Absolute Chair-ness

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" writing is unfortunately like painting; for the creations of the painter have the attitude of life, and yet if you ask them a question they preserve a solemn silence." Plato pg 362 Phaedrus

This thought ties right into another work of Plato's that I read last semester in Form and Analysis 1.I believe the story went as such:

you have a chair. but is there a concrete definition of a chair? we have folding chairs, arm chairs, director's chairs, etc. If there is one concrete "absolute chairness", then all others participate in chairness, but not absolute.

meaning that the absolute chairness are the words spoken from the author's mouth, the concrete truth. The other variations of chairs are imitations, and an imitation is a step away from truth, absolute chairness.

so if rhetoric is absolute chairness, then the written word may be an armchair. And now we have yet another technological breakthrough that some may believe threatens the written word medium: the electronic world. So now we are two steps away from the truth?

But at the same time, speech takes away from the truth. We all have played that whisper down the lane game when we were children. The phrase uttered at the beginning of the game was never the same at the end. Spoken stories step away from truth as well. In the whisper-down-the-lane case, moreso than does the written word.

We can never be sure of absolute chairness. God is the only one who knows all the truths of the universe.

anyone else think that Plato contradicted himself?

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4 Comments

Jeremy Barrick said:

True to a point. I feel that speech was the primary form of communication that eventually led to the written word. In Socrate's defense, I understand where he is coming from. But, I do not feel that there is much truth to what he has to say. Leaving every answer to a higher power makes us, humans, weak.

Writing can also be seen as somewhat ineffective since its so easy to publish or spread ideas which can be inaccurately sourced. Yes, writing is more direct and stays consistant, I agree, but oral communication is advantageous.

"God is the only one who knows all the truths of the universe." Does that make the pursuit of truth meaningless (or silly), since we will never really know? If we can never find any truth in anything, or if our truths are only perceived through our limited lens, then this course and other areas are useless. Im not sure why you ended your entry with this comment, as it kind of puzzles more than the post. This doesnt really seem to explain to me why letters are better than dialogues. That seems like a ineffective way to end an argument. Does that make arguing hopeless? In the end we decay and God still knows everything. We try to learn more, but whose ever sure? This is the start towards a very existential presentation (although im sure that not your org. intention) Sounds depressing really. Anyways to read a well presented entry than ends with that quote is frustrating to me. It would be like be taking the opposite standpoint and saying "Well in the end there is no God and truths are only perceived".
I should explain that im using this not to attack your faith, thats a not the intention of this entry, Im just annoyed that that quote is placed at the end.

ChrisU said:

Regardless of whether or not we can find or even understand the answers to all of our questions, it's the pursuit of those answers that is most important. The journey, rather than the destination, is the meaningful thing, because it gives our lives a purpose which can never be extinguished. After all, no matter how many answers we do manage to find, they always lead to further questions and a renewed quest for truth.

God, or whatever/whoever is up there...Our minds and bodies, to me, denote design because they are so complicated. Who create truth? I don't want to come offf overly paranoid. We just have to trust the truth sometimes instead of questioning everything.

trust the doctor if he tells you need medicine. Turst you teacher that he is the one who knows the right answer. Truth is trusting

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