Plato's Republic

what those who look with dull eyes see, rather than those who examine things more keenly." Those who examine things more keenly see fewer things, but for that reason they see what is essential and simple. They do not lose themselves in a sheer variety that has no essence. Dull eyes see an incalculable multiplicity of sundry particular bedframes. Keen eyes see something else, even—and especially—when they linger upon one single bedframe at hand. For dull eyes the many always amounts to "a whole bunch," understood as "quite a lot," hence as abundance. In contrast, for keen eyes the simple is simplified. In such simplification, essential plurality originates. That means: the first (one), produced by the god, (the pure) one-and-the-same outward appearance, the Idea; the second, what is manufactured by the carpenter; the third, what the painter conjures in images. What is simple is named in the word κλίνη. But τριτταί τινες κλῖναι αὗται γίγνονται (597 b). We must translate: "In a certain way, a first, a second, and a third bedframe have resulted here." μία μὲν ἡ ἐν τῇ φύσει οὖσα, "for what is being in nature is one. "We notice that the translation does not succeed. What is φύσις, "nature," supposed to mean here? No bedframes appear in nature; they do not grow as trees and bushes do. Surely φύσις still means emergence for Plato, [184] as it does primarily for the first beginnings of Greek philosophy, emergence in the way a rose emerges, unfolding itself and showing itself out of itself. But what we call "nature," the countryside, nature out-of-doors, is only a specially delineated sector of nature or φύσις in the essential sense: that which of itself unfolds itself in presencing. Φύσις is the primordial Greek grounding word for Being itself, in the sense of the presence that emerges of itself and so holds sway.

ἡ ἐν τῇ φύσει οὖσα, the bedframe "which is in nature," means that what is essential in pure Being, as present of itself, in other words, what emerges by itself, stands in opposition to what is pro-duced only by something else. ἡ φύσει κλίνη: what pro-duces itself as such, without mediation, by itself, in its pure outward appearance. What presences in this way is the purely, straightforwardly envisioned εἶδος, which is not seen by virtue of any medium, hence the ἰδέα. That such a thing lights up, emerges, φύει, no man can bring about. Man cannot produce