No Comment, Quotation — June 14, 2008, 8:42 am

Plato’s Dialectic of Numbers

jordaens-prometheus

???? ??? ??? ????????? ?????, ?? ?? ???????????? ????, ????? ?? ???? ?????? ??? ????? ????????? ??? ???????? ???? ????: ??? ?? ??? ???????, ?????????? ???? ??? ???????? ???? ?????????, ?????? ????? ?????????, ?? ?? ???? ??? ??? ?????? ????? ??? ??? ????????? ?????, ????? ?? ??? ???????? ?? ?????? ???????? ???????. ???? ??? ???? ?????? ???? ??????????????? ??? ???? ????? ???? ?????? ???????? ???????? ??????–???????? ??? ???????– ??? ??? ???????????, ???? ???? ???, ?? ??? ????, ???????, ?? ?? ??, ????? ? ???? ????? ???????, ??? ??? ?? ??????? ??????? ????? ???????, ???????? ?? ?? ???’ ????? ?? ?? ??? ?? ??? ????? ??? ?????? ???? ????? ??? ???, ???? ??? ?????: ??? ?? ??? ??????? ????? ???? ?? ?????? ?? ?????????? ???? ?? ??? ??? ??????? ????? ????? ?????? ??? ?????? ??? ??????? ?? ??? ??? ????, ???? ?’ ??? ?? ?? ??????? ??? ?????? ??? ?? ??????? ??????? ??????? ???. ?? ??? ??? ????, ???? ?????, ????? ???? ????????? ??????? ??? ????????? ??? ????????? ????????: ?? ?? ??? ??? ???????? ????? ?? ???, ???? ?? ??????, ??? ????? ?????? ??? ?????????? ??????? ??? ???????, ???? ?? ?? ?? ?????? ?????, ?? ?? ???? ?????? ????????–??? ????????????? ?? ?? ??????????? ????? ??? ?? ????????? ???? ????????? ???? ???????? ???? ??????.

A gift of gods to men, as I believe, was tossed down from some divine source through the agency of a Prometheus together with a gleaming fire; and the ancients, who were better than we and lived nearer the gods, handed down the tradition that all the things which are ever said to exist are sprung from one and many and have inherent in them the finite and the infinite. This being the way in which these things are arranged, we must always assume that there is in every case one idea of everything and must look for it–for we shall find that it is there–and if we get a grasp of this, we must look next for two, if there be two, and if not, for three or some other number; and again we must treat each of those units in the same way, until we can see not only that the original unit is one and many and infinite, but just how many it is. And we must not apply the idea of infinite to plurality until we have a view of its whole number between infinity and one; then, and not before, we may let each unit of everything pass on unhindered into infinity. The gods, then, as I said, handed down to us this mode of investigating, learning, and teaching one another; but the wise men of the present day make the one and the many too quickly or too slowly, in haphazard fashion, and they put infinity immediately after unity; they disregard all that lies between them, and this it is which distinguishes between the dialectic and the disputatious methods of discussion.

Plato (??????), Philebus (???????) 16c-17a (ca. 350 BCE)(J. Burnet transl. 1903)

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

From the June 2014 issue

The Guantánamo “Suicides,” Revisited

A missing document suggests a possible CIA cover-up

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

December 2014

Christmas in Prison

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Poison Apples

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Growing Up

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Gateway to Freedom

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Guns and Poses

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Beeper World·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The beeper, for a certain kind of Miami teenager in the Nineties, was an essential evolutionary adaptation.”
Photograph by Curran Hatleberg
Article
Hammer Island·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The place could have sprung from someone’s jealous dream about white people.”
Photograph by Emily Stein
Article
Growing Up·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The best coming-of-age stories have a hole in the middle. They pretend to be about knowledge, but they are usually about grasping, long after it could be of any use, one’s irretrievable ignorance.”
Photograph by Ben Pier
Article
Guns and Poses·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“‘It’s open shopping,’ he said. ‘A warehouse. The whole of Libya.’”
Map by Mike Reagan
Article
Christmas in Prison·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Just so you motherfuckers know, I’ll be spending Christmas with my family, eating a good meal, and you’ll all be here, right where you belong.”
Photographer unknown. Artwork courtesy Alyse Emdur

Amount that President Obama has added to America’s “brand value” according to the Nation Brands Index:

$2,100,000,000,000

A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.

A Utah woman named Cameo Crispi pleaded guilty to having drunkenly attempted to burn down her ex-boyfriend’s house by igniting bacon on his kitchen stove.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today