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Socrates and Plato - Track 1604

Now universal and particular also is a special kind of relationship which was our main subject of discussion for the last two days – what is the relation between the universal and the particular. Now it is supposed by Plato that all the ideas, there are so many ideas, multiplicity of ideas and this multiplicity of ideas can all be harmonised in one supreme idea called the supreme Good. The three penultimate ideas are Truth, Beauty and Goodness they are penultimate ideas but ultimate idea is the Good. So you might say there is multiplicity of ideas, there are many ideas and all these many can be reconciled in one idea, in one that is the Good. Now here you have to see that ideas are not particulars, it's a different kind of relationship. If you have universal and particular in one kind of relationship where one is in universal and many are particulars but in this idea of ideas you have many ideas each one of which is universal and then there is a farther universality in which all universal ideas are related E to one. So it is another kind of relationship. Universal, Supreme Universal having a relationship with penultimate universals it's another kind of relationship, it's also a question of one and many but in this fashion where many also are universals and one is also universal. Now Plato introduces the idea of soul. Now the question is – is soul one or many? And his answer is that there are many souls, each one of us is a soul, each one of us is immortal. Now the question is these souls are many. So when you use the word many it may refer to the multiplicity of  souls – many souls. So the idea of souls is the idea of many. Now what is the relationship between in these many and universal ideas and their relationship with the highest universal. So you have three relationships established – many souls, many ideas, universal ideas and one Supreme Idea of the Good. And then if you want to complicate the matter further you can ask the question what is the relationship between many souls and many particulars? This body for example is a particular body now soul also is a particular soul and what is the relationship between that particular soul and this particular body? This is a very interesting question we shall come to it later on when you advance in philosophical thinking, what is the relationship between particular body and particular soul, are they both particular in the same sense? If not what is the difference between the two? In Sri Aurobindo's philosophy there is a distinction between the individual and the particular. The soul is individual and the body is particular then what is the difference between the two? It's a very interesting question we shall discuss it later on.

So on the one hand you have a question of relationship of the soul and the particular, soul and penultimate ideas, soul and ultimate idea and then you have problem of relationship of the soul, many souls with God. And then there is in Plato's theory also the idea of gods. Plato like the early Greeks was very much aware of the idea of gods not only God but gods – Zeus as the supreme in the hierarchy of gods and Hera as the spouse of Zeus and there are number of other gods like Apollo and Athena and Poseidon and many others like Aphrodite and many others, number of gods and goddesses. So now what is the difference between the soul, souls and gods and what is the relationship between them? And then the relation between souls, gods and God, what is the relationship and finally the question of relationship between God, gods, souls, universals, penultimate universals, particulars and series arising out of non–existent existent matter, what is the relationship? Now you can see the complexity of Plato's philosophy, so many ideas, so many terms are to be related and a good philosopher is one who can relate all of them in a systematic manner therefore philosophy is supposed to be a systematic study or philosophy is a system building activity. You build a connectivity, you build up a connectivity in which you build up a system in which all relations are understood very clearly, very harmoniously and a good philosophical system is good only if you can satisfactorily put them all together. Let anybody expound his philosophy to you and if you are a good philosopher you will ask the question: what are the basic terms of your philosophy? Like in Plato: what are the basic terms of Plato's philosophy? God, Good, universal ideas, particulars, souls and gods these are all the terms of Platonic philosophy. And then the question is has he been able to relate them satisfactorily? And satisfactorily means we again question as we did in the case of universal and particular. One simple relationship and you could see we are stumped out; we are not able to establish relationship of universal and particular as yet. There has been a statement of Plato and Plato himself finds difficulties with it and we are quite convinced about the mistakes of Plato and we still have to find out where the arguments are mistaken, not Plato but arguments are mistaken that exercise remains to be done, we shall see. So a good philosophy is one in which all the ultimate relationships are ultimate relationships. So when you relate them ultimately then you can say you have built a up a system which seems to be rationally satisfying that is how you should measure any philosophy. That is why philosophers are difficult to be convinced because they have many, many concepts in their minds and they all need to be related.

So I was now only commenting on this question of one and many and this is another relationship. Usually this is a relationship between God and souls this word when it is used God, one and many it is a relationship between God and souls. Souls are many and God is one. So the question here is: Is Ultimate Reality one or many? Plato says: we shall come back to the text.

he at least shows the impossibility of assuming the One only or the Many only as the ultimate reality;(This is one of the propositions that he makes in his dialogue called Parmenides. That if you say one only is the reality, you have problem. If you say many are ultimate reality there is a problem. So he says at least I could show the difficulties of holding both the positions, either of the positions. If you say reality is only one there is a problem. If you say reality is many there is also a problem. Now I am not at present taking your time to show how he shows that impossibility of this problem but let us continue further. He Say: this now we come to the other dialogue called the Sophist. Just as Parmenides is at the title of a dialogue of Plato there is another dialogue written by Plato which is entitled Sophists. Now in this dialogue he discusses the question of one and many. He started this question in Parmenides but he continues this question even in his dialogue called The Sophists. So in Sophists he attempts to show how the being and the non–being can all exist, it's another problem. You remember among the terms of Plato's philosophies there was also the question of non–being, non–existent. Non–existent that is existent which partakes into the universal as a result of which the particulars come into existence which are only partly existent, partly non–existent therefore they are objects not of knowledge but only of opinion that was Plato's theory. Now the question is non–existent. And in Sophists he tries to show how the being that is existence is a non–being, non–existent can coexist, once again it's a very difficult concept, – non–existent can exist. Existent and the non–existent can both co–exist, just as one and many can coexist, just as universal and particular can coexist; now this question of coexisting is a very important relationship in philosophy. We have discussed many relationships like casual relationship, reciprocal relationship; sequential relationship similarly there is a relationship of coexistence. Now on that basis I would have argued in detail on this question but I am not arguing indefinitely because it becomes too heavy at this stage. Later on when you specialise in Plato we may do in detail this questionbut I am only giving a passing refrence to this and then say similarly Plato goes on to show how of even the ideas be synthesised and harmonised into a unity. SO how the idea of Truth and the Beauty can coexist, sometimes you will see in the world Truth and Beaty don't coexist together and therefore there is a conflict, there is conflict between Truth and Good also. The Truth and Good can collide together. Is it good to allow a man to kill a victim? A simple question is asked: a man who is pursuing other man just to kill him, you are on the street standing and you see that man running away. One man and this second man comes up for some time and says: did you see any man running away from here and he has got a sword in his hand and now you recognise that he wants to kill that man, what will be your answer? You know that this man wants to kill that man and if you say: yes, he went in this direction there is a clue and you'll run after him and will kill him. Then who becomes the cause of the killing? You, you showed him the way, now truth and good collide. If you say the Truth then you are not good because you become the cause of the killing of that man which is not good and of you do not tell the truth you are doing good but not telling the truth so there is a conflict between the truth and the good. So in the world there is a big conflict they don't coexist. Truth and Good do not exist together and yet Plato says ultimately Truth, Beauty and Goodness all of the three coexist and in the Ultimate Reality Truth is Good, Good is Truth, and Truth is Beauty and Beauty is Truth and Beauty is Good and Beauty is Truth so all of them are co–related, coexistent and not only co–existent but united, harmonised. You can again see the difficulty of Plato's philosophy. Is it really a fact that Truth, Beauty and Goodness can coexist. What is our human experience, what is the data? In our data of human life do we really find Truth, Beauty and Goodness coexist and we find constant conflicts between the three? You want to write a story, a beautiful story and then you are told you write a beautiful story in which no character tells a lie, truth absolutely truth and then as a artist you say: you can't make a good story out of it, everybody tells the truth, without the mixture, some spice in which things are mixed up, you don't get a good story. Without Manthra can there be a good Ramayana this is a question if you write a good story, a good story is what, what's a meaning of a story? A story, the smallest definition of a story is an interesting account. A story is an interesting account. Then there will be no plot, there may be nothing, must be interesting account or anything that is interesting that's a story. And the question is according to the artist he only wants to create something interesting not necessarily a story which will be story of good people, all good people put together then it makes no interesting story. If Kakeyi was wonderful, Rama was wonderful, Sita was wonderful, Dashratha was wonderful then there is no story. Ramayana may not be written so how to unite all goodness, all truthfulness, all beauty together and he says no, no, no I must have little mixture, little spice and I don't mind whether it is all truthful or good or everything, I need some mixtures so that the story becomes interesting. I as an artist, I am only a kind of a story–teller, story must be interesting, that's all. So the artist says if you want only truth in the story it won't be an interesting story, if all are good characters it will not be interesting story so artist collides with the people who speak of the Truth. In fact there are many thinkers who believe that stories should not be told at all because stories always involve some kind of a falsehood, some kind of mixture, you should only tell the Truth and nothing but the Truth. Children should not be told stories because they will know how to tell lies, how to be cunning and so on. In fact even Plato when he wrote he said in the education system Homer should not be taught, great story of Illiad, he said should not be taught because Illiad consists of gods who are fighting amongst themselves and children will think that if gods are fighting why we should not fight among ourselves; so the message of harmony will not come out of Illiad. Sohe said don't make people read Illiad. So you see the conflict. So Plato says however there is possibility o fhaving all the three together and he says : In fact best art is the art of exclusive Truth and Beauty and Goodness all the three together is the best art. The best Truth is also beautiful at the same time. The highest Good is also truthful and beautiful at the same time and that is his thesis and this thesis is very important in the whole history of mankind and his assumption Truth, Beauty and Goodness can not only coexist but they are in each other, they subsist by each other, they are reciprocal in relationships and they can be united and you go to the Good which is at once Beauty and Goodness then the distinction between Truth, Beauty and Goodness also vanishes.

We stop here now we shall continue this next time.


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