History of Ancient Philosophy I Class Notes

(Taken at a Pontifical University) First Lesson: Literature: A History of Philosophy by Frederick Copleston Philosophy 1st time used in Heraclitus ∼500 b. C (ϕιλοσοϕειν): “The philosophical man should be a researcher of many things (πολυ ιστορειν).” Beginning of philosophy. Characteristic marks: - Research - Theoretical (no need to prove, only for the sake of knowledge in opposition to practical; attitude still to be found in modern scientists like Edison (electricity), Siemens, Liebig) - Scientific (directed towards causes by which you can explain phenomena that cause problems. E.g.: Eclipse: Problem, examination, explanation. Moon is circling Earth, both are part of a solar system…; Starting point of all modern sciences was in Greek philosophy, Science: Explanation of problematic phenomena by means of cause. While trying to explain the visible world, Greek philosophers eventually arrived at the theory of atoms) - Tradition (Study of foregoing philosophers, see what they have achieved, in order to avoid to make the same errors as others and to not discover truths that already have been discovered. This is serving progress and this is tradition (tradere). So valid truths made by others in earlier times are handed down as a treasure that is kept and should be kept. It is important to have an understanding of old philosophers.

Philosophie = Philosophia (ϕιλοσοϕια): Sophia = Wisdom = Originally the capacity to bring together the many aspects of human affairs to the necessary origin/divine principle; look to the last end or intention. = Expertise or acquaintance of an object, i. e. craftsmanship. The man who becomes master in

one field is wise. All things are directed towards first causes

Heraclitus (∼500 b. C): “The philosophical man should be a researcher of many things (πολυ ιστορειν).” Perikles (∼450 b. C): “We love the beauty with simplicity and we philosophize without weakness.” People in ancient times had more recollection and more concentration on the soul. Speak about inner relations of man with certainty, rich discovery of the conditions of the soul. Nowadays we do not have any thinker that reflects on himself, his inner conditions. Starts with Descartes, then Hawks, Locke, Hume, soul is abandoned as a thing without substance (materialism), then Kant finally contradicting the experiences and knowledge of the past by saying that an object can only be given when senses can “pick it up”. Psychology without soul.

Connection between philosophy and religion Situation nowadays: Old philosophers very religious (Thales, Parmenides, Heraclitus…). Their philosophy is free from religious premises, is different from religion. Today philosophy is reduced to a mere metatheory, without vigorous arrival at truth, you already need an aid by faith to go further. Example: Cardinal Kasper as bishop wrote an essay about (Tübinger Schule; Geiselmann, Kaspers teacher: Heretics are as important as true believers in the dialectical course of truth) “Über die Unentbehrlichkeit der Metaphysik für die Theologie.”: “You can’t go further back than Kant. Philosophy/Metaphysics can only rise the problems to which they cannot give answers, the answer will be given by faith”. Philosophy and Religion are seen as two parts of one whole: Cardinal Kasper: “Theology without metaphysics becomes speechless.” Not true! and: “Metaphysics without theology is without foundation.” Not true! Edith Stein is directly speaking about supernatural philosophy. Not true! A second generation of phenomenology that is away from reality. Philosophy seems to be needing help by religion, so Christian philosophy is invented. Autonomy of philosophy is

important! No use of Philosophy if it needs Christian faith to go on. Old Philosophers see the connection between philosophy and religion, but do not mix it. Religion from the very beginning is about God, whereas philosophy eventually reaches God. In ancient philosophy we have metaphysics which are on own grounds, nevertheless the origins of philosophy (Tales) were religious. The first pre-socratics started with a new entertainment called philosophy different from religion. Passage (from Mythos to Logos (=Ratio, Reason)), in which philosophy becomes autonomous. In myth human soul is directly related to God(s), local cults (Athena in Athens, Sisyphus in Korinth), myths are coming from holy speeches. a) Myth: from holy words or speeches, telling something about local cults. Content remains religious, even if imagination of poets enriches it and turns it into a story, myth. Myths often are stories that start (αρχη) with the relationship of a tribe with a divine being. b) Philosophy. Also the question of an αρχη. Not as the beginning of a story but as a principle/cause, from which the phenomena of natural things can be explained. Beginning of science! Object: Religion: relationship of the soul to God / Philosophy: nature Method: Religion: faith devoted to divine being / Philosophy: reason Attitude of Subject: Religion: come into a relationship with God, salvation / Philosophy: acquiring knowledge

Thales von Milet (around 580 b. C): Water is the αρχη. No sources of Thales. Just fragments. First by Anaximander. Reason, why Thales determined water as the αρχη: Seed in human beings is humid, so everything comes from humidity. Geographically the terra firma is surrounded by water, so the reflection might have been, that everything comes from water. Methodical approach is interesting. Nature is explained by causes. All is coming forth from one principle. Thales saw water as divinely enforced. Obvious difference from religion, because of explanation of nature by causes. But still closely tied to religion. This imperfection of the first philosophy is the point which thinkers nowadays are taking as important. Heidegger is seeking the beginning of

philosophy in religious sphere. Anaximander: His archae is the “apeiron”, das Unerschöpfliche Anaximenes: His archae is air Heraclitus: His archae is fire = logos

Second Lesson: Archae (αρχη): The first principle / cause (in order to explain natural phenomena Thales = water Anaximandros = apeiron (unlimited, infinite); from which things come to be and into which they perish Anaximenes = air Heraclitus (500 BC) = fire = logos Heraclitus: archae is logos Logos: 1. Law of natural things 2. Cognitive faculty: reason 3. Discourse, communication of Logos as “law” of natural changes (Greek) Legein (λεγειν): read, collect, gather (Latin) Legere: lex (law) Nature (=archae) loves to hide itself (=revealing in the phenomena of our intentions) Logos is common for (all things; all men)

Heraclitususus of Ephesus (pantha rhe), denies that there is being, only becoming, all is in change, remaining things are only an appearance, pantha rhe is not only an observation, but already the result of an reflection. His Archae: fire, because it is the most vivid thing. Background is the problem of coming to be, of generation and corruption of things, from being to not being, from not being to being. not being © coming-to-be © being From nothing cannot come forth anything and what is doesn’t have the need to come to be, because it already exists. Heraclitus and others weren’t able to solve this problem. “Solution”: He turns “coming-to-be” in a principle, that cannot be explained. Fire as principle of all is symbol for generation and corruption of all things. Being is denied. Also becoming exists.

Third Lesson: Parmenides, of Elea, Southern Italy, Southern part of Salerno, before you come to Naples. He opposed Heraclitus directly. Says that there is only being and becoming is an illusion. 200 years later the problem will be solved by Aristotle. In the English language, we will substitute “being” (participle / infinitive) with “entity” = το ϖν / ens Parmenides’ doctrines: 1.) “The being (entity) is, not-being is not.” 2.) “It is the same: Thinking and being (the noetic (intellectual) act (of entity) (intellectual comprehension) and being (of entity)).” (“Es ist doch dasselbe: Das intellektuelle Erfassen des Seienden und das Sein des Seienden.”, nicht ontologisch gemeint, sondern intentionell.). Thinking and being are identical with reference to entity. The noetic (intellectual) cognition/comprehension and being is identical in the same reference to entity.

New: Being is understood no longer as a sensible aspect, but as something that is grasped by another faculty: the intellect / nous. Being is not only a sensible thing, but also a feature, which is identical with another faculty of mind. The senses can err, the path to the truth is another one, by logos or by intellect. (νουσ: intellectus, λογοσ: ratio) It is the same: Intellectual grasp and that of which the object of this thinking is the noema (intellectum: the object of the intellectual grasp). Indicates an epistomolgical reflection on our knowledge. Subject = Intellect [Intellectual act = {concept}] (identity) The concept of the entity as grasped by the intellect is identical with the entity, not the intellect itself. Parmenides falls into the extreme to declare the being as only one. “There is only ONE being, THE one being”. Common feature, which permits to look at the whole nature in a unitarian way, uniting it. The one entity as a sphere, like a geometrical body. The one being stands for all natural things which are material, looked at under the new understanding of being, which is no longer (only) sensible, but intelligible. Parmenides “one being” is not the Thomistic “ipsum esse”. His texts do not allow that kind of a conclusion. Parmenides “being” does not allow to look for an archae, because a first cause would mean becoming, not being. In Plato’s first principles or ideas, existing in an own world separate from the sensible world, you have a multiplicity of Parmenides “being”. Parmenides is struggling with the problem of becoming, tries to resolve it in opposition to Heraclitus by declaring being as reality and denying becoming, because becoming would mean a plurality between things. So according to him there is only one being, every movement, every  Object = Entity

non-being, every becoming is excluded. Zenon, of Elea, (disciple of Parmenides) tries to prove the immobility of things by an indirect way (abduction in absurdum / reductio ad absurdum). If you cannot prove directly that something is so, not possible to make a prove with two premises and the conclusion “there is no movement”. Other way: Let’s take for granted that there IS movement and then make an argument with premises concluding that the result is absurd. Zenon: If you take an object in movement (Arrow), which travels a certain distance, the arrow has to have passed half the distance first. And before that half the distance of that half distance. And so on. Since you have the possibility to split the distances infinitely, movement is not possible, because nothing can move across an infinite number of distances. Sounds good, but isn’t. Because infinity is a mathematical consideration that does not apply to the nature of things. Aristotle states that there is no actual infinity in nature. There is a relation between matter and space. Where matter is limited, space must be limited, too. Aristotle wants to start from obvious phenomena in nature, rejects Parmenides for not doing so. Physics: dealing with the things in motion, generation and corruption. Metaphysics: with a first introductory part called ontology about things that are as being. Connection between Monists (only one principle/being) and Pluralists (Anaxagoras / Empedokles). Empedocles, Sicily(450/440 BC): One of the natural elements as principle, why not earth, if we already have air, fire and water? Empedocles does so. By accepting not only one but more principles, you get a big advantage in explaining the natural phenomena of becoming and passing away. Composition and separation of elements. His theses are, 1.) that there are four elements: Earth, water, air and fire. This contains the imagination: 2.) that there are two forces in the elements: friendship and enmity (attraction and repulsion) 3.) that the elements exist in things in proportions (hard things: more earth, soft things: more water etc.)

Aristotle: Composition of elements in things, but the composition does not explain the coming forth of things (Why a cat, not a monster?). Coming to be is only accidental as described by Empedocles and Anaxagoras. Trees and cats and dogs are only accidents to these elements. Coming to be only accidental not substantial (Substance and accident). The becoming of a thing is taken seriously. New feature: Empedocles endowed elements with forces. To explain the attraction and repulsion of the elements he called these forces the friendship and enmity. Other thought of course is introduced, which explains movement. We have Sensible phenomena and principles, which are no longer accessible to the eyes. Always to be concluded by reason, even if the principles are material. A principle needs reason. Love/friendship and strife/enmity are introduced as the two forces that move elements and things. Empedocles’ explanation (in regards to nothing can come out of nothing and what already is has no need to become): The elements already are and from them things come forth and to them things will perish. Explains the becoming by mixture of elements. Anaxagoras (contemporary of Empedocles and pluralist): Plurality of elements, archai not archae. From Minor Asia. 1.) Elements as homoeomeris. Start from complex things and divide. The more you go ahead in the division, the more parts become similar. We arrive at principles. Homoeomeris have the same qualities as visible things for Anaxagoras. In the concrete things from which we start in our research of natural things, there are homoeomeris of all qualities, even if the concrete from which we start have only some basic qualities, e.g. blood has red color, because the presence of this

homoeomeris are present in a very massive way, but in itself every concrete thing has all homoeomeris of all qualities. Important is the pluralist- and many-elements-thingie. 2.) Introduction of a moving-final cause. Explains the movement between elements and the order that comes forth. A divine nous/intellect for the whole cosmos. The intellect is alone and itself and stands before other things. For if it were not by itself, but mixed with something, it would have to share all things and things mixed together with it would hinder it and keep it from ruling. Features that Anaxagoras gives the nous/intellect: a) All-ruling, not mixed with anything b) has all judgment about everything c) omnipotent d) omniscient e) bringing all things in order/final end Introduction of a new principle. Plato was the first thinker who succeeded in grasping the soul as an immaterial principle. The early thinkers didn’t succeed in that. Nowadays philosophy does no longer speak of the soul as an immaterial principle, almost fallen back to pre-socratic times. These early thinkers testify the presence of intellect, it is a reality given to itself, self-presence of mind. Before this human mind is reflecting as subject it testifies to itself to be in reality. Human spirit is familiar with itself. self-present, self-aware. St. Thomas: Before the intellect intellectually grasps that it grasps intellectually, it intellectually grasps that it is. antequam intellectus intelligat se intelligere, intelligit se esse

Fourth Lesson: Pre-Socratics deal with nature, are also called natural philosophers. Heraklitus / Parmenides = Opposition. Repetition of third class.

No modern thinker is aware of Parmenides’ great discovery (“It is the same…”). Recognizing that the material things themselves have an intelligible (no longer only sensible) aspect in them simply being there, seeing the sensible things as intelligible, is the entrance door to Ontology. Empedocles: Knowledge only between equals. According to that, also the soul must be composed of all elements, because all objects are. Anaxagoras: Knowledge only between inequals. Reaction cannot develop between equals. The process from not-knowing to knowing has an active and a passive part. Aristotle says that the passion of the soul when encountering an object is “suffering” (Anax) but also confirms Empedocles, by saying that as soon as the form of the object is actual in the soul, there is equality. Before the knowing, there is inequality, but if the knowledge has taken place, then there is equality, the subject has been equated to the object. Aristotle: The starting point is from inequals and the end point is between equals. Knowledge is the process of adequation => St. Thomas: “Veritas est adequatio intellectus et rei (ad rem).” (Realism: Our knowledge must be informed by the things, not v.v.) In Empedocles and Anaxagoras we find a reflection about the knowledge, so the pre-socratics do have subjectivity. Many say that pre-socs only have cosmology, it’s not true. Zenon of Elea: No movement. (reductio ad absurdum, the arrow-thingie with the infinity). This method has been taken up by Kant (criticism of the pure reason). In the dialectical part he formulates the antithesis. “The world has no beginning and no limitation in space.” Then he goes on with reduction ad absurdum. The two theses cannot be proven directly, so Kant tries to use the indirect method. Thesis is proven indirectly: Take that there is no limitation, leads to an absurdity, we wouldn’t have a world at all. Let us take that there is a world with a beginning and a limit in time and space. Is contradicted by the fact, that in the continuum we can always add something without making it stop. In any beginning you could always go to an anterior point.

Democritus (380, 2nd half of the 5th cent, beginning of 4th cent.): Most fundamental doctrine is, that there are atoms, indivisible elements, only with quantitative properties, no qualities, by which the things are made up and pass away by composition and separation. Analysis of natural things by taking them apart. The differences in quality in the visible things are explained with great fantasy, i.e. in liquid matter the atoms are small and fine, in heavy things the atoms are hard, if something is hard and dense, the atoms have hooks by which the are attached to each other. Democritus speaks of the atoms as “the full” and takes in opposition to the atoms the space, “the void”. Atoms move in the space. The terms of being/entity/Seiendem (atoms) and not-being/non-entity/Nicht-Seiendem (void) are also used. Being and non-being were only used from Parmenides onwards. But in this pure materialism the discovery of Parmenides is lost. Tree comes into the eye as a mini-tree with little icons. There is a little truth in this pure materialism. In sense perception we have a material and a psychic part. In everything you have a sensible part, which is composed of matter and form. In the sense organ you have the matter, as the retina in the eye, and the medium. The medium is the transporter of the form. The form must be transferred to the medium. And from the medium the matter of the sense organ takes the form with its sense faculty. The eye does not receive the concrete thing but only the form. On the level of sense perception you already have abstraction. How is it then possible, that we perceive in a sense perception this individual unique nuance of a color. How is it possible although there is an abstraction in sense perception, it is on the level of sense perception, that we experience concrete things? Because the form that we see remains always in contact with the matter, the concrete, even if the form-transport happens by abstraction.

The Sophists They have made a turn in philosophy by dealing with politics, education, rhetoric. They discluded the rank of man and of arts. They interpreted the poems. An outstanding feature of the sophists is that they gave public teaching or instruction. Formerly in the aristocratic-archaic epoch we ha the education in the houses of the nobles. In the democratic area in Athens we have a turn towards public instruction for every citizen. The sophists took money for the education and promised the young generation to make them capable for the political career. They dealt with many questions of the human life. Also questions about justice and moral behavior.

One outstanding figure is Protagoras. Characteristic for him is the relativism. “The human being is the measure of all things - of things that are, that they are, and of things that are not, that they are not.” Here we already have a subjective turn. The sophists de-mystified the myth of Prometheus and Epimetheus. Explained everything by natural causes. Protagoras belongs to the elder generation of sophists. The younger generation was more radical, more atheistic. Sophists comes from “sophos”: wise. They claim to have knowledge and present themselves as teacher. After the two generations of sophists, we have Socrates. He also was a Sophist, but overcame the negative sides (relativism, subjectivism, nihilism). He established a dialogue. He was condemned to death by sophistic enemies. Gorgias Empericism means starting from experience but also finishing with experience.

Fifth Lesson: Pre-Socs (again): Copleston’s summary of the Pre-Socs: -The problem of the one and the many. This is in “Copleston” explained with the many principles, the many and the one, assumed by the philosophers. From the fact of becoming the philosophers try conclusions of physical science in “scientific hypothesis”. As if “all is water” is a first primitive scientific hypothesis. - - - In fact they only offer a metaphysical intuition, expressed / summed-up / finishing in the metaphysical doctrine that “everything is one”.

The professor says, that this is not quite according to what we learned, so he proposes: Study the phenomena with the endeavor to explain them by causes. So instead of the problem of the one and the many we have the problem of the principle of cause for the explanation of the phenomena of natural things. Here you have reason not only metaphysical intuition. -You have the problem of becoming, not the fact of becoming. (Remember: “Out of nothing, nothing can become and what is does not have to become because it already is”). Empi and Anax explain becoming by the composition and separation of elements Aristotle says: “Yup, but not enough” (see the cats and dogs and monster thing). Aristotle pointed out the substantial change, whereas Empi and Anax do point towards accidental changes. - - - They had more than just metaphysical intuition. They were serious researchers. The Pythagoreans introduced the explanation of elements by numbers. Pythagoras taught that the essence of natural things are numbers and numerical proportion. This makes them as much predecessors of the modern sciences as Democritus. Back to Sophists: Two generations of Sophists: 1st are more moderate (Gorgias, Protagoras), 2nd is more radical. One of the moderate sophists, Gorgias, uses the terms of being and not-being (Parmenides). But after Parmenides the term being was used without the intelligible aspect. The Sophists use the terms “being”” and “not being”. Protagoras: “The human being is the measure of [the knowledge of] all things - of things that are (beings/entities), that they are, and of things that are not (non-beings/non-entities), that they are not.” Protagoras uses as examples sensitive observation: Wind is felt warm for one, cold for the other; so as if feels to them, so the things are. These terms are used without looking at the intelligible aspect of the things but only at the sensible aspects. Gorgias: Gives us a lot of crap about how nothing exists, almost as if he want to refute

Parmenides, when actually he just seemed to not have understood correctly. He is totally lacking the discovery of the intelligible aspect of things/being. Radical sophists are dangerous, because they not only argue with knowledge but also with morals. They are relativists and see only instants in human nature and therefore offer a moral of instincts. Intellect is in service of sensual pleasure. The relativism is relying on empiricism or (even worse) sensualism. From there they cannot come to another result but relativism. For the radical sophists every human being has subjective sense experiences. Plato is pointing out, that human knowledge does not finish on this level and develops his own theory of knowledge, stating that we have different degrees of knowledge. It is a progress of knowledge from sense perception to science. You start with sense perception, go on with reminiscences, go from there to imagination, to opinion, to experience to finally reach science. For the radical sophists, there is nothing but sense experience, which is very dangerous. From the empiricism/sensualism we can understand that everything ends in relativism. Everybody has rights, what he feels is true for him. but you cannot stop there, because we have senses AND intellect. And by the cognitive progress from sense perception to science, intellect will arrive at his own level, when science is reached, whereas, when you stay on the level of sense perception, you only use your senses. When you use senses AND intellect you are able to go from simple phenomena (sense perception) to intelligible essentials (science). Socrates (the last sophist 470-399 B.C.) He overcomes the sophistic relativism. Socrates attests two merits to the historical Sophists. The first is to have introduced into philosophy the “dialogue in universal terms”. The second is the introduction of the “method of definition”. Definition is the way to the essence of the things, according to the question “What is?”. Socrates speaks of the universal as an instrument by which we are able to grasp the essence of things. Socrates’ knowledge-theory: His utterance of “not knowing” is very famous. He does not mean, that we cannot know anything. Socrates is in fact the start of scientific research. Even today in chemical or mathematical books we find in the beginning a chapter on the axioms with definitions of the terms. What does his famous “not knowing” mean? The progress of knowledge from sense perception to science makes clear, that the intellect is in function from the beginning. It is not the senses alone, that perceive. It is the intellect with the help of the senses. In the first stage, intellect is alienated/externalized, though,

because it is not yet its own object. It merely anticipates the aim. If you ask “what is?” you already have an anticipation that things have an essence. So “not knowing” means, that in the beginning you are not in possession of what you are seeking. So you have to say you are “not knowing” in regard to what you are looking for, when you on the level of sense perception, because you still have all the way to go to reach science/intelligible essentials. Here again we return to the level of Parmenides (there is not only a sensible but also an intelligible aspect to things). Socrates takes Parmenides' entity as starting point (ens qua ens). But it is no principle. Socrates looks at things according to the intelligible aspect and discovers that the adequate form of intellectual knowledge is universal. Intellect cannot deny his form, which is universal. But the universal knowledge is pointing at something intelligible in the things. Recognizing the simple being there is a starting point for knowledge. This is no longer recognized since Descartes who puts it in doubt. And after Kant the existentialists try to regain the existence against the essentialists, but do not have other possibilities than recognize it by religious feeling. St. Thomas talks about the simple apprehension as the presence of the things before the intellect.

Sixth Lesson: Plato: Lived in the time of war between Sparta and Athens (427-347 B.C.), the decline of the Attic democracy and the appearance of tyrants. Plato was of noble origin and did not have the chance to enter a political career. Execution of Socrates influenced him. He retired, in order to survive. His writings from that time leave us well informed. He founded a circle of friends to continue the dialogical style of philosophy introduced by Socrates. He dedicated himself to gain certain knowledge of humans and life. His main dialogue is the “Republic”. It is dealing with justice individually and politically. He founded the so-called “Academy” (approx. 388). It was located in a forest he called academos, hence the name. “Philosophy in written form has no worth. It is like a joke. You need to live together in order to transfer the knowledge and to bring the others to insight, so that a sort of spark jumps over and enlightens the other. This can only happen in a dialogue.” Modern philosophers tried to reconstruct the true doctrine from a later tradition. The Academy continued after Plato’s death and modern philosophers doubted that the documents available

today represent the teachings of Plato. But Aristotle quotes “As Plato said…” as did other philosophers from that time, so the written sources were always seen as true testimony. Plato met the tyrant of Syracuse in Sicily. There was hope for Plato that this tyrant would be in favor of his theory of the state, so that he might be able to install the ideal state. He was later deluded and disappointed. The tyrant was simply ambitious and wanted a philosopher. The tyrant stole some ideas of Plato. Plato: “If somebody tries to put down my philosophy in written form, it is not authentic.” Philosophers of that time made exposes in the form of a thesis and laid down in public for others to read. For Plato this is not philosophy. It can develop only in dialogue, where you are not left with an offered thesis, but are able to discuss it and present an antithesis. Plato introduces a new genre of literature, creating the written dialogue, fixing the situation of conversation, the pro and con of participants and putting it down in written form. A dialogue between Socrates and a sophist: The sophist is not interested in dialogue. He does not answer questions like “Why are you doing this?”. This is why Socrates was put to death. The sophists, who were in power at that time, wanted the uneasy questions to stop. Dialogue has become rare in modern philosophy. Lobbies are formed, others are kept out, dialogue is missing and criticism or critics are removed. Criticism is not seen as useful. Plato’s main writings are from the time after his three travels to Sicily. There are three periods of Plato’s dialogues. A criterion is the presence of Socrates in the dialogue. First, the aporetic (with no solution to the problem yet) dialogues, with definition of virtues. The lack of a solution is seen as weakness by modern philosophers, but Socrates always gives enough hints into the direction of a solution, but it is the sophist who blocks. Another criterion for the first phase is the absence of the theory of ideas (Apologia: Socrates is defending himself, Crito). The second phase consists of the dialogues with the theory of ideas (Phaedo, Republic). The third phase is the elaboration of the theory of ideas (Theatetus: on knowledge, Philebus: on moral good life, Sophistes: on notbeing, Timaeus: on nature, Symposium: on eros…). The theory of ideas: Plato is looking for the causes by which natural phenomena can be explained. He goes beyond the pre-socratics, who stopped at material causes. There hardly is any approach to another course (Anaxagoras: cosmic intellect). Plato introduces the formal cause for the first time: 1.) Ideas (Idea from Greek eidos = Form, from idein = see; corresponding Latin form is a.) species, from spicere = see, we have here a universal concept, exactly what Socrates

introduced and b.) essence, the formal and final cause by which natural things are specifically what they are.) are formal and final cause of the natural things, including man. Plato introduces the ideas by way of universal causes. Think of the natural things: We have the sensible data, the phenomena, to which the senses correspond. We also have the formal/final causes/ideas/principles to which the intellect corresponds. The connection of the formal cause and the universal form (the two meanings of eidos in Greek (don’t confuse, though!)) can be seen here. Modern philosophers tend to not keep the two meanings apart and accuse Plato of doing the same. Plato’s universal knowledge is of intellect and in opposition to sense knowledge, which is particular. There are parallels to Parmenides, although he taught just one being, whereas with Plato we have many ideas, all possessing the universality. In the dialogue “Parmenides”, Plato distinguishes between the species as a content of the intellect (universal concept) and their reference to formal/final causes and thereby material things. There is a common ground thought: In order to define the essence you must employ universal concepts, so the individual things can only be defined under the collective term of the species. Phaedo: “What is the soul by its essence?” or “Is the soul immortal or not?” or: “Is the soul immaterial or not?” Because: “Corruption only in material things, that fall into several parts. Immaterial being can therefore neither corrupt nor die”. One argument introduces the ideas: “Ideas as formal cause are immaterial. If the object of intellect is an immaterial formal cause, then also the knowing faculty of these causes must be immaterial. Hence the soul as intellectual soul is immaterial and immortal.” How are the formal causes introduced as immaterial? Simple examples: Two pieces of whatever that are equal. From where does intellect have the universal concept of equality (because the sense perception doesn’t offer that notion)? It comes from another cause, not from the material cause, but an ideal formal cause. Plato draws attention to the fact that on the level of sense perception we grasp something universal. Where does this come from? Kant says that the subject imports the universal knowledge a priori so that afterwards the subject recognizes the imported. Plato says it comes from essential causes on the side of the things themselves. Kant is an idealist, Plato a realist. Since we have a universal on the side of sense perception, there must be something universal going on on the side of individual things. The relation between intellect and the senses according to Plato lead to the conclusion that it is

the intellect WITH the senses, that takes in the sensible data. The universal is always in opposition to the individual. The universal is always one (i.e. one species of man, but a multiplicity of individual men), the individual are many. Universal is intelligible, individual is sensible. Universal is immutable, individual is changeable. [Aristotle assumes as Plato that there are formal causes, but he puts them into the natural things, not separately. Aristotle is aware that we can come to know the essential causes only by universals.] Plato’s introduction of the ideas in the very first sense is a continuation of the philosophy of nature of the Pre-Socratics. He does not introduce idealism, but is realistic as the Presocs. He comes to these formal causes by reflecting on this form of knowledge. We can grasp formal causes only through universal concepts. [Realism: 1.) Priority of the things (res) over the intellect and its knowledge and 2.) the things are determinative/the measure for the intellectual knowledge. Plato puts the essences on the side of the material things, not on the side of the intellect. For him intellect is receptive and determined by the things.] Ideas of sensible things and the position of intelligible and sensible world leads to the question of their relation. Plato comes up with participation. Participation here means a causal relationship. It is a dependence of things being caused on causes. Plato develops the theory of ideas for all things which are defined as species. Because of the different degrees of the universality of concepts, there is a kind of pyramid with many species on the basis (cats, dogs etc.) and the genus (animal) on the level above, then the five upper genera on the level above that (identity, diversity, entity, movement and rest). Why these? Because all things on lower levels are sharing in them. On the highest level there is the “one” or the “good”. Introduction to “Ideas”, Republic, fourth to sixth book: Plato tries to define justice and talks about the difficulties. It is hard to define justice in the human soul. Look at it in larger dimensions (state) and transfer to smaller dimensions (soul). Plato deals with the state, but finds himself troubled again. “It is easier to come to the essence of a thing if you look at it in its generation”. He looks at original state of men as separated and coming together in a state step by step. Men by nature are social beings. Human beings have different talents, are adapt to different functions, they divide their work to help each other to survive. When material needs are satisfied and people are in a state of certain welfare, you have in Plato’s eyes only arrived at the state of pigs. So the end of the state is a higher one. You have to develop a higher faculty of the soul, come to a moral

good life, which is the aim and end of the state. Therefore you need education of those who guide the state. Three classes of men: Farmers and workers, soldiers, governors. Each class has to fulfill its function with their virtues. Workers need moderation, soldiers need bravery and governors need prudence or wisdom. Where is the virtue of justice? It is in the co-ordination and harmony of the three virtues mentioned before. Justice is when everyone (every part) does his own duty (activity towards the end of totality). Three principles of the soul: The instinct, the moods/affection and intellect/reason with corresponding virtues moderation, bravery, prudence. The lower principles are to be guided, have to obey by nature, the higher principles govern or lead the lower ones by nature. So we have a coordination by nature that leads to justice. Back to the text about ideas: Governors have to be taught to come to justice. Sixth book: Doctrine of the highest idea of the good. Plato uses an analogy. In the field of sensible knowledge we have the senses and their objects, the sensible things. Then we have the sun, which is the condition for the senses to see se sensible things in the light. On the other side we have the intellect and the ideas (intelligible things) and above that the good, in which light (truth) the intellect grasps the ideas. This means the good is the cause of the intelligibility of the things and of their being. Plato concludes that the good is beyond the ideas (on the other side of the entity). The good transcends everything. [According to Plato the ideas are on the side of the entities not on the side of the intellect. For Aristotle the essences of things are in the natural things.] Seventh Lesson: When asking about the nature of things you cannot stop at the elements and atoms. There is a kind of formation/organization to it, that is not accidental. There must be an answer not only to the question what a thing is, but also why it is, what it is. Which cause forms and organizes the matter in such a way, that there are always specific determined things? Plato with his ideas is the first man in the occident who tries to answer that question. His ideas do not have anything in common with “idealism”.

Plato’s Republic: Phaedo (about the soul, no attempt to prove the existence of the soul, the existence is presupposed): The faculty grasping the immaterial (formal) causes (ideas) of the things must be immaterial as well (intellect). For the first time in occidental philosophy the soul is explained as immaterial and therefore as formal cause of man. The theme of the “Republic” is justice. Plato admits, that it is difficult to determine justice. He says it is easier to study justice in natural dimensions of the state and then transfer it to the smaller dimensions of the soul. Guidelines in the Republic are species and genera. The build-up is like a pyramid. On the bottom you have the species, then higher species, then lower genera, then five highest genera (in the dialogue “Sophist”: identical, diverse, entity, movement, rest). There is always a dependence of the lower on the higher and everything depends on the five genera. On the highest level we have a first principle, which is the good or the one. “The Good” or “the One” is the topic of Republic, book six. In the dialogue “”Parmenides” we also have the One. Theory of ideas: Of the communion and separation of ideas: “The dialectic”, dealing with the relationship of ideas. In “Parmenides” Plato says, that if we look at the one we can separate it from the status of being an entity, because an entity already has a plurality of aspects is among others and has being, diversity etc. So the One is not an entity among others, but a thing beyond all others.

Eighth Lesson: Plato’s writings: First/early period: “Ethical level” The Socratic (small) dialogues. They are called aporetic, because they do not seem to come to an end because the Sophist interlocutor doesn’t seem to want to understand. They attempt to define single virtues but don’t succeed Second/middle period: “Epistemological level” Phaedo, Parmenides, Sophistes, Symposium, Republic, Doctrine of the ideas = the essences of things Third/late period: “Anthropological level” Treating systematic themes like the Pheaetetus on knowledge or Philebus on morally good life

Gorgias: Theme is justice (as in the Republic). It belongs to the early period. The dialogue is composed of three discourses. The first is between Socrates and Gorgias, the second between Socrates and Polos (Gorgias’ disciple) and the third between Socrates and Callicles. All these dudes are historical personalities. There is an evolution of the theme in these discourses. On the first level the conversation is more on the ethical level. The second is on the epistemological level. The third is on the anthropological level. In the first (ethical) discourse Plato reveals, that Gorgias (who was very celebrated) does not resolve his promise to be the master (sophists) of wisdom. Georgias reveals ignorance, is ashamed and his disciple comes to his aid. Plato: “What is your activity?” Gorgias: “I am educating the citizens to become good and just.” Plato: “But what is justice and goodness?” Gorgias: “….” (tumbleweeds rolling by, cobwebs forming…) Rhetoric vs. Philosophy A corresponding science to philosophy would be a kind of political philosophy, but the Sophists only offer Rhetoric. Socrates: philosophical politics; the moral good, justice Gorgias: persuasion, rhetoric; individual advantage, utility In the second (epistemological) discourse, Polos jumps in and takes over for his master. He tries to make a virtue of the vice of ignorance, says we do not knowledge. Polos: We do not dispose one other kind of knowledge than opinions. Forget science. Opinion vs. Science Today ethical discussions want to be autonomous and circle around the meaning of words, whereas the classical ones were seen in a context on which the relied. The ethics referred to a foundation in human nature.

In the third (anthropological) discourse, Callicles comes onto the scene and risks a lip. Says you have to live according to your instincts for power, have to overcome the other, do not let yourself be submitted by laws, don’t pay attention to weaker ones but use the power you are given. Socrates is attacked by Callicles (“old man, bugger off, let the kids take over!”). What is good and just by nature? The question of the natural right is raised and leads to the human nature, which is supposed to be instinct. Socrates says, that the nature of man is rationality. This does not exclude instinct, but adds to it. Ergo the human nature is complex. Callides: Human nature is instinctive Socrates: Human nature is rational When only instinct is in man, there is disorder/anarchy with which reason cannot be content. Reason is not allowed to submit to instinct. The reason has to guide and rule, so that there is a natural order. Order stands for good, good is a final end. If there’s a complex unity there has to be an order with the lower submitted to the higher. In the society of the “Republic” it says that justice is, if every part performs its duty. So if man is a complex unity, there has to be co-ordination and order. Reason has to govern instinct.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful

Master Your Semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master Your Semester with a Special Offer from Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.