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:

Conversation August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm

Lincoln’s Party

Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln

Conversation March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm

Burn Pits

Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

April 2017

You Can Run …

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Never Would I Ever

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The March on Everywhere

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Defender of the Community

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Echt Deutsch

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Boy Without a Country

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The March on Everywhere·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Photograph (detail) © Nima Taradji/Polaris
Post
The Forty-Fifth President·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Photograph (detail) by Philip Montgomery
Article
Defender of the Community·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Illustration (detail) by Katherine Streeter
Article
The Boy Without a Country·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Illustration (detail) by Shonagh Rae
Article
Asphalt Gardens·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In a city that is rapidly pricing out the poor, NYCHA’s housing projects are a last bastion of affordable shelter, with an average monthly rent of $509
Photograph (detail) © Samuel James

Number of mine-detecting monkeys erroneously reported to have been given to the United States by Morocco in March:

2,000

The Pacific trade winds are weakening as a result of global warming.

In the United States, legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act was advanced by the House Ways and Means Committee after 18 hours of deliberation, during which time the Republican members of Congress passed around candy.

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Who Goes Nazi?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."

Subscribe Today