Plato 4 (Summary)

Plato 4 (Summary) - Lecture February 6, 2008 Plato 3 page 1...

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Lecture February 6, 2008 Plato 3 page 1 Plato: Gorgias 3: Socrates vs Polus Outline: A) Socrates account of Oratory B) Is the tyrant powerful? C) Socrates' proofs: 1) that it is better to suffer injustice than to commit it 2) that it is better to be punished, given that you have committed injustice, than not After Gorgias has been trapped, Polus leaps to the defense of oratory. He challenges Socrates to say what he thinks oratory is: A) Socrates account of Oratory Socrates gives a very insulting “definition” or characterization of oratory, by way of a fairly complicated set of analogies. [You can use “definitions” to insult or make a point: “A Democrat is a politician who takes from the rich and gives to the bureaucracy.” “A Republican is a politician who believes in government of the people, by the people, and for the people, as long as the people are rich.” So, Socrates’ “definition” may be accurate, but its accuracy would have to be argued for. Giving a definition like this is part of rhetoric, not a logical argument. Socrates thinks his definition is accurate, but that would remain to be shown.] The basic division Socrates makes is between reality and imitation of reality: This distinction is an aspect of Plato's contrast between the Forms and their physical reflections, and Plato's valuing of the mind, which apprehends Forms, over the senses, which apprehend imperfect physical instances. [“Forms” as discussed in the first Plato lecture, are the entities that provide the real ground for laws about physical objects. They are entities that make up the components of the Laws of Nature. Since physical laws explain relations among features of objects, the features physical objects have are each correlated with and explained by a Form. Then the relations among the physical objects conform to the relations of the structures they instantiate. For an entity to have a property is for that entity to bear a relation to something. Since, if several entities are squirrels, “being a squirrel”, or Squirrelhood is something they all have, and Squirrelhood is real, and Squirrelhood is not located at any particular place and so is not a physical object, Squirrelhood is a Form. (Think of “form” as “formula”—the structure an entity has to have to be a thing of a given kind.) So, Forms are entities like Triangularity or Redness. For every predicate, there is a Form. For Plato, for a balloon to be red is for the balloon to have a relation to the entity Redness. What is the relation to the considerations about mathematics and physical laws? A real feature of an object has to have an account or explanation in terms of basic physical laws. So, Forms of things like squirrels will be complexes of simpler Forms. The relations among those simpler Forms will reflect basic physical laws, which reflect mathematical relations. Something like this is the reason a DNA explanation of what a squirrel is so satisfying: If being a squirrel is a
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This note was uploaded on 04/14/2008 for the course PHIL 104 taught by Professor Bontly during the Spring '08 term at UConn.

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Plato 4 (Summary) - Lecture February 6, 2008 Plato 3 page 1...

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