July 17th, 2005

rock

say not the struggle nought availeth

    Few doctrines are announced and articulated as clearly in Plato’s writings, as the thesis that the cosmos hands down certain moral commandments, that it is imbued with an absolute moral authority. Thus Socrates rebuts amoral hedonism advocated by Callicles:
And wise men tell us, Callicles, that heaven and earth and gods and men are held together by communion and friendship, by orderliness, temperance, and justice; and that is the reason, my friend, why they call the whole of this world by the name of order (κόσμος), not of disorder (ἀκοσμία) or dissoluteness (ἀκολασία). Now you, as it seems to me, do not give proper attention to this, for all your cleverness, but have failed to observe the great power of geometrical equality amongst both gods and men: you hold that self-advantage is what one ought to practice, because you neglect geometry (γεωμετρίας γὰρ ἀμελεῖς).
Gorgias, 508a-b translated by W.R.M. Lamb
Therein lies its obstacle to casual understanding. As Plato wrote above his door, let no one devoid of geometry enter here, ἀγεωμέτρητος μηδεὶς εἰσίτω. (Quoted in Elias’ coommentary on Aristotle’s Categories.)Collapse )