This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
1 Ironical. Cf. Phaedrus 266 E.
2 τινὰ does not mean that the theory of Ideas is a novelty here or that the terminology is new and strange. It merely says that the type of mind that is absorbed in the concrete cannot apprehend any general aspect of things.αὐτό and κατὰ ταὐτά are the technical designation of the Idea here. Cf. my note on Philebus 64 A, Class. Phil. xx. (1925) p. 347.
3 Plato consciously uses mere logic to lend the emphasis and dignity of absolute metaphysics to his distinction between the two types of mind, which is for all practical purposes his main point here. If you cannot correctly define the beautiful, all your imperfect definitions will be refuted by showing that they sometimes describe what is ugly. Cf. Hippias Major 289 C and note on Republic i. 333 E. The many concrete objects are this and are not that, and so with conscious use of the ambiguity of the copula may be said to tumble about between being and not-being. That this is the consciously intended meaning may be inferred from the fact that in Timaeus 37 E, where Plato must have had in mind the conclusions of the Sophist, he still avails himself of this ambiguity to suggest an absolute being behind phenomena. Cf. Unity of Plato's Thought, pp. 55, 56, 60, De Platonis Idearum Doctrina pp. 48, 49.
4 Cf. on 524 A, B.
5 The scholiast (Hermann vi. 34) quotes the riddle in two forms. It might run in English—“A tale there is, a man not yet a man,/ Seeing, saw not, a bird and not a bird,/ Perching upon a bough and not a bough,/ And hit it—not, with a stone and not a stone.” The key words of the answer are eunuch, bat, reed, pumice-stone. Cf. also Athenaeus 448 E, 452 E, Gifford on Euthydemus 300 D. It was used in the Stoic schools of logic, and Epicurus is said to have used it to disprove Plato's statement that either the negative or the affirmative of a proposition must be true or false. Cf. Usener, Epicurea, p. 348.
6 Cf. Theaetetus 157 A.
8 A further thought is developed here, suggested in 479 A, B. Just as the many particular horses, trees, or tables shift and change, and are and are not in comparision with the unchanging multitude of each, so the many opinions of the multitude about justice and the good and the beautiful and other moral conceptions change, and both are and are not in comparison with the unalterable ideas of justice and beauty, which the philosopher more nearly apprehends. Thus, for the purposes of this contrast, notions, opinions, and what English usage would call ideas, fall into the same class as material objects. Cf. Euthyphro 6 D, Phaedo 78 D, Parmenides 131 D, Gorgias 488 Dτὰ τῶν πολλῶν ἄρα νόμιμα, Laws 715 Bτὰ τούτων δίκαια, 860 Cτοῖς μὲν τοίνυν πολλοῖς etc., 962 Dτὰ τῶν πόλεων(of states)νόμιμα. The practical truth of this distinction is unaffected by our metaphysics. Plato is speaking of what he elsewhere calls the εἴδωλα of justice, beauty and the like. Cf. 517 D, 532 D, Theaetetus 150 B, and “The Idea of Good in Plato's Republic,”University of Chicago Studies in Classical Philology, i. p. 238.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.