Saturday, July 22, 2017

4 An interlude with Xenophon’s Hellenica – Critias’ speech

Xenophon continues: ‘Then the Thirty, thinking that Theramenes was an obstacle to their doing whatever they pleased (hoi d’ empodôn nomizontes auton einai tô̢ poiein ho ti boulointo), plotted against him (epibouleuousin autô̢), and kept accusing him to individual senators, one to one man and another to another (kai idia̢ pros tous bouleutas allos pros allon dieballon), of injuring the government (hôs lumainomenon tên politeian). And after passing the word to some young men (kai parangeilantes neaniskois), who seemed to them most audacious (hoi edokoun autois thrasutatoi einai), to be in attendance with daggers hidden under their arms (xiphidia hupo malês echontas paragenesthai), they convened the Senate (sunelexan tên boulên).’ (II. iii. 23)

***
Note that Critias did not trust his own rhetorical powers when it came to a contest with Theramenes. His awareness of this weakness may have been one of the reasons for his drafting a law against the teaching of rhetoric (en tois nomois egrapse logôn technên mê didaskein, Xen. Mem. I. ii. 31).

For Theramenes, as for Plato in the Phaedrus, the power of persuasive speaking was the key to political power; conscious of his weakness, Critias relied on underhand dealing – the Thirty under his guidance ‘kept accusing Theramens to individual senators, one to one man and another to another’ – and on brutal force – daggers hidden under the arms of audacious young men.

***
‘Then when Theramenes arrived (epei de ho Thêramenês parên), Critias arose (anastas ho Kritias) and spoke as follows (elexen hôde): “Gentlemen of the Senate (Ô andres bouleutai), if anyone among you thinks (ei men tis humôn nomizei) that more people than is fitting are being put to death (pleious tou kairou apothnê̢skein), let him reflect (ennoêsatô) that where governments are changed (hoti hopou politeiai methistantai) these things always take place (pantachou tauta gignetai); and it is inevitable that those who are changing the government here to an oligarchy should have most numerous enemies (pleistous de anankê enthade polemious einai tois eis oligarchian methistasi), both because the state is the most populous of the Greek states (dia te to poluanthrôpotatên tôn Hellênidôn tên polin einai) and because the commons have been bred up in a condition of freedom for the longest time (kai dia to pleiston chronon en eleutheria̢ ton dêmon tethraphthai). Now we (hêmeis de), believing (gnontes men) that for men like ourselves (tois hoiois hêmin te) and you (kai humin) democracy is a grievous form of government (chalepên politeian einai dêmokratian), and convinced (gnontes de) that the commons would never become friendly to the Lacedaemonians, our preservers (hoti Lakedaimoniois tois perisôsasin hêmas ho men dêmos oupot’ an philos genoito), while the aristocrats (hoi de beltistoi) would continue ever faithful to them (aei an pistoi diateloien), for these reasons (dia tauta) are establishing, with the approval of the Lacedaemonians, the present form of government (sun tê̢ Lakedaimoniôn gnômê̢ tênde tên politeian kathistamen). And if we find anyone opposed to the oligarchy (kai ean tina aisthanômetha enantion tê̢ oligarchia̢), so far as we have the power (hoson dunametha) we put him out of the way (ek podôn poioumetha); but in particular (polu de malista) we consider (dokei hêmin) it to be right that (dikaion einai), if any one of our own number (ei tis hêmôn autôn) is harming (lumainetai) this order of things (tautê̢ tê̢ katastasei), he should be punished (dikên auton didonai).” (II.iii.24-26)

***
Brownson translates Critias’ hoi beltistoi as ‘the aristocrats’, correctly, but I think that even in this context, when Critias says ‘the best’, he means the best. And when he speaks of what the Thirty consider to be ‘right’, or ‘just’, again, he means it. He is convinced that what he and the Thirty are doing is right. There are good reasons to believe that even when the Thirty decided that ‘each of their number should seize one of the aliens residing in the city (kai tôn metoikôn hena hekaston labein), and that they should put these men to death (kai autous men apokteinai) and confiscate their property (ta de chrêmata autôn aposêmênasthai, II.iii.21)’ Critias viewed it as a just action on their part.

What leads me to this conjecture is a law proposed by Plato in the Laws, the work of his old age. Having divided the citizens of his second-best State into four classes according to the amount of their property, the Athenian Stranger stipulates that ‘if an alien acquires property in excess (ean tô̢ xenôn ousia pleiôn gignêtai) of the limit allowed the third property-class (tou tritou megethei timêmatos), then within thirty days of this event he must pack up and be off (hê̢ an hêmera̢ touto gignêtai, triakonta hêmerôn apo tautês tês hêmeras labôn apitô ta heautou), without any right to ask the authorities to extend his stay (kai mêdemia tês monês paraitêsis eti toutô̢ par’ archontôn gignesthô). And if someone disobeys (ean de tis apeithôn) these regulations (toutois) and is taken to court (eisachtheis eis dikastêrion) and convicted (ophlê̢), he must be punished by death (thanatô̢ te zêmiousthô) and his property confiscated by the state (kai ta chrêmata autou genesthô dêmosia).’ (915b5-c4, tr. Trevor J. Saunders)

E. B. England notes appositely that Plato ‘apparently disapproved of the generous treatment accorded to metoikoi [‘resident aliens’] by the Athenians. In this his relatives Critias and Charmides would have agreed with him.’ (The Laws of Plato, vol. II, Manchester at the University Press, 1921, p. 515)

What happened between Plato’s publishing of the Phaedrus and the action of the Thirty against the aliens in Athens? I shall discuss this question in one of the posts I intend to devote to ‘The Phaedrus in the light of its dating’.

***
Critias continues: “Now in fact we find (nun oun aisthanometha) this man Theramenes (Thêramenên toutoni) trying, by what means he can (hois dunatai), to destroy both ourselves (apollynta hêmas te) and you (kai humas). As proof that this is true (hôs de tauta alêthê) you will discover if you consider the matter (an katanoête, heurêsete), that no one finds more fault with the present proceedings than Theramenes here (oute psegonta oudena mallon Thêramenous toutoui ta paronta), or offers more opposition (oute enantioumenon) when we wish to put some demagogue out of the way (hotan tina ekpodôn boulômetha poiêsasthai tôn dêmagogôn). Now if he had held these views from the beginning (ei men toinun ex archês tauta egignôske), he was, to be sure, an enemy (polemios men ên), but nevertheless he would not justly be deemed a scoundrel (ou mentoi ponêros g’ an dikaiôs enomizeto). (II. iii. 27)

“In fact, however (Nun de), he was the very man who took the initiative in the policy of establishing a cordial understanding with the Lacedaemonians (autos men arxas tês pros Lakedaimonious pisteôs kai philias); he was the very man who began the overthrow of the democracy (autos de tês tou dêmou kataluseôs), and who urged you most to inflict punishment upon those who were first brought before you for trial (malista de exormêsas humas tois prôtois hupagomenois eis humas dikên epitithenai); but now (nun), when (epei) you (kai humeis) and we (kai hêmeis) have manifestly become hateful to the democrats (phanerôs echthroi tô̢ dêmô̢ gegenêmetha), he no longer approves of what is going on (ouket’ autô̢ ta gignomena areskei), just so that he may get on the safe side again (hopôs autos men au en tô̢ asphalei katastê̢), and that we may be punished for what has been done (hêmeis de dikên dômen tôn pepragmenôn). (II. iii. 28)

“Therefore he ought to be punished, not merely as an enemy, but also as a traitor both to you and to ourselves (Hôste ou monon hôs echthrô̢ autô̢ prosêkei alla kai hôs prodotê̢ humôn te kai hêmôn didonai tên dikên). And treason is a far more dreadful thing than war (kaitoi tosoutô̢ men deinoteron prodosia polemou), inasmuch it is harder (hosô̢ chalepôteron) to take precaution against the hidden than against the open danger (phulaxasthai to aphanes tou phanerou), and a far more hateful thing, inasmuch as men make peace with enemies and become their trustful friends again (tosoutô̢ d’ echthion, hosô̢ polemiois men anthrôpoi kai spendontai kai authis pistoi gignontai), but if they catch a man playing a traitor (hon d’ an prodidonta lambanôsi), they never in any case make peace with that man or trust him thereafter (toutô̢ oupote espeisato pôpote oudeis out’ episteuse tou loipou).” (II. iii. 29, translation from Xenophon’s Hellenica Carleton. L. Brownson)

***
I’ll say good bye to Critias for today; I’ll return to his speech in my next post.

Friday, July 21, 2017

3 An interlude with Xenophon’s Hellenica, focussed on Plato’s Phaedrus, with reference to his Seventh Letter

Xenophon went on to say: ‘As for the Thirty, they held a review (hoi d’ exetasin poiêsantes), the Three Thousand (tôn men trischiliôn) assembling in the market-place (en tê̢ agora̢) and those who were not on “the role” (tôn d’ exô tou katalogou) in various places here and there (allôn allachou); then (epeita) they gave the order to pile arms (keleusantes thesthai ta hopla), and while the men were off duty and away (en hô̢ ekeinoi apelêluthesan), they sent their Lacedaemonian guardsmen (pempsantes tous phrourous) and such citizens as were in sympathy with them (kai tôn politôn tous homognômonas autois), seized the arms of all except the Three Thousand (ta hopla pantôn plên tôn trischiliôn pareilonto), carried them up to the Acropolis (kai anakomisantes tauta eis tên akropolin), and deposited them in the temple (sunethêkan en tô̢ naô̢). And now, when this had been accomplished (toutôn de genomenôn), thinking that they were at length free to do whatever they pleased (hôs exon êdê poiein autois ho ti boulointo), they put many people to death out of personal enmity (pollous men echthras heneka apekteinon), and many also for the sake of securing their property (pollous de chrêmatôn).

One measure that they resolved upon (edoxe d’ autois), in order to get money to pay their guardsmen (hopôs echoien kai tois phrourois chrêmata didonai), was that each of their number should seize one of the aliens residing in the city (kai tôn metoikôn hena hekaston labein), and that they should put these men to death (kai autous men apokteinai) and confiscate their property (ta de chrêmata autôn aposêmênasthai). So they bade (ekeleuon de) Theramens also (kai ton Thêramenên) to seize anyone he pleased (labein hontina bouloito); and he replied (ho d’ apekrinato): “But it is not honourable, as it seems to me,” he said (All’ ou dokei moi, ephê, kalon einai), “for people who style themselves the best citizens (phaskontas beltistous einai) to commit acts of greater injustice than the informers used to do (adikôtera tôn sukophantôn poiein). For they (ekeinoi men gar) allowed those from whom they got money, to live (par’ hôn chrêmata lambanoien zên eiôn); but shall we, in order to get money, put to death men who are guilty of no wrong-doing (hêmeis apoktenoumen mêden adikountas, hina chrêmata lambanômen;)? Are not such acts altogether more unjust than theirs were (pôs ou tauta tô̢ panti ekeinôn adikôtera;)?”’ (II.iii.20-22, tr. Brownson)

***
As far as our understanding of Plato and his work is concerned, the seizing of the aliens, confiscating their property, and putting them to death by the Thirty is primarily important for the dating of the Phaedrus. Socrates ends the Palinode with a prayer to Eros: ‘Thus then (Hautê soi), dear God of Love (ô phile Erôs), I have offered the fairest recantation and fullest atonement that my powers could compass (eis hêmeteran dunamin hoti kallistê kai aristê dedotai te kai ekteteistai palinô̢dia) … And if anything that Phaedrus and I said earlier sounded discordant to thy ear (en tô̢ prosthen d’ ei ti logô̢ soi apêches eipomen Phaidros te kai egô), set it down to Lysias, the only begetter of that discourse (Lusian ton tou logou patera aitiômenos); and staying him from discourses after this fashion (paue tôn toioutôn logôn) turn him towards the love of wisdom, even as his brother Polemarchus has been turned (epi philosophian de, hôsper h’adelphos autou Polemarchos tetraptai, trepson). Then will his loving disciple here present (hina kai ho erastês hode autou) no longer halt between two opinions (mêketi epamphoterizê̢), as now he does (kathaper nun), but live for Love in singleness of purpose with the aid of philosophical discourse (all’ haplôs pros Erôta meta philosophôn logôn ton bion poiêtai).’ (257a3-b6, tr. R. Hackforth)

How could Plato have written this prayer to Eros after the death of Polemarchus, the richest resident alien in Athens, in the hands of the Thirty, thus linking the dialogue indelibly with the most tragic events in the life of his country?

***
Apart from the shadow this incident cast over the Phaedrus, those events played no small role in Plato’s life as a citizen of Athens. In his old age, in the Seventh Letter he wrote: ‘In my youth (Neos egô pote ôn) I went through the same experience as many other men (pollois dê t’auton epathon). I fancied (ô̢êthên) that if, early in life, I became my own master (ei thatton emautou genoimên kurios), I should at once embark on a political career (epi ta koina tês poleôs euthus ienai). And I found myself confronted with the following occurrences in the public affairs of my own city (kai moi tuchai tines tôn tês poleôs pragmatôn toiaide parepeson). The existing constitution being generally condemned (hupo pollôn gar tês poleôs tote loidoroumenês), a revolution took place (metabolê gignetai) … thirty were appointed rulers with full powers over public affairs as a whole (triakonta de pantôn archontes katestêsan autokratores). Some of these (toutôn de tines) were relatives and acquaintances of mine (oikeioi te ontes kai gnôrimoi etunchanon emoi), and they at once invited me to share in their doings, as something to which I had a claim (kai dê kai parekaloun euthus hôs epi prosêkonta pragmata me). The effect on me was not surprising in the case of a young man (kai egô thaumaston ouden epathon hupo neotêtos). I considered that they would (ô̢êthên gar autous), of course, so manage the state as to bring men out of a bad way of life into a good one (ek tinos adikou biou epi dikaion tropon agontas dioikêsein dê tên polin) … And seeing (kai horôn), as I did (dêpou), that in quite a short time they made the former government seem by comparison something precious as gold (tous andras en chronô̢ oligô̢ chruson apodeixantas tên emprosthen poiteian) – for among other things (ta te alla) they tried to send a friend of mine, the aged Socrates, whom I should scarcely scruple to describe as the most upright man of that day, with some other persons (kai philon andra emoi presbuteron Sôkratê, hon egô schedon ouk an aischunoimên eipôn dikaiotaton einai tôn tote, epi tina tôn politôn meth’ heterôn epempon) to carry off one of the citizens by force to execution (bia̢ axonta hôs apothanoumenon), in order that (hina dê), whether he wished it, or not, he might share the guilt of their conduct (metechoi tôn pragmatôn autois, eite bouloito ê mê); but he would not obey them (ho d’ ouk epeitheto), risking all consequences (pan de parekinduneusen pathein) in preference to becoming a partner in their iniquitous deeds (prin anosiôn autois ergôn genesthai koinônos) – seeing all these things (ha dê panta kathorôn) and others of the same kind on a considerable scale (kai ei tin’ alla toiauta ou smikra), I disapproved of their proceedings (eduscherana te), and withdrew from any connection with the abuses of the time (kai emauton epanêgagon apo tôn tote kakôn).’ (324b8-325a5, tr. J. Harward)

***
May I hope that at least some Platonic scholars will take time to re-read Plato’s Phaedrus hand in hand with Xenophon’s account of the years 405-403 B. C. in his Hellenica? If they do, may I hope that a university will be found somewhere in the English-speaking world, where I shall be allowed to present, and with interested students and academics discuss, my views on Plato? If that happens – preferably at Oxford or/and Cambridge University because of the long involvement of those two universities with Czech philosophers, which began with the visits of Oxford dons in my philosophy seminar in Prague in 1979, including the visit of the Master of Balliol, Dr Anthony Kenny – perhaps I shall be allowed to present my views on Plato even at Charles University in Prague.

***

It is only because of the neglect of Xenophon by Platonic scholars that the late dating of the Phaedrus can prevail.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

2 An interlude with Xenophon’s Hellenica, with references to Xenophon’s Memorabilia, Plato’s Gorgias and Phaedrus, and Aristophanes’ Birds and Clouds

Bertrand Russell wrote in the Chapter on Socrates in his History of Western Philosophy: ‘Let us begin with Xenophon, a military man, not very liberally endowed with brains, and on the whole conventional in his outlook.’ (Routledge Classics, 2004, p. 89)
Pace Russell, Xenophon’s account of Athens in 405-403 B. C. is essential not only for our understanding of Socrates, but for our understanding of Plato as well.

***
Xenophon went on to say: ‘Now in the beginning (Tô̢ men oun prôtô̢ chronô̢) Critias and Theramenes were agreed in their policy and friendly (ho Kritias tô̢ Thêramenei homognômôn te kai philos ên); but when Critias showed himself eager to put many to death (epei de autos men propetês ên epi to pollous apokteinein), because, for one thing (hate kai), he had been banished by the democracy (phugôn hupo tou dêmou), Theramenes opposed him (ho de Thêramenês antekopte), saying (legôn) that it was not reasonable (hoti ouk eikos eiê) to put a man to death (thanatoun) because he was honoured by the commons (ei tis etimato hupo tou dêmou), provided he was doing no harm to the aristocrats (tous de kalous k’agathous mêden kakon eirgazeto). “For,” said he, “you and I (Epei kai egô, ephê, kai su) also have said and done many things for the sake of winning the favour of the city (polla dê tou areskein heneka tê̢ polei kai eipomen kai epraxamen).”’ (Hellenica II.iii.15, tr. Brownson)

***
Theramenes is showing here a degree of self-reflection and self-criticism. Did he take to heart the Delphic ‘Know thyself’? In Aristophanes’ Birds, before the ‘Cuckoo-land’ was built in the Clouds, ‘all men in Athens socratized’ (hapantes anthrôpoi esôkratoun, 1281-2). In his opposition to Critias Theramenes appears to be one of them. Did he take heed of what Socrates said about the Thirty?

Xenophon narrates in his Memorabilia: ‘When the Thirty (epei gar hoi triakonta) were putting to death many citizens of the highest respectability (pollous tôn politôn kai ou tous cheiristous apekteinon) and were encouraging many in crime (pollous te protreponto adikein), Socrates had remarked (eipe pou ho Sôkratês): “It seems strange enough to me (hoti thaumaston hoi dokoiê einai) that a herdsman who lets his cattle decrease and go to the bad (ei tis genomenos boôn agelês nomeus, kai tas bous elattous te kai cheirous poiôn) should not admit (mê homologoiê) that he is a poor cowherd (kakos boukolos einai); but stranger still (eti de thaumastoteron) that a statesman (ei tis prostatês genomenos poleôs) when he causes the citizens to decrease and go to the bad (kai poiôn tous politas elattous te kai cheirous), should feel no shame (mê aischunetai) and think himself a poor statesman (mêd’ oietai kakos einai prostatês tês poleôs).”’ (I.ii.32, tr. E. C. Marchant)

***
Xenophon continues: ‘Then Critias (ho de), for he still treated Theramenes as a friend (eti gar oikeiôs echrêto tô̢ Thêramenei), replied (antelegen) that it was impossible (hoti ouk enchôroiê) for people who wanted to gain power (tois pleonektein boulomenois) not to put out of the way (mê ouk ek podôn poieisthai) those who were best able to thwart them (tous hikanôtatous diakôluein). “But if (Ei de),” he said, “merely because we are thirty (hoti triakonta esmen) and not one (kai ouch heis), you imagine that it is any the less necessary for us to keep a close watch over this government, just as one would if it were an absolute monarchy (hêtton ti oiei hôsper turannidos tautês tês archês chrênai epimeleisthai), you are foolish (euêthês ei).” (II.iii.16, tr. Brownson)

***
Brownson’s ‘for people who wanted to gain power’ for Critias’ tois pleonektein boulomenois impoverishes the meaning of what Critias is saying. The term pleonektein ‘having more’, ‘desiring more’, ‘acquiring more’ is discussed in Plato’s Gorgias. Callicles in the dialogue characterizes it in the way that corresponds to Critias’ understanding of it: ‘In my view (oimai) those who lay down the rules (hoi tithemenoi tous nomous) are the weak men (hoi astheneis anthrôpoi eisin), the many (kai hoi polloi). And so they lay down the rules and assign their praise and blame with the eye on themselves and their own advantage (pros hautous oun kai to hautois sumpheron tous te nomous tithentai kai tous epainous epainousin kai tous psogous psegousin). They terrorize (ekphobountes) the stronger men (tous errômenesterous tôn anthrôpôn) capable (kai dunatous ontas) of having more (pleon echein); and to prevent these men from having more than themselves (hina mê autôn pleon echôsin) they say (legousin) that taking more is shameful and unjust (hôs aischron kai adikon to pleonektein), and that doing injustice is this (kai touto estin to adikein), seeking to have more than other people (to pleon tôn allôn zêtein echein); they are satisfied (agapôsi gar), I take it (oimai), if they themselves have an equal share (autoi an to ison echôsin) when they’re inferior (phauloteroi ontes). That’s why (dia tauta dê) by rule (nomô̢ men) this is said to be unjust and shameful (touto adikon kai aischron legetai), to seek to have more (to pleon zêtein echein) than the many (tôn pollôn), and they call that doing injustice (kai adikon auto kalousin). But I think nature itself shows this (hê de ge oimai phusis autê apophainei auto), that it is just (hoti dikaion estin) for the better man (ton ameinô) to have more than the worse (tou cheironos pleon echein), and the more powerful (kai ton dunatôteron) than the less powerful (tou adunatôterou).’ (483b4-d2, tr. T. Irwin)

Callicles’ disdain for the laws, which is intimately linked to his encomium on pleonektein, is worth comparing with Xenophon’s account of the appointment of the Thirty as legislators: ‘Now at Athens the Thirty had been chosen (Hoi de triakonta hê̢rethêsan men) … for the purpose (eph’ hô̢te) of framing a constitution (sungrapsai nomous) under which (kath’ houstinas) to conduct the government (politeusointo), they continually delayed framing and publishing this constitution (toutous men aei emellon sungraphein te kai apodeiknunai), but they appointed a Senate and the other magistrates (boulên te kai tas allas archas katestêsan) as they saw fit (hôs edokei autois). (Hellenica II.iii.11)

Irwin’s ‘rules’ for Callicles’ nomous [‘laws’] and Brownson’s ‘constitution’ for Xenophon’s nomous [‘laws’] obfuscates the correspondence between the two.

***
Xenophon continues: ‘But when (epei de), on account of the great numbers continually – and unjustly – put to death (apothnê̢skontôn pollôn kai adikôs), it was evident that many (polloi dêloi êsan) were banding together (sunistamenoi te) and wondering (kai thaumazontes) what the state was coming to (ti esoito hê politeia), Theramenes spoke again (palin elegen ho Thêramenês), saying that unless they admitted an adequate number of citizens into partnership with them in the management of affairs (hoti ei mê tis koinônous hikanous lêpsoito tôn pragmatôn), it would be impossible for the oligarchy to endure (adunaton esoito tên oligarchian diamenein). Accordingly Critias (ek toutou men ho Kritias) and the rest of the Thirty (kai hoi alloi triakonta), who were by this time alarmed and feared above all that citizens would flock to the support of Theramenes (êdê phoboumenoi kai ouch hêkista ton Thêramenên, mê surriêsan pros auton hoi politai), enrolled a body of three thousand (katalegousi trischilious), who were to share (tous methexontas), as they said (dê), in the government (tôn pragmatôn). Theramenes, however (ho d’ au Thêramenês), objected to this move also, saying that (kai pros tauta elegen), in the first place, it seemed to him absurd that, when they wanted to make the best of the citizens their associates, they should limit themselves to three thousand (hoti atopon dokoiê heautô̢ ge einai to prôton men boulomenous tous beltistous tôn politôn koinônous poiêsasthai trischilious), as though this number (hôsper ton arithmon touton) must somehow be good men and true (echonta tina anankên kalous kai agathous einai) and there could neither be excellent men outside this body nor rascals within it (kai out’ exô toutôn spoudaious out’ entos toutôn ponêrous hoion te eiê genesthai). “Besides (Epeita d’),” he said (ephê), “we are undertaking, in my opinion, two absolutely inconsistent things (horô egôge duo hêmas ta enantiôtata prattontas), – to rig up our government on the basis of force and at the same time to make it weaker than its subjects (biaian te tên archên kai hêttona tôn archomenôn kataskeuazomenous).” This was what Theramenes said (Ho men taut’ elegen).’ (II.iii.17-19, tr. Brownson)

***
At paragraph 15 Brownson translates Theramenes’ kalous k’agathous as ‘aristocrats’, at paragraph 19 as ‘good men and true’. The term literally means ‘beautiful and good’, and the shift Brownson perceived between Theramenes’ use of it in par. 15 and 19 is the tension of meaning within the term that corresponded to the tension that existed between the term appropriated by the rich and powerful families boasting of long ancestry lineage, and the term appropriated by Socrates and his followers to denote intellectual and moral excellence.

In Aristophanes’ Clouds a rustic Strepsiades wants to send his son Pheidippides to ‘the Thinkery of wise souls (psuchôn sophôn phrontistêrion, 94) to learn the art of persuasive speaking. His son, who inherited from his mother strong aristocratic tastes and leanings, asks ‘Who are they (eisin de tines;)?’ Strepsiades answers: ‘I don’t know their name, exactly (ouk oid’ akribôs t’ounoma), they are wise men preoccupied with thinking (merimnosophistai), beautiful and good (kaloi te k’agathoi).’ The moment Strepsiades describes them as kaloi te k’agathoi, Pheidippides knows: ‘Faugh (aiboi), they are wretches (ponêroi g’), I know (oida). You mean those braggarts, pale, bare-footed (tous alazonas tous ôchriôntas tous anupodêtous legeis), of whom is the miserable Socrates and Chaerephon (hôn ho kakodaimôn Sôkrates kai Chairephôn) (100-104).

***
I translated Aristophanes’ alazonas as ‘braggarts’. Dover in his ‘Commentary’ on the Clouds notes ad loc. that Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics ‘defines alazôn as a man who claims a respect which he does not deserve’. At 1127a20-22 Aristotle says: ‘The boastful man, then, is thought (dokei dê ho men alazôn) to be apt to claim the things that bring glory (prospoiêtikos tôn endoxôn einai), when he has not got them (kai mê huparchontôn), or to claim more of them (kai meizonôn) than he has (ê huparchei).’ (Translation W. D. Ross)

***
The insistence on the moral and intellectual excellence of the kaloi te k’agathoi was as characteristic of Socrates as his being bare-footed. When Socrates in the Phaedrus suggests to Phaedrus that they walk along the river Ilissus, the latter says: ‘It’s convenient (Eis kairon), isn’t it (hôs eoiken), that I chance to be bare-footed (anupodêtos ôn etuchon); you of course are always so (su men gar dê aei, 229a3-4).’ In the Phaedran Palinode Socrates depicts the soul’s likeness: ‘Let it be likened (eoiketô dê) to the union of powers (sumphutô̢ dunamei) in a team of winged steeds (hupopterou zeugous te) and their winged charioteer (kai hêniochou) … With us men, in the first place (kai prôton men hêmôn), it is a pair of steeds that the charioteer controls (ho archôn sunôridos hêniochei); moreover (eita) one of them is noble and good (tôn hippôn ho men autô̢ kalos te kai agathos), and of good stock (kai ek toioutôn), while the other has the opposite character, and his stock is opposite (ho d’ ex enantiôn kai enantios).’ (246a6-b3, tr. Hackforth)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

1 An interlude with Xenophon’s Hellenica, incidentally focussed on Plato’s Parmenides

I am dating the Charmides in 404 B. C., in the early days of the reign of the Thirty, and in the preceding post I quoted Xenophon’s description of the actions of the Thirty in those days (Hellenica II.iii.11-12). I have found it inconceivable that Plato could have written the dialogue after the Thirty ordered Socrates and four others to bring Leon the Salaminian from Salamis, and Socrates disobeyed their order; in support of this terminus ante quem I referred to Plato’s Apology and to his Seventh Letter. Let me now return to Xenophon’s Hellenica to get a clearer picture of the situation in Athens that led to that incident.

Xenophon went on to say:
‘When, however, the Thirty began to consider how they might become free to do just as they pleased with the state (epei de êrxanto bouleuesthai hopôs an exeiê autois tê̢ polei chrêsthai hopôs boulointo), their first act was to send Aeschines and Aristoteles to Lacedaemon (ek toutou prôton men pempsantes eis Lakedaimona Aischinên te kai Aristotelên) and persuade Lysander (epeisan Lusandron) to help them to secure the sending of a Lacedaemonian garrison (phrourous sphisi sumpraxai elthein), to remain until, as they said, they could put “the scoundrels” out of the way (heôs dê tous ponêrous ek podôn poiêsamenoi) and establish their government (katastêsainto tên politeian); and they promised to maintain this garrison at their own charges (threpsein de autoi hupischnounto).’ (II.iii.13, tr. Brownson)

***
The Aristoteles here named figures in Plato’s Parmenides. Let me quote the relevant passages from the dialogue: ‘According to Antiphon (ephê de dê ho Antiphôn), Pythodorus said (legein ton Puthodôron) that Zeno and Parmenides once came to Athens for the Great Panathenaea (hoti aphikointo pote eis Panathênaia ta megala Zênôn te kai Parmenidês) (127a8-b1) … they stayed at Pythodorus’ house (kataluein te autous ephê para tô̢ Puthodôrô̢) in Cerameicus, outside the city walls (ektos teichous en Kerameikô̢), and Socrates came there (hoi dê kai aphikesthai ton te Sôkratê) with a number of others (kai allous tinas met’ autou pollous), eager to hear (epithumountas akousai) a reading of Zeno’s treatise (tôn tou Zênônos grammatôn) (127b6-c3) … Zeno himself read to them (anagignôskein oun autois ton Zênôna auton), but Parmenides, as it happened, was out (ton de Parmenidên tuchein exô onta). Pythodorus said he came in (autos te epeiselthein ephê ho Puthodôros exôthen) with Parmenides (kai ton Parmenidên met’ autou) and Aristoteles (kai Aristotelê), who was later one of the Thirty Tyrants (ton tôn triakonta genomenon) (127c5-d3).’

At 135c8-d2 Parmenides says to Socrates: ‘You undertake to mark off something beautiful and just and good and each one of the characters [‘forms’] too soon, before being properly trained (Prô̢ gar, prin gumnasthênai, ô Sôkrates, horizesthai epicheireis kalon te ti kai dikaion kai agathon kai hen hekaston tôn eidôn). I realized that yesterday (ennoêsa gar kai prô̢ên), when I heard you (sou akouôn) discussing here with Aristoteles (dialegomenou enthade Aristotelei tô̢de). Believe me, your impulse toward argument is noble and indeed divine. But train yourself more thoroughly while you are still young.’

In response to this criticism, Socrates asked Parmenides what sort of training he had in mind (135d7). Not satisfied with Parmenides’ explanation, he asked him to exemplify it (136c7-8). When Parmenides excused himself – ‘You impose a difficult task (Polu ergon prostatteis) for a man of my age (hôs têlikô̢de, 136d1) – Socrates asked Zeno to do so (136d1-3). Zeno replied: ‘Don’t you see how great a task you propose (ouch hora̢s hoson ergon prostatteis; 136d6)? … So Parmenides, I join in Socrates’ request (egô men oun, ô Parmenidê, Sôkratei sundeomai), so that I too may learn from you (hina kai autos diakousô) after all this time (dia chronou). After Zeno said this (tauta dê eipontos tou Zênônos), Antiphon said (ephê ho Antiphôn) that Pythodorus said (phanai ton Puthodôron) that he and Aristoteles and the others begged Parmenides (auton te deisthai tou Parmenidou kai ton Aristotelê kai tous allous) to exhibit what he meant (endeixasthai ho legoi), and not refuse (kai mê allôs poiein).’ (136e3-8)

Parmenides in the end agreed: ‘Then who will answer me? he asked (Tis oun, eipein, moi apokrineitai;). Perhaps the youngest (ê ho neôtatos;)? For he would give least trouble (hêkista gar an polupragmonoi), and be most likely to say what he thinks (kai ha oietai malista an apokrinoito). At the same time, his answering would give me a chance to rest (kai hama emoi anapaula an eiê hê ekeinou apokrisis). – I am ready, Parmenides, said Aristoteles (hetoimos soi, ô Parmenidê, phanai, touto, ton Aristotelê). ‘You mean me (eme gar legeis): I am the youngest (ton neôtaton legôn). Ask your questions (alla erôtâ), and I will answer them (hôs apokrinoumenou).’ (137b6-c3, tr. R. E. Allen)

Let me give a few questions and answers with which the training began, and which are characteristic of the training in its entirety.

Parmenides: ‘If unity is (ei hen estin), is unity many (allo ti ouk an eiê polla to hen;)?’ – Aristoteles: ‘No (Pôs gar an;).’ – Parmenides: ‘So it must have no parts, nor be itself a whole (Oute ara meros autou oute holon auto dei einai).’ – Aristoteles: ‘Why (Ti dê)?’ – Parmenides: ‘Part (To meros), I take it (pou), is part of a whole (holou meros estin).’ – Aristoteles: ‘Yes (Nai).’ – Parmenides: ‘What about whole (Ti de to holon;)? Is not a whole that from which no part is absent (ouchi hou an meros mêden apê̢ holon an eiê;)?’ – Aristoteles: ‘Of course (Panu ge).’ – Parmenides: ‘So if a unity were a whole and had parts, on both grounds it would be composed of parts (Amphoterôs ara to hen ek merôn an eiê, holon te on kai merê echon).‘ – Aristoteles: ‘Necessarily (Anankê).’ – Parmenides: ‘So on both grounds (Amphoterôs an ara) unity would be many but not one (houtôs to hen polla eiê all’ ouch hen).’ – Aristoteles: ‘True (Alêthê).’ – Parmenides: ‘But it must be, not many, but just one (Dei de ge mê polla all’ hen auto einai).’ – Aristoteles: ‘Yes (Dei).’ – Parmenides: ‘So if unity is to be one, it will neither be a whole nor have parts (Out' ara holon estai oute merê hexei, ei hen estai to hen).’ – Aristoteles: ‘No (Ou gar).’ – Parmenides: ‘Then if unity has no part (Oukoun ei mêden echei meros), it would have neither beginning, middle, nor end (out’ an archên oute teleutên oute meson echoi); for such things would forthwith be parts of it (merê gar an êdê autou ta toiauta eiê).’ – Aristoteles: ‘Correct (Orthôs).’ – Twenty-nine Stephanus pages later, at 166c5, the dialogue ends with Aristoteles’ ‘Most true’ (Alêthestata). (The translation is R. E. Allen’s)

***
Xenophon continues: ‘Lysander consented (ho de peistheis), and helped them to secure the dispatch of the troops and of Callibius as the governor (tous te phrourous kai Kallibion harmostên sunepraxen autois pemphthênai). But when they had got the garrison (hoi d’ epei tên phrouran elabon), they paid court to Callibius in every way (ton men Kallibion etherapeuon pasê̢ therapeia̢), in order that he might approve of everything (hôs panta epainoiê) they did (ha prattoien), and as he detailed guardsmen to go with them (tôn de phrourôn toutou sumpempontos autois), they arrested the people whom they wished to reach (hous eboulonto sunelambanon), – not now “the scoundrels” (ouketi tous ponêrous te) and persons of little account (kai oligou axious), but from this time forth the men who, they thought, were least likely to submit to being ignored (all’ êdê hous enomizon hêkista men parôthoumenous anechesthai), and who, if they undertook to offer any opposition (antiprattein de ti epicheirountas), would obtain supporters in the greatest numbers (pleistous an tous sunelthontas lambanein).’ (II.iii.14, tr. Brownson)

***
I discuss the dating of the Parmenides and the historicity of the Parmenides-Zeno-Socrates encounter on my website in ‘Plato’s defence of the Forms in the Parmenides’. In the paper, I defended Plato’s insistence on its historicity by interpreting the dialogue in its light. What do I mean by Plato’s insistence on the historicity of the Parmenides-Zeno-Socrates encounter? In the introductory scene Cephalus, the narrator, says that he met Adeimantus and Glaucon in the Agora of Athens, and that he said to the former: ‘These gentlemen here are fellow citizens of mine, much interested in philosophy. They’ve heard that your Antiphon used to associate with a certain Pythodorus, a companion of Zeno’s, and that he can relate from memory the arguments that once were discussed by Socrates, Zeno and Parmenides, having often heard them from Pythodorus.’ – ‘True (alȇthȇ),’ said Adeimantus, ‘for when he was a youngster (meirakion gar ȏn), he used to rehearse them diligently (autous eu mala diemeletȇsen)’ (126b-c). Adeimantus and Glaucon were Plato’s brothers, Antiphon was their half-brother.

The references to Aristoteles in Plato’s Parmenides provide an additional argument for its historicity. For if the dialogue were a pure invention of Plato, as the modern interpreters insist it must be, then one would have to presuppose that Plato put ‘Aristoteles (kai Aristotelê), who was later one of the Thirty Tyrants (ton tôn triakonta genomenon, (127d2-3)’ into the dialogue for a reason, which the reader should be able to detect. Strangely enough, I haven’t come across any interpreter who would consider it.

Thus R. Allen writes in the ‘Comment’ to his translation of the dialogue: ‘The Parmenides is fiction, meant to be read as such (p. 73) … Cornford’s argument by itself is decisive: “To suppose that anything remotely resembling the conversation in this dialogue could have occurred … would make nonsense of the whole history of philosophy in the fifth and fourth centuries” (p.74)’.

Discussing the ‘Characters’, Allen says about Aristoteles: ‘He is younger than Socrates (137c) but old enough to answer questions. He may be the Aristoteles son of Timocrates mentioned by Thucydides (III 105) as an Athenian general in 426, who in turn may have been a treasurer of the Delian League in 421’20 (Corpus Inscriptionum Atticorum I 260). We learn more of him from Xenophon’s Hellenica. He returned from exile to Athens in 405 (II 2. 18), when, if the Parmenides is accurate, he must have been in his sixties; he joined the Thirty (II. 3.2 [Allen mistakenly III 3.2]), was sent by them as envoy to Sparta, and later acted as a general, fortifying the peninsula commanding the Piraeus (II 3.46 [Allen mistakenly III 3.46]) during their last desperate days. All this may be proof that some Greek graybeards were singularly venturesome (it may be observed that Nicias was fifty-five when sent to Sicily, and regarded as extremely old to be a general). But it may also suggest that Plato, in making Aristoteles a youth in 450 B.C., was engaging in conscious anachronism, a device he uses for other purposes in other dialogues.’ (Plato’s Parmenides, translated with Comment by R. E. Allen, Yale University Press, 1997, p. 73)

As can be seen, the only reason for Plato’s mentioning of Aristoteles in the dialogue, that Allen can think of, is ‘the conscious anachronism’ concerning the age of Aristoteles, which, if Allen’s tentative suggestion could be substantiated, would support the view of the dialogue as Plato’s fiction. Allen says: ‘The Parmenides is a fiction, meant to be read as such (p. 73).’ But since Plato in the introductory scene adduced his brother Adeimantus as a witness to the historicity of the Parmenides-Zeno-Socrates encounter, I can’t help finding it strange that he would want to alert the reader to its being a fiction by a ‘conscious anachronism’. Why Aristoteles in his sixties could not have supervised the fortification of the peninsula commanding the Piraeus, the harbour of Athens?

Isn’t it time to ask Plato’s interpreters, who view the dialogue as Plato’s fiction, to give us a plausible reason for his putting Aristoteles in the dialogue as he did? For if Plato wrote the Parmenides as a fiction, he must have had a reason for his having Aristoteles in it.

On my view, Aristoteles figures in the dialogue as he does because he happened to be there on the occasion, happened to have a discussion with Socrates on moral concepts that Parmenides overheard, and happened to act as Parmenides’ answerer in the discussion with which the dialogue culminated.

***
I put in bold Allen’s ‘He [Aristoteles] returned from exile to Athens in 405 (II 2. 18)’ The reference is wrong. Narrating the events of the year 405 B.C., Xenophon says in Hellenica II 2. 18: ‘Lysander meanwhile sent Aristoteles, an Athenian exile, in company with some Lacedaemonians, to report to the ephors (Lusandros de tois ephorois epempsen angelounta met’ allôn Lakedaimoniôn Aristotelên, phugada Athênaion onta …’ It was only later, after the capitulation of Athens, that Aristoteles could return: ‘After this (meta de tauta) Lysander sailed (Lusandros te kateplei) into Piraeus (eis ton Peiraia), the exiles returned (kai hoi phugades katê̢san) …’ (Hellenica II 2. 23, tr. Brownson)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

5g Plato’s Charmides in the light of its dating, with reference to his Apology and Seventh Letter, and to Xenophon’s Memorabilia and Hellenica

At 165b Critias defined sôphrosunê as knowing oneself. At 166d Socrates told Critias: ‘I subject the definition to scrutiny (ton logon skopein) chiefly for my own sake (malista men emautou heneka), and perhaps also (isôs de dê kai) for the sake of others (tôn allôn) who need it (epitêdeiôn, 166d3-4).’ Both Jowett and Watt translate epitêdeiôn as ‘my friends’, but in this instance the word has much broader meaning, as can be seen from what Socrates says next: ‘Or don’t you think that it is a common good for almost all men (ê ou koinon oiei agathon einai schedon ti pasin anthrôpois) that each thing that exists should be revealed (gignesthai kataphanes hekaston tôn ontôn) as it is (hopê̢ echei; 166d4-6, tr. Watt)?’ In 166d8-e2 Socrates asks Critias to leave aside whether it is Critias or Socrates who is under the scrutiny, and answer the questions he is going to be asked. In the discussion that followed, to which I devoted the preceding post, Socrates voiced his doubts concerning self-knowledge, questioning the possibility of self-reflexivity in a wide range of instances, ending with the doubts ‘motion moving itself’ and ‘heat burning itself’. Declaring himself incapable of satisfactorily solving these difficulties, he asked Critias to defend his definition.

Socrates: ‘Some great man, my friend, is wanted (megalou dê tinos, ô phile, andros dei), who will satisfactorily determine for us (hostis touto kata pantôn hikanôs diairêsetai) whether there is nothing (poteron ouden tôn ontôn) which has an inherent property of relation to self (tên hautou dunamin auto pros heauto pephuken echein) rather than to something else (alla pros allo), or some things only (ê ta men) and not others (ta d’ ou); and whether in this class of self-related things, if there be such a class, that science which is called sôphrosunê [Jowett: ‘wisdom or temperance’] is included (kai ei estin au hatina auta pros hauta echei, ar’ en toutois estin epistêmê, hên dê hêmeis sôphrosunên phamen einai). I altogether distrust my own power of determining these matters (egô men ou pisteuô emautô̢ hikanos einai tauta dielesthai): I am not certain whether such a science of science can possibly exist (dio kai out’ ei dunaton esti touto genesthai, epistêmês epistêmên einai, echô diischurisasthai); and even if it does undoubtedly exist (out’ ei hoti malista esti), I should not acknowledge it to be sôphrosunê [Jowett: ‘wisdom or temperance’] (sôphrosunên apodechomai auto einai) until I can also see (prin an episkepsômai) whether such a science would or would not do us any good (ei ti an hêmas ôpheloi toiouton on eite mê); for I have an impression that sôphrosunê [Jowett: ‘temperance’] is a benefit and a good (tên gar oun dê sôphrosunên ôphelimon ti kai agathon manteuomai einai). And therefore, O son of Callaeschrus (su oun, ô pai Kallaischrou), as you maintain that sôphrosunê [Jowett: ‘wisdom or temperance’] is a science of science (tithesai gar sôphrosunên tout’ einai, epistêmên epistêmês), and also of the absence of science (kai dê kai anepistêmosunês), I will request you to show in the first place (prôton men touto endeixai), as I was saying before, the possibility (hoti dunaton ho nundê elegon), and in the second place, the advantage, of such a science (epeita pros tô̢ dunatô̢ hoti kai ôphelimon); and then perhaps you may satisfy me (k’ame tach’ an apoplêrôsais) that you are right (hôs orthôs legeis) in your view of sôphrosunê [Jowett: ‘temperance’] (peri sôphrosunês ho estin).’ (169a1-c2, tr. B. Jowett)

Socrates does not give us a detailed account of Critias’ attempt to respond to his request, but he gives his critical assessment of it: ‘When Critias heard this (Kai ho Kritias akousas tauta), and saw that I was in difficulties (kai idôn me aporounta), he seemed to me to be forced by my being in difficulties to fall into difficulties himself, in the way people who see others yawning in their faces are affected similarly (hôsper hoi tous chasmômenous katantikru horôntes t’auton touto sumpaschousin, k’akeinos edoxe moi hup’ emou aporountos anankasthênai kai autos halônai hupo aporias). Well, conscious that he had a reputation to keep up (hate oun eudokimôn hekastote ‘but since he used to excel every time’), he felt ashamed in front of the others (ê̢schuneto tous parontas) and was unwilling to admit to me that he was unable to determine the points on which I was challenging him (kai oute sunchôrêsai moi êthelen adunatos einai dielesthai ha proukaloumên auton). He said nothing clear (elegen te ouden saphes), in an attempt to conceal his difficulties (epikaluptôn tên aporian).’ (169c3-d1, tr. D. Watt)

Socrates’ criticism of Critias is harsh; but does it justify D. Watt’s view of the dialogue?

Donald Watt writes in his ‘Introduction to Charmides’: ‘Part of Plato’s purpose in this dialogue is to exculpate Socrates from any responsibility for the crimes of his former companions … By showing Critias as both quite lacking in sôphrosunê and quite ignorant of its meaning beyond a superficial acquaintance with its conventional use within his aristocratic circle; by representing Charmides as equally unaware of its true purport, despite his possession of the natural sôphrosunê of youth, which he will lose when he reaches adulthood; and by portraying Socrates as trying his best to discover with them the true meaning of sôphrosunê, and as failing to elicit answer from them, though possessing the virtue himself – by all these means Plato is endeavouring to show that Socrates tried to educate Critias and Charmides in sôphrosunê, but failed. But by trying, he saved himself from any possible accusation of responsibility for their later crimes.’ (Plato, Early Socratic Dialogues, Penguin Books, 1987, p. 167.)

If we want to see Socrates’ criticism in the proper light, we must view it in the context of the discussion that followed. For Socrates went on to say: ‘So, to get on with our discussion, I said (k’agô hêmin hina ho logos proïoi, eipon), “Well, if you like (All’ ei dokei), Critias (ô Kritia), let’s grant for the moment (nun men touto sunchôrêsômen) that it is possible for there to be a knowledge of knowledge (dunaton einai genesthai epistêmên epistêmês). We’ll consider whether or not this is the case later on (authis de episkepsometha eite houtôs echei eite mê). Come on then (ithi dê oun), let’s suppose it is perfectly possible (ei hoti malista dunaton touto): how does that increase one’s chances of knowing what one knows and what one doesn’t (ti mallon hoion te estin eidenai ha te tis oide kai ha mê) – which, of course, we said was knowing oneself (touto gar dêpou ephamen einai to gignôskein hauton), that is sôphronein [D. Watt: ‘being self-controlled’] (kai sôphronein), didn’t we (ê gar;)?’ – Critias: ‘Yes, certainly (Panu ge). And it does, I think, follow (kai sumbainei ge pou), Socrates (ô Sôkrates). If a man possesses knowledge (ei gar tis echei epistêmên) which knows itself (hê autê hautên gignôskei), he would himself be like what he possesses (toioutos an autos eiê hoionper estin ho echei) … when a man possesses knowledge which is knowledge of itself (hotan de dê gnôsin autên hautês echê̢), he will then, of course, be knowing himself (gignôskôn pou autos heauton tote estai)’. – Socrates: ‘I don’t doubt (Ou touto amphisbêtô) that when a man possesses that which knows itself (hôs ouch hotan to hauto gignôskon tis echê̢) he will know himself (autos hauton gignôskei); but why, when he possesses that, must he necessarily know what he knows and what he doesn’t know (all’ echonti touto tis anankê eidenai ha te oiden kai ha mê oiden;)? – Critias: ‘Because (Hoti), Socrates (ô Sôkrates), the one is the same as the other (t’auton estin touto ekeinô̢).’ – Socrates: ‘Perhaps (Isôs), but I don’t really think I’ve changed at all (all’ egô kinduneuô aei homoios einai), because I still don’t understand how knowing what one knows and knowing what one does not know are the same as that (ou gar au manthanô hôs estin to auto, ha oiden eidenai kai ha tis mê oiden eidenai).’ – Critias: ‘What do you mean (Pôs legeis)?’ (169d2-170a5)

As can be seen, in spite of Socrates’ harsh criticism of Critias, the latter continued to be engaged in the discussion, and what is more, when Socrates ended the discussion in despair at his inability to properly investigate the question of  sôphrosunê, and Charmides brushed Socrates’ self-critical misgivings aside, declaring himself to be in need of being charmed by Socrates day by day, Critias said: ‘Charmides (ô Charmidê), by doing that (ên dra̢s touto), you’ll prove to me (emoi estai touto tekmêrion) that you sôphroneis [D. W. ‘are self-controlled’] (hoti sôphroneis) – if you turn to Socrates for charming (ên epa̢dein parechê̢ Sôkratei), and don’t disappoint him (kai mê apoleipê̢ toutou) in anything either great or small (mête mega mête smikron).’ (176b5-8)

Obviously, Watt is wrong when he says that Plato in the dialogue showed Critias as both quite lacking in sôphrosunê and quite ignorant of its meaning. But couldn’t Critias’ endorsement of Charmides’ resolution to become a disciple of Socrates be taken as a testimony that in consequence of his discussion on sôphrosunê with Socrates Critias himself acquired sôphrosunê? If so, it might be argued, then the Charmides can be viewed in the light of Xenophon’s assertion concerning Critias and Alcibiades: ‘So long as they were with Socrates (heôs men Sôkratei sunêstên), they found in him an ally who gave them strength to conquer their evil passions (edunasthên ekeinô̢ chrômenô summachô̢ tôn mê kalôn epithumiôn kratein, Mem. I.ii.24, tr. Marchant).’ Watt’s main point, that Plato in the dialogue showed that Socrates tried to educate Critias and Charmides in sôphrosunê, and that by trying ‘he saved himself from any possible accusation of responsibility for their later crimes,’ could thus stand, and the currently accepted dating of the Charmides – as an early dialogue, written after Socrates’ death – could be preserved after all.

The closing scene militates against it. Charmides tells Critias: ‘Rest assured that I will follow him (Hôs akolouthêsontos) and won’t disappoint him (kai mê apoleipsomenou). I’d be behaving terribly (deina gar an poioiên) if I didn’t obey you (ei mê peithoimên soi), my guardian (tô̢ epitropô̢), and didn’t do (kai mê poioiên) what you tell me (ha keleueis).’ – Critias: ‘I’m telling you (Alla mên keleuô egôge).’ – Charmides: ‘Well then, I’ll do it (Poiêsô toinun), starting today (apo tautêsi tês hêmeras arxamenos).’ – Socrates: ‘What are you two plotting to do (Houtoi, ti bouleuesthon poiein;)?’ – Charmides: ‘Nothing (Ouden), we’ve done our plotting (alla bebouleumetha).’ – Socrates, addressing Charmides: ‘Are you going to resort to the use of force (Biasê̢ ara), without even giving me a preliminary hearing (kai oud’ anakrisin moi dôseis)?’ – Charmides: ‘I certainly am (Hôs biasomenou), since Critias here orders me to (epeidêper hode ge epitattei) – which is why you should plot what you’ll do (pros tauta su au bouleuou hoti poiêseis).’ – Socrates: ‘But there’s no time left for plotting (All’ oudemia leipetai boulê). Once you’re intent on doing something (soi gar epicheirounti prattein hotioun) and are resorting to the use of force (kai biazomenô̢), no man alive will be able to resist you (oudeis hoios t’ estai enantiousthai anthrôpôn).’ – Charmides: ‘Well then (Mê toinun), don’t you resist me either (mêde su enantiou).’ – Socrates closes the dialogue with the words: ‘I won’t resist you then’ (Ou toinun enantiôsomai).’ (175e2-176d5)

This is why I am dating the dialogue in 404 B. C., in the early days of the reign of the Thirty, which Xenophon characterises as follows: ‘Now at Athens the Thirty had been chosen (Hoi de triakonta hê̢rethêsan men) as soon as the long walls (epei tachista ta makra teichê̢) and the walls around Piraeus (kai ta peri ton Peiraia) were demolished (kathê̢rethê); although chosen, however (hairethentes de), for the purpose (eph’ hô̢te) of framing a constitution (sungrapsai nomous) under which (kath’ houstinas) to conduct the government (politeusointo), they continually delayed framing and publishing this constitution (toutous men aei emellon sungraphein te kai apodeiknunai), but they appointed a Senate and the other magistrates (boulên te kai tas allas archas katestêsan) as they saw fit (hôs edokei autois). Then (epeita), as a first step (prôton men), they arrested and brought to trial for their lives those persons who, by common knowledge, had made a living in the time of democracy by acting as informers and had been offensive to the aristocrats (hous pantes ê̢desan en tê̢ dêmokratia̢ apo sukophantias zôntas kai tois kalois k’agathois bareis ontas, sullambanontes hupêgon thanatou); and the Senate (kai hê boulê) was glad (hêdeôs) to pronounce these people guilty (autôn katepsêphizeto), and the rest of the citizens (hoi te alloi) – at least all who were conscious that they were not of the same sort themselves (hosoi sunê̢desan heautois mê ontes toioutoi) – were not at all displeased (ouden êchthonto).’ (Hellenica II.iii.11-12, tr. C. L. Brownson)

I cannot see how Plato could have written the closing scene in the Charmides after the Thirty attempted to implicate Socrates in their crimes, of which Socrates said at his trial: ‘when the oligarchy of the Thirty was in power (epeidê de oligarchia egeneto), they sent for me and four others into the rotunda (hoi triakonta au metapempsamenoi me pempton auton eis tên tholon), and bade us bring Leon the Salaminian from Salamis (prosetaxan agagein ek Salaminos Leonta ton Salaminion), as they wanted to put him to death (hina apothanoi) … when we came out of the rotunda (all’ epeidê ek tês tholou exêlthomen) the other four (hoi men tettares) went to Salamis (ô̢chonto eis Salamina) and fetched Leon (kai êgagon Leonta), but I went quietly home (egô de ô̢chomên apiôn oikade). For which I might have lost my life (kai isôs an dia tauta apethanon), had not the power of the Thirty (ei mê hê archê) shortly afterwards come to an end (dia tacheôn kateluthê).’ (Plato, Apology 32c4-d8, tr. B. Jowett)

In his old age, in the Seventh Letter, Plato pointed to this incident as the decisive reason after which ‘I became indignant (eduscherana te) and I withdrew myself (kai emauton epanêgagon) from the evils of those days (apo tôn tote kakôn, 325a4-5)’.

Friday, July 7, 2017

5f Plato’s Charmides in the light of its dating, with reference to the Phaedrus

At 165b Critias defined sôphrosunê as knowing oneself. At 165c-166b Socrates raised objection against the possibility and usefulness of such knowledge. At 166 c Critias objected that Socrates was trying to refute him and ignoring what the discussion was all about. At 166c-d Socrates rejected Critias’ criticism: if he was subjecting to rigorous scrutiny what Critias was saying, he was subjecting to scrutiny his own views as well. He did so, for he was afraid that he might think he knew what in fact he did not know.

Socrates: ‘Well then, Critias, don’t be discouraged (Tharrôn toinun, ô makarie), and give me the answer, as you see it, to the question (apokrinomenos to erôtômenon hopê̢ soi phainetai). Never mind (ea chairein) whether it’s Critias (eite Kritias estin) or Socrates (eite Sôkratês) who is the one refuted (ho elenchomenos). Just concentrate on the argument itself (all’ autô̢ prosechôn ton noun tô̢ logô̢), and consider (skopei) what on earth will become of it if it is examined (hopê̢ pote ekbêsetai elenchomenos).’ – Critias: ‘I’ll do that (Alla poiêsô houtô), because I think that what you’re saying is quite reasonable (dokeis gar moi metria legein).’ (166d7-e3)

***
D. Watt translates elenchomenos at 166e1 as ‘refuted’, at 166e2 as ‘examined’. In this case, the distinction is arbitrary. With Socrates, the primary aim is always examination – self-examination, whereas with the sophists the primary emphasis was on refuting and not being refuted.

***
Socrates: ‘Well then, tell me what do you say about sôphrosunê (Lege toinun peri tês sôphrosunês pôs legeis)?’ – Critias: ‘Well, I say (Legô toinun) that it alone (hoti monê) of the knowledges (tôn allôn epistêmôn) is the knowledge both of itself and of the other knowledges (autê te hautês estin kai tôn allôn epistêmôn epistêmê).’ – S. ‘Would it be a knowledge of ignorance too (Oukoun kai anepistêmosunês epistêmê an eiê), if it is a knowledge of knowledge (eiper kai epistêmês;)? Cr. ‘Yes, certainly (Panu ge). – S. ‘So the sôphrôn [D.W. ‘the self-controlled man’] alone (Ho ara sôphrôn monos) will know himself (autos te hauton gnôsetai) and be able to examine (kai hoios te estai exetasai) what in fact he knows (ti te tunchanei eidôs) and what he doesn’t (kai ti mê), and he will be capable of looking at other people in the same way (kai tous allous hôsautôs dunatos estai episkopein) to see what any of them knows and thinks he knows (ti tis oiden kai oietai), if he does know (eiper oiden); and what, on the other hand, he thinks he knows (kai ti au oietai men eidenai), but does not (oiden d’ ou). No one else will be able to do that (tôn de allôn oudeis). In fact, that is the sôphronein [D.W. ‘being self-controlled’] (kai estin dê touto to sôphronein te) and sôphrosunê [D.W. ‘self-control’] (kai sôphrosunê) and knowing oneself (kai to heauton auton gignôskein) – knowing (to eidenai) what one knows (ha te oiden) and what one doesn’t (kai ha mê oiden). Is that (ara tauta estin) what you’re saying (ha legeis;)?’ – Cr. ‘Yes (Egôge).’ – S. ‘Well then, third time lucky (Palin toinun, to triton tô̢ sôtêri). Let’s go back to the beginning again, as it were (hôsper ex archês), and consider (episkepsômetha) – whether or not it is possible for that to be the case (prôton men ei dunaton estin tout’ einai ê ou) – to know that one knows and that one does not know (to ha oiden kai ha mê oiden eidenai hoti oide kai hoti ouk oiden); and secondly (epeita), if it is perfectly possible (ei hoti malista dunaton), what benefit our knowing that would bring us (tis an eiê hêmin ôphelia eidosin auto).’ – Cr. ‘Indeed we ought to look at that (Alla chrê skopein).’ (166e4-167b5)

***
D. Watt notes on ‘third time lucky’ (Palin toinun, to triton tô̢ sôtêri): ‘Literally, “the third (libation) to (Zeus) the Saviour”. The third cup of wine of a libation was dedicated to Zeus the Saviour. To drink this third cup was to pray [my emphasis, J.T.] for good luck.’

Watt’s note goes some way to amending the frivolous ‘third time lucky’. In the discussion that follows, the possibility and the benefit of Socrates’ scrutinizing and investigating himself is exposed to doubt, and in the dialogue it remains unresolved.

***
Socrates begins the proposed investigation by disputing the very possibility of self-reflexivity: ‘Come on then (Ithi dê), Critias (ô Kritia), look at it (skepsai), and see whether you can be shown to be closer to a solution in these matters than I (ean ti peri autôn euporôteros phanê̢s emou), because I am at a loss (egô men gar aporô). Shall I tell you where I find myself in difficulties (hê̢ de aporô, phrasô soi;)? – Critias: ‘Yes, certainly (Panu ge).’ – S. ‘Well then, if what we were saying a moment ago really is the case, won’t it all amount to this, that there is some one knowledge which is the knowledge of nothing but itself and the other knowledges (Allo ti oun, panta taut’ an eiê, ei estin hoper su nundê eleges, mia tis epistêmê, hê ouk allou tinos estin ê heautês te kai tôn allôn epistêmôn epistêmê), this same knowledge being the knowledge of ignorance too (kai dê kai anepistêmosunês hê autê hautê;)?’ – Cr. ‘Yes, certainly (Panu ge).’ (167b6-c3)

***
D. Watt puts the foregoing Socrates’ entry into a ‘we’ form; in fact, Socrates starts by attributing the starting point of the investigation to Critias, as Jowett correctly translates. Socrates: ‘Does not what you have been saying, if true, amount to this (Allo ti oun, panta taut’ an eiê, ei estin hoper su nundê eleges): that there must be a single science which is wholly a science of itself and of other sciences (mia tis epistêmê, hê ouk allou tinos estin ê heautês te kai tôn allôn epistêmôn epistêmê), and that the same is also the science of the absence of science (kai dê kai anepistêmosunês hê autê hautê;)?’

It is only in his next entry that Socrates identifies himself with Critias’ position, using the ‘we’ instead of ‘you’.

***
Socrates: ‘See (Ide dê) what a strange thing (hôs atopon) we’re trying to say, my friend (epicheiroumen, ô hetaire, legein). If you look at the same proposition in other cases (en allois gar pou to auto touto ean skopê̢s), it’ll come to seem to you (doxei soi), I think (hôs egô̢mai), that it is impossible (adunaton einai).’ – Critias: ‘How (Pôs dê)? In what cases (kai pou;)?’. – S. ‘In these (En toisde). Consider (ennoei gar) whether you think there is a vision (ei soi dokei opsis tis einai) which is not the vision of what the other visions are visions of (hê hôn men hai allai opseis eisin, ouk estin toutôn opsis), but is the vision of itself and the other visions (heautês de kai tôn allôn opseôn opsis estin), and non-visons in the same way (kai mê opseôn hôsautôs): and though it is a vision, it sees no colour (kai chrôma men hora̢ ouden opsis ousa), only itself (hautên de) and the other visions (kai tas allas opseis). Do you think there is such a vision (dokei tis soi einai toiautê;)?’ – Cr. ‘Heaven’s (Ma Di’), no, I don’t (ouk emoige).’ – S. ‘What about a hearing (Ti de akoên) which hears no sound (he phônês men oudemias akouei); but hears itself and the other hearings (hautês de kai tôn allôn akoôn akouei) and non-hearings (kai tôn mê akoôn;)?’ – Cr. ‘No, not that either (Oude touto).’ – S. ‘Take all the senses together (Sullêbdên dê skopei peri pasôn tôn aisthêseôn). Do you think there is some sense of the senses (ei tis soi dokei einai aisthêseôn men aisthêsis) and of itself (kai heautês) which, however, senses nothing of what the other senses sense (hôn de dê hai allai aisthêseis aisthanontai, mêdenos aisthanomenê;)?’ – Cr. ‘No, I don’t (Ouk emoige).’ – S. ‘Do you think there is some desire (All’ epithumia dokei tis soi einai) which is the desire for no pleasure (hêtis hêdonês oudemias estin epithumia), but for itself (hautês de) and the other desires (kai tôn allôn epithumiôn;)?’ – Cr. ‘Certainly not (Ou dêta).’ – S. ‘Nor indeed, I think, is there a wish (Oude mên boulêsis, hôs egô̢mai) which wishes for no good (hê agathon men ouden bouletai), but which wishes for itself and for the other wishes (hautên de kai tas allas boulêseis bouletai).’ – Cr. ‘No, definitely not (Ou gar oun).’ – S. ‘Would you say there was some love of that kind (Erôta de phaiês an tina einai toiouton), which is actually the love of no beautiful thing (hos tunchanei ôn erôs kalou men oudenos), but of itself (hautou de) and the other loves (kai tôn allôn erôtôn;)?’ – Cr. ‘No, I don’t (Ouk egôge).’ – S. ‘Have you ever observed a fear (Phobon de êdê tina katanenoêkas) which fears itself and the other fears (hos heauton men kai tous allous phobous phobeitai), but fears none of the things which are frightening (tôn deinôn d’ oude hen phobeitai;)?’ – Cr. ‘No, I haven’t (Ou katanenoêka).’ – S. ‘Or any opinion (Doxan de) which is an opinion of opinions (doxôn doxan) and of itself (kai hautês), but which holds no opinion about what the other opinions hold opinions about (hôn de hai allai doxazousin mêden doxazousan;)?’ Cr. ‘Not at all (Oudamôs).’ (167d4-168a5)

Socrates: ‘But it would appear we’re saying that there is some such knowledge (All’ epistêmên, hôs eoiken, phamen tina einai toiautên), which is the knowledge of no branch of learning (hêtis mathêmatos men oudenos estin epistêmê), but is the knowledge of itself and the other knowledges (hautês de kai tôn allôn epistêmôn epistêmê)?’ – Critias: ‘Yes, we are (Phamen gar)!’ – S. ‘Isn’t it strange, then (Oukoun atopon), if it really does exist (ei ara kai estin;)? In fact, let’s not state categorically just yet that it doesn’t exist (mêden gar pô diischurizômetha hôs ouk estin), but let’s keep investigating whether it does exist (all’ ei estin eti skopômen).’ – Cr. ‘You’re right (Orthôs legeis).’ (168a6-b1)

Socrates: ‘Come on, then (Phere dê). This knowledge is (estin hautê hê epistêmê) the knowledge of something (tinos epistêmê), and it has some such faculty (kai echei tina toiautên dunamin), so as to be of something (hôste tinos einai), hasn’t it (ê gar;)?’ – Cr. ‘Yes, certainly (Panu ge).’ – S. ‘For example, we say that that which is superior has some such faculty (Kai gar to meizon phamen toiautên tina echein dunamin), so as to be superior of something, don’t we (hôste tinos einai meizon;)?’ – Cr. ‘Yes, it does (Echei gar).’ – S. ‘Then that something is inferior (Oukoun elattonos tinos), if the other is to be superior (eiper estai meizon).’ – Cr. ’It must be (Anankê).’ – S. ‘Now, if we were to find some superior thing (Ei oun ti heuroimen meizon) which is the superior of those things which are superior (ho tôn men meizonôn estin meizon) and of itself (kai heautou), but the superior of none of those things of which the other superior things are the superiors (hôn de t’alla meizô estin mêdenos meizon), I’m quite sure that what would be the case with it would be this (pantôs an pou ekeino d’ autô̢ huparchoi): if it were the superior of itself (eiper heautou meizon eiê), it would also be the inferior of itself (kai elatton heautou einai), wouldn’t it (ê ou;)?’ – Cr. ‘It would certainly have to (Pollê anankê), Socrates (ô Sôkrates).’ (168b2-c3)

***
I don’t know why D. Watt translated meizon (‘bigger’) as ‘superior‘, elatton (‘smaller’) as ‘inferior’; one might imagine that one and the same person can suffer both a superiority and an inferiority complex. Socrates chose ‘greater’ and ‘smaller’, for one and the same thing cannot be greater of itself and smaller of itself. Jowett translates: ‘And if we could find something which is at once greater than itself and greater than other great things (Ei oun ti heuroimen meizon ho tôn men meizonôn estin meizon kai heautou), but not greater than those things in comparison of which the others are greater (hôn de t’alla meizô estin mêdenos meizon), then that thing would have the property (pantôs an pou ekeino d’ autô̢ huparchoi) of being greater and also less than itself (eiper heautou meizon eiê kai elatton heautou einai, ê ou;)?’ – Critias: ‘That, Socrates, is the inevitable inference (Pollê anankê, ô Sôkrates).’

***
Socrates: ‘And if something is the double (Oukoun kai ei ti diplasion estin) both of the other doubles (tôn te allôn diplasiôn) and of itself (kai heautou), it would itself constitute a half (hêmiseos dêpou ontos heautou te), as would the others (kai tôn allôn), if it were double (diplasion an eiê), since there is not (ou gar estin), I’m sure (pou), a double of anything (allou diplasion) but a half (ê hêmiseos).’ – Critias: ‘True (Alêthê).’ – S. ‘That which is superior of itself (Pleon de hautou on ‘That which is more than itself’) will be the inferior of itself too (ou kai elatton estai; ‘won’t it be les than itself as well?’), and what is heavier (kai baruteron on), lighter (kouphoteron), and what is older (kai presbuteron on), younger (neôteron), and so on (kai t’alla panta hôsautôs ‘and the same of other things’, tr. Jowett). Whatever relates its own faculty to itself (hotiper an tên heautou dunamin pros heauto echê̢) will also have that essential nature (ou kai ekeinên hexei tên ousian) to which its faculty was related, won’t it (pros hên hê dunamis autou ên;)? I mean something like this (legô de to toionde): hearing, for example (hoion hê akoê), we say (phamen) is the hearing of nothing other than sound (ouk allou tinos ên akoê ê phônês), isn’t it (ê gar;)?’ – Cr. ‘Yes (Nai).’ – S. ‘If it is to hear itself (Okoun eiper autê heautês akousetai), it will hear itself as possessing a sound (phônên echousês heautês akousetai), since it couldn’t hear otherwise (ou gar an allôs akouseien).’ – Cr. ‘Most definitely (Pollê anankê).’ – S. ‘And vision (Kai hê opsis), of course (ge pou), my good friend (ô ariste), if it is to see itself (eiper opsetai autê heautên), must have some colour (chrôma ti autên anankê echein), since vision will certainly never see anything that is colourless (achrôn gar opsis ouden  mê pote idê̢).’ – Cr. ‘No, it definitely won’t (Ou gar oun).’ – S. ‘Do you see (Hora̢s), then (oun), Critias (ô Kritia), that of all the examples we’ve gone through (hoti hosa dielêluthamen), for some it seems to us absolutely impossible (ta men autôn adunata pantapasi phainetai hêmin), while in the case of the others it is very difficult to believe (ta d’ apisteitai sphodra), that they could ever relate their own faculty to themselves (mê pot’ an tên heautôn dunamin pros heauta schein;)? It is absolutely impossible for magnitudes and numbers and the like (megethê men gar kai plêthê kai ta toiauta pantapasin adunaton), isn’t it (ê ouchi;)? – Cr. ‘Yes, certainly (Panu ge).’ – S. ‘Whereas hearing (Akoê d’au) and vision (kai opsis), and also (kai eti ge) motion moving itself (kinêsis autê heautên kinein) and heat burning itself (kai thermotês kaein) and everything like that (kai panta ta toiauta), would excite disbelief in some people (tois men apistian an paraschoi), though perhaps not in others (isôs de tisin ou).’ (168c4-169a1)
***
In the Phaedrus Plato’s Socrates proves the soul’s immortality, defining it as ‘motion moving itself’: ‘All souls is immortal (Psuchê pasa athanatos); for that which is ever in motion is immortal (to gar aeikinêton athanaton). But that which while imparting motion is itself moved by something else (to d’ allo kinoun kai hup’ allou kinoumenon) can cease to be in motion (paulan echon kinêseôs), and therefore can cease to live (paulan echei zôês); it is only that which moves itself (monon dê to hauto kinoun) that never intermits its motion, inasmuch as it cannot abandon its own nature (hate ouk apoleipon heauto, oupote lêgei kinoumenon); moreover this self-mover is the source and first principle of motion for all other things that are moved (alla kai tois allois hosa kineitai touto pêgê kai archê kinêseôs) … The self-mover, then, is the first principle of motion (houtô dê kinêseôs men archê to auto hauto kinoun): and it is as impossible that it should be destroyed as that it should come into being (touto de out apollusthai oute gignesthai dunaton): were it otherwise, the whole universe, the whole of that which comes to be, would collapse into immobility (ê panta ton ouranon pasan te genesin sumpesousan stênai), and never find another source of motion to bring it back into being (kai mêpote authis echein hothen kinêthenta genêsetai). And now that we have seen that that which is moved by itself is immortal (athanatou de pephasmenou tou huph’ heautou kinoumenou), we shall feel no scruple in affirming that precisely that is the essence and definition of the soul, to wit self-motion (psuchês ousian te kai logon touton auton tis legôn ouk aischuneitai 245c5-e3, tr. Hackforth).
***
Putting the definition of the soul as the self-moving motion into Socrates’ mouth, Plato in the Phaedrus fragrantly violated his self-awareness of ignorance. Socrates had to protest; the Apology testifies to it that he must have protested, or else he could not have founded his defence in front of the jury on his philosophic ignorance; Charmides testifies to it that Plato enacted Socrates’ protest in the dialogue that followed the Phaedrus.
Nevertheless, one may say on behalf of Plato as the author of the Phaedrus that the endeavour to attain self-knowledge could be understood as self-motion, and thus as an extension of and reflection on Socrates’ philosophic activities. This is why Socrates has been driven to subject to his radical doubting his pursuit of self-knowledge.
Socrates’ reaction to the Phaedrus appears to have reminded Plato of the way Socrates had reacted to the Pythian oracle, which his friend Chaerephon brought from Delphi: ‘he actually asked the oracle (êreto gar dê) to tell him whether anyone was wiser than I was (ei tis emou eiê sophôteros), and the Pythian prophetess answered (aneilen oun hê Puthia) that there was no man wiser (mêdena sophôteron einai)’. (Pl. Apology 21a5-7, tr. Jowett). If so, this is why in the introductory paragraph of the Charmides it is Chaerephon who welcomes Socrates after his return from the military camp at Potidaea (153a-b), and why it is Chaerephon’s praise of Charmides’ beauty that occasions Socrates’ enquiry into sôphrosunê (154d).
***
Giving vent to Socrates’ re-emphasized philosophic not-knowing, Plato at the same time indicated that Socrates’ scrutiny and his doubts did not affect his, that is Plato’s, view of the soul as the self-moving mover. When Socrates’ doubts as to the possibility of self-knowledge reached their  finale by pointing to ‘motion moving itself (kinêsis autê heautên kinein) and heat burning itself (kai thermotês kaein)’, he continued: ‘What we need, my friend, is some great man (megalou dê tinos, ô phile, andros dei) to determine satisfactorily for all instances (hostis touto kata pantôn hikanôs diairêsetai) whether none of the things which exist (poteron ouden tôn ontôn) relates its own faculty to itself naturally (tên hautou dunamin auto pros heauto pephuken echein), but to something else instead (alla pros allo), or whether some do (ê ta men), but others don’t (ta d’ ou) … I don’t believe I’m competent to settle these questions (egô men ou pisteuô emautô̢ hikanos einai tauta dielesthai). (169a1-8)
***
Let me end this post by noting that in Plato’s thought ‘motion moving itself’ (kinêsis autê heautên kinein) and ‘heat burning itself’ (kai thermotês kaein), with which Socrates’ doubts concerning the possibility of self-reflective entities culminated, are, presumably, closely related. Plato was a Heraclitean prior to his philosophic encounter with Socrates, as Aristotle informs us in Metaphysics 987a33-b1; Heraclitus proclaimed that ‘this cosmos (kosmon tonde), which is the same for all beings (ton auton hapantôn), has not been created by any god or man (oute tis theôn oute anthrôpôn epoiêse), but always was (all’ ên aei), is (kai estin), and will be the ever-living fire (kai estai pur aeizôn, Diels-Kranz, frgm. B 30).’