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2 - The Place and Scope of Participation in the Divine in the Thought of Plato and Aristotle

from Part I - Embodiment and Participation in the Divine

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 October 2023

Kevin Corrigan
Affiliation:
Emory University, Atlanta
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Summary

The Platonic quest has often been characterized by a famous passage from the Theaetetus: “we ought to try to flee from here to there [the seat of the gods] and flight is to become like God, as far as this is possible” (176a–b). Yet, according to Socrates in the Phaedrus, the dilemma is that Socrates does not know whether he is “really a beast more complex and violent than Typhon … or a simpler animal, participating by nature in some divine, non-typhonic portion” (230a: θείας τινὸς καὶ ἀτύφου μοίρας φύσει μετέχον). In short, “I am not yet capable … of knowing myself”; Participation in some divine portion, allotment, or destiny – different possible translations of μοίρα – is therefore a major question of all the dialogues, and yet “participation” itself seems such a colorless word, more suited to committee work than to the central quest of any human life. What could it mean to have a “part” of something divine?

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A Less Familiar Plato
From Phaedo to Philebus
, pp. 49 - 92
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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