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Thursday, November 20, 2014

What Happens When You Revert Back to an Old Social Regulator?

The Hippolytus/Phaedra myth relies on the movement from a common social regulator to a new social regulator, then a reversal to the common social regulator to trigger the tragic action.

In Euripides' version, Phaedra, who is in a shame culture, feels guilt about her feelings for Hippolytus. When she confesses (from feeling guilt) and then in turn feels shame from people knowing how she feels about Hippolytus, she writes the letter making the false accusation against Hippolytus and hangs herself.

In Seneca's version, Phaedra feels guilt about her feelings for Hippolytus, but then is encouraged by the Nurse to take responsibility for her feelings and actions. When, prodded by the Nurse, Phaedra denies responsibility by accusing Hippolytus, Theseus has him killed.When she returns to feeling guilt, she kills herself.

In Racine's version, Phaedra feels guilt about her feelings for Hippolytus because she wants to abide by the law of Theseus. Hippolytus equally feels guilt for his feelings for Aricia. When everyone thinks Theseus dead, the law is lifted, the reason for guilt is gone, and everyone enters into a responsibility culture. When Theseus returns, the law returns, and thus guilt returns. Hippolytus is killed and Phaedra kills herself.

In Robinson Jeffers' version, Phaedra feels responsible for her feelings. She develops feelings of collective guilt, causing her to waver between blaming and defending Hippolytus. Hippolytus argues she ought to take responsibility for her actions. She punishes Hippolytus for being a gay man who, by his nature, could never have a relationship with her. She then takes responsibility for having done so, and kills herself.

Each warns that we should not move backwards, but embrace the emergent social regulator.

We can see this in contemporary American culture. We are currently in a collective guilt culture; all of our institutions are controlled by people with this mentality -- egalitarian leftists and neoconservatives. They deny that anyone has or should have responsibility, and their bureaucratic institutions help ensure few people are held responsible for their actions. Social pressure of various kinds are the primary way our social actions are controlled -- accusing people of being racist, sexist, homophobic, privileged, etc. -- but the law is also there to help. Collective guilt is a kind of guilt, so we should not be surprised if we find those in the collective guilt culture working with those in the guilt culture within a society against the same things, even if they are for different reasons.

A great example of this is the art world, which is beginning to feel the "conservative" pressures of the collective guilt left. Those in the collective guilt culture hate the same art as those in the guilt culture, but for different reasons.

Those who believe in responsibility are mostly left yelling at the wind that people ought to be responsible for what they do. They are left acting in virtuous ways that nobody respects.

There are also shame cultures in the majority culture. Our prisons are full of people from our shame subcultures. That is because shame is in a real sense pre-law; the laws mean nothing to them, but rather how people think of them. And nobody particularly cares if you break the law, so that's not going to shame them into good behavior.

Our society would be worse off if it retreated from where it is. But the article on art shows that collective guilt culture may have played itself out, now that it's eating its own. I personally cannot wait for the  natural principles culture to finally emerge.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

On the Varieties of Spontaneous Orders: From Cultures to Civil Societies and the Orders In Between

I have a chapter in Austrian Economic Perspectives on Individualism and Society: Moving Beyond Methodological Individualism: "On the Varieties of Spontaneous Orders: From Cultures to Civil Societies and the Orders In Between"

Organization Thinking vs. Systems Thinking in Emergent Psychologies

It occurred to me last night that the two tiers of Gravesean social psychological theory makes a pretty clear dividing line between hierarchical organization thinking (1st Tier) and scale-free network processes, or systems, thinking (2nd Tier). The 2nd Tier thus goes through all of the levels of the 1st Tier, but as a systems thinker rather than as a hierarchical thinker.

Most people want to turn our scale-free systems -- aka, spontaneous orders -- into hierarchical organizations; that is because most people have 1st Tier psychologies. 2nd Tier psychologies understand our social systems are exactly that -- systems. And they understand that hierarchical organizations are components of those systems.

More, we can see an evolution of the kinds of organizations that develop over time based on one's psychological level. Let me use business structures as an example:

Tribalist/familial level -- family-owned business/cottage industries

Heroic/Power level -- single proprietorships/small businesses with strong boss

Authoritative level -- larger, more hierarchical businesses/mercantilist businesses

Entrepreneurial level -- Entrepreneurial businesses/creativity-driven businesses/rapid-growth businesses

Egalitarian level -- Bureaucratic corporations/shareholder corporations

We are in the last social stage in our economy here in the U.S. Such businesses are typified by the presence of huge bureaucracies and dissipated ownership through shareholders, which ensures that nobody is responsible for anything that happens in the business. The result is businesses which exhibit behaviors similar to sociopaths. These are also your megacorporations, which tend to have maximum decentralization for an organization. Entrepreneurial businesses are the more creative kinds of large businesses -- having enough capital to engage in major innovations. Google and Apple are primarily entrepreneurial businesses. Authoritative businesses have gotten large enough to become local/state-wide rent-seekers. They seek protectionist measures to solidify their business and protect themselves from competition. Single proprietorships or small businesses are the most common nowadays (beyond the family-owned/cottage industries, which have mostly been regulated out of business). Just about every business starts off as a family business or a single-proprietor small business; those that survive and grow become mercantilist businesses; those that survive and grow become entrepreneurial businesses; those that survive and grow become bureaucratic shareholder corporations. 

The emergence of the Egalitarian level style of corporate structure, being large and a kind of decentralized hierarchical structure, means many confuse it with the spontaneous order of the market itself. This is the origin of central planning schemes, corporatist governance, and various attempts to fuse corporate structure, government, and the economy into a single whole. All forms of socialism are attempts to impose corporate hierarchical structures onto the scale free network structures of the spontaneous orders. Anyone who confuses hierarchical organization and spontaneous order is a 1st Tier psychology, since to a certain degree the spontaneous orders cannot really be "seen".

With the emergence of 2nd Tier psychologies, there is an understanding that our social systems are spontaneous orders. The first level -- the integrationist level -- is just concerned with trying to figure out how to ensure the survival of the various spontaneous orders, and personal survival within them. The second level -- the holistic level -- is concerned with developing his/her spontaneous order family. That family may be the market order, the monetary order, the artistic orders, the philosophical order, the religious order, etc.

In fact, one can probably figure out what each of the 2nd Tier levels ought to be concerned with given the understanding that the two levels map on each other, with the 1st seeing the world as hierarchical organizations and the 2nd seeing the world as spontaneous orders.

Survival level -- mere survival  : Integrationist level -- systems survival

Tribal level -- family business   : Holistic level -- health of the different systems, esp. one's preferred system

Power level -- small business   : Control level -- trying to control system structures

Authoritative level -- mercantilist business : Law level -- understanding the laws of complex systems

Entrepreneurial level -- creative business  : Creative level -- trying to create new systems

Egalitarian level -- bureaucratic business  : Civil level -- global civil society as non-hierarchical integration and interactions among the different spontaneous orders and civil societies

In current Gravesean theory, only Integrationist and Holistic have been officially named. I am making up names for the next four in parallel with how they ought to develop if they are going to parallel the 1st Tier.

This suggests that people through the 2nd Tier will mostly concern themselves with understanding and developing their own pet spontaneous orders and think that order to be the most important one. This will likely differ from culture to culture. But in the end, we will come to understand these orders are all of equal importance to the full development of not just the human being, but of the systems themselves, both individually and as parts of healthy global civil society.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Robinson Jeffers' The Cretan Woman: A Tragedy of the Transition from Responsibility Culture to Collective Guilt Culture

Robinson Jeffers' play The Cretan Woman is a Phaedra/Hippolytus tragedy involving the transition from a responsibility culture to a guilt culture. In order for this transition to be staged, we should expect to see attributions of the way people behave to their group membership, with a correlative reduction of the importance of the individual. At the same time, there needs to be a conflict between individualistic responsibility culture and collectivist collective guilt culture. And these are exactly what we see in Jeffers' play.

First, note the title of the play. Euripides' play is titled Hippolytus. Seneca's is Phaedra; Racine's is Phedre. That is, all three have plays named after a character in the play. But Jeffers titles his The Cretan Woman. What does this imply? That any Cretan woman would do? Perhaps.

In Jeffers' play, Phaedra is constantly talking about how she cannot help how she feels and behaves because she is, after all, a Cretan. She makes the argument that Cretans are more civilized than the Greeks, but we can see that her behaviors suggest that at best the Cretans and the Greeks, as different as they may be, are really quite equally balanced between good and bad traits. Still, Phaedra goes on to talk about the nature of the Greeks, and in her descriptions of Theseus, one can only come a way with the image of Theseus as the typical Greek. This perhaps implies that any Greek man would do in Theseus' place.

Then, there is the introduction by Jeffers of the idea that Hippolytus is gay. Thus, his aversion to women lies neither in religious beliefs nor in his philosophy/ideology nor even in his racial aversion to members of the opposite sex (which he is said to feel, in Seneca's version, because he is an Amazon), but rather from his homosexuality. Thus Jeffers gets us away from race as nature in explaining Hippolytus' aversion to women, and brings it around to a more biological explanation.

Phaedra's discussion of the nature of Cretan and Greek (and Egyptian) societies is cultural rather than racial in nature. Thus, the Greeks, Cretans, and Egyptians are socially constructed -- this is the quality of their "nature."

Viewed from a group/collective standpoint, we do not have to have Phaedra, Theseus, and Hippolytus specifically -- any Cretan woman, Greek man, and homosexual man would do to have the story. It is inherent in those people to behave as they behave. Cretan women are naturally overly-passionate; Greek men are naturally brutish; gay men are naturally sexually uninterested in the opposite sex.

But where Phaedra insists on these cultural/group identifications, Hippolytus insists that one can, nevertheless, be responsible for one's actions. He insists that she be responsible for her actions, but Phaedra ends up condemning Hippolytus for being guilty of being a gay man who, because of his inherent nature, is uninterested in her. Only after she manages to infuriate Theseus to the point that he is willing to kill Hippolytus -- and does -- does she feel responsible for her actions. After Theseus kills Hippolytus, she berates him for killing his son. She then goes off and hangs herself. This suicide is a more dispassionate one than what we see in Racine or Seneca, where Phaedra immediately kills herself with a sword. She is still passionate, and in her immediate despondency, she kills herself. However, there is little passion in responsibility -- nor, for that matter, in refusing to take personal responsibility inherent in collective guilt. She both feels herself not responsible (as a Cretan woman), but cannot deny her responsibility in Hippolytus' death. Thus, she goes off, quietly and calmly, to hang herself.

Here, then, we see a tragedy of the transition from responsibility culture to collective guilt culture.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

An Intense World

My wife and I have created a blog and a Facebook page, both titled An Intense World. This is in reference to the Intense World Theory of autism, which seems to best describe Daniel's autism and my Asperger's. From here on out, all of my postings dealing directly with ASD will be at An Intense World. That will free up this blog to deal with most of my other interests, which are considerable in number. I hope everyone who has come here interested in my musings on autism will join us at the new blog.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Social Justice and Collective Guilt

F.A. Hayek once argued that "social justice" was a nonsense term and that he couldn't find anyone who could define it. Yet, the term has managed to stick with us over the decades. Where does it come from? What does it mean?

Social justice makes sense in light of the emergence of collective guilt as a social regulator and a certain idea of privilege associated with it. The dynamics is as follows:

Group A is privileged relative to Group B
The world is a zero sum game
Therefore, what Group A has was necessarily taken from Group B
Therefore, Group A should feel guilty about their privilege
And, equally, therefore, Group B deserves social justice from Group A
The idea of social justice necessarily emerges out of the emergence of collective guilt as a social regulator. It is no coincidence that the idea of social justice was developed by Marxist Catholic theologians. It is a different kind of thing from what one typically associates with "justice" when it is associated with either guilt cultures or responsibility cultures. These tend to be more individualistic in nature, even if there can be a collective component to some notions of justice within guilt culture.

The difference is that in guilt cultures, "our" group is just, but your group that threatens our law/principles is necessarily unjust. Keep in mind that the Inquisition was a court system designed to hand out justice. Within responsibility cultures, justice is always necessarily individualistic. You are responsible for your actions; others are not responsible for who you are and what you do; justice is thus related to your actions and your actions alone.

With the idea of collective guilt, you can actually make the argument that your own group is guilty and that therefore justice is owed other groups. It is still group-think and fundamentally tribalistic, but what is gone is the idea that one's own tribe is necessarily and by definition good while others' are bad. By breaking down the us-good/you-bad dichotomy (or, all too often, reversing it), one can develop the idea that other groups are being treated unfairly as groups by other groups as groups. Those groups which are being treated unjustly need some sort of reparation for the injustices they have suffered, while those engaging in the injustices ought to feel guilty, as a group, about those injustices.

But how does a group perpetuate injustice against another group? Through institutions. Now, it is certainly true that there are institutions within pretty much any given society/culture which privilege one group over another. Often by design (Jim Crow laws, minimum wages, anti-drug laws, etc.). While many who promote social justice argue in favor of redistribution, another option is institutional reform and/or the creation of new institutions. There is certainly something to be said about the kinds of criticism which arise out of the idea of social justice. This is why there are even libertarian arguments for social justice. But of course, the solutions are typically going to be different in nature.

Thus we can see that social justice is in fact a coherent idea. One just have to understand it in relation to the right social regulator. As a part of collective guilt culture, it makes perfect sense, even if it appears to be utter nonsense to responsibility cultures, guilt cultures, or shame cultures. Naturally, for those who are regulated by naturalistic principles, social justice is hardly nonsense, even if it is something which, through institutional reform, we can hope to move well beyond.

Racine's Phedre, the Law, and Liberty

This week we have been discussing Racine's Phedre, comparing it, of course, to Seneca's and Euripides' plays on the same myth.

In Euripides' play, Phaedra feels guilt, then shame at confessing her guilt, leading her to commit suicide and write a letter accusing Hippolytus of raping her in order to ensure her children won't be shamed by her actions. Shame is social, and it affects one's family.

In Seneca's play, Phaedra feels guilt, then takes responsibility for her feelings, leading her to telling Hippolytus how she feels. His answer to her angers her, she falsely accuses him of rape, and Hippolytus dies. She feels such guilt that she commits suicide.

In each of these cases, there is a retreat to an earlier social regulator, which results in Phaedra's suicide. Euripides' Phaedra is in a shame culture, but feels guilt; when she retreats to shame, she commits suicide and makes her false accusation. Seneca's Phaedra is in a guilt culture; her attempt to avoid responsibility results in her false accusation, and her overwhelming guilt causes her to commit suicide.

In Racine's play, Phedre feels guilt under the the law of Theseus. Indeed, the law of Theseus also prevents Hippolytus from acting on his own feelings toward Aricia (a love interest introduced by Racine). The law makes each feel guilty about who they love. When it is reported that Theseus is dead, the law is lifted, and Phedre and Hippolytus each pursue their interests. While Racine claimed that he gave Hippolytus a love interest to make him more flawed in relation to the law, I think most people would have been happy for Hippolytus to be free to pursue his love, especially given that she is clearly in love with him as well. Phedre is still in a problematic position in going after Hippolytus, but she is freer to do so given she is no longer his step-mother, given Theseus' death. Regardless, the removal of the law frees people, and they are willing to become the causes of their actions, following on their desires, making them responsible agents. However, Theseus is not dead, and his return brings back the law. Because of the return of the law (and the guilt that comes with it), Hippolyus is killed and Phedre commits suicide.

Here we have a situation in which the social regulator -- the law -- is removed in a quite literal way. With its removal, guilt disappears. With its return, guilt returns as well. The retreat to the older social regulator -- from responsibility for one's own actions to guilt in the face of the law -- triggers the tragic outcomes.

The variations on the Phaedra/Hippoytus myth are very revealing in regards to the nature of our social regulators. But while Senea's and Racine's version deal with the transition from guilt to responsibility culture, it is Racine's version that best demonstrates how this occurs.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Creative Genius is Crazy-Smart

Why aren't you a creative genius? Is it because you're not smart enough? Probably not. Perhaps you're not crazy enough. Probably not. Perhaps the problem is that you're neither smart nor crazy enough.

According to Dean Simonton, "The most important process underlying strokes of creative genius is cognitive disinhibition—the tendency to pay attention to things that normally should be ignored or filtered out by attention because they appear irrelevant." But that's hardly enough. This describes the mentally ill as well. What differentiates the inability of the mentally ill to filter out things from creative people is that the latter also have high I.Q.s that allow them to filter the world in a more conscious way.

Indeed, little things I see, little things I hear spin out into stories and poems all the time. A fragment of conversation, an odd thing noticed out of the corner of my eye, random things which pop up in my mind, into my consciousness. I have to consciously filter out these things. Things others, apparently, filter out unconsciously.

This lack of filter means I am bombarded by sensory information and mental concepts. I can get easily distracted by them. They keep my attention. I could be mistaken for having ADD, but perhaps that's not a mistake. Perhaps ADD is a manifestation of cognitive disinhibition -- perhaps enough to create an attention deficit, but not enough to make mental illness. Again, intelligence makes the difference. Intelligence is the filtering device, what turns the noticed things into something new. The instinctive filterer is replaced by a more conscious one. But that means one has to learn how to do it.

How does one create the discipline necessary to turn one's cognitive disinhibition into creative genius? Intelligence is not enough, though it is a necessary element. What is needed is the right environment, one which praises and values creativity. Not in an abstract way, but directly, to you, in your life. Parents telling you that your picture you drew is awesome. Teachers praising your art work and writing skills. Encouragement is positive feedback, driving you to want to turn all those little details you've noticed into something new for others to see. This encouragement can turn internal, acting as a self-selector, a way of concentrating those noticed bits and pieces into creative works.

The difference between madness and creative genius can often be the difference in environment, in the encouragement of others. A support network can make you become your best; the lack of one can drive you mad. The example of John Nash is apt: he was at his most creative and least mad when he had a supportive network.

Does our current culture support the creative genius? Or does it drive them underground, into the shadows, attempt to medicate them all away? Such people are disruptors of the status quo, keep the world off kilter, challenge preconceptions. Conformists cultures such as ours (being a collective guilt culture, our culture is doubly conformist) despise disruptors, challengers, creative geniuses. This is why the genius is in retreat. It is culturally rejected, denied and medicated away when possible. But without it, society will meet with stagnation, merely maintain without creating nearly as much value and wealth in the world as it would with them. Only if a creative genius happens to have the right family support can he or she develop and create. But our institutions increasingly do not support such people. In fact, too often, they actively discriminate against them. Because they do, there is less value, less wealth, less beauty in the world than there could be. All exchanged for the sake of the kind of comfort one can only have in an impossibly unchanging world.

Mercy, Not Justice

Isaiah Berlin identifies in his piece on the role of ideas in the mass atrocities committed through the 20th century guilt and collective guilt cultures as the perpetuators of those atrocities:

The root conviction which underlies this [that creating the ideal society is worth killing people] is that the central questions of human life, individual or social, have one true answer which can be discovered. It can and must be implemented, and those who have found it are the leaders whose word is law. The idea that to all genuine questions there can be only one true answer is a very old philosophical notion. The great Athenian philosophers, Jews and Christians, the thinkers of the Renaissance and the Paris of Louis XIV, the French radical reformers of the eighteenth century, the revolutionaries of the nineteenth—however much they differed about what the answer was or how to discover it (and bloody wars were fought over this)—were all convinced that they knew the answer, and that only human vice and stupidity could obstruct its realization.
We see this in any society in which some external Law develops against which one must compare oneself. Individually, this results in the development of guilt (Medieval Christian Europe, Islam, the Roman Republic/Empire under Roman Law). Socially, this can and too often does lead to atrocities designed to protect the Law (the Inquisition, Islamic terrorism, crucifying rebels and campaigns against philosophers and Christians).

But in collective guilt cultures, the scale of the atrocities can increase exponentially, because the scale of actions condemned is much greater. In guilt cultures, so long as you abide by the rules of the external Law, you can pretty much do whatever else you want to do. That Law actually covered and covers far less than one might realize. In fact, anyone could come under the law, so in many ways it was more inclusive than is the Law that creates collective guilt. After all, one is guilty for being rich from market activities (in the case of Marxists), the member of a particular ethnic group (the Jews in the case of national socialist Germany), etc. We can perhaps count ourselves lucky that as collective guilt culture emerged in the capitalist West in the past several decades that it has had so many "guilty" -- men, those of European descent, the rich (but only if the rich own private businesses), etc. -- that it becomes increasingly difficult to commit mass murder against them. But that still does not mean that pernicious ideas aren't behind the Law underlying collective guilt culture.

As Berlin points out, the Law of guilt and collective guilt cultures are incompatible with people pursuing their own goals: "The central values by which most men have lived, in a great many lands at a great many times—these values, almost if not entirely universal, are not always harmonious with each other." The discoveries made in the pursuit of knowledge makes some people uncomfortable. "Creative imagination and spontaneity, splendid in themselves, cannot be fully reconciled with the need for planning, organization, careful and responsible calculation." New things disrupt perfection.

But most importantly, the Law of both guilt and collective guilt cultures cannot tolerate mercy, for mercy means allowing those who are harming society to "get away with it." If one's view of justice requires society to match some ideal, mercy allows imperfection in. We cannot allow imperfection in, thus justice turns unmerciful. When that happens, the only solution is to introduce stricter and stricter laws and punishments. Even three strikes and you're out can become too lenient. Perfect organization of society cannot tolerate difference.

But self-organizing network processes not only can, but are most complex and robust when heterogeneous. But such processes are, fundamentally, anarchic. Rules emerge naturally through the interactions people have with others, so the world is certainly knowable and (humanly) predictable, even while also being fundamentally uncertain. But that just makes it a more natural process. Utopia is truly and always nowhere. Attempts to create it will always result in that utopia being built on a foundation of corpses.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Notes on Plato's Phaedrus as Comic Inversion of Euripides' Hippolytus

Plato's Phaedrus was written to be a comic-philosophical inversion of Euripides' Hippolytus.

Hippolytus begins with speeches about love -- with the main emphasis being that love is madness and madness is bad, therefore love is bad. The nurse provides a minority view that love is rational and therefore good.

Phaedrus begins with speeches about love -- with the main emphasis being that love is madness and madness is good, therefore love is good. Lysias provides a minority view that favoring the nonlover is rational and that this is therefore good.

Hippolytus ends with a discussion of the relationship among writing, speaking, and truth, with Theseus making his decision on his belief that what is written down must be true.

Phaedrus ends with a discussion of the relationship among writing, speaking, and truth, with Socrates arguing that you learn more truth from dialogue than writing because you cannot have the writer there to question -- an observation which one can take back to Hippolytus to see Theseus' error more clearly (though the audience does know why he is wrong).

Phaedrus has the same relationship to Lysias as Hippoytus has to Artemis. Phaedrus loves the one who wrote a speech criticizing love and favoring the nonlover; Hippolytus loves a virgin goddess, with whom he can never consummate that love. This is one of those inversions because Lysias wants to have sex with the nonlover, while Artemis refuses to have sex with the lover.

On the other hand, Lysias, as a writer, is the mirror of Phaedra herself. Neither are available to be questioned about what they wrote.  Lysias thus is Phaedra/Artemis; the attainable mad lover/unattainable non-lover; this thus exposes Lysias for what he truly is (the wily character of Socrates' first speech "against" love).

The above two points also makes it clear that Phaedrus is Hippolytus, not Phaedra, as one would expect. In a certain sense Lysias, in his ideas of the rationality of the nonlover, is also an inverse of the Nurse, with her ideas of the rationality of love, and Socrates plays the anti-Phaedra/Hippolytus/Chorus in his affirmation of love as madness and madness as good.

Euripides' portrayal of Aphrodite is a decidedly negative one; she comes off as petty, spiteful, vengeful, and cruel. This, in combination with what Phaedra and Hippolytus say about Aphrodite/love and with the fact that Phaedra's love for Hippolytus results in both her and Hippolytus' deaths, portrays love in a negative light.

After Socrates gives his speech in which a character argues that the nonlover is to be preferred over the lover, he expresses concern that Aphrodite will punish him for speaking ill of her (which is what she says she is punishing Hippolytus over). He also observes that Aphrodite, being a goddess, cannot be bad in any way (contradicting Euripides' portrayal of her). Socrates then gives his speech arguing love is good (thus enacting what Hippolytus should have done to make the play un-tragic).

Socrates further argues that just because love is madness, that does not mean that love is bad; there are, after all, other forms of madness which are recognized as good, including the madness of the Muses -- who would have been understood as influencing Euripides. Since Euripides is a poet, he is made mad by the Muses; it is thus ironic that he is portraying love as bad because it is a kind of madness.

If Plato's dialogue is a philosophical response to Euripides' play, then when Socrates says that his first speech and his second speech are the same speech, one can also understand this to mean that the dialogue and the play are "the same speech," but at different levels of understanding (with the poets being 4th from the bottom and philosophers being at the top, as per his ranking in the dialogue). Plato could thus be arguing that Euripides' understanding of love is accurate to his level of understanding, but that Plato's work demonstrates an understanding of love that is the most accurate a human can attain.