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Annotated bibliography on Plato's Sophist. Second Part: Can - Fos


  1. Campbell, Ian J. 2021. "Plato, the Eristics, and the Principle of Non-Contradiction." Apeiron no. 54:571-614.

    Abstract: "This paper considers the use that Plato makes of the Principle of Non-Contradiction (PNC) in his engagements with eristic refutations. By examining Plato’s use of the principle in his most detailed engagements with eristic—in the Sophist, the discussion of “agonistic” argumentation in the Theaetetus, and especially the Euthydemus—I aim to show that the pressure exerted on Plato by eristic refutations played a crucial role in his development of the PNC, and that the principle provided him with a much more sophisticated means of demarcating philosophical argumentation from eristic than he is generally thought to have. In particular, I argue that Plato’s qualified formulation of the PNC restricts the class of genuine contradictions in such a way that reveals the contradictions that eristics produce through their refutations to be merely apparent and that Plato consistently appeals to his qualified conception of genuine contradiction in his encounters with eristics in order to demonstrate that their refutations are merely apparent. The paper concludes by suggesting that the conception of genuine contradiction afforded by the PNC did not just provide Plato with a way of demarcating genuine from eristic refutations, but also with an answer to substantive

    philosophical challenges that eristics raised through their refutations."

  2. Candiotto, Laura. 2011. "The Children's Prayer: saving the Phenomena in Plato's Sophist." Anais de Filosofia Clássica no. 5:77-85.

    Abstract: "Plato builds an ontology capable of saving the Phenomena in the Sophist. By doing so, he distances himself from Parmenides. This article analyses the children's prayer (Soph. 249 d 5) in order to sustain this thesis and evaluate the platonic proposal, along with the role of the negation and the heteron in the communication of the Kinds."

  3. ———. 2016. "Negation as Relation: Heidegger's interpretation of Plato's Sophist 257 b3-259 d1." In Sophistes: Plato's Dialogue and Heidegger's Lectures in Marburg (1924-25), edited by De Brasi, Diego and Fuchs, Marko J., 75-94. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

    "The aim of the present chapter is to discuss and evaluate chapters 78 and 79 of Heidegger's Lectures on Plato's Sophist, which deal with Sph. 257b3-259dl. To this purpose, I will compare these chapters with the

    more established interpretations concerning the role played by the heteron in Plato's dialogue. Providing my own reading, my main claim is that negation is understood by Heidegger as the foremost shape of relationality.

    Moreover, negation as relation is not a dialectical tool but the disclosive power able to show the "things themselves".

    My argument will proceed by: 1) providing a short introduction of the major themes within the Sophist; 2) presenting Heidegger's thesis; 3) analyzing the main threads within the Platonic text by referring to the

    more established interpretations; 4) evaluating Heidegger's interpretation with a special emphasis on where it has to be situated with regard to the text and to other interpretations, thus pointing out the innovative elements proposed by Heidegger." (p. 75)

  4. ———. 2018. "Purification through emotions: The role of shame in Plato’s Sophist 230b4–e5." Educational Philosophy and Theory no. 50:576-585.

    Abstract: "This article proposes an analysis of Plato’s Sophist (230b4–e5) that underlines the bond between the logical and the emotional components of the Socratic elenchus, with the aim of depicting the social valence of this philosophical practice. The use of emotions characterizing the ‘elenctic’ method described by Plato is crucial in influencing the audience and is introduced at the very moment in which the interlocutor attempts to protect his social image by concealing his shame at being refuted. The audience, thanks to Plato’s literary strategy, realizes the failures of the interlocutor even as he refuses to accept them. As a result, his social image becomes tarnished. Purification through shame reveals how the medium is strictly related to the endorsement of specific ethical and political goals, making the Platonic dialogs the tools for the constitution of a new paideia."

  5. Caplan, Jerrold R. 1995. "The Coherence of Plato's Ontology." American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly no. 65:171-189.

    "In light of the so-called theory of Forms presented in earlier dialogues and the communion of the greatest kinds in the later dialogues, it has been argued that Plato abandoned his earlier ontology in favor of the more sophisticated scheme of his later period. The criticism is then made that the so-called later ontology is inconsistent with the earlier one and that the two accounts do not cohere.

    I argue, to the contrary, that Plato's presentation has been consistent throughout. One might say that the discussion in the Sophist (236-259) is a revision or a refinement or expansion of the theory as found, for example, in the Phaedo (78-9). Although this may suggest that there has been some sort of development in the treatment of the Forms from early to late, it by no means implies any wholesale abandonment of the first formulations nor any inherent inconsistency. The fact that Plato himself raises questions about the Forms indicates the need for a clearer articulation of the relationship between thought and being, which is precisely what is undertaken in the later dialogues." (p. 171)

  6. Casadesús Bordoy, Francesc. 2013. "Why Is It so Difficult to Catch a Sophist? Pl. Sph. 218d3 and 261a5." In Plato's Sophist Revisited, edited by Bossi, Beatriz and Robinson, Thomas M., 15-27. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    "Suffice it, therefore, in conclusion to this presentation, to return to the passage from the Republic in which the lines of the Odyssey which begin the Sophist are commented on in negative terms, and to ask once again the question Socrates poses in justification of his criticism of the lines of Homer:

    ‘Shall I ask you whether God is a magician, and of a nature to appear insidiously now in one shape, and now in another…?’

    In order to answer this question in the negative, Plato has to undertake the writing of the Sophist, in an attempt to expose one who, due to his protean and mimetic character, adopts all kinds of forms, even the most divine. Equipped with his philosophical hunting weapon, the dialectical method and diaresis, he attempts, like Menelaus, to catch the sophist.

    Nonetheless, the possibility of success remains in doubt, given Socrates’ disturbing observation that the hard-working hunter, the Stranger from Elea himself, could be yet another of the multiple and polymorphous manifestations of the Sophist …" (p. 27)

  7. Casper, Dennis J. 1977. "Is There A Third One and Many Problem in Plato?" Apeiron no. 11:20-26.

    "In a recent article (1), M.J. Cresswell points out that the problem of the one and the many "gets a new twist in three of Plato's later dialogues (Parmenides, Sophist, and Philebus) where we discover not one problem but apparently two."(2) The first problem (I) concerns particulars, things subject to generation and perishing (Philebus, 14D-15A); it is " the problem of how the same thing can have many characteristics."(3) The second problem (II) concerns forms, things not subject to generation or perishing; it is the problem how a unitary form can be in many things which come into being ( Philebus, 15B). The first problem is "childish and easy", the second serious and difficult.

    Cresswell points out that the formal structure of (I) does not require that it concern particulars. In a sense, forms have "characteristics" — each is one, the same as itself, and so on. So a parallel one and many problem (III) might be raised: How can the same form have many characteristics? Here Cresswell remarks, "However, when Plato actually sets out the one and many problem about the forms it doesn't have the structure of (I) at all."

    Rather, it is (II) above. So Cresswell believes apparently that Plato does not set out (III) in the passages he mentions or elsewhere in the Philebus, Parmenides, and Sophist. I shall argue, however, that Plato does raise (III) in these works and that he takes it as seriously as he does (II). " (p. 20, some notes omitted)

    (1) 1M.J. Cresswell, "Is There One or Are There Many One and Many Problems in Plato?", The Philosophical Quarterly, vol. XXII (1972), pp. 149-154.

    (2) Ibid., p. 149.

    (3) Ibid. In stating (1) in this way, Cresswell takes his cue from Sophist, 251A-B. In the Philebus and at the opening of the Parmenides (127E; 129A-E), the problem concerning particulars is how the same thing can have opposite characteristics.

  8. Cassin, Barbara. 2017. "The Muses and Philosophy: Elements for a History of the Pseudos." In Contemporary Encounters with Ancient Metaphysics, edited by Greenstine, Abraham Jacob and Johnson, Ryan J., 13-29. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

    "Barbara Cassin's "The Muses and Philosophy: Elements for a History of the 'Pseudos"' (1991; translated by Samuel Galson), investigates Plato's attempt in the Sophist to distinguish the philosopher from the sophist. Cassin pinpoints the slippery operation of the pseudos through the texts of Parmenides and Hesiod. Yet Parmenides' rejection of not-being allows the sophist to claim infallibility. Plato's Eleatic Stranger shows that Parmenides' rejection of notbeing is self-refuting (thus the Stranger's famous parricide is just as much Parmenides' suicide). Further, although the Stranger ultimately fails to find a criterion for truth or falsity, he nevertheless establishes a place for the pseudos in the distinction between logos tinos (speech of something) and logos peri tinos (speech about something). Ultimately, Cassin argues that reality of pseudos is a condition for the possibility of language, and indeed involves the very materiality and breath of language." (p. 5)

  9. Cataldo, Peter J. 1984. "Plato, Aristotle and προς εν equivocity." The Modern Schoolman no. 61:237-247.

    "One of the brilliant features of Father Joseph Owens' commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics [*] is the way that be traces the integration of the προς ενequivocity of being in Aristotle's work. But Aristotle's concept of προς εν equivocity is not linked with his predecessor Plato in this classic commentary.

    The aim of this essay is lo indicate such a link, and one in which Plato 's contribution is more than just an anticipation; for, it will be argued that all of the elements which constitute προς εν equivocity per se are also present in Plato's doctrine of being found in the Sophist.

    The nature of this project requires that several texts be presented from both thinkers, but this in no way presumes to be a comprehensive analysis of the texts. I on! y wish to show that Aristotle's concept of προς εν equivocity is traceable to Plato in some definite ways, all the while assuming, of course, that their doctrines of being are essentially opposed." (p. 237)

    [*] The Doctrine of Being in the Aristotelian Metaphysics: A. Study in the Greek Background of Mediaeval Thought, Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1951, Third revised edition 1978.

  10. Chan, Han-liang. 2012. "Plato and Peirce on Likeness and Semblance." Biosemiotics no. 5:301-312.

    Abstract: "In his well-known essay, ‘What Is a Sign?’ (CP 2.281, 285) Peirce uses ‘likeness’ and ‘resemblance’ interchangeably in his definition of icon. The synonymity of the two words has rarely, if ever, been

    questioned. Curiously, a locus classicus of the pair, at least in F. M. Cornford’s English translation, can be found in a late dialogue of Plato’s, namely, the Sophist. In this dialogue on the myth and truth of the sophists’ profession, the mysterious ‘stranger’, who is most likely Socrates persona, makes the famous distinction between eikon (likeness) and phantasma (semblance) (236a,b).

    For all his broad knowledge in ancient philosophy, Peirce never mentioned this parallel; nor has any Peircian scholar identified it.(1) There seems to be little problem with eikon as likeness, but phantasma may give rise to a puzzle which this paper will attempt to solve. Plato uses two pairs of words: what eikon is to phantasma is eikastikhn (the making of likeness [235d]) to phantastikhn (semblance making [236c]). In other words, icons come into being because of the act of icon-making, which is none other than indexicality. Witness what Peirce says about the relationship between photographs and the objects they represent: ‘But this resemblance is due to the photographs having been produced under such circumstances that they were physically forced to correspond point by point to nature.’ (Ibid.) Thus the iconicity which links the representamen (sign) and its object is made possible not only by an interpretant, but also by indexisation.

    Their possible etymological and epistemological links aside, the Peircian example of photographing and the Platonic discussion of painting and sculpturing in the Sophist, clearly show the physio-pragmatic aspect of iconicity. The paper will therefore reread the Peircian iconicity by closely analysing this relatively obscure Platonic text, and by so doing restore to the text its hidden semiotic dimension."

  11. Chappell, T. D. J. 2011. "Making Sense of the Sophist. Ten Answers to Ten Questions." In Plato's Sophist: Proceedings of the Seventh Symposium Platonicum Pragense, edited by Havlíček, Aleš and Karfík, Filip, 344-375. Praha: Oikoymenh.

    "One notable feature of the method of division is this: every determination in a well-performed division is a positive determination.

    See Statesman, 262c9–d7, on an attempted definition by division of barbaros:

    “[Our division went wrong because we did] the same sort of thing as those who are trying to make a twofold division of the human race, and do what most of those do who live here: they distinguish on one side the race of Greeks as separate from all others, and then give the single name ‘barbarians’ to all the other races, though these are countless in number and share no kinship of blood or language.

    Then because they have a single term, they suppose they also have a single kind.”

    A good division will not divide Greeks from non-Greeks, but Greeks from Romans, Britons, Gauls, Teutons, Slavonic tribes, Hyperboreans, islanders of the utmost west, etc. etc. etc. To put it another way, every step of a well-performed division will use “other than” and not “is not”. More about this in due course." (pp. 344-345)


    "In all these ways making sense of the Sophist, and (come to that) making sense of the sophist, is very literally a matter of watching Plato making sense: creating a theory of how, alongside the changeless world of the Forms, there can and must be a changing world of interweavings of those Forms. Not only the gods’ interweavings, which constitute the world, but also our interweavings, which constitute logoi about – representations of – that world: either misleading and false images of it, like the sophist’s, or faithful and accurate images, like those created by the person whom above all the sophist aspires to imitate: the philosopher." (p. 375)

  12. Charlton, William. 1995. "Plato's Later Platonism." Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy no. 13:113-133.

    "And although on some interpretations the analyses of negation and false statement in the Sophist call precisely for quantification over abstract objects, those passages have also been interpreted as requiring quantification over concrete objects like Theaetetus.


    "But the passages themselves are brief and the issues clear. In what follows I first explain (Section I) why I prefer a Platonizing interpretation, and (Section II) question whether Plato is willing to quantify over concrete objects at all. I then (Section III) consider how he would wish us to understand existential claims to the effect that 'there is' something or that something 'shares in being'. Next (Section IV) I show how, using quantification over abstract but not over concrete objects, and also using the five Greatest Kinds mentioned in the Sophist, Plato could analyse various kinds of statement. He did not, of course, have the concept of quantification logicians have today. But he had strong logical instincts, and the suggestions he throws out lend themselves to development with the aid of quantifiers in a perspicuous and intriguing way. Finally (Section V), I suggest that his analysis of negation in terms of otherness reveals a sort of Platonism that is itself other than that defined by Quine: he believes that the difference between being and not being is independent of our thought in a way it would not be on an analysis similar to that proposed for change in Section IV." (pp. 113-114)

  13. Cherubin, Rose. 1993. "What is Eleatic about the Eleatic Stranger?" In Platoʼs Dialogues: New studies and Interpretations, edited by Press, Gerald A., 215-235. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

    "In this paper I would like to pose and to explore the following questions: Why is there an Eleatic Stranger in Plato's Sophist? What if anything does this character say or imply or do that only a "companion of those around Parmenides and Zeno" (216a) would?

    I would also like to propose that central to these concerns is the question of how Plato read Parmenides' poem. Did Plato take the daimon's speech as a direct and literal statement of Parmenides' views? What we can discover about this issue could be instructive in our considerations of how we might best read Parmenides.

    The Stranger's speeches and behavior include much that seems sophistic, as well as a number of reasons to suspect that he is not, or not only, a sophist. We are led, then, to ask what if any the differences are between Eleatic and sophist, and especially what if any differences between them appear in Plato. (For the latter I will focus on the Sophist.) What would account for the differences, or the lack thereof? And if there are differences, into which group-Eleatic or sophist-does the Stranger fall?" (p. 215)

  14. Chrysakopoulou, Sylvana. 2010. "Heraclitus and Xenophanes in Plato's Sophist: The Hidden Harmony." Ariadne. The Journal of the School of Philosophy of the University of Crete no. 16:75-98.

    "The principal aim of the present article is to shed light on Heraclitus’ intellectual kinship with Xenophanes. Although the overlap of fundamental patterns and themes in both thinkers’ worldview could be partly due to the osmosis of ideas in the archaic

    era, the intertextual a!nity between them, as transmitted by the history of reception, cannot be regarded as a mere accident of cultural diffusion. Our primary intention is to focus on the common grounds of their criticism against the authority of the epic poets on the theological education of the Greeks and more particularly on its platonic appropriation." (p. 75)


    "In conclusion, Plato in the Sophist uses Xenophanes’ and Heraclitus’ theological a!nity as a trait d’union between the latter and Parmenides, inasmuch as Plato’s ontology is presented as a response to Parmenides’ account on being." (p. 85)

  15. ———. 2018. "Xenophanes in Plato’s Sophist and the first philosophical genealogy." Trends in Classics no. 10:324-337.

    Abstract: "In this article I intend to show that Plato in the Sophist provides us with the earliest doxographic material on pre-Platonic thinkers. In his account on his predecessors, Xenophanes emerges as the founder of the Eleatic tribe as opposed to the pluralists, while Heraclitus and Empedocles are presented as the Ioanian and the Italian Muses respectively. This prima facie genealogical approach, where Plato’s predecessors become the representatives of schools of different origins paves the way for Plato’s project in the Sophist. In other words the monistic account Xenophanes introduces, prepares for the synthesis between the one and the many set forth by Heraclitus and Empedocles, which is thus presented as a further step towards the ‘interweaving of forms’ (συμπλοκήν εἰδῶν) Plato proposes in the Sophist."

  16. Clanton, J. Caleb. 2007. "From Indeterminacy to Rebirth: Making Sense of Socratic Silence in Plato's Sophist." The Pluralist no. 2:37-56.

    "I argue here that, in the Sophist, Plato opens up possibilities for philosophy that lie beyond Socrates's style of discourse. Plato does so by introducing indeterminacy as a way of salvaging determinate discourse itself. In the first section of this article, I explore what the problem of the Sophist seems to be. It appears that in order to preserve discourse, the characters within the dialogue must try to make sense of non-being, which clearly is a problematic undertaking. In the second section, I follow the characters as they try to

    resolve this issue of not-being. Third, I argue that in saving determinate discourse through resolving the issue of not-being, the characters in the dialogue incorporate indeterminacy into the very enterprise of philosophy. With this reading of the Sophist in mind, I try to make sense of a crucial element that Plato adds -- namely, Socrates's absence in che dialogue. In doing so, I mean to stay closely attuned to the dramatic features of the dialogue as they generate the questions I focus on. Finally, in light of this reading of the Sophist,

    I suggest a way to rethink what it means to do philosophy, following Plato's lead in carrying out a philosophical project that is often deemed foreign to Plato." (p. 37)

  17. Clarke, Patricia. 1994. "The Interweaving of the Forms with One Another: Sophist 259e." Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy no. 12:35-62.

    "At Sophist 259 E the Eleatic Stranger and Theaetetus agree that 'The loosening of each thing from everything [else] is the complete wiping out of all λόγοι for it is because of the interweaving of the forms with one another that we come to have λόγος. My chief aim in this paper is to air a possible solution to the problem of how this remark might apply to such statements as 'Theaetetus sits' and 'Theaetetus flies', (1) in each of which only one form is referred to. The solution turns on the claim that neither statement could be true unless forms could mix with one another in the sense of being instantiated together in Theaetetus. I do not positively endorse it. I wonder whether there is any definite solution to the problem; Plato does not seem to give sufficiently clear indication of how he is thinking. However, I wish to argue that a solution along the lines indicated cannot be dismissed as easily as has sometimes been supposed. In the first part of my paper I give some general consideration to the remark at 259 E, and examine briefly some alternative solutions to the problem of its application to 'Theaetetus sits' and other such statements." (p. 35)

    (1) I use these translations, rather than the more idiomatic 'Theaetetus is sitting', 'Theaetetus is flying', to reflect the fact that in the original at 263 A each example is expressed by means of a two-word sentence composed of proper name and verb. However, even for a statement of the form 'Theaetetus is F', expressed with copula and predicate, a problem arises if for Theaetetus to be F is simply for Theaetetus to partake directly of F, for then again only one form might seem to be involved."

  18. Cordero, Nestor-Luis. 2013. "The relativization of ”separation" (khorismos) in the Sophist." In Plato's Sophist Revisited, edited by Bossi, Beatriz and Robinson, Thomas M., 187-201. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    "It is a commonplace among historians of ancient thought to refer to the “separation” (khorismos) which characterizes Platonic philosophy, and which Aristotle criticized severely. It is true that, like any commonplace, this separation, which is at base a type of dualism, can be the subject of very different understandings, including that of being minimized." (p. 187)


    "All aporiai stem from separation. So, one has to try to suppress it, or at any rate relativize it, and that is going to be the task the Sophist sets itself.

    Why the Sophist? Because, as we saw, khorismos separated two modes of being, and the Sophist is a dialogue about being. Steering clear of interpretation, the dialogue’s subtitle is peri tou ontos. And it is normal, if he is going to undertake an in-depth analysis of the figure of the sophist, that he should see himself as obliged, for the first time on his philosophical voyage, now that he is over seventy, to confront his father Parmenides, the venerable and fearsome monopolizer of being, and the confrontation concerns sophistry. This is not the time to expatiate on the “amitiés particulières” that Plato establishes between Parmenides and sophistry. In criticizing the great master all things are allowed, including taking literally images in the poem which are didactic, such as the sphere, and in particular characterizing him as a fellow traveller of sophistry, which is, all in all, a joke in poor taste. But it is undeniable that his changing of porte-parole, in which he replaces Socrates with the Stranger, allows Plato to take certain liberties, and to face problems that his Socrates had never faced, among them precisely the necessity of refuting Parmenides." (p. 191)

  19. Corey, David D. 2015. The Sophists in Plato's Dialogues. Albany: State University of New York Press.

    Chapter Eight: Plato's Critique of the Sophist?

    "In this chapter, I consider four such accounts of the sophists: those of Anytus speaking to Socrates in the Meno, Socrates speaking to Adeimantus in the Republic, Socrates speaking to Polus in the Gorgias, and the Eleatic Stranger speaking to Theaetetus in the Sophist. Although all these appear to stand as general critiques of the sophists, none is successful as such, nor, I argue, does Plato mean for us to accept them as such. These accounts are obviously defective both in their own terms and in light of what we know of the sophists from other dialogues. At the same time, however, I want to argue that these passages of general criticism have a broader scope than merely attempting to criticize the sophists. They also call into question the very lines of demarcation

    between such categories as “sophistry,” “philosophy,” and “good citizenship,” thus leading inevitably to the possibility of self-reflection, whether one understands oneself to be a philosopher or merely a citizen.

    In other words, what is usually taken rather facilely to be “Plato’s critique of the sophists” in fact cuts more deeply into common thinking and doing than readers may like to admit. Widely accepted and even cherished political, philosophical, and pedagogical practices are implicated in these accounts. " (pp. 202-203)

  20. Cornford, Francis Macdonald. 1935. Plato's Theory of Knowledge. The Theaetetus and the Sophist of Plato translated with a running commentary. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co.

    Contents: The Theaetetus, pp. 15-163; The Sophist pp. 165-332.

    "My object was to make accessible to students of philosophy who cannot easily read the Greek text, two masterpieces of Plato's later period, concerned with questions that still hold a living interest. A study of existing translations and editions has encouraged also the hope that scholars already familiar with the dialogues may find a fresh interpretation not unwelcome. A commentary has been added because, in the more difficult places, a bare translation is almost certain, if understood at all, to be misunderstood.

    This danger may be illustrated by a quotation from a living philosopher of the first rank: It was Plato in his later mood who put forward the suggestion "and I hold that the definition of being is simply power". This suggestion is the charter of the doctrine of Immanent Law.'(1)

    Dr. Whitehead is quoting Jowett's translation. If the reader will refer to the passage (p. 234 below), he will see that the words are rendered: 'I am proposing as a mark to distinguish real things that they be nothing but power.'(2) A mark of real things may not be a 'definition of being'. This mark, moreover, is offered by the Eleatic Stranger to the materialist as an improvement on his own mark of real things, tangibility. The materialist accepts it, 'having for the moment no better suggestion of his own to offer'. The Stranger add that Theaetetus and he may perhaps change their minds 0n this matter later on. Plato has certainly not committed himself here to a 'definition of being'. So much could be discovered from an accurate translation; but the word 'power ' still needs to be explained. It has been rendered by 'potency', 'force', 'Möglichkeit', 'puissance de relation'. Without some account of the history of the word dynamis in Plato's time and earlier, the student accustomed to the terms of modem philosophy may well carry away a false impression.

    To meet difficulties such as this, I have interpolated, after each compact section of the text, a commentary which aims at discovering what Plato really means and how that part of the argument is related to the rest. There are objections to dissecting the living body of a Platonic dialogue. No other writer has approached Plato's skill in concealing a rigid and intricate structure of reasoning beneath the flowing lines of a conversation in which the suggestion of each thought as it arises seems to be followed to an unpremeditated conclusion. In these later dialogues the bones show more clearly through the skin; and it is likely that Plato would rather have us penetrate his meaning than stand back with folded hands to admire his art. An interpolated commentary, giving the reader the information he needs when and where he needs it, may be preferred to the usual plan of stowing away such information in an introduction at the beginning and notes at the end. It is not clear why we should be forced to read a book in three places at once. This book, at any rate, is designed to be read straight through." (Preface, pp. VII-VIII)

    (1) A. N. Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas, (1933), p, 165. I am not suggesting that Dr. Whitehead fundamentally misunderstands the master who has deeply influenced his own philosophy, but only pointing out how a profound thinker may be misled by a translation.

    (2) This rendering is itself doubtful, the construction of the words, as they stand in the MSS, being obscure and difficult.

  21. Cresswell, M. J. 1972. "Is There One or Are There Many One and Many Problems in Plato?" The Philosophical Quarterly no. 22:149-154.

    "How can one thing be many and many things one? This perennial in Greek philosophy gets a new twist in three of Plato's later dialogues (Parmenides, Sophist, and Philebus) where we discover not one problem but apparently two. More interestingly, although one of them is a serious and perplexing problem demanding the full insight of the rigorously disciplined philosopher, the other problem is described in the Philebus (14d, e) as commonplace and one such that "almost everyone agrees nowadays that there is no need to concern oneself with things like that, feeling that they are childish, obvious and a great nuisance to argument". And in the Sophist (251b) it is relegated to providing a banquet for the young and for "late learners of old men" who are "poorly endowed with intelligence and marvel at such things, thinking themselves to have come upon all wisdom".

    What is the difference between this trivial form and the serious form of the problem of how one thing can be many? In the Philebus (15a) Socrates says that the trivial problem occurs when the one in question is the sort of thing which can come into being and pass away, i.e., is something which belongs to the physical world. The serious problem is when the one is an eternal existent." (p. 149)

  22. Crivelli, Paolo. 1993. "Plato's Sophist and Semantic Fragmentation." Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie no. 75:71-74.

    "In this journal, Band 71, Heft 3, pp. 257-282, Michael T. Ferejohn [*] proposed to apply to the interpretation of certain parts of Plato's Sophist a methodological principle which I shall call 'principle of joint explanation': given the close relationship between Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy, in particular circumstances it's possible to use Aristotelian texts to interpret obscure or vague Platonic passages. In this paper I shall criticize Ferejohn's application of the 'principle of joint explanation' to the Sophist and his interpretation of Plato's analysis of negation and of its philosophical aims."

    [*] Plato and Aristotle on Negative Predication and Semantic Fragmentation.

  23. ———. 2012. Plato's Account of Falsehood: A Study of the Sophist. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Contents: Acknowledgements IX; Abbreviations of titles of Plato's works X; Note on the text XI; Introduction 1; 1. The sophist defined 13; 2. Puzzles about non-being 28; 3. Puzzles about being 71; 4. The communion of kinds 102; 5. Negation and not-being 177; 6. Sentences, false sentences, and false belief 221; Appendix: The Sophist on true and false sentences: formal presentation 261; References 275; Index of names 290; Index of subjects 294; index of passages cited 296-309.

    "In the Sophist Plato presents his mature views on sentences, falsehood, and not-being. These views have given an important contribution to the birth and growth of the subjects now identified as ontology and philosophy of language. I have two main objectives: to offer a precise reconstruction of the arguments and the theses concerning sentences, falsehood, and not-being presented in the Sophist and to gain a philosophical understanding of them. In this introduction I offer an overview of the main problems addressed in i he Sophist and their solutions and then discuss the methodology whereby I pursue my primary goals." (Introduction, p. 1)

    "Almost a commentary. The close interconnection of themes and concepts invited by the dialogue-form makes it difficult to address a Platonic dialogue by examining some of its themes and concepts in isolation from the others: if an operation of this sort is attempted, the impression arises that some factor essential for the understanding of the issues under consideration is ignored. Mainly for this reason I decided to have my examination of the Sophist unfolding in parallel with the development of the dialogue. So the present study covers most of the dialogue and follows its progression, almost as a running commentary.

    Nevertheless, my examination of the Sophist is selective: not all the themes and concepts emerging from the dialogue are discussed with the same care or depth. The approach I have privileged is that of philosophy of language (in the comprehensive sense in which it addresses also ontological matters). In particular, I ask Plato some of the questions that a modern philosopher of language would regard as important and I consider what answers Plato is committed to offering. Establishing what answers Plato is committed to offering requires an accurate historical reconstruction of what he actually does say: modern questions, Plato’s answers. The present study therefore combines exegetical and philological considerations with a philosophically minded attitude." (p. 11)

  24. Crombie, Ian M. 1962. An Examination of Plato's Doctrines. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

    Vol. 2: Plato on Knowledge and Reality; Chapter 3: Metaphysical Analysis. § V: The Sophist, pp. 388-421; Chapter 4: Logic and Language § III: The Paradox of False Belief pp. 486-497; § IV: Some Further Problems arising out of the Sophist: the Copula and Existence, etc., pp. 498-516.

    "The doctrine of the Sophist is continuous with that which we have been examining. The fact that I have relegated the Sophist to a section of its own must not be allowed to give a contrary impression.

    I have given the Sophist a section on its own partly because it is very difficult, and partly because it adds something to the doctrine sketched in the Cratylus and common to the Phaedrus, Statesman and Philebus. There are two parts to this additional material. One of these parts deals with matters which are perhaps more properly called logical than metaphysical, namely the meaning of the verb einai or "to be", and the nature of negation. The discussion of these topics is entangled with that of the others and can only be separated by violence. I shall use violence, however, and postpone the detailed consideration of these topics to the next chapter. The other part of the additional material can perhaps be described as follows. So far the "kinds" whose "sharing" we have been considering have been, on the whole, material or limiting properties. I call, for example, animality a limiting property, because there are certain limits which cannot be transgressed by anything which is to have the property.

    We recall however that the discussion in the Parmenides was concerned with the formal or non-limiting property unity—non-limiting in the sense that to be told that X is one is to be told nothing whatever about the nature of X. It is clear that the relation of non-limiting to limiting properties was an important question in Plato's latest phase, and it is in the Sophist that this is first discussed in connection with the sharing of kinds. This is the special material with which this section will be primarily concerned. I may add that it will be impossible in a discussion of this—perhaps of any—length to justify an interpretation of the Sophist." (p. 388)

  25. Curd, Patricia Kenig. 1988. "Parmenidean Clues in the Search for the Sophist." History of Philosophy Quarterly no. 5:307-320.

    "Does the Parmenides hold clues to a proper understanding of the Sophist? It seems to me that it does; in this paper I shall explore a number of issues that link the two dialogues, arguing that understanding Plato's treatment of these issues in the Parmenides can help us correctly interpret the arguments of the Sophist.

    Influential interpretations of Plato's later work hold that there are serious confusions about identity and predication in that work. According to these interpretations some of the arguments in the antinomies of Part II of the Parmenides exhibit this confusion; further, according to these views, it is not until the Sophist that Plato sees his way to distinguish identity and predication adequately, and that it is this that allows him finally to solve the problems of Being and Not Being in that dialogue.(1)

    In this paper I want to challenge this view: I shall claim that the arguments of Part II of the Parmenides are not infected with an identity/predication (I/P) confusion. Further, I shall argue that in the second part of the Parmenides Plato explores and investigates certain ideas that are crucial to his solution of the problem of Not-Being in the Sophist (a solution that does not depend on distinguishing identity and predicative "senses" or "uses" of the verb "to be"). (2) I shall begin with some preliminary remarks about the I/P confusion and the earlier dialogues before turning to the Parmenides and the Sophist." (p. 307)

    (1) The interpretations I have in mind are primarily those of G. E. L. Owen (in "Notes on Ryle's Plato," in Logic, Science and Dialectic, ed. G. E. L. Owen and M. C. Nussbaum (Ithaca, 1986), pp. 85-103; hereafter NRP; and in "Plato on Not-Being," in LSD pp. 104-137; hereafter PNB); and Malcolm Schofield (in "The Antinomies of Plato's Parmenides," Classical Quarterly, vol. 21 [1977], pp. 139-158). See also M. Frede, Prädikation und Existenzaussage (Gottingen, 1967).

    (2) Here I shall follow the interpretation of the arguments of the Sophist suggested by Jean Roberts in "The Problem about Being in the Sophist," History of Philosophy Quarterly, vol. 3 (1986), pp. 229-243 (hereafter PBS). What I shall say here about the Sophist is based on an acceptance of Roberts' arguments (which I shall not repeat here) and owes much to her work.

  26. Dancy, Russell M. 1999. "The Categories of Being in Plato's Sophist 255c-e." Ancient Philosophy no. 19:45-72.

    "Sophist 255c-e contains a division of beings into two categories rather than a distinction between the "is" of identity, existence, and/or predication; this emerges from an analysis of the argument that employs the division. The resulting division is the same as that ascribed to Plato in the indirect tradition among the so-called "unwritten doctrines"; there the two categories are attached to the One and the Indefinite Dyad." (p. 45)


    "Conclusion. Perhaps it is not so bad if the later Plato sounds more like Aristotle. But there remains an enormous difference of ontology between Plato and Aristotle, if any of the reports of Plato's 'unwritten doctrines' can be believed.

    We have already noticed that Plato thinks the distinction between beings and others can be put by saying that while beings partake of both the Forms Standalone and Relative, others partake only of the Form Relative. The partition of beings into Standalone ones and Relative ones, as I have construed it, is a categorial scheme: the scheme of Old Academic Categories adverted to in the introductory section of this article. Hermodorus (or whoever) was there quoted as saying that Plato says 'of the beings, some are by virtue of themselves, and some are relative to something'; that much we have the Eleatic Stranger saying in 255c13-14. But Hermodorus gives us examples, where the Stranger does not: a man and a horse are by virtue of themselves; large and small [things] are relative to things. If we unpack these examples, we presumably find ourselves saying: Bucephalus is a horse by virtue of himself; it is because he is Bucephalus that he is a horse, or, perhaps better, it is not because of some other thing that Bucephalus counts as a horse, whereas the fact that Bucephalus is large is something whose explanation requires us to introduce other, relatively smaller, horses which are the norm for horses as far as size goes. This then leads to categorizations of the terms man and horse under the heading Standalone and large, small, good, and bad under the heading Relative. And it seems a sound conjecture that where I am speaking of 'terms', Plato would speak of 'forms': the division is a division of forms, if that is right.

    But that is not the end of the story. The Hermodorus text, along with other texts, (1) would have us believe that Plato rooted the two categories Standalone and Relative in two super-Forms that stood above all the others: the mysterious entities known as the One and the Indefinite Dyad, from which the more ordinary Forms derived as numbers. I think this, too, should be taken seriously. But that is a large undertaking, not to be entered on here." (pp. 69-70)

    (1) Including, besides the others quoted in I, many in Aristotle, and also the rather strange and somewhat garbled stretch of text in Sextus Empiricus, Adversus Mathematicos X 257-276 purporting to report on the views of 'Pythagoras and his circle'.

  27. De Brasi, Diego, and Fuchs, Marko J., eds. 2016. Sophistes: Plato's Dialogue and Heidegger's Lectures in Marburg (1924-25). Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

    Table of Contents: Acknowledgements VII; Diego De Brasi and Marko J. Fuchs: Introduction. Heidegger’s Lectures on Plato’s Sophist and their Importance for Modern Plato Scholarship 1; Jens Kristian Larsen: Plato and Heidegger on Sophistry and Philosophy 27; Catalin Partenie: Heidegger: Sophist and Philosopher 61; Laura Candiotto: Negation as Relation: Heidegger’s Interpretation of Plato’s Sophist 257b3–259d1 75; Nicolas Zaks: Is the ‘In-Itself’ Relational? Heidegger and Contemporary Scholarship on Plato’s Sophist 255c–e 95; Argyri G. Karanasiou: The Term symplokē in Symposium 202b1 and in Sophist 240c1ff, 259d-261c: Heidegger's Interpretation of the Concept of "Interconnection" in Platonic Thought 113; Maia Shukhoshvili: Tékhnē in Plato's Sophist (Discussing Heidegger's Opinion) 131; Olga Alieva: Ὀρθολογία περὶ τὸ μὴ ὄν: Heidegger on the Notion of Falsehood in Plato's Sophist 143; Contributors 157.

    "This volume offers a selection of papers presented at the international Symposium “Sophistes: Plato’s Dialogue and Heidegger’s Lectures in Marburg (1924–25)” held at the University of Marburg in April 2013. At

    that meeting young classicists and philosophers discussed the possibility of a re-evaluation of Heidegger’s hermeneutics of the Sophist, and argued for a more nuanced reconstruction of his relationship with Plato." (p. VII)

  28. ———. 2016. "Introduction. Heidegger’s Lectures on Plato’s Sophist and their Importance for Modern Plato Scholarship." In Sophistes: Plato's Dialogue and Heidegger's Lectures in Marburg (1924-25), edited by De Brasi, Diego and Fuchs, Marko J., 1-26. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

    "This introductory essay hence focuses on four aspects. First of all, it will offer an overview on the current state of research. Second, it will argue for a relativization of Heidegger’s alleged misunderstanding of Plato. This will be achieved by arguing against some of the criticism expressed by Werner Beierwaltes [*] towards Heidegger’s reading of Plato. Third, it briefly examines the “Transition” in the 1924 Marburg Lectures between Heidegger’s analysis of the Nicomachean Ethics and the interpretation of Plato’s Sophist, the “Preliminary Remarks” and the “Introduction” to the actual interpretation of the dialogue, describing Heidegger as a somehow unconscious ‘forerunner’ of the modern dialogical approach. Finally, it will present an overview of the contributions in the volume and suggest further possible research developments." (p. 2)

    [*] Beierwaltes, Werner. “EPEKEINA. A Remark on Heidegger’s Reception of Plato.” Trans. Marcus Brainard, Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 17, no. 1-2 (1994): 83–99 (orig.: “EPEKEINA. Eine Anmerkung zu Heideggers Platon-Rezeption.” In Transzendenz: zu einem Grundwort der klassischen Metaphysik. Festschrift für Klaus Kremer, edited by Ludger Honnefelder and Werner Schüßler, 39–55. Paderborn: Schöning, 1992).

    —. “Heideggers Rückgang zu den Griechen.” Sitzungsberichte der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, phil.-hist. Klasse, Jg. 1995, Heft 1 (Munich: Beck).

    —. “Heideggers Gelassenheit.” In Amicus Plato magis amica veritas. Festschrift für Wolfgang Wieland zum 65. Geburtstag, edited by Rainer Enskat, 1–35. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1998.

    The three essays are reprinted in:

    Beierwaltes, Werner. Fußnoten zu Platon. Frankfurt a. M.: Klostermann, 2011.

  29. De Garay, Jesús. 2013. "Difference and Negation: Plato’s Sophist in Proclus." In Plato's Sophist Revisited, edited by Bossi, Beatriz and Robinson, Thomas M., 225-245. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    "We do not have a specific commentary on the Sophist, and it is doubtful whether he ever wrote one. What we do have is the Commentary on the Parmenides, from which some have hypothesized that he also wrote one on the Sophist. Whatever the case, the explicit references to this dialogue are many, and they affect crucial issues in Proclus’ thought. In particular, The Elements of Theology aside (which, because of its axiomatic treatment does not include textual references of any kind), allusions to the Sophist are very frequent in his three most relevant systematic works: the Commentary on the Parmenides, the Platonic Theology, and the Commentary on the Timaeus (9)." (p. 227)


    "However, as has been pointed out by Annick Charles-Saget, to understand Proclus’ interpretation of the Sophist we cannot pay attention solely to explicit quotations from the dialogue; but we must also consider his silences and significance shifts. In other words, on the one hand there are important questions in the dialogue which Proclus hardly adverts to: for example, the sophist as deceiver, and purveyor of falsehood in general; on the other hand, there are matters which Proclus presents in a different way, such as the vindication of poetic production in light of the definition of the sophist. Also significant is the way in which a number of very short passages from the Sophist are adduced over and over and again in support of his thesis." (p. 228)

    (9) An exhaustive documentation of references to the Sophist can be found in Guérard (1991). My own exposition will focus strictly on the Commentary on the Parmenides and Platonic Theology.


    Charles-Saget, A., “Lire Proclus, lecteur du Sophiste”, in P. Aubenque (éd.), Etudes sur le Sophiste de Platon (1991), 475 – 494 = Charles-Saget (1991).

    Guérard, Ch., “Les citations du Sophiste dans les oeuvres de Proclus”, in P. Aubenque (éd.), Etudes sur le Sophiste de Platon, 1991, 495 – 508 = Guérard (1991).

  30. de Harven, Vanessa. 2021. "The Metaphysics of Stoic Corporealism." Apeiron:1-27.

    Abstract: "The Stoics are famously committed to the thesis that only bodies are, and for this reason they are rightly called “corporealists.” They are also famously compared to Plato’s earthborn Giants in the Sophist, and rightly so given their steadfast commitment to body as being. But the Stoics also notoriously turn the tables on Plato and coopt his “dunamis proposal” that being is whatever can act or be acted upon, to underwrite their commitment to body rather than shrink from it as the Giants do. The substance of Stoic corporealism, however, has not been fully appreciated. This paper argues that Stoic corporealism goes beyond the dunamis proposal, which is simply an ontological criterion for being, to the metaphysics of body. This involves, first, an account of body as metaphysically simple and hence fundamental; second, an account of body as malleable and continuous, hence fit for blending (krasis di’ holou) and composition. In addition, the metaphysics of body involves a distinction between this composition relation seen in the cosmology, and the constitution relation by which the four-fold schema called the Stoic Categories proceeds, e.g. the relation between a statue and its clay, or a fist and its underlying hand. It has not been appreciated that the cosmology and the Categories are distinct — and complementary — explanatory enterprises, the one accounting for generation and unity, the other taking those individuals once generated, and giving a mereological analysis of their identity and persistence conditions, kinds, and qualities. The result is an elegant division of Plato’s labor from the Battle of Gods and Giants. On the one hand, the Stoics rehabilitate the crude cosmology of the Presocratics to deliver generation and unity in completely corporeal terms, and that work is found in their Physics. On the other hand, they reform the Giants and “dare to corporealize,” delivering all manner of predication (from identity to the virtues), and that work is found in Stoic Logic. Recognizing the distinctness of these explanatory enterprises helps dissolve scholarly puzzles, and harmonizes the Stoics with themselves."

  31. de Vries, Willem. 1988. "On "Sophist" 255B-E." History of Philosophy Quarterly no. 5:385-394.

    "At Sophist 255b7-e the Eleatic Stranger gives two arguments, one to show that being and identity are not the same, and one to show that being and otherness are not the same. Scholars have not paid them particularly close attention, but it seems generally agreed that the two arguments are quite different. In this paper I shall offer an interpretation which shows that the two arguments, though superficially quite different, are intrinsically and importantly related. Specifically, in the first argument the Stranger elicits an obvious falsehood from the hypothesis that being and identity are the same. I claim that in order to distinguish being and otherness an exactly parallel argument could have been given instead of the second argument we actually find. However, there are sound dramatic reasons why this was not done, for in this case the falsehood would not be obvious.

    Instead, the argument we are given takes us deeper and analyzes the source of the falsehood by introducing a distinction between absolute and relative uses of "being." This distinction, which has been misinterpreted in the literature, is then applied to the problem at hand and is used to distinguish being from otherness. Thus the fuller and apparently different argument to distinguish being and otherness succeeds by giving the deeper reasons for the success of the argument to distinguish being and identity.

    As a corollary to my interpretation, we can see that in these arguments other senses of "is," whether the "is" of existence or the "is" of identity, do not come into play, as other commentators have held.

    The first section will discuss the first argument of our text, along with a recent interpretation of it. In the second section I shall introduce the argument to distinguish being and otherness and argue against Owen's interpretation.

    The third section contains my interpretation of this argument, and is followed by a summary fourth section." (p. 385)

  32. Delcomminette, Sylvain. 2014. "Odysseus and the Home of the Stranger from Elea." Classical Quarterly no. 64:533-541.

    "Not very long ago, Plato’s Sophist was often presented as a dialogue devoted to the problem of being and not-being, entangled with limited success in an inquiry into the nature of the sophist. Thanks to the renewal of interest in the dramatic form of Plato’s dialogues, recent works have shown that this entanglement is far from ill conceived or anecdotal.(1) However, the inquiry into the sophist is itself introduced by another question, concerning the nature of the Stranger from Elea himself. I would like to show that this question and the way in which it is raised in the prologue may themselves shed light on the relations between the many threads which run across this very complex dialogue."

    (1) See especially N. Notomi, The Unity of Plato’s Sophist (Cambridge, 1999).

  33. Denyer, Nicholas. 1991. Language, Thought and Falsehood in Ancient Greek Philosophy. London: Routledge.

    "How can one say something false? How can one even think such a thing?

    Since, for example, all men are mortal, how can one either say or think that some man is immortal? For since it is not the case that some man is immortal, how can there be any such thing for one to say or think? That, in a nutshell, is the problem of falsehood. It, and some of its many ramifications in ancient philosophy, will be the topic of this book." (p. 14)


    "In the Sophist Plato sorts out, once and for all, the problems about falsehood that still lingered in the Theaetetus. His strategy is one of unite and conquer. What has made falsehood so problematic hitherto is, he suggests, the fact that it has been treated in isolation. We have thought that not being was uniquely difficult to understand, not realising how wrong we are to think that we understand being (243 b 7 - c 5, 245 e 8 - 246 a 2). Once however we realise that both being and not being should by rights be found equally difficult, we will be able to make progress (250 e 5 - 251 a 3). Plato thus examines all the many and diverse questions and answers about being that were bequeathed him by his philosophical predecessors. How many things are there? Just one? Just two? Or more? What sorts of things are there? Only changing and tangible things? Only changeless and intangible ones? Or are there things of both sorts? If we are to speak and think at all, argues Plato, we must acknowledge the existence of many things, both tangible and intangible.

    Above all, we must acknowledge the existence of the five Greatest Kinds: Change, Rest, Being, Same and Other. By the end of Sophist 255 those kinds have been isolated and distinguished from one another. Plato thereupon puts them to work. He starts to explore some of the connections between them, and in so doing solves the problem of how we can speak of that which is not." (Chapter 8, p. 147)


    "Plato has explained how we can negate both predications and identifications. He has explained how both those ways of speaking about what is not are perfectly legitimate and free from paradox. His explanations seemed plausible enough, so far as they went. But did they go far enough? In particular, did they go far enough to solve our problem about falsehood? Plato thought not. By Sophist 258 b 7 he has legitimated talk of what is not. It is not however until Sophist 263 d 4 that he takes himself to have legitimated talk of falsehood. In the meantime, much other work is done; and even though the problem of falsehood was that to charge someone with falsehood requires talk of what is not, nevertheless the eventual solution to that problem is not a simple application of the earlier result that talk of what is not can make perfectly good sense. Why does Plato proceed in this way? Why does he not declare the problem of falsehood solved the moment he has given his account of negation?" (Chapter 9, p. 166)

  34. Desmond, William. 1979. "Plato's Philosophical Art and the Identification of the Sophist." Filosofia oggi no. 2:393-403.

    Summary: "The author starts from an interpretation of continuity in the dramatic character of Plato's dialogue (a trait to be found in the Sophist as well, also in account of those images helpful to outline the nature of the philosopher), thus bringing forward a reading of the dialogue based on the statement that Plato's philosophical purpose cannot be either dried up or fulfilled on the range of logical analysis."

  35. Diggle, James. 2020. "Two Conjectures in Plato (Laches 183e, Sophist 261a)." Hermes. Zeischrift für Klassische Philologie no. 148:381-382.

  36. Dinan, Matthew. 2013. "On Wolves and Dogs. The Eleatic Stranger’s Socratic Turn in the Sophist." In Socratic Philosophy and Its Others, edited by Dustin, Christopher and Schaeffer, Denise. Lanham: Lexington Books.

    " I argue that in adopting a kind of Socratic “virtuosity,” the shortcomings of the Eleatic alternative to Socrates are put in dramatic relief. Not only does the Stranger’s appropriation of Socratic elenchos ultimately fail to produce clarity with respect to the sophist, but the drama of the dialogue suggests that the Stranger is critically lacking in self-knowledge. We see this most clearly in the Stranger’s philosophical parricide of “Father” Parmenides; certainly, it is through this parricide that the Stranger is able to produce an internally consistent account of being and logos, but the Stranger’s consistency only serves to attenuate his abstraction from a satisfactory account of the human things. At the end of the dialogue the Stranger thus produces a conclusion no more satisfying than the Athenian jury of the Apology—that Socrates looks awfully similar to a sophist. The specific ways in which Plato problematizes the Stranger’s investigation and conclusions, however, provide us with some insights into why Plato made Socrates the philosophical hero of the dialogues, particularly insofar as the Stranger seems lacking in Socrates’ characteristic self-knowledge. In the last analysis, while Plato opens the Sophist by dividing philosophy like from like, he closes it by dividing it better from worse, vindicating Socrates." (p. 117)

  37. Dominick, Yancy Hughes. 2018. "The Image of the Noble Sophist." Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy no. 22:203-220.

    Abstract: "In this paper, I begin with an account of the initial distinction between likenesses and appearances, a distinction which may resemble the difference between sophists and philosophers. That distinction first arises immediately after the puzzling appearance of the noble sophist, who seems to occupy an odd space in between sophist and philosopher. In the second section, I look more closely at the noble sophist, and on what that figure might tell us about images and the use of images. I also attempt to use the insights provided by the noble sophist in an investigation of the kind of images that Plato the author produces. This raises the question of the general notion of image as it appears in the Sophist, and especially of the dual nature of all images, which in turn invites reflection on certain features of the examination of being and non-being late in the dialogue. Finally, I return to the deception inherent in images, and I argue that this dialogue does not present the possibility of completely honest images. Nevertheless, I hope to show that some uses of deceptions and images are better than others."

  38. Dorter, Kenneth. 1990. "Diairesis and the Tripartite Soul in the Sophist." Ancient Philosophy no. 10:41-61.

    "It has not generally been observed that there are remarkable differences between the way that the Eleatic stranger defines the sophist in the dialogue of that name, and the way that Socrates had characterized him in the earlier dialogues. These differences entail some serious consequences, and by paying attention to these we will be able to notice important implications of the Sophist's treatment of its theme. More generally, it will help us evaluate the claim that the dialogue represents a fundamental departure from Plato's earlier thinking." (p. 41)

  39. ———. 1994. Form and Good in Plato's Eleatic Dialogues: the Parmenides, Theaetetus, Sophist, and Statesman. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    "The four dialogues examined here form a natural group with sequential concerns. Since the aim of the present study is to try to understand the group as a whole, I have sacrificed the advantage of greater detail that book-length commentaries would provide, in order to present a more synoptic picture. But although the treatment of individual dialogues will not be as extensively detailed as in book-length studies, I have tried to pay careful attention both to the conceptual arguments and to the dramatic and literary events, and have tried to ensure that the lessening of detail would not mean a lessening of attentiveness." (from the Preface, p. IX)


    "In the middle dialogues such as the Phaedo and Republic, Plato defines reality with reference to the criterion of rationality. Reason apprehends what is universal and unchanging, but not what is particular and in flux. The senses apprehend what is particular and in flux, but not what is universal and unchanging. Since reason is a more trustworthy guide to truth than are the changeable and deceptive senses, true reality is to be identified with "being" (the universal and unchanging) rather than "becoming" (the particular and fluid). This is the dichotomy represented later in the Sophist by the gods (friends of the forms) and giants (materialists), respectively. The former maintain against the materialists that "through the body we have intercourse with becoming by means of the senses, and by means of reason through the soul we have intercourse with real being, which always remains the same in the same respects, whereas becoming is different at different times" (248a). The leader of this dialogue is not Socrates but an unnamed stranger from Elea, who apparently is proposing to give up this dichotomy by neutralizing the difference between the gods and giants—in which case he would destroy the theory of forms in one of its most fundamental features.

    Consequently it is more important in the case of the Sophist than with most other dialogues to consider its standpoint in relation to that of its predecessors. There are in fact notable differences between the way sophistry—the defining focus of the present dialogue—is portrayed here and in the Socratic dialogues." (pp. 121-122)

  40. ———. 2013. "The Method of Division in the Sophist: Plato’s Second deuteros plous." In Plato's Sophist Revisited, edited by Bossi, Beatriz and Robinson, Thomas M., 87-99. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    "I have suggested that the trilogy [Parmenides, Theaetetus, Sophist], like the Phaedo, approaches the good indirectly, by a deuteros plous. The reason the good cannot be presented directly is indicated in the final definition. The visitor concedes that it is difficult to know in which of the two species of images – distorted “semblances” or accurate “likenesses” – the sophist’s products belong (Sophist 236c – d). He goes on to locate that difficulty in the problem that to say what is false is to attribute existence to “what is not”, and although at first he raises this point with regard to semblances rather than likenesses (236e– 239e), he proceeds to broaden the problem: since any image (ειδωλον) differs from the true thing (άληθινον) that it imitates, it must be not true (μή άληθινον), which means it really is not (ούκ όντος). When Theaetetus points out that it “really is a likeness (εικόν),” the visitor replies, “Without really being, then, it really is what we call a likeness (εικόνα)?” (239d – 240b). Although the passage began as if only semblances were problematic, the problem was eventually extended to images in general, and by the end even likenesses were expressly included." (p. 97)

  41. Driscoll, John. 1979. "The Platonic Ancestry of Primary Substance." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 24:253-269.

    "In this paper I will not examine the three-sided relationship between the Receptacle, primary substance, and primary matter. Such an examination would afford an interesting perspective from which to study the development of Aristotle's theory of substance from the Categories to the Metaphysics, but it would raise many difficult issues not easily resolved in a short paper. I will instead simply list the properties shared by the Receptacle and primary substance and discuss one important consequence of the link thereby established between Timaeus 49-52 and Categories V: that the well-known controversy between G. E. L. Owen and Harold Cherniss over the dating of the Timaeus must be decided in favor of Owen, at least with respect to the relative dating of the Timaeus and the Sophist. I propose to show, in other words, that Categories V owes a much greater debt to Plato than is usually thought and that an examination of this debt increases our understanding not only of Aristotle's theory of substance but also of the development of Plato's later philosophy." (pp. 253-254)

  42. Duerlinger, James. 1988. "The ontology of Plato's Sophist: I. The problems of falsehood, non-being and being." The Modern Schoolman no. 65:151-184.

    Second part: The Modern Schoolman, LXV, March, 1988, 170-184.

    "This is the first part of a two-part article in which Plato's discussion of the problems of falsehood, non-being and being, as presented in his Sophist, 236D9-25908, is explained from an ontological perspective. A new, unifying account of Plato's discussion is introduced that place it squarely within the framework of his theory of forms as it was understood by Aristotle and the ancient Platonists instead of the linguistic frameworks in which it has been placed by modern scholars. Because these linguistic frameworks have dominated both the modern translations and interpretations of Plato's text, readers will need to take special care not to presuppose the correctness of one or another of them when assessing this explanation. In particular to understand what is said here readers must free themselves of the habit of assuming that we are concerned with interpretations of " is" in positive statements of existence, predication, or identity, or with interpretations of "is not" in negative statements of existence, predication, or identity. The result of their effort, I believe, will be a clearer understanding of the novelty of my account, and consequently, a better understanding of the place of Plato's discussion within the history of ancient Greek ontology.

    In the first part of this article I shall explain Plato's presentations of the problems of falsehood, non-being, and being, and in the second I shall explain his solutions t0 these problems in the context of his reply to those who deny that something can be both one and many. As Plato presents the problems of falsehood and non-being, I claim, he intends that we should realize that they rely on the assumption that because non-being is the contrary of being nothing can be both a being and a non-being. For this reason his solution to these problems is to argue, first of all, that non-being is not the contrary of being, but instead the form of otherness than another being, and secondly, that because every being, including being itself, partakes of this form, something can be both a being and a non-being." (p. 151)

  43. Duncombe, Matthew. 2012. "Plato's Absolute and Relative Categories at Sophist 255c14." Ancient Philosophy no. 32:77-86.

    "Beginning at Sophist 255c9 the Eleatic Stranger attempts a proof that ‘being’ (τὸ ὄν) and ‘other’ (τὸ θάτερον) are different very great kinds. The key step in this proof is to group beings (τῶν ὄντων) into those that are themselves in themselves (αὐτὰ καθ’ αὑτά) and those that are in relation to other things (πρὸς ἄλλα). Much effort has been made to understand this distinction between αὐτὰ καθ’ αὑτά and πρὸς ἄλλα. The prevailing approach takes the former to name the class of ‘absolute’ terms and the latter to name the class of ‘relative’ terms, categories described in Diogenes Laertius’ Life of Plato. Some, however, have argued that this category approach fails because it cannot say into which class some terms, such as ‘sameness’, fit. This represents a longstanding interpretive impasse. In this paper I show that an alternative manuscript reading can preserve the general category approach, whilst allowing ‘sameness’ to fit into the scheme, and thereby end the interpretive deadlock. I then defend my alternative reading against the possible objection that certain terms do not fit into the new scheme by appealing to a range of texts where Plato discusses relative terms." (p. 77, notes omitted)

    "For a good overview of the literature on this distinction, see John Malcolm, "A Way Back for Sophist 255c12-13", Ancient Philosophy 26: 275-289. 2006, p. 276."

  44. Eisenberg, Paul D. 1976. "More on non-being and the one." Apeiron no. 10:6-14.

    "In a recent issue of this journal, Prof. William Bondeson has argued(1) that previous translations of το μηδαμώς ου will not do (or, in some cases, are even seriously misleading); and he proposes to translate that phrase by 'that which has no characteristics at all'. In the second section of his paper, he seeks to show that there is "a close resemblance" (p.17) — indeed, "a direct parallel" (p. 18)—between the Sophist's το μηδαμώς όν and the ostensible subject of the first and sixth hypotheses of the second part of the Parmenides. Although, to be sure, he raises a number of other points as well—and although I am inclined to agree

    with much else that he says or suggests in his paper—what I have just indicated seem to me to be the principal theses in his paper. In any case, in this paper I shall deal almost exclusively with them—and I shall take issue with both of them. Or, more exactly, I shall argue that Bondeson's proposal for a new translation is quite untenable; and, while agreeing that there is indeed a "direct parallel" between the materials in the two dialogues that he considers, I shall question what seems to be his interpretation of the significance of those materials or arguments." (p. 13)

    (1) "Non-Being and the One." Apeiron, Vol. VII, No. 2 (1973). 13-21.

  45. El Murr, Dimitri. 2006. "Paradigm and Diairesis: A Response To M.L. Gill’s 'Models In Plato’s Sophist and Statesman'." Plato: The Internet Journal of the International Plato Society no. 6:1-9.

    "In her interesting and stimulating paper, Mary-Louise Gill addresses one of the central issues in Plato’s Sophist and Statesman: what is a model (paradeigma) and how does one become useful in a dialectical inquiry? Gill’s main thesis is clear: a paradeigma becomes truly useful when not only the sameness between the example and the target but also their difference are recognized (“the inquirers need to recognize, not only the feature that is the same in the example and the target, but also the difference between the two embodiments and the procedural difference those different embodiments entail”)." (p. 1)

  46. El_Bizri, Nader. 2004. "On και κώρα. Situating Heidegger between the Sophist and the Timaeus." Studia Phaenomenologica no. 4:73-98.

    Abstract: "In attempting to address the heideggerian Seinsfrage, by way of situating it between the platonic conception of ̉όν in the Sophist and of χώρα in the Timaeus, this paper investigates the ontological possibilities that are opened up in terms of rethinking space. Asserting the intrinsic connection between the question of being and that of space, we argue that the maturation of ontology as phenomenology would not unfold in its furthermost potential unless the being of space gets clarified. This state of affairs confronts us with the exacting ontological task to found a theory of space that contributes to an explication of the question of being beyond its associated temporocentric determinations. Consequently, our line of inquiry endeavors herein to constitute a prolegmenon to the elucidation of the question of the being of space as “ontokhorology.”

  47. Ellis, John. 1995. "Δύναμις and Being: Heidegger on Plato's Sophist 247d8-e4." Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy no. 3:43-78.

    "This definition of being is proposed by the Stranger in the course of his discussion of the "gigantic battle."

    One side maintains that only tangible, visible bodies have being (οὐσία), while the other claims that being is limited to only incorporeal, invisible Forms, the bodies of the opponents being relegated to the realm of becoming (δύναμις)." (p. 43)


    "There is hardly a line in the above summary of the setting for 247d-e that is uncontroversial. The crux of the controversy is of course whether Plato is offering a definition of being as δύναμις;. Should we take this seriously, or is it merely a mark of being, used to refute the corporealists? After all, it looks as if the Stranger merely suggests that the known is changed by the knower-it is in fact one of three options mentioned so

    the friends of the Forms may not be forced to accept it. And if we do take the definition seriously, this surely entails that Plato has radically altered his view on the nature of the Forms.

    The issue still divides scholars. Heidegger's interpretation of this passage in his lecture course on the Sophist is one that takes the definition seriously.


    What is most interesting, however, is his relation to an unnamed interpreter, whom, as we shall see, Heidegger no doubt wants to take issue with, but who also fundamentally shaped Heidegger's own reading. This

    kind of problematic relationship is even more so because he remains unnamed. He is none other than Paul Natorp, whose name explicitly occurs only one other time in the course of the lecture (with the obvious exception of the eulogy at the very beginning), and that is with respect to his article on Antisthenes [*]." (p. 44)


    "The essay is divided into three subsequent sections. I will give a review of Natorp's interpretation in section II. In section III, we shall turn to Heidegger's reading in the Sophist lecture, pointing out, along the way, influences of, and divergences from, Natorp. And in section IV, we will briefly consider the issue of destruction." (p. 45)


    [*] Natorp, Antisthenes, Realencyclopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft I 2, (1894), 1538-1545.

    Natorp, Paul. Platos ldeenlehre. 1903. Reprint of the 2nd (1921) edition. Hamburg: Felix Meiner, 1961

  48. Esposti Ongaro, Michele. 2009. "The Ontological Ground of Syntax: An Analysis of Plato's Sophist, 262c2-5. A Reply to Bruno Centrone." Les Études Platoniciennes no. 6.

    "In his most recent translation of the dialogue, B. Centrone(1) argues that the expressions οὐσία ὄντος and οὐσία μή ὄντος can be interpreted in different ways, according to how we interpret the noun οὐσία, either as an indication of what a thing is or as an indication of the fact that it is.

    Therefore, Centrone remarks that the meaningful λόγος can assert (a) that a thing which is, or a thing which is not, are (the horse is; the chimera is); (b) what a thing which is (exists) is, or what it is not (the horse is a quadruped, it isn’t a biped); (c) what a thing which is (exists) is, or what a thing which is not (doesn’t exist) is (a swallow is winged; a chimera is winged); or (d) that a particular nature is or is not.

    Centrone suggests that the first is the right interpretation. Nevertheless I am not sure that he really gives a complete range of choices. I don’t believe that the expression οὐσία μή ὄντος could refer to a non-existing entity like “a chimera”, for the simple reason that Plato had previously excluded not being as an entity: “not being” is rather an expression which means the idea of Difference, in relation to a subject. I will therefore try to demonstrate that the expressions ὄντος and οὐσία μή ὄντος aren’t equivalent and that the first refers to a particular entity, while the second has a completely different function." (p. 178)

    (1) Platone, Sofista, Translation of B. Centrone, Torino, Einaudi, 2008, note 146 p. 223.

  49. Esses, Daniel. 2019. "Philosophic appearance and sophistic essence in Plato’s Sophist. A New Reading of the Definitions." Ancient Philosophy no. 39:295-317.

    "Why does the Eleatic Visitor present so many definitions of sophistry in Plato's Sophist? Is the final definition complete, or should it be qualified and supplemented with further research'! These arc long-standing questions in scholarship on Plato·s Sophist, and they have been the subject of lively debate.(1) I develop a new reading of the dialogue's definitions and provide fresh answers to these questions.

    The distinguishing features of my reading are the following. First, I read the Sophist as a drama, paying special attention to how the dialogue's participants are portrayed and its place in a trilogy that also includes the Theaetetus and the Statesman. Second, rather than simply casting aside the first six definitions of sophistry as erroneous and irrelevant due to the success of the seventh definition, I examine what they each contribute to !he search for the sophist. The multiple definitions not only help highlight the sophist's deceptiveness and manifold appearances, but they also though subtly and gradually turn our attention to the challenge of distinguishing Socrates and sophists. Last, I strike, middle course in my assessment of the Visitor's final definition. I accept it as an adequate disclosure of the sophist's essence, but I also grapple with the possibility that it fails to provide adequate guidance for differentiating between Socratic philosophizing and sophistry." (p. 295)

    (1) See Rickless 2010 for a recent intervention in this debate. Brown 2010 and Gill 2010 are also notable for their focus on the dialogue's divisions and definitions. Though studies focusing on this particular aspect of the dialogue are relatively recent, interpretations of the dialogue as a whole generally address the status and significance of the definitions, with varying conclusions.


    Brown, Lesley 2010. "Definition and Division in Plato' Sophist ." In Definition in Greek Philosophy , edited by Charles, David, 151-171. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Gill, Mary Louis. 2010. "Division and Definition in Plato's Sophist and Statesman ." In Definition in Greek Philosophy , edited by Charles, David, 172-199. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Rickless, Samuel C. 2010. "Plato's Definition(s) of Sophistry." Ancient Philosophy no. 30:289-298.

  50. Ferejohn, Michael T. 1989. "Plato and Aristotle on Negative Predication and Semantic Fragmentation." Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie no. 71:257-282.

    "This paper opened with the proposal of a somewhat unorthodox approach to reading the Sophist (as a close companion to certain Aristotelian texts), to which can now be added a further methodological prescription which needs no apology whatsoever. Simply put, it is that the Sophist should be read as a single and continuous whole. This may not seem to need saying, but in fact it is all too tempting (and has been too common) to think of the dialogue almost as if it were two separate works: an "outer shell" (216 — 36 and 264 — 8) in which Plato is concerned primarily to show off his method of division (and secondarily to continue his sustained invective against the sophists), and a more philosophical "inner core" (237 — 64) where the aim is to vindicate the possibility of false thought and speech against Eleatic attack. This bifurcation is an excessive reaction to an unexceptionable fact.

    For one can quite readily agree that there is a vast difference in philosophical content between the two parts of this alleged division without committing the correlative errors of regarding the "inner" section as self-contained, and dismissing the "outer" sections as so much optional reading when trying to puzzle out the discussion of negation, falsity, and related topics which occurs at 237 — 64.

    Besides the general point that this false partition denies justice to Plato both as a philosopher and as a master of the dramatic craft, there are very powerful reasons pertaining to the specific issues involved for suspecting that the parts in question must be more connected than the explicit transitions at 236,7 and 264 make it seem.

    Chief among these is the fact that whereas the particular application of the method of division to the very special case of the sophist might depend on the intelligibility of false statement, Plato's very conception of the method itself presupposes the coherence of negative predication." (pp. 264-265)

  51. Ferg, Stephen. 1976. "Plato on False Statement: Relative Being, a Part of Being, and Not-Being in the Sophist." Journal of The History of Philosophy no. 14:336-342.

    "Recently Plato's account of not-Being in the Sophist has received considerable attention, notably in papers by David Wiggins, (1) G. E. L. Owen, (2) and Edward N. Lee. (3)

    Lee's discussion is especially important because it emphasizes (in my opinion, correctly) the analogy of the partitioning of Knowledge at 257c-d. Nevertheless even Lee seems to me to fail to give a correct explanation of the Sophist's discussion of this matter." (p. 336)

    (1) David Wiggins, "Sentence Meaning, Negation, and Plato's Problem of Non-Being," in Plato, A Collection of Critical Essays, Vol. I: Metaphysics and Epistemology, ed. Gregory Vlastos (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1971), pp. 268-303.

    (2) G. E. L Owen, "Plato on Not-Being," also in Vlastos, pp. 223-267. (Henceforth referred to as "Owen.')

    (3) Edward N. Lee, "Plato on Negation and Not-Being in the Sophist," Philosophical Review, LXXXI, 3 (July, 1972), 267-304. (Henceforth referred to as "Lee.")

  52. Ferreira, Fernando. 2001. "A Two-Worlds, Two-Semantics Interpretation of Plato's Sophist." In Greek Philosophy and Epistemology. Vol. II, edited by Boudouris, Costantin, 61-68. Athens: Ionia Publications.

    "The avowed purpose of Plato’s Sophist is to characterize the sophist. In the first part of his book, Plato employs the method of divisions to obtain this characterization, and eventually arrives at the conclusion that the sophist is an imitator and that “there is an art, concerned with speeches, by which it is possible to beguile the young” (234c). From here it is short shrift to arrive at the problem of falsity. This problem is, I claim, the philosophical leitmotiv that drives the discussions in the second part of Plato’s Sophist (after 236d). One should be clear about what exactly this problem consists of. In the Sophist, Plato is not concerned with the problem of the meaningfulness of false statements concerning some high-minded realm of objects (e.g., forms) - quite to the contrary (see the epilogue). Plato is concerned with falsity in ordinary statements. This is worth emphasizing: Plato’s main problem in the Sophist is to account for the meaningfulness of such simple and prosaic (false) statements as ‘Theaetetus is flying’ (263a)." (p. 61)

  53. Figal, Gunter. 2000. "Refraining from Dialectic: Heidegger's Interpretation of Plato in the Sophist Lectures (1924/25)." In, edited by Scott, Charles E. and Sallis, John, 95-109. Albany: State University of New York Press.

    "We should begin with a general characterization of the Sophist and Heidegger's reading of the dialogue. The aim of the long and extremely difficult discussion between the Eleatic Stranger and Theaetetos is to find out how something like sophistry is possible. To find an answer to this question is equivalent to investigating the human way of being in the world. In this way Plato's dialogue is a contribution to ontology. Nearly needless to say that it is an ontology of a very special kind and that the ontological investigation also turns out to be very special because of the nature of its subject. As Heidegger puts it, from the attempt to hold up a mirror "to the sophist's concrete Dasein within Greek life" (GA, 19:189) soon arises the suspicion, that sophists are connected with "deception and fraud," and so the investigation has to determine the status of deception and fraud. A quite simple reflection makes clear that every deception makes a pretense of being something that it is not, it passes off "non-being for being." Accordingly, the question of the being of the sophist's form of life is the question of the being of non-being. And, as Heidegger stresses, this means "a revolution in the previous way of thinking, even in the previous way in which Plato himself put forward the meaning of being"; the demonstration of non-being in being "is nothing less than the more radical conception of the meaning of being itself' (GA, 19: 192)." (pp. 96-97)


    GA 19 = Martin Heidegger, Platon: Sophistes, edited by Ingeborg Schüßler, Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1992.

  54. Fine, Gail. 1977. "Plato on Naming." The Philosophical Quarterly no. 27:289-301.

    "Plato is sometimes criticized for having failed to distinguish names and sentences, and naming and stating, until the Sophist, and this failure is thought to underlie both his supposed perplexity about false belief in the Cratylus, Theaetetus, and elsewhere, and his claim, in the Cratylus, that names can be true and false" (p. 289)


    "This does not imply that Plato is clear about the differences between names and sentences; but we shall at least find that there is no evidence committing him to any confusion here. Nor, as we shall see, does Plato conflate stating and naming, in either of the alleged ways. Finally, we shall see that neither his account of true names nor his account of false belief in the Cratylus rests on the crude views ascribed to him. The account of true names says no more than that names are true or false of things, and that correct assignments of names depend upon the descriptive content of names. The account of false belief, so far from depending on the atomist "hit or miss" model, in fact matches the Sophist's later, supposedly more mature, account." (pp. 290-291)

  55. Flower, Robert. 1980. "G. E. L. Owen, Plato and the Verb To Be." Apeiron no. 14:87-95.

    "When it comes to Plato, the question which Aristotle tells us has plagued philosophers from the beginning — namely, "What is being?" (1) — has been reduced by certain contemporary commentators to the question, "How many syntactically distinct uses of the verb "to be" can be discerned in Plato's Sophist.(2) Over this latter question there has arisen something of a controversy of interpretation between two camps, so to speak. The first camp, from which I have chosen as representative, J.L. Ackrill (3), claims to have discerned three distinct uses: the "is" of identity, the "is" of the copula, and the "is" of existence. The second camp, represented here by G.E.L. Owen,(4) claims that there are only two uses of the verb "to be" in the Sophist: the "is" of identity and the "is" of the copula. To quote Professor Owen,

    "The Sophist will turn out to be primarily an essay in problems of reference and predication and in the incomplete uses of the verb associated with these. The argument neither contains nor compels any isolation of an existential verb."(5)

    I should like to argue in this paper that both camps are mistaken. There is only one use of the verb "to be" in the Sophist — namely, the "is" of participation — and it is this and this use alone that constitutes Plato's answer to Aristotle's question.

    Being, for Plato of the Sophist, is participation or, perhaps better, the "power of participating". Thus, while Owen is, I shall argue, quite correct when he inveighs against discerning a substantive, existential use of the verb "to be" in the Sophist, his own account (and the arguments he offers in favor of it) warrants, shall we say, a "friendly amendment".

    Whether one has adopted Ackrill's position or been persuaded by Owen, the evidence in question is minimally two-fold. Either interpretation must account for, first, the various passages wherein Plato either employs or seems to imply the expression, "participates in being" and, second, the passage from 255b7 to 255e where the Eleatic Stranger distinguishes Being from the Same and the Other."

    (1) Aristotle, Metaphysics, Z 1.7, 1028b3-8.

    (2) While this is not the time to argue about the advisability of such a "reduction". I must admit to the suspicion that the approach to Plato inherent in such a reduction does generate certain confusions; if only because it fails to preserve the issue of the initial question.

    (3) J.L. Ackrill, "Plato and the Copula: Sophist 251-259", Plato I: Metaphysics and Epistemology ed. Gregory Vlastos (Garden City, 1971), pp. 210-222. For further representatives of AckrilPs position see P.M. Cornford, Plato's Theory of Knowledge (London, 1935),

    p. 296; P. Shorey, What Plato Said (Chicago, 1933), p.298; M.K. Moravcsik, "Being and Meaning in the Sophist", Acta Philosophica Fennica xiv (1962), pp. 23-78; I.M. Crombie, An Examination of Plato's Doctrines (London, 1962), vol. II, pp. 498-499.

    (4) G.E.L. Owen, "Plato on Not-Being", Vlastos, pp. 223-267. See also Owen, "Aristotle on the Snares of Ontology", New Essays on Plato and Aristotle ed. R. Bambrough (London, 1965), pp. 69-95. For others who tend to share Owen's position see J. Malcolm, "Plato's Analysis of το v and το μη δν in the Sophist", Phronesis xii (1967), pp. 130-146; M. Frede, "Pradikation und Existenzaussage" Hympomnemata xviii (1967), pp. 1-99; W.O. Runciman, Plato's Later Epistemology (Cambridge, 1962), ch, iii; C. Kahn, "The Greek Verb "To Be" and the Concept of Being", Foundations of Language ii (1966), p. 261.

    (5) Owen, op. cit., p. 225.

  56. ———. 1984. "The number of being." The Modern Schoolman no. 62:1-26.

    "It is to my mind no accident that the primary interlocutor of both the Theaetetus and the Sophist, is the young mathematician, Theaetetus. In the former dialogue Theaetetus· in-roads into a theory of proportion that would include incommensurables constitute the model in terms of which Plato would have us understand the "fluid" logic of "maieutic" inquiry. I should here like to argue that the "object" of Theaetetus' own mathematical studies - namely incommensurables - offer Plato, if not the literal truth with regard to Being, at least a revealing metaphor in terms of which the nature and logic of Being can be articulated." (p. 1)

  57. Foshay, Raphael. 2017. "Plato at the Foundation of Disciplines: Method and the Metaxu in the Phaedrus, Sophist, and Symposium." IAFOR Journal of Arts & Humanities no. 4:15-23.

    Abstract: "This paper situates the interpretation of Plato in its 2500-year trajectory toward a significant change in the mid-twentieth century, away from the attempt to establish Plato’s metaphysical doctrines to a recognition of the intrinsic value of their literary-dramatic dialogue form. I discuss the lingering presence of doctrinal interpretation in the Nietzschean-Heideggerian tradition of Plato interpretation as it manifests in Derrida’s reading of Plato’s Phaedrus. I then give two examples of the transformative power of attention to the literary-dramatic structure of the dialogues in the work of two quite different but mutually confirming kinds of contemporary Plato interpretation, those by Catherine H. Zuckert and William Desmond, respectively. The Plato that emerges from their work confirms the growing recognition that the tradition of Platonism does not represent the thinking embodied in Plato’s dialogues."


    Desmond, W. (1979). Plato’s philosophical art and the identification of the sophist. Filosofia Oggi, 11, 393–403.

    Zuckert, C. H. (2009). Plato’s philosophers: The coherence of the dialogues. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

  58. Fossheim, Hallvard J. 2013. "Development and Not-Being in Plato’s Sophist." The New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy no. 13:318-327.

    Abstract: "Plato’s dialogue the Sophist seems to contribute to two separate projects that are not easily reconciled: on the one hand, defining the sophist, and, on the other hand, developing a theory of being and process. In this article, it is argued that the two undertakings come together in what is a main focus for the dialogue’s interlocutors and a major issue in Plato’s writings overall, namely, education or development. This is an issue which in the Sophist finds expression in two separate but intimately interconnected questions, concerning the “who” and “how,” respectively, of the educational process."

  59. Foster, Bennett. 2018. "Platonic Agonism: A Dialogical Addendum to Plato’s Sophist." Sophia and Philosophia no. 1:1-28.

    "The following addendum to Plato’s Sophist was fabricated as a kind of experimental answer to a specific contextual question: What is the relation of Plato’s conception of philosophy to the practice of the agōn in Ancient Greece? For the “contest-system,”(1) to adopt Gouldner's phrase, has long been recognized as one of the salient features of Greek culture in the centuries leading up to Plato’s time.(2)" (p. 1)


    (1) By “contest-system,” Gouldner means to convey the sense that the agōn is a systematic cultural entity, almost on the level of a formal institution. By agōn there is certainly meant more here than the sum of the various types of contests in Ancient Greece, let alone a particular type or instance of contest. Alvin Gouldner, “The Greek Contest System,” in Enter Plato: Classical Greece and the Origins of Social Theory (New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1965), 41-77.

    (2) Jacob Burkhardt is credited with popularizing the notion of the “Agonal Age” of Greek history, during which the agōn was a “motive power ... capable of working on the will and potentialities of each individual .... and indeed became the paramount feature of life.” While the agōn was on the wane in Plato’s time, its influence was formative and lasting, and it was still a live issue whether traditional values such as the agōn represented should be retained. [Jacob Burkhardt, The Greeks and Greek Civilization, trans. by Sheila Stern, ed. by Oswyn Murray (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998), 162, 166.]