12 February 2006

Walk With Me

I don't want to worry you with minutiae, nor can I expect you to wish to become immersed in them, but for the sake of efficiency I'll probably need to post largely on Philebus 42c-55b for the next two weeks. You see, I'm preparing to present on that text for the NY Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy on Feb. 25; I know neither that passage nor the dialogue very well; and I haven't much extra time to blog, in addition to preparing.

I'm afraid I haven't gotten very far. In fact, I've made negative progress, stumbling on a passage that precedes the one I am supposed to discuss, 41c. Let me share my difficulties with you. They aren't philosophical but simply, at this point, concern translation. First the Greek, then Dorothea Frede's translation, then Hackforth's.

a)lla\ mh\n ei)/pomen, ei)/per memnh/meqa, o)li/gon e)n toi=j pro/sqen, w(j o(/tan ai( lego/menai e)piqumi/ai e)n h(mi=n w)=si, di/xa a)/ra to/te to\ sw=ma kai\ xwri\j th=j yuxh=j toi=j paqh/masi diei/lhptai.

memnh/meqa kai\ proerrh/qh tau=ta.

ou)kou=n to\ me\n e)piqumou=n h)=n h( yuxh\ tw=n tou= sw/matoj e)nanti/wn e(/cewn, to\ de\ th\n a)lghdo/na h)/ tina dia\ pa/qoj h(donh\n to\ sw=ma h)=n to\ parexo/menon;

D. Frede
SOC.:We did say a short while ago in our discussion, as we may recall, that when what we call desires are in us, then body and soul part company and have each their separate existences.
PRO.: We do remember, that was said before.
SOC.:And wasn't it the soul that had desires, desires for conditions opposite to the actual ones of the body, while it was the body that undergoes the pain or the pleasure of some affection?
Soc. Well now, we said a while back, if our memory is correct, that when we have within us what we call 'desires', the body stands aloof from the soul and parts company with it in respect of its affections.
Prot. Our memory is correct: we did say so.
Soc. It was the soul, was it not, that desired a condition opposite to that of the body, and it was the body that caused our distress, or our pleasure, because of the way it was affected?
1. No one captures the force of a)/ra to/te. Frede collapses both into 'then'. What Plato means is, 'exactly at that time' or 'straightaway it happens that'. He wants to emphasize that the relationship between body and soul is changed by the mere presence of a desire.
2. Where does 'part company' come from? It's odd that it's in Hackforth, stranger still that it is in Frede (who does not say in her 1993 commentary that her translation is indebted to Hackforth's). Hackforth I suppose is rendering \ xwri\j ... diei/lhptai. I can't see what it is supposed to correspond to in Frede.
3. Likewise, Frede's 'each have their separate experiences' has no warrant.
4. 'Undergoes' in Frede for to\ parexo/menon is misleading, as suggesting that the body feels pleasures and pains. Rather: causes, provides, furnishes, provides the occasion of, is the occasion of. So Frede has to explain a supposed looseness in Plato's speech. She adds a footnote to the passage: "That pleasure and pain are also experienced by the body is only a loose way of referring to the immediate feelings of deprivation and replenishment." But Plato doesn't say that.