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Lecture 5 (5th August 1948)

The difficulty about saying that the carpet and curtain have the same quality red is that this seems to imply on the other side of the Parmenidean dilemma a certain entity, the quality red which is completely in several places at the same time. That of course is the result of treating a quality as a thing and it is a position that is unavoidable if we speak about a form which is clearly meant to be a distinct entity - which in fact on the Socratic view is the only real entity. That of course leads Socrates into similar difficulties at the next stage - the Forms being instances or particulars of Reality or “real being” and the difficulty being to show that anything but the supreme Form “real being” exists at all - the conclusion to which the Eleatics would want to force him. So the Eleatic criticism applies alike to the many particulars which are said to come under a given form and the many forms which on the same showing would come under “formality” or “real being”. Now the question is if we didn't treat the quality as a thing which could either be broken up into separate pieces for the separate things which were said to have the quality with the consequence that they had nothing in common or could be said to be wholly in each particular with the consequence that the particulars would have to be identical or else it would be again a different things that would be embodied in each of them. The question is what we can treat it as being and the answer or part of the answer is that we can no more treat the thing as an independent and self-explanatory category, or a something that can stand by itself, than we can so treat the quality - that thing and quality amount to subject and predicate and there are different functions of the same entity the term or sort of thing or otherwise that instead of having on the one hand things and on the other hand qualities (two classes we could never get together again once we had separated them) we have complex situations in which place and character respectively are alwys themselves complex and embody a similar distinction. Thus (cf., “The Meaning of Good” ) the term red thing and the term red are the same term - the use of the expression thing meaning merely we are thinking of it as a subject, that is as locating something while when we use red simply this usually means that we are thinking of it as a predicate or describing something - but admitting that difference of emphasis the term in either case means “processes of a certain kind going on” and without including kind or generality in any term we couldn't have significance - couldn't say anything at all. Now that means that in recognising one situation we are recognising kind or being of a certain kind and we don't have to look for repetition or resemblance in order to recognise the kind or more correctly we have repetition already in the form of continuance - we


  ― 13 ―
have phases of a process (though the division may be rather arbitrary and in no case implies units) but still a process that could be divided into P1, P2, P3 etc., such that R in P1 passes into R in P2 and that into R in P3 and so without any question of a different red we do have this repetition - we do have a class of phases of the process - phases if we like which can be said to resemble one another but to suggest we started with comparison [?] would be to suggest that we have a unit phase - a phase of no duration - out of which the whole process can be built up, i.e., would be to fall into the Pythagorean error.

This is connected with the sort of question raised by Xenophanes concerning identification - how can we ever know that we meet the same person again - or see the same sum on two different occasions - how could we ever know that it is the same sun on two different occasions - how could we even know that it is the same sun before and after going behind a cloud and of course it must be admitted that we do make false identifications, e.g., conjuring depends on the fact that people tend to identify whatever went behind an obstacle with whatever comes out on the other side. But there is no reason for thinking that we never make true identifications or that we could have any coherent experience at all without recognising this sort of identity - without recognising the continued existence of what we have not continuously observed - but, of course, what enables us to do this is the recognition of the continuous existence of something we do continuously observe and this recognition of continuous existence is part of the recognition of fact or objective activity, in any way whatever. Now within this continuity we have resemblance but resemblance is still a notion subsequent to continued existence - you could say, I think, that for Alexander continuity and existence are the same thing and at the same time you might say that cyclic continuity or the continuance of a certain activity through phases of differing activities enables us to form the conception of interrupted continuity and thus to think that a thing subsequently observed not merely resembles a thing previously observed but is the same thing. But it is the same thing not in having an essential thinghood or inner substance which it preserves throughout a period (its “history”) but as being the same sort of thing - as maintaining the same character in continuous process so that in one sense Person X today is not the same as Person X yesterday namely that the X processes that we now observe actually different from the X processes we then observed but in another sense it is the same person namely there is an X process of which the X processes yesterday and the X processes today are parts or phases. Now Heraclitus would argue that this maintenance of character is always cyclical, that it is through ups and downs like that of sleeping and waking, that any persistent thing persists but also that in connection with each phase of the


  ― 14 ―
cycle there are cycles, that a person keeps awake or keeps normally [?] active by continuous interchange with his surroundings and it is in terms of such exchanges - in terms of law or formula of such cycles that we can speak of existence and character.

Question of Existence - bound up with question of kind (character). Presentation of some special character (interests). Stout - principal error situation of categorical names [?]. (Kind and existence.)




  ― 15 ―
If two orders of being (“reality”) then at least real difference. Question of third order of being; if so, no connection; but, if over-all reality admitted, different orders unnecessary.

Burnet takes Third Man argument to be an obscure way of expressing this criticism.

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