Thu, Jun 16|
Ryan Brown, "Plato’s Use of Mogis (Barely, Scarcely, With Toil)"
This essay focuses on Socrates's use of the phrase "scarcely able to gaze (mogis kathorosa) upon the things that are" in the Phaedrus's Palionde (248a). I argue that a better translation would be "gets a thorough look at the things that are only with much labor."
Time & Location
Jun 16, 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM EDT
About the event
In the Phaedrus's Palinode, Socrates speaks of the human soul's ascent to the "superheavenly realities" upon which it longs to gaze. Whereas divine souls seem to enjoy a perfect vision of these realities, the vision available to human souls appears to be attenuated, though scholars disagree on how exactly we ought to understand the qualifications Socrates introduces. Decisive for the interpretation of the human soul's epistemic possibilities is the remark at 248a where Socrates says that human souls are "scarcely able to gaze (mogis kathorosa) upon the things that are." Many commentators take this to mean that human souls achieve, at most, an incomplete "glimpse" of the forms and draw significant epistemological implications from this remark. I argue that mogis kathorosa, a somewhat paradoxical phrase in context, could be translated alternatively as "gets a thorough look only with much labor" if we attend to the root senses of both words. I will explore Plato's uses of mogis (many of which occur in the Phaedrus) and articulate how we might draw some more robust epistemological implications if we understand mogis to mean something more like "with great labor" rather than "scarcely."