h.j.paton - plato's theory of eikasia, 1922
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Meeting of the Aristotelian Society at 21, Gower Street, W.G.
on January 16th, 1922, at 8
PLATO S THEOEY OF EIKA2IA.*By H.J.
I suppose, universally admitted that the portion of thelineit
EepuUic which deals with the most important passages, ifpassage,for a
and the cavenotof
one of the
important position with
impossible to get a coherentor of the reasons
knowledge. Yet it is almost account of this fourfold divisionto
which can have led Platothatthereis
recognize that Plato
was sharply distinguishing the mathematical sciences and their objects from philosophy and its objects, yet fail to observe anysimilar distinction as regards the lower part of the division. They have no use for a distinction between circaa-ia and TROTW.
as to the Sophist ait,
as real as the object
find for instance the
Mr. Shorey boldly asserting that el/caaia and the el/cove? are for the sake of "symmetry." It is "playfully thrownin"
surely a strange reading of the character of Plato as a seeker after truth to maintain that in the very heart of his greatest work and at the very core of the problem of knowledge he
should disturb and confuse those
are seeking to under"
stand his doctrine with aness"
wholly uncalled for playful should be for the sake of "symmetry."little
* I must express suggested to
my debt to Professor J. A. Smith who originally the line of reflexion on this subject which I have
It is strange that in a place
marked by the suppressed butsetting forth the very essence of
tense emotion of oneall
that he has thought, there should occur without the least hint or warning a passage which has no counterpart in histhinking, whichis
at its best superfluous
It is stranger still that in a later dialogue
the very turning point of the argument, the question Sophist of the possibility of error and of sophistry, should rest upon asimilar meaningless distinction expressed in almost identical
we have any respect at all for Plato as we must put this down as grotesquely improbablewords.If
of the critic to
understand his doctrine willis
not be for us a sufficient proof that there
The interpretation which we seekthefour sectionsof
that each of
the line represents
a different kind of
and the objects
of these different activities
are different objects.
we must hark backthe
and eVt(JT7i^2^-QlJoiQwledge. A 6 fa is- supposed to ho. hef.wftfin ignorancejmd knowledge, and its objects are supposed to Hebetween the objectsof ignorance
and those_ofjknpwled^e.Jftg ftharantftr ofdiffers
establish the distinctioni- e->
faculties, or better, powers.its different^"
One powerand Itsrrr~"~
Swd^ets, from another
according to ZL
c5 re ecrrt Kai b airepyd era i. The ecji The power of function of seeing and its objects are colours! hearing has the function of hearing and its objects are sounds.
different function* ~ power of sight has the
this_is very importantfallible.
is while opinion as i^jsmere opinion because the functions of the infallible
different -knowledge and opinion are and therefore fhey__have different objects. digeient SiW/*e9, as sound SuchJis_J^la^(^^
or not there can_be_np^jipjitLLihat_he accepted the- conclusion. Having established the necessity of difference in the objects:
different objects are.
simply nothing than ignorance, but not so clear as knowledge.
between the objects
Now the objects of knowledge. are themselves nothing, or simply what
and the objects of ignorance which is nothingis
philosophically speaking be ignorant about anything.
Ordinary statements of that kind imply some sort of cognition of an Ignorance is mere blankness or object in some sense real.darkness andnotexist.it
cannot have an object.
Its objects literally
knowledge on the other hand are the truly
TO TravreXws bv TravreXco? yvcoo-rov.
or true universalstimeless, intelligibleare,
the self-sufficient, self-dependent, perfect,realities,
and arejieyer other than theyS6%a
is the object of knowledge. ra yiyvop.eva, the__things of ih^m^Jn__the wo_rld_pf sense and change, things which are never themselves^but are
We_execj_them ignoranceand what1
continually passing over into something else, things which in a md in a sense are nn^ about between"
.we are seeking.
between the objects of
clearness and reality_than thatjvhich
is merely a blank nothing, but they have far JSSR rtftariiesallij^^ in tell which we grasp ljy_j^asoii apart from sense. igible^objects
Clearly, then, for Plato
whether he was rigHTor wrong
j^^^^isjhe^reatest_ difference possible.
thg_diflerent_jui/a/iety of seciij^_andjh earing
and we hear sounds.
the difference oL_th.e jabjects
^pinion and knowledge. In comparison with this second differ ence these minor differences become negligible. In comparison
with this second difference
and hearing and their objects them both under the SiW/u? of
opposed to the SiWytu? of eVto-rr;^.our subsequent procedure.
take a lineguess,
stretching, as from the allegory of the cave
Sofa and the second eVio-nj/w;.
section, that of Sofa, isreality.
presumably the shorter as having less then subdivide these two sections in the samegives
proportion, whichdivision of eitcaaia
and the larger division
and in the
second section the smaller division of Sidvoia and the larger division of vorjo-i? or eVicrrr;/^ proper. We thus establish a
mathematical proportion, Sofa eVio-T?;/^:
or eVierT^T/ proper.
Again, keeping to the:
same terminology (though Plato varies), eUaala ^icivoia = Note further* that this proportion holds not TTLO-TIS 1/0770-49. between the activities, but between their objects. OiWa or only:
yevecris or becoming, the object of Sofa = eVio-Tr^u?? Sofa. Plato expressly refrains from drawing out the proportions between the subordinate divisions* and::
being, the object of eTricmjfjLT}
oh ravra avdXoylavis
in order to avoidth