Epistola VIII (352b–357d) (Spurious?)
- Πλάτων τοῖς Δίωνος οἰκείοις τε καὶ ἑταίροις εὖ πράττειν.
- The Seventh Letter. VII Marja Itkonen-Kaila. Platon Teokset VII. Suomentanut Suomennos A. M. Anttila ja Helsinki: Otava, 1999.
Plato’s adventures in Syracuse, Sicily, and the philosophical digression
The question of policy, directing, giving orders (διακελεύομα)
Plato to Dion’s associates and comrades (ἑταῖρος) wishes well-doing.
“You wrote to me that I ought to consider that your policy (διακελεύομαι) was the same as that which Dion had; and moreover you charged me to support it, so far as I can, both by deed and word (ἔργῳ καὶ λόγῳ)”
Philosophical direction and leadership
” I was forced to praise of right (ὀρθός) philosophy and declare that only from it can be seen what is justice (δικαία) in the political (πολιτικός) and private (ἰδιώτης) life. The vices of the humankind would never cease, until either those who are right and true kin (γένος) of philosophers attains political (πολιτικός) leadership (ἀρχή) or those that hold power (δυναστεύω) in our cities (πόλις), by some divine lot (μοῖρα), become really philosophic.”
“Minun oli pakko ylistää oikeaa filosofiaa ja julistaa että vain sen avulla voi nähdä mikä on oikeudenmukaista sekä politiikassa että yksityisessä elämässä Ihmissuvun paheista ei tulisi loppua, ennen kuin oikeiden ja tosi filosofien suku saa poliittisen johdon tai sitten vallassa olevista jonkin jumalallisen kohtalon kautta tulee todella filosofisia.”
All writers, who claim to know (οἶδα) what I am seriously dealing with, whether heard from me or others, or found themselves, in my opinion, do not understand anything about this matter. On this there is no writing (σύγγραμμα) of mine nor will be. For it cannot be spoken like other studies (μάθημα). But after much company (συνουσία ) and living with (συζάω) the matter itself (πρᾶγμα αὐτὸ), suddenly (ἐξαίφνης), like light (φῶς) kindled (ἐξάπτω) by a leaping spark (πυρός), it is born in the soul (ψυχή) and thereafter nourishes itself.
Kaikista tähänastisista ja tulevista kirjoittajista, jotka väittävät tuntevansa sen mitä vakavasti harjoitan ja esittävät tämän joko minulta tai muilta kuuleminaan tai itse löytäminään, voin sanoa tämän verran: minun mielestäni he eivät voi ymmärtää asiasta yhtään mitään. Näistä en ole tehnyt kirjoitusta enkä tule koskaan tekemään. Niistä ei voi nimittäin puhua kuten muista tutkimuksista. Kun on paljon yhdessäolon aikana elänyt yhdessä tämän asian itsensä (πρᾶγμα αὐτὸ) parissa, se yhtäkkiä (ἐξαίφνης) syntyy sielussa kuin singonneesta kipinästä leimahtava valo, ja siitä lähtien ravitsee itseään
“Each existing being has three necessary means for knowledge (ἐπιστήμη), which itself is a fourth; and fifth one must postulate the being itself which is known (γνωστός) and true (ἀληθής).
- First comes the name (ὄνομα); 2) second the definition (λόγος); 3) thirdly the image (εἴδωλον); 4) fourthly the knowledge (ἐπιστήμη).”
Example: Circle (κύκλος)
1) Let say circle (κύκλος) is, this itself is its name (ὄνομα), which we just uttered
2) Secondly, it has a definition (λόγος), composed of names (ὄνομα) and verbs (ῥῆμα); for that which is everywhere equidistant from the extremities to the center will be the definition of that being which has for its name round (στρογγύλος) and spherical (περιφερής) and circle (κύκλος)
3) Thirdly is the painted (ζωγραφέω) and obliterated (ἐξαλείφω), being shaped with a lathe (τορνεύω) and destroyed (ἀπόλλυμι), all these are related to the circle, but do not affect in itself, as it is distinct therefrom.
4) Fourth is knowledge (ἐπιστήμη), intelligence (νόος) and true opinion (ἀληθής τε δόξα) concerning this being and these we must counted as one whole, which does not exist in vocal (φωνή) or bodily (σῶμα) figure (σχῆμα) but in soul (ψυχή), whereby it is plain that it differs both from the nature of circle itself and from the three previously mentioned.
The same is true alike of the straight (εὐθύς) and of the rounded (περιφερής) form (σχῆμα), of color, and of the good (ἀγαθός) and the beautiful (καλός) and the just (δίκαιος), and of all bodies whether prepared artificially (σκευαστός) or naturally born such as fire and water and all such beings, and of all living beings (ζῷον´) and soul manners (ἦθος), deeds (ποίημα) and affections (πάθημα)
For unless one somehow or other apprehends (λαμβάνω) these four, he will never partake (μέτοχος) perfectly knowledge of the fifth. Moreover, these attempt to express the howness/quality of each being (τὸ ποῖόν τι) no less than its being (τὸ ὂν), owing to the weakness (ἀσθενές) inherent in language (λόγος) [343a] and no one of intelligence will ever dare to commit to it that which is perceived by the mind, especially when it is immovable (ἀμετακίνητος) as is the case is with written forms…
… the main point is this, that while there are two beings, what is (τὸ ὂν) and quality/ howness (τὸ ποῖόν τι), and the soul seeks to know not the howness (τὸ ποῖόν τι) but the essence/whatness (τὸ τί), each of the four offers to the soul in words and deeds that which is not sought. And and by thus causing each one which is said or show to be always easy of refutation by the sense-perception (αἴσθησις), it fills practically all men with all manner of perplexity (ἀπορία) and uncertainty (ἀσάφεια).
The natural born thinkers and the bursting light of reason
Neither those who have no natural connection or affinity with things just (δικαία), and all else that is beautiful (καλός), although they are both good in learning (εὐμαθής) and memory (μνήμων) in various ways of other things, nor yet those who possess such affinity but are slow in learning (δυσμαθέω) and forgetful (ἀμνήμων) none, I say, of these will ever learn μανθάνω to the utmost possible extent the truth of virtue (ἀρετή) nor yet of vice (κακία).
For in learning these it is necessary to learn at the same time both what is false (ψεῦδος) and what is true (ἀληθής) of the whole being (ὅλης οὐσίας) and that takes much practice and time, as I said at the commencement.
And it is by means of rubbing (τρίβω) each of them with each other, names (ὀνόματα) and definitions (λόγοι), visions (ὄψεις) and sense-perceptions (αἰσθήσεις), in a kindly (εὐμενέσιν) refutation (ἔλεγχος) by means of crossexamination (ἐλέγχω), questioning (ἐρώτησις) and answering (ἀπόκρισις) without malice (φθόνος), that there barely bursts out the light of reason (φρόνησις) regarding each in the mind (nοῦς ) of him who uses every effort of which mankind is capable.