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Socrates and Plato - Track 1602

If the whole is partaken of by part wholly then that whole is at many places because the parts are at many places that would mean that the whole which is one thing is at many places. So that seems to be absurd, it may be absurd but you will find it’s not absurd but at least it seems that it gives you an idea that one thing can be at many places it seems to be contradictory of ordinary ideas. We know that one thing is always at one place. Fanny can’t be sitting here and in the garden at the same time she is at one place. So usually one thing is at one place but if a part partakes of the whole of idea and since there are many parts then that whole which is one is at many places that seems opposed to our ordinary idea therefore it is absurd that is one consequence. The other alternative is there is b, you can again see the consequence of this. The whole of the idea then the same thing will be at many places this is one consequence. If a part partakes only of a part of the idea, if a part partakes only of a part of the idea then it means that the whole is divisible and the whole is divisible and according to Plato the whole is not divisible that’s a part of the Theory of Ideas. Ideas are indivisible they are not divisible. So if a part partakes only of a part of the idea then whole is divisible and then an example is given by Parmenides; supposing there is an idea of smallness just as in the idea of cattiness he takes an example of smallness, supposing there is an idea of smallness. Now if a small thing partakes of a part of smallness that small thing partakes of a part of the smallness then that small, that part will be smaller than smallness which is absurd this is the dilemma. Since Socrates could not answer this question, Parmenides said your Theory of Ideas is all not worth. We shall repeat again this argument. The argument is does a part partake partakes of the whole idea or a part of the idea? If it partakes of the whole of idea then the same thing will be at many places which is absurd. If it partakes only of a part of the idea then idea is divisible which is contradictory of Plato’s Theory of Indivisibility of Ideas and taking an example of smallness – if a small thing partakes of a small part of an idea of smallness then that small will be smaller than smallness which is absurd therefore Plato’s theory of ideas is bombarded. You are not tired with this argument? Why, you can continue, good. Don’t feel tired, in philosophy one quality is not to be tired, don’t even see it is useless. Very often when you hear the arguments of philosophers you say: Oh! Uselessly they go on asking and discussing. It’s a misconception, philosophers do not discuss useless things they are very important, they may be wrong but not useless. Sometimes you say what is this smallness, smallness and all that divisible, indivisible these are not nonsensical ideas they are very important. they are not nonsensical ideas bear with these nonsensicle ideas go through them and ultimately when you grasp you find a great perception like a sun emerging as it were from the night. So we read again these two sentences. In subtle philosophy you should read again and again. when I used to read philosophy I used to take two hours to read one paragraph, if you want to read Socratic philosophy do not worry about the time. It may take two hours to read one paragraph, particularly when I was reading the philosophy of Spinoza his argument used to be so subtle that it took time for me to understand his argument and the force of the argument; so it takes time so it doesn't matter we need to read it again and again to atleast grasp what he says. The first argument relates to this question whether the particular partakes of the whole idea or only of a part. it is argued that if it is the former one is at many places at once, if the latter the idea is divisible and a thing which is a part of smallness will be smaller than absolute smallness, it is absurd.

now we come to the second argument. the second argument is the same as Aristotle's argument of the third man.Aristotle was a pupil of Plato and although he was pupil of Plato he did not agree with his master so he argued against his own master and that argument is called the argument of the third man but this argument was already anticipated by Plato himself. it's not as if Aristotle discovered this argument he only emphasised the argument of Plato, his own argument against his own theory. This argument is called the argument of the third man, now let us see how it is.

It states that since there is similarity between the thing and the Idea of which it partakes, there must still be another Idea to explain this similarity; and if there is such another Idea, there will be similarity between these two, to explain this similarity between the two, to explain these two, to explain which there will be the need to posit a still further Idea and ad infinitum.

Lets read once or twice, it's a very important argument. I'll read once without explaining first then read again.

It states that since there is similarity between the thing and the Idea of which it partakes, there must still be another Idea to explain this similarity; and if there is such another Idea, there will be similarity between these two, to explain this similarity between the two, to explain these two, to explain which there will be the need to posit a still further Idea and ad infinitum.

In philosophy whenever any argument ends in ad infinitum it means this argument is therefore the basic argument is defeated, it is called the argument of endless regress, you go on it is called the argument of endless regress if you go behind and behind and behind and behind, if it comes to the end the argument is complete but if it is endless regress where is the argument? If there were ends and  therefore the argument was never made. Argument is made when the argument is complete but if the argument continues on and on and on and on and on and you know it never gets completed then the argument doesn't exist it never complete. An argument which does not complete is not an argument. So this argument is called an argument of endless regress. Now let us repeat the argument. There is a cat and there is a cat you call both of them are cats because they are similar to each other. Now if they are similar to each other it is because according to Plato there is an idea called cattiness which explains this similarity this is Plato's theory that if one cat resembles another cat this similarity is because both the cats partake of the cattiness, fine. Now the question is is there a similarity between cat and cattiness? There must be similarity between cat and cattiness.Now this similarity becomes of what, there must be another kind of cattiness which is similar to these two. Now if there is similarity between this cattiness and this cattiness therefore there must be another cattiness and that is ad infinitum. If Deepti and Kireet are similar to each other there must be somebody who explains this similarity but then that one will also be similar to Deepti and similar to me. How do you explain this similarity between me and that third man this is the further argument. So my similarity with the third man has to be explained for that you require fourth man then there will be similarity between that fourth man and the third man. this can be explained only if there is a fifth man then there is similarity between the fifth man and the fourth man that can be explained only if there is a sixth man, it will never end therefore the argument is absurd therefore the whole Theory of Ideas is absurd and mind you Plato himself is arguing this. His own Theory of Ideas he himself is putting arguments. Clear this idea, this third man argument. Let us repeat.

If there are two cats they are both called cats because they are similar to each other. By virtue of what are they similar to each other? By virtue of cattiness. If so then there is again a similarity between cattiness and the cat. How do I explain this similarity? There must be another kind of cattiness which explains this similarity, that is similar to this cattiness and the earlier cattiness and how do I explain the similarity between them? There must be a farther cattiness and so on it will never end and when the argument does not end the argument is not made, it does not complete itself. therefore according to this argument the Theory of Ideas falls, it's not valid. There is a third argument. There is a still a third argument which points out that since everything in the world has a corresponding idea there must be ideas corresponding to hell, mud and dirt as well. An argument which is rejected not only on any rational ground but only with idignation. If everything in the world has a corresponding idea then hell also must be a corresponding idea there must be a hell some where. If dirt exists there must be something like dirtness, there must be muddiness somewhere. Parmendes says this is absurd, there is no rational argument but this is absurd this is the third argument. Now comes the final argument.

According to a further argument if ideas are thoughts, thoughts must be of something and therefore they cannot be ultimate. If ideas are thoughts and thoughts are always of something then that thing must be ultimate, not ideas. Therefore Plato's argument that ideas are ultimate is rejected. Now to grasp this argument you must understand what is meant by ultimate? According to Plato ideas are ultimate or rather to be very fair to him, he says: that ideas are penultimate. There's a difference between ultimate and penultimate. Penultimate is not absolutely ultimate but lower than ultimate. So according to Plato there are many ideas which are penultimate but these ideas can be three ultimate ideas. So there are many ideas, number of ideas these ideas are Truth, Beauty and Goodness. All the ideas put together can be under three categories, − Truth, Beauty and Goodness. And these again can be combined into one idea − The Good and this good, The Good is ultimate. so this statement is not exactly correct. Most correct idea is 'Ideas are penultimate but the idea of The Good is ultimate'; this is Plato's theory. Ideas are penultimate but the idea of The Good is ultimate and what is the meaning of the ultimate? It is the highest that can be conceived, the highest that can be conceived is the ultimate beyond which there is nothing. You want a holiday tomorrow, how will you get the permission for a holiday tomorrow then Deepti is the ultimate authority to decide whether you should have holiday or not. Supposing she says: you will not have holiday. You want a holiday then you begin to ask is there anybody higher then Deepti to whom you can go, so you go on to higher and higher and higher then you say now that is the highest. As in the case of a court case, you go to a court then you go to District Court which is higher court then you go to High Court which is still higher court and then you go to Supreme Court  and once the Supreme Court says something, − final, ultimate, there is nothing higher than that. So ultimate means beyond which there is nothing, it is the highest.

Now the argument is then if the Idea of the Good is ultimate, you say this proposition is wrong is the argument. What is the argument? Idea is a thought, idea is a thought. Now the important point is that every thought is always a thought of something. You examine any thought, thought is always of something therefore points to something beyond itself therefore thought can never be ultimate, therefore Idea of the Good is not ultimate. So Plato's theory which says idea of the good is ultimate is rejected. There are still some more arguments which however are not so important, these four arguments are important arguments. Let's repeat these four arguments.

The first argument is 'Does the part partake of the whole of the idea or only of the part of the idea?' You got it, you want something? If it partakes of the whole then the whole is at many places; which is absurd. If it partakes of a part of the idea then the whole is divisible, it is contrary to the idea of Plato and if there is an idea of smallness then a thing which is small will be smaller than then the smallness which is absurd. This is the first argument.

Second argument is that the Theory of Idea rests upon similarity between particulars. If one thing is similar to the other then that similarity is explained by an idea but then there is a similarity between particular and the universal to explain which you have to have another idea and then there will be similarity between one universal and the other universal therefore there is another universal that universal will be similar to the other universal therefore you need another universal and this ad infinitum therefore the argument falls.

The third argument is if everything in the world has a corresponding idea then there must be an idea of the hell, idea of mud, idea of dirt which is a thing. And the fourth argument is 'Ideas are thoughts' and thoughts are always of something therefore thoughts can never be ultimate, therefore ideas are not ultimate. These are the four arguments on the basis of which Plato's Theory of Ideas is rejected by Plato himself and that is important. Plato himself rejects his own theory by his own arguments. Alright, we shall continue this tomorrow and yet he holds his theory up to the end and even after rejection he does not give up the theory that is very important also. he rejects his own theory by his own arguments and yet he holds his theory. All right we shall repeat the four arguments tomorrow so try to remember it even if don't remember don't worry, we shall do it again, all over again, I never burden the mind of the student we shall repeat it again.


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