2011년 10월 8일 토요일

In search of: our basest beggars are in the poorest thing superfluous.

자료 1: rhymezone.com /
Shakespeare > Tragedies > King Lear 
> Act II, scene IV


(...)

KING LEAR: Those wicked creatures yet do look well-favour'd,
When others are more wicked: not being the worst
Stands in some rank of praise.

[To GONERIL]

        I'll go with thee:
Thy fifty yet doth double five and twenty,
And thou art twice her love.

GONERIL: Hear me, my lord;
What need you five and twenty, ten, or five,
To follow in a house where twice so many
Have a command to tend you?

REGAN: What need one?

KING LEAR: O, reason not the need: our basest beggars
Are in the poorest thing superfluous:
Allow not nature more than nature needs,
Man's life's as cheap as beast's: thou art a lady;
If only to go warm were gorgeous,
Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear'st,
Which scarcely keeps thee warm. But, for true need,--
You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need!
You see me here, you gods, a poor old man,
As full of grief as age; wretched in both!
If it be you that stir these daughters' hearts
Against their father, fool me not so much
To bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger,
And let not women's weapons, water-drops,
Stain my man's cheeks! No, you unnatural hags,
I will have such revenges on you both,
That all the world shall--I will do such things,--
What they are, yet I know not: but they shall be
The terrors of the earth. You think I'll weep
No, I'll not weep:
I have full cause of weeping; but this heart
Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws,
Or ere I'll weep. O fool, I shall go mad!

(...)

자료 2: http://www.iep.utm.edu/aris-met/
출처: Aristotle: Metaphysics (in Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

(...) 

2. Translating Aristotle

Then we shall not hesitate to take whatever light we can find in the dialogues and shine it on Aristotle’s text at least to see if anything comes into the light. And this brings me to a third assumption: the English word substance is of no help in understanding Aristotle’s word ousia. The central question of the Metaphysics is, What is ousia? Aristotle claims that it is the same as the question, What is being? and that it is in fact the question everyone who has ever done any philosophy or physics has been asking. Since we do not share Aristotle’s language we cannot know what claim he is making until we find a way to translate ousia. The translators give us the word substance only because earlier translators and commentators did so, while they in turn did so because still earlier translators into Latin rendered it assubstantia. Early modern philosophy, in all the European languages, is full of discussions of substance which stem from Latin versions of Aristotle. Though oral traditions keep meanings alive this written tradition has buried Aristotle’s meaning irretrievably. We must ignore it, and take our access to the meaning of ousia from Plato’s use of it, but before we do so a quick look at where the word substance came from may help us bury it.

The earliest Latin translations of Aristotle tried a number of ways of translating ousia, but by the fourth century AD, when St. Augustine lived, only two remained in use: essentia was made as a formal parallel to ousia, from the feminine singular participle of the verb to be plus an abstract noun ending, so that the whole would be roughly equivalent to an English translation being-ness; the second translation, substantia, was an attempt to get closer to ousia by interpreting Aristotle’s use of it as something like “persisting substratum”.
  • Augustine, who had no interest in interpreting Aristotle, thought that, while everything in the world possesses substantia, a persisting underlying identity, the fullness of being suggested by the word essentia could belong to no created thing but only to their creator
  • Aristotle, who is quite explicit on the point that creation is impossible, believed no such thing, and Augustine didn’t think he did. 
But Augustine’s own thinking offered a consistent way to distinguish two Latin words whose use had become muddled. Boethius, in his commentaries on Aristotle, followed Augustine’s lead, and hence always translated ousia as substantia, and his usage seems to have settled the matter. And so a word designed by the anti-Aristotelian Augustine to mean a low and empty sort of being turns up in our translations of the word whose meaning Aristotle took to be the highest and fullest sense of being. Descartes, in his Meditations, uses the word substance only with his tongue in his cheek; Locke explicitly analyzes it as an empty notion of an I-don’t-know-what; and soon after the word is laughed out of the vocabulary of serious philosophic endeavor. It is no wonder that the Metaphysics ceased to have any influence on living thinking: its heart had been cut out of it by its friends.

3. The Meaning of Ousia (Being) in Plato

What does ousia mean? It is already a quirky, idiomatic word in ordinary use when Plato gets hold of it. By a quirk of our own language one may say indeed that it means substance, but only, I repeat only, in the sense in which a rich man is called a man of substance. You may safely allow your daughter to marry him because you know where he will be and what he will be doing tomorrow and twenty years from now.Ousia meant permanent property, real estate, non-transferable goods: not the possessions we are always using up or consuming but those that remain–land, houses, wealth of the kind one never spends since it breeds new wealth with no expense of itself. When Socrates asks Meno for the ousia of the bee he is not using a technical philosophical term but a metaphor: what is the estate of a bee that each one inherits simply by being born a bee? A man of substance who has permanent wealth is who he is because of what he owns. A bee is to his permanent and his variable characteristics as a man is to his permanent and his spendable wealth. The metaphor takes a second step when applied to virtue: the varying instances of virtue in a man, a woman, a slave, and the rest must all have some unvarying core which makes them virtues. (...)


The word ousia, as Plato’s Socrates handles it, seems to be a double-edged weapon. It explicitly rejects Meno’s way of saying what virtue is, but implicitly suggests that the obvious alternative may fail as well. If virtue is not simply a meaningless label used ambiguously for many unconnected things, that does not mean that it must unambiguously name the same content in each of the things it names. Since ousia is our metaphor, let us ask what wealth means. If a poor man has a hut and a cow and some stored-up food, are they his wealth? He is certainly not wealthy. On the other hand, King Lear says that “our basest beggars Are in poorest thing superfluous”; no human life is cut so fine as to lack anything beyond what satisfies bare need. The beggar, like the family on welfare, does not have the means to satisfy need, but need not for that reason forego those possessions which give life comfort or continuity. His wealth is derived from the wealth of others. The small farmer may maintain something of the independence a wealthy man enjoys, but one bad year could wipe him out. He will either accumulate enough to become wealthy himself, or his life will remain a small-scale analogy to that of the wealthy. Wealth means, first of all, only that which a few people have and the rest of us lack, but because it means that, it also, at the same time, means secondarily something that all of us possess. There is an ambiguity at work in the meaning of the word “wealth” which is not a matter of a faulty vocabulary and not a matter of language at all: it expresses the way things are. Wealth of various kinds exists by derivation from and analogy to wealth in the emphatic sense. Indeed Meno, who spontaneously defines virtue by listing virtues, is equally strongly inclined to say that the power to rule over men and possessions is the only virtue there is. He cannot resolve the logical difficulties Socrates raises about his answers, but they are all resolvable. Meno in fact believes that virtue is ousia in its simple sense of big money, and that women, children, and slaves can only have virtue derivatively and ambiguously. Socrates’ question is one of those infuriatingly ironic games he is always playing. The ousia of virtue, according to Meno and Gorgias, is ousia. (...)

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