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1 Cf. my review if Warburg, Class. Phil. xxiv. (1929) p. 319. The dramatic misunderstanding forestalls a possible understanding by the reader. Cf. on 523 B. The misapprehension is typical of modern misunderstandings. Glaucon is here the prototype of all sentimental Platonists or anti-Platonists. The meaning of “higher” things in Plato's allegory is obvious. But Glaucon takes it literally. Similarly, modern critics, taking Plato's imagery literally and pressing single expressions apart from the total context, have inferred that Plato would be hostile to all the applications of modern science to experience. They refuse to make allowance for his special and avowed educational purpose, and overlook the fact that he is prophesying the mathematical astronomy and science of the future. The half-serious exaggeration of his rhetoric can easily be matched by similar utterances of modern thinkers of the most various schools, from Rousseau's “écarter tous les faits” to Judd's “Once we acquire the power to neglect all the concrete facts . . . we are free from the incumbrances that come through attention to the concrete facts.” Cf. also on 529 B, 530 B and 534 A.
2 ἀνάγοντες is tinged with the suggestions of 517 A, but the meaning here is those who use astronomy as a part of the higher education. φιλοσοφία is used in the looser sense of Isocrates. Cf. A.J.P. xvi. p. 237.
4 The humorous exaggeration of the language reflects Plato's exasperation at the sentimentalists who prefer star-gazing to mathematical science. Cf. Tim. 91 D on the evolution of birds from innocents who supposed that sight furnished the surest proof in such matters. Yet such is the irony of misinterpretation that this and the following pages are the chief support of the charge that Plato is hostile to science. Cf. on 530 B, p. 187, note c.
6 Cf. Aristoph.Clouds 172.
8 Cf. Phaedr. 264 A, and Adam in Class. Rev. xiii. p. 11.
9 Or rather, “serves me right,” or, in the American language, “I’ve got what's coming to me.” The expression is colloquial. Cf. Epist. iii. 319 E, Antiphon cxxiv. 45. But δίκην ἔχει in 520 B = “it is just.”
10 Cf. Tim. 40 Aκόσμον ἀληθινὸν αὐτῷ πεποικιλμένον, Eurip.Hel. 1096ἀστέρων ποικίλματα, Critias, Sisyphus,Diels ii.3 p. 321, lines 33-34τό τ᾽ ἀστερωπὸν οὐρανοῦ δέμας χρόνου καλὸν ποίκιλμα τέκτονος σοφοῦ. Cf. also Gorg. 508 A, Lucretius v. 1205 “stellis micantibus aethera fixum,” ii. 1031 ff., Aeneid iv. 482 “stellis ardentibus aptum,” vi. 797, xi. 202, Ennius, Ann. 372. The word ποικίλματα may further suggest here the complication of the movements in the heavens
11 The meaning of this sentence is certain, but the expression will no more bear a matter-of-fact logical analysis than that of Phaedo 69 A-B, or Rep. 365 C, or many other subtle passages in Plato. No material object perfectly embodies the ideal and abstract mathematical relation. These mathematical ideas are designated as the true,ἀληθινῶν, and the real,ὄν. As in the Timaeus(38 C, 40 A-B, 36 D-E) the abstract and ideal has the primacy and by a reversal of the ordinary point of view is said to contain or convey the concrete. The visible stars are in and are carried by their invisible mathematical orbits. By this way of speaking Plato, it is true, disregards the apparent difficulty that the movement of the visible stars then ought to be mathematically perfect. But this interpretation is, I think, more probable for Plato than Adam's attempt to secure rigid consistency by taking τὸ ὂν τάχος etc., to represent invisible and ideal planets, and τὰ ἐνόντα to be the perfect mathematical realities, which are in them. ἐνόντα would hardly retain the metaphysical meaning of ὄντα. For the interpretation of 529 D cf. also my “Platonism and the History of Science,”Am. Philos. Soc, Proc. lxvi. p. 172.
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