CHAPTER VII--THE GOLDEN AGE OF GREECE: SOCRATES
(We are asked to think dialectically--why?)
I. The letter and the UN postmark--HILDE'S father? The novel continues to provide clues to a mosaic that is yet incomplete. Will it ever be?
II. A LETTER FROM ALBERTO KNOX (p. 59) mentions the red scarf also admonishes that he will be sending a messenger with future lessons since delivering them in person might prove too risky? Why? As a hint, watch for the phrase "CLOSING IN" later in the novel.
A. HOW DID THE SCARF COME TO BE UNDER SOPHIE'S BED? IS MORE THAN ONE PUPIL INVOLVED (P. 60)?
1--Sophie fathers address
2--the UN battalion
3--the red scarf
III. WHAT ARE THE SOCRATIC IDEAS INVOLVED THAT INVITE PARADOX. SEE PAGE 61. WHO IS MOST WISE? OBSERVE AGAIN SOPHIE HAS A FONDNESS FOR THE 'C' WORD.
JOHN STUART MILL BELIEVED THAT A POEM IS LIKE A SOLILOQUY AND HERE, ALTHOUGH IN PROSE, SOPHIE'S REFLECTIONS ARE INDEED POETIC; PERHAPS EVEN EMBYRONIC OF HAMLET, SOPHIE KNOWS THERE IS MORE IN HEAVEN AND EARTH THAN....:
IV. THE WISDOM OF SOCRATES:
A. MODESTY IS A NECESSARY CONDITION FOR WISDOM?
B. IGNORANCE IS KNOWLEDGE
C. INSIGHT COMES FROM WITHIN
D. KNOWING AND DOING: “DOES AN IS IMPLY AN OUGHT?" THIS IDEA WILL OCCUR AGAIN MUCH LATER IN THE NOVEL.”
V. THE ARRIVAL OF THE BIG BROWN ENVELOPE FROM THE DOG HERMES BRINGS NEWS OF SOCRATES, PLATO, AND ARISTOTLE
A. HOW DO YOU SUPPOSE SOCRATES' PHYSICAL APPEARANCE (P. 65) CONTRIBUTED TO THE GROWTH OF PHILOSOPHY? CENTURIES LATER, SHAKESPEARE LIKEWISE UNDERSTOOD IN THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.
B. DEMOCRACY / SOPHISTS / PRAGMATISTS--SOPHIE WILL FIND HER ASSUMPTIONS CHALLENGED AS THE NOVEL PROGRESSES, AND SHE WILL NEED SOCRATES, PLATO AND ARISTOTLE TO SHOW HER HOW TO THINK DIALECTICALLY.
C. MAN IS THE MEASURE OF ALL THINGS--CAN THIS LEAD TO HUBRIS?
D. SOPHOCLES REBUTS TO MORAL RELATIVISM
A. SOCRATES WAS BOTH A HISTORICAL FIGURE AND A LITERARY PERSONA IN THE DIALOGUES OF PLATO FROM WHOSE INTERACTION WITH THE SOPHISTS SOCRATIC IRONY DERIVES.
B. ART OF DISCOURSE
1. CONVERSION INNATE KNOWLEDGE--DOCTRINE OF THE FORMS DIALECTIC--
And when I speak of the other division of the intelligible, you will
understand me to speak of that other sort of knowledge which reason
herself attains by the power of dialectic, using the hypotheses not as
first principles, but only as hypotheses --that is to say, as steps
and points of departure into a world which is above hypotheses, in
order that she may soar beyond them to the first principle of the
whole; and clinging to this and then to that which depends on this, by
successive steps she descends again without the aid of any sensible
object, from ideas, through ideas, and in ideas she ends.
2. ALLEGORY OF THE CAVE AND THE LINE--click here for primary and secondary sources
TEXT FOR THE CAVE ALLEGORY:
SOCRATES: And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: --Behold! human beings living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.
And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.
You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners. Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?
True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads? And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only see the shadows?
Yes, he said.
And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them?
And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side, would they not be sure to fancy when one of the passers-by spoke that the voice which they heard came from the passing shadow?
No question, he replied.
To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images.
That is certain.
And now look again, and see what will naturally follow it' the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision, -what will be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them, -will he not be perplexed? Will he not
fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the
objects which are now shown to him?
And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take and take in the objects of vision which he can see, and which he will conceive to be in reality clearer than the things which are now being shown to him?
True, he now
And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he 's forced into the presence of the sun himself, is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are now called realities. Not all in a moment, he said. He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and the stars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day?
Last of he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is.
He will then proceed to argue that this is he who gives the season
and the years, and is the guardian of all that is in the visible world, and in a certain way the cause of all things which he and his fellows have been accustomed to behold?
Clearly, he said, he would first see the sun and then reason about him.
And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the den and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?
Certainly, he would.
TEXT FOR THE DIVIDED LINE:
You have to imagine, then, that there are two ruling powers, and that one of them is set over the intellectual world, the other over the visible... May I suppose that you have this distinction of the visible and intelligible fixed in your mind?
Now take a line which has been cut into two unequal parts, and divide each of them again in the same proportion, and suppose the two main divisions to answer, one to the visible and the other to the intelligible, and then compare the subdivisions in respect of their clearness and want of clearness, and you will find that the first section in the sphere of the visible consists of images. And by images I mean, in the first place, shadows, and in the second place, reflections in water and in solid, smooth and polished bodies and the like: Do you understand?
Yes, I understand.
Imagine, now, the other section, of which this is only the resemblance, to include the animals which we see, and everything that grows or is made.
Would you not admit that both the sections of this division have different degrees of truth, and that the copy is to the original as the sphere of opinion is to the sphere of knowledge?
Next proceed to consider the manner in which the sphere of the
intellectual is to be divided.
In what manner?
Thus: --There are two subdivisions, in the lower or which the soul uses the figures given by the former division as images; the enquiry can only be hypothetical, and instead of going upwards to a principle descends to the other end; in the higher of the two, the soul passes out of hypotheses, and goes up to a principle which is above hypotheses, making no use of images as in the former case, but proceeding only in and through the ideas themselves.
I do not quite understand your meaning, he said.
Then I will try again; you will understand me better when I have made some preliminary remarks. You are aware that students of geometry, arithmetic, and the kindred sciences assume the odd and the even and the figures and three kinds of angles and the like in their several branches of science; these are their hypotheses, which they and everybody are supposed to know, and therefore they do not deign to give any account of them either to themselves or others; but they begin with them, and go on until they arrive at last, and in a consistent manner, at their conclusion?
Yes, he said, I know.
And do you not know also that although they make use of the visible forms and reason about them, they are thinking not of these, but of the ideals which they resemble; not of the figures which they draw, but of the absolute square and the absolute diameter, and so on --the forms which they draw or make, and which have shadows and reflections in water of their own, are converted by them into images, but they are really seeking to behold the things themselves, which can only be seen with the eye of the mind?
That is true.
And of this kind I spoke as the intelligible, although in the search after it the soul is compelled to use hypotheses; not ascending to a first principle, because she is unable to rise above the region of hypothesis, but employing the objects of which the shadows below are resemblances in their turn as images, they having in relation to the shadows and reflections of them a greater distinctness, and therefore a higher value.
I understand, he said, that you are speaking of the province of geometry and the sister arts. And when I speak of the other division of the intelligible, you will understand me to speak of that other sort of knowledge which reason herself attains by the power of dialectic, using the hypotheses not as first principles, but only as hypotheses --that is to say, as steps and points of departure into a world which is above hypotheses, in order that she may soar beyond them to the first principle of the whole; and clinging to this and then to that which depends on this, by successive steps she descends again without the aid of any sensible object, from ideas, through ideas, and in ideas she ends.
I understand you, he replied; not perfectly, for you seem to me to be describing a task which is really tremendous; but, at any rate, I understand you to say that knowledge and being, which the science of dialectic contemplates, are clearer than the notions of the arts, as they are termed, which proceed from hypotheses only: these are also contemplated by the understanding, and not by the senses: yet, because they start from hypotheses and do not ascend to a principle, those who contemplate them appear to you not to exercise the higher reason upon them, although when a first principle is added to them they are cognizable by the higher reason. And the habit which is concerned with geometry and the cognate sciences I suppose that you would term understanding and not reason, as being intermediate between opinion and reason.
You have quite conceived my meaning, I said; and now, corresponding to these four divisions, let there be four faculties in the soul-reason answering to the highest, understanding to the second, faith (or conviction) to the third, and perception of shadows to the last-and let there be a scale of them, and let us suppose that the several faculties have clearness in the same degree that their objects have truth.
I understand, he replied, and give my assent, and accept your
DIAGRAM OF THE SOUL AND THE STATE:
3. THE 'FORM' OF THE GOOD:
SOCRATES: ...for you have been told that the idea of good is the highest knowledge, and that all other things become useful and advantageous only by their use of this. You can hardly be ignorant that of this I was about to speak, concerning which, as you have often heard me say, we know so little; and, without which, any other knowledge or possession of any kind will profit us nothing. Do you think that the possession of all other things is of any value if we do not possess the good? or the knowledge of all other things if we have no knowledge of beauty and goodness?
You are further aware that most people affirm pleasure to be the good, but the finer sort of wits say it is knowledge
And you are aware too that the latter cannot explain what they mean by knowledge, but are obliged after all to say knowledge of the good?
Yes, I said, that they should begin by reproaching us with our ignorance of the good, and then presume our knowledge of it --for the good they define to be knowledge of the good, just as if we understood them when they use the term 'good' --this is of course ridiculous.
Most true, he said.
And those who make pleasure their good are in equal perplexity; for they are compelled to admit that there are bad pleasures as well as good.
And therefore to acknowledge that bad and good are the same?
C. GADFLY--PRETEND TO BE IGNORANT THE ASKING OF QUESTIONS.
AFTER MULTIPLE READINGS OF PLATO, ONE BEGINS TO ASCERTAIN THE FULL MEASURE OF SOCRATIC IRONY. NOTE THAT PLATO, AS DID HIS IMITATOR SWIFT, CREATED A LITERARY PERSONA, SOCRATES, AS THE CENTRAL CHARACTER IN THE DIALOGUES. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHAT PLATO KNOWS AND WHAT THE PERSON REPORTS MAKES THE IRONY SUBTLE AND DEVASTATING. FOR EXAMPLE, WHAT KIND OF LANGUAGE DOES SOCRATES USE TO DESCRIBE THE MOST SUBLIME PHILOSOPHICAL CONCEPTS? WHY? WHAT DOES PLATO KNOW?
WHAT ARE SOME OTHER EXAMPLES?
D. 339 BC CORRUPTION OF YOUTH AND THE FAMOUS APOLOGY (background essay)
E. Click here for Jowett's translation of the text of the Apology
VII. WHY DID SOCRATES AND JESUS HAVE TO DIE?
VIII. A JOKER IN ATHENS:
A. WHAT DOES JOKER MEAN? (P. 68)
B. HOW DID SOCRATES MOST AROUSE THE IRE OF THE SOPHISTS?
A. SOCRATES ‘...CALLED PHILOSOPHY DOWN FROM THE SKY...INTO OUR HOMES...’ (P. 68)
B. SOPHIST IS THE ‘KNOW-IT-ALL’ VS. THE PHILOSOPHER WHO ADMITS IGNORANCE. STUDY PAGES 68-69 CAREFULLY WHILE READING THE PRIMARY SOURCES. WHAT IS A REAL PHILOSOPHER?
C. THE CHILD IS THE PHILOSOPHER KING BECAUSE HE/SHE IS NOT AFRAID TO _ _ _.
D. PEOPLE ARE DEAD OR INDIFFERENT--BURIED DEEP IN THE FUR OF THE RABBIT...
E. WISDOM BEGINS WITH IGNORANCE....
IX. ELEMENTS OF SOCRATIC PHILOSOPHY:
A. KNOWING THE GOOD AND DOING IT....
B. CAN YOU DO WRONG AND BE HAPPY
X. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SCHOOLTEACHER AND PHILOSOPHER ACCORDING TO SOPHIE ON PAGE 71? IS SHE CORRECT?
A. HOW DOES SOPHIE TALK TO HER MOTHER? WHAT IS HER RESPONSE? (P. 72) ARE YOU SURPRISED? WHAT DID SOCRATES WARN AGAINST, AND PERHAPS IS SOPHIE GUILTY. PLATO DISCUSSES THE MATTER IN THE REPUBLIC.
B. WHAT IS THE SOCRATIC PARALLEL?
C. THE CHAPTER ENDS WITH ANOTHER REFERENCE TO THE RED SCARF?
D. WE WILL HAVE TO DISCOVER WHO THE JOKER IS THE NOVEL.