- [Εiδος in the Early Socratic and Late Platonic Dialogues]
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[ 193 [Εἶδος in the Early Socratic and Late Platonic Dialogues] In Jan 1915, Eliot resumed his philosophical studies at Oxford. According to his report to Dean Briggs of Harvard, in this “second term” (Hilary term, mid-Jan to mid-Mar), “I attended two courses of lectures, one by Mr. H. H. Joachim, my tutor, and one by Professor J. A. Smith” (L1 118). As in the Michaelmas term, Joachim’s lectures were on the Nicomachean Ethics and Smith’s lectures, “The Concept of Value,” were on logic. Further, Eliot reports, “I attended a small class reading a text of Plotinus [Enneads] with Professor J. A. Stewart.” He also continued his weekly tutorial with Joachim, now focused on Plato’s dialogues and Aristotle’s Post-Analytics, and “once a week brought Mr. Joachim papers on the philosophy of Plato” (L1 118). “I am now writing papers on Plato,” he explained to Woods on 28 Jan, “and shall later write on Aristotle” (L1 91). Of the six to eight essays on Plato, only the one on Εἶδος has survived. Εἶδος appears to me to have several distinguishable meanings, though I am by no means sure that I can identify them invariably in their existences.1 There is (1) εἶδος as sort or kind, used loosely, and sometimes interchangeably with γένος,2 (2) εἶδος as the Pythagorean form, or as class concept, [and] (3) as categories or as primitive ideas in a deductive universal science. Of the first use I should cite Phaedo (79a6) εἴδη τῶν ὄντων, τὸ μὲν ὁρατόν, τὸ δὲ ἀϊδές;3 where the εἶδος is not of the ὁρατόν4 but is the ὁρατόν; for certainly we do not have a form of forms or a form of the formless (of the formlessness , that is to say). γένος is I think used to express similar indeterminate differences. In such passages as Sophist (235b) δύο εἴδη [καθορᾷν] τῆς μιμητικης5 and Sophist (266d); in the latter of which γένος represents the same distinction as εἶδος in the first; the two terms appear to be used interchangeably. I am not certain in my mind as to the degree of precision intended in this passage, or in a number of other passages. Though εἶδος and γένος, and εἶδος and ἰδέα seem to be equivalent in certain contexts, ἰδέα and γένος apparently never are interchanged, and the term εἶδος appears to have the greater latitude of meaning. At any rate, the first pair, with the phrase αὐτὸ τὸ6 –is I think more frequent in the earlier dialogues including the Republic and the latter pair in the later. It seems to me, rightly or wrongly, that the notion of χωρισμός7 is much more prominent, not only in the Phaedo, but in all the dialogues through the Republic, than in the later dialogues. The form, I feel, hovers 1914-15: Merton College, Oxford University 194 ] between magical formula and scientific method. It is difficult to say how far the passage 101c is an anticipation of Plato’s own theory of ἀριθμοὶ ἀσύμβλητοι8 or of the modern theory of number; but I should say that there is here no theory of the genesis of number or of a “hierarchy” of forms. There is still something mystical about the relation of τὰ καλὰ to τῷ καλῷ or αὐτῷ τῷ καλῷ;9 the relation is not quite thoroughly a logical one, and the εἶδος or ἰδέα is not a “universal.” It seems to have a real as well as logical existence . It is not even certain whether a class is not a member of itself, “odd” predicable of “oddness” (103a), and this I suppose to be the question settled later by the participation of forms in each other. And the use to which the whole argument is put, the demonstration of the immortality of the soul (a demonstration made in good faith, as I think) seems to point to the conclusion that the discussion is not so much logical as ἐν τοῖς λόγοις.10 It is true that in the course of the proof we get some important passages on methodology , but these seem to me more Socratic than Platonic, and deal with the τι ἱκανόν11 rather than with the foundations of logic. The theory was becoming logical; but I do not think that the εἶδος can be said to have sprung fullborn a logical entity. I cannot help thinking that the passage at the end of Book VI [of the Sophist] marks a great advance over the theories of the Phaedo, though no rupture; this passage is still much closer to the Socratic theory than is the system of the Sophists. The view of the place of hypothesis seems distinctly a development beyond that of Phaedo (101d-e), and the conception of ultimate logical (mathematical) principles finds...