18 March 2006

An Observation

I said I had a question, and then also a thought or observation, on the Affinity Argument. Here's the observation--something else I just noticed.

I believe Socrates gives six distinct refutations of Simmias' attunement analogy. The sixth I had not really noticed until yesterday, when I was lecturing on the passage:

“Then a soul, since it is neither more nor less [93e] a soul than another, is neither more nor less harmonized.” “That is so.”

“And therefore can have no greater amount of discord or of harmony?” “No.”

“And therefore again one soul can have no greater amount of wickedness or virtue than another, if wickedness is discord and virtue harmony?” “It cannot.”

“Or rather, to speak exactly, Simmias, [94a] no soul will have any wickedness at all, if the soul is a harmony; for if a harmony is entirely harmony, it could have no part in discord." “Certainly not.”

“Then the soul, being entirely soul, could have no part in wickedness.”
“How could it, if what we have said is right?”

“According to this argument, then, if all souls are by nature equally souls, all souls of all living creatures will be equally good.” “So it seems, Socrates” said he.

What I find interesting about this (and here is the observation), is that it anticipates the Final Argument. One of the points of the Final Argument is that it leads to a precision in speaking about the soul that was not present at the beginning of the dialogue. At the beginning, Socrates and his interlocutors are content to speak of the soul's dying and coming back to life (as in the Cyclical Argument). After the Final Argument, however, Socrates insists that we must not say that he or his soul dies, but rather that only his body dies (e.g. 115d-e). This is a consequence of the identification of 'living' with the the soul, so that the soul is something that animates the body, and therefore 'living' applies only secondarily to the body.

But we find a similar move anticipated here: if the soul, in its own right, were an attunement, then it must exclude what is the opposite of an attunement, and therefore it could not share in a lack of attunement. (It is implied that only the body, consequently, would fail in its attunement at death.)

I'm not clear yet what the significance of this is, but that it anticipates the Final Argument seems clear.