Quoted: ‘Democritus,’ from Wiki:
“In ‘Meditations’ by Marcus Aurelius there is supposedly a quote by Democritus: “If you seek tranquility do less.”
Wiki: “Later Greek historians consider Democritus to have established ‘aesthetics’ as a subject of investigation and study, as he wrote rhetorically on poetry and fine art long before authors such as Aristotle… His ‘atomistic void’ hypothesis was a response to the paradoxes of Parmenides (4)… who put forth difficult-to-answer arguments in favor of the idea that there can be no movement.” … “The knowledge of truth, according to Democritus, is difficult, since the perception through the senses is subjective.”
Quoted: ‘Parmenides,’ from ?
“Then there’s Parmenides (4), … who’s primary contributing effort to the instruction of the vital Athenian citizenry, was his great efforts against as valued for/over Being.”
“Empedocles teaches us that there is in our souls a dual nature; … by the other we are dragged downward toward regions infernal, through friendship and discord, war and peace; … so witness those verses in which he laments that, torn by strife and discord, like a madman, in flight from the gods, he is driven into the depths of the sea… in grave, intestine warfare, … worse than the civil wars of states. Equally clear is it that, if we are to overcome this warfare, if we are to achieve that peace which must establish us finally among the exalted of God, philosophy alone can compose and allay that strife.”
“Who would not wish to be so inspired by those Socratic frenzies which Plato sings in the ‘Phaedrus’ that, swiftly fleeing this place… that is, this world fixed in evil, by the oars, so to say, both of feet and wings, he might reach the heavenly Jerusalem by the swiftest course?”
“… since the precipitous fall of man from heaven has left his mind in a vertiginous whirl and since according to Jeremiah, death has come in through the windows to infect our hearts and bowels with evil, let us call upon Raphael, the heavenly healer that by moral philosophy and dialectic, as with healing drugs, he may release us. When we shall have been restored to health, Gabriel, the strength of God, will abide in us. Leading us through the marvels of nature and pointing out to us everywhere the power and goodness of God…”
“… he will deliver us finally to the care of the high priest Michael. He, in turn, will adorn those who have successfully completed their service to philosophy with the priesthood of theology as with a crown of precious stones.”
“Dialectic will compose the disorders of reason torn by anxiety and uncertainty amid the conflicting hordes of words and captious reasonings. Natural philosophy will reduce the conflict of opinions and the endless debates which from every side vex, distract and lacerate the disturbed mind. It will compose this conflict, however, in such a manner as to remind us that nature, as Heraclitus wrote, is generated by war and for this reason is called by Homer, “strife.””
“Natural philosophy, therefore, cannot assure us a true and unshakable peace.”
“To bestow such peace is rather the privilege and office of the queen of the sciences, most holy theology.”
“Natural philosophy will at best point out the way to theology and even accompany us along the path, while theology, seeing us from afar hastening to draw close to her, will call out: “Come to me…””
-Quoted from (?)
Quoted from Stanford.edu: “The positions of Hermogenes and Cratylus have come to be known to modern scholarship as ‘conventionalism’ and ‘naturalism’ respectively.
Cratylus, as an extreme linguistic naturalist, holds that names cannot be arbitrarily chosen in the way that conventionalism describes or advocates, because names belong naturally to their specific objects. If you try to speak of something with any name other than its natural name, you are simply failing to refer to it at all. For example, he has told Hermogenes to the latter’s intense annoyance, Hermogenes is not actually his name… Socrates is the main speaker in this dialogue, and his arguments are generally taken to represent Plato’s own current views. He starts out by criticizing conventionalism, and persuades Hermogenes that some kind of naturalism must be endorsed… So far the argument seems to be going Cratylus’ way. But in the final part of the dialogue Socrates turns to Cratylus and shows him that his expectations as a naturalist are set impossibly high: names cannot aspire to being perfect encapsulations of their objects’ essences, and some element of convention must be conceded.
Quoted from ‘Plato’s Laughter’:
“Akin to his role in the Euthydemus, Socrates, in the Cratylus, plays the fool in order to enact the absurdity of Hermogenes’s and Cratylus’s linguistic positions… In the case of Plato most readers should see this immediately: any mere summary would be a travesty of Plato who wants above all to make his readers think, to make them thoughtful, to stir them up. Indeed, Plato might well have said, as Jesus did: “I am come to kindle a fire on the earth; and what would I rather than that it burnt already… [the absurdity of Hermogenes’s and Cratylus’s linguistic positions] in which the possibility of false speech is denied… the interlocutors, and the dialogue’s readers, are thus placed in the position of either deeming Socrates’s etymologies to be facetious and false, in which case false speech must be possible, or taking them at face value, in which case even the most ridiculous derivations, ones that even Socrates suggests to be absurd, must be accepted as true.”
“At issue is the possibility of false speech, which Socrates indirectly affirms by comically and foolishly enacting the absurd consequences resulting from its denial… Chapter 4 addresses the performative contradictions of Hermogenes and the title character in the Cratylus to show that the self-forgetting of comedy suggested by the previous chapter extends to both a character’s words and deeds.”
“As the dialogue opens, Cratylus and Hermogenes are approaching Socrates to referee their dispute about language.”
“Cratylus has had the effrontery to inform him that Hermogenes is not his real name. How can that be, Hermogenes wonders, when all it takes for a name to be someone’s name is that there be an agreement by the relevant human community to use it that way?”
“Quizzed by Socrates about the size of the relevant community, Hermogenes agrees that at an extreme it might even be one person’s private name usage that is at issue. And he concedes that Socrates could if he wished have private nicknames that conflict with the city’s public vocabulary, for example by calling a man ‘horse’ and vice versa.”
“This may be read as simply establishing the precise terms of Hermogenes’ conventionalism. Although it is often interpreted as already reducing his thesis to an absurdity, there is no reason to think so, and at all events it is only in the next move that Socrates represents himself as developing an actual objection to Hermogenes’ conventionalist stance.”
“That next move starts with Socrates securing Hermogenes’ rejection of out-and-out relativism.”
“This in turn commits him to the view that things have objective natures independent of how they may appear to us, and that there are objectively determined skills for dealing with them: for example, the right way to cut something is determined, independently of our own subjective preferences, by that thing’s objective nature. Like cutting, naming too will be an objective science. Much as a shuttle is a tool for separating threads, a name is a ‘tool for instructing by separating being’.”
“But tools must be made by appropriate experts, who are themselves advised and guided by the tools’ destined users. Thus, just as the shuttle-making carpenter is guided by the weaver who has commissioned his product, so too the name-maker is an expert who, ideally at least, is guided by that ultimate expert in word use, the dialectician.”
“It follows that names, if correctly made, cannot be randomly adopted, as Hermogenes’ conventionalism would imply, but on the contrary need to be expertly made for their specific purpose, in a way that corresponds to the natures of the things they name.”
“To continue with the example already mentioned, the Greek word for ‘man’, anthrôpos, according to Socrates appears to break down into anathrôn ha opôpe, ‘one who reflects on what he has seen’ (399c). That is, the species which uniquely possesses both eyesight and intelligence has been given a name which acknowledges precisely that distinguishing combination.”
“Socrates’ and Hermogenes’ assumption throughout the etymological section is that, by decoding the philosophically significant Greek vocabulary, they are reading off from it the beliefs of those early members of their race who first gave things their names. It is in this sense that they assume etymology to work: it really can decode words and thus read the mindset of our early ancestors. Moreover, in keeping with his culture’s veneration for antiquity, Socrates respects whatever insights the ancients prove to have had into many cosmological matters, above all their recognition, which emerges on nearly every page, that intelligence is the key factor in the world’s structure.”
“But at no point does Socrates let that veneration turn into an attribution of authority to the ancients, and hence into a belief that etymology is a route to establishing the truth. The ancients’ views, once rediscovered, must be assessed on their merits, and when he turns to the ethical vocabulary he in fact finds them to have blundered disastrously. For, he maintains, the Greek ethical vocabulary when put under the microscope turns out again and again to associate positive values with flux, negative values with stability. In thus tying values to constant change, he suggests, the name-makers were projecting their own intellectual dizziness onto the things they were naming.”
“Socrates’ exposure and criticism of the ancients’ error no doubt hints at what Plato sees as his philosophical forerunners’ failure to recognize the essential stability of values. Plato sees the two of them — Socrates and himself — as responsible for that all-important breakthrough.”
“Like any good craftsman, Socrates also maintains, the name-maker (or ‘lawmaker’, as he also somewhat mysteriously calls this particular expert) must turn his mind’s eye to the appropriate Form, which he then embodies in the materials at his disposal, just as a carpenter making a shuttle or drill, having turned his mind’s eye to the appropriate Form, then embodies it in the particular wood or metal at his disposal. In the case of name-making, the appropriate material is not wood or metal, but vocal sound.”
After a little more walking along the trail with our new companion Marsyas to entertain us, Silenus stopped us and said, “Ah, here we are.” We approached an enormous home with ivory white columns on the face of it, having some beautiful green vine, or ivy, growing about the face of it. It had appeared right before us, suddenly. “We’ve arrived, then, to the House of Agathon.”
“Pleased to meet you.”
We were greeted by yet another couple of short goat-legged men standing at the doorway as we approached the sizeable estate, an impressively-sized mansion, really, and we were on a well-manacured pathway leading right up to the estste’s oppulent doorway. One of the satyrs ecstatically announced: “Ah! Here come the philosophers!” and held up his drink in toast to us.
“Welcome, to our friend Agathon’s!” said the other of the two, taller and leaner fellow.
The first to speak to our group in the doorway was named Democritus. He was the one who had toasted to us, maybe in jest. ‘The Mocker’ they called him. He is also known as ‘The Laughing Philosopher,’ and ‘the elect of the people.’ Those ol’ people–they never change–they love a good joke.
Democritus had a broad smile, rosy cheeks, and seemed as jolly as jolly old Santa Claus.
“And this is the famous Parmenides!” Marsyas waved his hand, as if to proudly display the satyr standing in the doorway next to the santa claus one. Parmenides has a harder facial expression to read, and was a satyr of a little more tragic of a disposition, I guess you could say. He looked up at us, Parmenides, the satyr looked at us as if behind a pair of reading glasses, with a pained sort of expression he exercised the appearance of having some kind of little interest in us, and now Silenus, as if to save the day said: “Parmenides likes to ruminate upon the idea that “nothing can come from nothing. Everything we know has a beginning point…” Marsyas added: “Parmenides’ is known as one of the first thinkers in history to consider the basic philosophical understanding of Order in the Universe.” Parmindes responded: “Whether or not the Universe has a ‘telos,’ or direction, is a matter for another discussion, and another time…” Perhaps, Silenus, who is more of what you would call a straight-man character, in a comedy bit or routine, affiliates more instead with this Parmenides than he does with a source of a good joke, like Democritus. As a pair, they were a little more serious; Silenus and Parmenides were studious types. Marsyas and Democritus are the class clown.
“First introductions only happen once, you know…” said Silenus, nodding to Parmenides. “Or so they say…”
“And you can only step into the same river once,” as Heraclitus would say, responded Parmenides.
“Oh, and will ‘he’ be joining us here tonight? Heraclitus?” asked Democritus
“The Obscure One? I think he certainly might,” answered Silenus.
“Democritus is known around here as ‘The Laughing Philosopher,’” added Marsyas, who kind of looked like he himself, in the way they were both pudgy, at least, and had little bellies, “and he’s always ‘looking’ for the comedic side in life…”
“I think that’s helpful.”
Democritus and Marsyas were a duo, in joviality. They were all fairly jolly, but Parmenides just seemed a little bit tired, that was all. Democritus wore a little white toga, and he seemed to not see very well. He didn’t seem to know exactly where anyone who was speaking were at any given moment, or where they were standing, adjusting often his position toward new speakers by pivoting wildly about, always slightly in the wrong direction… which was becoming more and more noticeable. He couldn’t seem to see at all. “Pleased to meet your acquaintance, young beings… whatever you’re called.”
“They’re humans,” Silenus remarked, helpingly, “and if it weren’t for them, I’d be stuck in a bind, another one of those iron trap jobs, and wouldn’t have been able to attend Agathon’s party at all if they hadn’t come along.”
“Another trap, Silenus?!” joked Democritus. “Will you ever learn to look out for those?”
“I hear you young people come from outer-space,” Democritus remarked, inquisitively.
We all nodded in diplomatic approval.
“I always wondered about the Milky Way…” he rambled on, a funny little fat goat-man, “I’ve heard once before that it’s some kind of collection of stars—whatever ‘that’ means.”
I began to respond but was cut off. We could hear some commotion going on inside. It seemed that inside the house there was a large party already underway, with ancient instruments playing music that none of the kids had recognized, and all the attendents of the symposia are very talkative, and high-spirited, and suddenly then the door was flung open and a well-dressed man burst through the doorway. He was a handsome, polished and older–a satyr like themselves, Agathon was opening the front door and approaching the group standing there with all of the regality of a proud and experienced host, of which he was:
I think this is Agathon.
“Welcome guests: new and old!”
“Parmenides. Silenus. Marsyas. And Democritus!–and all the rest! Here! You’re finally here!” Agathon began grabbing at us, at Democritus, and then Marsyas, and then walking inside and beckoned us to join him.
And so our little group waltzed towards the doorway, and I have to admit that probably none of us had any clue what to expect next. “Certainly something must have come about, since we’re all standing here!” What did he mean by that, our group wondered. “About our little talks about the universe… anyway, but how would you propose has all of ‘this’ come about?” he gestured to every thing, all of existence, and somehow he already seemed a little drunk. “And how do you, or I, and aaall the other satyrs!, feel about… people, and all of them coming HERE, and has all of this come from nothing? Something–from nothing? Or was it perhaps another something?! ha-ha, which it could maybe sort of bud off from, ha-ha-ha sort of like… parthenogenesis… hah-hah-hah-hah” a sort of crazed Parmenides stared over at him from the doorway, who, for some hardly fathomable reason then exclaimed this with a kind of pained, yet somehow stoic, expression of… of battlements of emotion upon his face.
“I think you mean blastogenesis.” Silenus corrected.
Agathon spoke to us as we walked through the threshold of the doorway into the house, making our way into the reception room: “In case anyone doesn’t already know, as I see some new faces here, this celebration is in honor of the arts.
… two of our beloved citizens, patrons of the theatre, the famous playwrites who are among the most decorated and accomplished in our history, renowned at crafting performances for the stage,
Agathon: “And let me introduce to you, briefly before they leave us and enter back-stage to go and prepare for their performances, the father of Comedy, the legend of the Greek satyr-play Aristophanes; … and the father of Tragedy, the equally remarkable Aeschylus! Look at them go!”
“Cratylus’s and Hermogenes’s question is whether names are correct by nature (‘phusis’) or by convention (‘nomos’) and custom (ethos).”
“First, both Cratylus and Hermogenes assume that [Greek] names are correct [for things] (orthōs): their disagreement concerns the source of that correctness (orthotēs).”
“Heraclitus’s and Parmenides’s question is whether names can be correct at all.”
“Although Cratylus and Hermogenes appear to represent Heraclitean and Parmenidean positions, respectively, …
… “they differ in two key respects from their philosophical influences.”
“For Cratylus, what one might call a “false” name—one that does not access the thing’s nature—ceases to be a name at all, amounting to nothing more than pointless noise.”
“Since any name one uses, according to Hermogenes, is a correct name, it becomes impossible to name falsely…”
[Parmenides’ strife] “Names are equally unreliable for conveying what is (‘esti’) for Parmenides, because they fragment what is whole and unified.
“As Heraclitus suggests… things contain their own opposites within them, and so a name… can at its best only convey half of its being.”
“Names are thus arbitrary, conveying but a partial and conventional view of the world.”
“What is important is establishing the correct order of things: first we attend to ‘ta onta’, and only then to names and languages. Naming and language cannot determine their own correctness.”
“[Another] marker distinguishing the debate of Cratylus and Hermogenes from that of Heraclitus and Parmenides is that the former’s debate involves an assumption as to whether one can derive knowledge about reality from ‘onomata’. Heraclitus and Parmenides deny that such a move is ever possible because ‘onomata’ are, by their very function, false accounts of reality.”
“Cratylus and Hermogenes are thus, at the very least, not particularly orthodox followers of Heraclitus and Parmenides, respectively.”
Next: Introduction by Agathon, to Heraclitus and his two proteges Cratylus and Hermogenes.
This conversation will start in the reception room, before moving onward to the GArden, and we can explore the details of the house a bit, and then fairly quickly Agathon will lead them all into the backyard, or garden.
In the reception room, Agathon lets the newly arrived guests know that the purpose of his celebration was in fact to honor two famous writers of plays, the winning playwrites of the recent festival Dionysia, the extremely popular theater-plays of the ancient city-state of Athens, Greece, where the city Dionysia festival was held.
One of the playwrites represents Comedy, and the other Tragedy. Aristophanes and Aeschylus.
The symposia will take place in the garden, where there are couches of the ancient Greek style, common to symposia, that party-goers would use to recline and enjoy a goblet/bowl of wine, while interacting with one another of the dinner guests. The flute girls have all been sent away, and now they will enjoy their symposia while they wait for the two playwrites, who have gone back-stage by now, behind the curtain so to speak, in order to prepare for their performances, in the essential genres of both Comedy and of Tragedy.
“The whole universe?! I dont know how it came about, nor do I know about any of that–kind of stuff–I’m just trying to get a handle on the names for things!”
“Yes, where did they come about? Is there knowledge wrought from them? Is there a kind of logic to a name? Is that the source for the truth of things, in the naming? If a name is sort of wrong, or a bad descriptor, does reality change, or should the name be changed? Who decides, and who decided all the names in the first place, for things. Isn’t it self-referential, the names of things and the logic behind it? Why do we call a handle a handle, is it because we use it with our hands? Who named hands hands?!” Cratylus was working himself up into a frenzy.
Yes, the names for things like nouns and adjectives in language, in our language we have a word to describe this:
Yeah, the names for things, and how they came about. Why do we call things the names we do? I don’t just mean a person’s name, I mean the dressing, of words themselves.
Because that’s their name. That’s what they are.
Yes, but why… and HOW?!
But can anything possibly be mis-named?
That’s what I’m saying!
Well of course, I could call my fork a spoon, but it wouldn’t be true. My calling it a thing doesn’t make it into that thing–a fork, and my naming it doesn’t change.. the reality of it, nor the name, by me calling it that. We use a word for a spoon. Doest that make sense?
WEll, not unless it caught on…
How do you mean?
Like a fad, or trend. If a group of your friends started calling it that, and that everybody around starting using that word, even celebrities, than that’s a new word. I suppose, it’s all determined by consensus, then.
So, we agree on what’s a word.
It’s like a kind of democracy.
You know, there’s a whole field of study for these kinds of things.
Yeah, one is called etymology… the study of the origin and uses for words, across history, and there’s another, called philology, which is the historical attribution of texts, and lines from texts, who first said what and where it happened. Etymology and Philology.
Heraclitus, the satyr they described as ‘the Obscure One,’ then asked us: “And who are ‘you’, fine young people?”
“We are real people,” said one of our group, … it came out very awkward, “well, most of us are… but anyhow…”
“We’re real…” the awkwardness continued, “and we come from a different sort of place… err, …”
“We call it Earth.”
“Well, we call it Earth too…” said Heraclitus.
“Well, we call it the ‘real’ world, uhh, but anyway… our Earth, ‘real’ Earth, is… we thought this was going to be some kind of a video-game, to be honest…”
“Well so: I suppose–any friends of Marsyas are friends of ours, as it is assuredly most wise to do, because which Marsyas is the wisest of all of the satyrs, and so doing what he thinks is right is what I deem a worthwhile investment of time, into friendship, a bargain, then, is certainly that.”
“My name is Agathon!”
“The name means ‘the good’, some say…”
“And indeed, you are welcome here, as if you were any other satyr!”
Parmenides then asked us, “Whither are you going, and whatsoever brought you here, humans?”
“Now, now–we will have time later for all of that,” ****** interjected Agathon, “as we have a schedule tonight, friends, though not a rigid one is a symposia, and in praising our best playwrites we… This way we will have the laughing philosopher, and then the weeping philosopher, and the father of comedy, and then the father of tragedy, and next the…
“Are you all acquainted with the various theories on how all of this, I mean these star and planets, “milk-ways” all came about… originally, I mean?”
“I’ve had a few hypothesis myself,” offered Parmenides. “Was it all brought forth out of nothing–or perhaps is the whole thing perpetual, and eternal.”
The group realized then they hadn’t really thought about that kind of thing before. Wasn’t there a big bang? They think they knew, but these satyrs are from the past, and perhaps they hadn’t even heard about the big bang, and the starting point of the Universe.
“It’s all very sophisticated, I guess…”
He wasn’t very sophisticated, he reflected inwardly, as he kept stalling for time before talking… as he had also considered that he had often times imagined this existence as always sort of being there… forever…
“Yes, that seems quite impossible.” suggested Agathon, helpfully.
He was a little relieved, honestly, at Agathon’s interjection, that he had been cut off, and didn’t really have to answer.
This was all getting very strange, but this is what ‘they’ wanted. This was apparently the way ‘they’ wanted this thing to go, ‘our’ first simulation, and maybe even theirs, we didn’t know anything about that yet, and so we were rolling with it.
“Well, how do you outer-space types explain it?” Democritus inquired to our small group, at least I think it was Democritus–it was starting to get very confusing with all of these satyrs…
“Well…” I started to explain, but before I could begin I was being cut off again by another of the fast-talking satyrs, who seemed now to be dominating the conversation.
He knew all about the ‘hard sciences’ like physics, and he knew mathematics, yes, and chemistry… principles of thermodynamics, heat exchange, and the atomic weight of Cobalt, and how electronics worked, and mechanics and the simple motors and machines which fueled the functionality of his toys… and he knew all about how to build and repair all sorts of things, and had a working understanding of chemistry, particularly with materials for making good toys, like rubbers, and fake furs, and he even had a fairly sophisticated piece or two of equipment for manufacturing, and although he did have a working understanding of many things around him in his life that others used daily, but he had never even heard of “meta”-physics, not really, anyway. Other than on a few chat forums, or possibly a movie.
We all found this odd, but then Marsyas told us to go on without him, momentarily, as something had just struck him, and it needed to be worked out by him, now, and he would join us at the party in just a second. The other satyrs seemed to not find this strange, and so we took this as a sign that this was something Marsyas was always doing, always getting struck with some insight, or some fit of computation, that struck him and which subjugated his mind, almost without freedom for refusal, or so it seemed, but that anyways he was sometimes subject to it, and they knew to let him handle his thing and he will assuredly be quickly reunited with them, before anything truly important at the party would be undertaken, at which course surely he would be caught up with us and active in the symposium, as soon as the real meat of the entertaining conversation of the symposia were to begin.
We get into the 4 elements in the philosophy, fire, water, air earth, with Thales and Heraclitus, and then **************
Wrangling the group together, Agathon was now trying to get everyone into the backyard, “… fellow lovers of wisdom, and all of that will be dealt with, by us… in only a minute’s time, but right now I have a beautifully decorated garden, which can only be explained in the Southern-style, of America, at ‘some’ time period, but ultimately all the building styles copied us, anyways, as we developed the principles of architecture, as they know them! and they didnt have a choice, we were there first, but anyways, on that point asside, and before starting the ‘symposium,’ which is obviously going to be a great party, with heavy drinking and comedy and everything, but less than last time, less drinking, involved.
We made brief introductions as the group was seemingly now making its way to the door leading to the back area of the house, and as we all walked through the doorway we saw it was more than a backyard,
Going outside the main room into the garden there is a large area with many different seats that are more individual-sized couches than seats… they looked very comfortable, and arrayed in a circle which maximized the view from, and of all, the of the other couches, and there sitting, already awaiting us, is the company of satyrs Gorgias, Phaedrus, Solon, and Thales and Empedocles.
As we passed through the reception room on our way to the garden we noticed all of the fine art and marble all around us. We had to remind ourselves that it was all a simulation—and not even a ‘real’ place at all—so nothing to be too impressed about, but sometimes it was hard to remember. The artifacts and statuary seemed like it all had such interesting backgrounds and stories behind them. Even so, the layout itself was a marvel of design and I suppose taste would be the appropriate word.
The house barely had any furniture or antiques, the few that were present were irresistably mysterious, but there were hardly any furnishings or decor of any kind. The house’s structure was elegant, though fairly empty, with columns and beautiful mouldings and window framing, and an opulent chandelier hanging overhead in the main room, above the cascading staircase, and the white marble flooring in the reception room led to black-and-white tile flooring in the main ballroom. It wasn’t a home, however. Not really. It was more of a vehicle–a vehicle to move the story along, to house a scenario, and the furnishings weren’t a character essential to the plot. And so, the program it seems didn’t really texture them in.
In the ‘reception room’ before the main ballroom, i guess, or the garden, there is a quick encounter with … Heraclitus
… is flanked by Cratylus and Hermogenes, who bring up names, and the nature of naming, and why things are named the way they are.
And this is Heraclitus: “Pleased to meet you…”
And Cratylus: “Salutations.”
And Hermogenes: “Hello.”
****Dialogue will include a discussion of names, identity, the Acadmeic studies of Etymology and Philology***** And then a brief encounter with a little conflict, Alcibiades..
The history of names and etymology is briefly alluded to after a discussion focusing on fire and Heraclitus.
And Alcibiades’ introduction is kind of like our stand-in for the presence of strife in the universe, the universal flame, and the pairing of Fire to Strife, and to Nemesis.
Alcibiades is a kind of adversary, to all, and he’s competitive with anyone and everyone. Hence, a threat to anyone and everyone—and threatened BY anyone and everyone… but also someone who is actively seducing every one around him, audiences, kings, and oligarchs–and everyone is attempting to seduce him, as well, to their causes because, say what you will, he is a force of nature, and a potent one at that, and the power the sheer force of his personality wields is undeniable. Even by, or especially by, his enemies.
***Cut some Alcibiades descriptions****For the GArden****
Heraclitus seems almost private, secretive, in comparison to him [Alcibiades], it was like Heraclitus was whispering to a mouse, and cupping his hands, trying to preserve some delicate little flame of philosophy which on it’s own might stay alive, a whisper amongst all the boisterous commotion, and clamour, fighting for survival amongst the horns and jeers of drunken Alcibiades’s procession of followers and admirers, parading about seeking for all of the wealth, power and fame of the material world’s glories, the most sought after possessions and powers in this world, as so powerful persuasion to anyone and everyone, but for an outsider as maybe the exception, since they come from some ‘other’ sort of matter, and to the storyline of the simulation, ‘this’ simulation, who for an outsider these things don’t really matter at all—and so Agathon’s entire house could be generated within a second, for the outsider, out of thin air, in ‘their’ perspective, as if by the snap of the fingers, and so having pride over ownership, or of fame of a population tied to this, or pride in powers thereof, was of no consequence to these artificial things, these ‘alien’ things, were it not, where it cannot be, all that impressive.
But some things are writ into a character’s very being, and that’s someone like Alcibiades.
Meanwhile, the most philosophers with Heraclitus are formulating a new theory, on everything…
Some are not interested in waisting time with philosophy at all.
“… and these young, human, guests.”
“As regards ‘humanity,’ I don’t really mind them!”
“Yes, it seems clear… that almost all of the primary guests have arrived. Except for…”
And then was arriving the most extravagent guest, travelling in a procession, that anyone had ever seen.
Or at least, anyone their age.
eristics- 1. of or characterized by argument or debate 2. (of an argument or arguer) aiming at winning rather than at reaching the truth.
Phaedrus praises the debate on the merits of language, of truth, and of rhetoric, and also praises Gorgias, as a powerful master of rhetoric, similar only to Marsyas, in their power to sway an audience with.
Then ____ someone (Phaedrus?) (an enterprising student of such skills) began speaking about the similarities of Cratylus and Hermogenes philosophy in terms of…
… but that they seemed more interested in eristics than in discovering any actuality of …
The conversations converged when… (Parmenides? Does something…)
[Parmenides’ strife] “Names are equally unreliable for conveying what is (‘esti’) for Parmenides, because they fragment what is whole and unified.” ****see notes below for elaboration****
Cratylus, finally, asks them their names.
They were caught off guard, and wondered how they hadn’t yet given anyone their names. Maybe no one cared, until then. Maybe they weren’t sure to ask.
“There’s so many names! I don’t think I can rememeber all of them!”
Cratylus: “You’re wondering what good are names anyways, aren’t you?” asked Cratylus.
Hermogenes responds in an argumentative way. “Oh, not this again. Here we go again… with the ‘importance’ of names.”
“Anyways, forget Hermogenes, what are ‘your’ names?”
“If they wanted to give you their names don’t you think they would have offered them?”
“My name is Aleon.”
while speaking about etymology and philology, under the umbrella of the understanding of names, words, and meaning, we can briefly bring up the Greek word ‘Onoma’. However, I don’t want to go too in-depth into Greek words.
What is the purpose or the examples we want to use for a discussion of philology?
Maybe a quick discussion about Milton and Rimbaud, and… Goethe? (English, French, German).
2. [part 2 of ‘The House of Agathon’] Agathon’s Garden
Heraclitus is in many ways a conventional thinker, but also a revolutionary one. He speaks of the unity of opposites, and how “everything flows.” He regards himself as self-taught, and left behind his life of luxury and privilege for a lonely one as a philosopher. He was often speaking already about how he thinks everything is composed of, at base, a thing which is akin to FIRE. Then there was Solon, a famous statesmen, who established important laws, and then Critobulus, who was there standing with his rival, Hermogenes, who both seemed overly concerned with names, people’s names, as well as simply the names for things, and “why they are such? Why thus, and not thus?” Who decided the names? and was there some kind of ancient logic to this ‘naming’ by thier ancestors?
Many of the individually dispersed conversations seemed to address paradoxes.
In addition to paradoxes They also liked to tell and solve riddles.
Anaxagoras was overheard saying, “Or you can get a copy of my book, ‘How everything came from air.’” Anaximander, not to be confused with Anaxagoras, famously predicted an EARTH quake (Thales predicted an eclipse, tracing moon-tides: or WATER. Thales, who believed everything was ultimately composed at its rudiment of water. He noticed the dew that accumulates in the mornings, and then he saw babies being born, he said out loud, by all the mammals he saw, were born with water accompanying, and therefore he deduced that all of the ‘beginnings’ of things must be involved somehow with water; thereby, he determined, we all, materiality, are begat by water, even the rocks in the caves next to us.
Heraclitus wore a cloak, and seemed to be very dignified. He appeared to be some kind of learned master, and his two acolytes beside him, Cratylus and Hermogenes, always seemed to be locked into a debate with eachother, hardly even noticing the rest of the party around them as they deliberated.*****Move to introduction of Heraclitus********
Quoted from: ‘Heraclitus,’ by ?
“According to Heraclitus, “This world, which is the same for all, no one of gods or men had made. But it always was and will be: an ever-living fire, with measures of it kindling, and measures going out.” This quotation is the earliest use of ‘kosmos’ in any extant Greek text.”
“Harmony – In a metaphor and one of the earliest uses of a ‘force’ in the history of philosophy, Heraclitus compares the union of opposites to a strung bow or lyre held in a shape by an equilibrium of the string tension: “There is a harmony in the bending back as in the case of the bow and the lyre… He also noted “the bow’s name is life, though its work is death,” a play on both bow and life being the same as written [in Greek]…”
“He claims this shows something true yet invisible about reality; “a hidden harmony is better than an apparent one… Heraclitus seems to say, paradoxically, change is what unites things, pointing to his ideas of the unity of opposites…”
“Heraclitus’s philosophy has been summed up with the adage: “No man ever steps in the same river twice,””
“This aphorism can be contrasted with Parmenides’s statement: “Whatever is, is, and what is not cannot be.”
“According to Aristotle, Cratylus went a step beyond his master’s doctrine and said one cannot step into the same river once.”
“Targeting etymology for comical purposes [Cratylus dialogue] was already precedented in Plato’s time. Aristophanes had already made comical hay of etymology in the ‘Clouds’ where his Socrates claims that thunder (‘brontē’) is none other than cosmic flatulence (‘pepordas’), as is apparent from their names (‘tōnomat’).”
Heraclitus: “the bow [‘biós’] is called life [‘onoma biós’] but its work [‘ergon’] is death.”
Helen’s name, her reputation, ‘Helen of Troy, is merely her in-name-only identity , and not reality, as she claims she never even went to Troy, she claims in Euripides’ script…
“… it was instead her ‘onoma’. Her ‘ergon’, or work (or deed), was something else (the truth of the matter, instead of mere rumor), and as Heraclitus says about the name of the word ‘onoma’ itself, it’s assonance (or rhythmical sound as a quality, with either consonants or vowels) carry suggestions of the word’s own potential inaccuracy, pretext or facade.”
“This is stark contrast to, and direct criticism of, the reliability of names to convey reality that is presumed by the poets.”
“The Greek word ‘onoma’ is close to our word ‘word’, but not limited to this meaning, as it refers to nouns, adjectives and pronouns, as in the ‘The Cratylus’ which is a dialogue concerned primarily with ‘onoma,’ where a finer shading of this word must have been in order, according to Plato.”
“The power of ‘onoma’ approaches near-magical heights in Greek poetry, as is evident from two instances of refusals to name.
Odysseus famously outwits Polyphemus by denying him the power of his real name, telling him his name is, instead, “Nobody.””
“Arguably, the remainder of his brutal homeward detention is due to his reversing course and, once safe at sea, shouting his true name to the Cyclops, son of Poseidon…
Euripides’s ‘Orestes’ resorts to euphemism rather than naming the Furies, saying, “I do not want to name [‘onomazein’] them,” lest doing so invoke their anger further.”
“During more than half of the dialogue, Socrates makes guesses at Hermogenes’ request as to where names and words have come from. These include the names of the Olympian gods, personified deities, and many words that describe abstract concepts.”
“The final theory of relations between name and object named is posited by Cratylus, a disciple of Heraclitus, who believes that names arrive from divine origins, making them necessarily correct. Socrates rebukes this theory… Many of the words that Socrates uses as examples may have come from an idea originally linked to the name, but have changed over time.”
“Those of which he cannot find a link, he often assumes have come from foreign origins or have changed so much as to lose all resemblance to the original word. He states, “names have been so twisted in all manner of ways, that I should not be surprised if the old language when compared with that now in use would appear to us to be a barbarous tongue.””
Cratylus is the one who said as a student of Heraclitus: “You can’t even step into the same river once!”
“Laughter disarms ideas for an audience while simultaneously drawing us into contemplation of those ideas.”
“By recognizing the absurdity of the etymologies and laughing at them [in the ‘Cratylus’], we immediately become participants in an ancient philosophical debate.”
“A prime example of this occurs in a joke apart from the etymologies that is threaded through the ‘Cratylus.’ Cratylus’s joke as to Hermogenes’s true name underscores the philosophical significance and function of laughter in the dialogues. The performative contradiction involved in the joke exposes the interlocutor’s pretenses and, in so doing, reveals a larger semantic issue at the heart of the dialogue: the preconditions for speaking, or employing ‘logos’, sensibly.”
“Socrates counters the interlocutors’ denial of these preconditions, akin to the brothers’ denial of these in the ‘Euthydemus’, with comic logos, playing the fool so as to prompt recognition of the logical commitments we make when we speak.”
Protreptic Laughter and Metron
“In this way, the Cratylus is an example of protreptic laughter [an utterance (such as speech) designed to instruct and persuade], which disarms Socrates’s etymologizing, as though it were “only” a joke, but nonetheless asks philosophical questions and invites the audience into doing philosophy.”
“The chapter argues that laughter punctuates the surpassing of limits and measure (‘metron’) and so indicates not only human limitations that bind us to logos, but also suggests the limitations by which our use of ‘logoi’ is restricted.”
Cratylus, one of the satyrs concerned with names and naming, nodded and smiled.
I’m Aleon, but you can call me AL. This is my sister… Molly, who’s name is short for Molladonna, which itself is short for Molladomina, …
Reaff didnt say anything, which was characteristic of him to do. But the trio was really these three, at it’s heart: Aleon, Molly, and Raeff… and they had a couple of others with them for this occassion, but there’s already enough names involved in the story already.
“If my compatriots wish to give out their names, freely, then I’ll leave that for them to divulge freely, as so though they wish.”
“Why, I think that’s a fine asortment of names!” said Cratylus, beaming. The satyr had a facial expression of deep thought, with a forefinger and thumb pressed upon his face. He had his other hand rubbing on his chin, he was in the classic thinking man’s pose, “or even a-lion, that would be pretty cool, you’d probably like us to think of you as paired with that little monicker, would you? Yes, well, a child certainly would… Lions are powerful… Lions are the king of the jungle…”
“Aleon… Molly… and Raeff,” Hermogenes, the other satyr who likes to concern himself with names, and to argue with Cratylus about the uses for them, analyzes the names to himself awhile.
Then he spoke loudly, “sounds a bit like ‘alien;, or maybe ‘Aeon’, that would sound significant, but either way it’s a strange name.”
Fire, Water, Earth, and Air
Heraclitus’ philosophy of the fundamental particle of matter was fire. Thales argued it was something akin to water.
Marsyas and Democritus laughed at the descrepency of their opinions and hypothesis, and then Thales and Heraclitus attacked them back, wondering at the discrepency between Marsyas, and Silenus,
bringing up their respective origin stories from Greek mythology,
and how one, for our purposes here, represents Comedy and the other Tragedy.
It was argued as legitimate, wisest, to view the two as the union of opposites, which is fitting and good in regards to honoring the god,
the deity who presides over the Theater, the performance of writing, accompanied by music, of which all citizens of Athens would attend. The beauty of a great play was universally recognized.
“Thales says,” started to explain Hermogenes, “these loves for paradoxes come at a price, but it seems, and as you, Cratylus, maybe like our master Heraclitus, are considered a misanthrope–who is subject to depression–and later, isn’t it true you are becoming more and more as a ‘weeping philosopher, in the style also befitting the lessons of your philosophy master, Heraclitus, who famously came to be known as ‘The Weeping Philosopher.’” I feel Heraclitus has led you, Cratylus, into ruin.”
“Hmm, perhaps you speak true enough.”
“And Democritus, by contrast,” continued Hermogenes “is beloved by the people, and loves the people; and this is why he’s known as “The Laughing Philosopher, to us, and consequently, as he will be known to future generations.”
Heraclitus was, as a rule, always speaking about FIRE, and Thales was always talking about WATER.
Heraclitus was always going on about the basis for everything in matter being fire, or held within the principle of fire, he thought, as he explained it was kind of like how many of us subatomic thoerists think of energy, today.
Anaxagoras says that ‘HE’ believes that everything’s made from air?).
“But yeah, Anaxagoras doesn’t believe reality is composed of any one particular thing. He said the atom was EARTH, and was an assortment of the FOUR primary elements,” elaborated Silenus, to us.
“Anaxagoras says it’s none of this, and it’s actually a kind of seed or germ which contains all of these things, but isn’t indivisibly anyone one of them. All things are composed of all things, says Anaxagoras. There is a little bit of all four ‘elements’ in all things. But Anaxagoras isn’t here, so let’s not speak about him anymore.”
The allegory of hair. How does hair grow out of something that is not hair (the head)? There must be a little bit of the material that will become the hair, within the head, he reasons, as a prerequisite, like the seeds of the crop, or of one thing which was inherent within the other.
“All other things have a portion of everything, but Mind is infinite and self-ruled, and is mixed with nothing but is all alone by itself.” Marsyas proposed masterfully.
“Most things are governed by consensus, and just as it was decided by our country that my brother, Callias, should receive all of my father’s inheritence–my father, Hipponicus, being once considered the wealthiest man in our entire confederation, and also a military commander of some repute–and that I should receive none… of the inheritence, that is. And that was decided by all of us… and so…”
Alcibiades… always at the heart of the trouble-making. Heraclitus, known as ‘The Obscure One’ due to his love of cryptic utterances, remember he’s the fire one, is a rationalist yet also somehow a mystic. He loves wordplay, and playing around with paradoxical philosophies. Heraclitus was standing with his pupils Cratylus and Hermogenes… Since, he suggests, most things were formed by an agreement of people among themselves, Hermogenes, the student of Heraclitus, chimes in, that all words of a language are also formed in this way, and that he notices all things are decided by cosensus.
“Well, your father made most of his money by owning many slaves,” working in the silver mines, it was true, “Best not profit by such means,” Interjected Cratylus, who was the usual opponent to Hermogenes.
“The only other family that could rival your family’s wealth, with the help in productive capablity of those slaves, were maybe the ‘Tyrants of Syracuse?’
More of the strange philosophical beast-men now started to enter the yard. It was already difficult to remember all of their names, now becoming nearly impossible, so we wouldn’t even try. We must simply sit back, and take it all in. Parmenides, Heraclitus, and Thales took up the heart of the dialogue. So there was Heraclitus, Cratylus, Thales, Gorgias, and Phaedrus who were seated, Agathon, Silenus and Marsyas arrived with us, and added to us was this intrusive Alcibiades, another man named Empedocles,
(and then cheers for Solon at the end, as the statesmen are introduced… )
The children come from or the place of permanence , and impermanence, whereas their realm is total impermanence. They’re shutting the damn game off all the time.
Agathon introduces Thales, the first of the philosophers, whom some, such as Aristotle, call the father of science. He was known for breaking from mythology as explanation for worldly phenomenon. Thales taught that water was the most basic thing of reality, the arche… and he is making many contrasting and contradictory statements to Heraclitus in there, notices Alcibiades aloud, trying to start a fight.
“The section of [Parmenides’] poem describing the way of opinion (‘doxa’)…
“In this way, names are conventional and convey the misguided opinion of mortals, rather than accurate descriptions of reality.”
… thus begins with instruction to attend to the deceptive ordering conveyed by the youth’s use of words, and pins the problem on mortals’ insistence on naming (‘onomazein’) two forms, of which they can properly only name one.
“Although for different reasons, both perspectives are agreed on the impossibility of deriving an accurate understanding of reality from ‘onomata’.
Contrary to Heraclitus, [W]ords for Parmenides’s speaker suggest opposition… fragmentation, and change… in the realm of [B]eing that cannot properly be ascribed to the unchanging unity of what is.”
“Corresponding to the two differences above, there are two issues that emerge from comparing Cratylus’s and Hermogenes’s positions vis-à-vis their predecessors: that concerning the truth (‘orthotēs’) or falsity of ‘onomata’; …”
“… and the relationship between ‘onomata’, knowledge, and reality… At stake in the ‘Cratylus’ is a question larger than that concerning the source of the correctness of ‘onomata.’
[in this example Heraclitus uses the Greek word for “bow” as an example, ‘biós’]
[Heraclitus’s strife] “A thing’s ‘onoma’ and its ‘ergon’ may be in a state of strife with one another, a state belied by the thing’s seemingly static name.”
“Cratylus has the effrontery to inform him [Hermogenes] that Hermogenes is not his real name. How can that be, Hermogenes wonders, when all it takes for a name to be someone’s name is that there be an agreement by the relevant community to use it that way?”
“Although it is often interpreted as already reduing his thesis to an absurdity… Socrates asks about the size of the relevant community… And he concedes that Socrates could if he wished have private nicknames that conflict with the city’s public vocabulary.”
“It follows that names, if correctly made, cannot be randomly adopted, as Hermogenes’ conventionalism would imply, but on the contrary need to be expertly made for their specific purpose, in a way that corresponds to the natures of the things they name.”
“Naming is a part of logos, and to use logos correctly, concepts of truth, falsity, difference, and contradiction are necessary.”
“Denying any of these, as all four of these figures do in various ways, leads to the inability to use logos correctly, an inability that is key to the performative contradiction and the laughter in the ‘Cratylus’.”
“Attention to the use of ‘onomata’ and of logos correlates with the relationship between ‘onomata’, knowledge, and reality… Bringing Heraclitus and Parmenides to bear on this question highlights a historical shift in emphasis on this relationship.”
“… if the ‘Cratylus’ is concerned with the question as to the correctness of names, and if we take “seriously” the dialogue’s laughter, Cratylus and Hermogenes will turn out to have more in common with each other than either does with his presocratic predecessor.”
***This is actually Euthydemus and Dionysadorus****
Then, Cratylus and Hermogenes continued on.
The pair are trying to play clever rhetorical tricks, in the guise of real philosophy, and are really trying to sell tickets to their seminars, teaching rhetoric, because it’s good business now, they had been selling weapons and armor for awhile in the first quarter of the year, but now they had moved on to sophistry, where there was lots of money in right now, so the the speculators would say… and so, by sophistry, misleading the audience by mistaking the definitions for words for example, or to purposefully mistaking the attribution of ‘being’ for the attribution of ‘identity’… and conflating the two and confusing them, moronically.
Conclusion: ‘The Blob’
***(Make the Turgor pressure blob destroy the marketplace, the community panicking trying to contain it, like a fire.)
Then the blob’s destructive spree started. It began a day or two after the malfunction. An uninhabited building was gobbled up first. Someone’s shop was devoured the next hour. Then another, and another. Then a much larger form had emerged which dissolved about a dozen shops and strip malls in minutes before it could be contained. When masses started to appeared in different areas at the same time, fear set in. The blob was dissolving five separate areas across the Agora, multiplying now with something like vertical up bursts of mushroom spores. No one understood how they could appear unconnected from the original cluster, how the entity seemed to have a pre-scripted means of replication like a natural organism.
A few hours later a true monster appeared, devouring massive, elegant buildings—liquifying the finest clothing, furniture, and all other paraphernalia involved in the finer things of civilized life. One survivor remembered the hideous gases released as the blob climbed up the upper stories of the commercial buildings, the toxic wastes of extreme cellular metabolism seemed to rise up and waft outward at least a square mile around the sight. It was described as “a terrifying translucent worm, immense and whistling as it dissolved the superstructure, throwing clusters of gas in all directions and enveloping nearby houses and civic areas.” Another citizen was quoted saying the mass was “Shooting out globules from the huge central mass to lick up, like viper’s tongues, more surrounding property.” Vendors began piling their goods in the adjacent streets, battling against periodic showers of mists mutating solvent chemicals to salvage what they could, but the falling corrosive clusters turned what could’ve been escape routes into moats of uncrossable toxic waste. The blob kept on its unknowing mission of destruction all night. No one knew what to do, but quickly a plan was formulated and a containment strategy was swiftly implemented. A detailed investigation would be undertaken to understand the cause of this disaster and to employ measures to prevent it ever happening again.
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