On the Philosophic Ascent in Plato’s Republic

[In progress]

The following is the reworking of an old class paper for an exam question. It attempts to find the study of the soul and man in what is called the “allegorical line,” a reading of the line as an image of the objects considered not in math and all speech, but especially in politics and psychology, or what might if the name were not taken, be called the study of man: “Anthropology.”

It is not only now that these things must be heard,

but they must all be returned to many times in the future

                                                                                  -Glaucon, 532 d 3-4

Bring me to the test, and I the matter will reword…

Hamlet, III, iv, 143-5

Click on each picture to enlarge and copy:

Plate 1:Image

Plate 2:Image

Photos by Marti Blackwood

    Philosophy and politics are inseparable in Plato’s Republic. The central idea of the work is that Philosophy and kingship must coincide if the regime described in speech is ever to “come forth from nature insofar as possible and see the light of the sun” (473 c10-e5). It is the idea of the good, or the good itself that is to be used as a pattern for ordering men and cities (484 c1-d4; 500c-501b: 517 a7-c6; 540 a6-b1; 592 b2-5). The best rulers by nature, the philosopher kings, are to rule by virtue of their knowledge of the idea of the good or the good itself. This contemplative sight of the eye of the soul results in or allows access to a “divine pattern,” “in the soul,” (484 c3) or “in heaven perhaps” (592 b2) by which the painters of the regime “produce the image of man, taking hints from exactly that phenomenon in human beings which Homer too called god-like and the image of god” (501 b3-7). [Note 1] It may be for the sake of this pattern that the dialogue of the Republic is undertaken (472 c4). Of the idea of the good, it is said that the man who is going to act prudently in public or private must see it (517 c5-6). The practical wisdom of politics or kingship is thus said to be dependent upon this contemplative sight.

    But after the center of the book announcing that philosophers must rule as kings, Socrates delivers an account of the philosophic education which, as Benardete comments, appears “alien from its own setting,” [Note 2] within the political study of the of the regime which led up to it. It is not clear how the things described: the mathematical beings of geometry and arithmetic; the physical things, things drawn, and visible reflections- are to facilitate an ascent to the contemplative sight on which all rule depends. Stated directly, the question is quite obvious: just when do the philosopher kings study politics? The account of the philosophic education appears to have little to do with the pursuit of self knowledge or the study of the human things, and it is not clear how to place the famous account of the Socratic turn from pre-Socratic philosophy within the the outline of the study. Hence, it is unclear why Plato apparently presents the account of the highest things in a work titled “the Regime,” more accurately translating Politea, in which Socrates is shown founding political philosophy by the construction in speech of the best regime. The account of the education of the philosophers appears to have little to do with the study of the regime, the nature of man, nor is it clear how self knowledge would be especially involved in the ascent. Theoretical and practical wisdom appear to be as distinct as are the theoretical studies of a Thales, Democritus or Anaxagoras from the practice of a Pericles [Note 3], so that we must wonder when Socrates says of the end of this ascent that the one who is to be prudent in public or private must see it, and that without this contemplative ascent there is no practical wisdom. We must wonder, then, how we are to understand the section of the Republic on the education of the philosopher kings, and how this section fits within the whole.

   The account of the education of the philosophers is presented through three images: The Child of the good, the divided line and the allegory of the cave. These three are presented in explanation of an earlier famous image, the parable of the ship. The three images are explicitly intended to be drawn together (Plate 1). First, the divided line is drawn directly from the division of the visible and intelligible in the child of the good, and as a further explanation of the analogy (509 d 4-6; Brann, Music, p. 15). Then Socrates states that that the allegory of the cave “must be connected with what was said before” regarding the visible and intelligible in the child of the good (517 a9-c4). The two fundamental levels or kinds of beings, and the four levels of beings and their reflections, ought then, correspond to one another throughout the three images. But the instructions for drawing the images raises difficulties regarding the discernment of the forms or levels described along the way of the ascent, especially going from the line to the cave. While it is obvious that the things inside the cave are to be read allegorically, the divided line appears to be literally about the objects of sense and mathematics. While this literal line is genuinely present, and quite revealing, we will suggest that the diligent attempt to see the images together reveals something like an allegorical line, and going back and forth proves most helpful. The levels of the soul and being presented in accounting for the education of the philosophers is in turn an image, and one which at first sight seems to have no place in the the divided line, except as a visible and mathematical object. It is not clear where the philosophers of the beautiful city ever study epistemology or ascend through such images as the allegory of the cave. But that is the question and the account which the present essay will attempt to follow out.

The Fraudulent Account of the Offspring of the Good

   Right from the start, Socrates cautions Glaucon to beware that he does not in some way unwillingly deceive him in the account of the Child of the Good. The offspring and not the parent is presented because the account of the father is beyond their reach. The warning is repeated again before the account of the divided line. Our argument here asserts that the unwilling deception of Glaucon by the fraudulent offspring of the good does occur, and that it involves the replacement of the opinable things, “visible not by the eye of the body but only by imagination and belief, with the literally visible things- the physical objects. The undoing of this deception is the starting point of the a double or allegorical reading of the offspring of the good and the divided line, by which we hope to avoid a literal reading of the allegory of the cave. And so let us go back to this discussion distinguishing the opinable and the knowable, in an attempt to find the true particulars involved in the bondage of humans regarding education and the philosophic ascent.

   The question of the good arises when Socrates undertakes to to reconsider what concerns the rulers “from the beginning” (502 c).  He reminds Adeimantus of their earlier discussion of what concerns the rulers, and then recalls the separating out of the three forms in the soul by which they figured out what justice, moderation, courage and wisdom each is,” based upon the corresponding parts and virtues found in the city (in book IV). Socrates recalls that there he had said that the method by which they were proceeding was inadequate, and that in order to get a precise grasp of the forms in the soul, “another longer and further road” would have to be taken (435 c10). But then Socrates was stopped and compelled to take this road (Book V), through the account of the three “waves,” which culminate in the introduction of the philosopher-kings. Once philosophy and the philosophic nature is introduced, the account of virtue is to be taken up from a new principle. Glaucon and Adeimantus are here told of a study greater than justice and the virtues previously sketched: the study of the idea of the good (505 a).

   The Ethics of Aristotle follows the same pattern as Plato’s Republic in this regard. After describing the justice which preserves the political community as “the practice of complete virtue” and the whole of virtue practiced in relation to others (V,i, 1129 12- 1130 a), there is a new beginning in the discussion of intellectual virtue (VI.3; 1139 b13), and then a new beginning in the discussion of virtue and vice (VII.1, 1145 a15). The philosophic life shows the nature of man, the principle in light of which vulgar virtue is crafted (Republic, 500 d7). The philosophic education addressed in this section of the Republic corresponds to the Aristotelian treatment of intellectual virtue, while the Platonic “vulgar virtue” (518 d)  corresponds to the Aristotelian ethical virtue, according to the same division. [Appendix A].  

   The question of what the good is first appears as the question of what, among the goods pursued, is the good for man. Socrates says that in the opinion of the many, the good is pleasure, although the more refined think it to be prudence (phronesis, as is taken up again in Plato’s Philebus). But these definitions are inadequate. There are bad pleasures, and if one asks the refined few  what sort of prudence, they must finally say, “about the good, as though we knew what was meant when the name of the good is uttered. Socrates notes that while men are content to appear just or fair, no one is satisfied with things merely opined  to be good, but here, everyone “seeks the things that are,” and “despises opinion.” Even the unjust man in Book II seeks his real advantage while using the appearance of justice. The good is what every soul pursues, [Note 4], yet while the soul divines that it is something, the soul is at a loss and unable to grasp just what it is, or even able to attain a “stable trust” about it as is had about “the rest.” But, Socrates divines, “no one will adequately know the just and the fair things until it is known in what way these are good. The Meno teaches that wisdom is virtue because anything other than the good, including wisdom itself in some senses, and the ethical virtues, might be used for good or ill. The just and noble things won’t have a guardian worth much before these things are known, while it will be perfectly ordered if one who knows this oversees. Glaucon and Adeimantus learn, then, of a study greater than justice, the greatest and most fitting study, of the idea of the good (505 a).

   The action which stands as the portico to the presentation of the image of the good is a good example of the importance of the dramatic context in reading the dialogues. Socrates delivers his account not of the good but of the child of the good, as a compromise. He refuses to give an account of the good itself, but when Glaucon persists- saying it doesn’t appear just for Socrates to tell the opinions of others and not his own- Socrates hesitates, answering that it is not just to speak of what one does not know as if one knew. Adeimantus agrees, but says that one ought be willing to state what one supposes (hoimai) as one’s supposition.” Socrates remains hesitant, responding by asking Adeimantus if he has not noticed that all opinions without knowledge are ugly, and at best blind Nearing this peak, he speaks out of opinion, asking Adeimantus if men who opine something true without intelligence seem to him any different from blind men who travel the right road. Glaucon intervenes, saying he is not about to withdraw when they have arrived “as it were at the end,” But Socrates remains unchanged, saying that he fears suffering the penalty of ridicule for “cutting a graceless figure” in his eagerness. The image called a child of the good is a result of a compromise between this insistent pursuit and the hesitance of Socrates. As Socrates enters into the display of the analogy between the sun and the idea of the good, he tells Glaucon:

…lets leave aside for the time being what the good itself is- for it looks to me as though it’s out of the range of our present thrust to attain the opinions I now hold about it. But I am willing to tell what looks like a child of the good and most similar to it (506 e).

   The following is the reworking of an old class paper for an exam question. It attempts to find the study of the soul and man in what is called the “allegorical line,” a reading of the line as an image of the objects considered not in math and all speech, but especially in politics and psychology, or what might if the name were not taken, be called the study of man: “Anthropology.”

It is not only now that these things must be heard,

but they must all be returned to many times in the future

                                                                                  -Glaucon, 532 d 3-4

Bring me to the test, and I the matter will reword…

Hamlet, III, iv, 143-5

Plate 1:Image

 

Plate 2:Image

Photos by Marti Blackwood

    Philosophy and politics are inseparable in Plato’s Republic. The central idea of the work is that Philosophy and kingship must coincide if the regime described in speech is ever to “come forth from nature insofar as possible and see the light of the sun” (473 c10-e5). It is the idea of the good, or the good itself that is to be used as a pattern for ordering men and cities (484 c1-d4; 500c-501b: 517 a7-c6; 540 a6-b1; 592 b2-5). The best rulers by nature, the philosopher kings, are to rule by virtue of their knowledge of the idea of the good or the good itself. This contemplative sight of the eye of the soul results in or allows access to a “divine pattern,” “in the soul,” (484 c3) or “in heaven perhaps” (592 b2) by which the painters of the regime “produce the image of man, taking hints from exactly that phenomenon in human beings which Homer too called god-like and the image of god” (501 b3-7). [Note 1] It may be for the sake of this pattern that the dialogue of the Republic is undertaken (472 c4). Of the idea of the good, it is said that the man who is going to act prudently in public or private must see it (517 c5-6. The practical wisdom of politics or kingship is thus said to be dependent upon this contemplative sight.

    But after the center of the book announcing that philosophers must rule as kings, Socrates delivers an account of the philosophic education which, as Benardete comments, appears “alien from its own setting,” [Note 2] within the political study of the of the regime which led up to it. It is not clear how the things described: the mathematical beings of geometry and arithmetic; the physical things, things drawn, and visible reflections- are to facilitate an ascent to the contemplative sight on which all rule depends. Stated directly, the question is quite obvious: just when do the philosopher kings study politics? The account of the philosophic education appears to have little to do with the pursuit of self knowledge or the study of the human things, and it is not clear how to place the famous account of the Socratic turn from pre-Socratic philosophy within the the outline of the study. Hence, it is unclear why Plato apparently presents the account of the highest things in a work titled “the Regime,” more accurately translating Politea, in which Socrates is shown founding political philosophy by the construction in speech of the best regime. The account of the education of the philosophers appears to have little to do with the study of the regime, the nature of man, nor is it clear how self knowledge would be especially involved in the ascent. Theoretical and practical wisdom appear to be as distinct as are the theoretical studies of a Thales, Democritus or Anaxagoras from the practice of a Pericles [Note 3], so that we must wonder when Socrates says of the end of this ascent that the one who is to be prudent in public or private must see it, and that without this contemplative ascent there is no practical wisdom. We must wonder, then, how we are to understand the section of the Republic on the education of the philosopher kings, and how this section fits within the whole.

   The account of the education of the philosophers is presented through three images: The Child of the good, the divided line and the allegory of the cave. These three are presented in explanation of an earlier famous image, the parable of the ship. The three images are explicitly intended to be drawn together (Plate 1). First, the divided line is drawn directly from the division of the visible and intelligible in the child of the good, and as a further explanation of the analogy (509 d 4-6; Brann, Music, p. 15). Then Socrates states that that the allegory of the cave “must be connected with what was said before” regarding the visible and intelligible in the child of the good (517 a9-c4). The two fundamental levels or kinds of beings, and the four levels of beings and their reflections, ought then, correspond to one another throughout the three images. But the instructions for drawing the images raises difficulties regarding the discernment of the forms or levels described along the way of the ascent, especially going from the line to the cave. While it is obvious that the things inside the cave are to be read allegorically, the divided line appears to be literally about the objects of sense and mathematics. While this literal line is genuinely present, and quite revealing, we will suggest that the diligent attempt to see the images together reveals something like an allegorical line, and going back and forth proves most helpful. The levels of the soul and being presented in accounting for the education of the philosophers is in turn an image, and one which at first sight seems to have no place in the the divided line, except as a visible and mathematical object. It is not clear where the philosophers of the beautiful city ever study epistemology or ascend through such images as the allegory of the cave. But that is the question and the account which the present essay will attempt to follow out.

The Fraudulent Account of the Offspring of the Good

   Right from the start, Socrates cautions Glaucon to beware that he does not in some way unwillingly deceive him in the account of the Child of the Good. The offspring and not the parent is presented because the account of the father is beyond their reach. The warning is repeated again before the account of the divided line. Our argument here asserts that the unwilling deception of Glaucon by the fraudulent offspring of the good does occur, and that it involves the replacement of the opinable things, “visible not by the eye of the body but only by imagination and belief, with the literally visible things- the physical objects. The undoing of this deception is the starting point of the a double or allegorical reading of the offspring of the good and the divided line, by which we hope to avoid a literal reading of the allegory of the cave. And so let us go back to this discussion distinguishing the opinable and the knowable, in an attempt to find the true particulars involved in the bondage of humans regarding education and the philosophic ascent.]

   The question of the good arises when Socrates undertakes to to reconsider what concerns the rulers “from the beginning” (502 c).  He reminds Adeimantus of their earlier discussion of what concerns the rulers, and then recalls the separating out of the three forms in the soul by which they figured out what justice, moderation, courage and wisdom each is,” based upon the corresponding parts and virtues found in the city (in book IV). Socrates recalls that there he had said that the method by which they were proceeding was inadequate, and that in order to get a precise grasp of the forms in the soul, “another longer and further road” would have to be taken (435 c10). But then Socrates was stopped and compelled to take this road (Book V), through the account of the three “waves,” , which culminate in the introduction of the philosopher-kings. Once philosophy and the philosophic nature is introduced,  the account of virtue is to be taken up from a new principle. Glaucon and Adeimantus are here told of a study greater than justice and the virtues previously sketched: the study of the idea of the good (505 a).

   The Ethics of Aristotle follows the same pattern as Plato’s Republic in this regard. After describing the justice which preserves the political community as “the practice of complete virtue” and the whole of virtue practiced in relation to others (V,i, 1129 12- 1130 a), there is a new beginning in the discussion of intellectual virtue (VI.3; 1139 b13), and then a new beginning in the discussion of virtue and vice (VII.1, 1145 a15). The philosophic life shows the nature of man, the principle in light of which vulgar virtue is crafted (Republic, 500 d7). The philosophic education addressed in this section of the Republic corresponds to the Aristotelian treatment of intellectual virtue, while the Platonic “vulgar virtue” (518 d)  corresponds to the Aristotelian ethical virtue, according to the same division. [Appendix A].  

   The question of what the good is first appears as the question of what, among the goods pursued, is the good for man. Socrates says that in the opinion of the many, the good is pleasure, although the more refined think it to be prudence (phronesis, as is taken up again in Plato’s Philebus). But these definitions are inadequate. There are bad pleasures, and if one asks the refined few  what sort of prudence, they must finally say, “about the good, as though we knew what was meant when the name of the good is uttered. Socrates notes that while men are content to appear just or fair, no one is satisfied with things merely opined  to be good, but here, everyone “seeks the things that are,” and “despises opinion.” Even the unjust man in Book II seeks his real advantage while using the appearance of justice. The good is what every soul pursues, [Note 4], yet while the soul divines that it is something, the soul is at a loss and unable to grasp just what it is, or even able to attain a “stable trust” about it as is had about “the rest.” But, Socrates divines, “no one will adequately know the just and the fair things until it is known in what way these are good. The Meno teaches that wisdom is virtue because anything other than the good, including wisdom itself in some senses, and the ethical virtues, might be used for good or ill. The just and noble things won’t have a guardian worth much before these things are known, while it will be perfectly ordered if one who knows this oversees. Glaucon and Adeimantus learn, then, of a study greater than justice, the greatest and most fitting study, of the idea of the good (505 a).

Glaucon accepts, saying “another time you’ll pay us what is due on the father’s narrative.” Socrates, taking up the pun in the language of debt, tells Glaucon:

“I could wish …that I were able to pay, and you were able to receive it itself, and not just the interest (or offspring, tokos). Anyhow receive this interest and child of the good itself (ton tokon te kai ekgonon). But be careful that I don’t in some way unwillingly deceive you in rendering the account of the interest (tokos [Note 4] fraudulent.

  We will argue that this unwilling deception does occur, and that, and includes the replacement of the opinable with the visible, and so opinion with vision.  Before entering the account of the divided line, too, Socrates says that he supposes he will leave quite a bit out, but says he will not leave anything out “willingly” (509c; 382 a7-8), so that the warning is repeated again before drawing the divided line.

   Soon this offspring of the good is identified with the visible sun, which the good is said to have begotten in proportion with itself using this image, Socrates gives an analogical account of the good according to which the good is to intelligence and things intellected (nooumena) as the the sun is to the eye and things seen.

   Before beginning the account of the offspring, Socrates reminds Glaucon of an earlier distinction between (471d-480a) between the many things- as the noble, the good- and the one idea of each kind of things, as the noble itself and the good itself (507b). It is on the basis of this earlier distinction between the many things and the singular ideas- the visible and the intelligible- that the child of the good and the divided line are based. The ideas are what “really is,” (or what is in “being”), and are intellected, while the many things are seen but not intellected. In book V, these two are called the “knowable” and the “opinable, but throughout the account of the child of the good, Socrates neglects to remind Glaucon of these names, and what was said about them. He allows the opinable to be equated with the physical, literally visible things and this appears to be the unwilling deception of Glaucon and those hearing. But the deception can be done in reading the account veiled in the images of the philosophic ascent.

   The distinction between the knowable and opinable arose just after the assertion that if the best regime is ever to come forth from nature,” and “see the light of the sun,” philosophers must rule as kings. There Socrates attempted to defend himself by distinguishing “whom we mean when we dare to assert that philosophers must rule as kings.” The philosophers are identified as those who desire all of wisdom, loving every kind of learning, rather than those who desire one part and not another. The philosophers,, as the “lovers of the sight of the truth,” who delight in what each thing is itself are distinguished for Glaucon from the “lovers of sights” and the lovers of “hearing (475d),” or the “lovers of sights, the arts and the practical men.” (476a). Here Glaucon uses the terms of the bodily senses of sight and hearing to refer to opinable particulars which cannot really be seen with the literal bodily senses. No explicit example of the lovers of sights is given in the recapitulation, but Glaucon identifies the lovers of hearing as those who “run around to every chorus at the Dionysia, missing none in the cities or villages” (475 d). Allan Bloom notes that the Dionysia was a festival held in honor of the god Dionysus each spring at Athens and the villages around Attica [Note  ]. Three days of the festival were devoted to the presentation of comedies and tragedies, and it is to the lovers of the hearing of these choruses that Glaucon refers. The lovers of learning  and sights, Socrates says, “delight in fair sounds and colors and all that craft makes from such things, but their thought is unable to see and delight in the nature of the fair (Kalon) itself. These are not connoisseurs of the literally visible objects of bodily sense, nor do men go to see dramas literally for the sounds and colors Rather, these lovers of sounds are the lovers of the imitations crafted by the dramatic poet. If the lovers of sights, too, are to be distinguished from the lovers of hearing, their identity is not here disclosed. But of these, Socrates says that they can in no way endure it if anyone asserts that that the fair is one, the just is one and so on with the rest (479 a). Those who held that there are many noble/beautiful things, but not that there is the kalon itself, and are unable to follow one who would lead them to the knowledge of it are said to be dreaming, believing the likeness of something to be not a likeness but the thing itself which it is like,. Meanwhile those seeing both beauty itself and what participates in it are agreed to be awake (476 d). Along these lines, of those dreaming and those awake, Socrates distinguishes those whose thought (dianoian) is knowledge and those whose is opinion (476 d) Opinion is to be located between knowledge and ignorance, and so the opinable doxaston [Note 6] is sought between what is and what is not, as something which participates in both “to be and not to be.” The opinable is exemplified by the various manys (oi polloi, 476c). or the many fair things, the many just things, etc. (479 a). Socrates says, ” Then we have found, as it seems, that the many beliefs (nomidzma) of the many  about what’s fair and about the other things roll around somewhere between not being (me on) and being purely and simply (479 d). Bloom notes that nomidzma, derived from nomos, usually means “the customary or lawful” (Note 41 to book V 479). Filling out the opinable, the lovers of sights, corresponding to the lovers of hearing as the lovers of dramatic poetry, those who are dreaming and not awake and who cannot endure anyone asserting that the fair itself is one and the just is one and so on are likely to be those attached not to the artifacts of the dramatic poet, but to the beliefs and images that make up the various customs or nomoi to which the peoples are attached. The association with craftsmen suggests politicians, too. In distinguishing the “opinable,” Socrates speaks not of the  singular ideas of every kind of thing, but only of the fair itself, the just itself, etc, ie, especially the parts of virtue and the human things. The opinable, then, looks like it includes the things made by man, the images and the laws made by the poets and legislators, as distinct from what is not made. It probably also includes the things done, the actions, and so the virtues of the practical man. (476 a9) These opinable manys are spoken of before the Child of the Good as visible only playfully.

   Similarly, there is no place in either the telling of the child of the good or the divided line for  imagination and belief as distinct from the sight and hearing of physical objects and their reflections. Rather, it looks like Socrates, while presenting a true analogy regarding the sun and sight with the sight of the intellect for the divided line, veils the brightness of the account of the philosophic ascent by replacing, in his fraudulent account of the offspring, the things made by the poets and legislators and the particulars of all the human things with the visible physical things and artifacts. What will not be endured from the philosopher is not that there is a square itself or a diagonal itself, but, nor worse yet, a rock, a car or tree, but that the many beliefs and images to which the peoples are attached, about the most important things, which make up their cosmos, that these are not knowledge or the truth itself. It is for this that Socrates himself was tried and put to death by the Athenians for impiety.

   There are certain perplexities resulting from the account of the opinable and knowable which might be kept in mind: One is the apparent implication, felt by many readers, that the particulars are unknowable, while what is would be un-opinable For it seems to us that the many things are more immediate and in our experience, and this acquaintance seems to be a kind of knowledge, if only an acquaintance, as we say such a person is “known” to us, while we do not seem to have knowledge of what man in general is. It seems too that we can be mistaken or correct, as when we say that if I drop this ball it will fall, though we might on occasion be surprised, as by helium. Aristotle begins his Physics with reference to this difference between what is first simply and first for us when we set out to inquire into nature. At the same time, it seems that what we have opinion and not knowledge about is especially the eternal or divine and natural things., or specifically regarding “what is” that we have opinion and not knowledge. The Republic itself has proceeded through various opinions of what justice itself is., each partly right though at a point deficient. And as Eva Brann points out, “About the greatest studies, …Socrates himself has, as he repeatedly says, only opinion (506 c4; e2; 509c3; 517 b7, 533 a4; e8; Phaedrus 278d). Not knowing fully what is just or good, it seems we have opinion not only of the many things opined to be just or beautiful in light of the suppositions, but also of what justice is and what the good is.

   Aristotle apparently, identifies the faculty of opinion with logistikon, the calculative faculty by which we apprehend the “things that can be other than they are.” The virtue of this faculty is not  sophia or theoretical wisdom, but practical wisdom (phronesis) Practical wisdom is the virtue of the part of the rational element of the soul that forms opinions, for opinion as well as practical wisdom deals with things that can be other than they are.” (Ethics, VI.7; 1140 b 27-29).

   Aristotle also uses the word for perception (aesthesis) not only in reference to the five senses, but also in reference to an activity of the intellect (nous) in practical wisdom (1143 b5). Perhaps echoing the Socratic account of the opinable of which there is not knowledge, (gnosis), Aristotle (Ostwald Tr.) states that practical wisdom has as its object the “ultimate (final) particular fact,” of which there is perception but no scientific knowledge” (episteme):

This is not the kind of perception with which each of the five senses apprehends its proper object, but the kind with which we perceive that in mathematics the triangle is the ultimate figure for in this direction, we shall have to reach a stop.

   In this way, the right thing to be done, the sight of the one right thing to be done, which is the end of practical wisdom at which deliberation too stops, is also called a kind of perception.

   A second consideration from Aristotle is the possibility that the “faculty that forms opinion” has a double meaning, referring also to the faculty involved in legislation, forming the opinions of the citizens, selecting the best images and opinions to be cultivated in having the best customs for a particular people. It is the work of practical wisdom to give “a true conviction of the end or what is conducive to the end of action.” Book VI opens with another summary in which Socrates asks Glaucon, “Is it a blind or a sharp-sighted guardian who ought to keep watch over anything?” (484c).

   On the assumption that knowledge and opinion are two different powers, Socrates and Glaucon agree that the opinable and the knowable are different objects of these powers. Opinion is located as lying between knowledge and ignorance, and the opinable is sought between what is and what is not. Strangely, the opinable was called the “wanderer between, seized by the power between” (479 d7)…. The imagination too is sometimes represented as as a sea navigable to another shore, and the soul itself in some sense might be the opinable, in the sense of a collective unconscious between the seeker and knowledge. The gods, too, are imagined to be occasionally visible.

   In Socrates’ telling of the offspring of the good, the visible realm and vision is related to the intelligible not as various manys to unifying ideas, but by analogy, as a lavishly crafted image is related to its source. There is no listing of many goods and attempt to identify the one thing by which each are called “good.” The good is not the idea of the particulars sun eye and light and vision. Rather, each level has and equal number of particulars.

   The power of sight and and the things seen are said to be unique among the senses in needing light, a third thing, in order for the color in the visible things to be seen. The third thing is light, said to yoke together the sense of sight and the power of being seen in the objects. This is called a yoke that, “by measure of an idea by no means insignificant, is more honorable than the yoke uniting other teams, if light is not without honor (a-time). Socrates asks Glaucon which of the gods in heaven is “responsible for this,” and Glaucon answers that the question plainly refers to the sun. Socrates then identifies the sun as the offspring of the good which the good begot in proportion with itself, and explicates the analogical proportions of the good, nous, the intelligible and light. The sun is described as a thing begotten, while sight and the visible are said to be  crafted or made lavishly according to the proportions. No such distinction appears to be made among the intelligible. And since intelligence and truth were just after the parable of the ship, said to be begotten (490 b), when the lover of learning grasp nature of each thing that is with the part of the soul fit to grasp a thing of that sort.

…as the good is in the intelligible region with respect to intelligence and what is intellected, so the sun is in the visible region with respect to sight and what is seen.

Glaucon asks for further explanation of the analogy, and so Socrates that as when one turns the eyes to what is illumined by light, one sees, but when it is dark, the eye seems blind…

Think that the soul is characterized in this way: when it fixes itself on that which is illumined by truth and that which is, it intellects, knows and appears to possess intelligence But when it fixes itself on that which is mixed with darkness, on coming to be and passing away, it opines, is dimmed, changing opinions up and down, and seems at such times not to possess intelligence (508 d).

Here, the difference between what Aristotle describes as two faculties or parts of the rational part of the soul, Socrates explains in terms of two different directions in which the soul fixes itself toward either becoming or what is. For an instant, intellect opinion and vision are all one.

   Next the good is distinguished from both the one who knows and and the things known as sight is and the eye are distinct from the sun. The idea of the good to be said to be “what provides the truth to the things known and gives the power to the one who knows() Glaucon is told to understand the good to be, as a source of knowledge and truth, a thing known, but yet fairer (kalon) than both of these and worthy of greater honor. Socrates states:

As for knowledge and truth, just as in the other region it is right to hold light and sight sunlike, but to believe them to be the sun is not quite right, so too here, to hold these two to be like the good is right, but to believe that either of them is the good is not right (508e). The condition which characterizes the good must receive still greater honor …

As Allan Bloom points out, the word for sunlike is halio-eides– literally translated “sunformed.” The eye, distinguished from the sun, was said to be the most sun-like” of the organs of the senses (508b), reminding us of that in man which is most god-like and an image of god. Knowledge and truth are, though, here said to be like the good (agatho-eide). The use of the word “truth” as a thing distinct from the things known contains clues as to what is meant by this word- something like the light shining on the things known when the intelligence is seeing them- quite similar to a meaning of the word revelation.”

Consider its image still further…I suppose you’ll say the sun not only provides what is seen with the power of being seen but also with generation, growth and nourishment although it itself isn’t generation…

Therefore say that not only being known is present in the things known as a consequence of the good, but also existence and being are in them besides as a result of it, although the good isn’t being but is still beyond being exceeding it in dignity and power.

While the sun-formed eye is due to the lavishness of the craftsman, that in man which is agatho-eide is rather begotten, and we say this is nous, the eye of the soul (490, 508e) Intelligence and truth are said to be things begotten. It may be that the truth is that the sun is created, while the vision of the soul is begotten, opening as it is born as if from under the earth. Intelligence and truth may be the true, rather than the fraudulent offspring of the good. [note 7]. In the next section we will show that its quality as an image of god means that it is the gateway of “metaphysics.

   One reason the account is veiled is that those who do not look to the father think themselves divine if they ever catch a glimpse of the divine within us, having nothing higher than themselves. Megalomania is a common manifestation of a kind of madness, and Nietzsche may be said to have taken this to an extreme. Most humans, being spared the concrete experience of the divine even in romantic love, to see the original of this natural image would be an experience we cannot contain without ascent.

   The cause of megalomania though, and our more common assumption that we know and that all is to be measured by our own excellence- may indicate that we are indeed a spark of the divine, our “consciousness” or “person-hood” the result not only of participation in and imitation of the Good One Beyond Being. It indeed may be the Socratic service to the God to teach men that we do not know what we think we know, and yet know all sorts of things we don’t know how we know.

   Jacob Klien notes the permanent perplexity of the timeless target of knowledge and the changing mind (On Plato p. 166). As Leo Strauss writes, the fact that the mind which perceives the ideas is radically different from the ideas indicates “That there must be something higher than the ideas: The idea of the good, which is in a sense the cause of all ideas as well as of the mind perceiving them …(517 e 1-5) according to Plato, the highest is beyond the difference between knower and known or is not a thinking being…” (The City and Man, p. 119 [Note X). If intellect and the intelligible are a distinct two coupled in contemplation (490), then neither could be the highest being. If intelligence and truth by which the philosopher knows and lives truly are begotten a higher begetter of intelligence and truth is implied as the cause of both. The Biblical name “Most High,” taught by Melchizedek to Abraham after he came forth from “Ur of the Chaldees,” points in a direction without saying a “what.” And it is true, we try to say that the Christ is the offspring of the Good in this sense, and we begotten sons through Him (John 1:14-17). For the English “All things were made…” is a mistranslation of the more general gignomai in 1:3, have come to be, a term which includes both what is created or made and what begotten. But in scripture, the union refers to the wedding of Christ and the mysterious Bride (Revelation 19:7- 22).

   As Allan Bloom comments, according to the telling of the offspring of the good, “the human good turns out to be philosophy, an overwhelming combination of knowledge and pleasure (Interpretive Essay, p. 402). But this is genuine philosophy, the life of the divine within. Philosophy, the human good, is distinct from and dependent upon the good itself, even, we say, as the geometry of the objects in our world is dependent upon the eternal truths of geometry.

The Divided Line

Socrates presents the divided line in response to the request of Glaucon that he not stop the telling of the child of the good until he has gone through the likeness with the sun, if he is leaving anything out. Socrates says that he leaving much- Bloom translates “a throng of things,” and Glaucon asks him not to leave out even the “smallest (smikron) [Note 10] thing. Socrates tells Glaucon I suppose I will leave out much (polu)…But all the same, insofar as it is possible to present, I’ll not leave anything out- willingly.”

   Socrates has Glaucon draw the divided line directly from this analogy in the Child of the good between the sun and the idea of the good. He tells Glaucon to:

…conceive that as we say, these two are, and that the one is king of the intelligible class and region, while the other is king of the visible…Now, do you have these two forms, visible and intelligible?”

“I do”

“Then, take a line cut in two unequal segments, one for the class that is seen the other for the class that is intellected. And go on and cut each segment in the same proportion” (509d). [Note 9]

   The line thus divided yields four divisions of two fundamental forms, two sections for each realm of the two kings. Socrates proceeds to give an account of each of these four levels of being, and then identifies four powers or faculties of the soul with regard to each. As the account proceeds, there is a progressive unfolding of increased complexity. A good question to keep in mind when reading the line is is the self-reflective one: How does the activity of reading the line fit into the account of the soul and the levels of being which the line presents? Taken literally, there is no place in the account for an image such as the line itself, unless it too is taken literally as a a geometrical proof. But if we did only this in reading the image, we would lose what it has to say about the faculties of the soul, and the levels of being.

   From the bottom, the first section of the visible part stands for the images of visible objects,…

…first shadows, then appearances produced in water and in all close grained, smooth bright things, and everything of that sort (509 d8- 510 a12).

Next proceeding upward , in the upper section of the visible, Socrates tells Glaucon to …

…put that of which the first is a likeness- the animals around us and everything that grows, and the whole class of artifacts” (510 a4-6).

He then states for Glaucon the following proportion:

As the opinable is distinguished from the knowable, so the likeness is distinguished from that of which it is a likeness. (Plate 1: II:I::d:c).

The image and the visible objects together are to the knowable as a visible image is to a visible original. The whole of the visible, called the “opinable,” is as a reflection of the whole of the knowable. The two faculties which correspond to the two parts of the visible are later named imagination (eikasia) and trust (pistis). “Opinion,” consists of both imagination and belief together. Its objects, images and artifacts, are, though mere reflections, in turn images of the intelligible things reached in what will be called “thought” and “intellection,” as the faculties of the two highest segments will be named. The visible world is hence “such stuff as dreams are made on.” And it is no wonder that the visible particulars can by analogy be enlisted to communicate intelligible things: “Lift up your eyes. Already the fields are white for harvest.” The question is whether it is in the nature of these particulars to be related in this way to the higher analogues, or only a reason in nature common between the lower and higher which makes something about that higher thing more clear to thought. A similar question arises regarding things countable, whether, as with feet or fingers, being two or five is something inherent to their own nature, or whether it is randomly applied by those doing the counting. But again, Socrates and Glaucon assume that the whole of the visible is related to the intelligible as an offspring begotten in proportion.

   Socrates next tells Glaucon to consider “how the intelligible section should be cut. Here he speaks not in terms of the objects, but rather of the faculties of the soul involved, saying:

In one part of it (b) a soul, using as images the things that were previously imitated, is compelled to investigate on the basis of hypotheses; starting out from hypotheses and makes its way not to a beginning but to an end; while in the other part it makes its way to a beginning that is free from hypotheses; starting out from hypothesis and without the images used in the other part, it makes its inquiry through them (510b)

Without reference to objects as examples, the statement is not sufficiently clear, and so Socrates gives Glaucon an introduction. The example for the lower section of the intelligible (I b), as geometers reason from Axioms, such as “the odd and the even, the figures, three forms of angles, and from other things akin top these in each kind of inquiry These things are treated as known, and made hypotheses, used as beginnings from which to reason down to a conclusion. In doing so, the geometers use the visible forms (oromenos eiesi) which they mold and draw, from the visible section (II  in order to make arguments about the “square itself” and the “diagonal itself.” Socrates summarizes:

These things themselves that they mold and draw, of which there are shadows and images in water, they now use as images, seeking to see those things themselves that one can see in no way other than with thought (510 e).

   By the highest segment of the intelligible, Socrates refers to “that which argument itself grasps with the power of dialectic.” “Dialectic” is the attempt by discussion to attain each thing that is and intellection of the good itself (532 a; 533 c). In dialectic the hypotheses are used not as in “thought,” as though these were beginnings, from which to reason down to a conclusion or end, but rather as “steppingstones and springboards in order to reach what is free from hypotheses at the beginning of the whole.” If the divided line is an explication of the child of the good, that which is free from hypotheses at the beginning of the whole would be the good itself, Beyond Being., the singular first principle beyond form on which the principles as forms, and thus all knowledge, would depend. Describing a descent from this beginning, Socrates continues:

When it has grasped this, argument now depends on that which depends on this beginning, and in such fashion goes back down again to an end; Making no use of anything sensed in any way, but using forms themselves, going through forms to forms, it ends in forms too (511 b6-c2).

   Argument, in descent depends upon that which depends upon the ‘beginning of the whole, rather than on hypothesis, in its downward motion, apparently concluding within the intelligible at forms, whether in thought or intellection. A literal example might be the reasoning, say, that courage and moderation are both together only in justice, if such a thing were true, remaining in “forms,” though no such example is given. In a summary which Socrates calls adequate, Glaucon understands…

   …that you wish to distinguish that part of what is and is intelligible contemplated by the knowledge of dialectic as being clearer than that part contemplated by what are called the arts. The beginnings in the arts are hypotheses, and although those who behold their objects are compelled top do so with the thought, and not the senses, these men- because they don’t consider them by going up to a beginning, but rather on the basis of hypotheses- these men, in my opinion, don’t possess intelligence with respect to the objects, even though they are, given a beginning, intelligible; and you seem to me to call the habit of the geometers and their likes thought and not intelligence, indicating that thought is something between opinion and intelligence (511 c-d)

   Book VI concludes with the naming of the four “affections,” (pathemata), dispositions or faculties arising in the soul in relation to the four segments., intellection, thought, trust sand imagination. And just as the wing occurs because there is the element of air, so each of these and all the faculties, would be likely to be shaped by the character of the realms of being.

   In what Allan Bloom identifies as the best commentary on the divided line, Jacob Klein goes through the literal levels of the account, regarding visible object, reflections, mathematical things, and the “uncountable eide.” The lexicon definition of eikasia includes both what is imagined and what is conjectural, as in English, but may not include Klein’s seeing through an image, or “seeing an image as an image.” This may involve perception and thought, or even perception and intelligence, but is not what we usually think of by imagination, though we do not usually confuse the objects of fiction myth or imagination with the real world. Klein focuses on the faculty called eikasia or imagination, a dianoteic extension of eikasia and then two higher repetitions of the same pattern which he finds regarding the lowest level of the line. Throughout the body of his discussion (pp. 114-124), Klein treats the line as if there were no allegorical reading, so that if it were not for statements surrounding the body of his discussion (pp. 115 and 125), his account would appear likely not to support the allegorical reading of the line. On p. 113, Klein indicates first that Socrates’ use of the line is “wholly ungeometrical.” He then states that the image of the cave gives us an opportunity to exercise our fundamental power of eikasia, and at the same time our faculty of dianoetic eikasia makes us understand that this real cave images our natural and civic life within the familiar world around us. “The prisoners in the cave…do not manifest any eikasia before they are able to turn their heads” (p. 115). Though knowable, our natural and civic life is not a countable or mathematical object at all.

   Klein warns of the temptation to overlook the crucial importance of eikasia in the account of Socrates because it is assigned the lowest level of the line. Understood as the looking from image to object, Klein states: The pattern of eikasia on the lowest level anticipates patterns on higher levels of the line. Throughout his discussion, Klein identifies two higher repetitions regarding what he calls dianoetic eikasi, using the visible things as images, and then a higher, unnamed kind looking from hypotheses to eide.

   Regarding eikasia, Jacob Klein writes:

“We do not as a rule confuse an image with an “original.” On the contrary, we are able to see, and do see, images as images. It is this pathema of the soul, this faculty of ours to see an image as an image that Socrates calls eikasia (loc. cit, p. 114).

Klein notes that eikasia supposes the trustworthy objects of perception, because we see through the image to its “original.” This “seeing through” an image” is a kind of double seeing…image is uniquely that which is not what it is (Ibid, p. 115). We do not usually confuse visible images with their objects, but this is not usually true regarding opinion. Everywhere and at all times it is in a way true for almost all mankind that, as Herodotus has Darius assert, “custom is king. Inquiries, III. 38). In drawing the divided line, the method of Socrates is similar to that in Plato’s Meno. In showing the slave boy’s capacity for recollection in geometry, Socrates drops the demonstration down one level to something familiar and analogous, attempting by this to lead Meno up to the unfamiliar question of the nature of virtue by analogy.

“Our dianoia, therefore, cannot help interpreting all that is visible as having the character if an image Its work indeed appears to be based on dianoetic eikasia (p. 119).

   Before discussing dianoetic eikasia, Klein recalls a passage from Book VII (523a-525a) in which the “natural” and “simple” work of our thinking is described. When seeking those things which naturally lead to intellection, and discussing calculation and number, Socrates explains certain perceptions at the same time go over to their opposite,” so that “sensation doesn’t reveal one thing any more than its opposite” (523c). There follows the somewhat strange example of the three fingers, “the smallest, the second and the middle. Each looks equally like a finger, so that “in all those things the soul of the many is not compelled to ask the intellect what a finger is.” Sight does not indicate to the soul that each both is and is not a finger (523 d). But regarding whether each is big or little sensation does not reveal any one thing more than another, and so such questions are said to summon the intellect. Sight, Socrates says, “saw big and little not separated but mixed up together,” and ” in order to clear this up, the intellect was compelled to see big and little as distinguished, doing the opposite of what sight did” (524 c).

   Klein identifies the using of the visible things as images as a second kind of eikasia, which he dubbs “dianoetic eikasia.” He explains that the technai or “arts,” established by continued reflection on counting, supply us with precise knowledge of all things numerable insofar as they are numerable, and of their properties as well as their relations, which are rooted in their numerability. These “objects of thought” of intelligible objects (noeta) “cast light on the obscurity of visible things, an obscurity which the rays of the sun cannot remove. They present themselves, in their clarity, as models or originals of the visible things (p. 118)The using of these visible things as images is again identified by as dianoetic eicasia. He explains that the downward path of the various arts, and especially the mathematical technai, tend of necessity to transform the suppositions (hypo-thesis) into sources (archai). These hypotheses, the intelligible entities from which our dianoia derives its demonstrations, are themselves in want of greater clarity. But since these are turned toward the “barbaric bog or jumbled jungle, following the ordinary path of our usual concerns in thought, these arts are incapable of dealing with the obscurity of their own beginnings” (p. 123). In a summary of the divided line presented later (VII, 533-534), Socrates explains that all the arts other than dialectic …”are directed to human opinions and desires, or to generation and composition, or to care of what is grown or put together.” In these, as we say, reason as calculation is used as a means to end, mostly those of the body, which we have from the beginning or by nature. Opining what is good by custom, fashion, common sense, desire or need, reason does not rule in the the souls of most men, but follows these as a servant. Socrates says there in Book VII that, although, as the other arts, geometry does grasp something of what is as long as geometry and the arts reason down from hypotheses, of which they are unable to give an account, they “do dream about what is, but havn’t the capacity to see it in full wakefulness.

   Regarding the highest section, of that which “argument itself grasps with the power of dialectic, Klein states that the mathematical things and geometrical axioms (b), of which visible things are images, are themselves in turn images or “noetic shadows” of the invisible and uncountable eide (p. 123-124). Klein writes that “The difference between the two subsections of the intelligible, then does not simply lie in the directions which the dianoia takes The difference is rather again- and this time defying our common experience- one between “original” and “image. [Note 10] Klein identifies this reversing of direction with the turning of the soul discussed in Book VII. [Note 11] Klein (p. 124) writes:

…In its surge upwards, the faculty of dianoetic eikasia, which our natural dianoia exercises with regard to the visible world, is changed into the power of dialectical insight. This change is a radical one, involving a total conversion (periagoge 518 c 8-9, d4; 521 c6; metastrophe 518 d5; 525 c5; 532 b7) of the entire soul (suv holon te psyche 518 c*) It marks the beginning of a new life, a life of philosophia (c.f. 521 c6-8; 527 b10, tolerable only to a few (494 a 4-7).

“Image and original are related to each other in the same way in which what is merely conjectural is related to what is actually cognized.”

” Our dianoia, therefore cannot help interpreting all that is visible as having the character of an image.”

The Allegorical line and the Allegory of the Cave

 

Allan Bloom drops certain clues or keys to reading the Platonic Allegory, such as when he says, “Only by constant reference back to the divided line can one understand the the cave.” Bloom asks

But who regularly believes that images are real; things; who mistakes reflections for what is reflected? Why does Socrates insist that our situation is that of who mistake images for realities? It would seem to be more sensible to say that we take objects too seriously, that we do not recognize the importance and superior reality of the causes or first principles. How can it be said that we are bound to the lowest level of of the line? The answer seems to be that the cave is the city and that our attachment to the city binds us to certain authoritative opinions about things We do not see men as they are but as they are represented to us by legislators and poets (404).

Reading the line allegorically, Bloom (p. 398) writes:

The poetic images are to be used as geometers use representations of circles- to understand something of which the particular circle is only an image. Poetry characteristically causes men to forget that its images are only images, that is, like the circle drawn in the sand which is not the circle;…”

   According to the allegorical line, the two levels inside the cave are as they are named, belief and imagination, described by analogy with visible object, mirror images and geometry. Two different readings of the allegory result according to whether one reads that the ascent is by means of the human things, or the Socratic turn, and virtue. Socrates retained the appeal to nature of the natural philosophers, but applied this to the study and pursuit of virtue. Virtue, we say, (following the de Alvarez reading of Theseus up from the Daedalus’ labyrinth) is the golden thread. The ascent is more akin to penance, the humiliating apprenticeship in which contact with the justice sought by nature or in truth and one learns how he has overestimated himself, etc, according to the shadows with which most men live out their lives. By contrast, the turn from physical objects to geometry is not a painful ascent, nor is it likely that Socrates means that every High School student has ascended the cave in doing arithmetic, geometry and astronomy, as would be the implication of the literal line transposed to the allegory of the cave. The question might be set in these terms: Is the city the cave itself, or is it only “in” the cave, which is a bit more extensive? Ascent would require not only becoming unchained from viewing the shadows of artifacts, or thought alone, but a turning of the whole soul. By contrast, thought and speech alone, as well as the unchaining from the images and beliefs that make up opinion involved in sophistry and natural philosophy. Bloom explains: “Our love of our own ties us to the cave” (p. 405), as our attachment to the earth at the navel. This means more than the forgetfulness of oneself in contemplation of the eternal truths, and is likely especially a knowledge of oneself in many senses. Socrates by contrast returned to the study of the human things and through these [Note 13], through not every kind of ideas but especially the what is questions pertaining to the human things and virtue, but seeking these by nature as distinct from by custom. As Benardete indicates, there are no artifacts, or things made by man at all outside the cave.

   Having begun to explicate the allegorical line or the double reading, correcting the unwilling deception, what remains is the attempt to read the allegory of the cave in light of the double reading. The conclusion of the previous section can be connected to a reading of the Republic itself as a whole, making more sense of why the account of the highest things are presented in a work on the regime. In this way we hope to return where we began, showing the inseparability of philosophy and politics.

   The Allegory of the cave is an image of “our nature in its education and want of education” (514a1). Every detail is significant, as Socrates tells Glaucon:

   …See human beings as though they were in an underground cavelike dwelling with its entrance a long one open to the light across the whole width of the cave. They are in it from childhood with their legs and necks in bonds so that they are fixed, seeing only in front of them, unable because of the bond to turn their heads all the way around. Their light is from a fire burning far above and behind them. Between the fire and the prisoners there is a road above, along which see a wall built like the partitions puppet handlers set in fronnt of the human beings and over which they show the puppets.”

I see, he said.

 “Then also see along this wall human beings carrying all sorts of artifacts, which project above the wall, and statues of men and other animals wrought from stone, wood, and every kind of material; as is to be expected, some of the carriers utter sounds while others are silent.”

   Regarding education, humans are like prisoners in an underground cave, bound from childhood to viewing and believing truth to be none other than the shadows of artificial things (515 c; II d). In this, the prisoners are bound are bound to the lowest level regarding knowledge of what is, unable to turn their necks. One might think this to be the usual materialism and attachment to the visible goods of the body and appearances, except that the shadows include those projected from the puppet show above and behind them. (II c) Behind a wall, along a “road above” between the prisoners and the higher and deeper cave fire, there are other humans who carry the objects, artifacts, the statues of men and other animals wrought in stone, wood, and every kind of material. The prisoners have seen no more of themselves and one another than the shadows of these artifacts cast by the fire in the cave. If they discuss things with one another, they name the shadows as though these were the real things, and take the shadows to be the real things, the originals of the artifacts which, as we will see, are outside the cave. If the prison has an echo and one of those carrying the artifacts utters a sound, the prisoners think that one of the passing shadows has uttered the sound.

   Shadows, or the things which pass by on the wall of the cave, appear in particular examples soon given. These are first political events, as it is said that prizes are given in the cave for one who is “sharpest at making out the things that go by, and whom, by remembering the order in which the shadows pass is therefore able to divine what is going to come” (516 c9- d1). Second, it is said that “shadows of the just and the representations of which they are shadows” are disputed in the courtrooms by those who have “never seen justice itself” (517 e). Lawyers generally lack interest in Plato’s Republic.

   Socrates next has Glaucon consider “what their release and healing from these bonds and folly would be like if something of this sort were by nature to happen to them.” The release occurs by nature,” and is not the action of philosophers:

   …Take a man who is released and suddenly compelled to stand up to turn his neck around, to walk and look up toward the light; and who, moreover, in doing all this is in pain and because he is dazzled, is unable to make out those things whose shadows he saw before…

If someone were to tell him that now he sees more truly, the man would not believe him If shown the things that pass by, the man would be “at a loss,” and, Socrates says, believe that what he saw before was truer. “A-poros,” to be “at a loss” also means “without a passage,” and occurs again when Socrates describes the sensations likely to summon intellection. It is not mentioned that men might climb the puppet theater, and that those men holding up the images must have arrived there somehow.

   Two notable points: The philosopher does not release prisoners, but might drag those released already, by nature compelled to turn their necks around. Socrates may not yet admit to an “art of this turning.” 2) the opinion of these on political events and the shadows of justice are not worth much more for their release, and they cannot see or rather comprehend things much more clearly yet. And Glaucon agrees that if someone dragged the prisoners away from there along tyhe “rough, steep upward path,” they would be distressed and annoyed at being dragged. The ascent in the Republic is presented as occurring by compulsion., although the Republic too is the source of the maxim that “no forced study abides in any soul” ( ).

   The prisoners are dazzled not by the cave fire but by the light. Bloom comments that speech is our glimmering light within the cave.

The rulers of the city come into being when they are led up to the light, in the ascent that is philosophy, “just as some men are said to have gone from Hades up to the gods (521 c” The ascent is presented as compelled, in keeping, as is said, with the abstraction from eros that characterizes the Republic Socrates says that if someone dragged the prisoner by force up the rough, steep upward path, he would be distressed and annoyed at being dragged, “and with his eyes full of the light’s beam, he would be unable to see even one of the things now said to be true.”

   Once outside the cave the freed prisoners continued ascent is a growing accustomed to the brightness Socrates presents a list of things that would then be seen, all allegorical:

…At first, he’s most easily make out the shadows, and after that the phantoms of the human beings and the other things in water; and later, the things themselves; and from these, he could turn to beholding the things in and heaven itself, most easily at night, looking at the light of the stars and moon, than by day, looking at the sun and sunlight

   The pattern of the divided line, of visible things and their reflections, is repeated outside the cave, but then where thought would be, there are the things in the sky at night and then the things in daylight corresponding to intellection.

We will be following out the use throughout the Republic of the words “shadow” and “phantom,” trying to show a precise allegorical meaning. Note the repetition of the pattern of the lower half of the divided line, with shadows and phantoms seen in water, just as regarding the visible, which we argue is the fraudulent account of the true child of the good, and the “opinable.” It is the images and the laws that are seen again outside the cave, but here in better light. These are later called “divine images in water,” and these are natural reflections in “the soul,” in a collective sense, of the men and other natural beings, much as Carl Jung hypothesized “archetypes,” the common sources of the myths and symbols produced by the human soul. Recollection seems to be possible because there is knowledge in the soul, and this too would be the sources of dream images and myths, the knowledge of the inspired poets and divine legislators. We say too of psychology that knowledge of the soul is “in” the soul itself, or in the soul of each, awaiting recollection. Klein addresses the recollection theory in light of the Republic, (On Platos Meno, indicating an allusion at 518). But the water or pool is quite mysterious. If the imagination is that in which we at first see opinions of justice, as though lit by a cave fire, the water would be something like the ground of the imagination, “beneath” the more common sense, even as our “dream screen” is distinct from our vision of the inside of our eyelids, visual hallucination the colors from the firing of rods and cones.

   In the thought of Jung, the archetypes as faculties, as knowledges and as knowledges of the soul and faculties are often indistinct: Anima and wise man and child” are both functions and universal themes in symbol and literature. This would be expected if the soul contains within each knowledge of itself, which can be recollected because all nature is akin and the soul intended by nature to know. Jung barely emerges from subjectivism, usually unable to distinguish between the objective psyche or collective unconscious and being itself, which must of course be different if the psyche can be objectively known. Throughout his career, he defends his psychology from an accusation of being “unscientific,” and he argues for the study of the phenomenon of belief, or phenomenology, as distinct from the positions of a credo. “Science” seems paradoxically to have required a subjectivism of him regarding the human things. We argue that if “wholeness” is the health of the soul, there is an objective ethics. “Being” goes with the good and just, evil is not an equal opposite in some whole that is beyond good and evil, if it is beyond conventional morality. If Socrates is correct, justice, properly understood, may be or be essential to the health of the soul by nature. If so, psychiatry is compelled to assume an objective ethics. The less it realizes this, its own ethical and political assumptions- the more it may be compelled to impose its own new ethic.

   The whole of the outside of the cave is repeated at 532, after setting out arithmetic, geometry astronomy and stereometry as the studies best for turning the souls toward being:

Then, I said, ” The release from bonds and the turning around from the shadows to the phantoms and, the way up from the cave to the sun; and, once there, the persisting inability to look at the animals and plants in the sun’s light, and looking instead at the divine appearances in water and at shadows of the things that are, rather than as before at shadows of phantoms cast by a light that, when judged in comparison with the sun, also has the quality of the shadow of a phantom, all this activity of the arts, which we went through, has the power to release and leads what is best in the soul up to the contemplation of what is best in the things that are, just as previously what is clearest in the body was led to the contemplation of what is brightest in the region of the bodily and the visible.

Shadow and phantom repeated outside the cave replaces phantoms with “divine appearances in water.

   The cave fire- what it is that casts the light in which the shadows appear- is described as the shadow of a phantom of the sun outside the cave. It is the source of the light in which we see images and opinions. If the sun outside the cave is the good, what is the phantom of which the cave sun is the shadow?

    The remedy of the human condition regarding education is not the switching of certain objects of belief. It is rather a transformation of the soul described as a turning and ascent.

 

The Allegorical Cave

   Bloom writes that the discussion of poetry in Book X Elaborates the problem of the reflections in poetry “and reveals the essential character of the cave.” (“Interpretive Essay,” (p. 428 note). The conclusion of the discussion there of Homer and tragedy is that the maker of tragedies  “is naturally third from a king and the truth,” (597 a7) and “third from the truth about virtue,” (599 a1) a craftsman of a phantom. “A king and the truth” “about virtue” is, then, the original of the shadows and phantoms, the legislated characters and their reflections in imagination and belief, literally making up opinion. The royal nature or complete virtue, the conjunction of theoretical and practical of the philosopher-king, is then the “man,” or the being reflected in the shadows and phantoms of the things that are, though there is no mirror or artificial reflector outside the cave. The nearest particular examples we have are Shakespeare’s Prospero and Plato’s Socrates.

   In the discussion of the Republic, Socrates is in competition with the poets, especially Homer, and replaces the images of the poets with the images of Socratic political philosophy. These would correspond to the shadows on the wall of the cave that lead to the ascent according not to to the fraudulent but true account, beginning with the shadows of justice. The Socratic study of the city and regime replaces the Homeric cosmos, as the “bigger,” while the artifact of the legislated virtues and the character formation of the education of the guardians would be the smaller, where the attempt is made from the bigger to show justice in the soul.

   Hence, a reading of the Republic itself can be inserted into the divided line and cave, culminating in this vision of the conjunction of theoretical and practical wisdom that is the fullest articulation of the principle of the health of the soul, or the first principle of psychology. Socrates replaces the shadows on the wall of the cave with the description of the best regime. The three part study of the city and soul shows the same in the bigger and littler, and is closely related to the Aristotelian study of the three and six forms of regime, based upon whether the one, few or many rule aiming at the common good or rather at the private advantage of the ruling element. We would draw these parts of the city and soul as an egg shaped figure divided into three, and this, apparently based upon an archetype and knowable, first shows the study of the soul. It is by going between the two and three part accounts of the soul that many things, and a development, comes to light. There is also a three part depiction of the imagination of the cosmos, and it nay be that the way one imagines the cosmos- heaven earth and the things in between- is inseparable from the way one imagines the hierarchy of the parts of the human soul, where reason” ought govern the things of the heart, eros and spiritedness, and these together govern the appetites. In Book V, though, as it seems, the regime is no longer able to reflect the soul, as the character formation ending in love matters that concern the beautiful” lead to the conjunction of the male and female classes of guardians- so that the focus is on the complementary, two part union in the soul from which the offspring, intellect, might be born. This birth of intellect in the soul (490) we equate with something like baptism or perhaps an Elysian or Orphic mystery, (even surviving from Noah) and the emergence of the prisoner from the cave- from the “visible” into the intelligible.

   We should then, in this section, follow out the use of certain words in the text, bigger and little and then shadow and phantom, and perhaps “painting” as well, trying to see what is reflected in the pool through what is reflected in the mirror of the dialogue.

   Replacing then the visible with the products of the legislators and the poets in the true rather than fraudulent account of the divided line and child of the good, The replacement allows us to relate the city in speech of the Republic to the account in images of the ascent of philosophy or philosophic education. Let us then pick up the presentation of these “visible” objects from the founding of the city in speech up to the account of “the fairest sight for him that can see” (402 d).

   Socrates brings philosophy to the defense of justice when it is being spoke of badly,” as Greek philosophy undermined tradition and released the sophist and those upholding tyranny in theory. He suggested the founding of the city in speech when he was called to the defense of justice before Adeimantus and Glaucon, after the account presented by Thrasymachus, in which in which what men call justice is only the interest of the stronger. This principle is the same as that of the distinguishing factor of the bad sorts of regime in Aristotle, the ruling element seeking its own interest rather than the good of the city. Thrasymachus, and the worst of the sophists, present injustice as the true advantage or good of man, while justice is a sort of simple-minded folly invented by the weak to keep the the real men from seizing their own advantage. In addition, the customary praise of justice as reported by Adeimantus presents justice as a sort of drudgery practiced only for the sake of its consequences, such as the reputation and benefits said to be conferred by the gods on just men. Socrates then is called upon to show that justice is good by nature, even apart from its consequences or usual rewards. The reason is that the true ends of our nature are not the original hierarchy of the ends of the body. Justice appears first as conventional;, or even as a chimera of custom which has all along hidden what is in truth good for man.

    In order to show that justice is advantageous, Socrates must show what is truly advantageous for man. He must show that the original opinion of our own advantage is not right, and that justice is necessary in a life in the life of the true good for man.

   Leo Strauss (The City and Man, p. 91-92) indicates that a procedure is forced of Socrates by Glaucon, first to show justice by the coming into being of a city, and second as belonging to the first of the three kinds of goods, while Socrates himself has said explicitly that it belongs to the that in his opinion, justice belongs to the second kind.

   The demonstration includes something like the discovery of a the specifically human nature beyond the additions of custom, in addition to the principle of the body and the interests of the body. The mind is a higher principle with ends of its own (and hence there is a natural eros regarding reason.)

   In setting out to examine justice, Socrates compares their situation to that of men who do not see sharply (368c; 484 c) being ordered to read small letters from far off. It would appear to them as a godsend if they were able to to consider the smaller letters after having read bigger letters in a bigger place, “if, of course, they do happen to be the same. (368 c).

   Adeimantus agrees that there is, as we say, the justice of one man and also the justice of a whole city. He then agrees that a city is “bigger” than one man. So Socrates proposes that they first examine what justice is like in the cities. “Then,” he says…

We’ll also go on to consider it in individuals, considering the likeness of the bigger in the idea of the littler.

   It is for this reason that the city in speech is set out, and on this principle that the regime is founded, in order to see justice in the soul. The bigger (city) and the littler (soul) may be tentatively inserted into Plate II as visible objects on the two lowest levels of the fourfold division.

   The founding principle of the city in speech reveals the difference between the starting point of Socratic philosophy and that of those who “discourse on gods.” as well as those who discoursed on the nature or the whole cosmos without regard for the things of man. But when, like men telling tales within a tale, the founders undertake to educate the men in speech (375 d) they themselves discourse on gods. Here, the bigger and the smaller are discussed regarding poetry.

   Socrates states that speeches have a “double form,” the “true and the false (479 b). Those to be educated are to be given both, but first the false. Socrates tells Adeimantus:

Don’t you understand…that first we tell tales to children? And surely they are, on the whole false, though there are true things in them too (377 a)

Then, in the discussion of the supervising of those who make tales, this opposition of true and false becomes the opposition between the “greater” and the “smaller” tales. Socrates says:

In the greater tales we’ll also see the smaller ones…Both the greater and the smaller must be taken from the same model and have the same power (377 c)

These greater tales are…

…the ones Homer and Hesiod told us, and the other poets, too. They surely composed false tales for human beings and used to tell them, and still do tell them…

If the greater and smaller in the founding principle, referring to city and soul, corresponds to the greater and lesser (ellaton), or the false and true things in the tales, then the smaller regarding the tales would appear to refer to that part of the soul where justice is sought, tended by the legislator toward the virtues of character. In both the poetry or music used to shape character and in the articulation of the best regime, the greater and the smaller are taken from “the same model” with “the same power “( 377c5-9; 368 d4, 7). The model is distinct from either the greater and the smaller. The model for the virtues of character is the nature of man, here as shown in the philosopher or intellectual virtue. But in this way, the smaller can be seen in the larger, and the recognition of both belongs to the same art and discipline (402 b5-7, c).

   Here too we see the difference between Socratic philosophy and the art of the poets regarding the human things [Note 14]. When Socrates returns philosophy to the consideration of the human things, he brings from natural philosophy the appeal from custom to nature, and from hearsay to seeing for oneself with regard not to any chance report, but the most important things (392 b1) or the fundamental questions. Socratic philosophy begins from opinion, even from the customary beliefs and images as well as the characters formed by these, in an attempt to ascend from opinion to knowledge of the truth of these very things, especially how we should live. One distinction, then, between Socratic political philosophy and the poetry of those who discourse on gods is seen in that Socratic philosophy replaces the greater tales of the poets with the articulation of the best regime as that in which the smaller, the soul, is reflected [Note 15].

   Socrates does not blame the poets for their tales being false, that is, lies, but rather for their lies being ignoble lies. An ignoble lie is:

…when a man in speech makes a bad representation of what gods and heroes are like, just as a painter who paints something that doesn’t resemble the things whose likeness he wishes to paint (377 e).

While it is the task of the legislators of the laws of the city to know the “models according to which the poets must tell their tales,” and Socrates himself discusses these models in his purification of “theology.” Socratic philosophy, by which these models are found, proceeds through the painting of the city in speech (420 c-d; 484c) rather than the paintings of gods and heroes as done by Homer. For the lie in speeches is found to be an imitation which refers to a part of the soul for its original. Socrates states:

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Thoughts While Reading Aristotle’s Metaphysics, and Physics

These thoughts occurred on Twitter:
 
   Aristotle might be wrong, if he says that Plato and not Socrates made the forms separately existing causes (Metaphysics I.6). Aristophanes in the Clouds is already making fun of Socrates and the floating causes of rain.(Clouds, 250-344). This leads to a stunning recognition of the absence of the forms in the accusation and the Apology. It must have been the Daimon that led to the charge of bringing in new divinities, or what? Says Xenophon. Leo Strauss, in The City and Man, addresses the theory of the plural forms in relation to the plural gods (120-121). This implies that for us, following Abraham and Socrates, the theory of the imago Die, the image of God in man, and the human things as the gateway to metaphysics, ascending through the image, is as suitable as plural forms. We still do not know what to do with the impersonal or collective human knowledges and effects, such as Eros or Justice and Wisdom, which obviously are something.
   The attribution of the theory of the forms to Plato and not Socrates has become commonplace, but may well be mistaken, if Socrates were only reluctant to speak directly and publicly about the forms- for reasons obvious in his trial and death. In the Clouds, Aristophanes’ Socrates says, at the initiation of Strepsiades,
 
… And to associate in speech with the Clouds, our daimons… Let us shake off the rainy cloud/ From our immortal form, and let us give the earth to our far seeing eye…”they’re heavenly Clouds, great goddesses for idle men, who provide us with notions and dialectic and mind” (Clouds, 288-300, 315-317)”
 
The same may be true of “dialectic” too, that it is Socratic, contrary to Aristotle, the coping stone of Socratic philosophy. Aristophanes had written long before the trial, when Plato was about 20. Strauss writes of Glaucon and Adeimantus: surely they have heard of the ideas, even of the idea of the good, many times before” (Ibid., p. 121). The Socrates of the sixth and seventh books of the Republic may be the most clear presentation of Socrates. Aristotle did not know Socrates. And he likely wrote the Metaphysics after Plato was gone.
 
   Aristophanes is amazing for how much he knows about the theory of the ideas and the Socratic turn through the human things. You’ld think he hung out at Symposia. Wonder is he did not burn his comedies, as Plato did his Tragedies, to follow Socrates around. Good thing, though, eh?
 
   In the same way, we say that when things get better it comes from the fullness. We Call Him the Good One. If the universal were merely abstracted from particulars, there would be no measure of the particulars, by which we know, for example, that every city and every man falls short of perfect justice. The good is especially pertinent to the human things, whether the silently revolving galaxies have a good or not. Formal and final causes are especially apparent through the human things as the key to understanding all things. It is said to be the last thing seen in any inquiry, and the first principle of each thing- including the intelligibility of circumstance among human beings. Darwinian metaphysics does not say a word, in one sense, about what it is that evolves, the miraculous order of nature unfolding like shapes in the frost on a window, and we are fond of noting that thew wing in truth indicates that there is such a thing as sky. That the kinds of animals change simply sets the question of formal and final cause back a step. As Geometry is to objects So x is to living things, y to Self moving things, And z to the image of God in man. Life, self motion and man have a cause that is superior. “The genius of Shakespeare is not caused by Shakespeare,” as Leo Strauss writes. As objects have an eternal ground revealed in the eternal characteristic of the mathemata of number, shape and motion, and as nature has an articulation in part eternally true- as shown in logic- so, we say, do life, motion and reason have an eternal ground that is beyond a what, and beyond the attributes of living moving and reasoning things. For to know in what sense man is the image is what is difficult. If thought thinking itself is the highest way to describe this, (rather than the “Good One,” for example) an image might be the divine wedding in the scripture, if, in knowing, the whole through man- the one part out of the harmony of the whole– the whole can be said to know itself. For if God and the Creation are two different things, as we say, the whole cannot yet be one, yet if these belong together, it is already one, even in a sense different from that in which what will be Is.
 
 What is intelligible geometry to objects? What the articulation of things to the words? What the intelligible source of life? Of self motion? and of choosing not only our courses, but our ways?
 
I thought most people on Twitter were just now wondering that. Most Germans, at least.
 
   We have been attempting to translate I.5, after the sentence on Socrates and the opening paragraph. We noted the use of the word agape for delight or love, as well as the word (Phos), light, which seems to disappear from the text following the opening paragraph. By chance, the thought occurred, while speaking to a friend, that one difference between the “Metaphysics” of Aristotle and the thought found in the Republic is the presence of light.
 
   We will be musing too on the 4 causes in Aristotle as these appear in the dialogues, because his division of formal and final cause to include the dimension of time as well as space in the image is of course a great advance. Formal and final cause are to space as final and efficient causes are to time. Earth, air, water and fire are what we call solid, liquid gas, or the three states of matter, and energy. There is said, too, to be another condition, called “plasma,” though we do not find this about our world. We have these as the kinds of matter that appear on the periodic chart (Aristotle would have loved this discovery of Mendeleev and the modern study of the kinds of matter), into which materials as concrete are resolved, and even wood, though this is made by life. If energy and matter are inter-convertible- energy being released from the bonds of the elements even as fire is from the compounds- we have yet found a new kind of energy. But for our purposes, it may be sufficient to note that there are “kinds” of energy as well as kinds of matter, and these are never found without some modicum of form.
 
   The intelligibility of things is the great, or greater mystery. Take an artificial being, the classic table or chair. The chair is made of wood, but what is even the shape of the chair made of? Smash the chair, and one still has all the wood, but no longer any chair. Set this as a simple equation: shape or chair/ wood: x/ wood: The difference is the form, and this not made of wood.
   
   In the comparison of the the account of Socrates in the Phaedo contrasting material causes and purpose or final cause we have an account to compare to the four causes in the account of Aristotle. Form and matter go with space, while final and efficient go with time. Earth, water and air we call solid liquid and gas, three forms of all the elements in the periodic chart. These are contrasted with fire or “energy,” which moves the elements through the three conditions. But matter always has some form. Aristotle, too, calls subordinate forms “matter.” so that his meaning is slightly different from ours.
 
   Artificial things may be the easiest to see, as in these, we have a lame imitation of the unity of living beings. Volcanoes, sunsets and rivers are in a sense beings, and yet in another- compared to the smallest microbe- somehow less unities than they are stuff lying about as it falls. Even rocks seem more accidentally beings than a tree, where there is quite clear demarcation between what in the world is this tree and not this tree, or “subject” and “object,” as is said. So it is especially with the living things that beings come to be separate from the rest, and the eternal source of life a greater mystery than what life is, to which our science has not much of a clue, not to mention what self motion is. And we trust these guys to demarcate psychology and neurology?!