I have a problem with the Republic here, how exactly can one use hypothesis as hypothesis to "ascend" to the first principle?
"And of this kind I spoke as the intelligible, although in the search after it the
soul is compelled to use hypotheses; not ascending to a first principle, because
she is unable to rise above the region of hypothesis, but employing the objects
of which the shadows below are resemblances in their turn as images, they
having in relation to the shadows and reflections of them a greater distinctness,
and therefore a higher value.
I understand, he said, that you are speaking of the province of geometry and
the sister arts.
And when I speak of the other division of the intelligible, you will understand
me to speak of that other sort of knowledge which reason herself attains by
the power of dialectic, using the hypotheses not as first principles, but only as
hypotheses–that is to say, as steps and points of departure into a world which is above hypotheses, in order that she may soar beyond them to the first principle
of the whole; and clinging to this and then to that which depends on this, by
successive steps she descends again without the aid of any sensible object, from
ideas, through ideas, and in ideas she ends."
Is there any example that could illustrate how hypothesis and intellectual objects lead to principles?
Also when he speaks of clinging to this then that, is he speaking on clingings done to the principle or the ones done to the hypoethsis or intellectual objects so as to reach principles and "end" in ideas.
>and clinging to this and then to that which depends on this, by
>successive steps she descends again without the aid of any sensible object, from
>ideas, through ideas, and in ideas she ends."
Assuming he's speaking of clingings to hypothesis here, could he be summarizing the Socratic method?
That is, you ask what the hypothesis depends on, what that depends on, etcetera, etcetera to "descend"?
So, "if I drop this ball it will fall" could be my hypothesis, I would then ask "what is a ball?", "what is a fall?" etc, to descend into principles?
I find making sense of this paragraph very difficult, it came out of nowhere really.
The soul "contains" the Forms, in being of the same substance and origin, and through dialectic/reasoning can achieve understanding by revealing or remembering what's already within itself. To consider only outer images/appearances derived from the senses cannot provide grounded knowledge, only belief, because there is no inward apprehension of the Forms, only their false reflections. Mathematicians are in between, because while they deal directly with the Forms, they accept them as they are, equating them with images, failing to use dialectic/reasoning to recognize these truths' association with higher reality, no attempt made to trace them to the first principle.
>To consider only outer images/appearances derived from the senses cannot provide grounded knowledge, only belief, because there is no inward apprehension of the Forms, only their false reflections.
But the relations hypothesized from the images in the realm of understanding which are more valuable than but gotten from the appearances in the realm of belief that are more valuable than the shadows in the realm of perception, are still used somehow yes?
My question pertains to what this dialectic is that "works off" hypothesis?
How would this dialectic work, what does it entail?
To make my question more clear, here are the next two paragraph:
"I understand you, he replied; not perfectly, for you seem to me to be describing
a task which is really tremendous; but, at any rate, I understand you to say that
knowledge and being, which the science of dialectic contemplates, are clearer
than the notions of the arts, as they are termed, which proceed from hypotheses
only: these are also contemplated by the understanding, and not by the senses:
yet, because they start from hypotheses and do not ascend to a principle, those
who contemplate them appear to you not to exercise the higher reason upon
them, although when a first principle is added to them they are cognizable by
the higher reason. And the habit which is concerned with geometry and the
cognate sciences I suppose that you would term understanding and not reason,
as being intermediate between opinion and reason.
You have quite conceived my meaning, I said; and now, corresponding to these
four divisions, let there be four faculties in the soul–reason answering to
the highest, understanding to the second, faith (or conviction) to the third, and
perception of shadows to the last–and let there be a scale of them, and let us
suppose that the several faculties have clearness in the same degree that their
objects have truth."
Narrowing down on the part that baffles me:
> I understand you to say that knowledge and being, which the science of dialectic contemplates, are clearer than the notions of the arts, as they are termed, which proceed from hypotheses only: these are also contemplated by the understanding, and not by the senses: yet, because they start from hypotheses and do not ascend to a principle, those who contemplate them appear to you not to exercise the higher reason upon them, although when a first principle is added to them they are cognizable by the higher reason.
>do not ascend to a principle, those who contemplate them appear to you not to exercise the higher reason upon them, although when a first principle is added to them they are cognizable by the higher reason.
What is this first principle? How can this higher reason be exercised?
Going by your answer:
> failing to use dialectic/reasoning to recognize these truths' association with higher reality, no attempt made to trace them to the first principle.
How do you use dialectic and reasoning to trace these hypothesis (made from images) to their "first principles"? What are these principles?
Very good question! I go to work in a little bit here, so I can't give it the focus I'd like to until later tonight, but here are a few things that might help to *some* extent:
On the word hypothesis itself, here's a passage from a glossary contained in a translation of the Phaedo (also worth looking into for its discussion of "hypothesis"):
"The origin of hypothesis is the verb tithenai, which means set, put, or place. When used of speech and thought, it means put forward a claim or posit. Hypo-tithenai means place under or provide a foundation or support for something. When used of speech and thought, it can mean assume or suppose. A hypothesis, then, is a ground--either an underpinning or support for some set of things, or a supposition or basis for some argument or claim."
Look up Phaedo 100a or so and the following passages for an account of hypothesis as a method. Or of Meno 86d-87d for another account and an example of it. Also, maybe look toward Parmenides 135a-136c for yet another account. (And if you'd like further examples, that dialogue is from that point onward made up of nothing else but hypotheses being tested)
The passage/translation is kind of confusing, but it seems to me basically just rationalism vs. empiricism. My interpretation would be that the scientist/empiricist is only interested in numbers as they're incidentally reflected in the world of images. So, he counts stones, measures physical objects, etc.. The mathematician is interested in numbers in themselves and their relations, which incidentally exist as ideas in his mind, but goes no further. But Plato's person with "understanding" looks at numbers and investigates their relation to his own being, questions of being itself, etc.. The capacity for a human to even do this at all reflects something higher the others are ignoring. So, the others might see 1+1=2 and be satisfied with it as is, a mere fact. But Plato might try to relate the concept of 1 to something like his own subjective being, 0 to the non-reality of his non-being, 1+1=2 to the idea of causality and the question of being's possible origins (the "first principle"), etc.. This is to work entirely with a priori judgments, which is to share in the eternity of the absolute/Forms from which the soul/self derives.
Well, it's strange, right? Because the "hypotheses" are basically the same as taking on axioms. You take them on, and then see what must follow and eventually (???) somehow come upon a principle which is not a hypothesis.
I'm not really sure how *that* works, but Glaucon immediately takes it as possible, which worries me. Perhaps it's not? Socrates' own exposition throughout huge portions of the Republic (including these passages?) seems "hypothetical" in the original Greek sense.
Grant that the city is the soul writ large, and let's see what happens, and somewhere along the way hypothesis falls out of it? It's very confusing...
Thank you, look forward to it.
(On another note, what do you work in if you don't mind me asking?)
I think my thoughts are similar to yours.
My problem lies exactly in how this "getting to being" deal would go about though.
Really, Plato seems to talk a lot about what the guardians would be educated in but little about the process by which they would get to these truths of beings, or whatever they are.
If the process by which he got (approximately, since later in the dialogue he does clarify that approximations of the forms are enough) to the concept of justice is to be taken as an example of this descent into ideas, I have some contentions about that.
On one hand, although I can't for the life of me find where exactly the idea of four virtues came up in the book exactly, I know it was rather abrupt and out-of-nowhere.
The Socrates in the Republic seems to have overcome his old skeptical role by a long shot, and he's definitely feigning ignorance if he still confesses that "all [he] knows is that [he] knows nothing", I'd say.
(Also, I feel the method he used to get to justice was rather utilitarian, but that's not the topic of discussion here).
On the other hand, he does mention that "looking into the sun", would be too hard for most people, so I suppose he does put up a defense for why he can't explicitly tell us what he is talking about.
I suppose you don't take them on then?
Maybe instead of accepting the axioms, you analyze them, and ask yourself how true they are.
As he says, the [axioms] are not used as first principles but only as [axioms] "steps and points" of departure into a world which is above [axioms].
I'd say when he mentions "clinging" he's referring not to a a process of descending from first principles, but of a process by which one can move from axioms to truths of "being" (so consider the part from"that is to say...of the whole" to be in brackets) perhaps he's asking us to question where our axioms really come from as as to be able to raise our mind's eye and be able to behold the source of all our convictions?
God i love this cover. Guy is like
>bro hear me out
>this is SERIOUS BRO
>okay okay listen
>how about we create the republic that is ruled by smart fellows
>BRO THIS IS SERIOUS LISTEN
>smart guy is smart so they will do everything right, you still with me?!
>smart fellas like you and me
>and we will rule smart you know politics and shit - diplomancy, jurizdiction, manlitary, all dat stuff
>and we will be like respected and treated with stuff
>galz will love us too!
Okay, so here's some of those passages I mentioned before, the examination of which might yield some explanation or other.
"By ‘from a hypothesis’ I mean the way in which geometers often investigate when someone asks them about an area, for instance, whether it can be inscribed in this circle as a triangle. One might reply: I don’t yet know whether it can, but I think I have to hand a hypothesis to deal with the problem, of the following sort: if the area is such that, when placed along its given line, it falls short by an area like the one placed alongside, one result follows, and a different one if this cannot happen to it. Using this hypothesis, I’m willing to tell you about the result of inscribing the area in this circle, whether it’s impossible or not."
"Nevertheless, Socrates," said Parmenides, it is necessary that the forms have these features, and still a good many others besides these, if there are these ideas of things, and if one will mark off each form as something itself—to the point that the hearer will become perplexed and will dispute whether these are not or, if they should indeed be, it is most necessary that they be unknowable to human nature; and, in saying that, he will seem to be saying something, and as we were just saying, he will be wonderfully difficult to persuade out of his position. And it will take a man thoroughly well endowed who will be able to understand how there is a kind of each thing and a being in itself, and someone even more wonderful who will discover and be able to teach another, how to discriminate all these sufficiently."
"I agree with you, Parmenides," said Socrates; "for you speak quite in line with what I think."
"And yet, Socrates," said Parmenides, "if anyone, on the other hand, considering all that we have said just now and the like, will not allow that there are forms of things and will not mark off a form for each one thing, he will not even have whither to turn his thought, not allowing an idea to be ever the same for each of the things that are, and will thus completely destroy all possibility of dialogue. But you seem to me to have perceived something of the sort only too well."
"You speak the truth," he said.
"What will you do, then, about philosophy? Where will you turn to, so long as these issues are unknown?"
"I do not think I can see at all, at least not at present."
"For you are trying to mark off something beautiful," said he, "and just, and good, and every single one of the forms, Socrates, too early, before you are trained. I noticed that earlier too, as I was listening to you talking here to our friend Aristoteles. Believe me, your urge toward arguments is indeed noble and divine; but while you are still young you should exercise and train yourself better in what the many call idle talk and think useless, else the truth will escape you."
"Well, Parmenides," said he, "what is the manner of training?"
"Precisely that which you heard from Zeno," he said. "Except this: I admired what you said to him, that you would not allow the inquiry to wander among visible things nor to be about these, but about those things that one would especially apprehend by argument and would think of as being forms."
"For it seems to me," he said, "that in this way, at any rate, there is no difficulty in showing that things are affected by both likes and unlikes and any other affection whatsoever."
"And right you are," he said. "But, in addition to that, you must still do this: not only investigate the consequences of the hypothesis in hypothesizing if each thing is, but also hypothesize if that same thing is not, if you wish to be thoroughly trained."
"How do you mean?" said he.
"For example," he said, "if you wish, in connection with this hypothesis that Zeno hypothesized, if the many are, what must follow both for the many in relation to themselves and in relation to the one, and for the one both in relation to itself and in relation to the many; and, again, if the many are not, once more investigate what will follow for the one as well as the many, in relation to themselves as well as in relation to one another; and again, in each case in turn, whenever you hypothesize if likeness is or if it is not, what will follow from each of the two hypotheses for these things themselves that were hypothesized as well as for the others, in relation to themselves as well as in relation to each other. And the same argument about the unlike, and about movement and about rest, and about coming to be and passing away, and about being itself and not being. And, in one word, about whatever you may on any occasion hypothesize as being and as not being, and as being affected by any other affection whatsoever, you must investigate the consequences in relation to itself and in relation to each and every one of the others, whatever you choose, both severally and collectively alike; and again the others, both in relation to themselves and in relation to the other that you choose at each time, whether you hypothesize what is hypothesized as being or as not being, if you intend to train thoroughly and to discern the truth properly."
And part of Phaedo 100a and little after:
"But as I have failed either to discover myself, or to learn of any one else, the nature of the best, I will exhibit to you, if you like, what I have found to be the second best mode of enquiring into the cause."
"I should very much like to hear," he replied.
Socrates proceeded: "I thought that as I had failed in the contemplation of true existence, I ought to be careful that I did not lose the eye of my soul; as people may injure their bodily eye by observing and gazing on the sun during an eclipse, unless they take the precaution of only looking at the image reflected in the water, or in some similar medium. So in my own case, I was afraid that my soul might be blinded altogether if I looked at things with my eyes or tried to apprehend them by the help of the senses. And I thought that I had better have recourse to the world of mind and seek there the truth of existence. I dare say that the simile is not perfect—for I am very far from admitting that he who contemplates existences through the medium of thought, sees them only 'through a glass darkly,' any more than he who considers them in action and operation. However, this was the method which I adopted: I first put down as hypothesis some principle which I judged to be the strongest, and then I affirmed as true whatever seemed to agree with this, whether relating to the cause or to anything else; and that which disagreed I regarded as untrue. But I should like to explain my meaning more clearly, as I do not think that you as yet understand me."
"No indeed," replied Cebes, "not very well."
"There is nothing new," he said, "in what I am about to tell you; but only what I have been always and everywhere repeating in the previous discussion and on other occasions: I want to show you the nature of that cause which has occupied my thoughts. I shall have to go back to those familiar words which are in the mouth of every one, and first of all put down as hypothesis that there is an absolute beauty and goodness and greatness, and the like; grant me this, and I hope to be able to show you the nature of the cause, and to prove the immortality of the soul."