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Section of Plato's Phaedo

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Section of Plato's Phaedo

Postby Fair Terentia » Fri Sep 17, 2004 10:20 am

Not sure if this is the right place, but as it is philosophy...

While puzzling over the meaning of 96c3-97b7 of Phaedo (in the section where Socrates recalls how he got into philosophy and became disillusioned with current ideas) I decided the gist of the argument here is that satisfactory causes cannot be found in the physical world, backed up by Plato's comments on mathematics- that you get 'two' both by adding and dividing, for instance- and the hint that the answers are to be found in non physical forms, as suggested by mathematical laws which are always self consistent, leading him to formulate his hypothesis. (If mathematical laws are self consistent, they must surely refer to forms, or else how to explain that one can get 'two' both by adding and dividing??)

However, I feel this is all rather sketchy and would appreciate any enlightening comments from other Plato enthusiasts.

Do you believe absolute forms exist separate from the mind or are they existent only in as much as a person believes in them? Me, I would probably go for the latter.

Yours in aporia,
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Postby Emma_85 » Fri Sep 17, 2004 12:46 pm

I think I agree with you. Plato's maths example is to show that just by for example putting to things next to each other you don't have 'two'. There is no physical object two, the properties of the things you put near each other haven't changed, they don't have a property 'twoness' about them. But in our mind these 'two' objects are really two. What causes us to think they are two when the objects themselves don't actually have the property 'twoness' must be in us/in our minds.
I'm sure he is right there, we see the world and then somewhere in our brain when the information is processed it goes throw a 'quantity filter', which tells us straight away that there are now two and not one of the object. I'm not sure you can see two objects (I mean cleary see two) and believe you are seeing one, this 'quantity filter' is something every healthy brain probably has and you can't just not use it. When you see something is taller than something else for example you are using another filter, the '3D-filter', so even if the taller guy is further away you can say he's taller because the information has been processed by your brain and be compared to the other information you have on the shorter man. The taller man is a certain physical size, but he is not 'taller', that is a little adjective your brain attaches to the man, so again something that happens in your brain.
Uh... not sure if this still has anything to do with Plato... just got carried away thinking too much... :roll:
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Re: Section of Plato's Phaedo

Postby Democritus » Sun Sep 19, 2004 7:38 am

Fair Terentia wrote:Do you believe absolute forms exist separate from the mind or are they existent only in as much as a person believes in them? Me, I would probably go for the latter.

Emma and I debated a similar question in a different thread, without ending up convincing each other.

As for your question, in the case of mathematics, I believe the former: mathematics exists independently of our minds. We humans certainly did not invent the notion of 2, nor that 1+1=2.

But I also don't agree with Plato. I don't entirely understand the Phaedo. Plato seems to be poo-pooing empiricism altogether, which I can't agree to.
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Postby Er » Sat Apr 09, 2005 8:16 pm

I had to relate about Phaedo in order to explain it to my friends during philosophy's lesson, so, after reading it, I tryed to link his basilar contenents: if you read Plato's "Parmenides", you'll find the answer.
In Italian we translate everything that is absolute into the word "IDEA"... you know it surely, but it comes from the greek verb "orao" =to see and it is something we've seen, it exists and it doesn't depend on anything but "the Good". If you consider our language, for example, we don't put the article before an adjective but a noun: in the same way the "Idea" of 2 is the absolute form from which we get the example. Furthermore numbers are something we can only relate on, in fact they are in the "noesis" like precious stones in crown, that phylosophes admire without touching or doing anything else. Ideas cannot be divided 'cause they are perfect (from the Latin "Perficio"= To Complete, Finish).
I hope I've cleary explain what I think about this passage from Phaedo, sorry for my poor english.
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