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Plato’s Parmenides: Forms, One, and Many

14 Oct

The forms being one of the biggest parts of Plato’s philosophy were largely introduced in the Parmenides dialogue between Socrates, Zeno, and old Parmenides. These forms are important metaphysical definitions to proceeding philosophy beyond Plato, and understanding what the forms mean and why Plato presents them is necessary. In Zeno’s book he states that things are not many, and Socrates introduces the forms in addressing Zeno where he ultimately uses the forms to state that things are both one and many.  Thinking about Parmenides’ sail analogy and Socrates’ day analogy of the forms, along with other arguments about the forms is the best way to understand them and the characteristics they have between each specific one. Plato’s definition of the forms allows the things of the world (beyond just forms) to be conceived as one and many simultaneously.

The discussion began in the Parmenides dialogue between Socrates and Zeno, with Parmenides present, concerning Zeno’s book. Socrates brings up during the reading of Zeno’s book about the one or many. Zeno states that if the existent things are many, those things are both like one another and unlike one another at the same time, and that the many things being like and unlike one another makes the possibility of things being many an impossibility (127e).  Specifically, Socrates discusses Zeno’s statement about the many, like, and unlike, by saying: “If it’s impossible for unlike things to be like and like things unlike isn’t it then impossible for them to be many?” (127e). In this explanation it is understandable that the many is impossible because of how like things cannot be unlike and vice versa. Zeno’s book states this because he wants to defend Parmenides’ monism. Socrates begins to think that Zeno wrote this to rip off Parmenides’ monism to make himself look like an amazing philosopher, when really Zeno rephrased it to defend Parmenides. Both Zeno’s and Parmenides’ philosophies believe in a monism of a similar sort, and go against those who think that things are many. After discussing Zeno’s and Parmenides’ monism, Plato (via Socrates) introduces the forms which allow for things to be both one and many in different manners.

Considering whether the things in the universe are one or many, and Zeno’s view on the issue, Socrates discusses the forms. He thinks about forms first in terms of likeness and unlikeness: “… don’t you acknowledge that there is a form, itself by itself, of likeness and another form, opposite to this, which is what unlike is?” (129a).This definition by Socrates defines the forms as entities that group things that have similarities. When Zeno used the like and unlike to prove that things are not many, Socrates refuted him by saying that there exists a form of likeness, a form of unlikeness, and a form of both (129a). With these forms Socrates first states things to be many and has not discussed if or how things are one at this point in the dialogue. After directly defining the forms, Socrates discusses how the forms relate to the fact that things of the world are many: “Don’t you and I and the other things we call ‘many’ get a share of those two entities?” (129a). At this point in the beginning of the dialogue the forms seem to be a similarity between the many things, where each part of the form ‘gets a share’ of what the form is. In the dialogue between Socrates and Parmenides continuing after this point in the dialogue concerns various problems Socrates’ definition of the forms has. This includes the characteristic that a certain form exists ‘itself by itself, the fact that a form is divisible, and that each constituent or representative (by Plato a person or thought) of the form gets a share of what the form is. Parmenides’ sail analogy of a form where a sail of a ship envelops the representatives (people or thoughts) of the form and where the one and the many are both existent, I think, is best understood once these problems of the forms are solved.

These problems that the forms have, as pointed out by Parmenides, continue one after the other as the forms begin to be understood. Parmenides’ sail analogy of how a sail falls over each part of the farm creating the existence of one (included by the whole sail) and the many (each part under the sail) is subject to the problems the forms have. These problems interfere with the forms’ ability to be both many and one. One problem like this is where Parmenides claims the forms to be divisible after Socrates answers him by saying that a part of the sail covers one person or thought of the form: “In that case would the sail be, as a whole, over each person, or would a part of it be over one person and another part over another?”(131c). Parmenides goes on to say that since a part of the sail goes over one person of the form, each person partakes of a part of the form and not the whole form. Parmenides gets Socrates to agree that each form is divided and not one at all. This argument being agreed to, the forms are only many and not one at all. This problem of divisibility in forms leads to another problem concerning what Socrates really means when he says that a thing of the form gets a ‘share’ of the form.

The issue of divisibility of the forms is not exactly solved until the second issue is solved. These problems again are not necessarily problems of forms in general, but they are problems of the forms in their status as being one and many at the same time. After discussing the divisibility issue of the forms, Parmenides compares this to largeness, where parts of largeness can be divided up to the point where the largeness really is not large anymore. Upon this same discussion of parts of the form partaking of one general characteristic the entire form has, Parmenides picks on Socrates’ stating that  each part of the form ‘gets a share.’ Getting a share of an entire large being leads again to the fact that the entire form is divisible. If each part gets a share of it, the form is basically small and insignificant. To these objections to Socrates’ first definition of forms, Socrates again responds: “…what appears most likely to me is this: these forms are like partners set in nature, and other things resemble them and are likenesses; and this partaking of the forms is, for the other things, simply being modeled on them” (132c-132d). This is a clarification of his definition of forms using words and phrases like ‘partaking’ and ‘getting a share.’ A certain ‘pattern in nature’ has constituents or representatives that are like the form. By a person or thought partaking or ‘getting a share’ of a form, Socrates states he means that the thought or person ‘is modeled on’ the form it represents. This clarification of the forms solves the issues of divisibility and a constituent of the form ‘getting a share’ of the form, because with this new definition, the forms are not divided in parts, and each representative of a form does not really ‘get a share’ of it. After this clarification, another revising of Socrates’ forms definition is requested by Parmenides.

The ‘itself by itself’ part of Socrates’ definition of the forms is where Parmenides identifies another issue that poses a problem of making any form one and many at the same time. Parmenides rejects the ‘itself by itself’ characteristic of the forms by creating a scenario of what a form would be like if it were ‘itself by itself.’ He states that if this were true in all forms, each form could not be like anything, and nothing could be like the form (132e). He then states that any form that has things like it, or is like other things, would create a new characteristic with that certain likeness of the first form. This likeness of the form creating new characteristics creates new forms, and this continues on for long periods of time because of the ability that that form has to have likenesses with other forms and things (132e-133a). Parmenides then claims that constituents of a form could not be modeled on the form or partake of the form because that would create bridges to more likenesses (133a). All of these scenarios of a form ‘itself by itself’ show how hard it is for a form to be ‘itself by itself’ and calls for removal or revision of that part of Socrates’ definition of forms. What this leads to is the ultimate understanding that no form can be ‘itself by itself’ because of the constituents (people or thoughts) of the form and the form itself having likenesses with other forms and characteristics of other forms. It is then understood from Parmenides’ scenarios that forms are basically adjacent to other forms because of the numerous likenesses and even that what we cut certain forms out to be are things we cannot be sure of with the forms (133b). More importantly, if a form is to be one and many simultaneously it is impossible for it to also be ‘itself by itself’. The arguments Parmenides has pushed that matter to the forms being one and many have caused Socrates in the dialogue to revise and change the entire definition of the form. The sail analogy of Parmenides and the day analogy of Socrates I think are better understood once a form itself is understood. Because of these arguments a form can assuredly be understood as a metaphysical entity that is one and many at the same time.

Before any real problems occur in Socrates’ first definition of forms, Socrates and Parmenides both create an analogy in dialogue of what a form is. During Parmenides’ asking Socrates if the many are separate from the whole of a form, Socrates responds with his day analogy of a form. Claiming that the many are not separate from the whole, Socrates states that a form is like many places on the same day: “…in many places at the same time and is nonetheless not separate from itself. If it’s like that, each of the forms might be, at the same time, one and the same in all” (131b). In the day analogy, a form being an entire day, each constituent (person or thought) of the form is like a place. At one time, many places are involved which is like a form being similar to a time and a place being similar to one person or thought (constituent of a form). In Socrates’ day analogy, the form and its many parts are one and many at the same time.

Parmenides, complimenting Socrates on his analogy, creates another analogy to compare and contrast: “It’s as if you were to cover many people with a sail, and then say that one thing as a whole is over many” (131b). Socrates then identifying that Parmenides has created a similar analogy, they continue into the three problems to the forms being one and many of divisibility, ‘getting a share of the form’, and the ‘itself by itself’ form. Parmenides’ sail analogy I find is the best way to describe a form. Concerning the people or thoughts that reflect the model of the form is, I find it best to refer to those many as constituents or representatives because each person or thought constitute or represent the form that the sail secures. Parmenides’ sail analogy well shows how a form is one and many simultaneously. A form is one because of how the sail envelops the many into one being. A form is many because of the constituents of the form that the sail envelops. I find the sail analogy the best way to understand how a form, or anything else, can be one and many. Beginning in the dialogue with Zeno’s argument that things are ‘not many’ is how the argument of one and many started, and with Socrates’ and Parmenides’ arguments, forms come out as both. Discussion of forms, and introduction to their nature, I think only refers one back to the argument about whether things can be one, many, or both.

The dialogue begins with the one and/or many argument in Zeno’s position, and continues into forms, but I think that the only thing that forms reduce down to is what is one, what is many, and whether or not anything is both. Since forms can be understood to be both one and many, from what we know now, are things one, many, or both? Since the being of a form boils down to the one or many argument, I think it should be further discussed. If there is a like form and an unlike form, a higher form will be created that has both. Another 2 characteristics like justice (just likeness, and just unlikeness), and injustice will be created and added to the like and unlike forms. From these higher forms, more couples of characteristics can be added to that higher form, and this process can go on forever. Because of the many forms that can be created by this process, it can be seen that there is only many, and not one. Concerning all of the things in the world, there are an infinite number of things, yet there is no obvious way that they are united under one again because of how they are classified (like how things are classified by forms). Thinking of things this way, one would for sure think that things are only many.

From another standpoint, if the like and unlike form is added to justice and injustice creating a like and unlike, and just and unjust form, that is just a bigger form making one that much more constituents of a form. This is just a way to think of things as only one. So the question is if one should go with viewing things as one or many, or both? What I really mean to conclude with these examples is that Parmenides’ sail analogy for explaining the forms can be applied to the ‘are things one or many?’ argument. You might see something as one, but then a ton of other things might lie below the sail the one has made for itself. Ultimately, my opinion about Parmenides’ sail analogy is things (beyond forms) can be understood as one or many depending on how it is comprehended. If this is true, all things in the world are one and many in one way or another.

The forms having come from the one and many debate, they introduced many continuous arguments that led to other philosophies since Plato’s time. From the inconsistencies in Socrates’ first definition of forms to Parmenides’ pushing him to its revision, Plato’s forms end up being one and many simultaneously. From the problem of divisibility and ‘getting a share’, being solved, and the ‘itself by itself’ problem also being solved, the forms were modified to be able to be one and many at the same time. The introduction of the forms and the widespread versatility the forms have makes the Parmenides dialogue a philosophical breakthrough. This alone shows the philosophical accomplishment Plato achieved in his lifetime.

 

 

Plato’s Republic Book 2: Where in the good is justice?

22 Sep

This is my analysis of the argument Socrates and Glaucon discuss in lines of the Republic 357a-362c. This is the beginning of Book 2 where they glance upon Thrasymachus’ previous thoughts, and they move forward with what and where in good justice is.

After having discussed justice with Thrasymachus in the first book, Glaucon and Socrates begin to discuss justice and its place within the good. The main argument lies in justice and what its motive are, and this argument comes from Glaucon’s explanation of the three sorts or kinds of good that can exist. (357b)  First, there is, “… a sort of good we welcome, not because we desire its consequences but because we welcome it for its own sake…”  We like this kind of good to exist just because we prefer it. (357c) Second, there is a good that is, “…burdensome but beneficial to us, and we would not choose them for their own sake, but for the sake of their rewards and other consequences.” And, finally, there is a third kind of good that is existent just ‘for its own sake’ and for the benefits. Once Glaucon discussed the three sorts of good that can exist and be exercised, the argument comes up between them as to in which good justice goes into.

When the argument of justice and which kind of good it is a part of comes up, Socrates and Glaucon discuss different opinions. (358a) It is Socrates’ opinion that justice goes in, “…the one that anyone who is going to be blessed with happiness must love both because of itself and because of its consequences.” Socrates expresses that he believes that justice goes in the third kind of good where good exists ‘for its own sake’ and because of the rewards that come from it. Glaucon declines to show his own personal opinion, but he discusses what the majority of the population thinks about justice’s place in the good. He states that the majority thinks that justice is a part of the kind of good that people place in society for its rewards only.

It is pretty clear that Glaucon believes what the majority believes because of how he exemplifies and explains his position. Justice in this kind of good done for its rewards is explained by Glaucon as a ‘burdensome’ yet rewarding thing that people of the majority do against their will. (359b) He also states the lack of power of the people to do anything other than things that are just: “We can see most clearly that those who practice [justice] do so unwillingly, because they lack the power to do injustice….” This gives sufficient proof to Glaucon’s argument that the people do just acts because they have little choice otherwise. Not only do they not have much choice to do unjust acts, but they want to be more just than people around them.

Glaucon’s argument is further proven when he discusses the Gyges of Lydia scenario. This is where a shepherd takes a ring from a dead body inside a hole in the ground that was caused by an earthquake. After having the ring for awhile he realized that when he holds the ring, he becomes invisible, and becomes visible again when not holding it as before. In the story of the Gyges, the shepherd conspires with and seduces the king’s wife, and they both kill the king. This story shows that any man given this opportunity to be invisible has the chance and opportunity to do unjust acts, and Glaucon explains it to show that any man (even the most just man) would do the most unjust acts in that position. Because any man would do any act in the Gyges of Lydia shepherd’s position, this helps prove that justice is an unwilling act that the majority does for the consequences that it yields.

The Gyges of Lydia story and Glaucon’s support for his argument shows that a man would not practice justice for any other reason than the fact that it brings about rewards and consequences along with the fact that a man has little other choice. Glaucon’s argument in response to Socrates states that justice is a burden to man and they only practice it because of its necessities in the world.

It is obvious with this story of the Gyges what any man would do when given the chance. Glaucon’s argument for ‘the masses’ is correctly proven.

Thanks for the support. My Classification of Beings is coming within this week. I have been working on it little by little as I have been busy with a lot of things. I expect that I will have it up by tomorrow night at the earliest.  I discussed my classification in my previous Bertrand Russell discussions, and I want to have it up soon.

Plato’s Meno: Virtue

7 Sep

Meno, an aristocrat from Thessaly (Pharsalus to be exact), was in a discussion with Socrates about virtue and if it is taught or practiced or basically inherent, and it becomes a discussion about how one defines virtue. Each definition Meno gives about virtue are ones that Socrates rejects. The text below minus my opinionated conclusion is written for the professor not for the leisurely glance over, and my style of writing here may not be as informal as my other writings.

When Meno and Socrates’ discussion began, the topic of discussion was whether or not virtue was taught, practiced, or within someone inherently, but the identity of virtue itself was what came into question. Socrates, expecting Meno to be more knowledgeable after talking to Gorgias, asks Meno what the definition of virtue is. Meno responds by explaining the various virtues each type of person has.  For example, he states the man’s virtue to be participating in city affairs to benefit his friends and not to benefit his enemies, while the woman’s virtue is to take care of the house and to obey the man. While briefly exemplifying the virtue of other human roles Meno defines virtue to be something different depending on the person. Socrates rejects Meno’s definition because he wants the definition of virtue, and not ‘a virtue.’ Socrates does so by mentioning bees concerning how many there are and that we define them as each individual bee being similar to each other making each one a bee, and not by their differences, and by stating that virtue works the same way in searching for its definition.

In search of another definition for virtue during their discussion that moved towards justice and temperance, Meno comes up with the definition of virtue meaning the control of people to maintain justice and temperance because of the fact that some people are not virtuous and therefore not just and temperate enough. Socrates again rejects Meno’s definition because of the fact that not all people can abide by this overall virtuous definition, such as in the state of a slave, a slave cannot rule over their master, and therefore would not be able to be virtuous, so there must be more within virtue’s definition. Meno claims this second definition to be so because of the justice within it and how the ruler would rule justly, but Socrates states that justice is ‘a virtue’ and not virtue in its essential definition.

As Socrates addresses towards things that are ‘a virtue’ he discusses justice, and asks Meno to elaborate upon the other possible ‘virtues’ within the entire virtue’s definition. Upon doing so, Meno says that courage, temperance, high-mindedness along with others are virtues that are each ‘a virtue.’ Socrates immediately corrects Meno in saying that they are looking for what virtue is and not about what individual ‘a virtue’ identities are. Socrates makes known his argument by asking if roundness is shape or if it is ‘a shape.’ By asking this Socrates aims to make the point that their discussion is about finding virtue’s definition and not what each ‘a virtue’ is, and each virtue Meno listed are each ‘a virtue’ and contribute nothing to the ultimate definition

Meno’s fourth and final attempt at defining virtue is when he says that virtue is “enjoying beautiful things and having power.”  Socrates responds by asking a thought provoking question in asking if people enjoy bad things, and do they know when they seek and enjoy bad things, and therefore destroying Meno’s argument. This question destroys Meno’s argument because through their discussion it is known that with power, one could enjoy and get whatever bad things they want regardless if they know what they enjoy is bad or not. These possibilities lead to unjust and non-virtuous things, and this cannot be the definition of virtue. This leaves Meno with no rebuttal and only to call Socrates a numbing fish.

The main two arguments that Socrates has is that we are looking for the definition of virtue as virtue in its whole and not individual ‘a virtue’ identities. Like how courage is ‘a virtue’ and  does not define virtue in its whole part. The other argument is that virtue is having power and the power to achieve good enjoyable things. I find it awesome that in the end Meno calls Socrates a mind numbing fish that destroys anything he has to say in response to Socrates. Socrates does just that, and others call him names like what he was called in the beginning of the Republic, but I cannot put my finger on what he was called. However the thing he was called accused him of talking people in circles and responding only in questions and only causing people problems during discussion.

So what is virtue to us today? Virtue to me today seems ambiguously defined, because it contains the good, the just, the enjoyment, and loving yet sometimes hating the friends and enemies. Because I, like Meno, struggle to come up with a good definition for virtue, will agree with Socrates’ definitions of virtue: 1) Virtue is knowledge  2) Virtue is sufficient for happiness.

(Note: We all have a mindset of what virtue is and have some idea about it, but we struggle to come up with a dominating definition for what it is in all its forms, just read Plato’s dialogue of Meno to understand this problem).

Concerning the first one, that virtue is knowledge is something that I totally agree with.  If one is knowledgeable, he is knowledgeable about what virtue entails and what one must do to be virtuous. One cannot be virtuous and ignorant at the same time, it is not possible. This is not ‘a virtue’ like knowledge, courage, etc., but defined this way it is virtue, and no part of virtue, courage, love etc. can exist without knowledge. Knowledge is not defined by Socrates as ‘ a virtue’ but as virtue in its whole definition.

Concerning the second definition, that virtue is sufficient for happiness, I also agree with this. To me this is the primary definition for virtue, and the fact that knowledge is virtue is only a secondary definition. Virtue directly corresponds to one being sufficiently happy. Virtue including knowledge, concerning others, helping others, loving others, thinking clearly and other things is good when applied to a human’s life. If one applies virtue wholly to their life, there is only  one other thing to do to maintain happiness (that being letting God into your heart, but that is another topic for discussion).

Thanks for the support.  Tell me what you think virtue is and whether or not Socrates’ and Meno’s definitions of virtue are correct by @replying on Twitter, commenting below, or emailing at cosmosuniversez@yahoo.com

Plato’s Euthyphro: The Pious

22 Jun

Euthyphro is a dialogue of Plato with the conversation between Socrates and Euthyphro. Both people in the conversation are involved in court cases and the dialogue is filled mostly with the argument about Euthyphro’s court case. Here, I want to talk about Euthyphro’s case, the pious actions, and Daedalus’ characteristics as explained by Socrates.

The court cases of Socrates and Euthyphro are explained in the dialogue.  Socrates case of course is charged by Meletus for corrupting the youth and conducting experiments not pleasing to the gods. Socrates involves his own case where he states he wants to use Euthyphro’s argument to help his case against Meletus. Euthyphro is the plaintiff of  a case where he charges his elderly father for muder. His father murdered a servant and threw the servant in a ditch. Euthyphro finds out about his father’s actions and turns him in and prosecutes him. Socrates creates the argument over whether or not Euthyphro’s actions were pious or impious.

Socrates analyzes Euthyphro’s entire actions using the entity of piety. Piety is defined in the text as certain actions that which are holy, good, pleasing to the gods, attentive, and just. Euthyphro states that he is prosecuting his father because he thinks that this action is pious. The definition of piety (holiness, goodness, pleasing to the gods, attentiveness, and justice) is debated between the two. Socrates seeks the entire entity of piety and not just certain actions that reflect piety. He begins to destroy and found Euthyphro’s argument in different places, and asks Euthyphro to state whether turning his father in was pious or not (as coherent to piety’s definition).

Piety is clearly yet unclearly explained in this dialogue with a few characteristics. First, it is argued that piety and pious actions are and reflect holiness and the holy. Holy means as the gods would do, that which is pleasing to the gods, and that which is good. Holiness and piety are words that directly reflect the gods (God in my opinion). Euthyphro states that he turned his own father in and is prosecuting him because he feels that it pleases the gods. He also feels that the action is reflective of the good. Also, by piety, Euthyphro feels his actions in turning his father in were pious because they satisfied justice. Euthyphro specifically states in the dialogue that Socrates is odd for dividing possible criminals that need to be turned in between strangers and close relatives. According to Euthyphro, if you are satisfying justice, you are serving justice where it is needed. If a stranger killed a man you should turn him in ( according to Euthyphro’s pious justice) and even if the one that killed a man was your father or mother you should also turn he or she into satisfy pious justice. Finally, piety is defined to reflect attention. By attention, the dialogue states the business of praying (asking the gods for things) and sacrificing/giving back to the gods (returning the favor by doing things that please the gods). If someone asks the gods for things, it is implied that this person should give something back to the gods by doing good things. Euthyphro states that by turning his own father in for murder he is attending to the gods. Overall, Euthyphro’s action in prosecuting his father is not what he would love to be doing but, it is a pious action and it pleases the gods.

He justifies his actions because prosecuting his father for an unjust action is pious regardless of his relation to the man who did the injustice. Socrates argues back with questions arguing the possible impiety of the action of turning in his own father because of the fact that one cannot be sure whether or not each god approves (or even one god) of turning your own father in. I feel this is an argument against polytheism for another time, but I want to turn this argument towards the God with Jesus and the Holy Spirit we perceive and obey today. The argument of Euthyphro’s piety is never answered because when Socrates is finally getting to his point, Euthyphro asks to argue another time and he says he must leave. This leaves poor Socrates high and dry because his argument is not answered and he has not been helped towards his own court case as the defendant.

Concerning the definition of piety (holiness, goodness, justice, attention), I want to discuss Euthyphro’s position when he heard about the injustice of his father when he murdered the servant. I want to argue about it concerning what the Judeo-Christian God (mostly Christian) considers pious. The thoughts and opinions of God are often highly ambiguous, but the Bible often casts enough shadow on any issue about His opinion that we may have enough knowledge and faith to make the right decision. First, I think that if you are personally involved in an injustice that a close relative of yours does, you are obligated to turn him or her in. You are doing yourself an injustice if you do not turn in those who go against the ten commandments and other biblical laws. However, in Euthyphro’s case, if your father kills a man that is not involved with your life, and your father has shown wisdom like Euthyphro’s father, you should rely on your father’s wisdom to turn himself in for the injustice. If he does not do so, and possibly commits other injustices, one should reconsider not turning him in.

Am I saying that Euthyphro was wrong in turning his father in? Possibly. I am directly saying that he should have evaluated the situation further about the piety of the action of turning him in before acting hastily.

What would you do if your father committed a murder? Would you turn him in immediately? later on after further evaluation?

If my father committed a murder ( he would never do such a thing however), I would hope that he would turn himself in. I would not get involved unless I felt targeted. If I was not initially involved, I would stay the hell out. I would not get myself into things I had no place in. Turning my father in for murder would be putting myself in places I need not be into. If however, I somehow felt that God wanted me to turn him in, I would do so. I am saying this without having experienced the situation. Things may be different if I actually were to go through something like this. But now, I feel it would be impious to immediately turn my father in for an injustice he committed. I would pray for him and pray that he would turn himself in.

The piety on the subject cannot be assessed unless you experience the situation yourself. I am not able to arrive at an inference of piety or impiety about the subject because I have not experienced the situation.

A few quotes in the dialogue sparked my thoughts and interest besides the piety argument.

Socrates compares their argument to the work of Daedalus when Euthyphro notes on the fact that their argument’s foundation seems to get up and leave to go somewhere else, therefore there is little progress in the dialogue towards a conclusion. If I have no knowledge about a certain topic, and just begin reading on some of the arguments about that thing, I will have a certain opinion. But, as I read more and become more and more educated, my further knowledge will change my opinion because of knowledge and further analysis. As Socrates and Euthyphro discuss the argument of piety, they analyze the argument about Euthyphro’s place as plaintiff continuously and their foundations build up and then are destroyed because of Socrates further analysis and knowledge about the topic with discussion with Euthyphro. This is a characteristic I have observed in all topics we observe on this world. As we know more about and further analyze a certain topic, we become more educated and less ignorant, causing the shift in our opinions and grounds for those opinions.

Also, Socrates calls Euthyphro out for his laziness when Euthyphro begins to not understand Socrates. Socrates states that Euthyphro’s abundance of wisdom makes him lazy. I think Socrates says this because as you become more and more wise through education and reading, you feel that you understand a certain situation more than another could, and you do not feel the need to explain things to people because they will not understand as well as you. Also. wisdom makes one lazy because you stop arguing about things and stop trying to prove things at some times because you feel you have nothing else to prove about your knowledge and wisdom.

I have experienced this feeling a little (not saying I’m wise because I am not by any means, but I felt I was at one point) and it made me not feel like studying anything or discussing things. When I began reading for recreation, I understood the fact that I had not even begun to hit the tip of wisdom. Through education, reasoning, logic, and discussion, we understand the world around us. These beginning feelings of laziness should be overcome quickly if one wants to succeed in anything. I am not saying Euthyphro was not wise, but I am saying by this that wisdom is such a huge entity that even the brightest philosophers have not even began to get past the beginning parts of wisdom of this world. The only one who has wisdom is God. He is wise in all possibilities. A human in this state cannot become very wise.  Plato, Socrates and Aristotle (etc.) were very very wise for this world. They were probably the wisest mortal beings on this planet (other philosophers too), but even they  did not get past the tip of wisdom.

Thanks for your support.

Dont forget to comment below your thoughts about the pious and any other thoughts.

Plato’s Republic Books I-III

20 May

I am currently reading Plato’s book of dialogues Republic. It is divided into ten books. I am basically going to post and explain the arguments set forth in each book that I feel are breakthrough or important. This post is for the first three books of the Republic. In these books, Socrates is conversing with Polemarchus, Thrasymachus, Glaucon and more people over justice versus injustice, good versus bad, how one seems good or bad  or just or unjust, the souls satisfaction (in learning arts etc.) and more.
In Plato’s dialogues points and ideas are presented to the conversation through argument. In any subject for discussion, many small points and ideas are explained to contribute to the big picture of the idea. In this post I am only going to explain how the biggest concepts of the first books work.

Justice is defined as all truth and in returning back to the person what he or she is supposed to receive.
Throughout the first three books of the Republic, this idea holds true

Justice=Good


Is it better for one to strive to be just or unjust? Which is better and more profitable?

If you strive for yourself to do and say what society sets forth as just, first of all you will be seen as just which is only as good as what comes if you are truly just. If you are truly just, Socrates says, good things will come to you in the end.
There is argument however whether it is more profitable to be just or unjust. It is not profitable at first to be just because you are rewarded much later for practicing the just things. Being unjust is extremely profitable at first and can confuse people as to which is better to represent yourself as. For example, if you are a bookie and accept bets from men who do not need to be placing bets such as this. You profit from the man if he loses his bet. This is very profitable for you, but this is not good or just because of how it puts the better in a deficit (the man who placed the bet is no more good and just than you are). The money you took from him is truly his and still should be his but he betted it away so its only truly his because the betting he engaged in was not good or just. It is better to be good and just because in the long run you will be benefited. Being unjust and bad may  profit you right now but later you will not be successful by any means.

Is it good or just to seem good and just when you are really bad and unjust and vice versa?

One who SEEMS  good and just but really is not, is not good or just by any means because what one is only matters when the SEEMING is taken out. If a society, economy or government is made up of those who seem good and just but under the surface really are not, the structure of the government would eventually crumble because as I will explain later, Socrates says that the only way a government can succeed is through practicing and holding true the good and just components. It is more good and just if you seem bad and unjust when really you are just and good in every way. It is mostly good and just when the SEEMING  is taken out of th equation because what you are under the surfacei is what really matters. For example, Socrates was seen as bad and unjust when he was tried as an evildoer and for practicing witchcraft when really Socrates was just exploring because the Oracle at Delphi said to know thyself and that the unexamined life is not worth living. Socrates’ defense speech (Apology) showed later that he really was a good and just philosopher. In Athens at the time, he was viewed as bad and unjust. This equation is the most just of all seeming. Even though Socrates seemed bad and unjust then, he has been for a long time and is still viewed today as one of the most good and just people that ever lived.

After discussion with Polemarchus, Cephalus, Thrasymachus pipes in energetically and calls Socrates a sycophant (fawning parasite, selfish learner) because of how he responded to questions with more questions and took in all the answers as other people answered them. Socrates defends this accusation by providing a strong opinion for the discussed subjects. The discussion about being and seeming good, just, bad and unjust, the discussion and defense against Thrasymachus leads them into discussion about who has the advantage in a government and is that good and just that its true.

Does the stronger or the weaker have the advantage? Is it just and good that they have that advantage?

The discussion of Thrasymachus and Socrates is taken from being good and just in themselves to applying goodness and justice to possible societies, economies and governments. The idea of just governments gets more elaborated. The case is made that the stronger has the advantage in a government because the ruler, dictator, oligarch, or monarch have the most power over a state or nation. The case is made that the only way that the stronger would have the advantage is if the ruler of a nation or state was tyrannical. The citizens of a tyrannical state are at the mercy of their ruler. A tyrannical ruler being one that takes advantage of the citizens of a state or nation and one that reaps what everyone else sows, the stronger of a government having the advantage is NOT JUST OR GOOD by any means.
The weaker having the advantage is discussed as being just and good because of who the weaker is. The weaker component is the one that have many needs and relies on the ruler to provide them with the things that they need to live and be successful in that state. The weak will only have the advantage in a democratic state or nation because in a tyrannical, dictatorial, totalitarian or other bad governmental structure, the cries of the weak will not be heard by the ruler because the ruler will be so concerned with his own wants and needs. When the weak ask the ruler for things that will help them succeed in their lives in that state, pressure is put upon that ruler to deliver promptly. For example, the U.S. economy is in shambles right now and the newer president Barack Obama has been elected by the people because we all think that he is the one that will effectively bring this country out of the recession. If Obama does not deliver us out of these bad times, Obama will probably have an affected reputation just as George W. Bush has now because of the bad things that have happened to this country while he was in office. LOTS OF PRESSURE is on Barack Obama right now. This operation is just and good by Socrates and Plato.

The advantage of the weaker is the MOST JUST AND GOOD  of the two advantages that can be present in a society, economy or government. The weaker having the advantage is the only way a structure like this can prosper.

Establishment of Cities


To build a city of diverse trades and people, do you think that you could just have 5 people and be successful as a city? In the beginning of Republic, it is explained by Socrates, the things that are necessary to establish a successful city. He begins by explaining that it is necessary that the weaker of the people must have the advantage and that the good and the just of things must be established. He beings to explain the idea of a city by asking if 5 people with their own trade would be enough to establish a successful city. According to the forms, one who takes on the form of a cobbler, the form of an artist, the form of a silversmith and so on cannot take on the roles of other forms of other trades and be successful in a city. If you want to be successful in a city, each person must take on one trade of one form. There must be a plethora of people that are a part of the city, each person performing a different  trade so that all the needs of a city can be met to make the city take on the identity of being good and just. If the city is to become successful, the city together can pay each of its citizens by the trades that each person is to perform. Lastly for a city to become successful and to represent good and just things, exportation and importation must be a part of daily activity. Exportation and importation of goods and services can be assigned to people as trades. All of these trades and people together, with exportation and importation and lastly with an economy, society and government where the weaker has the advantage are what is needed to establish a successful city that represents the good and justice.

Forms of  Diction and Narrative


Socrates also discusses in the Republic the importance that speech and language has in rhetoric. The Form of the Narrative concerns imitation and diction. Narrative concerns stories being told and how they are told. Stores need to be imitated. The first person that told the story probably told the story the best especially if it was popular and important. Sometimes, not always, imitation is what allows other people to tell the same stories. Diction is also necessary in the narrative, because diction, pitch, rhythm, inflection and imitation are what makes a story interesting to listen to and important in the subjects at hand.
The Form of Diction is what is more useful than the narrative because stories are usually not the method that concepts and ideas are discussed. Diction is not only effective pronunciation of the words that are spoken, but it is also pitch, rhythm and voice inflection of the speaker. Diction sometimes also involves imitation if concepts are complicated enough that the way they are explained is similar. Socrates discusses in Plato’s Republic that Diction and narrative are forms that are key concepts in understanding and using rhetoric.

Treatment of the Body and the Soul


In the 3rd book of the Republic, Socrates argues that the body and the soul are 2 separate things and that two different ways or professions are needed to satisfy them both. I call it treatment of the body and soul because Socrates says to Glaucon that to satisfy the soul requires one action and to satisfy the body, requires another action. First, the soul requires by Socrates to be satisfied by music. To satisfy the soul, it is not referred in the Republic that music is to be used as entertainment. The person that is to satisfy their soul is to train endlessly in music of some instrument and to perform to eventually and hopefully master the skill of music. Socrates states that music grabs a firm hold on the soul and does not let go easily. Because of this, Socrates said that training and perfecting one’s skill in music will eventually satisfy the soul. The training, performing and entertainment from the 2 aforementioned things are what satisfies the soul to the standard of Socrates. The body being separate from the soul requires something totally different to satisfy it. Socrates states that it is gymnastics that one should train themselves in that will eventually satisfy the body. Like music satisfying the soul, to satisfy the body, one must train and perform in gymnastics in all events for a long period of time to hopefully eventually master the skills of gymnastics. It is stated that gymnastics trains the body in a variety of ways due to the different skills involved in the sport. Constant training and performing will entertain the body and eventually satisfy it.
This philosophy follows suit as supporting material that Plato states that the soul and the body are separate entities.

The above arguments are the main arguments stated in the first three books of Plato’s Republic. Along with these arguments so much supporting ideas are added to compare and contrast with these arguments. Socrates uses these comparisons and contrasts to support his case. It is best to actually read Republic to get the most out of it.
Next post on Plato ‘s Republic will be on Books IV-VI

Athenian Anthropocentrism and the Sophists

20 May

The struggle with the Persians caused the Greek city states years of difficulty. The single city states fought hard to defend their territory and ended up having to work with other city states just to pull through and defeat the Persians to keep them out of their city states forever. When the idea of more naval forces was brought up, it was used and ended up defeating the Persians. Greece being out of war stimulated artistic and philosophical ideas. The philosophical group known as the Sophists became popular and higher education was desired. The higher education was taught by Sophists like Protagoras and Gorgias leading to a better generation of politicians in Greece. Protagoras and the Sophist’s idea of rhetoric laid the foundation for a whole new conflicting philosophical idea.

The United States was largely influenced by other governments and ideas when it was first formed. Our government was derived from Greek democracy and one could argue that Themistocles naval idea to defeat the Persians could have been an idea the U.S. took to thought when building the military. Greece defeated Persia because they somewhat united their city states and they built up the navy. After having been defeated before, Greece came up with new strategies to defend their city states. Once the Persians were defeated, the city state Athens became larger and more powerful than Sparta, Thebes or any of the other city states in Greece. They became large enough that a stage of prosperity settled in. Athens was able to make advances in military and government. The prosperity made Athens very wealthy. As exhibited in many other societies, extreme wealth and prosperity causes that society to not have to strive to survive but the society experiences an increase in creativity, thought, reason and indulgence. The exact same thing happened in Athens after the Persian wars creating the term Athenian Anthropocentrism. Art, philosophy and other creativity increased. With this increase a group called the Sophists was created. With the advances in government it was decided that politicians of the council would need more than a basic education. The Sophists were some of the first professors in Greece. They were given money to educate someone. The Sophists not only were educators but their methods of education contained groundbreaking ideas that created questions of some previous philosophies.

The two main Sophists were Protagoras and Gorgias. Protagoras taught his pupils with the attempt to make them better men. “Young man,… if you associate with me, this is the benefit you will gain: the very day you become my pupil you will go home a better man…” (Melchert, p. 41, Protagoras) is his quote to Hippocrates. He says this to people considering him as a teacher. Protagoras would not teach only things pertaining to government but ideas and principles of how to better run one’s life. Melchert specifically explains it has Protagoras teaching virtue and values. Protagoras’s idea of virtue is basically changing things to do service not only to yourself but to the city. One cannot lead in any governmental setting until one can deal with things smoothly in one’s own life first. Melchert states that virtue can also mean excellence. To Protagoras, one must have the correct values to practice virtue. The idea of the ‘better man’ that Protagoras will make out of each pupil must come from having the correct values and being taught virtue (excellence). Most today would argue that Protagoras’s definition of virtue is helpful in being successful. One can succeed in anything he or she wants as long as the person’s reasonable goals are decided and they have the right values. Virtue is only one of the teachings of the Sophists.

The real groundbreaking conflicting idea that the Sophists present is what Gorgias specialized in.  Rhetoric is the ideas that one uses for persuasive speech. “The central idea is that by using the principles of persuasive speaking, one can make a case for any position at all”, (Melchert, p. 42) states the large importance of rhetoric.  It is even stated that if ones case was very weak and not favored, one could win with the strategies that rhetoric presents. Protagoras would teach his students rhetoric by preparing them for both sides of a case and told them to be able to win for both sides using rhetoric. One would be very skilled if he could win for either side of any argument. These two sides are explained using the term Heraclitus used for the world order. “What the Sophists were training their students to do was to present opposite logoi. There was logos (what could be said) on one side and there was logos on the other”, is how Melchert explains the logoi. As one understands Heraclitus’s logos is fire and opposition. It could be understood that the logos that the Sophists present is similar to Heraclitus’s logos due to the opposition. The two sides that the Sophists present is opposition which could be why Protagoras and the Sophists used the term logos for this situation. The Sophists students were taught to be able to use rhetoric to influence anyone to see any side to any issue. This possibility is what breaks ground in philosophy.

Melchert specifically refers to Parmenides statement that thought and being are the same. The Sophists use the ideas of rhetoric to tear down this idea. Rhetoric teaches people to be able to persuade anyone on any issue. For example the Sophists taught people well enough to be able to influence a conservative today to see the liberal side to everything with their persuasive power. If that is true then thought and being cannot be the same because two opposites cannot both be true and yet a person can believe both of those opposites. Protagoras goes as far as to say that it is possible that what people perceive through senses could possibly not be true. It is only true to them. It could possibly be something different to someone else. Protagoras states that what one perceives is real to that person and what is really real is most likely beyond our perceptions. The term relativism is used to explain that each person has his or her own ideas of what reality is relative to what their senses perceive. Melchert says that what Protagoras said about the presence of a God reveals his agnosticism. What he states about God clearly defines what agnosticism is. He does not say that one does not exist just that we cannot decide that by our senses or reason. Melchert defines this lack of idea of whether God exists or not as skepticism. Most people would use the term agnosticism and skepticism for religion interchangeably. Protagoras sums relativism and skepticism by saying that “Man is the measure of all things”. Today everyone can easily see how rhetoric affects the world. Today’s attorneys are skilled in rhetoric as the Sophists students were. These attorneys defend people who are guilty of crimes and the really skilled attorneys win allowing their guilty clients to go free. Too many times today the skilled rhetorician frees the guilty criminal. The judge only has secondary sources when reviewing a criminal case and either side can persuade him or her. This serves as a disadvantage to society because the rhetorician is on the criminal’s side.

The Sophists forced importance of virtue and values is further explained and further debated with the idea of physis and nomos.  Physis is the word explaining nature. The Sophists explain physis as all of the natural processes and phenomena of the world and all things in it. Physis involves no processes and phenomena executed by humans. Melchert states that the Sophists think of physis as processes that no human force can go against. Nomos is the exact opposite of physis. Nomos is defined by Melchert as custom or convention of human affairs.

Nomos is all of the processes and existences that exist because humans place them there. Laws are one example stated by Melchert in that laws are a custom that humans put in place. Physis and nomos are two extremes that Sophists lay out to explain life and how to live by virtue. Humans cannot change physis and nature cannot change nomos. Laws are the best example for explaining nomos and physis. Melchert states that if one breaks the law set by nomos then one would receive some form of punishment also set by nomos. If the law violates physis, Sophists say that one can possibly not abide by that law. Melchert states that virtue and justice are good ways of showing ways to abide by physis and nomos. Natural justice and conventional justice were debated as to which is more important by the Sophists. Natural justice being physis generally seemed more important to abide by than the conventional justice or nomos. Physis and nomos also have a stance on whether a God exists. Melchert states that if God existed by physis then God would be beyond our comprehension and therefore meaning basically nothing to humans. If God existed by nomos, God would only exist by personal perception. One would state today that the middle path between these stances on God is what really exists. No one would agree with either the extreme stance of physis or nomos about religion. Most people today would say that God is not just in our own perception as nomos states but people have evidence that God exists to large numbers of people due to frequent religious fellowship. Most would also argue that God strongly exists by physis but not to the extent that people cannot perceive God. One would also argue that physis and nomos are just two conflicting ideas to allow Sophists and other philosophers to debate amongst themselves because everything that comes with each idea cannot coexist.

The Presocratic Sophists began a new school of thought that laid the foundation of more philosophies and ideas that later developed. Along with the Sophists came the idea for higher education for a better society. Their teachings inspired a new sense of self appreciation in the introduction of values and virtue. Men became better men from Protagoras’s ideas. Heraclitus’s logos was developed into rhetoric and physis and nomos created more debate and extensive thought. How other philosophers addressed the conflict between physis and nomos is something people probably did not achieve easily.

Plato’s Idealism

20 May

With the progression of new ideas through the Presocratics, the Sophists and Socrates, many things were apparent in Plato’s mind as he attempted to answer everyday questions. The previous established philosophies laid the foundation of many questions that later philosophers were relied on to answer. The trial and death of Socrates created ideas and then more questions that only Plato was left to answer as Socrates was put to death. Plato taught (he would prefer the word facilitated or directed) his students to live harmoniously and wisely. His ideas and philosophies answered questions created by Heraclitus, Parmenides, Protagoras and Socrates. Plato led many to understand the processes and ideas to live a knowledgeable, wise and harmonious life.

The philosophy of the Sophists was highly questioned as Plato came up with answers. Presocratic and Sophistic ideas were disproved as Plato revealed his ideas of epistemology and metaphysics. Plato’s ideas of what knowledge and opinion were answered the many questions. Melchert uses an example describing the belief of a blind person and one who could see. The blind person believed (had an opinion) that she should turn a certain way just because that was her opinion. The person who had sight believed that he should not because he would fall off the cliff. He did not turn that way because he knew the outcome (knowledge). The blind person’s opinion is not knowledge but the result of that person’s perception. Plato stated the difference between opinion and knowledge. He laid out the spectrum of knowledge, opinion and invincible ignorance.  Plato defined knowledge to be what teachers teach or facilitate or direct their pupils toward.  Specifically, knowledge is the result of instruction. Instructing material to minds that have the capacity is what gives one knowledge. Plato explains the basis of knowledge as reason. The facts behind knowledge can always be explained by reason. Knowledge also never stops being true. Knowledge is not in flux like opinions can be. Knowledge, being ‘what is’ cannot become ‘what is not’. Along with always being true, knowledge is explained by Melchert as always enduring. Knowledge always remains once established. The other side of the spectrum being invincible ignorance is just the opposite of knowledge. It can be described as Parmenides’ definition of ‘what is not’. If there is nothing there, one cannot learn it or know it so the lack of knowledge is invincible. Plato’s midway between knowledge and invincible ignorance is opinion.  As stated by the Sophistic rhetoricians, opinion can be swayed towards any side of any issue. Plato states that opinion is the result of persuasion. Rhetoricians persuaded people to have different opinions. Different from knowledge where it is the result of instruction, persuasion can cause any opinion to arise. Plato also defines opinion as possibly being true or false. Everyone has their own opinion swayed by other influences or enculturation and opinion is only classified as fact upon the individual. Rhetoricians’ jobs were to change opinions so clearly opinion is changeable unlike knowledge is. Plato lastly defines opinion as not being backed by reason. Those keeping their opinions may feel that they have reason behind what they believe as does Melchert’s example of the blind woman does for walking off of a cliff. Plato would obviously state that there is no reason behind walking off a cliff to one’s death.

Another interesting thing about knowledge was when Socrates was teaching the slave boy and he drew the cubes and triangles in the sand. Socrates drew a large cube with four cubes inside it but then a diagonal cube also inside it creating a plethora of triangles. The concept that one of the smaller cubes inside the large cube can be doubled by slicing the cube in half and adding three more triangles of the same size to the sides. This doubles the cube. This leads to Plato’s explanation of objects of knowledge. Melchert explains that when Socrates drew the geometric shapes in the sand and possibly stated the areas of the cubes, he could only have been representing the cubes as the stated areas. Plato creates the idea of the objects of knowledge from the fact that Socrates could not have possibly drawn perfect cubes of perfectly round areas. They might have been close by a certain number of decimal points but he could not have made them perfect geometric shapes of perfect areas. Plato presents the concept of error to show that everything cannot be perfect values but they are all close within a certain range. With this idea Plato presents the idea of forms. Forms are specifically defined as objects of knowledge. The not perfectly round numbered geometric shape is described as the form of whatever shape it is. It is the Form of for example a 7cm area square. A square Socrates drew in the sand might not perfectly have a 7 cm area but it represents a 7cm area square. A form of one thing includes everything that is similar or equal to what the form is classified as.  Forms are not perceived by the sense. Today one might define a form as a generality. Lots of things within a form may be slightly different due to a possible margin of error by measurement (not that all forms are measured as a square would be). In the beginning of Plato’s philosophy, he answers some questions asked after the Presocratics and Sophists. Protagoras’ ideas of relativism and skepticism state that humans do not know enough to understand what goes on beyond earth and that we do not have sufficient knowledge. Plato disproves the Sophist idea that the senses mean nothing. Plato stated that senses are the way we see reality. Only knowledge is what lacks use of senses. Skepticism is disproved by our knowledge about other worlds. Relativism is no longer necessary to explain things because our knowledge replaces this ignorance. Some would be happy that Plato disproved the ignorance established by the Sophists in skepticism and relativism. Skepticism and relativism are only excuses. Plato’s explanation of opinion through senses and his explanation of knowledge through forms is what allowed Plato’s elaboration on the spectrum of knowledge and opinion.

Plato’s idea of forms allowed him create another spectrum of knowledge. The ideas of relativism and skepticism are explained to not be correct when Plato presented his Divided Line. The inability of humans to physically show everything that they explain creates the need for forms. Forms make up all of the spectrum created by the Divided Line. First, the Divided Line is explained as A, B, C and D. Each letter representation has a certain amount of space unequal to the other. Plato does this because each form that each letter represents may be bigger than the one next to it so he decided to make the areas for each letter different sizes. A and B together make one form called the visible. Plato explains that everything the senses perceive may not always be reality or knowledge. Humans accidentally see things that are not real. Plato does not totally discount the senses but he does state that everything the senses perceive has to be clarified further to be classified in C and D. The visible form includes A and B and the visible is divided that way. A is classified as the form of likenesses as Plato explains. A likeness is defined in most cases as a resemblance, sight or picture. A likeness seen by a human could either be an actual picture, entity or a hallucination. Due to the possibility that the human mind at any time could produce a sight or likeness without something real actually being seen, he explains a likeness to be at the bottom of the spectrum of knowledge. Imagination is how Plato describes a likeness.  Hallucinations are in no way a contribution to the explanation of any question. In the B side of the visible form, Plato uses ‘things’. All of the things that make up the visible world are what causes people to have questions and causes philosophers to have to explain them. Plato states that this part of the visible form is what causes opinion. Everyone has one and they all change on a daily basis so they stay in the visible form and stay on the bottom part of the Divided Line or the spectrum of knowledge.

The C and D spot is the higher level of thinking that gives some explanation that the visible form cannot give. Plato describes C and D as the intelligible form. This higher part of the spectrum has less changes involved and answers the questions from the visible form. Again the intelligible form is divided into two parts. C is described by Plato as the lower forms. Lower forms are described by Plato as science. In science, many things are discovered and much more progress is made as some questions are answered but the things that science has difficulty answering are ‘taken for granted’ as Melchert explains. The science is the lower form because of these things taken for granted that are not explained such as the origin of the earth.  The D side of the intelligible form solves the questions created by the things that science ‘takes for granted’. The higher form is described by Plato as the dialectic. The higher form in the intelligible form includes dialectic and the Form of the Good. Plato created the Divided Line to clear up everything that causes everyone to worry and question everything. At the end of the line, dialectic allows everyone to not worry anymore because their questions and worries have been solved. Dialectic solves everyone’s questions because it allows explanation of a Starting Point. With dialectic, people can have knowledge. Plato explains another form that allows dialectic to exist and allow people to have knowledge and not worry about unanswered questions. The Form of the Good is described as being at the very end of the intelligible form and being the most intelligent. The Form of the Good is described as what allows certain phenomena to occur to cause questions along with having the answer by presenting dialectic to answer the questions and allow knowledge. Melchert describes the Form of the Good to include knowledge and dialectic because knowledge and dialectic are good and yield a better society. Dialectic is a great thing for anyone to be exposed to so it must be a part of the Form of the Good. The Starting Point along with the ability to explain most of everything only gives good things. If everyone does not strife because they do not know certain things, they will rest because they have knowledge. Plato says that this result must be from the Form of the Good. The Form of the Good is basically what creates the phenomenon that goes along with the Divided Line. The Form of the Good creates the visible form creating questions and it creates the answers to the visible form that it exposes. The reality increases as you go to the right on the Divided Line. Going to the left creates the things that cause question and going to the right creates the answers. Being a very complicated subject, once understood most would agree with what Plato was saying once paired with their own opinions and ideas but really pairing Plato’s Divided Line with one’s own opinions and ideas brings you back to the visible form.

The Divided Line can be explained by Plato’s Analogy of the Cave. The Cave is presented as an example of what occurs as one with capacity to gain information, gains knowledge and moves right across the Divided Line. The people in the cave only able to stay in that lower area had no idea about anything around them or what was outside the cave. All they saw were the shadows of what was going on above them. This was only likenesses that they were able to see. They may have thought that the shadows they saw were real but really the shadows were only visibilities dependent on another being. Once released and were able to ascend the cave, they saw the fire and the people along with the pathway to the top. These are not just likenesses but things that the oblivious people knew nothing about and were able to make opinions and assumptions. Once being able to ascend the pathway to the top, lower forms can be explained. They knew nothing about what was ahead of them but ‘assumed’ that something fathomable was there. Once outside the cave, they would have to take a few minutes to take in all that was before them and to take some time to understand it. This last stage can be described as dialectic because all of their questions about everything were slowly but surely answered. This is the preferred model that students were to take to gain knowledge towards dialectic. Along with this, Plato had other ideas regarding things other than knowledge.

Melchert somewhat explains Plato’s ideas of love with Socrates’ conversations with Diotima.  To Socrates and to Plato, love is a part of another spectrum. The spectrum begins with ugliness and ends with beauty. Love is in the middle just as opinion is between knowledge and ignorance. Love exists because it wants beauty. People have love because they desire beauty. Love is a type of desire that people have. Love would not exist if it had total beauty. One could also argue that beauty is a part of the Form of the Good which is another reason why love chases beauty. It is also stated that immortality includes beauty and that is another reason why love exists. This love that exists because of desire can exist for one individual or even for a whole culture or society. Plato’s Ladder of Love is his representation of how full beauty is reached. On the ladder, beauty begins on the outside (the beautiful body). The next step up the ladder is having all beautiful bodies within a population. After this step it is realized that a beautiful body is not all of what matters to full beauty. The next step is having beauty on the inside (beautiful souls). The next step is beauty within a structural society (beauty of laws and institutions). The next step up the ladder is when beauty and knowledge come together in beauty of knowledge. The next step up the ladder is the Form of Beauty or Beauty Itself. The form of beauty existing upon a population includes a wide range of beauty so obviously the Form of Beauty existing in a population is a large achievement.

Not only is beauty and knowledge important to live harmonious lives among a population but the soul must take part upon individuals. Plato uses the Myth of the Charioteer to explain the way the soul works. A chariot includes horses and a man that pushes and guides the horses. The man guiding the horses represents the guide for the soul. The two horses include desire and spirit. The desire horse is black and crooked because of the desire. If all of us lived just by desire we would not have any friends and possibly be in prison. The other horse is white and straight. This horse prevents our desires from taking over and this horse in our soul probably prevents most people from acting on desire and ending up in terrible situations. The guide prevents either horse from acting totally on what each wants. Without the guide, the soul might be anarchy. Plato also describes the soul as being the self mover unlike the body. The soul can move form world to world while the body itself cannot. He describes the body as being a sort of prison of the soul and the soul being released at death. The soul is immortal by itself. Along with the structural Myth of the Charioteer, the spirit horse takes a big part in satisfying the soul. One might believe that one should act upon what is best for the individual but Plato says that one should act morally to satisfy one’s soul even if it does not directly satisfy one’s desires or wants. Today one might think of the two horses as being the white angel and the devil on your shoulders as they show in the movies debating on what to do. The only difference from this is the guide that prevents total fighting and anarchy between the two sides. Plato seems to state that the white straight horse wins most of the time in order to satisfy what the soul really wants. Everyone feels two sides to every decision and issue. People would agree with Plato’s Myth of the Charioteer. Most would appreciate this different look on what the soul really consists of.

The idea of the intelligible form might release everyone’s reliance on science to explain everything. The Christians (extremely large population) having an opinion might take them back to the visible form when really it could be a version of dialectic and the Form of the Good. Lots of people believe this version of dialectic. The agnostics and atheists rely on science to explain everything including the Starting Point when really Plato says that science is too much of a Lower Form and takes too many things for granted to understand a possible Starting Point. Christians would agree with the Divided Line because Christians believe that science has little ability to explain the Starting Point and for them, the religion is their dialectic. Plato’s Divided Line would only enforce the beliefs of Christians and it would not take Christians back to the visible form. Christians would have very little objection to Plato’s ideas. The Form of the Good would also enforce the beliefs of Christians. To them, God gives the dialectic regardless of how imaginational or opinionated it may sound.