Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Just an inkling

I'm looking at Republic VII and trying to think through that argument about fingers and 'summoners of thought'.  I've got as far as this passage:

Ἀλλ' ἐκ τῶν προειρημένων, ἔφην, ἀναλογίζου. εἰ μὲν γὰρ ἱκανῶς αὐτὸ καθ' αὑτὸ ὁρᾶται ἢ ἄλλῃ τινὶ αἰσθήσει λαμβάνεται τὸ ἕν, οὐκ ἂν ὁλκὸν εἴη ἐπὶ τὴν οὐσίαν, ὥσπερ ἐπὶ τοῦ δακτύλου ἐλέγομεν· εἰ δ' ἀεί τι αὐτῷ ἅμα ὁρᾶται ἐναντίωμα, ὥστε μηδὲν μᾶλλον ἓν ἢ καὶ τοὐναντίον φαίνεσθαι, τοῦ ἐπικρινοῦντος δὴ δέοι ἂν ἤδη καὶ ἀναγκάζοιτ' ἂν ἐν αὐτῷ ψυχὴ ἀπορεῖν καὶ ζητεῖν, κινοῦσα ἐν ἑαυτῇ τὴν ἔννοιαν, καὶ ἀνερωτᾶν τί ποτέ ἐστιν αὐτὸ τὸ ἕν, καὶ οὕτω τῶν ἀγωγῶν ἂν εἴη καὶ μεταστρεπτικῶν ἐπὶ τὴν τοῦ ὄντος θέαν ἡ περὶ τὸ ἓν μάθησις.
Here is the Grube translation:
Reason it out from what was said before. If the one is adequately seen itself by itself or is so perceived by any of the other senses, then, as we were saying in the case of fingers, it wouldn’t draw the soul towards being. But if something opposite to it is always seen at the same time, so that nothing is apparently any more one that the opposite of one, then something would be needed to judge the matter. The soul would then be puzzled, would look for an answer, would stir up its understanding (ennoia), and would ask what the one itself is. And so this would be among the subjects that led the soul and turn it around towards the study of that which is.
I'm puzzled about the phrase: κινοῦσα ἐν ἑαυτῇ τὴν ἔννοιαν at 524e5 (Slings).

As far as I can tell, it's the only use of the noun ἔννοια in the dialogue.  (The verb is quite common.  See e.g. 525c8.)  My first question is: is ἔννοια here a cognitive faculty or capacity?  Or is it some kind of cognitive content held in the soul?  If the former, then it is perhaps like the references to how various things summon dianoia or call upon and awaken noēsis (e.g. 523d8-9).  (This is how Griffith translates κινοῦσα ἐν ἑαυτῇ τὴν ἔννοιαν: 'It would arouse the capacity for reflection in itself...')  In effect, the point would be that the soul stirring up the ennoia in it just is the soul calling upon its intellectual abilities to puzzle over the question of what the one is.  If the latter, then perhaps the soul asking what the one is involves the soul stirring up from within itself its ennoia of just that; it involves the stirring up of some cognitive content that answers or will help to answer the question of what the one is.  Here the ennoia is the content of some kind of understanding and not the faculty by which we might hope to come to understand something.  Any help out there with this one?  I agree that the latter option would perhaps by the more surprising.  It might even be a hint of the idea of some kind of innate understanding in every human soul: not a particularly unPlatonic idea, of course, but not something much emphasised in the Republic. And for that reason the former option is probably right.  But it remains a little peculiar for Socrates to drop a new term in here when he has in the immediate context happily been using noēsis and sometimes logismos to do the same job.

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