Friday, June 23, 2017

4 Plato’s Charmides in the light of its dating, with reference to his Apology, Phaedrus and Seventh Letter, and to Xenophon’s Memorabilia

I ended my preceding post with the words ‘If I were to view the Charmides as written after the death of Socrates, I could not see it otherwise than as an attempt to make Socrates responsible for the crimes of his former companions,’ clearly implying that it is out of the question. But why is it out of the question? If Plato realised that because of his influence on Critias and Charmides in their early days Socrates was partly responsible for their misuse of power during the rule of the Thirty Tyrants, it was only right to give expression to this side of his activities, it might be argued. In my view, Plato’s Apology and his Seventh Letter preclude such possibility.

To make this point, I must return to the closing exchange between Socrates and Charmides. Socrates says to Charmides: ‘Once you’re intent on doing something (soi gar epicheirounti prattein hotioun) and are resorting to the use of force (kai biazomenô̢), no man alive will be able to resist you (oudeis hoios t’ estai enantiousthai anthrôpôn).’ – Charmides: ‘Well then (Mê toinun), don’t you resist me either (mêde su enantiou).’ – Socrates: ‘I won’t resist you then (Ou toinun enantiôsomai).’

In the Apology Socrates imagines that the Jury might let him go if he gave up philosophy, to which he would have to reply: ‘While I have life and strength (heôs an empneô kai hoios te ô) I shall never cease from the practice and teaching of philosophy (ou mê pausômai philosophein, 29d4-5).’ He then goes on to say: ‘I can give you convincing evidence of what I say (Megala d’ egôge humin tekmêria parexomai toutôn), not words only (ou logous), but what you value far more (all’ ho humeis timate) – actions (erga). Let me relate to you a passage of my own life (akousate dê moi ta sumbebêkota) which will prove to you (hina eidête) that to no man should I wrongly yield (hoti oud’ an heni hupeikathoimi para to dikaion) from fear of death (deisas thanaton), and that I should in fact be willing to perish for not yielding (mê hupeikôn de alla k’an apoloimên) (32a4-8) … when the oligarchy of the Thirty was in power (epeidê de oligarchia egeneto), they sent for me and four others into the rotunda (hoi triakonta au metapempsamenoi me pempton auton eis tên tholon), and bade us bring Leon the Salaminian from Salamis (prosetaxan agagein ek Salaminos Leonta ton Salaminion), as they wanted to put him to death (hina apothanoi). This was a specimen of the sort of commands which they were always giving (hoia dê kai allois ekeinoi pollois polla prosetatton) with the view of implicating as many as possible in their crimes (boulomenoi hôs pleistous anaplêsai aitiôn); and then I showed again, not in word only but in deed (tote men oun egô ou logô̢ all’ ergô̢ au enedeixamên), that, if I may be allowed to use such an expression, I care not a straw for death (hoti emoi thanatou men melei, ei mê agroikoteron ên eipein, oud’ hotioun), and that my great and only care is lest I should do an unrighteous and unholy thing (tou de mêden adikon mêd’ anosion ergazesthai, toutou de to pan melei). For the strong arm of that oppressive power did not frighten me (eme gar ekeinê hê archê ouk exeplêxen, houtôs ischura ousa) into doing wrong (hôste adikon ti ergasasthai); and when we came out of the rotunda (all’ epeidê ek tês tholou exêlthomen) the other four (hoi men tettares) went to Salamis (ô̢chonto eis Salamina) and fetched Leon (kai êgagon Leonta), but I went quietly home (egô de ô̢chomên apiôn oikade). For which I might have lost my life (kai isôs an dia tauta apethanon), had not the power of the Thirty (ei mê hê archê) shortly afterwards come to an end (dia tacheôn kateluthê).’ (32c4-d8, tr. B. Jowett)

In his old age, in the Seventh Letter Plato points to this incident as the decisive reason after which, he says, ‘I became indignant (eduscherana te) and I withdrew myself (kai emauton epanêgagon) from the evils of those days (apo tôn tote kakôn, 325a4-5)’.

***
Xenophon tells a following story: ‘When the Thirty (epei gar hoi triakonta) were putting to death many citizens of the highest respectability (pollous men tôn politôn kai ou tous cheiristous apekteinon) and were encouraging many in crime (pollous de proetreponto adikein), Socrates had remarked (eipe pou ho Sôkratês): “It seems strange enough to me (hoti thaumaston hoi dokoiê einai) that a herdsman (ei tis genomenos boôn agelês nomeus) who lets his cattle decrease and go to the bad (kai tous bous elattous te kai cheirous poiôn) should not admit that he is a poor cowherd (mê homologoiê kakos boukolos einai); but stranger still (eti de thaumastoteron) that a statesman (ei tis prostatês genomenos poleôs) when he causes the citizens to decrease (kai poiôn tous politas elattous te) and go to the bad (kai cheirous), should feel no shame (mê aischunetai) nor think himself a poor statesman (mêd’ oietai kakos einai prostatês tês poleôs).” This remark was reported to Critias and Charicles, who sent for Socrates (apangelthentos de autois toutou, kalesante ho te Kritias kai ho Chariklês ton Sôkratê), showed him the law (ton te nomon edeiknutên autô̢) and forbade him to hold conversation with the young (kai tois neois apeipetên mê dialegesthai) (Memorabilia I.ii.32-33) … “Well then,” said Socrates (Kai ho Sôkratês), “that there may be no question raised about my obedience (Hina toinun, ephê, mê amphibolon ê̢, hôs allo ti poiô ê ta proêgoreumena), please fix the age limit below which a man is to be accounted young (horisate moi, mechri posôn etôn dei nomizein neous einai tous anthrôpous).” “So long,” replied Charicles (Kai ho Chariklês, Hosouper, eipe, chronou), “as he is not permitted to sit in the Council (bouleuein ouk exestin), because as yet he lacks wisdom (hôs oupô phronimois ousi). You shall not converse (mêde su dialegou) with anyone who is under thirty (neôterois triakonta etôn).” (Memorabilia I.ii.35, tr. E. C. Marchant)

It is worth noting that the order prohibited Socrates to discuss philosophy with Plato who was in his twenties. The law was presumably formulated by Critias to enable him to ‘free’ Plato from Socrates’ influence. Plato says that when the Thirty took power ‘they invited me at once to join their administration, thinking it would be congenial’ (kai dê kai parekaloun euthus hôs epi prosêkonta pragmata me, 324d2-3), instead, he says, ‘consequently (hôste), I gave my mind to them very diligently (autois sphodra proseichon ton noun), to see what they would do (ti praxoien, 324d6, tr. Bury)’. What he says about his ‘withdrawal from the evils of those days’ nevertheless suggests that he became involved, although he did not join them in their administrative practices. On my dating, he was writing the Charmides. The dialogue can be read as his formulating the conditions under which he wanted to become actively involved: You accept Socrates as the moral and spiritual guide, Socrates will accept your authority as political leaders.

Concerning Critias’ motivation in formulating the law forbidding the teaching of rhetoric Xenophon says the following: ‘Nevertheless (All’), although Socrates was himself free from vice (ei kai mêden autos ponêron poiôn), if he saw and approved of base conduct in them [in Critias and Alcibiades] (ekeinous phaula prattontas epê̢nei), he would be open to censure (dikaiôs an epitimô̢to). Well, when he found that Critias loved Euthydemus (Kritian men toinun aisthanomenos erônta Euthudêmou) and wanted to lead him astray (kai peirônta chrêsthai kathaper hoi pros t’aphrodisia tôn sômatôn apolauontes ‘and tried to use him as those do who erotically enjoy the bodies’), he tried to restrain him (apetrepe) by saying (phaskôn) that it was mean (aneleutheron te einai) and unbecoming in a gentleman (kai ou prepon andri kalô̢ k’agathô̢) to sue like a beggar to the object of his affection, whose good opinion he coveted (ton erômenon, hô̢ bouletai pollou axios phainesthai, prosaitein hôsper tous ptôchous), stooping to ask a favour that it was wrong to grant (hiketeuonta kai deomenon prosdounai kai tauta mêdenos agathou ‘begging and asking to be given what was nothing good’). As Critias paid no heed whatever to this protest (Kritiou tois toioutois ouch hupakouontos oude apotrepomenou), Socrates, it is said, exclaimed in the presence of Euthydemus and many others (legetai ton Sôkratên allôn te pollôn parontôn kai tou Euthudêmou, eipein) “Critias seems to have the feelings of a pig (hoti huikon autô̢ dokoiê paschein ho Kritias): he can no more keep away from Euthydemus than pigs can help rubbing themselves against the stones (epithumôn Euthudêmô̢ prosknêsthai hôsper ta hudia tois lithois ‘desiring to rub against Euthydemus as pigs rub against the stones’),” Now Critias bore a grudge against Socrates for this (ex hôn dê kai emisei ton Sôkratên ho Critias); and when he was one of the Thirty and was drafting laws with Charicles (hôste kai hote tôn triakonta ôn nomothetês meta Charikleous egeneto), he bore it in mind (apemnêmoneusen autô̢). He inserted a clause (kai en tois logois egrapse) which made it illegal “to teach the art of words” (logôn technên mê didaskein).’

Xenophon explains: ‘It was a calculated insult to Socrates (epêreazôn ekeinô̢), whom he saw no means of attacking (kai ouk echôn hopê̢ epilaboito), except by imputing him the practice constantly attributed to philosophers (alla to koinê̢ tois philosophois hupo tôn pollôn epitimômenon epipherôn autô̢), and so making him unpopular (kai diaballôn pros tous pollous).’ He adds: ‘For I myself never heard Socrates indulge in the practice, nor knew of anyone who professed to have heard him do so.’ (Memorabilia I.ii.29-31, tr. E. C. Marchant)

Xenophon’s explanation doesn’t make much sense, especially since Critias himself had philosophic ambitions (See fragments in Diels and Kranz, Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, vol.II, 88 ‘Kritias’), but the story itself, which he gives, makes sense when we see it against the background of Plato’s Phaedrus. What Socrates wanted to achieve in Critias’ relationship to Euthydemus, and failed, this the philosopher achieves in the relation to his beloved in the Phaedran Palinode, Plato’s ode on Love.

***
In the Phaedrus Socrates proves the immortality of the soul (245c5-246a2), and then he says: ‘As to the soul’s nature (peri de tês ideas autês) there is this that must be said (hôde lekteon): what manner of thing it is (hoion men esti) … a god alone could tell (theias einai diêgêseôs); but what it resembles (hô̢ de eoiken), that a man might tell (anthrôpinês) … Let it be likened to the union of powers in a team of winged steeds and their winged charioteer (eoiketô dê sumphutô̢ dunamei hupopterou zeugous te kai hêniochou) … it is a pair of steeds that the charioteer controls (hêmôn ho archôn sunôridos hêniochei); moreover (eita) one of them is noble and good (tôn hippôn ho men autô̢ kalos te kai agathos), and of good stock (kai ek tôn toioutôn), while the other has the opposite character, and his stock is opposite (ho d’ ex enantiôn kai enantios). Hence the task of our charioteer is difficult and troublesome (chalepê dê kai duskolos ex anankês hê peri hêmas hêniochêsis)’ (246a2-b3) … The natural property of a wing is (Pephuken hê pterou dunamis) to raise that which is heavy and carry it aloft (to embrithes agein anô meteorizousa) to the region where the gods dwell (hê̢ to tôn theôn genos oikei, 246d6-7) … and the divine (to de theion) is beautiful (kalon), wise (sophon), good (agathon), and everything of that kind (kai pan hoti toiouton, 246d8-e1) … within the heavens (entos ouranou) … each god is doing his own work (prattôn hekastos autôn to hautou), and with them are all such as will (hepetai de ho aei ethelôn) and can follow them (kai dunamenos, 247a5-7) … But when (hotan de dê) they go to their feasting and to banquet (pros daita kai epi thoinên iôsin), then they travel to the summit of the arch of heaven (akran epi tên hupouranion hapsida poreuontai pros anantes), and easy is that ascent for the chariots of gods (hê̢ dê ta men theôn ochêmata râ̢diôs poreuetai), but for the others it is hard (ta de alla mogis); the steed that partakes of wickedness weighs them down, pulling them towards the earth with his weight (brithei gar ho tês kakês hippos metechôn, epi tên gên repôn te kai barunôn), if the driver has not educated him well (hô̢ mê kalôs ên tethrammenos tôn hêniochôn). Here (entha dê) the harshest toil and struggle awaits the soul (ponos te kai agôn eschatos psuchê̢ prokeitai, 247a8-b6) … for the souls that are called immortal (hai men gar athanatoi kaloumenai) … stand upon the back of the heaven (hestêsan epi tô̢ tou ouranou nôtô̢), and as they stand there (stasas de autas) the revolving heaven carries them around (periagei hê periphora), and they look upon the regions outside the heaven (hai dê theôrousi ta exô tou ouranou, 247b6-c2) … It is there that true Being dwells, without colour or shape, that cannot be touched; reason alone, the soul’s pilot, can behold it, and all true knowledge is knowledge thereof (hê gar achrômatos te kai aschêmatistos kai anaphês ousia ontôs ousa, psuchês kubernêtê̢ monô̢ theatê nô̢, peri hês to tês alêthinês epistêmês genos, touton echei ton topon). Now even as the mind of a god is nourished by reason and knowledge (hat’ oun theou dianoia nô̢ te kai epistêmê̢ akêratô̢ trephomenê), so also is it with every soul (kai hapasês psuchês) that has a care (hosê̢ an melê̢) to receive her proper food (to prosêkon dexasthai); wherefore when at last she has beheld Being (idousa dia chronou to on) she is well content (agapa̢ te), and contemplating truth (kai theôrousa t’alêthê) she is nourished (trephetai te) and prospers (kai eupathei), until the heaven’s revolution brings her back the full circle (heôs an kuklô̢ hê periphora eis t’auton perienenkê̢, 247c6-d5) … And this is the life of gods (Kai houtos men theôn bios), but the other souls (hai de allai psuchai, 248a1) … Whatsoever soul (hêtis an psuchê) follows in the train of a god (theô̢ sunopados genomenê), and catches sight of some of the true things (katidê̢ ti tôn alêthôn), shall be kept from sorrow until a new revolution shall begin (mechri te tês heterâs periodou einai apêmona, 248c3-4) … But when she is unable to follow (hotan dê adunatêsasa epispesthai), and sees none of it (mê idê̢I, 248c5-6) … sheds her wings (pterorruêsê̢ te) and falls to the earth (kai epi tên gên pesê̢); then it is the law (tote nomos) that in her first birth she shall not be planted in any animal nature (tautên mê phuteusai eis mêdemian thêreion phusin en tê̢ prôtê̢ genesei), but the one that saw the most of Being (alla tên men pleista idousan) shall be planted in a seed of a man (eis gonên andros) who shall become (genêsomenou) a philosopher (philosophou, 248c8-d3).’

Armed with this image of the soul, Socrates depicts the philosopher’s attraction to his beloved, and the ensuing struggles of love:  ‘Now when (hotan d’ oun) the driver (ho hêniochos) beholds the beloved’s eye (idôn to erôtikon omma), and the ensuing sensation suffuses his whole soul with warmth (pasan aisthêsei diathermênas tên psuchên), he begins to experience a tickling or pricking of desire (gargalismou te kai pothou kentrôn hupoplêsthê̢); and the obedient steed (ho men eupeithês tô̢ hêniochô̢ tôn hippôn), constrained now as always by sense of shame (aei te kai tote aidoi biazomenos), restrains himself (heauton katechei) from leaping upon the beloved (mê epipêdan tô̢ erômenô̢); but the other (o de), heeding no more the driver’s goad or whip (oute kentrôn hêniochikôn oute mastigos eti entrpetai), leaps and dashes on (skirtôn de bia̢ pheretai), sorely troubling (kai panta pragmata parechôn) his companion (tô̢ suzugi te) and his driver (kai tô̢ hêniochô̢), and forces them to approach the loved one (anankazei ienai te pros ta paidika) and mention to him (kai mneian poiêsein) the delights of erotic activities (tês tôn aphrodisiôn charitos). For a while the two resist (tô de kat’ archas men antiteineton), indignant (aganaktounte) that he should force them to monstrous and forbidden acts (hôs deina kai paranoma anankazomenô); but at last (teleutônte de), finding no end to their evil plight (hotan mêden ê̢ peras kakou), they follow his lead (poreuesthon agomenô) yielding (eixante) and agreeing (kai homologêsante) to do his bidding (poiêsein to keleuomenon). And now they’ve got quite close to him (kai pros autô̢ t’ egenonto) and beheld the sight of the beloved flashing with light (kai eidon tên opsin tên tôn paidikôn astraptousan). As the charioteer sees him (idontos de tou hêniochou), his memory is carried to the nature of Beauty (hê mnêmê pros tên tou kallous phusin ênechthê), and he sees her again (kai palin eiden autên) enthroned by the side of Sôphrosunê upon her holy pedestal (meta sôphrosunês en hagnô̢ bathrô̢ bebôsan); and in seeing her (idousa de; in Greek, the subject is the memory, hê mnêmê, which is feminine, identified with the charioteer) in awe and reverence he falls upon his back (edeise te kai sephtheisa anepesen huptia), and therewith (kai hama) is compelled (ênankasthê) to pull the reins (eis t’oupisô helkesthai tas hênias) so violently (houtô sphodra) that he brings both steeds down on their haunches (hôst’ epi ta ischua amphô kathisai tô hippô), the one willing (ton men hekonta) for he is not resisting (dia to mê antiteinein), but the wanton (ton de hubristên) sore against his will (mal’ akonta).’ (253e5-354c3) … And so, if the victory be won by the higher elements of mind guiding the lover and the beloved into the ordered rule of the philosophic life (ean men dê oun eis tetagmenên te diaitan kai philosophian nikêsê̢  ta beltiô tês dianoias agagonta), their days on earth will be blessed with happiness and concord (makarion men kai homonoêtikon ton enthade bion diagousin); for the power of evil in the soul has been subjected, and the power of goodness liberated: they have won self-mastery and inward peace (enkrateis hautôn kai kosmioi ontes, doulôsamenoi men hô̢ kakia psuchês enegigneto, eleutherôsantes de hô̢ aretê, 256a7-b3).’ [In translating these passages form the Phaedrus I am much indebted to Hackforth’s and Rowe’s translations.]

***
After delivering the Ode on Love, Socrates discusses with Phaedrus its oratory merits, as well as the merits and demerits of the two previous speeches on Love: Lysias’ speech, in which a non-lover, who is interested only in sex, propositions a beautiful boy, arguing that love is a noxious complication, and Socrates’ rival speech, in which the lover is interested in seducing the boy of his desire as effortlessly as possible, and enjoying his sexual favours as long as he is interested in having sex with him. Such lover is of necessity devoid of reason (hup anankês anoêtos, 241b7), faithless (apistos), peevish (duskolos), jealous (phthoneros), disagreeable (aêdes), harmful to the physical condition (blaberos pros tên tou sômatos hexin), and by far the most harmful to the education of the boy’s soul (polu de blaberôtatos pros tên tês psuchês paideusin, 241c2-5).

Xenophon says that Critias bore a grudge against Socrates ever since the latter berated him for his attempts to seduce Euthydemus, and that that’s the reason why he drafted a law that made it illegal to teach rhetoric (logôn technên ou didaskein), thus abusively threatening Socrates (epêreazôn ekeinô̢, Mem. I. ii. 29-31) Xenophon’s explanation that Critias thus tried to calumniate Socrates ‘imputing to him a practice constantly attributed to philosophers’ (to koinê̢ tois philosophois hupo tôn pollôn epitimômenon epipherôn autô̢) doesn’t make much sense, especially in the light of Xenophon’s own remark: ‘I myself never heard Socrates indulge in the practice, nor knew anyone who professed to have heard him do so (ibid.).’ Xenophon’s narrative nevertheless makes sense when we view it against the background of the Phaedrus.

As I have argued, Plato wrote the Phaedrus in 405/404, during the siege of Athens (‘4 Dating of the Phaedreus’ posted on January 15, 2017). Critias was at that time in exile in Thessaly ‘in company with men who put lawlessness before justice’ (ekei sunên anthrôpois anomiâ̢ mallon ê dikaiosunê̢ chrômenois, Xenophon, Mem. I. ii. 24); Socrates in the Crito speaks of Thessaly as the country ‘in which there is (ekei gar dê) the greatest disorder (pleistê ataxia) and licentiousness (kai akolasia, 53d3-4)’.

Xenophon’s story suggests that Socrates’ attempt to deflect Critias from his erotic propositions to Euthydemus was well known, and the whole affair provides – and provided for Plato and his readers – a good background to Socrates’ two speeches on love in the Phaedrus. Socrates’ subsequent discussion of their oratorical merits turned into an ambitious outline of scientific rhetoric, founded on dialectic, which, as Plato undoubtedly hoped, was to become the main political tool in rebuilding the Athenian society after the war ‘so as to lead men from an unjust way of life into a just way’ (ek tinos adikou biou epi dikaion tropon agontas dioikêsein tên polin, Seventh Letter 324d4-5).

When Critias returned from exile after the final surrender of Athens, he could not have found the Phaedrus a very pleasant read. His drafting a law that forbade teaching rhetoric, aimed as a threat at Socrates, can be seen as his response to Plato’s Phaedrus

Friday, June 16, 2017

3 Plato’s Charmides in the light of its dating, with reference to his Seventh Letter

Platonic scholarship of the twentieth century rejected the ancient biographic tradition according to which Plato began to write his dialogues during Socrates’ lifetime. How can Platonic scholars view the Charmides as a dialogue written after the death of Socrates? Donald Watt writes in his ‘Introduction to Charmides’:

‘Charmides and Critias were not simply Athenian aristocrats but were, more importantly, members of Plato’s own aristocratic family. Charmides was his uncle on his mother’s side; Critias, his mother’s cousin. Both belonged to Socrates’ circle, though Critias had mixed with the sophists, and in this dialogue, to some extent, he represents their ethical standpoint and methods of argumentation.

Why should Plato have chosen these two members of his own family to be Socrates’ interlocutors in this dialogue? Why should he have honoured them with such praise of their noble ancestry, which was also his own ancestry, as he does at the beginning (157e-158b)? The answers lie in the two men’s subsequent careers. Critias went on to become the extremist leader of the Thirty Tyrants, who imposed a reign of terror on Athens at the end of the Peloponnesian War in 404-403, in their attempt to impose their oligarchy on the citizen body. Charmides too became one of the Thirty, meeting his death, with Critias, in battle against the democrats. Part of Plato’s purpose in this dialogue is to exculpate Socrates from any responsibility for the crimes of his former companions. Xenophon, in Memorabilia I. 2. 12 ff., also comes to Socrates’ defence against the same charge, stating that Socrates had taught Critias sôphrosunê in his youth and had spoken out so strongly against his later behaviour that he had taken grave offence. By showing Critias as both quite lacking in sôphrosunê and quite ignorant of its meaning beyond a superficial acquaintance with its conventional use within his aristocratic circle; by representing Charmides as equally unaware of its true purport, despite his possession of the natural sôphrosunê of youth, which he will lose when he reaches adulthood; and by portraying Socrates as trying his best to discover with them the true meaning of sôphrosunê, and as failing to elicit answer from them, though possessing the virtue himself – by all these means Plato is endeavouring to show that Socrates tried to educate Critias and Charmides in sôphrosunê, but failed. But by trying, he saved himself from any possible accusation of responsibility for their later crimes.’ (Plato, Early Socratic Dialogues, Penguin Books, 1987, p. 167.)

Donald Watt covers a lot of territory in these two paragraphs. In this post I shall limit myself to his question ‘Why should he have honoured them with such praise of their noble ancestry, which was also his own ancestry, as he does at the beginning (157e-158b)?’, and to his answer: ‘Part of Plato’s purpose in this dialogue is to exculpate Socrates from any responsibility for the crimes of his former companions’. Since the main purpose of my entries on Plato in this blog of mine is to view Plato in the looking glass of his texts, let me begin with his praise of Charmides in the Charmides.

Critias tells Socrates: ‘Well then, rest assured (Eu toinun isthi) that he is regarded as far and away the most self-controlled of the present generation (hoti panu polu dokei sôphronestatos einai tôn nuni) and, for his age, second to none in everything else too (kai t’alla panta, eis hoson hêlikias hêkei, oudenos cheirôn ôn).’ – In response, Socrates says to Charmides: ‘Indeed it’s only right (Kai gar kai dikaion), Charmides (ô Charmidê), that you should surpass the rest (diapherein se tôn allôn) in all things like that (pasin tois toioutois). I don’t think there is anyone else here (ou gar oimai allon oudena tôn enthade) who could easily point (ra̢diôs an echein epideixai) to any two Athenian families (poiai duo oikiai), apart from those from which you come, whose union might be expected to produce anyone better or more noble (sunelthousai eis t’auton tôn Athênesin ek tôn eikotôn kalliô an kai ameinô gennêseian ê ex hôn su gegonas). Your father’s family (hê te gar patrô̢a humin oikia), that of Critias (hê Kritiou), Dropides’ son (tou Dropidou), has been eulogized by Anacreon [‘A famous lyric poet, born in Teos c. 570’, notes D. Watt], Solon and many other poets (kai hupo Anakreontos kai hupo Solônos kai hup’ allôn pollôn poiêtôn enkekômiasmenê), and has been presented to us by tradition (paradedotai hêmin) as pre-eminent for beauty (hôs diapherousa kallei te), virtue (kai aretê̢) and everything else that is called happiness (kai tê̢ allê̢ legomenê̢ eudaimonia̢). The same is true of your mother’s family too (kai au hê pros mêtros hôsautôs): no one in the continent of Asia is said to have been considered more handsome or taller than your uncle Pyrilampes [‘A friend of Pericles, famed for his breeding of peacocks, who became Plato’s stepfather’, notes D. Watt] (Purilampous gar tou sou theiou oudeis tôn en tê̢ êpeirô̢ legetai kalliôn ê meizôn anêr doxai einai), whenever (hosakis) he went as ambassador to the Great King or anyone else in the continent (ekeinos ê para megan basilea ê para allon tina tôn en tê̢ êpeirô̢ presbeuôn aphiketo). That whole side of the family (sumpasa de hautê hê oikia) is in no way inferior to the other (ouden tes heteras hupodeestera). So it’s natural that, coming from such people (ek dê toutôn gegonota), you should be first in everything (eikos se eis panta prôton einai). Now, from what I’ve seen of your looks (ta men oun horômena tês ideas), dear son of Glaucon (ô phile pai Glaukônos), I don’t think you fall short of any of your forebears in anything (dokeis moi oudena tôn pro sou en oudeni hupobebêkenai); and if you are sufficiently endowed with self-control and the other qualities, as Critias maintains (ei de kai pros sôphrosunên kai pros t’alla kata ton toude logon hikanôs pephukas), your mother bore a blessed son in you, my dear Charmides (makarion se, ô phile Charmidê, hê mêtêr etikten).’ 157d6-158a4, tr. D. Watt)

I do not see how this eloquent praise of Charmides’ and Critias’ noble ancestry can be viewed as part of Plato’s purpose to exculpate Socrates from any responsibility for the crimes of his former companions. Written in the early days of the aristocratic revolution, when Plato hoped that the Thirty would ‘so administer the State as to lead it out of an unjust way of life into a just way’ (ek tinos adikou biou epi dikaion tropon agontas dioikêsein dê tên polin, Seventh Letter 324d4-5), the praise expresses Plato’s hope, if not confidence, that this is how the Thirty ought to act, true to their vocation as aristocrats. That he was not sure about it can be inferred from the words that follow: ‘so I focussed my mind on them very closely to see (hôste autois sphodra proseichon ton noun) what they would do (ti praxoien, Seventh Letter 324d6).

At this point it could be argued that the same explanation, with added force, could be proffered by Donald Watt and by all those who view the dialogue as written after Socrates’ death: With his praise of Charmides’ and Critias’ noble ancestry Socrates did his best to compel them to become worthy of their noble ancestry, of which they in the end proved to be unworthy.

Against this explanation militates the closing section of the dialogue, to which I devoted the preceding post, and from which I shall now quote only the closing exchange between Charmides and Socrates.

Charmides realizes that he needs to be charmed by Socrates every day. Critias tells him that this is the best proof that he is wise, that he has sôphrosunê, and he commands him to be true to his resolve and not to disappoint Socrates in any way. Charmides promises to obey his command. At this point Socrates addresses Critias and Charmides: ‘What are you two plotting to do (Houtoi, ti bouleuesthon poiein;)?’ – Charmides: ‘Nothing (Ouden), we’ve done our plotting (alla bebouleumetha).’ – Socrates, addressing Charmides: ‘Are you going to resort to the use of force (Biasê̢ ara), without even giving me a preliminary hearing (kai oud’ anakrisin moi dôseis)?’ – Charmides: ‘I certainly am (Hôs biasomenou), since Critias here orders me to (epeidêper hode ge epitattei) – which is why you should plot what you’ll do (pros tauta su au bouleuou hoti poiêseis).’ – Socrates says to Charmides: ‘But there’s no time left for plotting (All’ oudemia leipetai boulê). Once you’re intent on doing something (soi gar epicheirounti prattein hotioun) and are resorting to the use of force (kai biazomenô̢), no man alive will be able to resist you (oudeis hoios t’ estai enantiousthai anthrôpôn).’ – Charmides: ‘Well then (Mê toinun), don’t you resist me either (mêde su enantiou).’ – Socrates closes the dialogue by answering Charmides: ‘I won’t (Ou toinun enantiôsomai, ‘I won’t resist you then’).’ (176c5-d5, tr. D. Watt)

If I were to view the Charmides as written after the death of Socrates, I could not see it otherwise than as an attempt to make Socrates responsible ‘for the crimes of his former companions’, as Watt puts it. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

2 Plato’s Charmides in the light of its dating, with reference to his Seventh Letter

The most telling reasons for dating the Charmides in 404, before the aristocratic regime deteriorated into tyranny, can be derived from its closing scene. It begins with Socrates berating himself for his inability to investigate sôphrosunê properly: ‘Do you see (Hora̢s oun), Critias (ô Kritia), how all this time I had good reason to be apprehensive (hôs egô palai eikotôs ededoikê), and was quite right (kai dikaiôs) to accuse myself (emauton ê̢tiômên) of not conducting a worthwhile inquiry into sôphrosunê (hoti ouden chrêston peri sôphrosunês skopô;)? Something that is agreed to be the most admirable of all things wouldn’t have seemed to us to be of no benefit (ou gar an pou to ge kalliston pantôn homologeitai einai, touto hêmin anôpheles ephanê), if I had been any use at making a proper investigation (ei ti emou ophelos ên pros to kalôs zêtein).’ (175a9-b2, tr. D. Watt)

Socrates then recapitulates the main points of the investigation, only to return to berating himself; turning to Charmides he says: ‘I’m not annoyed so much for myself (to men oun emon kai hêtton aganaktô) as for you, Charmides (huper de sou, ô Charmidê, panu aganaktô), because you, who have such good looks (ei su toioutos ôn tên idean) and are in addition sôphronestatos [D. Watt ‘very self-controlled’] of soul (kai pros toutô̢ tên psuchên sôphronestatos), will not profit from that sôphrosunê [D. W. ‘self-control’] (mêden onêsê̢ apo tautês tês sôphrosunês), and because despite its presence in you, it won’t bring you any benefit at all in life (mêde ti s’ ôphelêsei en tô̢ biô̢ parousa, 175d5-e2, tr. D. Watt)!

***
Making haste to reach the closing part of the closing scene, I skipped Socrates’ recapitulation of the investigation. But what Socrates has just now said to Charmides compels me to return to it, for only against its background Socrates’ ‘tears’ on Charmides’ behalf can be properly assessed:
‘For as it is now, we have been utterly defeated (nun de pantachê̢ gar hêttômetha), and are unable to discover (kai ou dunametha heurein) to which actual thing (eph’ hotô̢ pote tôn ontôn) the lawgiver (ho nomothetês) gave this name (touto t’ounoma etheto), the sôphrosunê (tên sôphrosunên). And yet (kaitoi) we have conceded many points (polla sunkechôrêkamen) which did not follow (ou sumbainonth’ hêmin) from our argument (en tô̢ logô̢). We conceded that there was a knowledge of knowledge (kai gar epistêmên epistêmês einai sunechôrêsamen), although the argument denied it (ouk eôntos tou logou) and claimed there wasn’t (oude phaskontos einai). We conceded that this knowledge knew the products of the other knowledges too (kai tautê̢ au tê̢ epistêmê̢ kai ta tôn allôn epistêmôn erga gignôskein sunechôrêsamen) although the argument denied this as well (oude touto eôntos tou logou), just to have the sôphrôn [D.W. ’self-controlled man’] in possession of the knowledge (hina dê hêmin genoito ho sôphrôn epistêmôn) that he knows (ho te oiden) what he knows (ho ti oiden) and that he does not know what he does not know (kai hôn mê oiden hoti ouk oiden). We made that terribly generous concession (touto men dê kai pantapasi megaloprepôs sunechôrêsamen) without even considering (oud’ episkepsamenoi) the impossibility (to adunaton einai) of a man knowing in some sort of way what he does not know at all (ha tis mê oiden mêdamôs, tauta eidenai hamôs ge pôs); for we allowed that he knows what he does not know (ho ti gar ouk oiden, phêsin auta eidenai hê hêmetera homologia), and yet (kaitoi) I think (hôs egô̢mai) nothing would seem stranger than that (oudenos hotou alogôteron tout’ an phaneiê). All the same (all’ homôs), although the investigation has found us so very good-natured (houtôs hêmôn euêthikôn tuchousa hê zêtêsis) and compliant (kai ou sklêrôn), it has still been no more able to discover the truth (ouden ti mallon heurein dunatai tên alêtheian), but has made such sport of it (alla tosouton kategelasen autês) as to demonstrate to us quite brutally the uselessness of sôphrosunê [D.W. ’self-control’] as we defined it in those fictions we agreed on for so long (hôste ho hêmeis palai sunomologountes kai sumplattontes etithemetha sôphrosunên einai, touto hêmin panu hubristikôs anôpheles on apephaine).’ (175b2-d5, tr. D. Watt)

In view of the outcome of his investigation into sôphrosunê, Socrates is not entitled to say to Charmides that he is sôphronestatos [D. Watt ‘very self-controlled’]; the investigation into sôphrosunê began with the question whether Charmides has sôphrosunê or not, and this question hasn’t been settled. It could not be settled, since Socrates failed to discover what sôphrosunê is. Even less ground Socrates has for bewailing that Charmides will not profit from sôphrosunê with which he is endowed.

***
Socrates goes on complaining in the same vein, but then he corrects himself; again, neither his complaining nor his self-correction has any foundation in the foregoing research: ‘I’m even more annoyed (eti de mallon aganaktô) about the charm (huper tês epô̢dês) I learned from the Thracian (hên para tou Thra̢kos emathon) – that I went on taking great pains to learn the charm for a thing which is worth nothing (ei mêdenos axiou pragmatos ousan autên meta pollês spoudês emanthanon). In fact, I really don’t think that this is the case at all (taut’ oun panu men ouk oiomai houtôs echein), but that I’m an awful investigator (alla eme phaulon einai zêtêtên) – because I do think that sôphrosunê [D.W. ‘self-control’] is a great good (epei tên ge sôphrosunên mega ti agathon einai), and that if you do possess it (kai eiper ge echeis auto), you are fortunate (makarion einai se). See (all’ hora) whether you do possess it (ei echeis te) and have no need of the charm (kai mêden deê̢ tês epô̢dês) – because if you do possess it (ei gar echeis), I’d advise you instead (mallon an egôge soi sumbouleusaimi) to consider me a fool (eme men lêron hêgeisthai einai), incapable of investigating anything in a reasoned argument (kai adunaton logô̢ hotioun zêtein), and yourself (seauton de) the happier the sôphronesteros [D.W. ‘the more self-controlled’] you are (hosô̢per sôphronesteros ei, tosoutô̢ einai kai eudaimonesteron).’

Charmides replied: ‘But heavens (Alla ma Di’), Socrates, I don’t know (egôge, ô Sôkrates, ouk oida) whether I possess it (out’ eit’ echô) or whether I don’t (out’ ei mê echô). How can I know it (pôs gar an eideiên), when, on your own admission, not even you and Critias are able to discover what on earth it is (ho ge mêd’ humeis hoioi te este exeurein hoti pot’ estin, hôs phê̢s su;)? Still, I don’t really believe you at all (egô mentoi ou panu soi peithomai), Socrates, and I really do think I need the charm (kai emauton, ô Sôkrates, panu oimai deisthai tês epô̢dês); and as far as I am concerned (kai to g’ emon), there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be charmed by you every day (ouden kôluei epa̢desthai hupo sou hosai hêmerai), until you say I’ve had enough (heôs an phê̢s su hikanôs echein).’

At this point Critias steps in: ‘All right (Eien). But (all’), Charmides (ô Charmidê), by doing that (ên dra̢s touto), you’ll prove to me (emoig’ estai touto tekmêrion) that you sôphroneis [D.W. ‘are self-controlled’] (hoti sôphroneis) – if you turn yourself over to Socrates for charming (ên epa̢dein parechê̢s Sôkratei), and don’t disappoint him (kai mê apoleipê̢ toutou) in anything either great (mête mega) or small (mête smikron).’

Charmides tells Critias: ‘Rest assured that I will follow him (Hôs akolouthêsontos) and won’t disappoint him (kai mê apoleipsomenou). I’d be behaving terribly (deina gar an poioiên) if I didn’t obey you (ei mê peithoimên soi), my guardian (tô̢ epitropô̢), and didn’t do (kai mê poioiên) what you tell me (ha keleueis).’ – Critias: ‘I’m telling you (Alla mên keleuô egôge).’ – Charmides: ‘Well then, I’ll do it (Poiêsô toinun), starting today (apo tautêsi tês hêmeras arxamenos).’

At this point Socrates found his word, addressing Critias and Charmides: ‘What are you two plotting to do (Houtoi, ti bouleuesthon poiein;)?’ – Charmides: ‘Nothing (Ouden), we’ve done our plotting (alla bebouleumetha).’ – Socrates, addressing Charmides: ‘Are you going to resort to the use of force (Biasê̢ ara), without even giving me a preliminary hearing (kai oud’ anakrisin moi dôseis)?’ – Charmides: ‘I certainly am (Hôs biasomenou), since Critias here orders me to (epeidêper hode ge epitattei) – which is why you should plot what you’ll do (pros tauta su au bouleuou hoti poiêseis).’ – Socrates says to Charmides: ‘But there’s no time left for plotting (All’ oudemia leipetai boulê). Once you’re intent on doing something (soi gar epicheirounti prattein hotioun) and are resorting to the use of force (kai biazomenô̢), no man alive will be able to resist you (oudeis hoios t’ estai enantiousthai anthrôpôn).’ – Charmides: ‘Well then (Mê toinun), don’t you resist me either (mêde su enantiou).’ – Socrates closes the dialogue by answering Charmides: ‘I won’t (Ou toinun enantiôsomai, ‘I won’t resist you then’).’ (175e2-176d5, tr. D. Watt)

***
In the Seventh Letter Plato speaks about his beginnings: ‘In the days of my youth (Neos egô pote ôn) my experience was the same as that of many others (pollois dê t’auton epathon). I thought (ô̢êthên) as soon as I should become my own master (ei thatton emautou genoimên kurios) I would immediately enter public life (epi ta koina tês poleôs euthus ienai). And it so happened that I was confronted with the following changes in the political situation of my own city (kai moi tuchai tines tôn tês poleôs pragmatôn toiaide parepeson). In the government then existing, reviled as it was by many, a revolution took place (Hupo pollôn tês tote politeias loidoroumenês metabolê gignetai) (324b8-c3) … And Thirty were established as rulers with plenipotentiary powers over all (triakonta de pantôn katestêsan autokratores). Some of these (toutôn de tines) were relatives [notably Charmides and Critias] (oikeioi te ontes) and acquaintances of mine (kai gnôrimoi etunchanon emoi), and they at once invited me to share in their doings, as something to which I had a claim (kai dê kai parekaloun euthus hôs epi prosêkonta pragmata me). The effect on me was not surprising in the case of a young man (kai egô thaumaston ouden epathon hupo neotêtos). I considered (ô̢êthên) that they (gar autous) would, of course, so manage the State as to bring men out of bad way of life into a good one (ek tinos adikou biou epi dikaion tropon agontas dioikêsein dê tên polin). (324c6-d5)


During this hopeful initial period of the aristocratic revolution, in my view, Plato wrote and published the Charmides.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

1 Plato’s Charmides in the light of its dating, with references to his Phaedrus and Symposium

In the preceding post I raised the question whether the science/knowledge of the beauty itself, of which Diotima tells Socrates in the Symposium, sheds light on the science/knowledge of the good mooted by Socrates in the Charmides. I suggested that the dating of the Charmides may help us in answering this question. I discussed the dating of the Charmides in the fifth chapter of The Lost Plato, entitled ‘The Charmides and the Phaedrus’ (available on my website); in its first paragraph the dating of the Charmides is presented as in a nutshell:
‘In the preceding chapter [Ch.4, ‘The dating of the Phaedrus: Ancient Sources’] I argued that Plato wrote the Phaedrus in response to Aristophanes’ scathing attack on Socrates and his disciples in the Frogs, in the final stages of the Peloponnesian war, and that it was finished and published after its end, for only then Simmias, to whom Plato refers in the dialogue in parenthesis, could come to Athens from Thebes. The question arises which dialogue came next. This I believe to be the Charmides, for there are strong reasons for dating it shortly after Plato’s publishing of the Phaedrus. Socrates’ interlocutors in the Charmides are well known historical figures: Chaerephon, Critias, and Charmides. Charmides and Critias took an active part in the aristocratic revolution that took place after the dissolution of democracy with which the military defeat of Athens ended. This regime deteriorated in a few months into tyranny under Critias’ leadership and became known as the rule of the Thirty Tyrants. In the dialogue Chaerephon, an ardent democrat, is on the best terms with Critias and is presented as a great admirer of Charmides. Chaerephon went into exile when the aristocratic regime began to show its true nature (cf. Apology 20e-21a); I therefore date the Charmides in 404, before Chaerephon went to exile.’
***
Before bringing in the passages on which I found the dating of the Charmides, let me refer to a passage in the Phaedrus, which, together with the science/knowledge of the beauty itself, discussed by Diotima in the Symposium, sheds light on the science/knowledge of the good mooted by Socrates in the Charmides. The passage in the Phaedrus is the one in which Plato’s Socrates describes the ‘place beyond heavens’ (ton huperouranion topon, 247c3), where the Forms reside: ‘It is there that true Being dwells, without colour or shape, that cannot be touched; reason alone, the soul’s pilot, can behold it, and all true knowledge is knowledge thereof (hê gar achrômatos te kai aschêmatistos kai anaphês ousia ontôs ousa, psuchês kubernêtê̢ monô̢ theatê nô̢, peri hês to tês alêthinês epistêmês genos, touton echei ton topon). Now even as the mind of a god is nourished by reason and knowledge (hat’ oun theou dianoia nô̢ te kai epistêmê̢ akêratô̢ trephomenê), so also is it with every soul (kai hapasês psuchês) that has a care (hosê̢ an melê̢) to receive her proper food (to prosêkon dexasthai); wherefore when at last she has beheld Being (idousa dia chronou to on) she is well content (agapa̢ te), and contemplating truth (kai theôrousa t’alêthê) she is nourished (trephetai te) and prospers (kai eupathei), until the heaven’s revolution brings her back the full circle (heôs an kuklô̢ hê periphora eis t’auton perienenkê̢). And while she is borne around (en de tê̢ periphora̢) she discerns justice, its very self (kathora̢ men autên diakiosunên), and likewise temperance (kathora̢ de sôphrosunên), and knowledge (kathora̢ de epistêmên), not the knowledge that is neighbour to Becoming and varies with the various objects to which we commonly ascribe being (oud’ hê estin pou hetera en heterô̢ ousa hôn hêmeis nun ontôn kaloumen), but the veritable knowledge of Being that veritably is (alla tên en tô̢ ho estin on ontôs ousan).’ (247c6-e2; translation is Hackforth’s)
When Diotima in the Symposium speaks of the sciences that are subject to change as everything else in this world (207d-208b), she refers to sciences/knowledges (epistêmai, 207e5 ff.) of which Plato speaks in the Phaedrus as ‘the knowledge that is neighbour to Becoming and varies with the various objects to which we commonly ascribe being’ (in Hackforth’s translation; Christopher Rowe translates: ‘not that knowledge to which coming into being attaches, or that which seems to be different in each different one of the things that we now say are’).
When Diotima in the Symposium points to the knowledge of the beauty itself, she points to the knowledge of which Plato speaks in the Phaedrus as ‘the veritable knowledge of Being that veritably is’.
***
It might be objected that neither in the Phaedrus nor in the Symposium does Plato speak of the knowledge of the good; in the Phaedrus passage he speaks of the knowledge of the true being, in the Symposium passage of the knowledge of beauty itself; what entitles us to relate these two passages to the knowledge of the good in the Charmides? The knowledge of the good is a subject that in Plato’s view could not be discussed by means of the written word, only by the living spoken word; in the Charmides it is only gestured at.
In the Symposium Diotima intimates that when the philosopher begins to see the beauty itself, he is almost touching the end he strives at (schedon an ti haptoito tou telous, 211b6-7). In her discussion with Socrates Diotima had indicated that the good is of higher dignity and greater importance than beauty.
Diotima: ‘When a man loves the beautiful (era̢ ho erôn tôn kalôn), what does his love desire (ti era̢;)?’ – Soc. ‘That the beautiful may be his (Genesthai hautô̢).’ – D.: ‘Still, the answer suggests a further question (All’ eti pothei hê apokrisis erôtêsin toiande): What is given by the possession of beauty (Ti estai ekeinô̢ hô̢ an genêtai ta kala;)?’ – S.: ‘To what you have asked, I have no answer ready (Ou panu ephên eti echein egô pros tautên tên erôtêsin procheirôs apokrinesthai).’ – D.: ‘Then, let me put the word “good” in the place of the beautiful, and repeat the question once more (All’ hôsper an ei tis metabalôn anti tou kalou tô̢ agathô̢ chrômenos punthanoito): If he who loves the good (Phere, ô Sôkrates, era̢ ho erôn tôn agathôn), what is it then that he loves (ti era̢)?’ – S.: ‘The possession of the good (Genesthai hautô̢).’ – D.: ‘And what does he gain (Kai ti estai ekeinô̢) who possesses the good (hô̢ an genêtai t’agatha;)?’ – S.: ‘Happiness, there is little difficulty in answering that question (Tout’ euporôteron echô apokrinasthai, hoti eudaimôn estai).’ – D.: ‘Yes, the happy are made happy by the acquisition of good things (Ktêsei gar agathôn hoi eudaimones eudaimones). Nor is there any need to ask (kai ouketi prosdei eresthai) why a man desires happiness (Hina ti bouletai eudaimôn einai ho boulomenos;); the answer is already final (alla telos dokei echein hê apokrisis).’ (204d5-205a3, tr. Jowett)
Let me end this post with a passage in which Plato in the Phaedrus indicates why is it the Form of beauty that leads a philosopher to the other Forms: ‘Now beauty (Peri de kallous), as we said (hôsper eipomen), shone bright amidst these visions (met’ ekeinôn te elampen on), and in this world below we apprehend it through the clearest of our senses (deuro t’ elthontes kateilêphamen auto dia tês enargestatês aisthêseôs tôn hêmeterôn), clear and resplendent (stilbon enargestata). For sight (opsis gar) is the keenest (oxutatê) mode of perception vouchsafed us through the body (tôn dia tou sômatos erchetai aisthêseôn); wisdom, indeed, we cannot see thereby (hê̢ phronêsis ouch horatai) – how passionate had been our desire for her (deinous gar an pareichen erôtas), if she had granted us so clear an image of herself to gaze upon (ei ti toiouton heautês enarges eidôlon pareicheto eis opsin ion) – nor yet any other of those beloved objects, save only beauty (kai t’alla hosa erasta); for beauty alone this has been ordained (nun de kallos monon tautên esche moiran), to be most manifest to sense (hôst’ ekphanestaton einai) and most lovely of them all (kai erasmiôtaton).’ (250c8-e1, tr. R. Hackforth)

Monday, June 12, 2017

4 Eros in Diotima’s speech in Plato’s Symposium and Socrates in his Charmides, with a reference to his Phaedo

In the Charmides Socrates suggests that the knowledge of the good and bad alone makes a man do well and achieve happiness: ‘Because (Epei), Critias (ô Kritia), if it’s your intention (ei etheleis) to remove (exelein) that knowledge (tautên tên epistêmên) from the other knowledges (ek tôn allôn epistêmôn), will medicine make us healthy any the less (hêtton ti hê men iatrikê hugiainein poiêsei); shoemaking make shoes any the less (hê de skutikê hupodedesthai); weaving make clothes any the less (hê de huphantikê êmphiesthai)? Will piloting prevent death at sea any the less (hê de kubernêtikê kôlusei en tê̢ thalattê̢ apothnê̢skein), or generalship death in war (kai hê stratêgikê en polemô̢;)?’ – Critias: ‘No (Ouden hêtton).’ – S. ‘But (All’), my dear Critias (ô phile Kritia), we’ll be unable to ensure that each of these performed well and beneficially (to eu ge toutôn hekasta gignesthai kai ôphelimôs apoleloipos hêmas estai) if that knowledge is absent (tautês apousês).’ – C. ’That’s true (Alêthê legeis).’ – S. ‘But it would appear that that knowledge isn’t sôphrosunê [D.Watt ’self-control’] (Ouch hautê de ge, hôs eoiken, estin hê sôphrosunê), but rather the knowledge whose function is to benefit us (all’ hês ergon estin to ôphelein hêmas). It’s not the knowledge of knowledges and ignorances (ou gar epistêmôn ge kai anepistêmosunôn hê epistêmê estin), but of good (alla agathou ge) and bad (kai kakou); so that (hôste) if that knowledge is beneficial (ei hautê estin ôphelimos), our sôphrosunê [D.W. ’self-control’] must be something else (hê sôphrosunê allo ti an eiê hêmin).’ – C. ‘Why (Ti d’) wouldn’t sôphrosunê [D.W. ’self-control’] benefit us (ouk an hautê ôpheloi;)? If sôphrosunê [D.W. ’self-control’] is in the fullest sense the knowledge of knowledges and presides over the other knowledges too (ei gar hoti malista tôn epistêmôn epistêmê estin hê sôphrosunê), it would certainly govern the knowledge of the good too and consequently benefit us (epistatei ge kai tais allais epistêmais, kai tautês dêpou an archousa tês peri t’agathon epistêmês ôpheloi an hêmas).’
***
Critias initially spoke of ‘the knowledge of good and bad’ (174b10), but at this point he speaks of the same knowledge as the knowledge ‘of the good’ (peri t’agathon).  This ‘slip’ is not trivial. In the Phaedo Socrates says that ‘On this theory, then (ek de dê tou logou toutou), a man should consider nothing else (ouden allo skopein prosêkein anthrôpô̢), whether in regard to himself or anything else (kai peri autou ekeinou kai tôn allôn), but the best (all’ ê to ariston), the highest good (kai beltiston); though the same man must also know the worse (anankaion de einai ton auton touton kai to cheiron eidenai), as they are objects of the same knowledge (tên autên gar einai epistêmên peri autôn). (97d1-5, tr. David Gallop)
***
Socrates: ‘Would it make us healthy too (Ê k’an hugiainein poioi), not medicine (all’ ouch hê iatrikê;)? Would it make the products of the other arts (kai t’alla ta tôn technôn hautê an poioi), instead of each of them making its own (kai ouch hai allai to hautês ergon hekastê;)? Weren’t we solemnly declaring all this time (ê ou palai diemarturometha) that it was knowledge only of knowledge and ignorance (hoti epistêmês monon estin kai anepistêmosunês epistêmê) and nothing else (allou de oudenos)?’ Isn’t that so (ouch houtô;)?’ – C. ‘Apparently (Phainetai ge).’ – S. ‘So it wouldn’t be the producer of health (Ouk ara hugieias estai dêmiourgos;)? – C. ‘Certainly not (Ou dêta).’ – S. ‘Because health belonged to another art (Allês gar ên technês hugieia), didn’t it (ê ou;)?’ – C. ‘Yes (Allês).’ – S. ‘So it won’t be the producer of benefit either (Oud’ ara ôphelias), my friend (ô hetaire), since we allocated that product to another art (allê̢ gar au apedomen touto to ergon technê̢) a minute ago (nundê), didn’t we (ê gar;)?’ – C. ‘Yes, certainly (Panu ge).’ – S. ‘How will sôphrosunê [D.W. ’self-control’] be beneficial, then (Pôs oun ôphelimos estai hê sôphrosunê), when it is the producer of no benefit (oudemias ôphelias ousa dêmiourgos;)? – C. ‘It won’t at all (Oudamôs), it would appear, Socrates (ô Sôkrates, eoiken ge).’ (174c3-175a8, tr. D. Watt)
The knowledge of the good thus becomes a stumbling block that stands in the way of defining sôphrosunê, which Socrates professes to be unable to overcome: ‘Do you see (Hora̢s oun), Critias (ô Kritia), how all this time I had good reason to be apprehensive (hôs egô palai eikotôs ededoikê), and was quite right to accuse myself (kai dikaiôs emauton ê̢tiômên) of not conducting a worthwhile inquiry into sôphrosunê [D.W. ’self-control’] (hoti ouden chrêston peri sôphrosunês skopô;)? Something that is agreed to be the most admirable of all things wouldn’t have seemed to us to be of no benefit (ou gar an pou ho ge kalliston pantôn homologeitai einai touto hêmin anôpheles ephanê) if I had been any use at making a proper investigation (ei ti emou ophelos ên pros to kalôs zêtein). As it is now (nun de), we’re defeated on all fronts (pantachê̢ gar hêttômetha), and are unable to discover (kai ou dunametha heurein) to which actual thing (eph’ hô̢ pote tôn ontôn) the lawgiver (ho nomothetês) gave the name of sôphrosunê [D.W. ’self-control’] (touto t’ounoma etheto, tên sôphrosunên). And yet (kaitoi) we have conceded many points (polla sunkechôrêkamen) which did not follow (ou sumbainonth’ hêmin) from our argument (en tô̢ logô̢). We conceded that there was a knowledge of knowledge (kai gar epistêmên epistêmês einai sunechôrêsamen), although the argument denied it (ouk eôntos tou logou) and claimed there wasn’t (oude phaskontos einai). We conceded that this knowledge knew the products of the other knowledges too (kai tautê̢ au tê̢ epistêmê̢ kai ta tôn allôn epistêmôn erga gignôskein sunechôrêsamen) although the argument denied this as well (oude touto eôntos tou logou), just to have the sôphrôn [D.W. ’self-controlled man’] in possession of the knowledge (hina dê hêmin genoito ho sôphrôn epistêmôn) that he knows (ho te oiden) what he knows (ho ti oiden) and that he does not know what he does not know (kai hôn mê oiden hoti ouk oiden). We made that terribly generous concession (touto men dê kai pantapasi megaloprepôs sunechôrêsamen) without even considering (oud’ episkepsamenoi) the impossibility (to adunaton einai) of a man knowing in some sort of way what he does not know at all (ha tis mê oiden mêdamôs, tauta eidenai hamôs ge pôs); for we allowed that he knows what he does not know (ho ti gar ouk oiden, phêsin auta eidenai hê hêmetera homologia), and yet (kaitoi) I think (hôs egô̢mai) nothing would seem stranger than that (oudenos hotou alogôteron tout’ an phaneiê). All the same (all’ homôs), although the investigation has found us so very good-natured (houtôs hêmôn euêthikôn tuchousa hê zêtêsis) and compliant (kai ou sklêrôn), it has still been no more able to discover the truth (ouden ti mallon heurein dunatai tên alêtheian), but has made such sport of it (alla tosouton kategelasen autês) as to demonstrate to us quite brutally the uselessness of sôphrosunê [D.W. ’self-control’] as we defined it in those fictions we agreed on for so long (hôste ho hêmeis palai sunomologountes kai sumplattontes etithemetha sôphrosunên einai, touto hêmin panu hubristikôs anôpheles on apephaine).’ (175a9-d5, tr. D. Watt)
***
At 174a4-6 Socrates presents a positive picture of a man endowed with sôphrosunê: ‘Can it be that you mean the kind of man (ara mê ton toionde) who knows all the past and present in addition to the future (ei tis pros tois mellousin kai ta gegonota panta eideiê kai ta nun onta), and is ignorant of nothing (kai mêden agnooi;)? Let’s assume that such a man exists (thômen gar tina einai auton).’ Then he asks Critias: ‘Which of the knowledges is it that makes him happy (tis auton tôn epistêmôn poiei eudaimona; tr. D. Watt)?’
***
The English term ‘happy’ is the most unfortunate term in rendering the meaning of eudaimôn, for it suggests something felt subjectively – I always think of the song ‘don’t worry, be happy’ – whereas the Greek term eudaimôn suggests a general well-being, of which one’s feeling to be happy is only a part. This aspect of eudaimonia comes to the fore when Socrates takes stock of Critias’ answer that it is the knowledge of good and bad that is most conducive to it. Socrates: ‘It is not the life according to knowledge (ou to epistêmonôs ên zên) which makes men act rightly and be happy (to eu prattein te kai eudaimonein poioun), not even if it be knowledge of all the other sciences (oude sumpasôn tôn allôn epistêmôn), but one science only (alla mias ousês tautês monon), that of good and evil (tês peri to agathon te kai kakon).’ (174b12-c3, tr. Jowett)
Here again, Jowett’s ‘act rightly and be happy’ suggests ‘acting rightly’ and ‘being happy’ as two different things: one ‘acts rightly’ and as a consequence ‘is happy’. But in Greek to eu prattein is almost synonymous with kai eudaimonein; both are verbs, both express life-activities taken in the totality of one’s life.
***
Clearly, Socrates has a very strong view of the knowledge of good and bad, although he speaks of it as ‘my dream’ (to emon onar, 173a7). This knowledge can’t be intended to be viewed just as a stumbling block, as which it ultimately functions within the framework of the Charmides; it points over the head of the not-knowing Socrates, transcending the dialogue. Can Diotima’s speech in the Symposium enlighten us on this point?
***
After depicting the world in which Eros, who always loses what he has gained, operates, the world in which even the sciences are subjected to generation and decay (Symp. 207d-208a), Diotima points to an entirely different science/knowledge, which is of beauty itself, free from change. Can the science/knowledge of the good in the Charmides be seen in the light of Diotima’s science/knowledge of the beauty itself?
In Diotima’s narrative the world of change is related to beauty itself: A philosopher, guided by Eros, ‘turned towards the vast sea of beauty (epi to polu pelagos tetrammenos tou kalou) and contemplating it (kai theôrôn), will give birth to many beautiful and noble discourses (pollous kai kalous logous kai megaloprepeis tiktê̢) and thoughts (kai dianoêmata) in bounteous philosophy (en philosophia̢ aphthonô̢), until (heôs an), here having been strengthened (entautha rôstheis) and well developed (kai auxêtheis), he can see (katidê̢) a science which is the only one such (tina epistêmên mian toiautên), which is of beauty that is such (hê esti kalou toioude) [the ‘such’ qualifying science {toiautên} and beauty {toioude} is forward looking; it points to all that follows in this paragraph after Diotima’s call upon Socrates to focus his mind on it] – try to give me your best attention (peirô de moi ton noun prosechein hôs hoion te malista). – He who has been instructed thus far in the erotic pursuits (hos an mechri entautha pros ta erôtika paidagôgêthê̢), who has seen the beautiful in due order and in the right way (theômenos ephexês kai orthôs ta kala), coming toward the end of the erotic pursuits (pros telos êdê iôn tôn erôtikôn), will suddenly see (exaiphnês katopsetai) a nature of wondrous beauty (ti thaumaston tên phusin kalon), that beauty (touto ekeino), Socrates (ô Sôkrates), for the sake of which (hou dê heneken) all the former toils were udertaken (kai hoi emprosthen pantes ponoi êsan), which is, in the first place, everlasting (prôton men aei on), and neither coming into being (kai oute gignomenon) nor perishing (oute apollumenon), neither growing (oute auxanomenon) nor decaying (oute phthinon); secondly (epeita), not beautiful in one point of view (ou tê̢ men kalon) and foul in another (tê̢ d’ aischron) ((210d3-211a4) … but beauty itself in itself (all’ auto kath’ hauto) with itself (meth’ hautou), simple (monoeides), everlasting (aei on), of which all other beautiful things partake in some such way as this (ta de alla panta kala ekeinou metechonta tropon tina toiouton), that while all the other beautiful things are in the process of becoming and perishing (hoion gignomenôn te tôn allôn kai apollumenôn), it itself suffers no increase or diminution (mêden ekeino mête ti pleon mête elatton gignesthai), or any change (mêde paschein mêden). When someone (hotan dê tis) ascending from these earthly things by pursuing love in a right way (apo tônde dia to orthôs paiderastein epaniôn), begins to perceive that beauty (ekeino to kalon archêtai kathoran), is almost touching the end (schedon an ti haptoito tou telous).’ (211b1-7) – The end itself is undoubtedly the science/knowledge of the good.
***
We can be certain that when Plato wrote the Symposium he was thinking of the Charmides. Socrates opens the Charmides with the words: ‘We’d got yesterday (Hêkomen tê̢ proteraia̢) from the camp of Potidaea (ek Poteidaias apo tou stratopedou, 153a1-2) … I was glad to return to my old haunts (hasmenôs ê̢a epi tas sunêtheis diatribas). I went to Taureas wrestling-school (kai dê kai eis tên Taureou palaistran eisêlthon, 153a2-4) … I sat down (Parakathezomenos oun), said hello to Critias (êspazomên ton te Kritian) and the others (kai tous allous), and proceeded to tell them (kai diêgoumên autois) all the news from the camp (ta apo stratopedou), answering whatever questions I was asked (ho ti me tis aneroito); and each had a different question (êrôtôn de allos allo). When we’d exhausted that subject (Epeidê de tôn toioutôn hadên eichomen) I asked them about things here (authis egô autous anêrôtôn ta tê̢de, 153c8-d3). (Translation D. Watt)
In the Charmides we learn nothing more about the camp and the battle at Potidaea, but In the Symposium Plato presents us with Alcibiades’ narrative about Socrates in the military camp, and in the battle at Potidaea in which he saved Alcibiades’ life (219e-220e).

The realization that Plato was thinking of the Charmides when he wrote the Symposium is important, yet on its own it does not answer the question whether the science/knowledge of the beauty itself in the Symposium sheds light on the science/knowledge of the good mooted in the Charmides. I think that the dating of the Charmides will help us in answering it; I shall discuss the dating of the Charmides in my next post.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

3 Eros in Diotima’s speech in Plato’s Symposium and Socrates in his Charmides

Describing the constant change, which is the predicament of all mortal living beings, Diotima finds it ‘still more surprising (polu de toutôn atopôteron eti) that it is equally true of science (hoti kai hai epistêmai); not only do some of the sciences come to life in our minds (mê hoti hai men gignontai), and others die away (hai de apolluntai hêmin), so that we are never the same in regard of them either (kai oudepote hoi autoi esmen oude kata tas epistêmas): but the same fate happens to each of them individually (alla kai mia hekastê tôn epistêmôn t’auton paschei, 207e5-208a3; translations from the Symposium are Jowett’s ).

Critias in the Charmides defined sôphrosunê as ‘knowing oneself (to gignôskein auton heauton, 165b4’), which he specified as the knowledge, ‘which alone of all sciences (hê monê tôn allôn epistêmôn) is the knowledge both of itself and of the other sciences (autê te heautês estin kai tôn allôn epistêmôn epistêmê)’. – Socrates: ‘Wouldn’t it be a knowledge of not-knowing as well (Oukoun kai anepistêmosunês epistêmê an eiê), if it is of knowledge (eiper kai epistêmês;)?’ – Critias: ‘Yes, certainly (Panu ge). (166a5-9) Socrates rephrased Critias’ definition, to make sure he understood: ‘And sôphronein [‘to think wisely’] is this (kai estin dê touto to sôphronein te), and sôphrosunê (kai sôphrosunê), and knowing oneself (kai to heauton auton gignôskein): to know (to eidenai) what one knows (ha te oiden) and what one doesn’t know (kai ha mê oiden). Is this what you’re saying (ara tauta estin ha legeis:)? – Crit. ‘Yes (Egôge).’ (166e4-167a8)

Having clarified this point, Socrates questions the very possibility of self-reflexivity: ‘See (Ide dê) what a strange thing (hôs atopon) we’re trying to say, my friend (epicheiroumen, ô hetaire, legein). If you look at that same proposition in other cases (en allois gar pou to auto touto ean skopê̢s), it’ll come to seem to you (doxei soi), I think (hôs egô̢mai), that it is impossible (adunaton einai).’ – Crit. ‘How (Pôs dê)? In what cases (kai pou;)?’ – Soc. ‘In these (En toisde). Consider (ennoei gar) whether you think there is a vision (ei soi dokei opsis tis einai) which is not the vision of what the other visions are visions of (hê hôn men hai allai opseis eisin, ouk estin toutôn opsis), but is the vision of itself and the other visions, and non-vision in the same way (heautês de kai tôn allôn opseôn opsis estin kai mê opseôn hôsautôs): and though it is a vision, it sees no colour (kai chrôma men hora̢ ouden opsis ousa), only itself (hautên de) and the other visions (kai tas allas opseis). Do you think there is such a vision (Dokei tis soi einai toiautê;)?’ – Crit. ‘Heavens (Ma Di’), no, I don’t (ouk emoige).’ – Soc. ‘What about hearing (Ti de akoên) which hears no sound (hê phônês men oudemias akouei), but hears itself and the other hearings (hautês de kai tôn allôn akoôn akouei) and non-hearings (kai tôn mê akoôn;)’ – Crit. ‘No, not that either (Oude touto).’ (167c4-d5, tr. D. Watt) … Soc. ‘Do you see (Hora̢s), then (oun), Critias (ô Kritia), that of all the examples we’ve gone through (hoti hosa men dielêluthamen), for some it seems to us absolutely impossible (ta men autôn adunata pantapasi phainetai hêmin), while in the case of the others it is very difficult to believe (ta d’ apisteitai sphodra), that they could ever relate their own faculty to themselves (mê pot’ an tên heautôn dunamin pros heauta schein; 168e3-5, tr. D. Watt)?’

Having rounded up the enquiry into Critias’ definition of sôphrosunê as self-reflective science by admitting his inability to either admit its possibility, or to reject it as impossible, Socrates changes the focus of his enquiry, saying that even if it were possible for there to be knowledge of knowledge, he could not accept that it is sôphrosunê, until he considered whether it would benefit us or not: ‘for I divine that sôphrosunê is something beneficial and good (tên gar oun dê sôphrosunên ôphelimon te kai agathon manteuomai einai, 169b4-5’).
Socrates: ‘Supposing there is knowledge of knowledge (epistêmê pou epistêmês ousa), will it be able to determine anything more (ara pleon ti hoia t’ estai diairein) than that one thing is knowledge (ê hoti toutôn tode men epistêmê) and another is not (tode d’ ouk epistêmê)?’ – Critias: ‘No (Ouk), just that (alla tosouton)’ – Soc. ‘Is it the same thing as knowledge and ignorance of what is healthy (T’auton oun estin epistêmê̢ te kai anepistêmosunê̢ hugieinou;)? Is it the same as knowledge and ignorance of what is just (kai epistêmê̢ te kai anepistêmosunê̢ dikaiou;)?’ – Crit. ‘Not at all (Oudamôs).’ – Soc. ‘The one is (Alla to men), I think (oimai), medicine (iatrikê), the other (to de) public affairs (politikê), while this one (to de) is nothing other (ouden allo) than knowledge (ê epistêmê).’ – Crit. ‘Of course (Pôs gar ou;)’ – Soc. ‘If a man doesn’t know in addition (Oukoun ean mê prosepistêtai tis) what is healthy (to hugieinon) and what is just (kai to dikaion), but knows only knowledge (all’ epistêmên monon gignôskê̢), inasmuch as he possesses knowledge only of that (hate toutou monon echôn epistêmên), he would in all probability know, both about himself and about others, that he or they know something and possess some knowledge (hoti men ti epistatai kai hoti epistêmên tina echei, eikotôs an gignôskoi kai peri hautou kai peri tôn allôn), wouldn’t he (ê gar;)?’ – Crit. ‘Yes (Nai).’ – Soc. ‘How will he know by that knowledge what he knows (Ho ti de gignôskei, tautê̢ tê̢ epistêmê̢ pôs eisetai;)? For example, he knows what is healthy by medicine (gignôskei gar dê to men hugieinon tê̢ iatrikê̢), not by sôphrosunê [D. Watt: ‘self-control’] (ou sôphrosunê̢); what is harmonious (to d’ harmonikon) by music (mousikê̢), not by sôphrosunê [D. W.: ‘self-control’] (all’ ou sôphrosunê̢); what makes a building (to d’ oikodomikon), by the art of building (oikodomikê̢), not by sôphrosunê [D. W.: ‘self-control’] (all’ ou sôphrosunê̢); and so on (kai houtô panta). Doesn’t he (ê ou;)?’ – Crit. ‘So it seems (Phainetai).’ – Soc. ‘How will he know by sôphrosunê [D. W.: ‘self-control’], if it is only the knowledge of knowledge (Sôphrosunê̢ de, eiper monon estin epistêmôn epistêmê, pôs eisetai), that he knows what is healthy (hoti to hugieinon gignôskei) or what makes a building (ê hoti to oikodomikon;)? – Crit. ‘He won’t at all (Oudamôs)’ – Soc. ‘So the man who is ignorant of that won’t know what he knows (Ouk ara eisetai ho oiden ho touto agnoôn), but only that he knows (all’ hoti oiden monon).’ – Crit. ‘It would appear so (Eoiken).’ – Soc. ‘Sôphronein [D.W.: ‘Being self-controlled’], or sôphrosunê [D.W.: ‘self-control’], wouldn’t be (Ouk ara sôphronein tout an eiê oude sôphrosunê) knowing (eidenai) what one knows (ha te oiden) and what one doesn’t know (kai ha mê oiden), but only, it would appear, that one knows and that one doesn’t know (all’, hôs eoiken, hoti oiden kai hoti ouk oiden monon).’ – Crit. ‘It may well be (Kinduneuei).’ – Soc. ‘Nor will the man be able to examine another man (Oude allon ara hoios te estai houtos exetasai) who claims he knows something (phaskonta ti epistasthai), to see whether he knows (poteron epistatai) what he says he knows (ho phêsin epistasthai) or whether he does not (ê ouk epistatai).’ (170a6-d7, tr. D. Watt)
Socrates clarifies this point even further by referring specifically to medicine: ‘So the sôphrôn [D.W.: ‘self-controlled man’] will know that the doctor possesses some knowledge (Hoti men dê epistêmên tina echei, gnôsetai ho sôphrôn ton iatron); but when he has to try to find out what it is (deon de peiran labein hêtis estin), won’t he consider what it is knowledge of (allo ti skepsetai hôntinôn;)? Hasn’t each knowledge been defined not just as a knowledge (ê ou toutô̢ hôristai hekastê epistêmê mê monon epistêmê einai), but also as a specific one (alla kai tis), by reference to (tô̢) what it is of (tinôn einai;)? – Crit. ‘Yes, indeed (Toutô̢ men oun).’ – Soc. ‘Medicine, then (Kai hê iatrikê dê), is distinguished from the other knowledges (hetera einai tôn allôn epistêmôn hôristhê) by being defined as the knowledge of what is healthy and what is deseased (tô̢ tou hugieinou einai kai nosôdous epistêmê).’ – Crit. ‘Yes (Nai).’ – Soc. ‘Then the man who wants to look at medicine must look at whatever things it is concerned with (Oukoun en toutois anankaion skopein ton boulomenon iatrikon skopein, en hois pot’ estin), and surely not at things with which it is not concerned (ou gar dêpou en ge tois exô, en hois ouk estin).’ – Crit. ‘Certainly (Ou dêta).’ – Soc. ‘The man looking at it properly, then, will consider the doctor qua medical man, in relation to what is healthy and what is deseased (En tois hugieinois ara kai nosôdesin episkepsetai ton iatron, hê̢ iatrikos estin, ho orthôs skopoumenos).’ – Crit. ‘It would appear so (Eoiken).’ – Soc. ‘As regards what is said or done in such a case (Oukoun en tois houtôs legomenois ê prattomenois), he’ll consider whether what is said is true (ta men legomena, ei alêthê legetai, skopoumenos) and whether what is done is right (ta de prattomena ei orthôs prattetai;)?’ – Crit. ‘He must (Anankê).’ – Soc. ‘Could anyone follow up either of those questions without medicine (Ê oun aneu iatrikês dunait’ an tis toutôn poterois epakolouthêsai;)?’ – Crit. ‘Certainly not (Ou dêta).’ – Soc. ‘No one could, it would appear, except a doctor (Oude ge allos oudeis, hôs eoiken, plên iatros); nor could the sôphrôn [D.W.: ‘self-controlled man’] either (oute dê ho sôphrôn), unless he were a doctor in addition to sôphrosunê [D.W.: ‘being self-controlled’] (iatros gar an eiê pros tê̢ sôphrosunê̢).’ – Crit. ‘That’s so (Esti tauta).’ – Soc. ‘So inevitably (Pantos ara mallon), if sôphrosunê [D.W.: ‘self-control’] is only the knowledge of knowledge (ei hê sôphrosunê epistêmês epistêmê monon estin) and of ignorance (kai anepistêmosunês), it won’t be able to distinguish the doctor (oute iatron diakrinai hoia te estai) who knows his art (epistamenon ta tês technês) from one who doesn’t (ê mê epistamenon), but pretends he does (prospoioumenon de) or thinks he does (ê oiomenon), or any other of those people (oute allon oudena) who know anything at all (tôn epistamenôn kai hotioun), except for the man who practices the same art as itself (plên ge ton hautou homotechnon), in the way other craftsmen do (hôsper hoi alloi dêmiourgoi).’ – Crit. ‘So it seems (Phainetai).’
And so Socrates asks: ‘What benefit would we get from sôphrosunê [D.W.: ‘self-control’] in that case, Critias? (Tis oun, ô Kritia, ôphelia hêmin eti an eiê apo tês sôphrosunês toiautês ousês;)’ (171a3-d2, tr. D. Watt)

But instead of waiting for Critias’ answer, Socrates presents him with an imposing picture of sôphrosunê: ‘If indeed (ei men gar), as we were supposing at first (ho ex archês hupetithemetha), the sôphrôn would know (ê̢dei ho sôphrôn) what he knew and what he did not know (ha te ê̢dei kai ha mê ê̢dei), that he knows the former (ta men hoti oiden) and that he does not know the latter (ta d’ hoti ouk oiden), and would be able to recognize another man in the same state (kai allon t’auton touto peponthota episkepsasthai hoios t’ ên), it would be of a great advantage to us to be sôphrones [nom. pl. of sôphrôn ‘to be wise’] (megalôsti an hêmin ôphelimon ên sôphrosin einai); for we would live our life without making mistakes (anamartêtoi gar an ton bion diezômen), both we, who would be having the sôphrosunê (autoi te hoi tên sôphrosunên echontes), and all those who would be governed by us (kai hoi alloi pantes hosoi huph’ hêmôn êrchonto). For neither should we (oute gar an autoi) attempt to do what we did not know (epecheiroumen prattein ha mê êpistametha), but finding those who know (all’ exeuriskontes tous epistamenous) we would give it over to them (ekeinois an paredidometha), nor should we allow others (oute tois allois epetrepomen), whom we governed (hôn êrchomen), to do anything else than that which they would do well (allo ti prattein ê hoti prattontes orthôs emellon prattein), and this would be (touto d’ ên an) of which they had knowledge (hou epistêmên eichon); and thus a house under the rule of sôphrosunê (kai houtô dê hupo sôphrosunês oikia te oikoumenê) would be beautifully ordered (emellen kalôs oikeisthai), and a state administered (polis te politeuomenê), and everything else that sôphrosunê governed (kai allo pan hou sôphrosunê archoi); for with error eliminated (hamartias gar exê̢rêmenês), and rightness in charge (orthotêtos de hêgoumenês), men, who are in this state, must do nobly and well in all their doings (en pasê̢ praxei kalôs kai eu prattein anankaion tous houtô diakeimenous), and those who do well (tous de eu prattontas) must have happiness (tous de eu prattontas eudaimonas einai). Was it not thus (ar’ ouch houtôs), Critias (ô Kritia), that we spoke of sôphrosunê (elegomen peri sôphrosunês), when we were saying (legontes) what a great good (hoson agathon) would be to know (eiê to eidenai) what one knows (ha te oiden tis) and what one does not know (kai ha mê oiden;)?’ – Crit. ‘Very true (Panu men oun, houtôs).’ (171d2-172a6)
True to the picture of Eros-the philosopher, the sun of Poros (‘Inventiveness’, ‘Plenty’) and Penia (‘Poverty’), with which Diotima presents us in the Symposium, Socrates responds to Critias’ ‘Very true’ with a disclaimer: ‘But as things are (Nun de), you can see (hora̢s) that there is obviously no knowledge like that anywhere (hoti oudamou epistêmê oudemia toiaute ousa pephantai).’ – Crit. ‘I can (Horô).’ (172a7-9, tr. D. Watt)
***
Diotima’s reflection on ‘sciences’ in the Symposium chimes with Socrates’ reflections on ‘knowledges’ (epistêmai) so far discussed in the Charmides. But after revoking his magnificent picture of sôphrosunê in the name of all the doubts that preceded its formulation, Socrates waves the doubts and evokes it once again, but only to discard it definitively by pointing to an entirely new science.
Socrates: ‘Let’s see (idômen gar): if you like (ei boulei),  let’s agree (sunchôrêsantes) that it’s possible to know knowledge (kai epistasthai epistêmên dunaton einai), and let’s not reject what we assumed at the beginning, that sôphrosunê [D.W.: ‘self-control’] is (kai ho ge ex archês etithemetha sôphrosunên einai) knowing (to eidenai) what one knows (ha te oiden) and what one doesn’t know (kai ha mê oiden). Let’s grant it for the sake of argument (mê aposterêsômen, alla dômen). Having granted all that (kai panta tauta dontes), let’s consider even more carefully (eti beltion episkepsômetha) whether something like that will in fact benefit us (ei ara ti kai hêmas onêsei toiouton on), because I don’t think that we were right in allowing what we were saying a minute ago, that sôphrosunê [D.W.: ‘self-control’] would be a great good if it were a thing like that, and organized the running of both house and state (ha gar nundê elegomen, hôs mega an eiê agathon hê sôphrosunê ei toiouton eiê, hêgoumenê dioikêseôs kai oikias kai poleôs, ou moi dokoumen, ô Kritia, kalôs hômologêkenai).’ – Crit. ‘Why (Pôs dê;)?’ – Soc. ‘Because (Hoti) we readily allowed that it was a great good (ra̢diôs hômologêsamen mega ti agathon einai) for men (tois anthrôpois) if each group of us (ei hekastoi hêmôn) were to do what it knows (ha men isasin, prattoien tauta) and were to hand over what it doesn’t know to others who do know (ha de mê epistainto, allois paradidoien tois epistamenois) (172c6-d10) … Supposing sôphrosunê [D.W.: ‘self-control’] were as we now define it, and did govern us completely (ei gar hoti malista hêmôn archoi hê sôphrosunê, ousa hoian nun horizometha) – wouldn’t everything be done as various knowledges directed (allo ti kata tas epistêmas pant’ an prattoito)? No one who claimed to be a pilot (kai oute tis kubernêtês phaskôn einai), but wasn’t (ôn de ou), would deceive us (exapatô̢ an hêmas); no doctor (oute iatros), no general (oute stratêgos), or anyone else (out’ allos oudeis) who pretended to know something (prospoioumenos ti eidenai) he didn’t know (ho mê oiden), would escape our notice (lanthanoi an). Under those circumstances (ek dê toutôn houtôs echontôn), wouldn’t the result be (allo an hêmin ti sumbainoi) that we should be healthier of body (ê huguiesin te ta sômata einai mallon) than now (ê nun), that when in danger at sea (kai en tê̢ thalattê̢ kinduneuontas) or in war (kai en polemô̢) we should escape unharmed (sô̢zesthai), and that all our utensils (kai ta skeuê), clothing (kai tên ampechonên), footwear (kai hupodesin pasan), indeed all our possessions (kai ta chrêmata panta) and many other things too, would be works of skill and art (technikôs hêmin eirgasmena einai kai alla polla), because we employed true craftsmen (dia to alêthinois dêmiourgois chrêsthai)? (173a8-c2) … Now, I agree that the human race, given this, would do things and live as knowledge directed (kateskeuasmenon dê houtô to anthrôpinon genos hoti men epistêmonôs an prattoi kai zô̢ê, hepomai) – because sôphrosunê [D.W.: ‘self-control’] would mount guard (hê gar sôphrosunê phulattousa) and wouldn’t let (ouk an eô̢ê) ignorance creep in (parempiptousan tên anepistêmosunên) and be a partner in our work (sunergon hêmin einai). But that doing things as knowledge directed (hoti d’ epistêmonôs an prattontes) we’d do well (eu an prattoimen) and be happy (kai eudaimonoimen), that is something we can’t as yet be sure of (touto de oupô dunametha mathein), my dear Critias (ô phile Kritia).’ – Critias: ‘On the other hand (alla mentoi), you won’t easily find any other complete form of success (ou râ̢diôs heurêseis allo ti telos tou eu prattein), if you disregard doing things as knowledge directs (ean to epistêmonôs atimasê̢s).’ (173c7-d7)
***
The text from 172c6-173d7 is given in Watt’s translation; I merely substituted sôphrosunê for his ‘self-control’, giving his ‘translation’ in square brackets. I have nevertheless misgivings concerning his translation of the last Critias’ entry. His ‘any other complete form of success’, which stands for Plato’s allo ti telos tou eu prattein, loses the most important word, telos, which means ‘that which is aimed for’, ‘the end of action’, ‘that which one strives to achieve’; eu prattein means ‘doing well’, and, as used by Socrates at the end of his peroration (at 173d4), it is tantamount to ‘being happy’. Jowett’s translation of Critias’ words is nearer the mark: ‘Yet I think that if you discard knowledge, you will hardly find the crown of happiness in anything else.’
***
Socrates (in Jowett’s translation): ‘Well, just answer me one small question (Smikron toinun me eti prosdidaxon). Of what is this knowledge (tinos epistêmonôs legeis; 173d8-9)? … which of the different kinds of knowledge makes him happy (tis auton tôn epistêmôn poiei eudaimona, 174a10-11)?’ Pressed by further questions, Critias finds the answer Socrates wants to hear: ‘The knowledge with which he discerns good and evil (hê̢ to agathon kai kakon).’ – Socrates: ‘You villain (Ô miare)! You have been carrying me round in a circle, and all this time hiding from me (palai me perielkeis kuklô̢, apokruptomenos) the fact that it is not the life according to knowledge (hoti ou to epistêmonôs ên zên) which makes men act rightly and be happy (to eu prattein te kai eudaimonein poioun), not even if it be knowledge of all the other sciences (oude sumpasôn tôn allôn epistêmôn), but one science only (alla mias ousês tautês monon), that of good and evil (tês peri to agathon te kai kakon).’ (174b10-c3, tr. Jowett)
In the last part of the discussion, in the course of which Socrates led Critias to ‘the knowledge/science of good and bad’, I skipped two passages, which seemed to me skippable. But these passages are important, for in them Socrates focusses attention on the broad spectrum of sciences, to which corresponds Diotima’s depiction of sciences as part of the world subjected to change. To make this point, let me give the Symposium passage in full (in Jowett’s translation, with lines 208a3-5 corrected in accordance with my preceding post), followed by the passages I skipped:

Diotima: ‘Nay, even in the life of the same individual there is succession and not absolute uniformity: a man is called the same, and yet in the interval between youth and age, during which every animal is said to have life and identity, he is undergoing a continual process of loss and reparation (epei kai en hô̢ hen hekaston tôn zô̢ôn zên kaleitai kai einai to auto, hoion ek paidariou ho autos legetai heôs an presbutês genêtai, houtos mentoi oudepote ta auta echôn en hautô̢ homôs ho autos kaleitai, alla neos aei genomenos, ta de apollus) – hair, flesh, bones, blood, and the whole body are always changing (kai kata tas trichas kai sarka kai osta kai haima kai sumpan to sôma). Which is true not only of the body (kai mê hoti kata to sôma), but also of the soul (alla kai kata tên psuchên), whose habits (hoi tropoi), tempers (ta êthê), opinions (doxai), desires (epithumiai), pleasures (hêdonai), pains (lupai), fears (phoboi), never remain the same in any one of us (toutôn hekasta oudepote ta auta parestin hekastô̢), but are always coming (alla ta men gignetai ‘but some are generated’) and going (ta de apollutai ‘others perish’). What is still more surprising (polu de toutôn atopôteron eti), it is equally true of science (hoti kai hai epistêmai); not only do some of the sciences come to life in our minds (mê hoti hai men gignontai), and others die away (hai de apolluntai hêmin), so that we are never the same in regard of them either (kai oudepote hoi autoi esmen oude kata tas epistêmas): but the same fate happens to each of them individually (alla kai mia hekastê tôn epistêmôn t’auton paschei). For what is implied in the word “rehearsing”, but the departure of knowledge (ho gar kaleitai meletan hôs exiousês esti tês epistêmês), which is ever being forgotten (lêthê gar epistêmês exodos), and is renewed and preserved by rehearsing, and appears to be the same although in reality new (meletê de palin kainên empoiousa anti tês apiousês mnêmên sô̢zei tên epistêmên, hôste tên autên dokein einai), according to that law by which all mortal things are preserved  (toutô̢ gar tô̢ tropô̢ pan to thnêton sô̢zetai), not absolutely the same (ou tô̢ pantapasin to auto aei einai hôsper to theion), but by substitution, the old worn-out mortality leaving another new and similar existence behind (alla tô̢ to apion kai palaioumenon heteron neon enkataleipein hoion auto ên).’ (207d4-208b2)
Here Diotima views epistêmê (‘science’/’knowledge’) as intimately involved in human life. We differentiate between science and knowledge, viewing science as something existing on its own, apart from scientists, knowledge as something that pertains to those who know, scientists as well as non-scientists. In Plato’s concept of epistêmê, as discussed by Socrates in the Charmides within the ambit of sôphrosunê, and by Diotima in her speech concerning the birth and nature of Eros in the Symposium, there is no separation between science and knowledge; epistêmê is viewed as a human activity.
Reproduced in their context, the two skipped Charmides passages constitute a single passage. Critias: ‘Yet I think (alla mentoi) that if you discard knowledge, you will hardly find the crown of happiness in anything else (ou râ̢diôs heurêseis allo ti telos tou eu prattein ean to epistêmonôs atimasê̢s).’ – Socrates: ‘Well, just answer me one small question (Smikron toinun me eti prosdidaxon ‘teach me one thing more, a small thing’). Of what is this knowledge (tinos epistêmonôs legeis)? Do you mean a knowledge of shoe-making (ê skutôn tomês;)? – Crit. ‘God forbid (Ma Di’ ouk egôge).’ – Soc. ‘Or of working in brass (Alla chalkou ergasias;)?’ – Crit. ‘Certainly not (Oudamôs).’ – Soc. ‘Or in wool, or wood, or anything of that sort (Alla eriôn ê xulôn ê allou tou tôn toioutôn;)?’ – Crit. ‘No, I don’t (Ou dêta)’ – Soc. ‘Then we are giving up the doctrine (Ouk ara eti emmenomen tô̢ logô̢) that he who lives according to knowledge is happy (tô̢ eudaimona einai ton epistêmonôs zônta), for these live according to knowledge (houtoi gar epistêmonôs zôntes), and yet they are not allowed by you to be happy (ouch’ homologountai para sou eudaimones einai). But I think that you mean to confine happiness to those who live according to knowledge of some particular thing (alla peri tinôn epistêmonôs zônta su dokeis moi aphorizesthai ton eudaimona), such for example as the prophet, who, as I was saying [at 173c27, another passage I skipped], knows the future (kai isôs legeis hon nundê egô elegon, ton eidota ta mellonta esesthai panta, ton mantin). Is it of him you are speaking or of someone else (touton ê allon tina legeis;)?’ – Crit. ‘Yes, I mean him, but there are others as well (Kai touton egôge, kai allous).’ – Soc. ‘Who (Tina;)? Evidently someone (ara mê ton toionde) who knows the past and present as well as the future (ei tis pros tois mellousi kai ta gegonota panta eideiê kai ta nun onta), and is ignorant of nothing (kai mêden agnooi). Let us suppose that there is such a person (thômen gar tina einai auton), and if there is, you will allow that he is the most knowing of all living men (ou gar oimai toutou ge eti an eipois oudena epistêmonesteron zônta einai). – Crit. ‘Certainly he is (Ou dêta).’ – Soc. ‘Yet I should like to know one thing more (Tode dê eti prospothô): which of the different kinds of knowledge makes him happy (tis auton tôn epistêmôn poiei eudaimona)? Or do all equally make him happy (ê hapasai homoiôs;)?’ – Crit. ‘Not all equally (Oudamôs homoiôs).’ – Soc. ‘But which most tends to make him happy (Alla poia malista;)? The knowledge of what past, present, or future thing (hê̢ ti oiden kai tôn ontôn kai tôn gegonotôn kai tôn mellontôn esesthai;)? Is it, for example, the knowledge of the game of draughts (ara ge hê̢ to petteutikon;)?’ – Crit. ‘Nonsense: draughts indeed! (Poion, petteutikon;)’
[A good draughtsman must keep track of the opponent’s previous moves, be aware of the present state of the figures on the draughts board, and the expected forthcoming moves of the opponent. By mentioning the game of draughts Socrates, with his irony, brings down to earth the knowledge of the future, present, and past.]
Socrates: ‘Or of computation: (All’ hê̢ to logistikon;) – Crit. ‘No (Oudamôs).’ – Soc. ‘Or of health (All’ hê̢ to hugieinon;)?’ – Crit. ‘That is nearer the truth (Mallon).’ – Soc. ‘And that knowledge which is nearest of all (Ekeinê d’ hên legô malista), is the knowledge of what (hê̢ ti;)?’ – Crit. ‘The knowledge with which he discerns good and evil (Hê̢ to agathon kai kakon).’ (173d6-174b10, tr. B. Jowett)
***
The way in which Socrates leads Critias to the knowledge/science that ascertains human happiness, that of the good and evil, can be seen to advantage in the light of the way in which Diotima leads the young Socrates to understand Eros, desire, in its relation to the good. When she explained to Socrates the birth and the nature of Eros, Socrates asked: ‘Assuming Love to be such as you say (toioutos ôn ho erôs), what is the use of him to men (tina chreian echei tois anthrôpois;)?’ – Diotima: ‘That (Touto dê meta taut’), Socrates (ô Sôkrates), I will attempt to unfold (peirasomai se didaxai): of his nature and birth I have already spoken (esti men gar dê toioutos kai houtô gegonôs ho Erôs); and you acknowledge that love is of the beautiful (esti de tôn kalôn, hôs su phê̢s). But someone will say (ei de tis hêmas eroito): What does it consist in (Ti tôn kalôn estin ho Erôs), Socrates and Diotima (ô Sôkrates te kai Diotima;)? – or rather let me put the question more clearly, and ask (hôde de saphesteron): When a man loves the beautiful (era̢ ho erôn tôn kalôn), what does his love desire (ti era̢;)?’ – Soc. ‘That the beautiful may be his (Genesthai hautô̢).’ – D.: ‘Still, the answer suggests a further question (All’ eti pothei hê apokrisis erôtêsin toiande): What is given by the possession of beauty (Ti estai ekeinô̢ hô̢ an genêtai ta kala;)?’ – S.: ‘To what you have asked, I have no answer ready (Ou panu ephên eti echein egô pros tautên tên erôtêsin procheirôs apokrinesthai).’ – D.: ‘Then, let me put the word “good” in the place of the beautiful, and repeat the question once more (All’ hôsper an ei tis metabalôn anti tou kalou tô̢ agathô̢ chrômenos punthanoito): If he who loves the good (Phere, ô Sôkrates, era̢ ho erôn tôn agathôn), what is it then that he loves (ti era̢)?’ – S.: ‘The possession of the good (Genesthai hautô̢).’ – D.: ‘And what does he gain (Kai ti estai ekeinô̢) who possesses the good (hô̢ an genêtai t’agatha;)?’ – S.: ‘Happiness, there is little difficulty in answering that question (Tout’ euporôteron echô apokrinasthai, hoti eudaimôn estai).’ – D.: ‘Yes, the happy are made happy by the acquisition of good things (Ktêsei gar agathôn hoi eudaimones eudaimones). Nor is there any need to ask (kai ouketi prosdei eresthai) why a man desires happiness (Hina ti bouletai eudaimôn einai ho boulomenos;); the answer is already final (alla telos dokei echein hê apokrisis).’ – S.: ‘You are right (Alêthê legeis).’ – D.: ‘And is this wish and this desire common to all (Tautên de tên boulêsin kai ton erôta touton potera koinon oiei einai pantôn anthrôpôn)?’ and do all men always desire their own good, or only some men (kai pantas t’agatha boulesthai hautois einai aei)? – what say you (ê pôs legeis;)?’ – S.: ‘All men, the desire is common to all (Houtôs, koinon einai pantôn).’ (204c8-205a8, tr. Jowett)