theory of framework or structures called the theory of forms.
    The Roman Catholic Church has adopted substance theory as part of its theology of transsubstantiation.​


    OK, I can parallel this with Tao Te Ching 1
    The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao
    The name that can be named is not the eternal name
    The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth
    The named is the mother of myriad things
    Thus, constantly without desire, one observes its essence
    Constantly with desire, one observes its manifestations
    These two emerge together but differ in name
    The unity is said to be the mystery
    Mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders



    I can also see parallels to Advaita's Brahmin.


    So far, so good. I can remain sane (for the moment.)
     
  3. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    OK. here is where my madness and vexation begins:


    Two primitive concepts (i.e., genuine notions that cannot be explained in terms of something else) in substance theory are the bare particular and the inherence relation.
    Bare particular

    In substance theory, a bare particular of an object is the element without which the object would not exist, that is, its substance, which exists independent from its properties, even if it is physically impossible for it to lack properties entirely. It is "bare" because it is considered without its properties and "particular" because it is not abstract. The properties that the substance has are said to inhere in the substance.
    In substance theory of the mind, the objects are minds.
    Inherence relation

    Another primitive concept in substance theory is the inherence relation between a substance and its properties. For example, in the sentence, "The apple is red," substance theory says that red inheres in the apple. Substance theory considers to be clear the meaning of the apple having the property of redness or the property of being juicy, and that a property's inherence in a substance is similar to, but not identical with, being part of the substance. Thus, Aristotle wrote:
    "By being 'present in a subject' I do not mean present as parts are present in a whole, but being incapable of existence apart from the said subject." (The Categories 1a 24-26)
    The inverse relation is participation. Thus in the example above, just as red inheres in the apple, so the apple participates in red.​


    Regarding bare particular: The obvious (to me, at least) identification of a bare particular would be context. The definition of the notion of bare particular is "that which cannot be explained in terms of something else." This seems like a totally self-referencing circular argument to me. Am I throwing the baby out with the bathwater here? :confused: The only thing I can think of would be "name" as per Tao Te Ching 1, quoted in above post.



    Inherence Relation: This just seems to be a device to further separate "name" from properties. {Not all apples (name) are red (quality,) nor are all apples juicy (quality.)}


    So the question becomes: what's in a name? :confused:
     
  4. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    OK, here is where I start thinking, "What kind of drugs are you on?"

    Continuing on from wiki's Substance Theory article:

    Two common arguments supporting substance theory are the argument from grammar and the argument from conception.
    Argument from grammar

    The argument from grammar uses traditional grammar to support substance theory. For example, the sentence, "Snow is white," contains a grammatical subject, "snow", and the assertion that the grammatical subject is white. The argument holds that it makes no grammatical sense to speak of "whiteness" disembodied, without snow or some other grammatical subject that is white. That is, the only way to make a meaningful claim is to speak of a grammatical subject and to predicate various properties of it. Substance theory calls this grammatical subject of predication a substance. Thus, in order to make claims about physical objects, one must refer to substances, which must exist in order for those claims to be meaningful.
    Many ontologies, including bundle theory, reject the argument from grammar on the basis that a grammatical subject does not necessarily refer to a metaphysical subject. Bundle theory, for example, maintains that the grammatical subject of statement refers to its properties. For example, a bundle theorist understands the grammatical subject of the sentence, "Snow is white", as a referent to a bundle of properties, including perhaps the containing of ice crystals, being cold, and being a few feet deep. To the bundle theorist, the sentence then modifies that bundle of properties to include the property of being white. The bundle theorist, then, maintains that one can make meaningful statements about bodies without referring to substances that lack properties.
    Argument from conception

    Another argument for the substance theory is the argument from conception. The argument claims that in order to conceive of an object's properties, like the redness of an apple, one must conceive of the object that has those properties. According to the argument, one cannot conceive of redness, or any other property, distinct from the thing that has that property. The thing that has the property, the argument maintains, is a substance. The argument from conception holds that properties (e.g. redness or being four inches wide) are inconceivable by themselves and therefore it is always a substance that has the properties. Thus, it asserts, substances exist.
    A criticism of the argument from conception is that properties' being of substances does not follow from inability to think of isolated properties. The bundle theorist, for example, says that properties need only be associated with a bundle of other properties, which bundle is called an object. The critic maintains that the inability for an individual property to exist in isolation does not imply that substances exist. Instead, he argues, bodies may be bundles of properties, and an individual property may simply be unable to exist separately from such a bundle.​
    "The argument holds that it makes no grammatical sense to speak of "whiteness" disembodied, without snow or some other grammatical subject that is white."

    I disagree. By thinking of the concepts of "blackness" or "darkness," we can also invoke the idea of "whiteness" without invoking a "substance."

    Pass the pipe.
     
  5. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    Yep, it is all about mind-set. And social pressure to conform (which can erase and create memories). It is just so difficult to keep an open mind (as you obviously have) about these kind of issues.

    The whole substance and necessity issues are just so hard for most people to rise above. Like me in my replies to bhaktajan--I really cannot imagine "stepping outside of the universe" because I "see" universe as everything and as experiences (which whould include that imagining). Just like I really have a hard time believing in Being.

    Its not that I do not intellectually understand imagination or Being. But the former (to me) is just another aspect of all there is and the latter a poor abstraction.
     
  6. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    Eww, do you mean that by my dipping my ToE (pun intended) in this pool, I might risk getting stuck? :eek:

    OK, I'm highlighting this quote to use as a lifeline to pull myself out of the mire in case I get stuck. ;)

    Thanks. :)
     
  7. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    You won't get stuck (I have faith in you). Learn about it. Try to rise to up to the conscious mind of others who fail to see that is is just one way among msny and not the word of G!D. (good luck on that)
     
  8. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    Thanks radarmark. :)

    Continuing on regarding substance:
    Another argument for the substance theory is the argument from conception. The argument claims that in order to conceive of an object's properties, like the redness of an apple, one must conceive of the object that has those properties. According to the argument, one cannot conceive of redness, or any other property, distinct from the thing that has that property. The thing that has the property, the argument maintains, is a substance. The argument from conception holds that properties (e.g. redness or being four inches wide) are inconceivable by themselves and therefore it is always a substance that has the properties. Thus, it asserts, substances exist.​

    Again, I disagree. We imagine to see all sorts of things in inkblots from the properties in the inkblots, and not the other way around. Do the inkblots contain the substances of the imagined objects we see there? If so, then why doesn't everyone see the same things in a particular inkblot?
     
  9. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    OK, question: Is substance in the philosophical sense analogous to the concept of Meme?

    From my limited (and not necessarily accurate) understanding of substance is that it is unchanging, whereas memes can change and evolve. Any clarification to my confusion would be appreciated.
     
  10. Etu Malku

    Etu Malku Mercuræn

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    Substance comes from the Latin word substare it means "to stand under"
    Hupostasis is the Greek rendition (hupo/under & histemi/to stand) has exactly the same meaning.

    Substance is the essence or essential nature of something, the foundation which supports everything built upon it. In my opinion this foundation not only can change, but 'must' change . . . it is plastic.
     
  11. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    Good topic, good points. I think what we consider "substance" (and "necessity" and "truth") to be is a meme. It is mental and informational, not physics. It should be plastic. Because it has not been things like "atoms are mostly empty space" and "emptiness has an associated energy" would not freak out so many people.
     
  12. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    OK, this I can relate to. I see a constant, concentrated, pure essence as being highly reactive and unstable by these virtue of these very qualities.

    Old yang (pure, therefore unstable) becomes young yin, and old yin (pure and unstable) becomes young yang.

    Or, Qián begat three daughters, and Kūn begat three sons.

    Bagua
     
  13. Etu Malku

    Etu Malku Mercuræn

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    o_O/ I like it!

    So, let's move on to First Forms! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!
     
  14. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    Quite a bit to digest here in this first bit:

    Plato's theory of Forms or theory of Ideas[1][2][3] asserts that non-material abstract (but substantial) forms (or ideas), and not the material world of change known to us through sensation, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality.[4] When used in this sense, the word form is often capitalized.[5] Plato speaks of these entities only through the characters (primarily Socrates) of his dialogues who sometimes suggest that these Forms are the only true objects of study that can provide us with genuine knowledge; thus even apart from the very controversial status of the theory, Plato's own views are much in doubt.[6] Plato spoke of Forms in formulating a possible solution to the problem of universals.

    Terminology: the Forms and the forms

    The English word "form" may be used to translate two distinct concepts that concerned Plato—the outward "form" or appearance of something, and "Form" in a new, technical nature, that never
    ...assumes a form like that of any of the things which enter into her; ... But the forms which enter into and go out of her are the likenesses of real existences modelled after their patterns in a wonderful and inexplicable manner....
    The objects that are seen, according to Plato, are not real, but literally mimic the real Forms. In the allegory of the cave expressed in Republic, the things that are ordinarily perceived in the world are characterized as shadows of the real things, which are not perceived directly. That which the observer understands when he views the world mimics the archetypes of the many types and properties (that is, of universals) of things observed.
    What are the Forms?

    The Greek concept of form precedes the attested language and is represented by a number of words mainly having to do with vision: the sight or appearance of a thing. The main words, εἶδος (eidos) and ἰδέα (idea)[7] come from the Indo-European root *weid-, "see".[8] Both words are already there in the works of Homer, the earliest Greek literature. Equally ancient is μορφή (morphē), "shape", from an obscure root.[9] The φαινόμενα (phainomena), "appearances", from φαίνω (phainō), "shine", Indo-European *bhā-,[10] was a synonym.
    These meanings remained the same over the centuries until the beginning of philosophy, when they became equivocal, acquiring additional specialized philosophic meanings. The pre-Socratic philosophers, starting with Thales, noted that appearances change quite a bit and began to ask what the thing changing "really" is. The answer was substance, which stands under the changes and is the actually existing thing being seen. The status of appearances now came into question. What is the form really and how is that related to substance?
    Thus, the theory of matter and form (today's hylomorphism) was born. Starting with at least Plato and possibly germinal in some of the presocratics the forms were considered as being "in" something else, which Plato called nature (physis). The latter seemed as "wood",[11] ὕλη (hyle) in Greek, corresponding to materia in Latin, from which the English word "matter" is derived,[12] shaped by receiving (or exchanging) forms.
    But what were the forms? In Plato's dialogues as well as in general speech there is a form for every object or quality in reality: forms of dogs, human beings, mountains, colors, courage, love, and goodness. Form answers the question, "What is that?" Plato was going a step further and asking what Form itself is. He supposed that the object was essentially or "really" the Form and that the phenomena were mere shadows mimicking the Form; that is, momentary portrayals of the Form under different circumstances. The problem of universals – how can one thing in general be many things in particular – was solved by presuming that Form was a distinct singular thing but caused plural representations of itself in particular objects.[13] Matter was considered particular in itself.
    These Forms are the essences of various objects: they are that without which a thing would not be the kind of thing it is. For example, there are countless tables in the world but the Form of tableness is at the core; it is the essence of all of them.[14] Plato's Socrates held that the world of Forms is transcendent to our own world (the world of substances) and also is the essential basis of reality. Super-ordinate to matter, Forms are the most pure of all things. Furthermore, he believed that true knowledge/intelligence is the ability to grasp the world of Forms with one's mind.[15]
    A Form is aspatial (transcendent to space) and atemporal (transcendent to time). Atemporal means that it does not exist within any time period, rather it provides the formal basis for time. It therefore formally grounds beginning, persisting and ending. It is neither eternal in the sense of existing forever, nor mortal, of limited duration. It exists transcendent to time altogether.[16] Forms are aspatial in that they have no spatial dimensions, and thus no orientation in space, nor do they even (like the point) have a location.[17] They are non-physical, but they are not in the mind. Forms are extra-mental (i.e. real in the strictest sense of the word).[18]
    A Form is an objective "blueprint" of perfection.[19] The Forms are perfect themselves because they are unchanging. For example, say we have a triangle drawn on a blackboard. A triangle is a polygon with 3 sides. The triangle as it is on the blackboard is far from perfect. However, it is only the intelligibility of the Form "triangle" that allows us to know the drawing on the chalkboard is a triangle, and the Form "triangle" is perfect and unchanging. It is exactly the same whenever anyone chooses to consider it; however, the time is that of the observer and not of the triangle.​
    OK so the Forms are unchanging while the substance is malleable, but the Forms are the highest reality? (But the Forms are also substantial.) They sound more like tools. I must need a nap.
     
  15. Etu Malku

    Etu Malku Mercuræn

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    Plato's First Forms are:
    (1) independent of physical things (Forms would exist even if physical things did not exist)
    (2) eternal (the fact that Forms are independent of physical things proves that Forms must “always exist,” or, in other words, be eternal)
    (3) unchanging (red tomatoes, if not eaten, turn into brown tomatoes; But redness, cannot change. Even if all the red objects in the world ceased to be red, redness would not become different than it is)
    (4) the source of existence for physical things (Forms make physical things the things that they are. For example, red things are red by virtue of their relationship with the Form of redness

    Oddly enough it has always seemed to me that Plato was giving Life to an adjective . . . LOL!
     
  16. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    kk, thanks.

    Life? Isn't life about change and transformation? If forms are unchanging, how can they have life? (Like I said, they sound more like "tools.")
     
  17. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    Do these Forms "live" vicariously through the substances they "shape?"

    (Then they could be analogous to viruses or memes.)
     
  18. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    continuing on:

    The Intelligible Realm and Separation of the Forms

    Plato often invokes, particularly in the Phaedo, Republic and Phaedrus, poetic language to illustrate the mode in which the Forms are said to exist. Near the end of the Phaedo, for example, Plato describes the world of Forms as a pristine region of the physical universe located above the surface of the Earth (Phd. 109a-111c). In the Phaedrus the Forms are in a "place beyond heaven" (huperouranios topos) (Phdr. 247c ff); and in the Republic the sensible world is contrasted with the intelligible realm (noēton topon) in the famous allegory of the cave.
    It would be a mistake to take Plato's imagery as positing the intelligible world as a literal physical space apart from this one.[20][21] Plato emphasizes that the Forms are not beings that extend in space (or time), but subsist apart from any physical space whatsoever.[22] That is, they are abstract objects. Thus we read in the Symposium of the Form of Beauty: "It is not anywhere in another thing, as in an animal, or in earth, or in heaven, or in anything else, but itself by itself with itself," (211b). And in the Timaeus Plato writes: "Since these things are so, we must agree that that which keeps its own form unchangingly, which has not been brought into being and is not destroyed, which neither receives into itself anything else from anywhere else, nor itself enters into anything anywhere, is one thing," (52a, emphasis added).​
    This is where I really want to pass on Plato's pipe. "Forms" not being an aspect of consciousness? I don't buy it!



    The ideal state

    Socrates postulated a world of ideal Forms, which he admitted were impossible to know. Nevertheless he formulated a very specific description of that world, which did not match his metaphysical principles. Corresponding to the world of Forms is our world, that of the mimes, a corruption of the real one. This world was created by the Good according to the patterns of the Forms. Man's proper service to the Good is cooperation in the implementation of the ideal in the world of shadows; that is, in miming the Good.
    To this end Plato wrote Republic detailing the proper imitation of the Good, despite his admission that Justice, Beauty, Courage, Temperance, etc., cannot be known. Apparently they can be known to some degree through the copies with great difficulty and to varying degrees by persons of varying ability.
    The republic is a greater imitation of Justice:[23]
    Our aim in founding the state was not the disproportional happiness of any one class,[24] but the greatest happiness of the whole; we thought that in a state ordered with a view to the good of the whole we should be most likely to find justice.
    The key to not know how such a state might come into existence is the word "founding" (oikidzomen), which is used of colonization. It was customary in such instances to receive a constitution from an elected or appointed lawgiver; however in Athens, lawgivers were appointed to reform the constitution from time to time (for example, Draco, Solon). In speaking of reform, Socrates uses the word "purge" (diakathairountes)[25] in the same sense that Forms exist purged of matter.
    The purged society is a regulated one presided over by academics created by means of state education, who maintain three non-hereditary classes[26] as required: the tradesmen (including merchants and professionals), the guardians (militia and police) and the philosophers (legislators, administrators and the philosopher-king). Class is assigned at the end of education, when the state sets individuals up in their occupation. Socrates expects class to be hereditary but he allows for mobility according to natural ability. The criteria for selection by the academics is ability to perceive forms (the analog of English "intelligence") and martial spirit as well as predisposition or aptitude.
    The views of Socrates on the proper order of society are certainly contrary to Athenian values of the time and must have produced a shock effect, intentional or not, accounting for the animosity against him. For example, reproduction is much too important to be left in the hands of untrained individuals: "... the possession of women and the procreation of children ... will ... follow the general principle that friends have all things in common, ...."[27] The family is therefore to be abolished and the children – whatever their parentage – to be raised by the appointed mentors of the state.
    Their genetic fitness is to be monitored by the physicians: "... he (Asclepius, a culture hero) did not want to lengthen out good-for-nothing lives, or have weak fathers begetting weaker sons – if a man was not able to live in the ordinary way he had no business to cure him ...."[28] Physicians minister to the healthy rather than cure the sick: "... (Physicians) will minister to better natures, giving health both of soul and of body; but those who are diseased in their bodies they will leave to die, and the corrupt and incurable souls they will put an end to themselves."[29] Nothing at all in Greek medicine so far as can be known supports the airy (in the Athenian view) propositions of Socrates. Yet it is hard to be sure of Socrates' real views considering that there are no works written by Socrates himself. There are two common ideas pertaining to the beliefs and character of Socrates: the first being the Mouthpiece Theory where writers use Socrates in dialogue as a mouthpiece to get their own views across. However, since most of what we know about Socrates comes from plays, most of the Platonic plays are accepted as the more accurate Socrates since Plato was a direct student of Socrates.
    Many other principles of the ideal state are expressed: the activities of the populace are to be confined to their occupation and only one occupation is allowed (only the philosophers may be generalists). The citizens must not meddle in affairs that are not their business, such as legislation and administration (a hit at democracy). Wealth is to be allowed to the tradesmen only. The marketplace must not be regulated but left up to them. The guardians and the philosophers are not to own fine homes or cash reserves but receive a pension from the state. None of these items are consistent with an unknowable Good.
    Perhaps the most important principle is that just as the Good must be supreme so must its image, the state, take precedence over individuals in everything. For example, guardians "... will have to be watched at every age in order that we may see whether they preserve their resolution and never, under the influence either of force or enchantment, forget or cast off their sense of duty to the state."[30] This concept of requiring guardians of guardians perhaps suffers from the Third Man weakness (see below): guardians require guardians require guardians, ad infinitum. The ultimate trusty guardian is missing. Socrates does not hesitate to face governmental issues many later governors have found formidable: "Then if anyone at all is to have the privilege of lying, the rulers of the state should be the persons, and they ... may be allowed to lie for the public good."​
    I have two words for you, Plato: Bite Me! :rolleyes:

    {"Unknowable" Forms for Truth, Beauty, Temperance, etc, but no natural forms for good governance? pfft}
     
  19. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    ROFLMAO! I see beauty as harmonious imperfections.
    "Since these things are so?" ROFLMAO! :D
     
  20. Paladin

    Paladin Purchased Bewilderment

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    Wow SG, you've been busy while I've been gone. :)
     

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