Guide Platos Phaedrus

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The Phaedrus objects to writing precisely insofar as it creates that unre sponsive figure in the field of discursive which we have subsequently called the 'author'. The dialectical preference for question-and-answer is designed to resist anything resembling an author from entering the field of knowledge: the Socratic method resists monologism on epistemological and ethical grounds. However, the Platonic dialogues are As the Platonic oeuvre increases, so it moves from graphic representation of the oral methods of Socrates to the status of a writing in its own terms.

The Phaedrus is a crucial statement in this cultural tran sition. So, far from simply condemning writing, the dialogue accepts Plato's growth as an author of written compositions and his growing sense of himself as an author. What tradition has registered as 'the Socratic problem' can be reviewed according to this competition between the orality of the master and the writerly practices of his pupil. Between dialogism and monologism, speech and writing, absence and presence, Socrates and Plato, the concept of the author is generated.

The Plato of the Phaedrus wants to grasp, to theorize, this new figure emerg ing on the chirographic horizons, one whom he would recognize less in Socrates, 'Homer' or Pythagoras than in the mirror of his own text. History of Science in General Philosophy of Science. Plato: Why Dialogues? The theme of inspiration, in its divine or elemental character, necessarily raises further questions concerning the status of inspired utterance—that is, in this case, of philosophical discourse itself.

These themes finally point to the problem of the provenance of speaking Luce Irigaray in Continental Philosophy. Upanisadic Philosophy in Asian Philosophy. The article analyses the relation between logos and myth in Plato's philosophy using the Phaidros as a representative example; this includes the investigation of the function of the myth in this dialogue. The palinode proves to be the central unifying element of the Phaidros, and thus the dialogue s core. The second speech of Socrates mediates between the different parts of the Phaidros, its themes, motives and thoughts: for example love, rhetoric, dialectic, forms, different kinds of knowledge and speech or These entities are connected in the myth with the aim of mutual elucidation.

While the myth is to be seen on a metaphorical level, the logos has to reflect the relation of the myth's themes in a rational and discursive manner. Thus, the myth gives the dialogue its epistemological purpose. Plato was the first philosopher in the Western tradition to reflect systematically on rhetoric. In this book, Tushar Irani presents a comprehensive and innovative reading of the Gorgias and the Phaedrus, the only two Platonic dialogues to focus on what an art of argument should look like, treating each of the texts individually, yet ultimately demonstrating how each can best be understood in light of the other.

For Plato, the way in which we approach argument typically reveals something about our According to this reading, rhetoric done well is simply the practice of philosophy, the pursuit of which has far-reaching implications for how we should relate to others and how we ought to live. Argument in Epistemology. Moral Character, Misc in Normative Ethics. Moral Psychology, Misc in Normative Ethics. The tradition of interpreting Plato's Phaedrus as simply a homage to passion ignores many passages that draw on ancient Greek religion, particularly the Eleusinian Mysteries.

States of religious mania, particularly that experienced at Eleusis, included visions brought on by the use of some drug, or pharmakon. The experience of truth in the Phaedrus is read through the experience of ecstasy by initiates. Yet it has never been identified as a deliberately fallacious argument.

Socrates intends to confront his interlocutor Phaedrus with a dubious sequence of reasoning. He does so to show his speech-loving friend how—rather than simply to tell him It has been shown in recent years that on four other occasions Socrates deliberately utters bad.. Plato's dialogues frequently treat several topics and show their connection to each other. The Phaedrus is a model of that skill because of its seamless progression from examples of speeches about the nature of love to mythical visions of human nature and destiny to the essence of beauty and, finally, to a penetrating discussion of speaking and writing.

It ends with an examination of the love of wisdom as a dialectical activity in the human mind. Phaedrus lures Socrates outside the This dialogue provides a powerful example of the dialectical writing that Plato uses to manifest ideas that are essential to human existence and to living a good life.

The Phaedrus shows how oral and written forms of language relate to each other and to philosophy. It simultaneously embodies the entire process in some of the greatest poetry ever written. RSS feed. In classical times this dialog was also called " On Love " and was classified as an "ethical" dialog Diog. Beh , the solution to my self-riddling on this page is painfully simple : concepts i.

Anyone not perplexed by the logic of "the name of a phenomenon", can skip to the selections from the Phaedrus as well as comments about the dialog as such, or to the outline of this page. This page has been rewritten several times over the years, and it is not quite right. One possible solution to my quandary may be that the use of one type of proposition is ambiguous by nature essence , or, in other words, that a single proposition may have more than one use in the language at the same time.

As if I had forgotten this distinction: same sign, different meanings [uses in the language] -- and different ways of looking CV p. But the topic is perplexing to me.

Plato’s Phaedrus

When I first read this dialog years ago, a trouble arose; if there were elves, then the word 'elf' would be the name of an object , but there aren't, so it isn't. Nor is the word 'elf' the name an " abstract object ", i. An elf's only existence is as a concept -- i. Fine so far maybe, but Plato's Phaedrus talks about love, and then what of the word 'love' -- because isn't that -- not the name of a physical object as if there were some other kind! The answer, that I did not see until later, is, Very well then, it is the "name of a phenomenon" -- only remember that a phenomenon is not an object!

A phenomenon, whether love or thought or sorrow, is not an "abstract object" whatever that is when it's at home, where it is nothing, air. In other words, we can't use the word 'phenomenon' to smuggle back in the notion that words are names and the meaning of a name is the object the name stands for , whether that object is tangible or "abstract", i. The conjuring trick is the introduction of nebulosity, of the picture: a billowing cloud is what an abstract object looks like , an object you cannot see or touch or hear -- in other words, a ghost.

The word 'ghost' is not a noun substantive, i. Its only reality is that the word 'ghost' has a use in our language , in fairy tales. The following combination of words is an example of word magic: 'an imperceptible but real object'. Contrast that with logic-philosophy's definition of 'meaning' , in which an "abstract term" names a concept, i. Contrast guessing at the "meaning" with describing "the use of a word in the language".

Unlike metaphysics, logic is able to make an objective distinction in contrast to an unobjective "whatever seems to make sense" distinction between sense and nonsense i.

Words about whose Meanings we Disagree ("Abstract terms")

Metaphysics' view of language meaning has stood in the way of our understanding what gives words meaning in our language since the beginning, but it needs to end. There is no home for "abstract objects" in philosophy. The discussion of Plato's Phaedrus follows: words about whose meaning we are at variance , and the illusions created by the written word.

The distinction between sense and nonsense is called, in my jargon, 'the logic of language ' -- although that expression itself is from the Preface to Wittgenstein's TLP -- and that is the point of view of my comments about this dialog, namely to preserve that distinction. In the Phaedrus Plato, apart from giving a picture of the philosophical or Socratic way of life, makes a distinction between words about whose meaning we agree and words about whose meaning we are "at variance" a-b.

That distinction -- and what, in my view, is mistaken in Plato's account of it -- is what interests me in this dialog and thus there are no comments about the phenomenon of love. But I have also included Plato's discussion of wisdom and the written word. Are "words about whose meaning we are at variance" the names of things whose nature is not clear to us? These disputed words would be the names of "abstractions". Plato's picture of Forms: 'love' as the name of an abstract object, the common nature of all love as an abstract object.

In this picture it does not matter than 'love' names phenomena rather than perceptible objects. If in philosophy we define words, not objects Philosophy is not one of the sciences; it does not make empirical hypotheses about what things are , and if in philosophy we define words, not abstractions "abstract objects", the figments of metaphysics, pictured lying on "the other side of the sky" , then what can philosophy make clear about the variance Plato points out -- if not the meaning of words?

Indeed, by the word 'concept' I shall mean 'rules for using a word', nothing else. And philosophy's view of Socratic, as well as of Platonic ethics, is very different , according to my account. As in the next paragraph.


Plato says that men are at variance about "the greatest and highest truths" Statesman db , such as "what virtue is" and "what the good for man is". And so, in this dialog too, the discussion concerns "no small matter, but how to live" Republic d , but in this instance, as in the Euthyphro 6d-7d , with how to know which variant is the truth.

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There is a phenomenon various phenomena named 'love', although it is not so clear how to explain that word's meaning to anyone; how to teach someone to use the word 'love' is not easy to say One possibility may be " play-acted definitions "; another is " definition by related concepts ". In the Phaedrus Plato does not investigate that word's meaning the discussion that follows notwithstanding. And to say, as Plato does, that we make assertions about the nature of love and disagree about what that nature is -- may be very different from saying that we are "at variance" about the meaning of the word 'love'.

Maybe we could say that we "define the phenomenon" of love when we describe the way we normally use the word 'love'. But that is very different from stating a thesis about "what love really is", which is what Plato does, or tries to do, in this dialog. Unless they are seen against the background of the connection Wittgenstein made between grammar and sense and nonsense BB p. Because there are many meanings of the word 'meaning' different from the one Wittgenstein selected for his philosophical investigations. Nevertheless to ask for a " real definition " of love which is Aristotle's equivalent to Plato's sense of 'meaning' is different from asking for "a real definition of time" or for "a real definition of God" -- because in the latter two cases there are only definitions of words ink marks on paper, spoken sounds and not "definitions of phenomena" -- because the words 'time' and 'God' do not name phenomena That is not their role in our language.

Further, although the word 'thinking' is the name of a variety of phenomena, the word 'mind' is not a name either of an object or place or of a phenomenon. There are, then, three categories or classes of words noted here so far Plato only recognizes two. Those classes are: 1 names of objects e. The ways we are "at variance" are different in cases 2 and 3 , because there are no "real definitions" in case 3. It would be clearer, I think, if we did not speak of definitions of things, but only of definitions of words. In philosophy -- or at least in logic of language -- we define words, not "things" Recall the definition of the word 'noun' as "name of a person, place or thing" -- but anything and everything is a member of the class 'thing'; the same is the case with the word 'phenomenon'.

A logic of language is a tool for understanding: we invent tools for the work we want to do, Wittgenstein's revision of the conceptual tool 'grammar' , for example, and we also exclude tools that would make a muddle of our work. Although we can't very well exclude such ubiquitous words as 'thing' and 'phenomenon' from our investigations, we should be wary of them: they cover up a multitude of differences. We are not analyzing a phenomenon but a concept, and therefore the use of a word.

But why?

Plato: Phaedrus

I, however, am not. What you cannot talk about is "the phenomenon of geometric points ", because 'point' is not the name of anything, not even of a collection of rules for that word's use i. There will be no trouble in wading in the stream However, I'm so eager to hear about [your morning's discussion concerning love] that I vow I won't leave you even if you extend your walk as far a Megara, up to the walls and back again as recommended by Herodicus.

Yet you seem to have discovered a recipe for getting me out [into the countryside]. This is because trees can't be engaged in dialectic, nor can open country What is amoral cannot teach man morality , and it is morality -- or, 'ethics' in Greek In Plato's words: "we are discussing no small matter, but how to live" -- that Socrates wants to learn.

The historical Socrates, according to Aristotle , concerned himself only with logic -- i. I am of course well aware that it can't be anything originating in my own mind, for I know [only] my own ignorance Plato in his philosophy often suggests answers to philosophical questions whereas the historical Socrates , according to Plato's Apology although not Xenophon's Memorabilia , had only questions.

But Plato shows that he nonetheless wants to connect the Socrates of the Phaedrus , who is a literary character, to the historical Socrates, because he sometimes has Socrates say that he must have heard the answer from someone else cf. Theaetetus c-d , although he can never remember from whom. Socrates says that with respect to wisdom he knows no more than his own ignorance Phaedrus c , but that if we do not seek wisdom then our lives are not worth living Apology 23b, 38a. Following the Delphic precept " Know thyself ", Socrates says that he seeks to learn what kind of creature he is Phaedrus a , because if he knows that he will know what the specific excellence proper to man is, and therefore how he should live the life that is the good for man.

Now, you must know, I am a seer -- not a very good one, it's true, but, like a poor scholar, good enough for my own purposes -- hence I understand already well enough what my offense was. Socrates' "divine sign" or Daemon daimon is alluded to in his indictment. Perhaps they are right; one has to see. A proverb has long survived because it accords with human experience. But on the other hand, time is not proof against folly e.

Republic a, b-c. The following is related to the search for "a standard of judgment" in the Euthyphro 6d-7d -- i. We are not "at variance" with one another about the meaning of words where we can employ standards of measurement to resolve any dispute about what length anything is or how much it weighs. Another type of standard is shown by some "concrete terms" such as 'clay' Theaetetus a-c , the common nature essence of which is defined for us and serves as the standard for saying whether or not anything is to be called 'clay'.

And a rose by any other name is a rose, but is love regardless of whether it is called 'love' or not love? In Plato's view it must be; it must be that there is an essence of love, as there is an essence of clay. But for many " abstract terms " it seems there is no standard of measurement, and without that standard, we are at variance about the meaning of those terms.

And so Plato asks how are we to determine what the truth is? Human beings have opinions about what love is, about what justice and the good are, but Plato does not want opinions, but knowledge, and without that knowledge "we might get angry and be enemies to one another" Euthyphro 7d. Don't we diverge, and dispute not only with one another but with our own selves?

SOCRATES: Then the intending student of the art of rhetoric ought, in the first place, to make a systematic division of words, and get hold of some mark distinguishing the two kinds of words , those namely in the use of which the multitude are bound to fluctuate, and those in which they are not. Two and a half millennia ago, Plato identified the most puzzling question in logic -- namely, What is the meaning of a word? Are the words 'justice' and 'goodness' names Plato regards it as obvious that they are Phaedo 65d -- i. And now we must say what we mean by the word 'object' -- i.

Or should logic-philosophy also call abstractions such as 'justice' and 'goodness' names of objects? That is at best a metaphysical theory of language meaning cf. Recognizing a problem is one thing, but offering a metaphysical solution to it another. Asking what is the meaning of a common name and noting the absence of a common nature is one thing. But to explain this absence as Plato does with his "theory of Forms" invisible, existing " apart from sensible things ", common natures is another. Plato's picture of Forms stands in the way of seeing how we actually use common names.

Rather than showing the truth, it blocks the way to our seeking and therefore also to finding it. Of course that is the danger when any philosophy becomes an exclusive way of looking at things. And that is a trouble with metaphysics, that its pictures stand in the way of the truth. It replaces the facts before our eyes with a fanciful picture of its own creation Drury, DW p. Is this "Plato's theory of meaning", that "We are not taught the meanings of words -- Our soul recollects them from before it was entombed in our body"?

Is that Plato's "logic of language" -- i. That his notion of pre-existent Forms fails to make that distinction may be, and so it may also not be, Plato's own view in Parmenides b-c. Plato does not have a logic of language, but his work only suggests the following misleading picture of our language's grammar.

The historical Socrates did, on the other hand, according to my account , have a logic of language. Plato asks for "a systematic division of words", for "some distinguishing mark" between these two classes of words. Wittgenstein makes -- or tries to make -- that division on the basis of how words are defined how their meaning is explained ; to that type of word alone which is defined ostensively -- i. Thus the following "division" or distinction between name-of-object-words and non-name-of-object-words.

For a large class of cases -- though not for all -- in which we employ the word 'meaning' it can be defined thus: the meaning of a word is its use in the language. And the meaning of a name is sometimes explained by pointing to its bearer. I have written an account of Wittgenstein's logic of language , of his identification of logic with grammar in his jargon , that describes the elements that were the foundation of Wittgenstein's thinking in logic-philosophy. That account is concise but it is not short, because the meaning of language is deeply perplexing to all of us: language contains the same traps for everyone when we try to understand its meaning; we follow the same false grammatical analogies : e.

The idea that in philosophy there are " real definitions " of non-name-of-object words -- does it mistake the connection between grammatical rules and sense and nonsense?

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That is, are all such words defined only by rules conventions , hypotheses being logically impossible because if a word does not name anything, then it is not possible to have a theory about what the thing it names is? Is the category 'non-name-of-object word' ambiguous? For example is 'philosophy' one such word? The word 'philosophy' is the name of a subject e. Philosophy is not an object -- but it is also not a non-object -- i.

Which grammatical category should we place the word 'philosophy' in then? My account of the logic of this language is poor in categories. The present categories -- basically, 'object', 'non-object' -- are not adequate. An abstract term is a word: what gives that word meaning? Is it an object the word names, an "abstract object", or a rule for using the word? What is an abstract object when it's at home?

There are the examples of Frege's geometric objects and Plato's Forms "catness" , figments conjured up by the imagination. The noun 'philosophy' might be defined this way: Philosophy is the activity of philosophizing, and there is a history of philosophizing's results as well. And so the word 'philosophy' is the name of something -- but not of something like 'water' and 'cat' are.

Water and cats can be touched and heard and seen , but philosophy cannot. Nonetheless philosophy is not a figment. So maybe the categories needed are 'abstractions that are figments' and 'abstractions that are not figments'. About the latter it is possible to make hypotheses, but not about the first. For figments there are only rules for using words: there can be an hypothesis about what Plato meant by his term 'Form', but not about what Forms really are -- because that is the same question. Note that figments are not nonsense -- they are not undefined combinations of words.

My thinking is quite unclear here. But the following, which I wrote earlier, needs in some way to be revised. But what does that mean and how can it be? Philosophy can only describe the use of the word in the language. If someone asks how Socrates defines the sign -- i. Thus if someone can defend his account against refutation by cross-questioning, we say that person 'knows' what he claims to know.

But if someone asks, "What does Socrates think knowledge is? It is not possible to have a theory about "what knowledge really is", only to describe how we use the word 'know' in which case we would have to point out that Socrates sense of 'know', like Wittgenstein's sense of 'meaning', is not the only sense of that word. If someone asks "what God is", he is trying to treat the word 'God' as if it were the name of something following a false analogy, based on the picture that all nouns are names of things. But we don't use the word 'God' to name anything, as is shown by the question, In what way would the world be different "if God did not exist"?

The word 'God' is an idea-word or notion-word or concept-word or "abstraction", not a name-of-object word. We define idea- words , not idea-things whatever an "idea-thing" is when it's at home. Suppose someone wanted to use the word 'define' to mean 'state an hypothesis about the cause or nature of something', which is one meaning of 'define' that Aristotle states as he gives the example of the word 'thunder' defined both verbally and hypothetically.

Suppose the question to be "What is this desk? The two answers They are of different kinds.