February 15, 2005

More play dough?

Oh, Plato. Not as much fun as I thought.

The same themes of the "ideal" of "bedness" and the hatred for the "honeyed" muse-inspired works appear here, just as it does here.

Socrates was really into repitition....repeat questions....repeat themes...maybe I am just kind of ticked off that he can't figure out other end punctuation marks.

In any case, throughout this rather lengthy Book X of probably 98 or so, I did discover a few high points.

On stoicism:
"The law would say that to be patient under suffering is best, and that we should not give way to impatience, as there is no knowing whether such things are good or evil; and nothing is gained by impatience; also, because no human thing is of serious importance, and grief stands in the way of that which at the moment is most required."

This school of thought is still perpetuated in Christian thought from the Roman Hellenistic influence. I guess in the influence you get "imitations" (as Socrates loves to put it), but when coming straight from the first thinkers, I am awed by the frankness of the words. This statement intimates that it is honorable, virtuous, and attractive, above all to stand firm amid disaster.

On hating the poet:

"For if you go beyond this and allow the honeyed muse to enter, either in epic or lyric verse, not law and the reason of mankind, which by common consent have ever been deemed best, but pleasure and pain will be the rulers in our State."

And this is where Socrates gets in trouble with me. I love poetry, and I do not think that it has a negative influence on people's lives and their perception of the world around them--unless they permit it to. While I will probably get the "it can be a sub-conscious response," I will retort, "When has your sub-conscious smacked anyone?" Never mind.

And then he bashes some more...and let's add in some metaphors about women to enhance the effect.

"We too are inspired by that love of poetry which the education of noble States has implanted in us, and therefore we would have her appear at her best and truest; but so long as she is unable to make good her defence, this argument of ours shall be a charm to us, which we will repeat to ourselves while we listen to her strains; that we may not fall away into the childish love of her which captivates the many. At all events we are well aware that poetry being such as we have described is not to be regarded seriously as attaining to the truth; and he who listens to her, fearing for the safety of the city which is within him, should be on his guard against her seductions and make our words his law."

The application of a feminine in this negative context is rather offensive to the modern reader, but I am comforted in the fact that beautiful ships are also referred to in this same manner.

On the virtuous:

"He should consider the bearing of all these things which have been mentioned severally and collectively upon virtue; he should know what the effect of beauty is when combined with poverty or wealth in a particular soul, and what are the good and evil consequences of noble and humble birth, of private and public station, of strength and weakness, of cleverness and dullness, and of all the soul, and the operation of them when conjoined."

I am still struggling with this one. Does he mean that beauty corrupts the lower classes because they do not see much of it? Or that the upper-classes will be corrupted by overindulgence in the beautiful things life has to offer?

As I read over all of the Plato writings, I realize the irony that his rhetoric is just as "honeyed" as the muses'. His speeches, filled with design for the other speaker, are just as inspired as the next poet on the curbside of Athens. Did they have curbs?

Anyway...that is why we still esteem his work--because it isn't jibberish. It is inspired, perhaps by Socrates himself, but perhaps by a belligerent muse who wishes to be heard, so he creates this amazing vessel that believes the exact opposite of the common consensus to get his message out.

*falls asleep on desktop*

Oh yeah. And that is my cue to stop writing.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at February 15, 2005 12:18 AM | TrackBack

So *this* is what kept you up so late... Ouch.

As for the quote about the virtuous... We went over this stuff in Philosophy, and I think he was trying to say that everyone has the potential to be "virtuous"... Everyone has different challenges to face... And if you want to be considered "virtuous," you have to be so in all aspects of your life, not just one or a few of 'em.

Posted by: ChrisU at February 15, 2005 10:02 AM

Ouch is right. I was so bleary-eyed in class today that I hacked up "evil", which came out to be "evility" and "evilness" on two different occasions.

Posted by: Amanda at February 16, 2005 12:11 AM

You're up *again*, tonight, after midnight?

Better get some sleep, or you'll be the same way tomorrow, hehe.

Although, I guess I shouldn't be talking, I'm the one who posts poems at 4 AM.

Posted by: ChrisU at February 16, 2005 12:30 AM
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