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PHIL 1F91 Lecture Notes - Cebes, Immanuel Kant, Simile

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Brian Lightbody

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PHIL 1F91 November 2, 2012
Lecture Nine: Continued from Last Week…
The Second Argument: Recollection
- Socrates begins this argument with an analogy: when we see a lyre or an article of clothing we are
sometimes reminded of the person who played the lyre or wore the article
- In the same way, Socrates will say that TRUE knowledge is like remembering
Equality and the Theory of the Forms
- The stick of proof
- No two things will ever be perfectly equal in the sensible world and yet we do have this idea of
equality in our minds. How do we account for our notion of equality?
Socrates‟ answer:
- We saw the perfect form of equality when our soul was detached from our body and these two
sticks reminds us of this
- This argument is an Abductive argument: it is an example of inference to the best explanation
- All we have to do is criticize an Abductive argument, is to find a better (following the rule of
conservatism) or simpler (Ockham‟s razor) explanation and we can point out that the argument is
The Recollection argument:
- Instead of agreeing that the only way to account for our knowledge of equality is to claim that the
Form Equality exists and that our souls saw this perfect form of Equality in the heavens, we can
instead say that there are innate structures or categories of the human mind
- One 18th century philosopher, by the name of Immanuel Kant, claims that Space and Time are
necessary conditions for experience. But space and time are what he calls intuitions that we give to
the world
The Kinship Argument (sometimes called the argument from affinity)
1. Composite things are variable
2. Incomposite things are like the Forms and are invariable
3. Composite things are visible
4. Incomposite things are not visible
5. The body knows composite things
6. The body is therefore like composite things
7. The soul knows the forms (argument from Recollection)
8. Therefore the soul is like the Forms
9. The Forms are eternal
10. Since the soul is like the Forms then it must me immortal
- “Then, being thus, it goes away into the unseen, which is like itself, the divine and immortal and
wise, where on arrival it has the opportunity to be happy, freed from wandering and folly and fears
and wild loves and all other human evils, and, as they say of the initiated, really and truly passing
the rest of time with the gods.” (p. 579)
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PHIL 1F91 November 2, 2012
Problems with the argument
- First, the argument requires the recollection argument to be true. The Forms must exist if the
argument is to go through. If we are able to demonstrate that we can come to know perfect
concepts (like equality for example) in some other way than relying on the Forms, then the kinship
argument also falls
Simmias and Cebes
- At this point, Phaedo, Crito and the rest of Socrates‟ followers accept Socrates‟ arguments and are
at ease that Socrates can enter into the next life his soul immortal. Except, that is, for Simmias
and Cebes
- Simmias puts forward a counter-argument called the Argument from Attunement and Cebes puts
forward his argument, The Weaver‟s Cloak
Simmias: The Attunement Analogy
1. The body is visible, composite and mortal
2. A harp is visible, composite and mortal
3. A harp is like the body
4. When the harp is destroyed, the tune which is ethereal, invisible and divine is also destroyed
5. Therefore when the body is destroyed (dies) the soul is also destroyed
- As we can see, this analogy is a nice counter-example to the kinship argument just advanced by
The Argument from Attunement
- “That one could say the same about harmony and a harp with strings; that the harmony is invisible
and bodiless and all-beautiful and divine on the tuned harp; but the harp itself and the strings are
bodies and bodily and composite and earthy and akin to the mortal. If then our soul is a kind of
harmony, it is plain that when the body is slackened inharmoniously or too highly strung, but
diseases and other evils, the soul must necessarily perish…” (p. 584-585)
Cebes: The Weaver‟s cloak analogy
1. A weaver weaves and outlives many cloaks during his long lifetime
2. He outlives all of these cloaks except the last one
3. The cloak is like the body: it is composite, visible and not long lasting
4. Therefore the weaver is like the soul
5. Therefore the soul is long lasting
- The argument, again, is a modification of the kinship argument except that instead of proving that
the soul is eternal it simply proves that the soul is just long-lasting
The Weaver‟s Cloak
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