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Μονάς and ψυχή in the Phaedo

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The paper analyzes the final proof with Greek mathematics and the possibility of intermediates in the Phaedo. The final proof in Plato’s Phaedo depends on a claim at 105c6, that μονάς, ‘unit’, generates περιττός ‘odd’ in number. So, ψυχή ‘soul’ generates ζωή ‘life’ in a body, at 105c10-11. Yet commentators disagree how to understand these mathematical terms and their relation to the soul in Plato’s arguments. The Greek mathematicians understood odd numbers in one of two ways: either that which is not divisible into two equal parts, or that which differs from an even number by a unit. (Euclid VII.7) Plato uses the second way in the final proof. This paper argues that a proper understanding of these mathematical terms within Greek mathematics shows that the argument for the final proof is better than previously thought. Such an interpretation of the final proof lends credence to Platonic intermediates.


PLATO JOURNAL: The Journal Of The International Plato Society






College of Arts and Sciences

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.