Socrates and Plato - Track 1601

What follows in this paper is rather difficult. I would like to take your views. Would you like to pass through difficult passage or passages it’s like a gymnasium. You have done some exercise and there comes a point when you have to do a harder exercise. I would encourage you to do the harder exercise but I need your consent. If you would like to go to another topic, it’s also a good topic and go from easy to slightly difficult and slightly difficult and gradually we can come back to this again afterwards so that is also another way. There are two alternatives for you. You have done Plato sufficiently although it is only a few pages that you have read. What I have told you of Plato is quite a great deal. What I learnt after two years I have given you within a few pages so that is the advantage of the new generation, you get the benefit of your predecessors who have taken long to crystallise for you and give you. I had to plod a lot; I had no teacher to whom I could go and ask give me a special lecture on Plato. I had to read a lot, understand the background, even though few ideas were there but very difficult for me to understand and it took me time and then I reflected on this for nearly fourteen years so you are getting the benefit of fourteen years of reflection on what Plato had said. So it is good even for me it is good because you now when you share your reflections with a group of people like you, you feel very happy. So it’s for me all a profit but now we have come to a point where I should right in the beginning tell you that now the passages are more difficult and climbing is difficult. If you like you can go slowly, only one paragraph or two paragraphs at the most that is one way or I switch over to another topic similar one and again come back afterwards when we are little more trained in philosophical thinking.  So I give you a choice and tell me what you what you feel. You know it is like a steep climb or you go round this and come up both are alternatives, both are good. We go up, alright, fine. So let us see then I am very pleased. So let us read this page.

Obviously, one feels here the limitations of Plato’s theory. A self-existent which is non-existent is self-contradiction; it is inconceivable and therefore something that cannot be. If it is really non-existent what is it that partakes of the Ideas? And can the non-existent ever attain to being? Plato would say that perhaps it cannot and it does not and therefore it is neither being nor non-being; object not of knowledge but only of opinions. It is a mere appearance. But still, if it is an appearance, it must in some sense be. And if it is, it must be related to the Ideas and by that relation would form a unity of a total existence of Reality.

Now this is the summary of what I told you yesterday so this is not so difficult. Now the next paragraph is slightly difficult let us see.

There are several other difficulties too with respect to this theory. In fact, Plato himself is aware of them. (And this is very interesting; it’s not that Plato was so unconscious that he allowed his own ideas without admitting his own limits that is a mark of greatness. A great man saying: Look my own theory which I have advanced is defective.) Indeed, we find that he puts in his Parmenides certain objections to his own theory of Ideas. (Parmenides is one of his dialogues where Parmenides is the main speaker and Socrates is a younger man. SO Socrates is expounding his Theory of Ideas and Parmenides laughs at it and says: you are too young. There are many difficulties in what you are saying. So actually Palo himself writing, it means he himself criticising his own theory through the mouth of Parmenides, it’s the greatness of the philosopher. Now) The first argument relates to this question whether the particular partakes of the whole Idea or only of a part.(Now let’s concentrate on this does the particular partake of the whole idea or only of a part? Does a cat partake of the whole idea of cattiness or only a part of the idea of cattiness; it’s a very interesting question. If a cat is a cat it must be wholly a cat it can’t be partly a cat and partly a lion so the answer would be normally it partakes of the universal, it must partake of the whole of the universal, you can’t say it is partly a cat and partly not a cat, it is wholly a cat and it can be only whole of cattiness is present in the cat. Although it is one cat but it partakes the whole of the cattiness, right this is the question that is put. Question is: does the particular partake of the whole idea or a part of the idea?) It is argued that if it is the former, one thing is at many places at once;(If it argued that the whole is partaken then the same thing is present at many places. If you partake the whole of it then the whole of it is there therefore you are at many places it may seem strange because we only see one cat at one place but if partakes of the whole of the idea then wherever the idea is it must be present there also.) if the latter, the Idea is divisible, (and it is a very important question. Is idea divisible or indivisible? If partaking is only a part of the whole then it means that the whole is divisible, sum of cattiness is here another part of the cattiness is another cat, third part of cattiness is another part so it means that the whole is divisible and then he gives an example.) and a thing which is a part of smallness will be smaller than the absolute smallness, which is absurd.(This is an argument you have to grasp in a sense it is a very easy argument but the expression of it is difficult therefore it creates a difficulty in the mind. Let us read twice-thrice.) if the latter,(Latter means? If the particular partakes only of a part of the whole that is the latter. If a particular partakes a part of the whole then what will happen? You take the idea of smallness, now the idea of smallness will be very, very small you might say. Now the idea of smallness is partaken by small things then the small thing will be smaller than the smallness. If a small thing partakes only of a part of smallness then that small thing will be even less than that smallness itself and less than smallness is absurdity. Can there be smallest than the smallest? Can there be smaller than smallest? This is absurd, what can be smaller than smallest? Let us repeat both arguments, two alternatives. As I told you we are passing through a steep climb so we have to bear with the twists of the thought movement let us repeat the question. Does a particular partake of the whole of the idea or does it partake only of a part of the idea? This is the question, you must write down this question quite clearly. Does the particular, in philosophy we should read the same sentence ten times because every sentence is a very precise sentence and has to be dealt with precisely like a microscope? In science sometimes it is easier to teach a smaller thing because your microscope, you can see with the microscope but in philosophy the same thing is difficult because ideas have to be seen only by ideas, we don’t have microscope to see an idea. So our mind should become microscope. So now let us see. Does a particular partake of the whole of the idea or only of a part of the idea this is the question. And remember one simple example; does a cat partake of the whole idea of cattiness or a cat partakes only of a part of the idea of cattiness? This is an example. Does it partake the whole idea of cattiness or a part of the idea of cattiness?  It must be whole that should be the real answer so let us pursue that answer now. A prima facie a cat is a cat because it partakes of the whole of cattiness. So that is a very obvious answer let us see as we move forward. Now the argument is: if so there are two consequences logically. One if it is partaking of the whole then the whole is at many places because there are many cats and each cat is partaking of the whole; this can happen only if the whole is at many places but that is not admissible because according to Plato the whole is only one. One can be at many places only if there are many wholes. Cattiness partaken of here, cattiness partaken of by another cat there, the third cattiness partaken by another cat. If the same whole is partaken of by so many then this is the difficulty that this same thing will be at many places. How can one thing be at many places? The wholeness is a thing and if wholeness is partaken by hundreds of cats then wholeness must be at hundred places, so how can one thing be at the same time be at hundred places? This is the difficulty. Of course there is a catch in the argument, we will catch the argument but I can tell you how philosophically mind is exercised to its farther point. You can see that there is a catch in the argument but you have to catch it, you do it later on, not now you are only trying to understand the argument. If the whole is partaken by every particular then the whole must be at all the places. That particulars exist that would mean that the same thing which is a whole, same thing is at many places. So one thing can be present at many places is absurd. Fine, we shall think over it again we shall come back again. Philosophical arguments have to be thought over again by revisiting. We will revisit the argument. There are philosophers who are revisiting their argument even after fifty years. some arguments are so subtle it takes fifty years of thinking over them and coming back again and then find: Oh! My Lord this is what we wanted to say. So we shall take time even to revisit them but anyway it should first of all register in the mind that there is an argument and we have first to understand the argument properly and re-reflect on it. In Sanskrit we have very beautiful word which is called nirridhaysanam, nirridhaysanam means reflecting again and again and again and still again and yet again and further again that is nirridhaysanam. Vichar means thinking, nirridhaysanam is thinking again and again. You know before you have shakshatkara, you have to do nirridhaysanam. You have to do shravana, mannana, nirridhaysanam and shakshatkara these are the four stages of realisation. First is shravana,first you hear then you think over what you hear then nirridhaysanam, you repeatedly think again and again, you powder that reality make it still, subtle and subtler and subtler then in a flash you realise, you grasp the experience. shakshatkara before akshar, something that meets your eye, kara is an act, act in which sa aksha, something which meets your eye, you see God eye to eye, face to face then you come face to face that is shakshatkara there is no doubt because you have seen directly, there is no doubt about God because you have seen God face to face. If I see Betina face to face I say: I know Betina, no question. So that’s shakshatkara. So this is the process of nirridhaysanam we are doing, repeat again and again.