Showing posts with label Plato's Cave. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Plato's Cave. Show all posts

Monday, May 21, 2012

First Alcibiades

Papyrus fragment of Alcibiades I, section 131.c-e.

The First Alcibiades or Alcibiades I (Ancient Greek: Ἀλκιβιάδης αʹ) is a dialogue featuring Alcibiades in conversation with Socrates. It is ascribed to Plato, although scholars are divided on the question of its authenticity.



In the preface Alcibiades is described as an ambitious young man who is eager to enter public life. He is extremely proud of his good looks, noble birth, many friends, possessions and his connection to Pericles, the leader of the Athenian state. Alcibiades has many admirers but they have all run away, afraid of his coldness. Socrates was the first of his admirers but he has not spoken to him for many years. Now the older man tries to help the youth with his questions before Alcibiades presents himself in front of the Athenian assembly. For the rest of the dialogue Socrates explains the many reasons why Alcibiades needs him. By the end of Alcibiades I, the youth is much persuaded by Socrates' reasoning, and accepts him as his mentor.

The first topic they enter is the essence of politics – war and peace. Socrates claims that people should fight on just grounds but he doubts that Alcibiades has got any knowledge about justice. Prodded by Socrates’ questioning Alcibiades admits that he has never learned the nature of justice from a master nor has discovered it by himself .

Alcibiades suggests that politics is not about justice but expediency and the two principles could be opposed. Socrates persuades him that he was mistaken, and there is no expediency without justice. The humiliated youth concedes that he knows nothing about politics.

Later Alcibiades says that he is not concerned about his ignorance because all the other Athenian politicians are ignorant. Socrates reminds him that his true rivals are the kings of Sparta and Persia. He delivers a long lecture about the careful education, glorious might and unparalleled richness of these foreign rulers. Alcibiades has got cold feet which was exactly the purpose of Socrates’ speech.

After this interlude the dialogue proceeds with further questioning about the rules of society. Socrates points to the many contradictions in Alcibiades’ thoughts. Later they agree that man has to follow the advise of the famous Delphic phrase: gnōthi seautón meaning know thyself. They discuss that the "ruling principle" of man is not the body but the soul. Somebody's true lover loves his soul, while the lover of the body flies as soon as the youth fades. With this Socrates proves that he is the only true lover of Alcibiades. "From this day forward, I must and will follow you as you have followed me; I will be the disciple, and you shall be my master", proclaims the youth. Together they will work on to improve Alcibiades' character because only the virtuous has the right to govern. Tyrannical power should not be the aim of individuals but people accept to be commanded by a superior.

In the last sentence Socrates expresses his hope that Alcibiades will persist but he has fears because the power of the state "may be too much" for both of them.



In antiquity Alcibiades I was regarded as the best text to introduce one to Platonic philosophy, which may be why it has continued to be included in the Platonic corpus since then. The authenticity of the dialogue was never doubted in antiquity. It was not until 1836 that the German scholar Friedrich Schleiermacher argued against the ascription to Plato.[1] Subsequently its popularity declined. However, stylometrical research supports Plato's authorship,[2] and some scholars have recently defended its authenticity.[3]



Traditionally, the First Alcibiades has been considered an early dialogue. Gerard Ledger's stylometric analysis supported this tradition, dating the work to the 390's.[4] Julia Annas, in supporting the authenticity of Rival Lovers, saw both dialogues as laying the foundation for ideas Plato would later develop in Charmides.

A later dating has also been defended. Nicholas Denyer suggests that it was written in the 350's BC, when Plato, back in Athens, could reflect on the similarities between Dionysius II of Syracuse (as we know him from the Seventh Letter) and Alcibiades—two young men interested in philosophy but compromised by their ambition and faulty early education.[5] This hypothesis requires skepticism about what is usually regarded as the only fairly certain result of Platonic stylometry, Plato's marked tendency to avoid hiatus in the six dialogues widely believed to have been composed in the period to which Denyer assigns First Alcibiades (Timaeus, Critias, Sophist, Statesman, Philebus, and Laws).[6]

R.S. Bluck, although unimpressed by previous arguments against the dialogue's authenticity, tentatively suggests a date after the end of Plato's life, approximately 343/2 BC, based especially on "a striking parallelism between the Alcibiades and early works of Aristotle, as well as certain other compositions that probably belong to the same period as the latter."[8]



  1. ^ Denyer (2001): 15.
  2. ^ Young (1998): 35-36.
  3. ^ Denyer (2001): 14-26.
  4. ^ Young (1998)
  5. ^ Denyer (2001): 11-14. Cf. 20-24
  6. ^ Denyer (2001): 23 n. 19
  7. ^ Pamela M. Clark, "The Greater Alcibiades," Classical Quarterly N.S. 5 (1955), pp. 231-240
  8. ^ R.S. Bluck, "The Origin of the Greater Alcibiades," Classical Quarterly N.S. 3 (1953), pp. 46-52




  • Denyer, Nicholas, "introduction", in Plato, Alcibiades, Nicholas Denyer (ed.) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001): 1-26.
  • Foucault, Michel, The Hermeneutics of the Subject: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1981–1982 (New York: Picador, 2005).
  • Young, Charles M., "Plato and Computer Dating", in Nicholas D. Smith (ed.), Plato: Critical Assessments volume 1: General Issues of Interpretation (London: Routledge, 1998): 29-49.


External links


Thursday, May 03, 2012

The Ganzfeld effect

The  Ganzfeld effect (from German for “complete field”) is a phenomenon of visual perception caused by staring at an undifferentiated and uniform field of color. The effect is described as the loss of vision as the brain cuts off the unchanging signal from the eyes. The result is "seeing black"[1] - apparent blindness.



In the 1930s, research by psychologist Wolfgang Metzger established that when subjects gazed into a featureless field of vision they consistently hallucinated and their electroencephalograms changed.

The Ganzfeld effect is the result of the brain amplifying neural noise in order to look for the missing visual signals. The noise is interpreted in the higher visual cortex, and gives rise to hallucinations. This is similar to dream production because of the brain's state of sensory deprivation during sleep.

The Ganzfeld effect has been reported since ancient times. The adepts of Pythagoras retreated to pitch black caves to receive wisdom through their visions[2], known as the prisoner's cinema. Miners trapped by accidents in mines frequently reported hallucinations, visions and seeing ghosts when they were in the pitch dark for days. Arctic explorers seeing nothing but featureless landscape of white snow for a long time also reported hallucinations and an altered state of mind.

The effect is a component of a Ganzfeld experiment, a technique used in the field of parapsychology.
The artist James Turrell (partly inspired by clear blue skies) has created many such "Ganzfelds" throughout his oeuvre.

See also



  1. ^ Ramesh B. Ganzfeld Effect.
  2. ^ Ustinova, Yulia.Caves and the Ancient Greek Mind: Descending Underground in the Search for Ultimate Truth, Oxford University Press US, 2009. ISBN 0199548560
  • Wolfgang Metzger, "Optische Untersuchungen am Ganzfeld." Psychologische Forschung 13 (1930) : 6-29. (the first psychophysiological study with regard to Ganzfelds)

 EGG: Did you reach this conclusion through more traditional media, like painting or sculpture?

JT: I haven't had anything to do with either sculpture or painting. I have done works that look painted or works that have form and look like sculpture. I make these spaces that apprehend light for your perception. In a way, it's like Plato's cave, where we are sitting in the cave looking at the reflection of reality with our backs to reality. I make these spaces where the spaces themselves are perceivers or in some way pre-form perception. It's a little bit like what the eye does. I mean, I look at the eye as the most exposed part of the brain, as something that is already forming perception. I make these rooms that are these camera-like spaces that in some way form light, apprehend it to be something that's physically present.

EGG: What happens when you use space this way?

JT: This results in an art that is not about my seeing, it's about your direct perception of the work. I'm interested in having a light that inhabits space, so that you feel light to be physically present. I mean, light is a substance that is, in fact, a thing, but we don't attribute thing-ness to it. We use light to illuminate other things, something we read, sculpture, paintings. And it gladly does this. But the most interesting thing to find is that light is aware that we are looking at it, so that it behaves differently when we are watching it and when we're not, which imbues it with consciousness. Often people say that they want to touch some of the work I do. Well, that feeling is actually coming from the fact that the eyes are touching, the eyes are feeling. And this happens because the eyes are quite sensitive only in low light, for which we were made. We're actually made for this light of Plato's cave, the light of twilight.
See: Interview with James Turrell

The room is set up to optimize psychological effects such as trance. Its key features are low light or near-darkness, flickering light, and a mirror. The dimness represents a form of visual sensory deprivation, a condition helpful to trance induction, the undifferentiated colour without horizon producing the Ganzfeld effect[4], a state of apparent "blindness". The Ganzfeld experiment replicates the conditions of a psychomanteum where a state of trance may be induced by a uniform field of vision. In the way of strobe or flashing light, stimulus is provided by indirect, moving light in the psychomanteum. Flickering candles or lamps are sometimes recommended to induce hallucination. It is supposed the indeterminate depth of the mirror’s darkness allows the eyes to relax and become unfocused, a state that reduces alertness.[2]

Dr. Raymond Moody, author of the 1981 book about near death experiences, Life After Life, included the psychomanteum in his research trialling 300 subjects which he recorded in his 1993 book, Reunions. Moody viewed the room as a therapeutic tool to heal grief and bring insight.[2]

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Model Building in Life

"...underwriting the form languages of ever more domains of mathematics is a set of deep patterns which not only offer access to a kind of ideality that Plato claimed to see the universe as created with in the Timaeus; more than this, the realm of Platonic forms is itself subsumed in this new set of design elements-- and their most general instances are not the regular solids, but crystallographic reflection groups. You know, those things the non-professionals call . . . kaleidoscopes! * (In the next exciting episode, we'll see how Derrida claims mathematics is the key to freeing us from 'logocentrism'-- then ask him why, then, he jettisoned the deepest structures of mathematical patterning just to make his name...)

* H. S. M. Coxeter, Regular Polytopes (New York: Dover, 1973) is the great classic text by a great creative force in this beautiful area of geometry (A polytope is an n-dimensional analog of a polygon or polyhedron. Chapter V of this book is entitled 'The Kaleidoscope'....)"

I just wanted to show you what has been physically reproduced in cultures. This in order to highlight some of the things that were part of our own make up,  so you get that what has transpired in our societies has been part of something hidden within our own selves.

As I have said before it has become something of an effort for me to cataloged knowledge on some of  the things I learn.  The ways in which to keep the information together. I am not saying everyone will do this in there own way but it seems to me that as if some judgement about our selves is hidden in the way we had gathered information about our own lives then it may have been put together like some kaleidoscope.

Online Etymology Dictionary-1817, lit. "observer of beautiful forms," coined by its inventor, Sir David Brewster (1781-1868), from Gk. kalos "beautiful" + eidos "shape" (see -oid) + -scope, on model of telescope, etc. Figurative meaning "constantly changing pattern" is first attested 1819 in Lord Byron, whose publisher had sent him one.

So to say then past accomplishments were part of the designs, what had we gained about our own lives then?  What page in the book of Mandalas can you have said that any one belonged to you? It was that way for me in that I saw the choices. These I thought I had built on my own, as some inclination of a method and way to deliver meaning into my own life. Then through exploration it seem to contain the energy of all that I had been before as to say that in this life now, that energy could unfold?

Scan of painting 19th century Tibetan Buddhist thangka painting
Maṇḍala (मण्डल) is a Sanskrit word meaning "circle." In the Buddhist and Hindu religious traditions their sacred art often takes a mandala form. The basic form of most Hindu and Buddhist mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point. Each gate is in the shape of a T.[1][2] Mandalas often exhibit radial balance.[3]

These mandalas, concentric diagrams, have spiritual and ritual significance in both Buddhism and Hinduism.[4][5] The term is of Hindu origin and appears in the Rig Veda as the name of the sections of the work, but is also used in other Indian religions, particularly Buddhism. In the Tibetan branch of Vajrayana Buddhism, mandalas have been developed into sandpainting. They are also a key part of anuttarayoga tantra meditation practices.

In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of aspirants and adepts, as a spiritual teaching tool, for establishing a sacred space, and as an aid to meditation and trance induction. According to the psychologist David Fontana, its symbolic nature can help one "to access progressively deeper levels of the unconscious, ultimately assisting the meditator to experience a mystical sense of oneness with the ultimate unity from which the cosmos in all its manifold forms arises."[6] The psychoanalyst Carl Jung saw the mandala as "a representation of the unconscious self,"[citation needed] and believed his paintings of mandalas enabled him to identify emotional disorders and work towards wholeness in personality.[7]

In common use, mandala has become a generic term for any plan, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically, a microcosm of the Universe from the human perspective.[citation needed]

So what does this mean then that you see indeed some subjects that are allocated toward design of to say that it may be an art of a larger universal understanding that hidden in our natures the will to provide for something schematically inherent? Our nature,  as to the way in which we see the world. The way in which we see science. What cosmic plan then to say the universe would unfold this way, or  to seek the inner structure and explanations as to the way the universe began. The way we emerged into consciousness of who you are?

 The kaleidoscope was perfected by Sir David Brewster, a Scottish scientist, in 1816. This technological invention, whose function is literally the production of beauty, or rather its observation, was etymologically a typical aesthetic form of the nineteenth century - one bound up with disinterested contemplation. (The etymology of the word is formed from kalos (beautiful), eidos (form) and scopos (watcher) - "watcher of beautiful shapes".) The invention is enjoying a second life today - as the model for many contemporary abstract works. In Olafur Eliasson's Kaleidoscope (2001), the viewer takes the place of the pieces of glass, producing a myriad of images. In an inversion of the situation involved in the classic kaleidoscope, the watcher becomes the watched. In Jim Drain's Kaleidoscope (2003), the viewer is also plunged physically inside the myriad of abstract forms, and his image becomes a part of the environment. Spin My Wheel (2003), by Lori Hersberger, also forms a painting that is developed in space, spilling beyond the frame of the picture, its projected image constantly changing, dissolving the surrounding world with an infinite play of reflections in fragments of broken mirror. The viewer becomes one of the subjects of the piece. (Not the subject, as in Eliasson's work, but one of its subjects.)
See: The End of Perspective-Vincent Pécoil.

Would there be then some algorithmic style to the code written in your life as to have all the things you are as some pattern as to the way in which you will live your life? I ask then what would seem so strange that you might not paint a picture of it? Not encode your life in some mathematical principle as to say that life emerge for you in this way?

Although Aristotle in general had a more empirical and experimental attitude than Plato, modern science did not come into its own until Plato's Pythagorean confidence in the mathematical nature of the world returned with Kepler, Galileo, and Newton. For instance, Aristotle, relying on a theory of opposites that is now only of historical interest, rejected Plato's attempt to match the Platonic Solids with the elements -- while Plato's expectations are realized in mineralogy and crystallography, where the Platonic Solids occur naturally.Plato and Aristotle, Up and Down-Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D.

See Also:

Friday, September 23, 2011

Plato's Cave(Animated Version)

Hyperreality is used in semiotics and postmodern philosophy to describe a hypothetical inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from fantasy, especially in technologically advanced postmodern cultures. Hyperreality is a means to characterize the way consciousness defines what is actually "real" in a world where a multitude of media can radically shape and filter an original event or experience. Some famous theorists of hyperreality include Jean Baudrillard, Albert Borgmann, Daniel Boorstin, and Umberto Eco.

Photomontage of 16 photos which have been digitally manipulated in Photoshop to give the impression that it is a real landscape


The medium is the message is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan meaning that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived. See: The medium is the message (phrase)

Monday, September 05, 2011

Know Thyself (γνώθι σεαυτόν )

A stained glass window with the contracted version γνωθι σαυτόν.

The saying "Know thyself" may refer by extension to the ideal of understanding human behavior, morals, and thought, because ultimately to understand oneself is to understand other humans as well. However, the ancient Greek philosophers thought that no man can ever comprehend the human spirit and thought thoroughly, so it would have been almost inconceivable to know oneself fully. Therefore, the saying may refer to a less ambitious ideal, such as knowing one's own habits, morals, temperament, ability to control anger, and other aspects of human behavior that we struggle with on a daily basis.

It may also have a mystical interpretation. 'Thyself', is not meant in reference to the egotist, but the ego within self, the I AM consciousness.


Delphi became the site of a major temple to Phoebus Apollo, as well as the Pythian Games and the famous prehistoric oracle. Even in Roman times, hundreds of votive statues remained, described by Pliny the Younger and seen by Pausanias. Supposedly carved into the temple were three phrases: γνωθι σεαυτόν (gnothi seauton = "know thyself") and μηδέν άγαν (meden agan = "nothing in excess"), and Εγγύα πάρα δ'ατη (eggua para d'atē = "make a pledge and mischief is nigh"),[6] as well as a large letter E.[7] Among other things epsilon signifies the number 5. Plutarch's essay on the meaning of the “E at Delphi" is the only literary source for the inscription. In ancient times, the origin of these phrases was attributed to one or more of the Seven Sages of Greece,[8] though ancient as well as modern scholars have doubted the legitimacy of such ascriptions.[9] According to one pair of scholars, "The actual authorship of the three maxims set up on the Delphian temple may be left uncertain. Most likely they were popular proverbs, which tended later to be attributed to particular sages


"Let no one destitute of geometry enter my doors." Plato (c. 427 - 347 B.C.E.)

"[Geometry is] . . . persued for the sake of the knowledge of what eternally exists, and not of what comes for a moment into existence, and then perishes, ...[it] must draw the soul towards truth and give the finishing touch to the philosophic spirit."

III: The "Geometrical Problem" in the Meno.

Further along in the Meno occurs the celebrated case of the Geometrical Example at Meno 87, which in contrast to the previous mathematical illustration, has been twisted, tortured, and intentionally passed over for two centuries. Jebb said (loc.cit.) asven over a century ago:
The hypothesis appears to be rather trivial and to have no mathematical value. . . (which Raven echoes in 1965)
and here follow some barely intelligible geometrical details".

Bluck however, in 1961 devotes an excursus of some sixteen pages to a complete review of views on the problem, which include an array or barely intelligible geometrical details. The passage is made more difficult of interpretation by the fact that Socrates introduces the geometrical example in a very summary manner, which some have felt was an indication or its relative unimportance.

 I believe on the contrary that the almost schematic reference implies that the topic and the example were well known to the Platonic audience, and did not need explanation. Plato knows how to explain in full, and when he refrains we must understand the matter to be common knowledge. The problem as it occurs at Meno 87 a is briefly this:
We will proceed from here on like the geometer who when asked if a given triangle can be inscribed in a given circle, will say:

'I can't say, but let us proceed hypothetically or experimentally, draw out one leg, swing the other two and see if it falls short or exceeds the rim of the circle.'
In making this paraphrase I have added the word "experimentally" for obvious reasons, and I have taken the noun chorion correctly as area (not rectangle or a triangle, as has been said, which means nothing) in a sense very well attested. So apparently with these conditions, the words themselves are not obscure or really unintelligible, although as yet the meaning has not yet come to the surface.
See: Plato: Mathematician or Mystic ?


You might think the loss of geometry like the loss of, say, Latin would pass virtually unnoticed. This is the thing about geometry: we no more notice it than we notice the curve of the earth. To most people, geometry is a grade school memory of fumbling with protractors and memorizing the Pythagorean theorem. Yet geometry is everywhere. Coxeter sees it in honeycombs, sunflowers, froth and sponges. It's in the molecules of our food (the spearmint molecule is the exact geometric reaction of the caraway molecule), and in the computer-designed curves of a Mercedes-Benz. Its loss would be immeasurable, especially to the cognoscenti at the Budapest conference, who forfeit the summer sun for the somnolent glow of an overhead projector. They credit Coxeter with rescuing an art form as important as poetry or opera. Without Coxeter's geometry as without Mozart's symphonies or Shakespeare's plays our culture, our understanding of the universe,would be incomplete.

See: γνώθι σεαυτόν

A Holograpical Universe

Plato likened our view of the world to that of an ancient forebear watching shadows meander across a dimly lit cave wall. He imagined our perceptions to be but a faint inkling of a far richer reality that flickers beyond reach. Two millennia later, Plato’s cave may be more than a metaphor. To turn his suggestion on its head, reality—not its mere shadow—may take place on a distant boundary surface, while everything we witness in the three common spatial dimensions is a projection of that faraway unfolding. Reality, that is, may be akin to a hologram. Or, really, a holographic movie.

The journey to this peculiar possibility combines developments deep and far-flung—insights from general relativity; from research on black holes; from thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, and, most recently, string theory. The thread linking these diverse areas is the nature of information in a quantum universe.
Physicists Jacob Bekenstein and Stephen Hawking established that, for a black hole, the information storage capacity is determined not by the volume of its interior but by the area of its surface. But when the math says that a black hole’s store of information is measured by its surface area, does that merely reflect a numerical accounting, or does it mean that the black hole’s surface is where the information is actually stored? It’s a deep issue and has been pursued for decades by some of the most renowned physicists. The answer depends on whether you view the black hole from the outside or from the inside—and from the outside, there’s good reason to believe that information is indeed stored at the event horizon. This doesn’t merely highlight a peculiar feature of black holes. Black holes don’t just tell us about how black holes store information. 
Black holes inform us about information storage 
in any context. See:Our Universe May Be a Giant Hologram

See Also: Physics and Philosophie Pay attention too, #8. (And Stefan submits: What is the ontological status of AdS/CFT?)[also pay attention to comments relating to #8]

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Plato's Problem

Plato's problem is the term given by Noam Chomsky to the gap between knowledge and experience. It presents the question of how we account for our knowledge when environmental conditions seem to be an insufficient source of information. It is used in linguistics to refer to the "argument from poverty of the stimulus" (APS). In a more general sense, Plato’s Problem refers to the problem of explaining a "lack of input." Solving Plato’s Problem involves explaining the gap between what one knows and the apparent lack of substantive input from experience (the environment). Plato's Problem is most clearly illustrated in the Meno dialogue, in which Socrates demonstrates that an uneducated boy nevertheless understands geometric principles.



What is knowledge? What is experience? How do they interact? Is there a correlational, causal, or reciprocal relationship between knowledge and experience? These and other related questions have been at the forefront of investigation by problem solvers, scientists, psychologists, and philosophers for centuries. These questions, but particularly the problem of how experience and knowledge interrelate, have broad theoretical and practical implications for such academic disciplines as epistemology, linguistics, and psychology (specifically the subdiscipline of thinking and problem solving). Gaining a more precise understanding of human knowledge, whether defined as innate, experiential, or both, is an important part of effective problem solving.

Plato was the first philosopher who systematically inquired into issues such as those noted above. He wrote many dialogues, such as Euthyphro and the Apology, but it is from the Meno that the modern instantiation of Plato’s Problem is derived. In the Meno, Plato theorizes about the relationship between knowledge and experience and provides an explanation for how it is possible to know something that one has never been explicitly taught. Plato believed that we possess innate ideas that precede any knowledge that we gain through experience.

As formulated by Noam Chomsky,[1] accounting for this gap between knowledge and experience is "Plato’s Problem." The phrase has a specific linguistic context with regard to language acquisition but can also be used more generally.

Plato (427 B.C. – 347 B.C.)



Plato was born into an aristocratic Athenian family. When Plato was a young man, Athens was defeated in the Peloponnesian War, a tragedy he attributed to the democracy (Russell). Plato was principally opposed to democracy, as he believed "democracy passes into despotism" [2]. Several of the political calamities of the day led Plato to propose an ideal form of government in his most famous work, The Republic, which still has profound influences on modern Western political philosophy.

Early work

Plato’s early philosophical endeavors involved poetry discussing many ideas, such as the differences between knowledge and opinion, particulars and universals, and God and man. These early dialogues do not utilize conventional notions of reason. Rather, they appeal to the emotions, the allegorical, the spiritual, and the mythological interests of an ancient speculative mind.

Controversy surrounds the early dialogues in how they are to be interpreted. Some claim that Plato was truly trying to discover objective reality through these mystical speculations while others maintain that the dialogues are stories to be interpreted only as parables, allegories, and emotional appeals to religious experience. Regardless, Plato would come to formulate a more rigorous and comprehensive philosophy later in his life, one that reverberates in contemporary Western thought to this day.

Some of Plato’s famous works are Phaedo, the Crito, and, as noted earlier, the Meno. Within these works are found a comprehensive philosophy that addresses epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics, theology, and logic. As noted, most of the writing is in the form of dialogues and arguments to pursue answers to difficult questions and concepts. Plato’s teacher and mentor, Socrates, always plays a significant and formative role in these dialogues.

Socrates (470 B.C. - 399 B.C.)

Most of Plato’s philosophical ideas were communicated through his beloved teacher Socrates as a presence in the dialogues. Though Socrates never wrote anything himself, it is evident through Plato’s works that Socrates had an incredible ability to explore the most intense analytical discussions. However, for some there is controversy regarding how much historical fact can be derived from Plato’s Socrates (Russell). Some doubt Socrates ever existed. Others are skeptical as to the accuracy of some of Plato’s dialogues but nonetheless maintain that we can learn a substantial amount of historical information about Socrates from the dialogues. Still others take practically everything Plato wrote about Socrates as veridical history. Regardless, it may be safe to say that Plato never meant to record Socrates verbatim and it may plausibly be concluded that his general ideas were communicated in the dialogues.

Socratic method

As delineated in various writings, the meticulousness, articulation, and sophistication with which Socrates spoke supplies an outstanding problem solving technique – the Socratic Method. The Socratic method may be described as follows: it usually involves others with whom Socrates directly engages (not merely pontificating to an audience), it involves a deep philosophical or ethical question to which an answer was sought, and it usually involves Socrates asking questions either to affirm his understanding of others or to seek their understanding.
If someone disagreed with him, Socrates would execute this process in order to bring about his interlocutor’s reluctant admission of inconsistencies and contradictions. Either Socrates would ask his debators questions about their claims that would lead them to admit their fallacy or Socrates would answer questions by posing questions meant to lead the other to answer their own query.
The Socratic Method


One such dialogue of Plato’s that utilized the Socratic Method was the Meno. The participants were Socrates, Meno, Anytus, and one of Meno’s slave boys. The dialogue begins with Meno asking Socrates whether virtue can be taught. Socrates responds by stating that he does not know the definition of virtue. Meno replies by stating the characteristics of a virtuous man, to which Socrates responds that the characteristics of a virtuous man may be the by-products of virtuousness but they by no means define virtue. Meno is obliged to agree; to wit, he tries to modify his explanation of virtue. Socrates counters each attempt by pointing to inconsistencies and circular arguments.
Meno seems to commit two fallacies when trying to define virtue. He either defines it using some form of the word itself, or he defines it using other words that call for definitions and explanations themselves. Eventually, Meno is lead to confess his shortcomings as he tries to define the enigmatic term (the Socratic Method is the mechanism that brings about this confession). Socrates claims that a definition of virtue must consist of common terms and concepts that are clearly understood by those in the discussion.
A crucial point in the dialogue is when Socrates tells Meno that there is no such thing as teaching, only recollection of knowledge from past lives, or anamnesis. Socrates claims that he can demonstrate this by showing that one of Meno’s servants, a slave boy, knows geometric principles though he is uneducated. Socrates states that he will teach the boy nothing, only ask him questions to assist the process of recollection. Socrates proceeds to ask the slave boy a series of questions about the size and length of lines and squares, using visual diagrams to aid the boy in understanding the questions. The crucial point to this part of the dialogue is that, though the boy has no training, he knows the correct answers to the questions – he intrinsically knows the Pythagorean proposition.

Innate knowledge

Shortly before the demonstration of Pythagoras’ theorem, the dialogue takes an epistemological turn when the interlocutors begin to discuss the fundamental nature of knowledge. The general question asked is how one can claim to know something when one does not even know what knowledge is. Via the Socratic method, it is shown that the answer to the question posed is innateness - one possesses a priori knowledge.
This is derived from Socrates’ belief that one’s soul existed in past lives and knowledge is transferred from those lives to the current one. "These [ideas] were revealed in a former state of existence, and are recovered by reminiscence (anamnesis) or association from sensible things" [3]. The claim is that one does not need to know what knowledge is before gaining knowledge, but rather one has a wealth of knowledge before ever gaining any experience.

Contemporary parallels

There are contemporary contexts that provide input for the various questions posed here: how to account for the gap between experience and knowledge, what are some of the sources of knowledge, or how much knowledge is possessed prior to experience or without conscious awareness. There are many areas in contemporary linguistics and psychological research that have relevance to these epistemological questions. Linguistic analysis has provided some strong evidence for innate cognitive capacities for language and there are many areas of cognitive psychology that yield hard data from investigations into sources of knowledge. In addition, there are some claims in the Meno that have connections to current research on perception and long-term memory (LTM).


Noam Chomsky
Linguistics is the scientific study of language. Chomskian linguistics (an inclusive, though perhaps informal, label for the theories and methodologies of linguistic study spearheaded by Noam Chomsky, meant to encompass his extensive work and influence in the field) includes everything from Chomsky’s earliest work in transformational grammar to more recent work in the Minimalist Program. More exactly, it is the study of the structure of language, or grammar. Chomskian linguistics is defined by a particular theoretical foundation and methodological approach that sets it apart from other linguistic perspectives, such as those described by functional grammar or structuralism (per Leonard Bloomfield) for example. This particular approach to the study of language is also often referred to as Generative linguistics, which is attributed to Chomsky and his early generative grammar work.

Universal grammar

There are several concepts important to the Chomskian (or generativist) approach to linguistics. The most fundamental of these ideas is the theory of universal grammar (UG). Simply put, and as implied by the name, UG refers to those grammatical properties thought to be shared by all (to be universal to all) derivations of human language (anything from Amharic to Zhuang).
Per this conceptualization, UG is innate to all humans – people come "pre-wired" with this universal grammatical structure. A person’s individual grammar (that which is unique to the person) develops from the interaction between the innate universal grammar and input from the environment, or primary linguistic data. This "analytic triplet" (McGilvray, ed., 2005, p. 51), UG + input = grammar, is the functional core of the theory.
Language acquisition
Several questions (or problems) motivate linguistic theorizing and investigation. Two such taken up in Chomskian linguistics are the process of language acquisition in children, and "Plato’s Problem." These subjects are interrelated and viewed as evidence in support of the theory of UG.
One of the simplest ways to approach the concept of universal grammar is to pose a hypothetical question about an aspect of language acquisition in children – why does a child learn the language that it does. As a specific example, how can a child of Asian descent (say, born of Chinese parents) be set down in the middle of Topeka, Kansas and acquire "perfect English?" The answer is that the child does not start with "Chinese," or any other conventionally defined language, in its head. The child does start with general grammatical rules that determine linguistic properties.
Children come equipped with universal grammar, from which any natural human language will develop – without instruction. All that is needed is passive input. If what the child predominantly hears (or sees via sign) as it is maturing through the critical period (in linguistics, that period within which a child must have necessary and sufficient exposure to human language so that language acquisition occurs; without sufficient exposure to primary linguistic data, the UG does not have the necessary input required for the development of an individual grammar; this period is commonly recognized as spanning from birth to adolescence, generally up to 12-years-old, though a shorter or longer critical period is possible on a person-by-person basis) is the English spoken in Topeka, Kansas, then that is what the child will acquire. This is why, regardless of a child’s ethnic/racial background (or any other of a variety of non-relevant factors), the child will know Cockney English, Egyptian Arabic, or isiZulu if the child’s primary linguistic input is Cockney English, Egyptian Arabic, or isiZulu, respectively.
The hypothetical question posed addresses a common misconception about what, exactly, is instantiated in the mind/brain of an individual when it comes to language. It does not address the "logical problem" of language acquisition, i.e., how children transition from ostensibly having no knowledge of language to having full knowledge, in what may be described as a very limited time with apparently limited input.
Plato's problem
To address the issue of apparently limited input, one must turn to what is possibly the most quoted of all arguments in support of universal grammar and its nativist interpretation – Plato’s Problem. The phrase refers to the Socratic dialogue, the Meno; Noam Chomsky is often attributed with coining the term. Plato's Problem particularly refers to a point in the dialogue when Socrates is talking with an uneducated servant and shows, through this interaction, that the servant knows the Pythagorean Theorem though he has never been explicitly taught any geometry. How does the servant know without having ever been taught? Plato’s suggestion is, essentially, that people have innate knowledge.
In the field of linguistics, Plato’s Problem is the problem of finding an explanation for how a child acquires language though the child does not receive explicit instruction and the primary linguistic data (input, or stimuli, from the environment; PLD is necessary for the development of an individual's grammar - language - via input into UG) a child does receive is limited. This limited

Friday, January 07, 2011

Lessons in Life

 For me there has to be a beginning for any object of presentation,  so that the understanding fully incorporates how one is looking at say "our skies historically" can be the seed of what matures tomorrow. While that process and it's unfolding can be months in the making, it must for me have an imprint of where it came from, so that anything that matures out of it, can be understood in the context of the way in which I might want to write my story.

This  does not mean and shall never mean,  it becomes the story of Clifford's and has any relation to anything he writes.

 This is necessary for me in order to progress through time, to ultimately see how "artistically describing" can lead one to a fuller comprehension of the seriousness of the task at hand.

For me, as a tracker, I am looking for the seeds of such designs. How such projects can come to mind, just as much as,  theoretical ideas can manifest from all that has come before it. It must follow the rules of science in order for the theoretical to have ever materialized right?


Anish Kapoor chosen for landmark 2012 sculpture --

Image of Orbit Image by ARUP
 Artistic renditions must "like science articles" abide by the science as we know it. That it is displayed properly in nature, as it is so written by equatorial discriptions?

If you followed the topic of a  post  entry by Clifford you sort of get the  picture by the question he raises.   He said,
"Now, while looking at the picture above, I noticed something interesting. Is it just me, or is the sky wrong? I don’t mean that it is blue and over London and therefore a contradiction (droll, but not even close to the truth). Look at the shadow of the Thing (called The Orbit, I think), and look at the pattern of the blue in the sky." Stairway to Heaven- Published by Clifford on March 31, 2010

So if are your bit of a perfectionist, find yourself dreaming of a project that will certainly display the issues of "artistic rendition" as shown in the article of the Orbit's Skies,   I saw Clifford correlating the process and elaboration of his current project,  as it was listed by links below..

The Project - 1-

The Project - 2-

The Project - 3-


Blacklines -

I want to quickly take you to the Blog posting that was important for me , knowing full well all the subsequent posts written by Clifford are leading up to what started as the lesson for me, now looking at the beginning,  as I have proposed from my perspective, has now come to fruition, as a project of much importance.

But first you must know something about the shadows, how important to me, and how these are markers in the truest sense of the word so as to reveal where the sun is , as well as how one may look at the sky  in accordance with the principals of science.


So you have to go back to the very beginning of the Post called Stairway to Heaven by Clifford to understand what I have always known, and what has preoccupied my time many years ago. It is necessary to see the comment made to understand the relevance I may ever have in comments according to how a picture is perceived, how shadows are used to highlight perspective about objects, or, about how objects them self cast such shadows.

I thought from a historical standpoint to today?

It’s all in the shading?:)I mean for instance, using architectural objects for telling time? Or marking locations.

Stefan of Backreaction had a nice blog posting about it placing one in New York.

Would this serve as an illustration “for picture analysis” in Stairway to Heaven? A relation too, the idea of Early Euclidean beginnings ‘of the geometries’ as a basis of “angle of determinations’ of the sun’s location?
Being Cryptic, is information that you don't have,  that one must have,  in order to complete the picture? If you do not ever have the experience, how are you ever to talk about a particular situation that needed explanation in the truest sense. So one might write about it, or draw in painting style according to his perception of it.


So after following the blog posting by Clifford, leading too, Paints , it was Jude that helped me to understand the perspective about the direction in which to look at Clifford's picture there.
As Jude pointed out, moving from the idea of suspension(Ele Munjeli) , toward actually “looking up” makes this very interesting three dimensional viewing of the location.
I like it because the “expansion of viewing,” from a different perspective is realized, whether it was your intention or not.

If I did not have the information  I am giving you,  then it is but a simple lesson in life. A lesson, without the content of something much deeper and significant about that which drives it home. Helps one to fully grok the experience. So you try to emulate the experience, by writing, by painting? Creating a narrative about the lesson involved.

So by arriving at "Paints" you understand the creative artistic process that lead Clifford there.

I’m impressed with your drawing abilities.

The arena picture caught me of guard, as to the location of the sun, as the shadow was laid over the windows of the building. At first, it looked like I was looking right through the building at a completed structure through too…windows on the other side. Is there another building across from it, or in the same direction as the shadow?

Should one line up the shadow of the building with the woman in blue’s shadow?

I know you tend to the ole ways, but I was wondering again about mouse overs for computer based images(sound, wording captions) how you are going to portray these discussions.
Again, wonderful creative process. It must have taken a lot of work.

But now in order to understand the lesson, not just of the shadows involved but the direction of where the sun is located in his picture. This is important not only in concert with the idea of the shadows, but of the very sky itself. As I looked up, the visualization was expansive.

In Paints, once understanding what I was actually looking at,  by looking up, who could have not caught the sun reflected on the side of the building. So for me, this was about finding the location of the Sun. Something else happened as well as I looked at the sky.  How well one needs to pay attention.  How else one is able to identify the location as it is represented in the sky?

There is a lot of  detail not only on the side of the building, but also on the differences of color detailed in the sky. It's really quite remarkable the attention to detail given, but also the attention given to artistic displayed of the science in nature on mathematically as it can be representative in the sky.

On Tuesday I had ended with a computation that is the essence of the reason the sky is blue, which is a nice enough thing to talk about, but today I wanted to go more in depth on the whole thing, and show that you can in a few steps show that the blueness has a particular pattern to it. I wrote out the final equations in a few steps and looked at them for a moment or two and realized that with the sun rising at that very moment, it was the perfect situation to have! So I went outside to enjoy the beautiful Autumn day and the beauty there is in seeing an equation writ large in the sky - and it really was all there.Blue Skies… Published by Clifford on October 29, 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Oligarchy- A Historical Look from Plato's Dialogues

Backreaction: A little less conversation, a little more science please

An Oligarchy (Greek Ὀλιγαρχία, Oligarkhía) is a form of government in which power effectively rests with a small elite segment of society distinguished by royal, wealth, intellectual, family, military or religious hegemony. The word oligarchy is from the Greek words for "few" (ὀλίγος olígos) and "rule" (ἀρχή arkhē). Such states are often controlled by politically powerful families whose children are heavily conditioned and mentored to be heirs of the power of the oligarchy.[citation needed] Oligarchies have been tyrannical throughout history, being completely reliant on public servitude to exist. Although Aristotle pioneered the use of the term as a synonym for rule by the rich, for which the exact term is plutocracy, oligarchy is not always a rule by wealth, as oligarchs can simply be a privileged group. Some city-states from Ancient Greece were oligarchies.( bold added by me for emphasis)

Change "public servitude" to "consumerism" and this exemplifies for many what democracies have become?


Not only from a historical perspective do I introduce this material, but to indicate, that I along with many, have become disillusioned with the current politicization structures.

A desire then, for a more "introspective look" would then be accorded in a search for the political ideal. It was done for an "economic ideal," so it must be mustered in the same vain as the Economic Manhattan project where scientists had gathered for perspective. A desire then for a "21st Century View" toward a "just society."

See: Search function for concept here.

A search function listed by percentage of importance was then done in respect of Plato's commentary to be revealed in the Dialogues to offer perspective.

Plato : LAWS

Persons of the dialogue: An Athenian stranger - Cleinias, a Cretan
- Megillus, a Lacedaemonian
Translated by Benjamin Jowett - 60 Pages (Part 2)

Laws-Part 2 Page 23

Ath. I will do as you suggest. There is a tradition of the happy life of mankind in days when all things were spontaneous and abundant. And of this the reason is said to have been as follows: - Cronos knew what we ourselves were declaring, that no human nature invested with supreme power is able to order human affairs and not overflow with insolence and wrong. Which reflection led him to appoint not men but demigods, who are of a higher and more divine race, to be the kings and rulers of our cities; he did as we do with flocks of sheep and other tame animals. For we do not appoint oxen to be the lords of oxen, or goats of goats; but we ourselves are a superior race, and rule over them. In like manner God, in his love of mankind, placed over us the demons, who are a superior race, and they with great case and pleasure to themselves, and no less to us, taking care us and giving us peace and reverence and order and justice never failing, made the tribes of men happy and united. And this tradition, which is true, declares that cities of which some mortal man and not God is the ruler, have no escape from evils and toils. Still we must do all that we can to imitate the life which is said to have existed in the days of Cronos, and, as far as the principle of immortality dwells in us, to that we must hearken, both in private and public life, and regulate our cities and houses according to law, meaning by the very term "law," the distribution of mind. But if either a single person or an oligarchy or a democracy has a soul eager after pleasures and desires - wanting to be filled with them, yet retaining none of them, and perpetually afflicted with an endless and insatiable disorder; and this evil spirit, having first trampled the laws under foot, becomes the master either of a state or of an individual - then, as I was saying, salvation is hopeless. And now, Cleinias, we have to consider whether you will or will not accept this tale of mine.
Cle. Certainly we will.
Ath. You are aware - are you not? - that there are of said to be as many forms of laws as there are of governments, and of the latter we have already mentioned all those which are commonly recognized. Now you must regard this as a matter of first - rate importance. For what is to be the standard of just and unjust, is once more the point at issue. Men say that the law ought not to regard either military virtue, or virtue in general, but only the interests and power and preservation of the established form of government; this is thought by them to be the best way of expressing the natural definition of justice.
Cle. How?
Ath. Justice is said by them to be the interest of the stronger.
Cle. Speak plainer.



Persons of the dialogue: Socrates - Glaucon - Polemarchus
- Adeimantus - Cephalus - Thrasymachus - Cleitophon
Translated by Benjamin Jowett - 71 Pages (Part 4) - Greek fonts

The ruin of oligarchy is the ruin of democracy; the same disease magnified and intensified by liberty overmasters democracy —the truth being that the excessive increase of anything often causes a reaction in the opposite direction; and this is the case not only in the seasons and in vegetable and animal life, but above all in forms of government.


The excess of liberty, whether in states or individuals, seems only to pass into excess of slavery.

Yes, the natural order.

And so tyranny naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme form of liberty?

How Do You Stop a Oligarchy?

Was introduced from a "consumerism point of view." It was directed toward the idea of governments who "gather money" to operate "their ideal structures of government" while depleting the resources of the "private citizen for that government operation."

Tax grabs to support that positions?

I am trying to orientate myself amidst these political terrain and would like nothing better then to be set straight to remove wrong thinking directed toward finding a "just government?" How do you define a "just government?"

Searching for the "Ideal Government for the 21st Century?"


Then is Now?

The ruin of oligarchy is the ruin of democracy; the same disease magnified and intensified by liberty overmasters democracy-Plato:POLITEIA

Can we recognize the decay in the processes of democratization?

It is when we are left with this "feeling of the electorate" to see that they have lost control of the government, that one senses this alienation from the process of democracy. Recognizes "agendas that are being played out," that were not part of the party stance with which they promised to govern before an election.

So what recourse then to see that the processes of legitimacy are recognized and drawn out, that it will become part of the rule of law and implemented, that there was really nothing that could have been done, citing petitions and initiatives toward recall.

Not so much now is there, as to what party and their allegiance, but to the recognition of democracy in decay that we all can now recognize.

The incapacitated people

The people feel disenfranchised. And it is disenfranchised. But the parliament) is directly legitimized by the electorate (at country level, the provincial assemblies. All other constitutional bodies, President and Chancellor (in progress), derive their legitimacy from it. Shift the political choices but from the circles of power in parliament and coalition rounds, who knows the Constitution does not, therefore, is sidelined by the Bundestag and abused only later to formally rubber-stamp, is a de facto policy demokratiefrei.

Sure I may point to "another country" to demonstrate the social construct of the democracy in question, but it is "not far" from what we can identify within our own, that we see the signs of the time?