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Lecture 6 (9th September 1948)

If we take the form as a standard and the particular as something that approaches this standard, that comes up to the standard to a greater or less extent then we are compelled to form the notion of something that fully comes up to the standard - of a perfect particular as contrasted with the imperfect particular on the one hand and the perfect form on the other hand - of an intelligible particular coming between the sensible particular and the intelligible form.

(Question of 2nd segment of the divided line; but should be a difficulty for the Socratic doctrine.)

And if we don't take this as breaking down the original distinction then we are involved in further difficulties - the difficulties in finding the relation between forms and intelligible particulars on the one hand and intelligible particulars and sensible particulars on the other hand without having to insert in each case some intermediate entity and so on indefinitely. Another way of putting it is that what intervenes of forms the connecting link between form and particular is the proposition - that between the particular Socrates and the universal man you have the notion of being a man which is applied to Socrates and others - you have the propositional function “X is a man” (or the class of propositions — is a man) and this would be the Third Man that these Eleatic critics are, however obscurely, referring to. Or putting it otherwise unless the proposition “Socrates is a man” shows that Socrates and man are terms of exactly the same order it would be unintelligible to say Socrates is a man - the notion of something having the human character would be one that we had to form unless we were to treat forms and particulars as occurring in different universes but that would not be a notion that we could understand. Essentially, then, the Third Man is a reproach or objection to the Socratic theory but it is also at times treated by Socrates as something he could embody in his theory - in the Republic the ideal soul and the ideal State are what we might call perfect or intelligible particulars and it is by this and not by the pure form that we are to judge and find the shortcomings of historical particulars


  ― 16 ―
—a natural enough development since we can't find the pure form and make it a standard or measuring rod without making it a particular; or again if we take the doctrine of the Phaedo we can say that the soul is the Third Man or intelligible particular - that it is the intermediate link or go between since it is supposed to be able to pass back and forward between the realm of being and the realm of becoming - since it is in the same sense a historical thing and in some sense an unhistorical thing. But if this passage shows anything it really shows that the distinction between the realm of being and becoming should not be made and if there were really separate realms of reality then nothing could pass between one and the other.

Question of forms fictional question, but brushed aside in Parmenides.

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