In the first post, the idea of ‘form’ (also called a ‘look’) was introduced. A ‘look’ or ‘form’ was described as a dual entity:
◊ one which makes something what it is (the look of a bee is what makes a bee a bee)
◊ and it is that which allows us to recognize what a thing is; we recognize a bee because it looks like one (or shares in the look of a bee)
This reflected in our ordinary language. “He has the look of a Russian.” “That dog has the look of a wolf.” “She has a look of dignity.”
To understand this way of thinking better, we can consider the nature of an image. One might possess a portrait of one’s father. Someone who asks about the portrait might receive the very natural response: “this is my father.”
What a remarkable response.
The explanation has the structure of strict predication rather than that of metaphor. It is not a comparison of two unlikes. Rather, it is claimed that the image is the father. Now, most will understand by “this is my father,” that the speaker refers to the portrait as an image and not as a thing in itself.
The parchment, the drawing, the photograph is most certainly not the father. But that we use and understand this mode of speaking is significant.
The images is the image of the father. It is not metaphorically like (at least not in the ordinary sense) but is like simply. So much so that we could say of the portrait that it was made in the image or look of the father. It was by reference to and imitation of the father that the image took shape. Thus the portrait was made in the father:
◊ in reference to (intellectually/formally)
◊ through the agency of the original as providing a pattern and inspiration
Thus, when the son beholds the portrait, he experiences a kind of double vision. He recognizes the portrait as but a portrait and simultaneously sees his father. He sees the portrait most rightly by reference to the original. The image reminds him of the father, Even as his father, in a much deeper way, informs his experience of the image.
But can’t we all experience this double vision without knowing the original? After all, show anyone a portrait of that man and they will recognize it as such, as a portrait of a man.
Certainly, someone who never knew the father can recognize the image as an image of a human being, but one who never saw a human being before could not do so. It is only by reference to originals that images can be known!
This reality is implied in the term ‘recognize’, for to re-cognize, is to re know that which was already known before.
We can gather from this that in at least certain acts of knowing, we experience a kind of double vision in which we know what is before us by means of what we have known before. We see the image through, in and with the original.
But how often does this happen? For Plato this was the structure of all looking and knowledge, but is this truly the case?
To what extent, if at all, is every vision dual in this manner?
(to be continued…) ∴
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