The just soul (Plato) 1

And there, dear Glaucon, it appears, is the supreme hazard for a man. And this is the chief reason why it should be our main concern that each of us, neglecting all other studies, should seek after and study this thing--if in any way he may be able to learn of and discover the man who will give him the ability and the knowledge to distinguish the life that is good from that which is bad (…) so that with consideration of all these things he will be able to make a reasoned choice between the better and the worse life, with his eyes fixed on the nature of his soul, naming the worse life that which will tend to make it more unjust and the better that which will make it more just. But all other considerations he will dismiss, for we have seen that this is the best choice, both for life and death. And a man must take with him to the house of death an adamantine faith in this, that even there he may be undazzled by riches and similar trumpery, and may not precipitate himself into tyrannies and similar doings and so work many evils past cure and suffer still greater himself, but may know how always to choose in such things the life that is seated in the mean and shun the excess in either direction, both in this world so far as may be and in all the life to come, for this is the greatest happiness for man. Republic Bk 10 618b-619b (emphasis added)

In the myth of Er, Plato describes how souls choose a certain lot in life before they are reborn. This action has a different place and time from the actions in, as we say, this life. But Plato emphsizes that this choice is not only to be faced before we are born: 'both in this world so far as may be and in all the life to come'.

Heidegger's description of Dasein is essentially the same. 'Da-sein' is 'located' in a different place ('da') and time (Urzeit) from 'hier' and its time (Uhrzeit). In 'da', Dasein witnesses the gigantomachia and must choose ('die Wahl') the original shape or power or ontology in accord with which its being in the world is to be shaped. For Heidegger this 'before' occurs at every instant, augenblicklich, and is constitutive of world.

For both, there are 3 choices: 'the mean and the excess in either direction'. Thinking for Heidgeger is the question of how to cross back to the gigantomachia and how to cross over 'da' to the mean in order to re-start from its complex shape of 'holding to both'.

June 21, 2004 in Plato, Trinities | Permalink