Plato For Prozac

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.  There is no outside of language.  One would not be able to speak of the outside of language.  Battle begins when words fail.  Conflict is the motor of history and social change.  Visibilities and statements. Description and prescription in the field of linguistics, a field of perpetual interaction.  

Like the nomadic and royal sciences from A Treatise on Nomadology – The War Machine.  The pros and cons of Prozac prescribed for depression, a lack of vitalism, an internal battle lost.

Socrates took advantage of this open-ended relationship between visibilities and statements.  “Open-ended” because this virtue of language always begs the question, leaving the master of rhetoric free to make his critique as Thrasymachus accuses Socrates of doing in their argument over the true nature of Justice. 

The mercenary Sophist does not freely give his learned opinion however, unlike Socrates who loves wisdom and truth for its own sake and for the sake of a noble and chivalric friendship.  We venture out into the field of conflict between visibilities and statements, armed with our jousting sticks, enarmoured in suits of Socratic irony and shielded by the herald of our proud proud school, discipline… to fight for the proper name of philosophy, to win the hand of the voluptuous Sophia.  For these conflicts, one must really risk life and limb.  There’s little room for error.  Socrates swallowed hemlock in the face of charges relating to the corruption of youth. 

Plato aimed to redeem his master.  The pen is mightier than the sword.  He sallied forth, probably in a toga after the fashion of Athens for the time, not like us knights of the faith in the middle of our ages.  His weapon is his pen as Socrates – like Jesus – never wrote anything.  In fact Socrates prescribed against writing in the written text of Phaedrus.  Plato swallowed the tale.  Thoth, the inventor of writing, brings his invention to Amon, the Theban king of Egypt for his approval.  Amon rejects its ultimate utility because the faculty of memory or self-presence will atrophy.  The people will forget themselves.  The danger of excess.  Imitating Phaedrus, Plato covers up his inconsistency with these words:


PHAEDRUS:  Socrates, it doesn’t take much for you to make up stories from Egypt and anywhere else in the world you feel like.

SOCRATES:   Well, my friend, the people at the sanctuary of Zeus at Dodona say that the original prophecies there were spoken by an oak.  In those days people weren’t as clever as the young ones nowadays, and they were so foolish that they happily listened to oak and rock, as long as they told the truth.  But perhaps it matters to you who the speaker is, or what country he comes from, because you are not concerned only with whether or not he’s right.

PHAEDRUS:  You’re right to have told me off – and, yes, I think the Theban king was correct about writing.

Plato, Phaedrus (275 b-c)


Listen to oak and rock.  Language is loud.  It has volume.  Carved in stone, penned upon paper – it doesn’t matter what form the communication takes (but it does) so long is the content is true.  Socrates will go on later to say writing is a good source of amusement and play but the serious work of the dialecticians is tested in speech, not writing.  One should listen to the experts.  Incorporate the philosophy encapsulated in writing.  Pseudos: Plato for Prozac.  A con.

Socrates – he who does not write.  What harm can writing do?  The old man was being ironic.  And besides, the master’s good philosophy and teachings will be passed down beyond death to future generations, another space and time, even unto the middle of the ages.  Plato pens Phaedrus.  A time capsule.  And then some.  

I am emale.  I swallow. 


3 thoughts on “Plato For Prozac

  1. Thanks Ecko for reminding.

    I don’t understand, though, why you think the old man was ironic when talking about writing.
    Further, when reading Phaedrus again this time [and btw, this time I could lay my hand on the book you mentioned. But Spivak, for instance,… this requires an ordering from Amazon. One day, when the book will become a folded container of virtual pages, allowing for an on-the-spot uploading of any book on earth, I would be able to follow your thoughts, or any one else thoughts, in a much more adequate manner] I couldn’t avoid thinking about an apparent parallelism between the linguistic sign and the “beloved”. The lover watching his beloved as if looking upon himself through the mirror glass, the sign reminding him of his own ex-career near the gods.
    The silent scroll never answers; same thing with the beloved one, who never answers, given his function as an endless loop that echoes back our own image, our past, our dreams. Hence, my feelings that for Soc. the dialogue functions also as a mirror breaker. But maybe I’m wrong – I should work more on this, and would love to hear your thoughts.
    By the way, although blogs are scrolls, they are potentially interactive – the scrolls can answer; and they are potentially open to everyone who wishes to ask. I think Socrates could have approved of this written medium.

  2. The silent scroll. That would be non-phonetic writing.
    Mathematics. Calculability. The menace of non-phonetic writing is what I am emale enjoys in your posts on the CrowdsNation: its a real danger.
    There is an emptiness in science (well, a royal science) that is analogous to Narcissus by the pool. Nietzsche wrote a critique of science in this regard (‘I do not like laws in chemistry – it smells of morality”) – if morality here could be conceived as a narcissistic pursuit – the genesis of punishment as a creditor-debtor relationship where Narcissus, of course, thinks he owes no-one anything until the fateful intervention of Nemesis’s cunning ploy.
    I am emale understanding Nietzsche’s reaction to the rise of a kind of science in the nineteenth century (disciplines like eugenics and phrenology) that claimed objectivity. Foucault, of course, also makes a great study of madness and psychiatry, following its trajectory through Enlightenment, silencing the other (the insane) for the love of humanity.
    I am also reminded of Lacan asking: why don’t the planets and stars speak? A silly question but the move from astrology to astronomy and from alchemy to physics, marks a change in how we – ‘modern man’ – understand ourselves.
    The infinite, eternal stars mirroring the infinite, eternal mystery of consciousness. As above, so below. And out of the dark ages, the middle of our ages, the inventors of a new age dawning, the Enlightenment, looked to the Ancients for the template, incorporating Plato – Form and Content – to nominate one example. There’s no going back – but its in our blood, its in our nature, to write, communicate, entertain and (maybe) inform by opening up a dialogue.
    I am emale. I swallow.
    A philosopher answered Lacan’s question: they do not have mouths.

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