Spoken wisdom – the created organism – has a father. But what is a father?
Do we know? If we know, should we classify spoken wisdom as belonging to a father? Does this not confuse the matter? Does it not grant spoken wisdom attributes beyond reasonability?
But the father is not the real father of spoken wisdom. How can we distinguish a father/son relationship from a cause/effect, if not through spoken wisdom? Only speech can have a father. A father is always a father to a living being. What I am trying to say is that it is impossible to understand fatherhood without spoken wisdom. The term ‘father’ receives greater meaning from the term ‘spoken wisdom’ than vice versa. A father and a son are presented to us and relate to one another within the domain of spoken wisdom. Although we may think it, one cannot escape from this domain even when transported – via metaphor – to a place where one can meet fathers, sons, and other creatures which help explain what spoken wisdom is. ‘Father of spoken wisdom’ is by no means a simple metaphor. To make a simple metaphor, one would need to believe that a creature which cannot speak nonetheless has a father. This is, of course, attempting to reverse metaphorical directions so that we no longer ask whether spoken wisdom can have a father, but understand that what the father says he is the father of cannot exist without spoken wisdom.
What does it mean to say that spoken wisdom is indebted to a father?
Fathers, at least insofar as we are discussing them here, are good. A father is a leader, capital, resources. This is what is meant by the term ‘father’, and it provides considerable and unexpected complexity to our understanding. This is why Socrates suggests replacing good with good’s son:
‘Let us dismiss the notion of good,’ he says, ‘for I will not speak of it. But I will speak of its son, if you wish, or else we can drop the matter.’
To which we all replied: ‘Speak on, you can pay us with the story of good another time.’
‘I wish I could give you the payment,’ Socrates replied, ‘and not the interest. But anyway, take the interest and the son of good.’
Interest (here associated with the son of good) signifies both production and product, or to put it another way, birth and child. The term ‘son of good’ operates within the domain of agriculture, family, business. None of these domains – as we shall see – lie outside the domain of spoken wisdom.
Interest is a child, the brood, the fruits of seed sewn in a field, and the interest on an investment. Interest is a return.
It is impossible to speak simply or directly of a father, of good, of the origin of value and of living beings. To attempt to do so is like attempting to look directly at the sun – one will be bedazzled by the face one is directed towards. Says Socrates, who evokes the visible sun, the son who resembles his father: ‘When I spoke earlier of the son of good, of the being created in the image of good, I meant the sun. The visible sun has the same relation to vision and visible things as intelligent good does to intelligence and intelligible things.’
But how does spoken wisdom intercede between the father and the son?
The good is the origin of all entities, responsible for their creation and their relations with spoken wisdom, which both assembles and distinguishes them. As Socrates points out: ‘We say that beautiful things or good things are, and define them thus in our speech.’
Hence, the good – by which we mean father, sun, and capital – is the hidden, illuminating, bedazzling source of spoken wisdom. And because one cannot speak of that which permits us to speak (as we are forbidden to speak of it or to it) one will speak only of that which speaks and of that which one is speaking of. And further, because it is impossible to explain what spoken wisdom is accountable to, because capital cannot be counted and the chief cannot be looked directly in the eye, it is necessary to count up all interests, all returns, all products, all offspring. Remember, Socrates said: ‘I wish I could give you payment,’ he said, ‘and not the interest. But anyway, take the interest and the son of good.’
But we should also remember that he added: ‘Be careful, lest I deceive you with a false reckoning.’ Yes, we should remember that with all the good, Socrates also introduces the possibility of that which is falsified, adulterated, corrupted, deceptive, mendacious. ‘Be careful,’ he says, ‘lest I deceive you with a false reckoning.’
This recourse to spoken wisdom – which is brought about through fear of the face of the father, good, capital, the origin of being, the form of forms, and so forth – is a recourse to protection. Socrates proposes: ‘I thought that because I failed to understand true existence, I should be careful not to lose the eye of my soul. You know it is possible to injure your bodily eyes looking at the sun during an eclipse – so in my own case, I was afraid that my soul would be blinded if I looked at certain things. I figured it better to have recourse to the world of spoken wisdom and then seek the truth of things. In each case, I based myself on the spoken wisdom which I judged strongest…’
Hence, spoken wisdom is a resource. One must not only turn to it when the sun shines and threatens to burn out our eyes, one must turn away from the sun during an eclipse, when the star – dead, extinguished, or hidden – is more dangerous than ever.
Now it is time to let these yarns of suns and sons spin. We have moved from spoken wisdom to the father. We have beheld the master, the lord, the good-sun-capital-father. Later, within this same tissue, we will pull on the same strings, and witness the weaving or unravelling of other designs.