PORTRAIT OF THE PHILOSOPHER AS A YOUNG MAN:
Socrates Meets Parmenides
Joel Warren Lidz, Ph.D.
Author's Note: Translations from the German are my own. References to
the Greek text of the Parmenides are from the H.N. Fowler edition (Harvard Univ. Press, 1926).
Statement of Principles
In this paper I wish to propose a reading of the first part of Plato's
dialogue. A common interpretation of the dialogue would have it that Plato here criticizes his own so-called "theory
of forms." This is a view to which I do not subscribe. It assumes that the Parmenides ought to be understood retrospectively
(Plato is rejecting his theory of forms), rather than prospectively (Plato is having us imagine Socrates' philosophical
development, especially in relation to Eleatic logic).
Our understanding of Plato's thought is mediated by two and one-half millennia of academic philosophizing which has become sedimented upon it. Scholarship is itself a product of cultural history, and so reflects to a degree what its culture takes for granted about itself and everything else. As with the sciences, the study of the history of philosophy proceeds within a tradition of research: which questions are asked, the sorts of language used to deal with those questions, etc., are all determined in large part by the tradition of research.
My personal interest in philosophy has long been ambivalent, as it seems to me that whatever the accomplishments of philosophy across the centuries, many dimensions of human existence had either been ignored or described in an impoverished form. In part, this is attributable to the predominant position of epistemology in the post-Cartesian era (imagine how philosophy would have been different had Vico occupied the place held by Descartes!) and partly because of the narrowly focused analytical methods employed by many philosophers, often in imitation of their scientific colleagues. The standard style of practicing philosophy is also reflected in the orthodox approach to reading Plato, both in the methods used to interpret the dialogues, as well as in determining what is of most interest and importance therein.(1) In short , it is my contention that much Plato scholarship is anachronistic by virtue of assuming that Plato's concerns, methods, etc. were the same as those of later scholarship.
How one conceives of philosophy's nature - a question all too often decided by default - affects one's hermeneutic presuppositions. Thus, one finds that throughout history, Plato has been read and understood in profoundly different ways.(2) One need only compare the writings on Plato by ancient and modern writers, or by current philosophers, classicists, literary critics, theologians, etc., in order to recognize that the dialogues lend themselves to a myriad of interpretive styles.(3) It seems that underlying most philosophical commentators' approach to Plato is the following syllogism:
Philosophical writings have characteristics 1 ... x.
Plato's works are philosophical writings.
Hence they have characteristics 1 ... x.
Of these characteristics, the presentation of doctrine is one of the foremost, while literary devices such as myth are minimized or excluded as being philosophically irrelevant. My guiding principle is a willingness to consider every aspect of the dialogues as potentially philosophically meaningful. Consequently, I adopt the following principles:
(1) The dialogues' form has a bearing on their content.
(2) Contradictions within and among the dialogues can be interpreted in at least five ways: (a) Plato lacked the logical acumen to detect the contradictions; (b) his acumen failed him in a particular ease; (c) he changed his mind; (d) a correct interpretation reveals that the contradictions are merely apparent; or (e) it is not Plato's primary goal to present his reader with a logically systematic doctrine, but that his aims lie elsewhere. I proceed on the basis of (e), though Richard Kraut considers this to be a "hazardous way of approaching Plato."(4) Hazardous it may be, but Plato never promised us an olive grove. This Cartesian "fear of falling into error" (as Hegel called it) is not a fear which plagued the ancients, and it seems a bit odd that while certain scholars are loath to speculate on the significance of the literary elements of the dialogue, they are often more than willing to tolerate divergent speculations with respect to the chronology of the dialogues' composition. Kraut's concern assumes that the hazardous route is avoidable and that it is preferable to avoid it. I believe that it would be of considerable value to Kraut and those who agree with him if they were to reflect on (a) why one might make such assumptions (b) what the implications of doing so for philosophical practice are; and (c) the sense in which a literary approach to Plato is "hazardous." (Should there be hermeneutic insurance?)
(3) Differences in form and conflicts in content exist between the dialogues, as well as within particular ones. Even in antiquity. Athenaeus (ca. 200 CE.) attacked Plato for expelling the poets while himself writing mimetikos, while Cicero says: "The inconsistencies of Plato are a long story..." (De naturum deorum, 1, 30, xii). Such conflicts between word and deed, or simply between words, imply to many authors that Plato underwent a shift in his doctrines. But attempts to base a chronology on stylistic changes assume that Plato was mastered by his style rather than being master of it.(5) Guthrie has noted that: "In many dialogues the human element is paramount and the argument is tailored to the characters, not vice versa,"(6) a fact rarely appreciated. If Plato's intention was similar to that of the tragedians, viz., to illustrate how and why thought, like action -- which of course is based on thought -- can fail and lead to misery, then the attempt to discover a doctrine in anything like the usual sense must be misguided. Finally, if Dionysius of Halicarnassus was correct in relating that Plato continued to revise his works until his eightieth year,(7) then it would be difficult to see how the dialogues could be classified according to a simple early-middle-late schema.
(4) Plato's relation to dramatic art was noted throughout antiquity. According to an ancient story, Plato was carrying a tragedy he had written when he happened upon Socrates talking in front of the theater. Plato stopped to listen and then went home and burned his tragedies. (Whereas Nietzsche understood this as a rejection of art in favor of dialectic, I understand it as a rejection of an old art form in favor of a new one, albeit one which often subsumes dialectic.) The Anonymous Prolegomena says that Plato sought the company of tragic poets "in order to steep himself in their grandiose style" (3, 2, 7) and Plato seems to have been influenced to a notable degree by the comedies and mimes of such authors as Sophron and Epicharmus (called a "master of comedy" at Theaetetus 152e).
(5) In opposition to the view that the dialogues were intended to convey doctrines to their readers I would suggest that they are instead meant to catalyze philosophical conversations, which they accomplish by way of depicting conversations which are realistic in the sense that all of the logical, rhetorical and psychological elements which are present in any normal everyday conversation are also present in, and relevant to, an understanding of the dialogues. This realism draws us into the action and means that the dialogues cannot be approached as if they were treatises containing doctrines (i.e., fixed, settled teachings which can be stored and transmitted by media). Socrates does not have his interlocutors seek out his beliefs, but rather helps them discover their own. Surely one can make a case the dialogues proceed with the same intent.
(6) A serious attempt must be made to understand the works as compositions which (like any human production) necessarily reflect something of their sociohistorical context. In addition, one must (so far as is possible) be sensitive to Plato's use of Greek, historical references, etc. In the case of Plato's Parmenides, an important part of the historical background is Gorgias' treatise On Non-being, which argues (a) that nothing exists, (b) that if anything did exist it still could not be thought or known, and (c) that if any existing thing could be thought or known, it could not be communicated. (The text does not survive, but exists in the form of two paraphrases attributed to Aristotle and Sextus.) I believe that such scholars as Guthrie, Kerferd and Versenyi are correct in their claim that Gorgias' purpose is to demonstrate the absurdities of Eleatic logic.(8) Since Plato was a master of parody, one must consider the possibility that he too is parodying Eleatic logic, though even if true, it does not follow that parody exhausts the significance of the work.(9)
Self-Forgetfulness, Comedy and Play
We shall see that Plato has portrayed both Parmenides and the Eleatic Stranger as characters who have forgotten the limitations of their respective methods (i.e, who take too seriously their capacity to attain the truth). It is this seriousness (which naturally attends hubris) that accounts for the sober tenor of the Sophist, Statesman and Parmenides - not, as some have assumed, the crabbiness of old age on Plato's part. For Socrates is playful as usual at the opening of the Sophist, before he is excluded from the discussion; he is even playful (in a characteristically caustic way) in the first part of the Parmenides, before he is excluded from that discussion. I believe that the Parmenides is a satirical work reflecting Plato's ongoing concern with sophistry.(10) H.G. Gadamer writes: "Die Methode der Begriffseinteilung, die Aristoteles mit pedantischern Ernst wegen ihrer mangelnden Beweiskraft kritisiert, wird in Platos Dialogen nicht ohne Humor und mit ironischen Akzenten geschildert. Vollends der 'Parmenides' liest sich fast wie eine Komödie und lässt sich seinen Sinn ziemlich ratlos."(11)
The comic tends to occur in Plato when a contradiction or incongruity manifests itself between someone's self-conception (as it is revealed either in word or deed) and his true nature (e.g., Socrates is comically ironical in his claim to be ignorant, while the Sophists are likewise in their claim to be knowing). This opposition reflects the distinction made in ancient comedies between the eiron, who habitually understates his worth, and the alazon, who consistently exaggerates his worth.(12) In the case of the Parmenides, such comic irony lies in the opposition between the outward rigidity of Parmenides' method aiming at comprehensiveness (and reflected in Aristoteles' machine-like responses), and the ultimate lack of a synoptic vision (i.e., comprehensiveness), which in the Republic (537c) Socrates refers to as a mark of the dialectician.
In my opinion, Parmenides and Aristoteles have been associated so as to suggest that an affinity exists between tyranny and Parmenides' hypothetical method. Consider: that form of government in which rule is established by fiat is tyranny. Analogously, the establishment of archai in Parmenides' method is accomplished by fiat, for, as Parmenides asks immediately prior to commencing his gymnastic, "Where shall we begin, then? What supposition shall we start with? Would you like me, since we are committed to play out this laborious game, to begin with myself and my own original presupposition?" (137b). To this, Parmenides' epigone assents: "By all means, said Zeno." Thus, no rational justification has been proffered for the establishment of the chosen hypothesis.(13)
At 133d, Parmenides says to Socrates, "Suppose, for instance, that one of us is master or slave of another." Now the irony of the situation is that once Parmenides begins his hypotheses, he effectively is the master of Socrates, in the sense that Socrates is forbidden to interject. Socrates is reduced to the status of a passive slave who may only witness what occurs, but may never object. Moreover, Parmenides' hypotheses function as archai (i.e., they "rule" over the process of inquiry). To reject such hypotheses thus amounts to a kind of subversiveness -- a refusal to submit to the conditions "laid down" by the hypotheses. Such rejection or annulment of hypotheses constitutes, according to the Republic (533c), the specific difference of the dialectical method. If dialectic is understood in this way, the Eleatic Stranger's statement in the Sophist (253c), according to which "dialectic is the episteme that belongs to the free man," becomes quite intelligible.
Clearly, Parmenides' relation to Socrates bears little resemblance to that which Socrates establishes with the philosophically inclined young men of Athens with whom he engages in maieutics. Parmenides refers to himself as "an old race horse"(14) and to his hypothesizing as a "laborious game" (or "exercise"). He purposely puts himself through his paces, as it were, in the presence of someone incapable of asking questions so that he (Parmenides) will be able to have an occasional rest. Surely this self-depiction of Parmenides smacks of the comical.(15) But does this humorous portrayal of what occurs in the second part of the dialogue in any way vitiate the claim that Parmenides' arguments are undertaken seriously? Or is it not rather the case that the self-image voiced by Parmenides forces the reader to look at the exercise as a whole, at its (and Parmenides') character, rather than simply becoming inundated in the "sea of words" (137b), as does Parmenides (and many scholars who have undertaken to explain the dialogue's significance? Does not Parmenides' description of his practice serve as a reminder (along with Socrates' youthful presence) of what is lacking here, of the higher possibilities of dialectic which only the mature Socrates will attain? Must we not remember that while philosophy for Parmenides is a "laborious game," a "sea of words" that leaves him physically spent, philosophy for Socrates is anything but a game; it is a practice marked by eros and mania, but which leaves him physically dead.(16)
My interpretation of the dramatic setting of the Parmenides leads to the conclusion that Parmenides' conception of the nature of philosophy is radically at variance with the Socratic-Platonic conception of philosophy as paideia.(17) Whereas Socrates attempts to aid his student in the ascent toward a vision of the eide, so that it becomes possible to measure the human realm against the "divine" realm of the eide, Parmenides is concerned solely with describing the structure of Being. From a Socratic-Platonic point of view, such a concern smacks of hubris, for it forgets that the nature of human existence is that of mediating Being and non-Being, though erotically attracted toward Being. The Parmenidean project finally appears as an instance of self-forgetfulness, leading to a sort of intellectualism. Each of Parmenides' criticisms of Socrates rests upon a sort of crude and static materialism and is presented in rigid either/or terms. Socrates attempts to respond to Parmenides' criticisms by hinting at the incorporeal nature of the eide, though presumably as a result of his youth, his attempts prove ineffective. It therefore becomes the burden of the reader to develop Socrates' thoughts in a direction more in consonance with Socrates' hints.
The Parmenides: Introductory Remarks
Concerning Plato's motives for writing the Parmenides. Brumbaugh writes as follows:
"Whether the meeting of young Socrates and Parmenides ever actually took place or was Plato's own invention is less important for an interpretation of the dialogue than the question why Plato should go to such pains to invent or recreate it nearly a century later. The most reasonable motive would be the recurrence or continuation of the same positions and issues in the philosophic world at the time this dialogue was written."(18)
The contemporary positions to which Brumbaugh alludes are those of Eudoxus, as well as those of the logicians and physicists of Megara, who continued Eleatic doctrine. In addition to the opposition which Brumbaugh suggests Plato received from these camps, he also refers to criticism of the Academy by Isocrates and the Many, for whom the members of the Academy engaged in "idle chatter."
All of these speculations seem to be eminently plausible from the historical standpoint. However, the question remains as to why Plato had Parmenides occupy the dialogue's central position, rather than Eudoxus, Isocrates, or a representative of the Many. I believe that here too Plato is following his literary idiom: Parmenides must have epitomized for him a certain human type. Thus, the Parmenides of the dialogue stands to the historical Parmenides as the Socrates of the dialogues stands to the historical Socrates; the former in each case is a fictionalization of the latter. These fictionalizations intend to exhibit what is essential about the respective tropoi of the historical Socrates and Parmenides; in so doing, they do not represent individual persons but ideal types. But it belongs to the essence of the ideal type to transcend any particular historical situation and so, perhaps, we should not be overly distracted by the historical considerations mentioned by Brumbaugh. That Plato "should go to such pains to invent or recreate the conversation of the Parmenides"(19) is no more or less mysterious than his creation of his other works. Each work demands an interpretation proper to it.
The presence of Socrates in the Parmenides should serve as an indication that here, as elsewhere, Socrates is the human embodiment of the love of wisdom, who is to be contrasted with others who outwardly resemble him. Parmenides, after all, was someone the young Socrates would have to transcend. Thus, as Friedländer writes: "Even when he was writing the Parmenides, Plato was still enough of a creative and ironic thinker, or simply enough of a human being, not to have Socrates stand by in silence without compelling the reader to discover through this presence the Socratic meaning in the midst of such un-Socratic exercises."(20) To discover this Socratic meaning will remain my foremost task throughout this study.
The Dramatic Setting: 126a-127d
Cephalus has arrived at Athens from Clazomenae (the hometown of Anaxagoras) in order to hear a report of a discussion held much earlier between Parmenides and a "very young" Socrates. Because the names of three persons in the opening scene (Cephalus, Adeimantus and Glaucon) also occur in the opening scene of the Republic, the reader is made to bear the latter work in mind while reading the former. Both the Republic and the Parmenides present images of paideia. In the Republic, a mature Socrates educates a young Glaucon concerning the nature of the best regime, while in the Parmenides, a youthful Socrates is educated concerning the nature of philosophy as Parmenides conceives of it. And just as the Cephalus of the Republic symbolically represents the conservatism of tradition and so must be made to exclude himself from the presence of philosophizing which seeks to establish a new order, the Cephalus of the Parmenides, insofar as he passes on the discussion contained in that work, may also be seen as representative of tradition in its original sense of traditio: to give over by word.
It is surely significant that Cephalus and his companions ask Antiphon to relate the conversation which had taken place between Socrates, Parmenides and Zeno, since this indicates that their interest lies in the first part of the dialogue. As Niewöhner points out:
"Dass Kephalos und die Philosophen aus Klazomenal allein nach dem Gespräch zwischen Sokrates, Zenon und Parmenides fragen - also dem ersten Teil des Dialogs - und nicht nach dem Gespräch Parmenides - junger Aristoteles also dern zweiten Teil des Dialogs - , obwohl das zweite Gespräch die dreifache Länge des ersten hat, kann als ein erster Hinweis darauf gelten, dass sich das eigentlich philosophische Geschehen im ersten Gespräch abspielt."(21)
However, the second part purports to show a methodos capable of averting the sort of aporia into which Socrates had fallen in the first part. That Cephalus asks specifically to hear the first part of the dialogue would therefore seem to indicate that what is important to him is not the solution to the aporiai of the first part, proposed by Parmenides in the second part, but rather the recognition that such aporiai exist -- a recognition shared by both Socrates and Parmenides.
According to Cornford: "For some reason Plato preferred not to cast the dialogue into straightforward dramatic form. He may have felt that the elaborate explanation of how it came to be handed down might help the reader to overlook the impossibility that a conversation even remotely resembling this one should ever have occurred."(22) But this is far from helpful. Why didn't Plato cast the dialogue into straightforward dramatic form? Surely to answer this question, one would need to have some idea of what the presence of dramatic form signifies in Plato (i.e., the circumstances which demand its inclusion or exclusion). Allow me to suggest that most fundamentally, a dramatic form is called for when a dialogue's character undergoes a radical change of some sort - a "turning around" of his soul - e.g., the "taming" of Thrasymachus or the educating of Glaucon in the Republic. If this is so, the reader must ask what analogous sort of deed takes place in the Parmenides.
The only deed which I believe might be suggested in this regard is this: Parmenides reveals to Socrates that he has failed to adequately consider certain difficulties inherent in his understanding of eide. Parmenides accomplishes this by questioning Socrates in such a way as to show him that on the basis of his presuppositions concerning eide, he can be led quite easily to a state of aporia.(23) However, Parmenides does not supplement his criticism of Socrates with a positive attempt to educate Socrates with respect to the nature of eide, despite the fact that Parmenides stresses the necessity of their existence (135a-b). Rather, Parmenides enacts a gymnastic claiming to exemplify a philosophical method which is universally efficacious. Apparently, it is not simply Socrates who must follow this method if he wishes to grasp the truth, but anyone who so desires. It thus seems that the form of Parmenides' method is every bit as abstract as its content; just as its content is the One, which is to say, nothing in particular, so its form is unrelated to any particular persons or conversation.
Oddly, Cephalus is unable to remember the name of Adeimantus half-brother, Antiphon, yet he has no visible difficulty in recalling the entirety of this immeasurably abstruse conversation! Here two points must be noted. First, Cephalus has forgotten the name of a person, but remembers a metaphysical (i.e., impersonal) discussion. Secondly, Cephalus' fails to remember something simple (the name of a person), while at the same time being able to recall the whole of a complex, protracted argument. In the Parmenides, a critique of method is being hinted at, by way of a reminder of the characteristically finite nature of the existential context within which the intellectual proceeds to make his divisions or pose his hypotheses. In short, the intellectuals caricatured by Plato have forgotten themselves. The Sophist and Parmenides dialogues are in their own way as existential as the early dialogues; their lesson is that mathematics (or methodology) can be as seductive as poetry and for that reason a rival of philosophy. (24) But that is a lesson that is hard for us to see, since we moderns have already been seduced by mathematics and do not wish to renounce our beloved.
Plato's portrayal of Cephalus in the Parmenides militates against our acceptance of his judgment concerning the philosophical nature of his friends, for whereas Parmenides had traveled to Athens to witness the games, Cephalus has come to Athens to hear (and apparently memorize) a philosophical discussion which took place long before. But what does this tell us about Cephalus' relation to philosophy? It would appear that for Cephalus philosophy is much like an agon. He and his friends have traveled far in order to hear a reenactment of the bout and so it seems that for Cephalus and his friends, philosophy is a sort of game or pastime to be witnessed rather than experienced. By comparison, genuine philosophy always grows out of an immediate existential concern which cannot be rightfully ignored, unlike a mere game, which lacks existential urgency. The difference between these two conceptions of philosophy is enormous; for example, in the Phaedo, the problem of immortality arises within the context of Socrates' impending execution, and in the Euthyphro, the problem of the nature of piety occurs within the context of Euthyphro's purporting to commit a pious act.
The place of memory looms very large in the Parmenides: Cephalus has heard the discussion from Antiphon, who in turn heard it from Pythodorus. Thus, we are at once placed in the realm of hearsay and forced to trust the memories of no less than three men. We have seen that while Cephalus professes to be in the company of men who are "quite philosophical," this interest manifests itself not in any Socratic fashion, but rather in the taking of what seems to he a purely historical interest. Antiphon's interest in philosophy appears even more deficient than Cephalus for although Antiphon had long ago devoted himself to memorizing the conversation, at present he is devoted primarily to horses instead of wisdom and is reluctant to repeat the discussion -- a "considerable task" -- but soon accedes to his guests' wishes, much as Parmenides had at first hesitated to enact the original discussion. Instead of referring to Parmenides' hypothesizing as a discussion, perhaps it would be more accurate to see in it a display of his methodological prowess, similar to Gorgias' display of his rhetorical prowess (or Antiphon's display of his mnemonic prowess). In brief, I understand the complicated oral transmission of the conversation to be a kind of gymnastic, for gymnastic is clearly a pervasive theme of the Parmenides. (Parmenides refers to gymnasthai five times.) It plays, I believe, an excessive role in Parmenides' conception of philosophy.
Parmenides' comparison of himself with a race horse is to be linked to the fact that both he and Zeno have come to Athens to witness the games. But instead of being a spectator, Parmenides ends being a participant in them; he refers to his logos as "playing a laborious game" (137b). Purportedly, these exercises are undertaken for the sake of a Socrates too young (!) to appreciate the oneness of such things as beauty and goodness on the one hand, and hair, mud and dirt on the other. This homogenization of the crass and the noble is reminiscent of the Eleatic Stranger's inability to distinguish the relative merits of the general's and louse-catcher's respective technai in the Sophist (227a, ff.).
Parmenides' reference to himself as a "race horse" is significant in another respect. The object of a race is that of traversing the greatest distance possible in the least time. One result of so doing is weariness, a condition Parmenides was all too aware would occur: "I feel like the old race horse in Ibycus, who trembles at the start of the chariot race, knowing from long experience what is in store for him" (137a). Such weariness contrasts with the condition of the soul which Socrates, having matured, describes as characteristic of philosophy: enthusiasm or divine madness (Phaedrus 265a, ff.).
Since one's ability to engage in racing is directly proportional to the absence of obstacles along the path, the danger always exists that a partisan of speediness will intentionally choose routes with the least obstacles -- just as Parmenides chooses Aristoteles to be his interlocutor with the express intention of avoiding obstacles. But must we not ask whether being able to choose one's route is a luxury which belongs to racing (and other games), and whether the "route" which the philosopher must follow is one prescribed by the "joints" of Being, i.e. , one which must proceed "according to eidos"?
In conclusion, I wish to draw together some of the themes which have been discussed, in order to indicate what I believe their significance to be for the dialogue as a whole. Young Socrates symbolizes eros, which, although necessary for philosophy to take place, remains in his case without direction. By contrast, the elderly Parmenides, who is lacking in eros, symbolizes logical, systematic order. While the mature Socrates certainly manages to integrate the eros of his youth with a kind of logical techne, he retains his youthful concern with the Beautiful, Good and Just, and directs both his eros and his technetoward such themes. We may therefore say that Parmenides' educating of Socrates was beneficial in that it revealed the need of submitting himself to the rigors of a "gymnastic" or logical training; but it was deficient in that, like Anaxagorean thought, it failed to provide a synoptic account and did not recognize the Good as the measure of what is.
What appears to be a dearth of dramatic action in the Parmenides reflects the sober, unerotic content of the dialogue. Understood within a broader context, this apparent dearth of dramatic qualities may itself be viewed as a dramatic-mimetic device, mirroring the unerotic, undramatic character of Parmenides and of his practice. As is idiomatic of Plato's style of composition, the dramatic context of the Parmenides hints, in typically subtle fashion, at the nature of what is to be presented in the dialogue. The oblique introduction of such themes as self-forgetfulness, materialistic ontology, etc., permits the author of the dialogue to remind his readers of themes which will be suppressed because of the character of this particular dialogue's dramatis personae. In short, by means of his dramatic context Plato manages to point to what is lacking (i.e., to what has been left unsaid) in what has been said.
Socrates vs. Zeno: 127c-130a
During the reading of Zeno's treatise, Parmenides was absent. Apparently, Parmenides was already well acquainted with its content and Zeno served as his advance man.(25) The young Aristoteles, who will later become one of the Thirty Tyrants (127d), was also absent during Zeno's presentation, and entered the room with Parmenides and Pythodorus only near the end of the lecture. Zeno is said to have become Parmenides "darling." But we will see that Zeno has been portrayed by Plato in a particularly unflattering manner; for Cornford, "Plato seems to have thought of him as a mere sophist."(26) If this is so, however, then the fact that Zeno had become Parmenides' "darling" must reflect poorly upon Parmenides.
"When Zeno had finished [delivering his treatise] Socrates asked him to read once more the first hypothesis of the first argument. He did so and Socrates asked, 'What does this statement mean, Zeno'?" In returning to the first hypothesis of the first argument, Socrates reveals his interest in that which is most fundamental; he asks to go back to the beginning. Such an attempt to return to the origin contrasts with Parmenides' hypothesizing, which is characterized by an inexorable moving ahead, made possible by a contrived conversational context: the silencing of the philosopher.
Socrates goes on to accuse Zeno of attempting to delude his audience into thinking that he is claiming something other than that claimed by Parmenides: Whereas Parmenides asserts unity, Zeno asserts no plurality. In this respect, Zeno admits that Socrates is correct, but says that his criticism is "incidental" (128c). Zeno goes on to say that Socrates has misunderstood the nature of his work, which should not itself be construed as a positive doctrine, but rather as a "defense of Parmenides' argument against those who try to make fun of it." It attempts to do this by showing that the hypothesis according to which plurality exists "leads to even more ludicrous consequences than the hypothesis of the One." This last statement of Zeno implies that while the hypothesis which asserts a plurality is unacceptable, the Parmenidean hypothesis is not entirely tenable, either. Zeno continues by pointing out that Socrates has wrongly imagined his work to have been inspired by an older man's "love of honor," whereas in truth it was inspired by a youthful "love of controversy." Thus, Zeno does not see the love of wisdom as being that which motivates philosophical discourse; rather, young men typically do it out of a love of controversy (i.e., an athletic-like desire for competition), while older men do it for the sake of receiving honor -- something received by the victor of an agon.(27)
How "incidental," then, was Socrates' criticism of Zeno? Socrates has, in effect, forced Zeno to admit that he has failed to support the truth of Parmenides' argument; he has simply aided in debunking the opposition and this was done, not out of a dedication to the pursuit of truth, but merely out of a love of controversy. Indeed, had Zeno's treatise not been stolen and made public without Zeno's approval, Zeno may have never publicized it and so would not have even accomplished the little he has. Thus it appears that Socrates' criticism of Zeno was not at all "incidental."
Following this initial attack upon Zeno, Socrates proceeds to show that Zeno's thesis rests on shaky ground. By appealing to the notion of things participating in eide, Socrates wants to show that no contradiction arises by virtue of one thing being also many, for one thing can participate in a multiplicity of eide.(28) It would only be surprising, says Socrates, if: (a) things which are simply alike or unlike prove to be unlike or like; (b) what is simply Unity itself is many or Plurality itself is one; or (c) Forms among themselves can be combined with, or separated from, one another.
During the course of Socrates' criticism of Zeno, Parmenides and Zeno exchange glances and smiles in admiration of Socrates. How should the reader interpret these gestures? I would suggest that they are analogous to the reaction of an athletic coach who has made the discovery of a new talent. Having made such a discovery, Parmenides intends to provide Socrates with what we today would term a "fitness program," intended to remedy the weaknesses in Socrates' reasoning.(29) Parmenides is not about to ignore the attack upon his "darling" and will respond by paying Socrates back "in like coin" as Zeno had done with the detractors of Parmenides (128d).
Parmenides vs. Socrates: What Kinds of Beings Possess Eide? (130b-130e)
Parmenides asks Socrates whether he himself is responsible for having drawn a distinction betweeneide and things, and whether he holds there to be "such a thing as likeness itself apart from the likeness that we possess." Now we see that Socrates' theory, unlike Zeno's, is an original one and this points to his philosophical ability. Having ascertained that Socrates affirms the existence of an eidos for each of the terms of Zeno's argument, Parmenides inquires about the existence of eide for "justice, beauty, and all such things." Again, Socrates affirms the existence of eide. When asked about man, fire and water, Socrates admits his perplexity. With regard to such "undignified objects" as hair, dirt and mud, Socrates maintains that these "are just the things we see" and do not possess eide. The problem of whether "what is true in each case may not be true in all" brings the young Socrates to an impasse; he says it would be too "strange" (or "repugnant") to suppose dirt, etc., to have eide. Having reached this point of quandary, Socrates invariably returns to consider those sorts of things which he feels do have eide. On account of this, Parmenides accuses Socrates of failing to face up to this problem, attributing the failure to Socrates' youth and concern with popular opinion.
Perhaps the most striking thing about this episode is this: While it is true that Socrates is unable to defend his practice of limiting himself to relational terms such as unity and likeness, and to ethical terms, Parmenides in no way demonstrates that practice to be unacceptable. Instead, he merely predicts that maturity will show Socrates the true (i.e., Parrnenidean) path to follow -- a prediction the reader knows to be wholly inaccurate. As A.L. Peck notes:
"it is impossible to avoid gaining the impression as one reads Parmenides' criticisms that his attitude to Socrates is eristic throughout. He makes no real attempt to help Socrates to elucidate his theory of Forms, but ... applies the regular Eleatic technique to Socrates' hypothesis, and indeed uses eristic verbal tricks in order to score off Socrates. This is hardly the proper way for a 'revered' elder philosopher to behave towards a young man just entering upon philosophy, however wrong-headed he may consider his views to be; and for my part I cannot discount the possibility that Plato intends to paint Parmenides as the villain of the piece."(30)
When Parmenides accounts for Socrates' predilection for knowledge of certain types of beings by saying that that is because philosophy "has not yet taken hold of you so firmly as I believe it will someday" (130e), he is of course assuming quite a bit about the nature of philosophy.
What is thus at issue in this exchange is not so much whether or not all beings possess eide, but rather whether all objects are equal with respect to their goodness or, still more fundamentally, whether philosophy is even concerned with the relative goodness of different sorts of things. The reader cannot help but wonder how Socrates might have responded to Parmenides had he been older. May we not assume that Socrates would have defended a view similar to the following, expressed by Aquinas: "Minimum quod potest haberi de cognitione rerum altissimarum, desiderabilius est quam certissiana cognitio quae habetur de minimus rebus."(31)
Insofar as hair, dirt and mud are intelligible, they, like justice, must possess eide. But the relation of humans to hair, mud and dirt on the one hand, and to justice and the other virtues on the other, is not the same. The eide of the human virtues are bound up with human life in a way that the eide of "worthless and vile" things are not. For not everything which is intelligible is also beautiful; humans are erotically attracted to -- and so emulate -- only the beautiful. Mud is not a paradigm of action, that is to say. Justice, however, is, and as Socrates asks in the Republic (500c): "do you suppose there is any way of keeping someone from imitating that which he admires and therefore keeps company with?" The consequence of seeing (and therefore imitating) Justice is that one becomes just; the consequence of seeing the Form of mud, however, is not that one becomes muddy.
In various places Socrates notes that eide such as Justice are not given to sight as are iron and silver, and that men disagree far less about the nature of things (like iron and silver) which can be ostensively defined, than about those things which, like Justice, cannot be so defined (Phaedrus, 263a-b). Moreover, the right and the wrong, the noble and base, and the good and bad do not permit of a measuring art which could easily put to rest a dispute about their natures (Euthyphro, 7c-d; Protagoras, 356d). Hair, mud and dirt are not intrinsically problematic in the way that Justice and Beauty are, while treating the former as equivalent to the latter would ineluctably lead to "trifling" (Parmenides, 130d). The fact that men disagree (often vehemently) concerning the nature of Justice and Beauty, rather than hair and mud, points to the difference between the way each of these kinds of entities shows itself to humans.(32)
Whereas the craftsman transforms a situation into another which responds to the needs of the present situation, the philosopher remains far more radical in that he attempts to view the eide of the virtues; for the result of such a vision does not necessarily correspond to the needs of the present situation. That, of course, is why craftsmen are more popular with the Many than are philosophers; the former respond uncritically to common desires. The philosopher transcends the status quo by questioning the alleged needs of the present situation. The harmony which the philosopher attempts to establish is more ultimate than that attempted by the craftsman, since the latter simply wishes to establish a harmony between material conditions and the present condition of persons. But the philosopher attempts to alter the present condition of persons, such that a harmony will result between what they desire and what is fitting for their nature.
Parmenides looks upon things neither with respect to their goodness within ethical contexts, nor in the more mundane context of technai; his standpoint is that of the kosmotheoros. When he indifferently rattles off a list of entities ranging from Beauty and Goodness down to hair and mud, he does so in the absence of any sort of context within which the nature of any of these entities might be rendered problematic. The mere thought of mud in association with Goodness offends the sensibilities of the young Socrates. But when one "looks toward" the eide, one does so from within a particular existential context which requires that one look beyond the given situation in the hope of transforming it, so that it will correspond more closely to what it can and ought to be. In the absence of such a definite existential context it is difficult if not impossible to make sense of eide. For the claim that eide exist means first and foremost that there exists more than that which "first meets the eye" and that knowledge requires that one transcend that which first meets the eye in an attempt to reveal this "something more." The eidos of a thing is the completion of its noblest possibilities, that mode of being most appropriate to it, and such is visible only to the imagination -- the "eye of the mind." That mode of being appropriate to a thing's nature constitutes that thing's good, its aretê. Eugen Fink writes: "Gut ist also nicht so sehr ein Prädikat, das einer seienden Sache aufgestutzt wird, es bezeichnet die echte und rechte Seinsweise eines Seienden."(33)
Both Parmenides and Socrates attempt to specify in a sort of vacuum of pure theory which things have eide and which don't. Whether a thing is seen as having an eidos depends, however, upon how that thing is encountered in a particular existential context (i.e., in relation to a one's attempt to come to terms with one's situation). In certain cases, one may recognize a discrepancy between the way things are (appear to be) and the way things should be, their higher truth, and thereby be impelled to go in search of this true being, that "something more" which does not first meet the eye, viz. the eidos. What is true of particular eide cannot be true of eide in general, since the question concerning the nature of eide as such does not arise in practical situations. Whereas the destiny of the polis does depend upon knowledge of particular eide (the virtues), it does not depend upon knowledge of the nature of eide as such.
Pure theory cannot, therefore, be responsible for our first awareness of eide, simply because it abstracts from human needs, praxis, etc. Instead, it is in the process of dealing with the world, of attempting to get something done (whether the making of a shuttle or the construction of a just politeia in logos), that there emerges into view the recognition that something better lies beyond what is presently given to us. Only then does theory step in, remaining tied to the original situation of praxis, in an attempt to render visible that "something better." Since the desire to accomplish something stems from the antecedent recognition that what-is is lacking in certain respects, we may say that the desire to see the eide (that which truly is) derives from our seeing that-which-is-not.
The tension which humans experience between Being and non-Being occurs as a result of the way in which things manifest themselves to him -- as one with themselves or not.(34) This relation between modes of seeing and the human condition is perhaps best noted in the cave analogy of the Republic, where the way in which the prisoners see -- inadequately, for they see only silhouettes of beings which are in truth internally articulated -- is not accidentally related to their condition of bondage, which is a direct consequence of their failure to see fully, to see what is as it is. But to say that these slaves are prisoners (of their own condition) is to say that they are precluded from acting most responsibly; for to be responsible is to be able to respond, to give an account of one's acts, whereas this is impossible for one who cannot see what is. It is only those few who manage to break free of their bonds (i.e., to reorient or adopt a new mode of vision, becoming oriented toward that which truly is), who thereby free themselves toward rational, responsible action.
In brief, then, the philosopher senses a profound tension or contradiction within his existential condition between what he actually is and what he truly is (that which he presently is not); he senses a coincidence of opposites within himself - a coincidence of Being and non-Being. But this recognition of the possibility of a coincidence of opposites is not to be found in the thought of either the historical or the Platonic Parmenides, both of whom view Being in an either/ or fashion: either it is or it is not. Clearly, however, the Western tradition has for the most part followed Parmenides' lead in accepting a strict opposition between Being and non-Being, thus denying the possibility of a coincidentia oppositorum. According to Octavio Paz, the 1990 Nobel Laureate in Literature, that the reconciliation of opposites:
"does not imply a reduction or transmutation of the singularity of each term, is a wall that Western thought has refused to leap over or to perforate as yet. Since Parmenides our world has been the world of the clear and trenchant distinction between what is and what is not. Being is not nonbeing. This first extirpation - because it was an uprooting of being from the primordial chaos - constitutes the basis of our thinking. On this conception was built the artifice of clear and distinct ideas, which, if it has made Western history possible, has also condemned to a kind of illegality every attempt to lay hold upon being by any means other than those of these principles. Mysticism and poetry have thus lived a subsidiary, clandestine and diminished life. The split has been inexpressible and constant. The consequences of that banishment of poetry are more evident and frightening each day: man is an exile from the cosmic flux and from himself. Because now no one is unaware that Western metaphysics ends in a solipsism.... [F]rom this angle, Western history can be seen as the history of an error, a going astray, in both senses of the word: in losing our way in the world we have become estranged from ourselves."(35)
Parmenides' refusal to acknowledge the possibility of a coincidence of opposites contrasts sharply with what Socrates says at Philebus 14c: "For that many are one, and one many, is a thing wonderful to be asserted; and it is easy to controvert a person laying down either of these points." Clearly, young Socrates is not the person to controvert Parmenides concerning this topic. For as we are about to see, Parmenides' denial of the possibility of a coincidentia oppositorum is clearly reflected in the method of his inquiry, viz., the either/or manner in which he poses his questions to Socrates.
The Divisibility of Eide: 130e-131e
It is characteristic of Parmenides that he presents Socrates with two opposing alternatives, which prima facie exhaust all the possibilities. When, at 131a, Parmenides begins to examine the nature ofmethexis, he presents Socrates with the two alternatives that "each thing that partakes receives as its share either the form as a whole or a part of it," and Socrates at once agrees that there can be no other way of participating beyond these two. Socrates attempts to overcome this dilemma by suggesting that each eidos is present as a whole in each thing partaking of it, while the consequence of this position, according to Parmenides, is that each eidos will be separate from itself. But the same consequence would have resulted had Socrates opted for the other alternative. In that case, not only would he have had to contend with the separation of eide from themselves, but he would also have had to explain how a thing which partakes of only a part of a quality can be said to possess that quality. The fact that Socrates makes the choice he did indicates that he is concerned to preserve the integral nature of eide.
Parmenides assumes that Socrates wishes to preserve the reality of the sensible world while at the same time locating the eide, since they possess qualities alien to the sensible world, in another "place." Parmenides thus assumes that if the eide are not in the sensible region, but are somehow to be made present in that region, then they must be present in the same way that water is made present in a glass by pouring it from a pitcher, in which case the water would be present in two places; in other words, divisibility is presupposed. Socrates tries to avoid the implication of divisibility (from which the self-separation of eide results) by appealing to the metaphor of daylight, which "is in many places at the same time and nevertheless is not separate from itself." Beings need light in order to be seen, and light without beings to illuminate is equally unrevealing. But young Socrates is unable to follow out the consequences of his own suggestion and is immediately set upon by Parmenides, who introduces another metaphor intended to reveal the deficiencies of Socrates' light analogy: "You might as well spread a sail over a number of people and then say that the one sail as a whole was over them all." The contrast between Socrates' and Parmenides' respective analogies is overwhelming, for spreading a sail over a number of people would result in a situation comparable to that of the cave in the Republic. The material sail would cut off immaterial daylight, resulting perhaps in a "night in which all cows are black," if I may borrow Hegel's metaphor. In addition, the sail analogy retains the problem of divisibility, which Socrates' non-material metaphor was designed to overcome. Asked whether he considers the sail analogy to be a fair one, Socrates replies, "Perhaps," thereby indicating his reservations.
One of the more important aspects of Socrates' light metaphor, which Plato leaves entirely to his reader to work out, is the fact that light is a dynamis (power), which implies that an eidos is also a dynamis of sorts. The relation of light to what it illuminates is not one in which two entities are already simply there, but one in which the being-there of one entity accounts for the being-there of the other. This light analogy may therefore be said to be crucial for any attempt to come to grips with the nature of methexis. Parmenides has until this point been assuming that methexis designates a relation between two already existing entities of the same ontological status, and he will continue to do so.
It should also be noted that light, being purely homogeneous, is itself not responsible for the heterogeneity apparent in things, but only for the possibility of seeing that heterogeneity, which is really there. Being homogeneous, the dynamis of light has the quality of oneness, though this oneness differs from that manifest in the multiplicity of things, in that the former is ontologically prior to the latter and, unlike the latter, is not composed of a further multiplicity of ones. Since light possesses these peculiar properties, it makes no sense to compare it to a sail, as does Parmenides, since daylight is present as a whole to each person in a way that a sail could not be. Eugen Fink notes: "Das Licht ist keine willkurliche Metapher der Platonischen Ontologie, es ist das Symbol der zentralen Differenz von Sein und Seiendem. Das Licht west in allem Belichteten an und ist doch kein Stück daran; es wird nicht zerteilt und zerstreut durch das, was in ihm zerteilt und zerstreut ist. Es als das gleichsam Zerstreuende und Auseinandersetzende ist gleichwohl eins und einig."(36)
Parmenides' inability to discern any difference between Socrates' daylight metaphor and his own sail metaphor clearly reflects the fundamental presupposition on which his argument for the divisibility of eide rests: the Great itself and the many great things possess the same ontological status. At the very least, one must say that that which distinguishes the Great itself from the many great things has not been accounted for here; more generally, we are lacking an account of the difference between eide and instantiation, One and Many. Although Parmenides fails to provide an explicit account of this difference, his attack on Socrates implicitly assumes such a theory, viz., that the nature of the One (the eidos) is such that when participated in, a portion of it is apportioned to that which participates. As a result of this, the eidos suffers change. But Parmenides fails to consider a different sort of situation in which, for example, the whole of something is reflected in something else without suffering change; such is the case, for example, with a microcosmic representation of a macrocosm.
Underlying Parmenides' conception of the way in which the One relates to the Many is the view that one can pick out that which is one among many. Surely one could pick out all the occurrences of the word eide on this page from amongst all the other words, but could one as easily pick out what is just or courageous in a number of human actions? Is the One given in the Many in the same that the word eide presents itself amongst the many words on this page? These problems are not touched upon by Parmenides. Clearly, one cannot move closer to an understanding of Justice itself by looking merely at what one assumes to be just acts, distilling out of them a common denominator. On the other hand, it is equally impossible to begin in vacuo by completely ignoring what one assumes to be just acts. One thus cross-examines doxai concerning the nature of justice and like a jury, attempts to piece together or "recollect" the truth. The jury is not given the truth first hand, but is forced to reconstruct it as a hypothesis on the basis of hearsay.
Despite the numerous points of contention between Socrates and Parmenides, it seems that they both share an objectifying, intellectualistic standpoint toward their subject matter, though Socrates seems to be struggling toward the breaking of this propensity. Parmenides' stance is apparent in his words: "When some things many in number seem to you to be great, there seems perhaps to be one and the same idea to you, who survey them all." This notion of "surveying" a number of things clearly suggests the standpoint of the kosmotheoros, that standpoint highly characteristic of the metaphysical and scientific attitudes, both of which abstract from human praxis. It should be clear that the mature Socrates does manage to overcome the intellectualistic stance (despite Aristophanes' portrayal of him in the Clouds).
The Third Man Argument: 131e-132b
Two of the main issues which commentators have addressed vis-à-vis the third man argument are: (1) Did Plato consider the objections he raises in the person of Parmenides to be valid? and (2) To what extent was Plato aware of the presuppositions of his argument? The "third man argument" is often considered to represent a transitional mark in the development of Plato's thought. Parmenides here brings forth serious criticisms of Socrates. Whereas many commentators see in the Parmenides Plato's criticism or acknowledgment of the difficulties of his early theory of Forms, I see a necessity for paying attention to its unique dramatic date, rather than its date of composition, which still remains in question. Its dramatic date places it, of course, much earlier than the time at which Socrates had come into possession of his so-called "early theory of Forms."
It is important to note that in the Parmenides, Socrates' understanding of eide is pitifully rudimentary, as is evidenced by the fact that he is unable to respond to even the crudest of Parmenides' fallacious points. But to my mind it is significant that (1) Plato has Parmenides, rather than someone else, criticize Socrates and that (2) Parmenides chooses to criticize Socrates' conception of eide, rather than, say, his conception of justice. Recall that Parmenides indicates that Socrates had been discussing Justice, Beauty and the Good with Aristoteles (135c). Apparently, even at this early age, Socrates had assumed a social role like that of the gadfly-educator.
The first version of the third man argument is presented by Parmenides as follows:
I think that you consider every Form as one on some such account as this: When some things many in number seem to you to be great, there seems to be perhaps one and the same idea to you, who survey them all, on the basis of which you regard the Great as one.
True, said Socrates.
But what if you look upon the Great itself and the other things which look great in your mind's eye; will not a certain one thing appear to you great, through which everything else appears great?
It seems so.
Another form of greatness will then become apparent besides Greatness itself and what participates in it, and in addition to these another through which all these become great. Each of your forms will no longer be one, but infinite in number.
According to Vlastos, the third man argument tacitly assumes a "non-identity assumption" according to which "If x is F by participating in F-ness, then x is not equal to F-ness."(37) Vlastos maintains that this non-identity assumption is required for a rigorous formulation of the third man argument. In my opinion, the formalization of the non-identity assumption as "x is not equal to F-ness" begs the question, since what is at issue is not simply the difference between eide and their instantiations, but the sense in which the difference between eide and their instantiations is different than the difference between a number of beings. The symbol in "x is not equal to F-ness" and in "x1 is not equal to x2" denotes a different sort of difference in each case.
The theme of the previous discussion between Socrates and Parmenides had been the nature of the relation between eide and that which partakes of eide; the third man argument purports to show that the uniqueness of each eidos cannot be defended so long as the relation between eide and what partakes of them is one of sharing a common attribute. Formulated in this way, the argument distinguishes betweeneide and what participates in them and so asserts that x F-ness." But one might ask, "If x is not the same as F-ness, does it follow that x is wholly other than F-ness?" Isn't the dialogue in fact asking us to think about the sense in which an eidos is both the same as and different from that which partakes of it, i.e., the sense in which methexis effects a coincidence of opposites (Identity and Difference)?(38)
Read within the context of the dialogue, the non-identity assumption means that that which participates (an F-thing) and that which is participated in (the eidos, F-ness) are ontologically distinct or separate. The difficulty which arises from this claim, I take it, is that that which participates is ontologically dependent upon an eidos, and this would seem to require that a qualification be made concerning the manner in which the eidos and that which participates in it can be regarded as separate from (independent of) one another.
The next question which must be asked is this: If it should happen that x is not simply distinct from, or other than, F-ness, then is the third man argument still unavoidable? Parmenides argues that if we look at F-ness (an eidos) and a number of F-things together, we will be forced to posit the existence of a meta-Form (call it F'), by virtue of which both F-ness and F-things are F. One result of such a positing would be that F-ness would now participate, as well as be participated in; another result would be that reality would consist, not (as Socrates originally proposed) of two domains -- eide and things -- but of an infinite number.
Parmenides assumes that one can look at F-ness and F-things qua distinct or separate from one another -- as though the two "realms" were not bound together in an indissoluble unity. This assumption need not be made. Suppose instead that the act of looking at one cannot be ultimately separated from the act of looking at the other (i.e., suppose that what it means to be looking at F-things is to be looking at F-ness). What one thereby "sees" is F-ness, though in the form of (i.e., mediated by) otherness. Since the F-ness one sees is mediated by otherness, the F-ness one sees both is F-ness and is other than (is not) F-ness.
Moreover, Parmenides has failed to take into account that F-ness and F-things are of ontologically distinct types and so cannot be seen together. F-ness does not manifest itself in the way that F-things do; the former are cognized, the latter perceived (cf. 130a; 135e). The problem faced by Parmenides and Socrates, concerning whether F-ness and F-things are together or separate, the same or other, remains one of the dialogue's fundamental problems. It remains to be seen how F-ness can be both distinct from, yet present in, F-things.
By suggesting that one can see eide grouped together with things, Parmenides collapses Socrates' original distinction between eide and things, and thereby reduces eide to the status of things. On the basis of this move, an infinite regress is indeed inevitable. The ground of Parmenides' third man argument turns out to be twofold: his having simultaneously drawn, on the one hand, a false dichotomy between eide and things, and on the other hand, his having reduced eide to the status of things. These are, as it were, two sides of the same coin, inasmuch as both errors derive from the same monistic Parmenidean presuppositions. In the former case, Parmenides argues for a sort of difference between eide and things which does not exist, viz., a difference between what F-ness is in eide and what it is in things; in the latter case, he tacitly sets up an identity between the domains of eide and things, by suggesting that F-ness manifests itself identically in eide and things, such that the two can simply be viewed together as beings of the same kind. Plato has now exposed his reader to the twin dangers of Socrates' separation of eideand things: eide and things may be separated to the extent that it becomes impossible to see any bridge between them, or they may be brought so close as to become indistinguishable. How does one avoid the Scylla and the Charybdis of this situation? What is it that constitutes the bond between eide and things, which both holds them apart and together?
Since we are following the course of the dialogue, I must put these questions aside in favor of more immediately relevant ones; the problem of the mediation of eide and things will be treated elsewhere. Let us now take note of some of the implications of what has been said. F-ness is F-ness (self-identical) whether it exists in its "pure" or "perfect" state, or in its "imperfect' (mediated) state. However, when mediated, an eidos appears to be many - hence, other than itself. Eide and things are, as it were, two ways in which F-ness can be. Hence, eide are not to be simply identified with F-ness; an eidos is not a predicate, but a way in which what is can be and show itself.(39) In the Republic (476 a), Socrates states, "Each eidos is itself one, but by showing themselves everywhere in a community with actions, bodies, and one another, each looks like many." That is, an eidos can exist "alone by itself" or in a community with other eide and things. In either case, the eidos remains what it is; but when it exists in conjunction with other beings, it appears as other than it is (one). The One does not simply show itself qua itself in the Many; rather, the One (eidos) also conceals itself by virtue of its appearing in the other (thing).(40) The following analogy may illustrate this.
Let us suppose that (a) there exist a number of Roman statues, each of which appears to be a copy of a Greek original, and that (b) the Greek original has long since been destroyed. Under such circumstances the appearance or look (eidos) of the original is not accessible to us -- at least not as such. Yet we feel that the Roman statues are all copies of one and the same original, which is the "cause of" the resemblance between the copies. Such resemblance would further constitute a kind of unity. Assuming that the copies only hint at the beauty of the original and that we are lovers of beauty, we will no doubt be driven to wonder about the appearance of the original. But the best we could do in such a ease would be to reconstruct the appearance of the original on the basis of the power of our imagination, by considering the various similarities obtaining between the copies. Thus, the appearance of the original could never be more than a sort of hypothesis or extrapolation made on the basis of the appearance of the copies. We will thereby profess to have inferred the unknown from the known, the invisible from the visible.(41)
I suggest that the relation of an eidos to that which partakes of it is very much analogous to the situation described above. Just as one "sees" the original, not in its original form, but rather in the form of a plurality of copies, so the look of an eidos must be reconstructed (or, in Plato's language, "recollected") by looking at things which only manifest the look of the original in a deficient manner.(42) If this is so, then it would obviously be wrong to say, as Parmenides does, that one could simply look at Forms and things together, since Forms by their very nature remain hidden. This is especially suggested by the fact that the Form of the Good (sometimes referred to simply as "the Good"), which may be understood as the Form of Forms, lies hidden "beyond essence" (ousias). As Alan Bloom writes:
"The good must also be a super idea, an idea of ideas, for the other ideas are also good. Therefore these other ideas, the many ideas, are participations in the one idea of the good. Since the ideas are, the good, then, is the source of being, but beyond being, in the sense that it exists in a way different from the other beings. The good is the transcendent principle of the whole, the cause of the being of things and of the apprehension of being, uniting knower and known, the lover of the good and the good things."(43)
Since the being of eide is quite unlike that of sensible things, in that eide by nature tend toward appearance only as images, but in themselves tend toward hiddenness, Parmenides' assumption which attributes to eide and things a comparable ontological status is misleading and renders the third man argument invalid. Moreover, his tacit premise that F-things are not the same as F-ness (the non-identity assumption) can be misleading, since it suggests that F-ness in itself is radically other than the F-ness which makes F-things F, rather than viewing the relation between F-ness and F- things as an identity in difference. Once it has been acknowledged that F-ness is not an F-thing, but a dynamis of being F, the problem of a meta-Form which accounts for the F-ness of F-ness itself and of F-things no longer arises; F-things and F-ness are not F by virtue of participating in a meta-Form, F', because there is no class subsuming eide and things. The problem of an infinite regress of meta-Forms only arises when one treats F-ness as though it were an F-thing. But this amounts to confusing participation with predication, while F-ness does not merely account for what F-things are, but for why F-things are.
Eide as Noemata: 132b-132c
Socrates next attempts to avoid the infinite regress which Parmenides seems to have demonstrated in the third man argument by suggesting that eide may be noemata which come to be "nowhere but in the soul." To this Parmenides responds by asking whether each noema is then one, and whether there can be a thought of nothing. Peck writes: "This is an adroit maneuver, for (a) no Greek could possibly answer 'Yes' to this question in debate - obviously a noema which is one could not possibly be of not-one and (b) it immediately diverts Socrates' attention from noema (his new point) to one."(44) Socrates concedes that the noemata of which he speaks must be "of something that is." Parmenides then goes on to point out that given Socrates' conception of methexis, it would follow that either all things think, or that they are thoughts which nevertheless do not think.
Socrates' simple identification of eide with noemata is crude, and in effect "throws out the baby with the bath water" (i.e., in his attempt to preserve the integrity of eide, Socrates sacrifices the integrity of the world). Parmenides is skeptical of a theory which denies things altogether and he has no difficulty in showing Socrates that eide cannot be saved by making them noemata, since everything else would then be noemata. Parmenides will not allow Socrates to forget that noemata are intentional (i.e., of something); however, Parmenides misrepresents the nature of that relation in that he views noemata and things as being externally related. This will be discussed further shortly. It should first be noted that Socrates' conception of eide as noemata is deficient because highly static; all that Socrates accomplishes is to locate eide in the soul rather than in the world. He fails to consider that eide might "come to be in the soul" qua noemata and yet not be merely in the soul.
By suggesting that eide are noemata which "come to be in the soul," Socrates renders himself vulnerable to Parmenides' usual either/or schema of questioning. For Parmenides has already assumed a schism between two worlds of eide and things, while Socrates' present suggestion invites Parmenides to make tacit use of that assumption. Thus, Parmenides assumes that noemata are of something, which is to say he assumes that noemata are beings in the soul, as opposed to beings not in the soul, and that an external relation obtains between eide and things. As soon as one attempts to bridge these two realms, the door is opened for the conceiving of one realm in terms of the other (i.e., the reduction of one mode of being to the other, as in Hobbes or Berkeley). Since Socrates has previously argued that a relation does exist between eide and things (methexis), wherein things participate and eide are participated in, Parmenides naturally reduces things to eide-noemata -- hence his conclusion that all things would think.
But as with all of Socrates' suggestions, there is here a hidden, partial truth which must be saved from Parmenides' unwitting propensity to conceal it. Let us suppose that noemata are not externally related to things in such a manner that noemata come to be in the soul in the way that water comes to be in a glass when poured from a pitcher. Suppose, moreover, that there exists an essential relation and affinity between eide and noemata, i.e., between intelligible entities and acts of intellection. Let us say that noemata are themselves eidetic (i.e., something which sees or illuminates) and that eide are themselves noematic (i.e., capable of being intellected). Most simply stated, that which is illuminated (eide) and the particular acts whereby they are illuminated (noemata) exist in a primordial unity, each for the sake of the other. To repeat a point made earlier: Neither light with nothing to illuminate nor unilluminated things are particularly revealing.
The notion of eide as noemata leads to a kind of paradox; for while eide are "present to" noemata, they are not the same as noemata. Noemata are images of eide or, rather, noemata, as acts of illuminating eide, yield only images of eide, not the eide as they are in themselves. But this is not to say that noemata produce images in the sense that we are confined to watching phenomena, as opposed to noumena, in the Kantian sense. Images are not things we see in our minds, mere phantasms; rather, the world of which we are a part is in itself an image. "Image" does not designate a chimera or non-being. Nor is the image "of" the eidos in the manner of external relatedness. Rather, the image is of the eidos more in the sense that a child is "of" his parents, in the obsolete sense of "out of." The image, born of the eidos, shares the look of that which generated it. But in the case of eide, unlike the case of parents, we are dealing with an ontologically primordial reality (i.e., eide and things don't "share" a look in the way that parents and children do, since the look of the parents is not ontologically primordial). There is not, on the one hand, the look of the parents (which is original) and, on the other hand, the derivative look of the children; rather, there is one look (eidos) manifesting itself in two different images of itself. Yet these different images, qua images of the same eidos, make manifest one and the same eidos.
Thus, we may conclude that images in the above sense may be more or less true, though not in the sense that they correspond (within an external relationship) to that which they are images of. Since the eidos is what the image is of (in the peculiar sense of "being of" discussed above), to say that an image is true can only mean that it is true (more or less) to what it itself is -- not that it represents something other than itself. Thus, an image which is perfectly true to that which it images would not be an image, but simply the original itself.
Eide as Paradeigmata: 132c-133a
Having failed to answer Parmenides' objections concerning noemata, Socrates suggests that eide are, as it were, "paradeigmata fixed in nature," which the many things resemble and that participation consists in this resemblance of things to eide. Parmenides points out that this resemblance must be symmetrical and asks whether there could be any means whereby the similar is not similar to the similar. Socrates knows of none. Parmenides then recapitulates the third man argument by noting that if the relation between eide and things is symmetrical, then both of the relata must partake of some third entity, by virtue of which both resemble one another. Socrates concedes this point.
Here it seems that Parrnenides and young Socrates, like the early Wittgenstein, are being "held captive by a picture." Both Parmenides and Socrates want to think of eide-paradigms as pictures or images which are present to sight. Both fail to see that eide-paradigms, as the ground of visibility, are themselves invisible qua themselves.(45) A paradeigma is that on the basis of which, that from which or "out of" which, a showing takes place and confers the power of something's being manifest (i.e., intelligible).(46) For Plato, to be is to be intelligible; but the condition of intelligibility (being) is Oneness. Hence that which serves as a paradeigma must be one and have the power of making the Many one, but without utterly negating the manyness of the Many. A paradeigma, that is to say, must be a unified and unifying dynamis. To say that a paradeigma has the power to make the Many one is to say that the Many are "made in the image" (132d) of the One, that the Many manifest the oneness of the One (i.e., Oneness itself). Thus, things resemble eide in that they imitate (image) the mode of being of eide,Oneness. But that which is purely One, Oneness itself, is not made in the image of the Many; hence the relation between eide and things is asymmetrical. Because a Form's being a paradeigma does not consist in its being a resemblance to something other than itself, but to that which it itself truly is, there arises no necessity for postulating (as does Parmenides) a third class of entities as that which accounts for resemblance between things and eide.
Separation of Eide and Things: 133a-134c
Parmenides goes on to mention the difficulties that must follow from distinguishing eide from things, and when Socrates agrees that the difficulties are indeed considerable, Parmenides adds a melodramatic touch that must have sent a chill up Socrates' spine: "Know then, well, that you do not apprehend at all, so to speak, how great is the difficulty should you posit one eidos for each thing." The greatest difficulty of all, asserts Parmenides, is that someone may point out that if the eide are in fact separate from things, they must be unknowable. To counter this claim, Parmenides adds, would require one possessed of great gifts. In the light of his (seeming) demonstration that eide and things cannot resemble one another, Parmenides continues by claiming that if Socrates goes about positing an eidos for each distinction made in the sensible realm, the result will be two parallel universes with no connection between them. Thus, for example, the Master itself will be master of the Slave itself, while particular masters will be master of particular slaves. The totality of eide are here viewed as internally related, as are the totality of things; and ne'er the twain shall meet. Once again, Socrates concedes.
Whereas prior to this point Parmenides had been arguing against the existence of eide -- or more precisely, against the conception of them advanced by Socrates, Parmenides now seems to he more favorably disposed toward eide. This is suggested by the fact that rather than arguing against the knowableness of eide himself, Parmenides has a hypothetical character advance that criticism. Only a widely experienced individual could be persuaded in the face of a separation between eide and things, he says, that eide nonetheless exist; and even then it would require a "long and remote proof." Concerning this, Sinaiko notes:
"Parmenides has clearly implied in these remarks that the following argument is defective and that the knowability of the ideas can be demonstrated. However, there is a great difference between discovering the fallacies in the following argument and proving that the ideas may be known. If the following argument is shown to be adequate, the possibility that the ideas are knowable will remain open but only the possibility, not the certainty. Furthermore, by implying that this difficulty, which is the greatest faced by the proponent of the theory of ideas, can be overcome, Parmenides implies that all of the earlier arguments may be countered."(47)
By separating eide and things very sharply, Parmenides is led to posit, as I have said, two parallel universes. Thus, "Beauty itself, the Good itself, and all things we take as characters themselves are unknowable to us" (134c). Even more alarming than this consequence is the further one that the gods will be incapable of knowing us and our world, or of exercising their lordship over us. But such an argument, which deprives the gods of the power of knowing, Socrates finds "remarkable."
A writer of the present time cannot help but be particularly interested in this hypothetical universe, if only because it seems to describe so well the sort of nihilistic situation to which the modern era's history of ideas has brought us. The supposed hiatus between eide and things leads to the conclusion that humans are not subject to the authority of a higher domain; thus, that the only limits imposed upon humanity derive from the limitations of his physical capacities, not from a transcendent domain to which his praxis must conform, even if only because within the universe here postulated, humans could have no knowledge of such a transcendent domain.(48) The ramifications of this situation are driven home by the fact that Parmenides notes that Goodness and Beauty - not the One, beds, hair or dirt - could not be known. Without the possibility of a vision of the hidden, transcendent nature of what-is, humans would indeed be lost in a world of Kafkanesque absurdity; little wonder that Socrates finds all this "remarkable."
Parmenides' separationism (which Socrates accepts, also) can be fruitfully considered in relation to the Republic's divided line analogy, which is an image Socrates makes use of in order to illustrate the various ways in which what-is can manifest itself. A horizontal axis represents the distinction between eide and things (i.e., the showing of what-is as it is [One], and the showing of what-is-as-it-is-not [Many] ). Parmenides' separationism in effect makes absolute the main horizontal axis of the divided line. But the line which is divided is the vertical axis, a continuum binding together the four ways in which what-is shows itself (eikasia, pistis, dianoia and episteme). This vertical axis represents the movement of the soul in its ascent toward a vision of what-is-as-it-is. Hence, by attending only to the difference between eideand things (i.e. the divided line's horizontal axis) in an attempt to show that the One is or, more precisely, that the One is one, Parmenides has thereby forgotten the movement of the soul and, indeed, the soul itself. Parmenides has forgotten what it means to be human in the highest sense; viz. , to be in movement toward a vision of what truly is. His split universe excludes the mode of being most fitting for man, yet each of his arguments presupposes the existence of that very mode of being. (Parmenides will shortly make a statement which implies that he recognizes this.)
Finally, Parmenides does a volte face regarding eide, stating that if a person "does not admit there to be eide of beings and does not distinguish an eidos of each One, then in view of all that has just now been said and other such matters he will have nowhere to turn his understanding, not allowing that the idea of each of the beings is always; in this way, he will entirely destroy the power of dialectic." This suggests that it was never his intention to deny the existence of eide, but rather to show Socrates that he lacked sufficient reason to affirm them.
This passage is particularly significant in that it ties together various themes. It links the notion of eidos with that of Oneness, and each of these with eternality; moreover, it implies that eide are properly apprehended by dianoia and that the "power of dialectic" is dependent upon the existence of eide. Note that the statement according to which for each being there exists an eidos does not mean that for each class of things (or name) which we might distinguish there exists a One; rather, only those things which truly are, only those things which are truly Ones, are eide, and there could be no dialectic were there no such beings. The phrase "and other such things" I understand as an example of a common Platonic idiom: that of hinting at the incompleteness of what has been said. Thus, I must disagree with George Burges, for whom: "Ficinus omits the words correctly [from his edition of the text] for they are not only useless, but actually absurd; as if Plato would thus allude not only to what had been said, but to something similar, which had not."(49)
But perhaps the most important thing about this passage is that by explicitly associating the eide and Oneness, it suggests a bridge between the dialogue's two parts, though there are various other connections between the parts as well. Perhaps, then, it is not accidental that it is this passage, in which eide and Oneness are so closely associated, that also contains the only occurrence of the word dialegesthai in the dialogue, for the search for the nature of the One is the search for the ground of dialegesthai and so, of philosophy.
Unlike most philosophers, Plato writes against the backdrop of one of the world's greatest literary traditions. His works by no means pale by comparison with those of his predecessors. In the Parmenides, as with all of the dialogues, the characters of the dramatis personae, what they regard as important in life and the manner in which they comport themselves, determines the subject matter, which in turn is reflected by the dialogue's tenor. (Thus, human existence is never separated from the problems dealt with in the Parmenides, regardless of how abstract those problems become.) In the case of the Parmenides, the leading character is Parmenides, an unerotic old man concerned with the unerotic theme of the One, and for whom Beauty itself -- that most erotic of beings -- is placed on a par with hair, dirt and mud. By contrast, the mature Socrates is young in spirit, associating primarily with Athens' youth of promise, the children of the Good, and in his role of midwife, aiding in the birth of others' ideas. The fact that the Parmenides has the qualities Ryle ascribes to it, viz., "sober, professional, systematic, arid and rule-conforming," is a sign, not that Plato has finally graduated from Socratic maieutics to logic, but of who Parmenides is, viz. , someone who has forgotten eros and psyche and so himself.(50) Such self-forgetfulness naturally leads to the qualities mentioned by Ryle, both in the Parmenides and in Ryle's works. Like most commentators, Ryle commits a little known fallacy -- little known because it can only be committed when dealing with Plato. I speak of the fallacy of misplaced sobriety.
In brief, what appears to be an absence of drama in the Parmenides is attributable to the fact that for Plato, drama and eros belong together. Since Parmenides, as the lead figure of the dialogue, is a particularly unerotic individual, the dialogue mirrors this lack of eros in a suppression of overtly dramatic elements. True drama occurs when one like the mature Socrates, an erotic daimonios aner, initiates the dramatic movement of self- remembrance (i.e., self-knowledge). Since we know from what is said in the dialogue that young Socrates was concerned with the Good, Justice, etc. before even having met Parmenides, it follows that it was not Parmenides who "turned his soul around" toward those sorts of beings. Parmenides fails to examine radically both his own hypotheses and those of Socrates.
1. On how the Hellenistic philosophers moved away from a dialogical model of philosophy toward a dogmatic-systematic model, see V. Tejera, "The Hellenistic Obliteration of Plato's Dialogism," in G. Press, ed., Plato's Dialogues: New Studies and Interpretations (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 1993), pp. 129-46.
2. See Harold Tarrant, Plato's First Interpreters (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2000); E.N. Tigerstedt, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato (Helsinki: Societas Scientarum Fennica, 1974).
3. The history of Biblical hermeneutics seems to be a parallel ease. We find there that each age has interpreted Scripture in a manner congenial to it. See, e.g., Robert M. Grant, A Short History of the Interpretation of the Bible (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1973). Of course there is one major difference between the cases: Any conclusion concerning the meaning of Scripture which seems unacceptable to Biblical exegetes tends to be understood as a failure on the part of the exegete, whereas Plato has never enjoyed quite that measure of respect.
4. Richard Kraut, "Introduction to the Study of Plato," in The Cambridge Companion to Plato, ed. R. Kraut (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992), p. 28. Rosamend Kent Sprague's Plato's Use of Fallacy (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1962) argues that Plato made deliberate use of fallacies.
5. This approach was first adopted by Franz Susemihl, Die genetische Entwicklung der platonischen Philosophie (1855-60), followed by Lewis Campbell and Constantin Ritter. More recent attempts include Leonard Brandwood, The Dating of Plato's Works by the Stylistic Method (Cambridge UP, 1990) and Gerald Ledger, Re-Counting Plato: A Computer Analysis Plato's Style (Oxford UP, 1989). The classical critique of this view is Paul Shorey, The Unity of Plato's Thought (Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 1903.) For a devastating recent critique of this entire approach, see Jacob Howland, "Re-reading Plato: The Problem of Platonic Chronology," Phronesis 45 (1991 ): 189-214; also Debra Nails, Agora, Academy and the Conduct of Philosophy (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1995).
6. W.K.C. Guthrie, History of Greek Philosophy, vol. IV (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1975) p. 45.
7. Quoted in Guthrie, History of Greek Philosophy, vol. IV (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1975), p. 51.
8. W.KC. Guthrie, The Sophists (Cambridge UP, 1971), p. 194; Laszlo Versenyi, Socratic Humanism(Yale UP, 1963), p. 18; G.B. Kerferd, The Sophistic Movement (Cambridge UP, 1981), p. 94. Cf. also Isocrates, Helen: "How could one surpass Gorgias, who dared to assert that nothing exists of the things that are, or Zeno, who ventured to prove the same things as possible and again as impossible, or Melissus who, although things in nature are infinite in number, made it his task to find proof that the whole is one. Nevertheless, although these men so clearly have shown that it is easy to contrive false statements on any subject that may be proposed, they still waste time on this rhetorical method. They ought to give up the use of this claptrap, which pretends to prove things by verbal quibbles, which in fact have long since been routed...." Isocrates, vol. I, tr. George Norlin (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1954-56), p. 63.
9. The pervasiveness of satire and parody in the dialogues is rarely appreciated. For Gilbert Highet, "that marvelous stylist Plato was one of the greatest parodists who ever wrote." The Anatomy of Satire (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1962), p. 136.
10. Although it is usually thought that Plato had nothing but the utmost respect for "father Parmenides," I am in agreement with Cherniss, who sees Plato associating Parmenides and the Sophists: "to go about trying to produce contradiction in argument is the act of a child who is just feeling his power, and to attempt to separate 'the All' from everything is the unseemly action of an unlearned and unphilosophical person. This amounts to calling Parmenides the fountainhead of all Sophistry, for as the Sophist is , Parmenides, who by his dictum of Non-Being gave rise to all those senseless antinomies, is the most of all." Harold Cherniss, "Parmenides and the Parmenides of Plato," American Journal of Philology 53 (1932), p. 125. A.L. Peck writes: "Plato can hardly have had a greater respect for Parmenides than he had for Socrates. [On] general principles it is not likely that Plato would have written a dialogue primarily to represent Parmenides' position as substantially more satisfactory than that of Socrates (or himself). It is therefore of the first importance to examine carefully the basis of the criticisms which Parmenides is made to bring against Socrates, and the methods by which Parmenides conducts his arguments." "Plato's Parmenides: Some Suggestions for its Interpretation, I." Classical Quarterly 47 (1953): 126.
11. "The method of concept division, which Aristotle criticizes with pedantic seriousness for its lack of conclusiveness, is not depicted in Plato's dialogues without humor and ironic accents. The Parmenides finally reads like a comedy and leaves its meaning a bit at sea." Hans-Georg Gadamer, Platos dialektische Ethik (Hamburg Felix Meiner Verlag, 1968), p. 223.
12. On the place of irony in ancient literature, see J.K. Thompson, Irony (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1927); also, Francis Cornford, The Origin of Attic Comedy (Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1968). Nietzsche writes: "Above the founder of Christianity, Socrates is distinguished by the gay kind of seriousness and that wisdom full of pranks which constitutes the best state of the soul of man." Friedrich Nietzsche, The Wanderer and his Shadow, in The Portable Nietzsche, tr. Kaufmann (New York: Viking, 1968), p. 69.
13. The Platonic Parmenides' indifference to his starting point recalls the words of the historic Parmenides: "It is all the same to me whence I begin; for I shall return there in time" (fr. 5). In his Proem (l. 29), Parmenides similarly describes Truth as "well-rounded," presumably in the sense that the Way of Truth can be entered at any point with the same result.
14. This phrase in itself contains a comic contradiction: the notion of an old race-horse seems oxymoronic.
15. Speaking of the Prologue to the Parmenides, Tigerstedt writes: "The reader can hardly escape an uneasy feeling that Plato is pulling his leg -- a feeling which a naive reader of Plato often experiences, in contrast to the immense majority of Platonic scholars whose serenity is not troubled by such misgivings. Being themselves very serious-minded persons, it does not occur to them that Plato could possibly enjoy a joke, even at their expense...." Tigerstedt, Interpreting Plato (Stockholm: Almquist and Wiksell, 1977) p. 94.
16. The fact that philosophy as paideia demands an element of playfulness (Rep. 537a) in no way vitiates the claim that this playfulness is subordinate to serious ends.
17. The dramatic setting contains numerous oddities: (1) Cephalus has forgotten the name of a person, but remembers a metaphysical (i.e., impersonal) discussion; (2) Cephalus fails to remember something simple (the name of a person), while at the same time being able to recall the whole of a complex, protracted argument; (3) Cephalus has heard the discussion from Antiphon, who in turn heard it from Pythodorus, so that we are in the realm of hearsay and forced to trust the memories of no less than three men; (4) while Cephalus professes to be in the company of men who are "quite philosophical," this interest does not manifest itself in any Socratic fashion and his language is colloquial; (5) Antiphon's interest in philosophy appears even more deficient than Cephalus', for although Antiphon had long ago devoted himself to memorizing the conversation, at present he is devoted primarily to horses instead of wisdom and is reluctant to repeat the discussion - a "considerable task" - but soon accedes to his guests' wishes, much as Parmenides had at first hesitated to enact the original discussion.
18. Brumbaugh, Plato on the One (New Haven: Yale UP, 1961), p. 14.
19. Ibid., p. 19.
20. Friedländer, Plato, vol. III (Princeton UP, 1969), p. 202.
21. "That Cephalus and the philosophers from Clazomenae ask only about the discussion between Socrates, Zeno and Parmenides - thus about the first part of the dialgue - and not about the dialogue between Parmenides and young Aristotle - although the second dialogue is three times the length of the first, can serve as a first indication that the authentic philosophical event is played out in the first discussion." Niewöhner, Dialog und Dialektik in Platons Dialog Parmenides (Meisenheim am Glan: Verlag Anton Hain, 1975), p. 84.
22. Cornford, Plato and Parmenides (New York: Bobbs Merrill, n.d.), p. 64.
23. More correctly, the ontological presuppositions which creep into the argument are tacitly introduced by Parmenides. Socrates' difficulty is that he is unable to identify these presuppositions and does not recognize that the aporiai to which Parmenides leads him derive specifically from Parmenides' presuppositions and do not necessarily follow from the rudimentary suggestions which he himself makes concerning the nature of eide and methexis.
24. Borrowing a distinction of Pascal, one may say that it is often difficult for l'esprit de finesse to comprehend the seductiveness of l'esprit de geometrie. Thus, for example, Paul Valéry writes, "Certain scientific works, for example - and particularly those of the mathematicians -- are so limpid in their structure that it is hard to believe they have an author. There is something inhuman about them.... We must therefore be a little suspicious of books and expositions that seem too pure." Paul Valéry, An Anthology (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1956), p. 39.
25. "Today we call it 'salesmanship,' or 'advertising.' The technical term is, 'the science of public relations.' The Greeks called the skill 'eristic' and 'rhetoric'." J.H. Randall, Plato: Dramatist of the Life of Reason (NY: Columbia UP, 1970), p. 84.
26. Cornford, Plato and Parmenides, p. 67.
27. At Republic 347b, Socrates asks Glaucon, "don't you know that love of honor and love of money are said to be, and are, reproaches...?" Cf. Rep. 540d; Philebus 14b.
28. In the Philebus (14d), Socrates says that those who banter about how one thing can be many (i.e., how one thing can have numerous qualities) are like children.
29. Of course, a program which improves one's logical acumen in no way determines whether one's newly attained powers will be used for good (as with Socrates) or ill (as with Gorgias). Parmenides does not show any interest in this subject.
30. A.L. Peck, "Plato's Parmenides: Some Suggestions for its Interpretation," Classical Quarterly 47 (1953): 141.
31. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica I, qu.1a5. "The least knowledge we have of the highest things is more desirable than the most certain knowledge of lower things."
32. "some objects of sensation do not summon the intellect to the activity of investigation because they seem to be adequately judged by sense, while others bid it in every way to undertake a consideration because sense seems to produce nothing healthy" (Rep. 523 b; cf. 524 d-e).
33. "Good is thus not so much a predicate which is dependent on an existing thing, it designates the genuine and right mode of Being of beings." Eugen Fink, Metaphysik der Erziehung (Frankfurt: Vittorio Klostermann, 1970), p. 35.
34. See John Sallis, Being and Logos: The Way of Platonic Dialogue (Pittsburgh: Duquesne UP, 1975), pp. 382-85.
35. Octavio Paz, The Bow and the Lyre (New York: McGraw Hill, 1973), p. 87. Cf. also Jose Ortega y Gasset, The Idea of Principle in Leibnitz and the Evolution of Deductive Theory (New York: Norton, 1971), p. 192, n. 54.
36. Fink, Metaphysik, p. 33. "Light is no arbitrary metaphor of Platonic ontology, it is the symbol of the central difference of Being and beings. Light is present in everything illuminated yet is no part thereof; it is not divided and dispersed through that which is divided and dispersed within it. As the dividing and dispersing it is, all the same, one and unitary."
37. Vlastos, "Third Man Argument," in R.E.Allen, ed., Studies in Plato's Metaphysics (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1965), p. 237.
38. The difficulties of the relation between Identity and Difference are by no means restricted to the later dialogues. Consider Euthydemus, 301a: "'What about you, Socrates,' said Dionysodorus, 'have you ever seen a beautiful thing?' 'Yes, I have,' said I, 'and many of them, Dionysodorus.' 'Were they different from the beautiful,' he asked, 'or the same as the beautiful?' 'Here I was really in a fix'."
39. "Plato, whether he uses adjectival or substantial formations (as he does indiscriminately) when speaking of particulars (e.g., "the likeness in us," "the many large things"), does not regard the "F" of which he is speaking as a "property" or as "adjectival" or as "predicative": such terminology and the outlook it represents belong to another attitude of thought." A.L. Peck, "Plato vs. Parmenides,"Philosophical Review 71 (1962): 162f.
40. Cf. Heraclitus, fr. 123: "The true nature of things likes to hide itself." Also, Anaxagoras, fr. 21a: "Appearances are a glimpse of the hidden" (my translations).
41. Wittgenstein once suggested to Geach that eide stand to things in a manner analogous to that in which the Standard Pound stands to something weighing a pound. (See P.T. Geach, "The Third Man Again," in Studies in Plato's Metaphysics, ed. R.E. Allen, pp. 265-77.) But this analogy is inferior to that which I have presented. It does not, for example, account for eros or psyche. Moreover, standard measures are established on the basis of convention, while eide are "paradigms in nature." Finally, an eidos is the hidden "look" of a thing; I do not see how Wittgenstein's analogy accounts for this.
42. Alternatively, "remember" can be understood in opposition to "dismember."
43. "Interpretive Essay," in his translation of The Republic of Plato (NY: Basic Books, 1968), p. 402.
44. Peck, "Plato vs. Parmenides," p. 175.
45. "pictorial thinking ... contains the contradiction [first] of wanting to hold on to perception and to have before it things that have real being, and secondly, of ascribing a sensible existence to the imperceptible." G.W.F. Hegel, Hegel's Science of Logic, trans. A.V. Miller (New York: Humanities, 1969), p. 497.
46. Note that this understanding of paradeigma is not incompatible with the orthodox understanding ofparadeigma as a standard or paradigm; for it is that unity only on the basis of which appearing takes place, viz. , the paradeigma, which serves as a standard against which the many ways in which the phenomena appear can be measured.
47. Herman Sinaiko, Love, Knowledge and Discourse (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1965), p. 214.
48. At Philebus, 62a, ff. , the opposite case is considered, viz. the possibility of a man's knowing only the divine realm.
49. George Burges, trans., The Works of Plato, Vol. III (London: Henry Bohn, 1850), p. 417, n. 61.
50. "To gain the whole world epistemologically is to lose the import and character of the experiences that constitute the self." George Herbert Mead, The Philosophy of the Act (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1938), p. 37.