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Read the passage and write an essay on DIALOGUE and DIALECTICS indicating in what manner the Greek and Judaic traditions have shaped the Western philosophical understanding and application of these two seminal concepts. Also, examine the following statement in Platos Seventh Letter and explain what he is trying to communicate when he discloses that beyond the dialectic of conceptual thought, there is a sort of revelation that could be achieved only through a turning, or conversion, of the soul. In your view and in the light of what you understand as the principle of dialectics and the process of dialogue, what do you think is Plato saying when he confesses that [t]here is no writing of mine about these matters, nor will there ever be one. For this knowledge is not something that can be put into words like other sciences; but after long-continued intercourse between teacher and pupil, in joint pursuit of the subject, suddenly, like light flashing forth when a fire is kindled, it is born in the soul and straightaway nourishes itself. Suggested word limit: 800 words.
The roots of Western philosophical understanding have often been dated back to the Greek philosophical traditions and the Judaic modes of understanding. In a sense, much of the essence of Western philosophy is indebted to the early Greek stances. The discipline of Western philosophy marks a convergence of these two modes of enquiry. In a sense, both these traditions have been used time and again as models for education, and inspiration for philosophical stances. Essentially speaking, the point of coincidence between the Judaic and the Socratic dialectic (if Socrates be considered as the beginning of an era on Greek philosophy) is the importance given to rigorous arguments in the quest for a solution, rather than the solution itself. If one adheres to Platos reading of the Socratic dialogues, the aim of the Socratic dialectic is to create retrospection of the originally held stances of the interlocutor, where the ultimate end of the dialectic was to expose the lacunae created by unacceptable hidden assumptions in the interlocutor. The Socratic dialectic revolves around an elenchus (testing) of the depths of ones knowledge. Hence, the modes of examination in dialogues like Charmides, Meno, Laches, Protagoras, have often been termed as aporetic. That is, instead of providing a way (poros) to solution, it led to stimulus of frustration. The Talmudic framework, on the other hand, is quintessentially dialectic, marked by the reign of reason of rationality. The dialectics progress on a basis of rational give-and-take of ideas, resulting in a multitude of ideas leading to an indeterminate solution. The argument goes in a linear manner unfolding a labyrinth of infinite perspectives to a given problem. Here lies a striking resemblance with the Socratic tradition, where the dialectic results in deeper retrospection of the problem, and where the quest for the solution holds greater importance than the solution itself. The Bavli tradition, for example, has constant reference on the power of the intellect to purify and refine. For the sages of the Bavli, there was nothing beyond the power of rational and systematic inquiry, tenacious criticism, the exchange of a reason for opinion rather than the opinion itself, argument, and evidence. There was an attempt of concocting social crtiticism with intellect, that would result in service of the social order. The Bavli tradition, quite in concurrence

with its Greek counterpart, was about an unflinching search for plausible examples leading to a rational world order. Technically speaking, the two traditions differed in the issues they dealt with. While the Talmudic traditions dealt with cases and laws, its Greek counterpart dealt with abstract notions of beauty and justice. But their essential convergence took place in their modes of dealing with these issues. The fact that most of the later philosophical traditions in the Western world borrowed their essence, remains uncontested. Rationality and reason formed the base of most philosophical traditions that have emerged thereafter. The sudden revival of reason during the period of Enlightenment, can actually be considered as an adherence to these ancient traditions and their unflinching thirst for reason.

Platos statement in The Seventh Letter echoes with the subjectivity that characterises the discipline of philosophy. Unlike other forms of sciences, which mostly depend on the extraction of information, the discipline of philosophy demands a deep connection with the soul. It does not mean mere exchange of information. Like Socrates opined, he was not a teacher who transferred information to his students. Rather, he acted as a medium between the interlocutor and his inner conflicts, of which he was oblivious about. The discipline of Philosophy revolves around a world, where problems do not have definite solutions. But it is through the quest for the plausible solutions, where the teacher and the student get engrossed in equal perplexities, hence creating a rupture in the soul. It is this rupture that forms the basis of enlightenment. The soul is never the same again. It is struck by that sudden enlightenment, which is not created by knowledge, but rather, the lacunae in ones knowledge. This enlightenment has been compared by Plato with the sudden light that flashes when a fire is kindled. This sudden rupture, a gap in the consciousness, is like a permanent scar on the soul, which gets nourished in the future by further pursuit.

2. Write in your own words what Platos portraiture of the human condition through the Allegory of the Cave. Discuss the significant aspects of Simone Weils reflections on Platos allegory. Suggested word limit: 500 words

Platos Allegory of The Cave depicts a human condition that is marked by its eternal denial of truth. He represents the world as a cave, that is enmeshed in the darkness created due to the refusal of the soul to look in the eye of the truth. The darkness is created not due to ignorance. But because of the turning back of the soul towards knowledge. The truth perceived by the people in the cave is merely in the form of shadows. One does not have an encounter with the self. Because that darkness does not allow perception of the self beyond the shadows. The sudden ascend of the human beings of the cave towards

light, represents the encounter one has with knowledge in its highest form. Sudden encounter with light after prolonged darkness causes disquiet to the eyes. Similarly, the sudden encounter with knowledge dazzles the eye of the soul, that had remained enclosed within the prolonged darkness created by the shadows of images. It takes time and persistence for the soul to be accustomed to this bedazzlement. This persistence would eventually lead the mind to see truth as it is, rather than perceiving it just as mere reflection. The journey of the man upwards, according to Plato, is the ascent of the soul towards intellectual world. He also points out that at the apogee of every form of truth, there lies an eternal sense of good. This apogee can be reached only after one penetrates all layers of ignorance. This comes across as the source of all that is rational, beautiful and just. The capacity of learning and reaching out for absolute truth exists within the soul. It cannot be transferred mechanically by a teacher. It just needs to be nourished and put in the right direction. This idea basically forms the eternal mantra of all that Plato basically talks about. In the Allegory, we find resonance of the Talmudic traditions, where they talk about the disciplines of the mind in the service of society. He talks about the people who have ascended the cave and achieved enlightenment as the ones who should come back to the cave and engage in its service. Because he has faced the light and perceived the highest form of truth. Hence, he has the power to see through the shadows of the cave that create the darkness. This forms an allegory for the men who achieve true wisdom to associate themselves with the affairs of the state. This association finds its fruitfulness only when it does not get concocted by the lust for power. In Simon Weils view, the learned of the cave are those who hold knowledge in the empirical forms, but their knowledge lacks depth and oscillates between shadows. In the society depicted by the Allegory, education is all about implanting knowledge without any form of introspection. Which stands as a contradiction to Platos idea of the innate ability to acquire knowledge. The mat hematical minds of the cave are engaged in the petty politics of honour and competition. The darkness caused in the cave is not due to ignorance, but due to the souls inability to turn itself towards knowledge. In Weils view, proper education means turning of the soul in the direction from which it can look at things from all perspectives. The essence of Platos morality, according to Weil, is to engage in an intercourse with the self, so deep, that one does only those things that the self is willing to do. And not the ones where one has to force the self. Incapability of understanding should be dealt, not with denial, but by nurturing the soul in the proper direction. The wise of the cave who have reached the apogee of knowledge, must go back to the cave and act. It is only when the power remains in the hands of those who refuse it, that it gets best utilised. Weil concludes by talking about Platos quest of finding out the forms of knowledge that would enhance the process of transition. And it is certainly a form of knowledge higher than Geometry, Music, or other sciences. For, the ones who devote themselves to these disciplines, grasp reality in a dream-induced state. But Plato does not disclose what this higher form of knowledge is. He leaves it at the requisite qualities of the dialectician.