Socrates and Plato - Track 1603

Fine ! Shall we repeat the arguments  of yesterday to refresh our mind.  This question is of the relationship between the universal and the particular and the first argument of Plato's Theory is based upon the question whether the particular part partakes of the whole idea or only a part? And then if say whole there is a difficulty, if you say only part there is a difficulty and therefore the question remains unaswered in that sense. If it partakes of the whole then the same thing will be at many places, if it partakes of the part only then there is an absurdity that a small thing is smaller than the small. So in either way the problem remains unresolved.

The second argument is the argument of the third man. The argument of the third man is a very important argument because you'll find this argument coming thriughout the history of philosophy in the West. So I'll repeat this argument again in detail so that it is fixed in the mind quite well. The argument begins with the question of similarity. If two particulars are similar to each other then you need to explain the similarity, why two things are similar to each other. The answer of Plato is that they are similar to each other because both of them partake of the same universal idea therefore they are similar. Now the argument says that if so then there is a similarity between the particular and the universal. Now how will you explain this similarity? So you have to posit another universal which is partaken of by both the universal and the particular. Having done so there is a further question as to the similarity between this new universal and the prevoius universal and how do you explain the similarity between the two? So you will posit a further universal and this can go on and on and if the chain were to end the argument is not finalised therefore this is the argument of infinite regress.

Let us repeat it. A cat and another cat are similar to each other the question is how will you explain this similarity? The answer is that there is a universal cattiness and both of them partake of this therefore they are similar to each other. Now there is question that there is a similarity between this cat and this one so you'll be required to answer what is it that explains the similarity between this and this. The only answer that could be given according to this argument is that there is another universal because of this universal there is similarity and this can be explained. So if this universal is A and this universal is B, another universal and then you ask the question what this universal is similar to this universal, A and B are similar to each other and how do you explain that similarity? So you posit a further universal which is say C and this chain can go on and on and on and on, it never finishes and therefore the argument is never complete. If the argument is never complete then the argument doesn't hold good. Any argument to hold good must act, it must have a final point and a terminus therefore this whole idea of universal, Ideas of Plato sufrs from the difficulty of infinite regress and therefore invalid this is the second argument, − argument of third man.

The third argument is that if everything in the world has something corressponding in the realm of ideas then there must be also a universal idea of dirt, of mud, of hair and this seems to be absurd. the universal dirt what does it mean? So this is the third argument. The fourth argument is that ideas are thoughts and thoughts always refer to something beyond themselves therefore ideas can never be ultimate and according to Plato's theory ideas are ultimate therefore Plato's theory is unacceptable, this is the fourth argument. In future you'll come across a similar argument in philosophy. In philosophy there are many arguments. If you master these four arguments in future also it will be help to undersatnd other arguments that is why I took so much time only on these four arguments.

Now we come to a further elaboration of Plato. All these arguments point to the difficulty of reconcilig the universal and the particular and in Parmendes itself  Plato seems to be struggling to arrive at some solution. You must remember that these four arguments are not actually ultimately unanswerable arguments. At present I have presented them in such a way as if they are unanswerable but it is not true. These arguments have defects themselves and one day we shall be able to find out the defects. It's an excercise which you have to do one day when you shall be able to reject all these arguments in fact and we shall be able to restate Plato in a more glorified form saying that Plato was right and his arguments were wrong and we shall try to do that because there is something so precious in Plato. Plato was in touch with the supermind so we have to remember this fact that Plato was in touch with the supermind that his Theory of Ideas is extremely important and there is a great truth in this theory and therefore if it is simply rejected in this fashion, it is simply a first view in which we happen to reject his argument, Plato's Theory but when we examine in more detail we shall find the arguments cannot be sustained and we shall do this excercise also and that is the greater excercise. these arguments which seem to be so soft now Plato himself in his dialogue called Parmendes he is struggling to solve this problem, to answe these four arguments. But this dialogue is inconclusive. Although this dialogue is inconclusive he at least shows the impossibility of assume the one only although many only as the ultimat Reality. Now here in Parmendes Plato raises another question of one and many.It is similar to the question of universal and the particular.

Now this question let us try to understand because in philosophy the question of universal and particular is an important problem. Then there is another problem of one and many. It is similar to the first problem but there is still a difference.So let me write down on the board so that they are key problems are fixed in the mind.Universals and particulars have a relationshiip of one and many. One cattiness and many ideal chair and many chairs so you can say with regard to every universal there is a problem of one and many. but this is only one illustration of the problem of one and many, universal and particular.But there is another line of thinking in which we meet the problem of one and many and that is a different context.You remember I spoke last time of Plato,s theory of the Good and the theory of God. I spoke to you of the theory of the soul and its immortality  and then there is a question as to what is ultimate? Is soul ultimate, is God ultimate, is Good ultimate?And I explained to you the question of ultimate, what is ultimate and what is penultimate. Penultimate is one degree below ultimate.If there are degrees like hot, hotter, hottest then hot is the sstarting point, hotter is penultimate and hottest is the ultimate. So penultimate is one degree remote from the ultimate it is penultimate.So now the question is that apart from universal and particular and thhe relationship between the two there are further problems of relationships and you have three terms − the soul, the Good and God and what is the relationship of these three?

One of the most important problems of philosophy is to relate. Philosophy is even defined as an excercise of establishing ultimate relationships, not only penultimate relationships but ultimate relationships.Science also relates, when you study science you say there is relationship between oxygen, hydrogen and water, it's a relationship that if you combine together then it becomes a cause and water becomes an effect, there is relationship of cause and effect between oxygen and hydrogen on one part and water on the othe, it's a relationship but there are many kinds of relationships − this is a casaul relationship. Then there is reciprocal relationship, not casual but reciprocal. Uncle and nephew is not a casual relationship it's a reciprocal relationship. Uncle cannot exist without the nephew and nephew cannot exist without the uncle.The relationship called nephew cannot exist without the relationship of an uncle and the relationship of an uncle cannot exist without the relationship of a nephew. These are two relationships are reciprocal. Even if you say one causes the other you have to say that the two cause each other, not that one causes the other but two cause each other simultaneously. So it's another kind of relationship. In mathematics also you hve also sequential relationship, two comes after one, it's a sequence. Three comes after two, four comes after three, five comes after four it's a sequetial it's not a cause. One is not the cause of two, two is not the cause of three, three is not the cause of four, it's simply a question of sequential relationship. You arrange things in a sequential manner and therefore relationship is sequential. Aaron is not the cause of Devi but Aaron has a relationship with Devi in this particular formation in which Aaron preceds Devi. If I look at it from the back hand side, but if I look from this side Devi precedes Aaron, it's a sequential relationship, it's not a casual relationship; it's not a reciprocal relationship either it is only sequential relationship.