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PhilosophyGround >> PLATO WAS RIGHT!!! You are wrong!


10/11/05 10:27 PM
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Subadie
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Edited: 11-Oct-05
Member Since: 10/09/2004
Posts: 257
and I almost forgot: A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier. Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day. The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realizing his error, sent the email. Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband's funeral. He was a minister who was called home to glory following a heart attack. The widow decided to check her email expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted. The widow's son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read: ================================================================================ To: My Loving Wife Subject: I've Arrived I know you're surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I've just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was. P.S. Sure is freaking hot down here!
10/11/05 10:32 PM
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Socrates
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Edited: 11-Oct-05
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Subadie- I will gladly try to clarify. First off I do NOT think that, in the Parmenides, Socrates' views trump Parmenides'. I think that Parmenides' veiws trump Socrates. However, Socrates is only 18 years old in the Parmenides, whereas Parmenides is 65 years old. I believe that the theory of the forms presented by Socrates has flaws in it, but that it is an early and immature version of the theory. Now, here is where things get complicated. I believe that Plato was fully aware of all the flaws in the theory of the forms as presented by Socrates in the Parmenides. He had to be, because Plato wrote the Parmenides. Plato is the one who actually thought of all Parmenides objections. So, I don't think it makes any sense to think that Plato believes in the theory of the forms as presented by Socrates in the Parmenides. So, the question is, "What did Plato believe?" Well, I believe that the answer lies in the dialogue as a whole. Think of the whole dialogue, including the "dramatic details" (such as the setting, the action, etc...) as an elaborate metaphor. The argument in the dialogue raises many problems and questions, but I think that the whole dialogue is constructed in such a way as to SHOW how these problems can be resolved (again, through something like a metaphor). For instance, the conversation in the Parmenides raises many questions about how forms can participate in different things and how they can participate in one another. Now, Antiphon (who recounts the story of Parmenides and Socrates' meeting) is Plato's "half brother". I think that the problems (and perhaps resolutions) of the forms are represented in this idea of a "half brother". Does Antiphon particpate in the form of "brother"... well, yes and no. I guess the best way to put it is that Plato raises questions through different the conversations of his characters, but he also provides the readers ways to resolve these problems by examining the actions and natures of the characters. Plato's theories are not simply what Socrates says, but what the dialogue as a whole represents. I don't know the Parmenides that well, so it's a little difficult to explain in that context. Perhaps I could use an example from a different dialogue, if you would like further clarification.
10/12/05 9:56 AM
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vermonter
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Edited: 12-Oct-05
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I wasnt talking about the dialouge called "Parmenides" but the actual philosopher. And shame on you for not knowing that philosophical ownage can happen even after you're dead ;) Parmenides posed problems about motion and the nature of reality that many of his contemporaries, like socrates, and indeed those that followed, like plato, either left alone, or attempted to answer but couldnt. Say what you want about the greatness of Plato, but he was unable to solve Parmenides's puzzles. Aristotle, on the other hand, did offer some solutions that didnt provide the mathematecal framework to squash Parmenides outright, but showed that a resolution was possible (this is all from memory, not sure where my notes are at), and that such a resolution was more likely than the ones Parmenides suggests. As far as Plato being the guy who wrote the Parmenides and Socrates barely being trumped by a 65 year old man, i'd like to put some rest to your guesses. It was commonplace in ancient Greece to suggest that the views in your writings belong to someone else. This stops you from being killed. This is also why Plato's writings were about Socrates. Plato was presenting some of Parmenides views, which he fully understood, but was unable to solve. Many historical philosophers believe that this was his expression of the fact that he had no answer. Of course, this is part of the reason why Aristotle tried so hard to find those answers. Don't get me wrong S. I think your boy plato was a fucking awesome writer, and his view on the forms was developed and important. It's also clear to me that you know much more about him than I, so i've argued as far as i can. However, i just dont think you;re right about some of this. -doug-
10/12/05 10:06 AM
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FudoMyoo
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Edited: 12-Oct-05
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Socrates,

I buy your theory that Plato was well aware of the flaws in the theory of forms as he wrote Parmenides (and it seems that he probably also held Parmenides in high esteem).

but from that premise, I can´t see how you reach your conclusion that; Platos theory is saved by "metaphors" or that the "answer lies in the dialogue as a whole". I think you need to give more specific explenations then that, to the problems Parmenides raises in the dialouge.

 

10/12/05 8:57 PM
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Socrates
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Edited: 12-Oct-05
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"I wasnt talking about the dialouge called "Parmenides" but the actual philosopher." What is your source? I strongly suspect that it relies heavily on Plato's "Parmenides" to form an idea of who Parmenides the actual philosopher was. If it is a textbook, I can almost gaurantee that this is the case. There simply aren't that many other descriptions from the time. "Say what you want about the greatness of Plato, but he was unable to solve Parmenides's puzzles." Why do you think Plato was unable to solve Parmenides' riddles? I suspect that this opinion results from the fact that Plato wrote the "Parmenides", wherein Socrates is stumped by Parmenides. People simply assume that Socrates (even at 18 years old) is the mouthpiece for Plato, so if Socrates is stumped, so is Plato. Seeing as all we know about Plato's philosophy comes from his dialogues (and some letters), this is the only reasoning one could use to come to your conclusion. I think is just very superficial reasoning, and misses the point of why Plato wrote dialogues. I will try to justify and explain this further in what follows. "It was commonplace in ancient Greece to suggest that the views in your writings belong to someone else. This stops you from being killed." Ummm, can you name some philosophers who did this? Not Anaxagoros... Not Gorgias... Not Aristotle... "This is also why Plato's writings were about Socrates." I think this is false. First off, not all Plato's dialogues have Socrates as a character (the Laws, for instance). Secondly, and more importantly, Plato hints at why he wrote dialogues in his 7th letter, and it is due to the type of knowledge that is unique to philosophy. He could not simply write down his philosophic knowledge and expect people to understand them, like the knowledge of how to build a ship. It is a different sort, and must be conveyed differently. His reasons for writing dialogues are not simply for safety, but instead are epistomological and didactic. Plato's "Phaedrus" makes this even more clear. Finally, consider this passage from Plato's "Parmenides". While inquiring about the nature of the Forms, Parmenides asks: "Then while it is one and the same, the whole of it would be in many separate individuals at once, and thus it would itself be separate from itself." "No," Socrates replied, "for it might be like day, which is one and the same, is in many places at once, and yet is not separated from itself; so each idea, though one and the same, might be in all its participants at once." "That," said he, "is very neat, Socrates you make one to be in many places at once, just as if you should spread a sail over many persons and then should say it was one and all of it was over many. Is not that about what you mean?" "Perhaps it is," said Socrates. "Would the whole sail be over each person, or a particular part over each?" "A part over each." "Then," said he, "the ideas themselves, Socrates, are divisible into parts, and the objects which partake of them would partake of a part, and in each of them there would be not the whole, but only a part of each idea." **** Do you notice anything about this passage? Parmenides argument does not follow logically. A large sheet does NOT cover an area in the same way as a day does... that is, a day does not have parts. Parmenides uses a FALSE analogy to trick a young Socrates, and Socrates as a result is stumped. Now, if Plato understood Parmenides arguments and simply wanted to present them in their mystifying glory, why would he present them through false reasoning? Doesn't it make more sense to think he might be giving a more nuanced critique of Parmenides?
10/12/05 9:12 PM
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Socrates
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Edited: 12-Oct-05
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Fudomyoo- "but from that premise, I can´t see how you reach your conclusion that;" I'm sorry for the confusion; I did not mean what I said to be a logical syllogism. They were two unrelated points. In the second, I just meant to explain how I think one needs to read a Platonic dialogue. The only way to "prove" this is to do it, and then see that it works. You must look into the action and dramatic details and see that they are being used very carefully. I mean, if Plato only cared about the arguments, why did he write all the dramatic stuff? I brought up the fact that the narrator is Plato's "half-brother" because I think it clearly illustrates the major problems of the dialogue- how a thing can be both like and unlike, one and not one. "I think you need to give more specific explenations then that, to the problems Parmenides raises in the dialouge." Perhaps the example from the my last response to vermonter would be a start, although I admit that it is not what you are asking for. Perhaps you could say which problems in particular? I will do my best to point to parts in the dialogue that I think illustrate answers, although I admit that I do not know the Parmenides well. If you disagree with my general premise about how to read a Platonic dialogue, I could point to specific passages in the "Phaedrus" that I think prove I am right (I have spent a great deal of time on the "Phaedrus").
10/13/05 8:42 AM
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Subadie
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Edited: 13-Oct-05
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Thanks Socrates This is one of the most enjoyable threads that I have read on the UG/PG. Thanks to you too FM & Doug. I may now have to pull out my old dusty copy of the "Collected Dialogues" again !
10/13/05 11:06 AM
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FudoMyoo
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Edited: 13-Oct-05 11:15 AM
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"I'm sorry for the confusion; I did not mean what I said to be a logical syllogism. They were two unrelated points."

no probs. that was probably my fault, that I read too much into what you said.

"I mean, if Plato only cared about the arguments, why did he write all the dramatic stuff?"

who knows? maybe he thought it was important to his message in some way. But even if he thought so, doesn´t mean it is important from a philosophical POV. or rather, if you think it is, you need to support that theory somehow.

 

"Perhaps the example from the my last response to vermonter would be a start"

sure, it´s a start.

"A large sheet does NOT cover an area in the same way as a day does... that is, a day does not have parts"

 

I agree it´s probably a false analogy (or rather, I don´t know what a true analogy would be like, since I can´t really make sense of Platos theory of forms). but is it really true that a day doesn´t have parts still? what about the different hours of the day?

"why would he present them through false reasoning"

even if Plato realized problems with his theory, he could still have missed that false reasoning. happens to anyone.

 

"Perhaps you could say which problems in particular? "

sure, sounds like a great idea. I´ll give it a try.

First I would like to say that I think that alot of Platos ideas about forms and his cave-analogy for example is interesting and thought-provoking, but I don´t think that gives us any good reason to believe Platonic forms exist at all. some of his concepts are quite unclear too and not really intuitive.

For example he says that the objects are part of (or partake in) their form, but he also says that for example the idea (/form) of beauty also is beauty, the idea of good is good. but then that must mean that this beauty is also part of a new idea ad infinitum. Parmenides raises this point too. And then Socrates replies that each idea is just a thought that resides inside the soul. But then he runs smack up to the problem with the many ideas (that sail-argument that Parmenides presents afterwards, when he says: is a small thing a part of the idea of "smallness"? If so, it must be just a part of the complete idea of smallness, but then that part must be smaller then the complete idea of smallness, creating a inconsistency)

So if you think that you have resolved the sail-problem, you will have to face the infinite-problem with a never ending series of ideas or vice versa.

 

another problem is what about, to use Parmenides examples, things like 'dirt' and 'hair'? What ideas/forms to they partake in? If they don´t partake in any idea, why not? and how do we know that this is not case with all things, not only things like 'hair' and 'dirt' (even Socrates mentions that he sometimes gets this doubt himself)?

Maybe this problems above can be a starting point for further discussions.

10/13/05 12:10 PM
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Socrates
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Edited: 13-Oct-05
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Subadie- I am just glad something good came out of my obnoxious, drunken post :) Fudomyoo- "who knows? maybe he thought it was important to his message in some way. But even if he thought so, doesn´t mean it is important from a philosophical POV. or rather, if you think it is, you need to support that theory somehow." I think I could give many examples of how the dramatic elements of a Platonic dialogue are necessary to understanding Plato's message; unfortunately, my examples are not from the "Parmenides" (like I said, I have not studied the "Parmenides" closely). Would you accept examples from other dialogues, and then an explanation of their philosophic import? "but is it really true that a day doesn´t have parts still? what about the different hours of the day?" I think you are misunderstanding the analogy. Socrates is saying that the forms can be in many different places at one time, just like the day is everywhere at one time. To rephrase it slightly, Socrates is saying that one and the same time spreads out over many places. If I am standing next to my friend, we are not in different parts of time just because we are in different locations. One and the same time spreads out over both our locations. The division of time into hours is a different issue; the relevent point here is how time relates to space. Now Parmenides asks Socrates if he means that time is like one sail that covers many people. Socrates agrees. This, however, is a false analogy. Just think of me and my friend standing next to each other. A different part of the sail would cover us, but not a different part of time. "even if Plato realized problems with his theory, he could still have missed that false reasoning. happens to anyone." I understand why one might assume this. However, Plato was a FAR more careful writer and thinker than that. He did not make such mistakes. If there is a false step in reasoning, it is there for a reason (usually, it tells you something about the character who agrees to it). I will just point out one thing to support this assertion. Look at Socrates response to Parmenides' false reasoning. Socrates says "Perhaps". He does not say "Yes". Socrates does NOT fully assent to this step. He hesitates. If Plato was unaware of this false step, it is quite a coincidence that he had Socrates hesitate precisely here. Isn't it more likely that he had Socrates hesitate to draw a careful reader's attention to this false step? I have to go to class, but I will try to answer your specific objections to the forms later. Take care.
10/14/05 11:11 AM
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vermonter
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Edited: 14-Oct-05
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"What is your source?" I have a text of quotes directly from, and quotes about many of the presocratics. It's not a text book, in that regard. I also had a class with an expert in ancient philosophy, and he told us many of the facts, and many of the opinions, including his own. You can ask him some of your questions yourself if you'd like. "Why do you think Plato was unable to solve Parmenides' riddles?" Because Parmenides' motion arguments could only be resolved by mathematics that werent available at the time, not even to the almighty Plato. Of course, i already alluded to this in my last post. "Ummm, can you name some philosophers who did this?" Not off the top of my head. I could be wrong about this point. *shrug* I'm not an expert like you i guess. "His reasons for writing dialogues are not simply for safety, but instead are epistomological and didactic." A big part of it, which i think you hint at, is that they believed that philosophy could only be done properly in groups. "A large sheet does NOT cover an area in the same way as a day does... " Because a day is an event, and a sheet is an object? Maybe Parmenides was pointing out this flaw in Socrates' original argument. Perhaps he believed Socrates to be comparing objects to events. Now, i dont think this is necessarily the case, and i like your thoughts on the issue. However, you admitted little knowledge about Parmenides other than the arguments presented in Plato's story. None of the philosophers around that time could answer him. -doug-
10/15/05 12:38 PM
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vermonter
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Edited: 15-Oct-05
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I dont know why i was such an asshole in my last post. Sorry about that, i dont mean to offend! -doug-
10/18/05 7:48 AM
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Subadie
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Edited: 18-Oct-05
Member Since: 10/09/2004
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I dont really want to start another thread, since most of the people on this thread know the answer to a question I have. I remember in one of my philosophy classes (Ancient ? Science ?) we spoke about the prefix "Meta," at least a whole class on it. Primarily with respect to "the Metaphysics." I remember because it was a very interesting topic. I wont go into the meaning of the word here. Recently though I read that naming of the metaphysics was quite simple. If I remember correctly, Aristotle did not name his books, rather his writings were gathered by his students and named. What is now known as "the Metaphysics" was simply some writings that did not really fit into the other books. Since his students in preparing a compilation of his books placed this book of "non-fitting" writings after the book called "the Physics," they called it the metaphysics. So, regarding the meaning of "Meta" who is right
12/17/05 4:15 AM
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AlabamaSmooth
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Edited: 17-Dec-05
Member Since: 03/20/2002
Posts: 135
theory of the forms is bullshit...please explain how the forms make any scientific sense, furthermore plato through socrtates denied the beuty of human instinct and the human body

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