Re: MD food for thought

From: Marco (
Date: Sat Sep 14 2002 - 22:15:49 BST

Hi Thomas, all interested to subjects, objects and sunesis (or synesis,
depending on the translator)...

First point, about Homer, subject and object....

> Small but fascinating detail: According to some scholars the ancient
> Greeks didn't have concepts for what we later called subject and
> object. Especially in Homer's writings these terms are apparently
> not found. This gives some extremely interesting perspectives for
> MOQ.

Interesting, even if Homer (if ever really existed) has been the very
first Greek writer. Could be he didn't have such concepts, but we can't take
him as the paradigm of the Greek thought. From the Iliad to Plato there is
the same difference as from Beowulf to William James....

Anyway, "subject" and "object" are Latin-derived terms, and I have no idea
on the terms the Greek used for that. Just, if you take a look for example
on the Plato's Republic (available on the net) you will find many times the
term "Object"...... a modern translation indeed of some original term.

The point is if they had terms like "objective" and "subjective". I don't
know, anyway it is clear that the opinion/truth dichotomy was central...

Parmenides, who's birth is around 520 B.C. (few centuries after Homer, 100
years before Plato), in "About Nature" wrote:

"...the cosmic order, clear as it is, I'm going to fully explain to you, so
that absolutely never any opinion of the mortals will be able to overwhelm
[my translation from Italian....]

I think this is the seed the Subject/Object split comes from.

Second point about "Sunesis"

If you take a look on Plato's Cratylus (the same dialogue where Plato
contests Protagoras' "man-is-the-measure" sentence ), Socrates explains
with great precision the etymology of the many terms the Greek used for
"knowledge", "understanding", "wisdom" and so on. I have found both an
Italian and an English translation. "Sunesis", according to the English
translation means "understanding", while in the Italian translation I read
it means "intelligence"; anyway, in both cases, the term for knowledge is
Episteme. IMO it's interesting that both the translators have to report the
original terms. We should remember that it is not "Sunesis" the Greek term
for "Understanding". Just the other way round: "Understanding" is our term
for "Sunesis".....

Anyway, here is Plato:

«SOCRATES: Phronesis (wisdom), which may signify Phoras kai rhou noesis
(perception of motion and flux), or perhaps Phoras onesis (the blessing of
motion), but is at any rate connected with Pheresthai (motion); Gnome
(judgment), again, certainly implies the ponderation or consideration
(Nomesis) of generation, for to ponder is the same as to consider; or, if
you would rather, here is Noesis, the very word just now mentioned, which is
Neou esis (the desire of the new); the word Neos implies that the world is
always in process of creation. The giver of the name wanted to express his
longing of the soul, for the original name was Neoesis, and not Noesis. The
word Sophrosune is the salvation (Soteria) of that wisdom (Phronesis) which
we were just now considering. Episteme (knowledge) is akin to this, and
indicates that the soul which is good for anything follows (Epetai) the
motion of things, neither anticipating them nor falling behind them;
wherefor the word should rather be read as Epistemene, inserting en. ****
Sunesis **** (understanding) may be regarded in like manner as a kind of
conclusion; the word is derived from Sunienai (to go along with), and, like
Epistasthai (to know), implies the progression of the soul in company with
the nature of things. Sophia (wisdom) is very dark, and appears not to be of
native growth; the meaning is, touching the motion or stream of things. You
must remember that the poets, when they speak of the commencement of any
rapid motion, often use the word Esuthe (he rushed); and there was a famous
Lacedaemonian who was named Sous (Rush), for by this word the Lacedaemonians
signify rapid motion, and the touching (Epaphe) of motion is expressed by
Sophia, for all things are supposed to be in motion. Good (Agathon) is the
name which is given to the admirable (Agasto) in nature; for, although all
things move, still there are degrees of motion; some are swifter, some
slower; but there are some things which are admirable for their swiftness,
and this admirable part of nature is called Agathon. Dikaiosune (justice) is
clearly Dikaiou Sunesis (understanding of the just); but the actual word
Dikaion is more difficult: men are only agreed to a certain extent about
justice, and then they begin to disagree.»
(Plato, Cratylus)


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