In the Phaedrus Plato objects to writing at all, ironically because it can say only one thing and therefore cannot engage in dialectic to find truth. Only the "mind of the learner, which is able to defend itself and knows to whom it should speak, and before whom to be silent" can produce valid language because "if Lysias or anyone else ever wrote or ever shall write, in private, or in public as laawgive, a political document, and in writing it believes that it possesses great certainty and clearness, then it is a disgrace to the writer, whether anyone says so, or not."
Socrates believes in absolute truth but it cannot be inscribed in writing, only in "the living and breathing word of him who knows,"--that is, in spoken dialogue where meaning is explored, not fixed.
>>> Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]> 04/01/08 12:31 PM >>>
Ken Armstrong wrote:
> Although you are putting Gish-ian assumptions into Eliot's mouth, nothing
> here contradicts Eliot's assertion that a poem has absolute meaning.
Please quote your source here. If Eliot really said that, Eliot was a
fool, which I doubt. Possibly Plato really believed some such nonsense,
but I doubt it, since it is not even possible to make the statement, "A
poem has absolute meaning" without the literal non-sense of the concept.
Any attempt to make the claim collapses into incoherence.
I really don't know of any serious thinker (again with the possible
exception of Plato) who ever thought or claimed that any text, any
assertion, could have an absolute meaning. So it is certainly not
"Gish-ism" we are dealing with her4e.