I liked my classmates’ leadership within class. Great examples of political rule, friendship, and statesmanship. You’d think everyone had just read Aristotle.
I was curious about Chris’ presentation in particular. He led us very skillfully through the arguments about knowledge and perception, making the arguments clear and employing incisive logic. I was somewhat perplexed at his conclusion, however. He interpreted Socrates description of the proper activity of the soul to be about propositions, and then claimed that Socrates was arguing for propositions to be the object of knowledge.
Now, as one whose thoughts dwell within the sublunar, I’m perhaps not very qualified to opine on these sort of questions. But what is an “object of knowledge?” Would it not, in fact, be what is know? It would be whatever the human intellect aims at, seems to me. It would be the “that for the sake of which” of human knowing.
The text (as I remember) that Chris pointed us toward was at 187a. Socrates refers to “whatever we call that activity of the soul when it is busy by itself about the things that are.” So, the soul is concerned with the things that are, that is, being. Furthermore, as Theatetus notes, what is proper to the soul is “investigating the common features of everything.” (185e) Thus the soul is engaged in making e pluribus unum. The soul is universalizing as a way to understand reality.
It seems to me that Socrates is not so concerned with propositions as he is with the ability of the soul to know reality and grasp being. He opposes the idea that knowledge is perception because (among other things) perception cannot move past the particular to the universal. If the mind cannot grasp the universal, then the task of philosophy is hopeless, pace Karl.
Not that the particular is unimportant. Socrates loves Athens in particular (143d), and knows the genealogy of Theatetus (144c). It is the mystery, perhaps honor, of man to grasp the particular and the universal.
Furthermore, I have nothing against proposition. Propositions are quite useful – it is the human mode of thinking. But the mode is not the object. If we only know propositions, than philosophy becomes a study of words rather than being. Political philosophy would be about what is said and not about the good. If that is the case, why bother?