Participation

That Plato describes the concept at the center of his thought as participation is particularly apt.

Participation belongs to some multitude, but cannot be accounted for by calling on the resources of that multitude. The first baseman doesn’t participate in the catcher, other basemen, and fielders, nor does he participate in all of these and himself. To say that he participates on the team – as he does – is to introduce a source of unity that is both separable and inseparable from the members in interesting ways.

To articulate the likeness and difference between this source of unity and the members it unifies is one of Platonism’s central tasks, and its failure to do this adequately is the main source for its dismissal. The relation of all the players to each other needs to be both compared and contrasted to the relation they have to the team.

If participation is to work at all it needs to work as an account of becoming. Plato seems to be on solid ground when he sees form or logos needing to come first and serve as the means for gathering elements into a unity. One has to decide what sort of team he wants to form before he can know which player to pick. In fact the need for form is deeper than this, since even in order for random combinations to be anything requires that some sort of logos by which they can be identified. You can only know that the monkeys at the keyboards have succeeded in typing Shakespeare if you already have a copy of his work.

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