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Plato on The Life of Philosophy: Discourses on Phenomenology (Anthropology>Psychology> – logy, Dialectic: Beauty. Eros. Justice. Speech. Academy. Going towards & most specifically! Related to The Ideal Life of the Philosopher.
In fact, Plato would not have spoken of phenomena at all if he had not wanted to speak, certainly not “at all costs”, in the manner of the Heraclitean sophistic rhetoricians, but on condition of being able to remain silent after having said (everything?) which cannot be contradicted, but only re-said (instead of being silent with Parmenides, after having contradicted everything that is said). However, on the one hand, Plato could not deny that one speaks in fact of phenomena (if only by contradicting oneself). On the other hand, the One-all-alone being ineffable and the Discourse (Logos) being essentially Two, even double or de-doubled, Plato was not absolutely sure that one could speak of something other than phenomena which “double” the ideal or ideal Objective-Reality. More exactly, Plato seems to have realized (before Aristotle told him) that in the World in which he lives, the fact that Man cannot speak “in truth” of the ideal Objective-Reality (nor be silent on the One-all-alone) is a phenomenal risk (even if nothing can be said of it as “true” in the sense of the non-contradictory), once the sensible World has no direct or “immediate” (discursive) access to the Cosmos noetos (nor to the One-all-alone). For only phenomena are given to it immediately” (or “intuitively”). And this is necessarily (or is contradicted everywhere and always, even sooner or later) that he can, if he loves and seeks discursive Wisdom (that is to say the “true” Speech which cannot be contradicted nowhere and never because it does not contradict itself when it is said), wanting and perhaps succeeding in speaking of something other than Phenomena, namely Ideas (“identical” or & non-contradictory” in themselves), by saying that the phenomena (of which we also speak, but only while knowing that their are contradicting themselves) only re-produce (in a more or less con-formed or de-formed way) these Ideas, like a Mirror (or two mirrors) reproduced in and by the image (or images) which it reflects more or less perfectly. ./././ —– If therefore Plato, as a Philosopher, wanted to speak of everything, including what he himself says, even of Discourse “in general” or of the Concept as such, he also had to speak of what we speak when we speak of Phenomena, as well as of the very fact that we speak of them. Now, speaking of Phenomena “in general” is to say how and why everything that is said about them is a constitutive element of the discursive “Truth” [which is in fact and for us, if not perhaps for Plato, the uni-total Discourse] is precisely to develop a Phenomenology in the proper and precise sense of this philosophical term. And insofar as Plato spoke of phenomena, it was with a view to such a Phenomenology that he did so. ./././ —–In other words, Plato spoke less about the phenomena themselves than about the fact that they are spoken about and what it means (from the point of view of the discursive “Truth”, in fact “exclusive”, that was supposed to be, for him, the Discourse as a development of the Concept). Moreover, Plato speaks in his Phenomenology much less of the phenomena which are spoken of (but which do not themselves speak) than of those who speak of them. Now, it seems that Plato believed neither in a discursive God nor in the intermediary, “angelic” or “demonic” discoursers, with which (as, that is? with whom) the pagan, Jewish and Christian pseudo-Platonists populated their imaginary universe as soon as Plato himself had left the world in which they lived. The phenomena which speak of other phenomena (speaking or dumb) were, for him, without exception human phenomena. Consequently, the authentic Platonic Phenomenology is above all an Anthropo-logy, that is to say a discourse on the Man-who-speaks (of everything and, sometimes, also of what he says himself). ./././ —–Now, if Plato does not seem to have been absolutely convinced that man (or whoever) can speak without a body, he never doubted that it is not the man’s (or anyone’s) body that is talking about. All his fierce and vicious polemic against neo-Heraclitean or sophistic (as well as Aristotelian, at least in his opinion, which does not seem to have been that of Aristotle himself) bears witness to this. He even devoted a whole Dialogue (Cratylus; perhaps his last, if one does not count the Laws falsified by the “Eudoxians” Aristotelizing Speusippus and Philip of Opus), where he showed (without showing, it is true) that in all discourse properly so called the meaning (“ideal”, unique and one) was something quite different from the morpheme (“material”, moreover multiple and in whatever form) and where it mocked the “scholars” who wasted their time talking (in a necessarily contradictory way) about morphemes, instead of concentrating on the meanings of what is said (including themselves) and the Meaning as such (or as a Concept). ./././ —–Consequently, if men are truly human only insofar as they speak (“in truth” or “in error”), if Man as such is nothing else or more (nor, moreover, less) than the incarnate Logos, we must certainly not limit ourselves to speaking of the morpheme of this human Discourse, that is to say of the somatic Man: we must consider also, even above all and before all, the meaning of discursive human existence, that is to say of psychic Man or, if one prefers, of the (human) Soul. This is why the Phenomenology, which is practically reduced in Plato to an Antropo-logy, is in fact and for us, as for Plato himself, above all and before all, a Psychology (in the broadest and, moreover, authentically philosophica sense of this rather ambiguous term). ./././ —–However, we must not forget what Plato never lost sight of, namely that Philosophy (and therefore the Phenomenology that it implies as a constitutive-element) is only interested in discursive Man, even the discursive Soul, and this only insofar as this Man is animated by the desire to “tell the truth, nothing but the truth and the whole truth”, even to be silent after having said all that which can be said without being able to be contradicted and without contradicting himself. Authentic Platonic Phenomenology will therefore speak of the (human) Soul only insofar as the latter, if not attains, at least aspires to the discursive “Truth”: it will speak only of the philosophical Soul or of Man animated by Philosophy or the love of discursive Wisdom, by indicating how or the way on which such a Soul can hope to find one day what it seeks.
Phenomenology (Anthropology>Psychology> – logy, Dialectic
Therefore, the Psycho-logy that is the Phenomen-ology that Plato reduces to an Anthropo-logy is essentially a -logy, even a “Dialectic” (which one cannot, moreover, dissociate from an Ethics, even of an erotic Aesthetics, since a Philosopher must speak of everything and since one can speak in truth of what one does only by really doing what one says). If one wants to use Hegelian and modern terminology (which is not, moreover, mine), one must say that Plato’s Anthropology is not a Psychology or a discourse on the Soul, but a “Phenomenology of the Spirit or “Science of the experience of Consciousness (as another title of Hegel’s PhG)”, that is to say a (true) discourse on the way which the man who speaks to tell the truth (or who, at least, would like to be able to do so) takes on himself (or should take on himself). Only, if the aim or the intention of Plato’s Phenomenology is genuinely “Hegelian”, the result or the solution found therein is specifically Platonic. Contrary to Hegel, Plato does not want to admit at any price that the “Spirit” (or the Logos) “is” and is, in fact, “Time” (Geist ist Zeit). He agrees at most to admit, with Xenophanes (to cite only the latter), that “the gods did not reveal all things to men from the beginning, but (that in seeking), they find in time which is best” (Burnet, 133). …./././ —–For Plato, as for all “Eleates (or Theists) whoever they are (by definition radically anti-Heraclitean”), “the best of all that men find over time” (or in the course of the universal history) has been present since always or “from all eternity”. Plato would also subscribe with both hands to what the Judeo-Greek Proverbs make (discursive?) Wisdom say [?]: “I been established (by God] from Eternity, from the Beginning, before the origin of the Earth.” (Prov., vin, 22 sqq.) And, in his own terminology, he calls this eternal Wisdom (established in and through Eternity which is the divine One-all-alone)the nightly Cosmos that the phenomenal World of which we speak reproduces, by de-forming it, as in a bad mirror. Consequently, if the a philosophical soul can only look (and not look) in a Mirror, it should only speak about it and about what it sees there in terms of images, only in order to try to see by speaking about it, see, that is, what are “in truth” the real things that this Mirror reflects. Thus the Platonic Phenomenology, far from being the goal and the end, even the completion or the crowning of the philosophical System, is only an introduction into Ideo-logy, which is itself supposed to “introduce” the discursive philosophical Soul into the wise silence of a mystical “Theology”, which takes the place, in Plato, of Onto-logy. …./././ —– Now, if what corresponds in truth to the true meaning of what is said to be true of a phenomenon in a discourse which relates to it and not this phenomenon itself, nor even its & essence, but the “Transcendent idea” that this essence (which de-terminates or de-finishes the phenomena which incarnate it) only re-produces more or less imperfectly, the Soul of the Man-who-speaks could not be either body, of course, neither an “entelechy” or an “action” of this body (as in Aristotle), nor even an active negation of it (as in Hegel, for whom the human “Spirit” is where anthropogenic Action is a Negativity which is pure Nothingness outside of what it “denies”, that is to say of the “body”). The Soul of which the Platonic Phenomenology speaks (which is reduced, in fact and for Plato, to a Psychology) is an entity sui generis, “transcendent” in relation to the “body”, even “independent” of it.
As for the question of knowing what is, for and with Plato, this “transcendent” Soul, even this “Independence” which alone allows Man to speak, with the hope at least of telling the truth, well…it is not so easy to say anything definitive. Because from what we know of it, we cannot know whether Plato himself claimed to have seen it. Indeed, if we don’t simply want to restate the Platonic psychological “myths” (which I have already spoken about; at least not immediately; that is, at this Hic), we have little left to say of what Plato told us. …./././ —–However, two things seem to emerge from the whole of the Platonic Dialogues (including the “myths” that he recounts therein, provided that they are interpreted correctly). On the one hand, the Transcendence of this something that Plato calls “Soul” (Psyche) has nothing to do with (individual) “immortality” in the concrete sense of the word. On the other hand, the Independence (“Autonomy”) of this “Soul” is what was later called “Freedom” (or “free will”). Now, in fact and for us, if not for Plato himself, the affirmation of this “Transcendence” contradicts that of “Freedom” and vice versa. …./././ —- Be that as it may, the Phaedo (if not Phaedo himself) is there to tell us that one cannot “demonstrate” the immortality (survival or pre-existence) of “individual souls”. The so-called “proofs” produced by Socrates are in his eyes only “sophisms”, even if their “contradictions” (barely camouflaged) are not seen by anyone present (including Plato, which, nota bene, is not part of it, any more than Aristippus, for that matter). However, these people show by this very fact that they are not “philosophical souls”. It is here where Socrates (for “pedagogical” reasons) ends up in telling these “unfortunate people” “edifying stories” in which he himself does not believe. As for the philosophers (although absent) who would perceive the “irony” of Socratic discourses, they need neither “myths” nor immortality. Because Socrates showed them that the Idea (of Life or of the Organism?) is eternal and that one can speak about it without contradicting oneself and without being contradicted. Now, if we have already said all that we can say without contradicting ourselves, is it so important to be able to say it again in perpetuity? these re-sayings, after all, can only benefit others (“pedagogies”), but not to the philosopher himself. So this one can be content with having said once all that he has done as a philosopher and “die in peace” (even if he could not do all of that, i.e., philosophy itself). And this is why the dying Socrates constantly fell back into a silence which he would certainly not have broken until his death if the chatter of a Simmias (and a “mythical” Cebes) on the “immortality” had not forced him to do so (cf. Phaedo). As for the Transcendence that Socrates believed he had shown (if not de-monstrated), it consists in the adequacy, even in the “coincidence” of the meaning of what a Philosopher says while speaking “in truth”, with the Eternal idea of which he speaks, without forgetting to put it in relation with Eternity (ineffable). …./././ —–The Soul is therefore “immortal” only insofar as it is Logos, that is to say the Meaning, as being always and everywhere identical to itself, of the Discourse which is “Truth”. Now, it can only be true Discourse with true Meaning if it is independent of all that exists empirically in Extended-Duration, where everything is everywhere and always double or dividing itself without beginning or end, in the sense of goal and term. …./././ —–But as soon as Plato wants to talk about this Independence, he contradicts himself or tries to camouflage the “contradiction” in and through the pictorial language of the myths (which seem, moreover, to have the aim of separating the Philosophers who see their “irony” from those who take them literally, without noticing their “contradictory” character”). …./././ —–Whatever this contradiction (which I will perhaps discuss at the end of my exposition of Platonism) means, one thing seems to be certain. It is because Plato understood that the “Freedom” he has in view is essentially discursive. If Man can speak only because he is “free”, he is only “free” insofar as he speaks (or at least is capable of doing so). In any case, this is what seems to emerge from the ironic interview that Socrates enjoys having with a Heraclitean named Cratylus, supposed to be (according to Aristotle) Plato’s master (and who is, for Plato, a curse -somewhat a resemblance to Aristotle, even his spokesperson, assuming that Aristotle is “consistent” with himself). The whole thing there is summed up in the assertion that the morphemes are ‘arbitrary’. Which means, discourses properly so called (that is to say, endowed with meaning) could come into existence precisely be-cause man is free to attach “absolutely-arbitrarily” the meaning that he sees fit to anything and therefore as much as he wants, according to his good pleasure. Now, all things considered, the human body (and all that it implies or all that follows) is nothing other or more than the morpheme of the meaning that follows the “soul” of man [this meaning being, moreover, imposed or present by the eternal or “transcendent” Idea which corresponds to it and to which it relates, which precisely annuls his “freedom”, the latter being “in truth”, only a spatio-temporal “mirror-image” of an eternal Objective-Reality, situated outside Extended-Duration and anchored in Eternity as such, which has nothing specifically human about it, nor anything discursive, being, in fact, the divine One-all-alone]. …./././ —– Only, to know how this transcendent “Freedom” operates [by impossible] in the phenomenal World, it is to Platonic imagery that one must have to recourse. For Plato himself is content to imagine it and does not claim to know how things happen “in truth” or “in reality”. …./././ —– Now, speaking the language of Plato’s “myths”, we can say that the “phenomenal” Mirror has moving parts, which can “spontaneously”, even “freely” or “voluntarily” re-produce more in the Mirror opposite, since the reflection is not placed in such a way that the image they reflect projects only on the latter…Here is the problem or the opening, then. …./././ —– Insofar as the mobile faculty moves in the right direction, it can be equated with the philosophical soul of a Sage, if and when the faculty has actually placed itself as it should. Now, according to Plato (and contrary to Aristotle), each man can become a philosopher (if not a Sage) & on condition of wanting it well or of really wanting it, while also wanting all that it takes to do it well. And it’s in the right way to orient the animated mirrors or the mirroring souls that Plato’s Phenomeno-logy treats essentially and even exclusively, which he voluntarily reduces to a reason or Antropo-logy which is only interested in Man insofar as he is a Soul that seeks (discursively) the Eternal that it loves Eternity. …./././ —–This is why the Psychology that is Plato’s Phenomenology is not only a Gnoseo-logy, but also, if not a “mystical”, at least a Morality coupled with an aesthetic theory of Love. Only, since this Psychology deals with the Soul only insofar as it speaks (with a view to telling the truth), it is essentially discursive or “dialectical” and therefore a real -logy. In other words, Plato’s Gnoseology is a Dialectic that speaks of the “dialectic” that it is itself. It starts from the “negative” or “contradictory” dialectic of the phenomenal discourses; and it is in the direction of positive dialectic” of Philosophy that it leads. And it is in this sense that it is homologous to Hegel’s “Phenomenology of Spirit”. Only, when reaching its end, Plato’s Phenomenological Dialectic believes not only to re-find its own origin, but also to find the Eternal who was present even before his own past began.
It remains for us to see what the Platonic Phenomenology is, taken and understood as a Gnoseo-logy, which, in Plato, seems to avoid the tortuous paths of historical freedom, in favour of devoting itself to the description of the single path (moreover, applied everywhere and always) which is supposed to lead straight (and therefore in a short time) to the eternal “Truth”: at least wherever men speak and since they do so. כל נקודה כאן עלתה כשלעצמה ובאופן פילוסופי-פרופר, עד הניסיון למצותה, במהלך דיונים אחרים. כאן אנו מדברים רק על מה שאנחנו מדברים. על כל אלה, אחרי שהנחנו כי דיברנו עליהם, כך באופן חופשי, כמו ביחס ברור למה שאנחנו אומרים בפסקה הראשונה: ביחס לדרך הישרה של הפילוסוף לאידיאל של הפילוסופיה. הקוסמוס נואטוס…או שוב: אנחנו עוסקים כאן בכל עניין ועניין רק במקצת, ואקזיסטנציאלית, ביחס לחיים של הפילוסוף.
When we look in a mirror, even a little distorting one, it is very rare that we see something beautiful. But it happens. In any case, when we come by the Great Mirror that is, according to Plato, the World where we live, we sometimes see very beautiful things and this less rarely than is sometimes said. . ./././ —–Now, there is no doubt that the phenomenon of Beauty and, more particularly, the beauty of certain phenomena greatly impressed the religious man Plato was. In fact, the world he lived in seemed to him less ugly than it theoretically should have been and, all in all, this world was perhaps worth fleeing without rushing too much. In any case, there were a lot of beautiful things to say and even beautiful beings to whom we can talk. No doubt it is quite difficult to tell anyone why such a thing seems beautiful, and even more, what Beauty is “in itself” and “for itself”. Yet, the following fact is quite clear: phenomenal beauties not only attract attention, but also fix it; and sometimes forever, at least as long as the beautiful remains beautiful. Besides, all that is asked of the beautiful as beautiful (if we ask of it something) is to remain indefinitely in identity with itself, so as not to make itself ugly by deforming itself. This being the case, it is not even asked to multiply, or even to split. . ./././ —–On the contrary, it is admired above all as unique in its kind and, in any case, as one in itself and “simply” beautiful. For the parts of the beautiful are not necessarily beautiful and, moreover, the beautiful qua beautiful is “indivisible” in the sense that it does not really have “parts”. All in all, the beautiful phenomenon presents itself to those who know how to appreciate it at its fair value and use it as it should, like a kind of instantaneous image of a whole enclosed in itself or, more exactly, of a simple “atom” in itself, which should neither move in the surrounding expanse, nor be trans-formed during its own duration, whereas the instant of its local appearance is being supposed to be forever stable (or at least in the place and during the duration of the admiration it provokes, which moreover is generally silent). . ./././ —–That is to say that a beautiful phenomenon presents to the eyes of those who admire it all the essential characteristics of this ideal entity that Plato called Idea. Whatever the de-formations undergone by the images of the Idea, multiplied in and by the phenomenal double Mirror, the beautiful aspect of the images (if they are really beautiful) faithfully re-produces at least one of the perfections of the ideal model, namely, its ideal Beauty. Not, of course, that there can be complete identity. For phenomenal beauty everywhere and always admits degrees: the most beautiful of phenomena could have been even more beautiful, whereas the ideal beauty of the Idea cannot be other than it is; even ideal perfection. But the difference is in some way contained in the limits of the beautiful “as such”, and the Phenomenon is therefore in-definitely remote from the perspective of quantitative sort / degree: it is the difference of more and less; it is not qualitative. Conversely: even if the Cosmos noetos is quite-other-thing that the phenomenal World, it is also beautiful, even if it means being much more so, to the point of being such that it cannot be different. . ./././ —–As beautiful, the Sensible World therefore has, in a way, a door opening onto the Cosmos noetos. In other words, the “phenomenology” of Beauty can serve as an “introduction” to or into the Platonic Ideo-logy. Or again: in contemplating a beautiful phenomenon one could, it seems, speak not only of this phenomenon, but also of the Idea itself (at least as “beautiful” in the sense previously referred to as “atomic” and “eternal”). On the condition, of course, of loving beauty or, at the very least, a beautiful thing.
However, Plato noted the phenomenon of such a Love or the love of certain phenomena (more or less beautiful) both in others and in oneself. And this love of phenomenon also made a big impression on him, it seems. In any case, he spoke to us several times about Eros. However, from what we have of him, he does not do this “openly”. Sometimes Plato forces Socrates to hide under a cloak, sometimes he uses other spokespersons, often to be frankly suspected as to their philosophical value and sometimes he uses dubious (“Diotime”) entities. Moreover, it is not easy to know what Plato really meant by speaking to us in this playful tone. But it seems certain that he connected the phenomenon of love with phenomenal beauty and, to some extent, with Philosophy. . ./././ —– Plato did so, it seems, because of two things that struck him about the erotic phenomenon (in the broadest sense and possibly also “asexual”). On the one hand, far from dividing and multiplying phenomena, Eros re-unites them: far from wanting to oppose the Beloved (in a Struggle in the proper sense, that is to say in in the end “bloody”, if only for “Recognition”), the Lover wants to unite with him (physically or “morally”) and this in a union if possible “eternal” and in principle “monogamous” or “exclusive” (unless it is a question of loving everything and everyone, as God is supposed to do, even though he is said to hate the “wicked”). On the other hand, the Lover loves the Beloved not for what the latter does (with regard to him or in general), but only because the Beloved is (what he “is”): “true love” is “eternal” also in the sense that it is “stronger than death”, the Lover being supposed to have to love the “departed” Beloved [and the “Mystic” could, in fact and for us, ardently love a “non-existent entity”, such as a “pagan God” (or the “Nothingness” that is “god” for the authentic Buddhist)]. Given this attitude of the Lover vis-à-vis the Beloved, one can also say that the latter is “beautiful” for the Lover, at least insofar as he is loved. As beloved, the Beloved is therefore, for the Lover, an “ideal” or, if you will, the image of the Idea: hence the unity, the uniqueness, through ‘eternity’, of Love and its independence vis-à-vis the empirical-existence, even the ‘activity’ (and therefore the objective-reality) of the Beloved. . ./././ —– As eternal or identical, even unique and one, Love therefore places the Lover (whatever the Beloved) in an attitude similar to that which the Philosopher must adopt vis-à-vis the Idea and of Cosmos noetos in general. And insofar as Love relates neither to the empirical-existence, nor even to the action or to the objective-reality of the Beloved, we can say that it is Being as such, which is “given” to the Lover in and through Love. Hence the “ecstatic” and “silent” character of it, on which Plato always insists (and he seems to so insist quite “seriously” indeed, i.e., not “ironically”). . ./././ —– Thus, Eros is “philosophical” in the sense that an “erotic” Phenomenology can guide man through the phenomenal World where he lives by speaking of it and orient him towards the “ideological” Energo-logic. which leads him to the mystical-loving Silence with which the a theological Onto-logy ends in the last analysis. In any case, the joys of love (if not the erotic pleasures) give the Lover the foretaste of the Bliss or Salvation which is the mystical union in and through the religious Love of God.
However, if Plato sometimes seems to speak as if he wanted to say that Eros is the sine qua non condition of (Platonic) Philosophy, being understood as the necessary and sufficient condition of Salvation which is Beatitude, he never claims that Love alone is enough. On the contrary, he always insists on the “amorous wanderings”, as well as on the “uncontrollable” nature of this phenomenon, which is a kind of “divine grace” that one can at most refuse, but which cannot be obtained by human will alone. On the one hand, the “erotomaniacs” such as Glaucon, Phaedrus or the “lovers of Alcibiades” show that love is in fact far from being eternal, unique and one. On the other hand, the fact is that it is more common to find the “good” and the “beautiful” in what one loves than to love only what is truly beautiful and good. In any case, the lovers of a loved one, far from uniting and agreeing among themselves, argue in word and deed. Finally, love “misleads” reason to the point of giving up meaning and irony, not to mention “logical” rigor. (Thus, Phedreus does not see that “Socrates” is making fun of him and Glaucon accepts without flinching the nonsense on the “community of women” that the same “Socrates” voluntarily spouts and is impervious to the “second (and truly philosophical) meaning” of his sayings).
However, Plato notes very fortunately that in addition to Love, which Beauty gives birth to in the Soul, and which reveals Beauty to it, there is in men another “immediate datum of consciousness”, much more “serious” and “sure” from the point of view of philosophical pedagogy, if not more attractive from the “existential” point of view in the sense of “empirical”, even sensitive or “sensual”. It is the “immediate datum of the moral conscience (Gewissen)”; which will be for Christians (Kant included) a “feeling of duty” (Pflicht), but which for the pagan Plato is only the infallible “intuition”, even the “evidence” or the “clear and distinct idea” as to what is right or good, which enables anyone (having it) to distinguish it clearly from all that is bad or evil. To speak with Plato, it is about the “direct” or “immediate” knowledge of Justice, which makes it possible to understand Justice in opposition to Injustice or, more exactly, to identify the multiple and varied injustices by opposing them en bloc to the “intuition” of Justice, by definition one and unique.
It is to this one and unique infallible, “intuitive” knowledge (common to all, that is to say everywhere and always the same, even “necessary”) “of good and evil” that the Platonist “Socrates” appeals each time. It is here where his interlocutor “loses” (discursively or in action), though most immediately the fall of the latter is a result either of the vain chatter of sophisticated rhetoricians, or of the “Socratic” pedagogy, which begins by demonstrating the ” stereotypes “. A whole dialogue (the Alcibiades, I, which the Neo-Platonists perhaps took too seriously, but which modern historians do not appreciate generally at its fair value) is, moreover, dedicated to highlighting the infallible “Moral conscience”, taken and understood by “Socrates” (but not “Alcibiades”) as a necessary, if not sufficient, condition of Philosophy. . ./././ —–On the one hand, the intuitive appreciation of the Just (in empirical Existence) has all the philosophical advantages presented by the loving intuition of the (sensible) Beautiful. If the nature of Injustice diversifies indefinitely according to the hic et nunc of its empirical existence, that is to say according to “circumstances”, the Just is everywhere and always the same, thus being one and unique or, if you will, “eternal”. Opposed, moreover, to the individual virtues, Justice, on the contrary, unites them among themselves, maintaining each of them in identity with itself. With respect of its advantage over love, the love of another human being at least, this thing can be noted. One can love a beautiful one whom the other considers ugly; each can cease to love what he loves; no one wants others (or everyone) to love his beloved, nor especially that the beloved loves others as he is supposed to have to love the one who loves him. On the other hand, everyone is in agreement everywhere and always to distinguish the unjust from the just, and if one is just, one will act tomorrow in the same way as one acted yesterday or acted today; everything just would like everyone to be just in his inter-actions and if one swapped the righteous involved in a just inter-action, the action itself would not be affected and would remain the same. In short, the Just is everywhere and always one and the same “ideal for all”; this is how the maintenance of the Just reveals Justice as an Idea, which is, by definition, the “eternal” identity with itself. …/././ —–Now, if beauty is a given and love is a grace, it seems to depend on human “free will” to incarnate Justice by giving it an empirical Existence in the extended Duration or excluding it from this last. In any case, Plato does not think that the human incarnation of ideal Justice, called virtue, is “impossible” because “contradictory to itself”. He makes responsible for vice the one who is not virtuous. . ./././ —–In other words, to use phenomenographic pictorial language, the voluntarily mobile or true facet that is the human Soul can be oriented in such a way as to reflect the Idea “correctly”, by taking the latter as its point of reference. not as Beauty, but as Good. By becoming voluntarily virtuous, that is to say by conforming entirely (even as embodied) to the moral intuition of the “ideal” Righteous, the Mirror-Soul will see reflected in itself a “conforming” image of ideal Justice and, since the Idea is one and unique as Idea-of-good, it would somewhat be as the Cosmos noetos as a whole.
However, if virtue is a necessary condition of Philosophy, since only moral conscience allows empirical man to orient himself suitably in relation to the Idea, this condition is not sufficient. Because to be a Philosopher, one must want to speak of the Cosmos noetos (in an Ideo-logy), while one can practice virtue in silence, as does a Crito and, perhaps, the “Cephalus” of the Republic (who dwells on Justice, moreover provoked by it by his son, and is somewhat confused by what the sophistical Rhetoricians had to say). . ./././ —– Plato sometimes expresses himself in such a way that one might believe that, according to him, men could have done without Philosophy. This presents itself in a purely negative aspect, as a “refutation” of the discursive errors inaugurated by the “poets” and the politicians and pushed to the extreme by the “rhetoricians” and the “sophists”, i.e. that is, by professional intellectuals. “In the good old days”, there was no philosophy because there was no need for it: insofar as it was discursive, the “moral conscience” was expressed by pious “myths” or by “dogmas” which were in no way “dialectical” for the simple reason that no one disputed them. . ./././ —– However, such an interpretation of Plato’s thought comes up against the tirade of “Socrates” (in the Phaedo) against “misology” which sounds “serious”. Now, if we take this statement seriously, we must say that, for Plato, empirical Existence is only truly human insofar as it is discursive. It is not enough to “do one’s duty”; it is still necessary to be able to account for it in and through a coherent discourse. Now, such an account, such a discursive awareness, is precisely Philosophy. Undoubtedly, one cannot say everything in a discourse, even a philosophical one. Because there are things that cannot be said at all. But it is another thing to act in silence (even “correctly” or in accordance with one’s “essence”, even with one’s ideal or “ideal” “nature”) without ever speaking about it (much like animals do), and another thing is to be silent only about what cannot be said or to be silent after having said everything that can be said (without contradicting oneself). Thus, the “mystical” or “ecstatic” Silence to which Plato sometimes alludes as a sort of reward for the Philosopher would only be accessible to the latter. In fact, the silences of “Socrates” that Phaedo points out to are quite different from the verbal restraint of Crito or the silence of the other spectators in the philosophical tragedy, just as the speeches of “Socrates” are something quite different from the chatter of Simmias and “Cébes”. However, the wise silence in which the philosophical “dialectic” culminates is not within everyone’s reach, according to Plato. Perhaps you have to be gifted at it from birth and, in any case, you have to train for it or be trained by someone wiser than yourself. And all this is, in fact, “exceptional”. But Plato seems to feel on the side of exceptions. . ./././ —–Be that as it may, if a “bastard” has no access to Philosophy, it is not enough to be a “good man”, nor even an “honest man”, in order to be a Philosopher. Because you have to learn to speak about the good that you do and which, as a result, is good. . ./././ —–But, conversely, a discourse is authentically philosophical only if it “conforms” to the good of which one speaks or that one does. For the adequacy of the discourse to the “immediate data, of the moral conscience” is, in the final analysis, the only Platonic criterion of its truth. Without the Socratic or Platonic appeal to the evidence of the Good, there is no way, according to Plato, to end or impose a term and a goal on the contradictory discursive river of the sophisticated “Heracliteans”. . ./././ —– Now, the obligation to conform the philosophical Discourse to the imperative requirements of moral Intuition de-termines the discursive form of Philosophy. For Socratic-Platonic conscious Morality, Morality is opposed to the Good as Yes is opposed to No, and any “third party” is excluded from it. On the one hand, one speaks of the Good (and one speaks well or philosophically) only because one also speaks of Evil (and because one also speaks badly or “sophistically”). On the other hand, one cannot speak validly, that is to say without contradicting oneself, of any “middle term” between the Just and the Unjust when speaking of a given action; an honest man will say that it is just or unjust and only a “sophist” will claim that it can be neither or both at the same time, being “more or less” just or, which amounts to the same thing, unjust . Finally, it is “immediately” obvious that it is the Good which is “positive”, while the Evil is not, being essentially “negative”, even a simple Not-good which has neither “essence” of its own nor real “value”. Because if everyone is ready to do without the bad (or the worst) if they have the good (or the best), no one will want to be satisfied with what they say is bad. Now, the “formal” structure that moral conscience imposes on philosophical discourse is precisely that of the “Socratic” dialectic advocated by Plato. On the one hand, this Dialectic must be “essentially” dichotomous, in conformity with the “Principles” of Contradiction and of the Excluded Middle: the “Thesis” will oppose it to the “Antithesis” which denies it without possible compromise, that is to say, without a “synthesis” which would compromise the Thesis by replacing a part in it by what contradicts it and thus making it “contradictory to itself”. On the other hand, the dichotomous Dialectic must make it possible to clearly distinguish the “good side” from the “bad”, thus allowing the Philosopher to introduce only the “good” into his discourse and to exclude the “bad”. Even if it means showing that only the “wrong will” side un-doubles itself by discursively opposing itself to itself and that it is reduced to silence insofar as it thus contradicts itself. As for the good side, it maintains itself indefinitely in identity with itself while multiplying, just as Virtue remains unique and one, as Justice or manifestation of Good, while opposing itself under varied and multiple forms (as Courage, Temperance, etc.). And this is precisely why the good side of the discursive Division in two (Diairesis) can be numbered with the help of “indivisible” numbers (if not prime, at least not de-doubled or “odd”), which constitute in their togetherness one and the same “series”, measuring exactly the “distance” of each from their common “origin”, which is, moreover, beyond any Dialectic in the sense that it is not spoken of. Sophistics comes to discursively pass off the bad side of things as good. It is up to the philosophical dialectic to “refute” it and to put things back in place, that is to say where the “naive” or unsophisticated moral conscience finds them. Philosophy does this by discursively showing that bad discourse un-doubles and contradicts itself, thus reducing itself to silence.[[[It is more than likely that Aristotle criticised the Platonic Diairesis during Plato’s lifetime and with his knowledge (the text relating to it at the beginning of De part, an. looks quite similar to notes from the academic period, put in their current place by the editors of Aristotle). It seems, moreover, the Sophist and the Politician), responded to these criticisms (notably and publicly although in a camouflaged form, moreover “ironic” and quite “wicked”). What is certain is that Plato reproached the versatile Aristotelian Division for its “immoral” (el. Pol.) character. That he could have actions which would be neither just nor unjust, “but between the two”; which means precisely the suppression of Morality as such and the door becoming open to “tyranny”/ Moreover, if the divided does not oppose as a Yes or No, there is no reason to prefer one of its members.elements (or what have you) to the others: to call some “good” and others “bad” could only be done “arbitrarily” or “by convention”, that is to say according to the good pleasure of each, which is also to say that someone is being able to impose his own on others only by the “tyrannical” violence of a so-called “legislator”. It must be said, however, that this criticism of Plato does not apply to the Aristotelian morality of the “golden mean” or of the right measure that we know (and which perhaps takes Platonic objects into account). To tell the truth, this morality is in conformity with the dichotomous Diairesis of Plato himself. For there is only one “Middle” between two “Extremes” and only the Middle is “good”, while both Extremes are bad, according to Aristotle. Now, the uniqueness of Good and the doubling of Evil are very Platonic and even the diversification of Extremes into multiple and varied vices is in conformity with the conceptions of Plato himself. There remains, of course, the impossibility of separating the Aristotelian “Middle” from these two “Extremes.” But that is the whole difference between Plato’s thetical or ‘ideological’ Para-thesis and Aristotle’s antithetical or ’empirical’ Para-thesis.]]]
The Academic World
And it is after having thus reduced to silence the bad speakers and their bad speeches, the Philosopher remains alone with the good ones. With the right speeches, first of all. But then also with the right speakers. Because he must not be alone if he wants to continue speaking. He will be able to do so as long as he remains in discussion with good talkers and his words are not contradicted insofar as he only talks with the good ones. Because these will not want, by definition, to de-form in and by their speeches what their moral conscience says to each of them, which is the same as that which allowed the Philosopher to dialectically separate the set of good things we talk about from all those things we also talk about, but which “are not”. And this common agreement between good speakers is a guarantee for the Philosopher of the goodness of the speeches that he proclaims as such by making them his own. ./././ —–No doubt it would be preferable for everyone to speak and for all the talkers to be good. But the fact is that it is not thus, at least at the time when one discussed around Socrates and with Plato. On the one hand, there were still the taciturn decent people; more and more rare, moreover. On the other hand, the vast majority of people who discussed the stunt were licensed Sophists, even notorious “bastards”. Moreover, common sense advised the Platonic philosopher to give up discussing with just anybody, trying to get everyone to agree. And so it was that Plato renounced the “Socratic” method of a discussion on the public level and contented himself with discussing with trustworthy friends (or whom he believed to be such) in a private garden, where one is losing his “royally” interest from the rest of the world.[[[According to Plato, a philosopher could only be a “king”, or (as a “king”) philosopher of the state, everyone would mind his own business, yet harmoniously still. But Plato had far too much common sense to believe in such a utopia at a time when Marx himself could not have taken seriously Hegel’s assertion that Wisdom can put everyone in agreement with everyone else. It is therefore more than probable that Plato went to Sicily not to reform the walls of the Syracusians, starting with those of any Dionysius, nor even of the friend Dion, but simply to try to obtain from the powerful potentate enough of rich a ground suitable for the foundation of an Academy (if not of sciences, at least philosophical), which would be protected against the attacks of the vulgar ones (armed or not), & to so obtain by the little interest which it would present in their eyes. As for the Republic, it has a double meaning: on the one hand, it is the description of an “ideal” Academy addressed to those who could become members; on the other hand, it is a satire of the state whatever it is, described as a “degeneration” of the naïve community or as a “caricature” of what the Academy in question should and could be . But it would take too long to talk about all this here.]]]
And Plato succeeds in his academic enterprise. No doubt he attended during his lifetime disputes within his Academy and he had to suffer from the betrayal of Aristotle. And we know that after him the said Academy for ever abandoned the thetical Parathesis of authentic Platonism which was essentially the Ideology of Plato. But the Platonic Academy survived for centuries as a coterie of friends who took no interest in the political world and who lived only to talk about what they agreed upon by the very fact that they adhered to the laws of the Institute founded precisely with a view to speaking about/it. And little by little innumerable “Academies” of all kinds, both “secular” and “religious”, were created alongside that of Plato and many are still maintained today under the name of Christian or other “monasteries”. ./././ —– All these “Academies” have in common the desire (and sometimes the fact) to be separated from the World where we/they live (after all, the Platonic Socrates saw the practice of philosophy as “a rehearsal of death”). Thus one can say that they are all, today as in Plato’s time, living images of the Platonic Cosmos noetos, which is also supposed to be separated (to the great scandal of Aristotle and the “Aristotelians”) from the Empirical world of phenomena. Like this Cosmos, the Academies are meant to be beyond geographical (or political) space and outside of time (including their own). So it doesn’t matter to the Platonic Academicians that in the meantime something has happened somewhere. The academic (discursive) development of the Eternal Concept is situated in Eternity and not in Time; nor in the Space where politicians act. Whether a Philosopher claims to be king and educates all citizens in Wisdom or whether a King claims Wisdom by making his country live in accordance with Philosophy, Academicians could be taxed both as “sophists” or even immorals or morally depraved people. For there can be, by definition, no Wisdom as long as there is (academic) Philosophy, and a king cannot be a philosopher since, again by definition, an Academician will indignantly refuse the offer to be King (which no State, moreover, by definition will be able to give to him). ./././ —– It is thus that in one form or another the Platonic thetical Para-thesis of the eternal Concept in relation to the only Eternity without any extended-Duration-, nor Existence-empirical- has been maintained discursively until our days, at least in the West. Because there are a little everywhere in the Western World of the Academies where one still searches for the discursive Truth by pretending not to know that Hegel has found it…Not to mention those where nothing has ever been sought, where one claims to hold the eternal truth which has been given (to him) spontaneously.