Theory and History of Ontology by Raul Corazzon | e-mail: rc
Kalligas, Paul. 2012. "From Being an Image to Being What-Is-Not." In Presocratics and Plato: Festschrift at Delphi in Honor of Charles Kahn , edited by Patterson, Richard, Karasmanis, Vassilis and Hermann, Arnold, 391-409. Las Vegas: Parmenides Publishing.
"As Cornford has formulated it,(5) “the class of ‘images’ (εἴδωλα) we are concerned with—semblances—imply two relations between image and original.
The image is more or less like the original, though not wholly like it, not a reproduction. But it is also conceived as possessing in some sense a lower grade of reality , as illusory, phantom-like” (author’s emphasis). Thus it is not unusual to find Plato being accused of abandoning the world of concrete sensible reality in favor of a nebulous region of intangible presumed “prototypes” of the items encountered by our everyday experience, of assuming as properly real what—to every sober minded naturalist—seem to be no more than abstractions from things or features existing in the world of our common, and commonly shared, experience.
In what follows, I wish to challenge certain aspects of this interpretation of the analogy of the image and to suggest that Plato did not intend to question the reality of sensible existence, but only to deny that we can be confident about the truth of any statements we make in reference to it. In my view, in interpreting the image analogy we have to take seriously into account the extended analysis Plato offers with respect to the various kinds of imaging in the Sophist , where a great amount of energy is given to an ex professo examination of this, at first glance, rather inconsequential or, at best, marginal topic." (pp. 392-393)
(5) See F. M. Cornford, Plato’s Theory of Knowledge (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1935), 199.
Karanasiou, Argyri G. 2016. "The Term symplokē in Symposium 202b1 and in Sophist 240d1ff, 259d-261c: Heidegger's Interpretation of the Concept of "Interconnection" in Platonic Thought " In Sophistes: Plato's Dialogue and Heidegger's Lectures in Marburg (1924-25) , edited by De Brasi, Diego and Fuchs, Marko J., 113-130. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
"The pivotal question raised in this study is, whether Socrates's presentation of Eros in the Symposium could serve as an allegory of the concept of symploke (2) of Forms anticipating the exclusive and exhaustive distinction of a thing, its polar contrary, and its different (the tertium quid or third alternative) as presented in the relevant discussion of the Sophist (240d1; 259b5f; 260a1-6; d5).(3) Heidegger (GA 19, 572) argues that although Plato has seen the heteron early (in the Symposium ), he only conceived the difference between heteron and enantiosis (mere negation) later referring to symploke as a logical possibility of something 'being' and 'not-being' at the same time; existing, even if it is other than itself (GA 19, 431-32; 569-75; 580). Relating to this topic in his Lectures on the Sophist Heidegger refers to a passage (Smp . 202b1) where the idea of otherness (heteron ) is probably defined as signifying not necessarily opposition (enantion , GA 19, 572).4 Both the discovery of the heteron as a category in the Symposium and the resolution of the problem of negation through the notion of interconnection (symploke ) in the Sophist laid the foundation of dialectical logic ( cf. Sph . 253d; 259d4ff)." (pp. 113-114)
(2) The term is rendered either as 'combination', 'dependency' or 'interrelation'. The verb sympleko means in general 'plait together' and it is usually used with the verb syndeo which at Rsp . 309b means 'bind together' or 'unite'. Both verbs occur at Sph . 268d5-6 when a reverse recapitulation of the definition (toúnoma ) of the sophist is concisely mentioned (beginning at the end and closing at the opening of the dialogue).
(3) Cf. Seligman (1974), 18-9.
(4) Patt (1997), 23 7.
GA = Heidegger Gesamtausgabe
Patt, Walter. Formen des Anti-Platonismus bei Kant, Nietzsche und Heidegger . Frankfurt a. M.: Klostermann, 1997.
Seligman, Paul. Being and Not-Being: An Introduction to Plato's Sophist . Dordrecht: Springer, 1974.
Karfík, Filip. 2011. "Pantelôs on and megista genê (Plato, Soph. 242C–259b) " In Plato's Sophist: Proceedings of the Seventh Symposium Platonicum Pragense, edited by Havlíček, Aleš and Karfík, Filip, 120-145. Praha: Oikoymenh.
"About the middle of Plato’s Sophist a perplexity (ἀπορία) emerges out of a lengthy discussion as to how to catch the “tribe” of sophists with a definition. It turns out that to define a sophist as somebody who has to do with falsehood implies the existence of not-being.(1)
Such a hypothesis clearly infringes the ban placed on not-being by Parmenides in his celebrated poem.(2)"
"The inquiry into this question, which eventually leads to a solution of the question about not-being, fills out the rest of the central part of the dialogue.7 Both these questions having been solved, the interlocutors take up the interrupted job of defining the sophist and bring it to a successful conclusion. The Sophist, unlike the Theaetetus, thus ends up with a positive answer to the question it has initially raised, namely: “What is a Sophist?”8 But the way to get there is anything but straightforward and raises more questions than it solves. Formally, both subordinated questions, about not-being and about being, receive due answers, the first one via the second one.
But especially the answer to the question “What does it mean ‘to be’” is itself far from being clear. Modern interpreters do not agree about its general meaning and there are several more particular points in Plato’s presentation which are in dispute. In this paper I would like to enquire once again into these vexed issues in order to get clearer about the general meaning of Plato’s answer to the question: “What is being?” (pp. 120-121)
(1) Cf. Plato, Soph. 236d8–237a4.
(2) Cf. ibid., 237a4–b1, line a8–9 = Parmenides, fr. 7 Diels – Kranz
Keane, Niall. 2010. "Interpreting Plato Phenomenologically: Relationality and Being in Heidegger's Sophist." Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology no. 41:170-192.
"... this paper sets out to examine the phenomenological import of Heidegger’s subsequent interpretation and appropriation of relationality (pros ti ) and logos in his analyses of the megista gene in the Sophist . This paper addresses some of the more philosophically salient points of Heidegger’s ‘phenomenological interpretation’ and addresses what were, according to him, both the philosophical merits and limitations of Plato’s ‘late ontology’. To this end, I will attempt to explicate the phenomenological issues that inevitably remained unthematized in Plato’s Sophist . In this respect, I shall largely focus on Heidegger’s early interpretation of Plato’s analysis of ‘movedness’ (kinesis ), ‘otherness’ (heterotes ) and ‘relationality’ (pros ti ); each of which will then be considered with respect to the role of the logos .
The ancillary aim of this article will be to disentangle these specific issues from the perspective of the limits and ground of the pros ti and it will subsequently examine how Heidegger’s early reading of ‘relational movedness’ in the Sophist inspired his later Being and Time analysis of the disclosive negativity of Dasein’s “Being-in-the-world” (In-der-Welt-sein ). By way of conclusion, I argue, against what I consider to be a renewed case of ‘Platonic apologetics’, that Heidegger’s reading of Plato is best understood when approached from a purely ‘phenomenological perspective’. I contend that it is only by approaching Heidegger’s ‘deconstructive’ interpretation of Plato’s highest kinds from the standpoint of his nascent existential-ontology of Dasein, that one can both meaningfully defend and contextualise his interpretation of the Sophist against the above reproach. In contrast to what I have called a ‘Platonic apologetics’, I would like to argue that Heidegger’s compelling interpretation of the Sophist offers us an unconventional (yet nonetheless valid) way of responding to Plato’s thought, a response which is thoroughly evinced in the 1924/25 interpretation which I shall now pursue." (p. 170)
Kerferd, George B. 1954. "Plato's Noble Art of Sophistry (Sophist 226a-231b)." The Classical Quarterly no. 4:84-90.
"Plato's Sophist begins with an attempt to arrive by division at a definition of a Sophist. In the course of the attempt six different descriptions are discussed and the results summarized at 231 c-e. A seventh and final account may be said to occupy the whole of the rest of the dialogue, including the long digression on negative statements. The first five divisions characterize with a considerable amount of satire different types of sophist, (1) or more probably different aspects of the sophistic art.(2) The sixth division (226 a-231 b) is very different. To quote Cornford's words, 'satire is dropped. The tone is serious and sympathetic, towards the close it becomes eloquent.' (3)
"It is the purpose of this paper to argue that the natural meaning of the passage is the right one the persons referred to are sophists and Plato was aware that one aspect of their activities was not only extremely valuable but was a necessary preliminary to his own philosophy." (p. 84)
"There is thus ample evidence of the practice by sophists of a method which could be described in the terms which Plato uses in the Sixth Definition, a method which if used in the right way could prepare the ground for a true understanding of reality based on the Forms. It is in this sense that Plato could speak of 'the art of sophistry which is of noble lineage'." (p. 90)
(1) Cornford, Plato's Theory of Knowledge , 173.
(2) Taylor, Plato, the Man and His Work , 379. There is nothing to support Jackson's view (Journal of Philosophy, XIV (1885), 176-82) that Plato is describing successive stages in the history of the sophistic movement. Soph . 232 a shows that Plato held there was a single common element underlying the name 'sophist' and it is for this that he is searching.
(3) Op. cit . 177.
Ketchum, Richard J. 1978. "Participation and Predication in the Sophist 251-260." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 23:42-62.
"While a great deal of progress has been made in recent years in bringing to light the philosophical sense of the Sophist one problem, or cluster of problems, has resisted analysis.(1) The problem is that Plato seems to use a particular form of sentence ambiguously; the fact that he does so seems to reveal a fundamental confusion on Plato's part."
"Now it is argued that Plato uses sentences of the form "the F (is) ... sometimes to express a Form-predication and sometimes to say something about the nature of the F or perhaps about the nature of particular F 's. The fact Plato vacillates between these two types of predication not only obscures whatever philosophical point he may be making but also shows that Plato was confused about the nature of Forms.
I think, however, that there is a plausible reading of the Sophist which shows Plato to be in no way confused as to the meaning of such sentences.
None of the first-order sentences of the Sophist , I will argue, are Form predications.
After arguing that the text forces this conclusion on us (Part I), I will try to make the conclusion plausible (Part II) by describing a type of predication, different from Form-predication, in terms of which all of the first-order sentences of the Sophist can be consistently understood. A consequence of my interpretation is the rather surprising thesis that nowhere in the Sophist with the exception of those passages in which the friends of the Forms are discussed, does Plato mention the Forms of the middle dialogues. I will conclude (Part III) by explaining how I think those passages which seem to mention Forms are to be understood." (p. 42-43)
(1) The problem has been discussed by R. Robinson, Plato's Earlier Dialectic , 2nd Edition (Oxford, 1953), 250-264; I. M. Crombie, An Examination of Plato's Doctrine: II, Plato on Knowledge and Reality (London, 1963), 401-410; M. Frede, "'Pradikationu nd Existenzaussage," Hypomnemata , Heft 18, (1967) 9-99; and G. Vlastos, "On Ambiguity in the Sophist " in Platonic Studies , (Princeton, 1973), 270-322, among others, while it is alluded to by G. E. L. Owen, "Plato on Not-Being" in Plato I: Metaphysics and Epistemology , G. Vlastos, ed., (Garden City, 1971), 233, note 20.
Keyt, David. 1969. "Plato's Paradox that the Immutable is Unknowable." The Philosophical Quarterly no. 19:1-14.
"One of the great questions that Plato considers in the Sophist is that of the number and nature of real things (242d5-6). The protagonist of the dialogue, an Eleatic stranger, raises problems for both the pluralist (243D6-244B5) and the monist (244B6-246b5) without resolving them and then turns to the battle of gods and giants, the battle between those who hold that "body and being are the same" (246B1) and those who hold that "true being is certain intelligible and bodiless Forms" (246B7-8). What the one holds is the logical contrary, not the contradictory, of what the other holds; so it is possible that they are both wrong. This seems in fact to be the Eleatic's conclusion (249d10-D4), although by the time he gets to the friends of the Forms the property under examination has shifted from corporeality to mutability. The Eleatic stranger presents the friends of the Forms with an interesting paradox (248D1-b5). This is my subject. The friends of the Forms hold that real being " is always invariable and constant " (248A11-12). But being is known (248D2). And on the hypothesis that to know is to act on something, that which is known is acted upon (248D10-b1). Further, to be acted upon is to be changed (248b3-4). Therefore, since being is known, it is changed (248b3-4). But this conclusion contradicts their original contention." (p. 1)
"My conclusions are that he is not deeply committed to the proposition that Forms undergo change, but that he ought to be, and that he is deeply committed to the proposition that Forms are completely changeless, but for insufficient reasons. A Platonist really ought to hold that Forms are changeless in some respects but not in others. In what respects? This is my third question. Aristotle, in commenting on Plato's theory of Forms, provides a basis for answering it." (p. 2)
———. 1973. "Plato on Falsity: Sophist 263b." In Exegesis and Argument. Studies in Greek philosophy presented to Gregory Vlastos , edited by Lee, Edward N., Mourelatos, Alexander and Rorty, Richard, 285-305. Assen: Van Gorcum.
Klein, Jacon. 1977. Plato's Trilogy: Theaetetus, the Sophist, and the Statesman . Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
"There can be no doubt that the Platonic dialogues entitled Theaetetus, The Sophist , and The Statesman belong together --- in that order and are meant to be a "trilogy," regardless of when they were written. It is important to note that these three conversations are supposed to take place not during three days but two , shortly before the trial and the conviction of Socrates. (3) The conversation in the Theaetetus is followed on the next day by two conversations, by that in the Sophist and that in the Statesman . There is almost certainly no pause between the latter two. (4)" (p. 3)
"Independently of the time sequence within the dialogues, something is dealt with in the Sophist which happens to be the fundamental premise in the Theaetetus , namely, that the roots, the ultimate sources of everything, the "ruling beginnings" (the αρχαί ), arc these two: the 'Same' and the 'Other'. We shall, therefore, begin witl1 the Sophist , continue with the Theaetetus , and end with the Statesman .
How shall we convey what is either said or not said explicitly but only implied in the dialogues? We shall watch the text carefully, always remaining aware of the playfulness --- the sister of seriousness which persists in the dialogues and determines the way they proceed. We shall watch how the spoken words produce the dramatic content presented to us. We shall participate in the discussions: the paraphrase of the text of the dialogues will be interwoven with what occurs in us as listeners." (p. 5)
(3) Theaet. 210d 1-3.
(4) Cf. Diès, Platon: Oeuvres complètes, Vol. 8, pt. 3, Le Sophiste . Paris, 1963.
Kohnke, Friedrich Wilhelm. 1957. "Plato's Conception of τὸ οὐϰ ὄντως οὐϰ ὄν." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 2:32.40.
"In the neo-Platonic philosophy of the fifth century A.D. the hypostases of being are found in connection with a four-level scale of being and non-being." (p. 32)
"Plato seems to have formulated the concept of οὐϰ ὄντως οὐϰ ὄν for the first time in the Sophistes ." (p. 38)
"We are now in a position to recognise its roots: The neo-Platonists derived a terminology for their fourfold system of being from Plato's Parmenides , the dialogue which they honoured as the revelation of metaphysical truth, and combined this with their system of hypostases of the cosmos." (p. 40)
Kostman, James. 1973. "False Logos and Not-Being in Plato's Sophist ." In Patterns in Plato's Thought. Papers Arising Out of the 1971 West Coast Greek Philosophy Conference , edited by Moravcsik, Julius, 192-212. Dordrecht: Reidel.
"In the Sophist , Plato argues that false statements are possible, defending this common-sense view against the claims of a notorious sophistic puzzle: if there are false λόγοι, according to the puzzle, then not-Being is (237a3-4); but, as Parmenides had testified, what is-not cannot be (237a4-b2).
After introducing this puzzle, Plato goes on to magnify the difficulties it raises (237b7-239d3), and he asserts that, in order to refute Parmenides, we must show both that what is-not is and that what is is-not (239d4-242b5). Plato then takes up several traditional theories about Being (242b6-251a4), and finds that this subject too is full of perplexity. So he attempts to resolve the whole cluster of problems he has raised, starting with the question of how one and the same thing can be called by many names (251a5-d7). This leads to the topic of the communion of Kinds (251d7-257aI2). But, as we shall see, it is only at 257b1 that Plato begins
his direct reply to the original sophistic puzzle." (p. 192)
———. 1989. "The Ambiguity of 'Partaking' in Plato's Sophist ." Journal of The History of Philosophy no. 27:343-363.
"In the central section of the Sophist (25o-259), as Gregory Vlastos has shown,(1) statements about Forms or Kinds are subject to a certain structural ambiguity: 'The F is G' may be either an 'ordinary' or a 'Pauline' predication, in Vlastos' terminology; that is, it may either attribute being G to the F itself or assert that necessarily whatever is F is G. For example, 'Being is at rest' may assert either that the Form Being itself is at rest, in which case it is an ordinary predication, or that necessarily whatever is is at rest, in which case it is a Pauline predication." A few scholars have quibbled with Vlastos' interpretations of some of the passages on which he bases the claim that the ambiguity exists, but I find it surprising that, in the decade and a half since its publication, Vlastos' central thesis---that Plato was "utterly unaware" of the ambiguity--has never been directly challenged. After summarizing the evidence for the existence of the ambiguity in section 1 of this paper, I shall show in section 2 that the argument by which Vlastos concludes that there is "positive evidence" for his thesis is fundamentally incoherent.
In the rest of this paper, I offer an argument, based on my analysis of two important passages (255c-e and 25oa-e) and the relationship between them, that there is additional circumstantial evidence that Plato was not only aware of the ambiguity but allowed it to play a significant, though indirect, role in the overall argument of Soph . 250-259." (p. 343)
(1) Gregory Vlastos, "An Ambiguity in the Sophist," in his Platonic Studies , 270-322. This article will be referred to as 'AS'; all references to it and other papers in Platonic Studies are to the first edition.
Lacey, Alan Robert. 1959. "Plato's Sophist and the forms." The Classical Quarterly no. 9:43-52.
"The Sophist is on the face of it concerned to charge the sophist with being a mere maker of images, and to defend this charge by showing that images, though they 'are not' what they are images of, yet in some sense 'are'. This leads to the analysis of Not-being as being other than, but Plato makes it quite clear that the general problem concerns Being as much as Not-being (250 e); the difficulty is that Being is neither Rest nor Motion, and so can neither rest nor move of its own nature, but surely it must do one of these (250 c, d). In other words Being is in danger of not being able to have attributes except by being identical with them. The ensuing discussion seems to point out that this is not so, and that Forms, like other things, do have some attributes and not others, without being identical with them.
But such an interpretation will only hold if the Megista Gene are in fact all Forms. This is denied by Dr. A. L. Peck, who argues (Classical Quarterly . 1952; cf. 1953, 1954) (2) that the whole point of the discussion is to show that Being, Not-being, Same, and Other are not Forms, but merely empty names, and so φάντασματα rather than the εἰκώνες which are the names of real things; the sophist raises paradoxes by relying on linguistic habits (Dr. Peck (S p. 52) points to the frequency of verbs of saying in the Sophist ) to pervert the theory of Forms into positing absurd Forms." (p. 43)
Lanigan, Richard L. 1982. "Semiotic Phenomenology in Plato's Sophist ." Semiotica no. 41:221-246.
Reprinted in: John Deely (ed.), Frontiers in Semiotics, Bloomington: Indiana University Press 1986, pp. 199-216.
"My essay attempts to explicate the main features of the Platonic argument in order to establish that the model of discourse analysis is semiotic in nature and phenomenological in function. I am using the term model in its technical theory construction sense as an 'exemplar' (combined 'paradigm' and 'prototype') in a theory."
"My essay does not represent an effort to claim that Plato is either a semiologist or a phenomenologist. Rather, I argue that the dialogue Sophist offers a long neglected textual model of binary analogue thinking that is foundational to many of the issues current in the study of the philosophy of communication where semiology and phenomenology intersect in the problematic of analysis. Indeed, many of the basic elements in the Platonic investigation are being unnecessarily reinvented by contemporary theorists. By addressing the fundamental problem of the Being of Not-Being, Plato provides a semiotic phenomenology of discourse in which he demonstrates the acceptability of analytic proofs as the concrete analysis of empirical communication acts. Thus, the dialogue Sophist represents a critical, but often ignored, theoretical foundation for an empirical examination of the sign relationship between the ontology of the speaking subject and the epistemology of the discourse system." (pp. 221-222, note omitted)
Larsen, Jens Kristian. 2007. "The Soul of Sophistry: Plato’s “Sophist” 226a9–231b9 revisited." Filosofiske Studier no. 102:1-14.
"It is a widespread opinion that the first part of the Sophist (216a – 237b) is primarily concerned with the problem of finding an adequate definition of the sophist. Within this passage six different definitions
are given, each unsatisfactory, until a seventh description leads to the main problems of the dialogue, namely the questions concerning non-being, being, the intertwining of forms and the problem concerning false statements. Whereas the first five definitions are relatively unproblematic, the sixth is known to be troublesome – it has a peculiar resemblance to the Socrates-figure of the elenctic dialogues.
In the following I shall argue that the so-called sixth definition is not a definition of the sophist at all, but a methodological reflection which plays a central role in the overall composition of the dialogue. I shall further argue that this methodological reflection shows that Plato did not change his basic notion of philosophy in the late dialogues towards a more ‘technical’ concept, as is often maintained, but in a fundamental way stayed true to the Socratic, ‘existential’ impulse." (p. 1)
———. 2013. "The Virtue of Power." The New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy no. 13:306-317.
Abstract: "The “battle” between corporealists and idealists described in Plato’s Sophist 245b6–249d5 is of significance for understanding the philosophical function of the dramatic exchange between the Eleatic guest and Theaetetus, the dialogue’s main interlocutors.
Various features of this exchange indicate that the Eleatic guest introduces and discusses the dispute between corporealists and idealists in order to educate Theaetetus in ontological matters. By reading the discussion between Theaetetus and the Eleatic guest in the light of these features, one comes to see that the primary audience for the proposal advanced by the Eleatic guest in this passage, namely that being is power, is not any of the participants in the “battle,” as has been commonly assumed, but Theaetetus himself—a fact to bear in mind in any viable interpretation of the passage."
———. 2016. "Plato and Heidegger on Sophistry and Philosophy." In Sophistes: Plato's Dialogue and Heidegger's Lectures in Marburg (1924-25) , edited by De Brasi, Diego and Fuchs, Marko J., 27-60. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
"The present chapter investigates Heidegger's early understanding of Platonic dialectic in its contrast to sophistry as this comes to expression in his Lectures on Plato's Sophist." (p. 27)
"To investigate Heidegger's early understanding of sophistry is thus a challenging task, since this understanding cannot be isolated from his broader interpretation of Plato's understanding of philosophy or from his own understanding of philosophy, developed in discussion with the philosophical tradition. Moreover, as Heidegger's interpretation of Plato is primarily based on a reading of the Sophist , a text that may not be typical of Plato, we need to look at the Sophist itself if we wish to evaluate Heidegger's engagement with Plato. Accordingly, the chapter will have two main parts. The first part will focus on Plato's Sophist , in particular on the connection between arete, virtue, and the inquiry into sophistry in the dialogue. Here a now common reading of the Sophist will be examined critically. The second part will focus on Heidegger's interpretation of philosophy and sophistry in the light of the Sophist and will ask what role, if any, arete plays in this interpretation." (pp. 28-29)
———. 2019. "Eleaticism and Socratic Dialectic: On Ontology, Philosophical Inquiry, and Estimations of Worth in Plato’s Parmenides , Sophist and Statesman ." Etudes platoniciennes no. 15:1-17.
Abstract: "The Parmenides poses the question for what entities there are Forms, and the criticism of Forms it contains is commonly supposed to document an ontological reorientation in Plato. According to this reading, Forms no longer express the excellence of a given entity and a Socratic, ethical perspective on life, but come to resemble concepts, or what concepts designate, and are meant to explain nature as a whole. Plato’s conception of dialectic, it is further suggested, consequently changes into a value-neutral method directed at tracing the interrelation of such Forms, an outlook supposedly documented in certain passages on method from the Sophist and the Statesman as well.
The article urges that this reading is untenable. For in the Parmenides the question for what entities one should posit Forms is left open, and the passages on method from the Sophist and Statesman neither encourage a non-normative ontology nor a value-neutral method of inquiry. What the three dialogues encourage us to do is rather to set common opinions about the relative worth and value of things aside when conducting ontological inquiries; and this attitude, the article concludes, demonstrates a close kinship, rather than a significant difference, between Plato’s Socrates and his Eleatic philosophers."
———. 2020. "Differentiating Philosopher from Statesman according to Work and Worth." Polis. The Journal for Amcient Greek and Roman Political Thought no. 37:550-566.
Abstract: "Plato’s Sophist and Statesman stand out from many other Platonic dialogues by at least two features. First, they do not raise a ti esti question about a single virtue or feature of something, but raise the questions what sophist, statesman, and philosopher are, how they differ from each other, and what worth each should be accorded. Second, a visitor from Elea, rather than Socrates, seeks to addressed these questions and does so by employing what is commonly referred to as the method of collection and division. Some scholars have argued that this so-called method is value neutral and therefore unable to address the question how philosophy differs from sophistry and statesmanship according to worth. This article contends that the procedures of collection and division does not preclude the visitor from taking considerations of worth into account, but rather helps establish an objective basis for settling the main questions of the dialogue."
Lee, Edward N. 1966. "Plato on Negation and Not-Being in the Sophist ." The Philosophical Review no. 81:267-304.
"On pages 257c-258c of the Sophist , Plato introduces a notion which he calls the "Parts of the nature of Otherness." He then writes explicitly - in fact, he writes it twice - that that Part of Otherness, and not merely Otherness by itself, defines the genuine non-Being that is needed to conclude his inquiry and to trap the Sophist.(2) But why does he say so? Just what difference is there between the not-Being explicated by means of the Parts of Otherness and the not-Being explicated through Otherness by itself? I am convinced that none of the existing interpretations of the Parts doctrine adequately answer that question or accurately analyze Plato's own meaning. My aim will be to do both. To begin (I), we will work through the details of the difficult passage in which Plato spells out his doctrine of the Parts of Otherness; then we shall try to clarify the philosophical role that the doctrine plays-first (II) in Plato's analysis of negation (particularly his account of the sense of negative predication statements), and then (III), though more briefly, in connection with one of the wider metaphysical issues raised in the Sophist ." (p. 267)
"If the account in Sections I and II above is sound, then the logical force of Plato's theories in the Sophist proves to be much greater than the commentators have appreciated. Not only can he analyze the sense of negative identity statements, but he can analyze the sense of negative predication statements as well. To an extent much greater than had earlier been recognized, he did succeed in dealing with the problem of negation. Yet we have noted that his aims in the Sophist were not narrowly logical or "analytical" in nature, and we need also to ask what other substantive issues he may have hoped to illuminate by means of these analytic achievements." (p. 299)
Lee, SangWon. 2016. "The Dynamic Association of Being and Non-Being: Heidegger’s Thoughts on Plato’s Sophist Beyond Platonism." Human Studies no. 39:385-403.
Abstract: "This article examines Heidegger’s interpretation of Plato’s Sophist, focusing on his attempts to grasp Plato’s original thinking of being and non-being. Some contemporary thinkers and commentators argue that Heidegger’s view of Plato is simply based on his criticism against the traditional metaphysics of Platonism and its language. But a close reading of his lecture on the Sophist reveals that his view of Plato is grounded in Plato’s questioning struggle with the ambiguous nature of human speech or language (logos ). For Heidegger, Plato’s way of philosophizing is deeper than the metaphysical understanding of Platonism which sees only fixed ideas of being. In the Sophist , dialectical thinking of Plato constantly confronts the questionable force of the logos which betrays the natural possibility of non-being based on the tension between movement and rest. Thus, from Plato’s original insight Heidegger uncovers the dynamic association (koinōnia ) of being and non-being as a natural ground of everyday living with others. However, although Heidegger’s understanding of the Sophist powerfully demonstrates the lively possibility (dunamis ) of being beyond the customary perspective of Platonic metaphysics, his interpretation fails to further disclose Plato’s political question of being emerging in the Sophist , which seeks the true associative ground of human beings."
Leigh, Fiona. 2008. "The Copula and Semantic Continuity in Plato's Sophist ." Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy no. 34:105-121.
"Lesley Brown first made a radical claim about uses of the Greek verb ‘to be’ (einai ) in Plato’s Sophist some twenty years ago (1986).(1)
"In brief, Brown’s innovation is as follows: The verb ‘to be’ in Greek, unlike its counterpart in modern English, permits a complete and an incomplete use. Sometimes it does not take a complement, though it could, and at other times context demands a complement (whether elided or not). In the former case, the verb exhibits what Brown calls a ‘d2’ complete use, and in the second, an incomplete use. Brown’s view is that the verb is not being used merely homonymously in these cases, but, like ‘to teach’ in English, exhibits a certain continuity of meaning across uses. The mistake has been to take complete uses of estin as d1 complete uses, i.e. as uses that will not bear further completion.
The first critical discussion (to my knowledge) of Brown’s reading has recently appeared in print.(6) In it John Malcolm advances several arguments against Brown’s reading. I shall argue, however, that Malcolm’s textual considerations are less than decisive. More significantly, I shall suggest that his conceptual arguments miss their mark in two ways: one objection relies on a less than charitable reading of Brown, while another involves the questionable attribution of an assumption to the author of the Sophist . But despite my defence of Brown’s view, I do not endorse it. On the contrary, I hope to show that Brown’s central thesis—that there is a semantic continuity between complete and incomplete uses of einai —lacks the textual support it requires from the Sophist . Moreover, a central argument of that dialogue tells against it. (pp. 105-106)
"I have argued that Malcolm’s arguments against Brown’s reading of einai in the Sophist are ultimately unconvincing. None the less, I hope to have shown that Brown’s reading receives insufficient support from the relevant passages, and is even rendered doubtful by a central argument of that work. If this is right, the contention that einai has a d2 complete use in the Sophist —a use referred to in the kath’ hauta/pros alla distinction at 255 c 14—will turn out to be at best improbable, and at worst defeated." (p. 120)
(1) L. Brown, ‘Being in the Sophist: A Syntactical Enquiry’ [‘Being’], Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy , 4 (1986), 49–70; repr. with revisions in G. Fine (ed.), Plato 1:Metaphysics and Epistemology (Oxford, 1999), 455–78 (all references are to the later publication).
(6) J. Malcolm, ‘Some Cautionary Remarks on the “is”/“teaches” Analogy’ [‘Remarks’], Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy , 31 (2006), 281–96.
———. 2009. "Plato on Art, Perspective, and Beauty in the Sophist ." Literature & Aesthetics no. 19:183-214.
"With only a few exceptions, readers of Plato’s later dialogue, the Sophist , have not usually associated it with Platonic aesthetics. But this is to overlook two important features of the dialogue. First, the unfavourable contrast, built up throughout the dialogue, between the practice of sophistry – likened to the practice of the mimetic arts (235c-236e)–and the practice of philosophy. Only the latter, the Stranger implies, affords the possibility of what we might call an aesthetic experience, i. e., the experience of beauty in the soul, while the former results in ugliness (230d-e). Second, it overlooks the argument at 235d-236c, offered by the main speaker in the dialogue, the Eleatic Stranger, for the claim that certain artworks, such as monuments and large paintings, are necessarily illusory."
"I mentioned above that the conception of a beautiful soul figures in the Stranger’s remarks on the benefits of knowledge, as contrasted with the deleterious effects of submitting oneself to the teaching of sophists.
However, the conception of beauty at work here, and its relation to truth and knowledge, is not argued for or defended in our dialogue, but instead appears to be presupposed: there is nothing in the Sophist that counts as an advance in Plato’s thought on the conception of beauty. Nonetheless, as a preliminary, I want first to review this conception in the corpus, and its connection to truth, knowledge, and virtue, in order to provide a broader context within which to situate the importance accorded to a beautiful soul in the Sophist . We will see that the experience of beauty generally, and coming to have a beautiful soul in particular, is desirable because it has moral value. We will also see, however, that aesthetic value is not thereby reduced to moral value, since it will emerge that the soul’s beauty is for Plato a constituent of the good life, of eudaimonia, and not simply a means towards that end." (pp. 183-184, notes omitted)
———. 2010. "Being and Power in Plato's Sophist ." Apeiron no. 43:63-85.
"What should we make of the passage in the Sophist at 247d-e, in which the Eleatic Stranger declares that being is whatever has the power (dunamis ) to act or be affected, even if only once, in the smallest way? Does this proposal about being — the 'dunamis proposal' (2) — express the view of the Stranger's interlocutors, the giants, or is the Stranger speaking in his own voice and so representing Plato's view? (3) If the latter, how could the proposal be seen to survive the encounter with the 'friends of the Forms', and be applicable to immutable Forms? Is the employment of 'horos ' and 'horizein ' at 247b3 meant to indicate that a mere mark of being is offered in the proposal, or the very definition of being? How these questions are answered determines what role, if any, one takes the dunamis proposal about being to play in the later constructive part of the dialogue, in which the Form, Being, takes centre stage."
"I shall argue that in the Sophist Plato has the Stranger forge the definition — that whatever has the power to act or be affected is a being — by distinguishing relations of causation (or poiesis ) from relations of change." (p. 63-64)
(2) L. Brown, 'Innovation and Continuity: The Battle of Gods and Giants', In J. Gentzler, ed., Method in Ancient Philosophy (Oxford: Clarendon 1998), 181-207, at 184ff.
(3) Although it has been recently challenged, the orthodox position, that provided one proceeds with care one can read off Plato's position — however partial and provisionary — from the views expressed by the main character of a dialogue, remains, and I shall assume it here. (For the case pro , see D. Sedley, Plato's Cratylus , (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2003), 1-2; M. Frede, "The Literary Form of the Sophist', In M. L. Gill and M. M. McCabe, eds., Form and Argument in Late Plato (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1996), 135-151. 142,150-1. For the case contra , see e.g., R. Blondell, The Play of Character in Plato's Dialogues (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2002), 18-21.)
———. 2012. "Modes of Being at Sophist 255c-e." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 57:1-28.
Abstract: "I argue for a new interpretation of the argument for the non-identity of Being and Difference at Sophist 255c-e, which turns on a distinction between modes of being a property. Though indebted to Frede [Prädikation und Existenzaussage ] (1967), the distinction differs from his in an important respect: What distinguishes the modes is not the subject’s relation to itself or to something numerically distinct, but whether it constitutes or conforms to the specification of some property. Thus my view, but not his, allows self-participation for Forms. Against Frede and the more traditional interpretation, I maintain that the distinction is not introduced by way of the pros alla/kath’ hauta distinction, or by way of uses or senses of the verb ‘to be’, but is established prior to the argument and is deployed in its frame. Moreover, since I read the argument’s scope as restricted to properties in what I shall call the attribute mode, my interpretation can explain, as its rivals cannot, why the criterion of difference at 255d6-7 does not apply to the Form, Difference, itself."
———. 2012. "Restless Forms and Changeless Causes." Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society no. 112.
Abstract: "It is widely held that in Plato's Sophist , Forms rest or change or both. The received opinion is, however, false-or so I will argue. There is no direct support for it in the text and several passages tell against it. I will further argue that, contrary to the view of some scholars, Plato did not in this dialogue advocate a kind of change recognizable as 'Cambridge change', as applicable to his Forms. The reason that Forms neither change nor rest is that they are purely intelligible entities, not susceptible to changing or being at rest. Since Plato continues in the Sophist to treat Forms as causes, it follows that Forms are changeless causes. I ask what conception of cause might allow for this view, and reject the suggestion that Plato was some kind of proto-dispositionalist about causation. Instead I suggest that he understood causation to incorporate a notion of structuring, such that Forms can be seen to structure their participants and so cause them to possess the attributes they possess."
Lentz, William. 1997. "The Problem of Motion in the Sophist ." Apeiron no. 30:89-108.
"In the Sophist , Plato seems to introduce κίνησις, motion or change, into the unchanging and eternal realm of being. On the face of it, this looks like an outright contradiction; i.e., motion or change is introduced into a realm of unchanging and perfect actualities. The introduction of motion occurs in two ways: Plato suggests that when the soul knows its object it affects that object (248b2-4), and he claims that motion and rest define reality (249d3-4). Neither of these claims is very clear; both require some interpretative work.
After a brief examination of previous attempts to explain Plato's introduction of motion into being, I suggest that a solution to these problems begins with Plato's claim that being is defined by power. The concept of power is then filled out by reference to the genera of motion, rest, sameness, and difference. I oppose the tendency in the literature to reject motion and rest as essential genera. Instead I argue that these two genera are required in order for there to be relations in being — relations that are manifest between forms but do not affect the nature of the forms themselves. I also reject the tendency to explain the interweaving of forms as a function of discourse. Instead I argue that the interweaving of forms is referred to a metaphysical state that in turn makes knowledge and discourse possible." (p. 89)
Lewis, Frank A. 1976. "Did Plato Discover the "Estin " of Identity?" California Studies in Classical Antiquity no. 8:113-143.
Summary: "(I) The notion of an is of identity in English. Some passages from Plato suggesting the existence of the comparable notion of a special estin of identity in Greek. (II) What in particular would lead Plato to recognize such a special sense of estin? Forms, participation, and predication. In the account of ordinary singular predications, a predicate 'Y' is true of a subject X just in case X participates in the form the Y associated with. (III) Self-participation. If nothing can participate in itself, then for any forms X and Y, X participates in Y and so is Y only if X is not Y. Even if self-participation is allowed, still in the majority of cases a subject is not what it participates in. The difficulty for all theories of predication which wish to explain how a thing can be something which it also is not. (IV) The is of identity re-examined. Some fallacies which might support the notion, and some arguments against it. (V) Sophist 255b11-256d10. Plato does not explicitly recognize an estin of identity. Four competing, "equally best" accounts of the grammatical theory he may implicitly be invoking: (i) the estin of identity; (ii) relational terms; (iii) the definite article; (iv) the not of nonidentity. (VI) Conclusion. The notion of a special estin of identity has little basis in Plato's text."
———. 1976. "Plato on "Not"." California Studies in Classical Antiquity no. 9:89-115.
"Plato's account of not being can be seen as a treatment of issues connected with the analysis of negation. It is generally agreed that his account covers at least one set of negative assertions. We are explicitly told how to analyze such sentences as "Motion is not rest," "Motion is not the same," which the context shows are intended to assert the nonidentity of motion and assorted other forms. For Plato, such assertions form a special class of sentences, which he analyzes by reference to the form "otherness." What is less clear is whether Plato successfully distinguishes negative sentences of this sort from negative sentences for which, on his terms, a different pattern of analysis is appropriate: "Socrates is not beautiful," "Helen is not wise." I shall call these sentences of negative predication proper ("NP" hereafter).(1) I argue that Plato does recognize this second sort of sentence, and that he does in the Sophist offer a theory to say how such sentences get their meaning. At the same time, his theory is in many respects unlike the kind of theory we should demand for the task at hand. These differences may help explain why the details of his account have so often seemed so elusive.
I offer first (I) a general account of the context within which Plato's treatment of negation takes place. I then turn (II) to a detailed examination of the passage at 25 7b3-d3, where I shall argue that we find our best evidence for what Plato regards as the chief desiderata in an account of NP. I end (III) with some brief comments on the aims and limits of Plato's inquiry." (pp. 89-90)
(1) By "NP," accordingly, I mean to confine my attention to simple, singular, negative sentences other than sentences that are denials of identity. I follow Plato in ignoring the use of negation in combination with general sentences.
Lisi, Francesco Leonardo, Migliori, Maurizio, and Monserrat-Molas, Josep, eds. 2011. Formal Structures in Plato's Dialogues: Theaetetus, Sophist and Statesman . Sankt Augustin: Academia Verlag.
Abstract: "The three dialogues, which are the object of the collected papers included in this volume, are a unicum in the Platonic corpus. No other existing trilogy is connected dramatically so clearly as they are.
From the formal point of view, in these texts Plato shows his brilliant literary ability in all its facets in order to deploy all the grades of the philosophical inquiry, always related to education: maieutikos elenchus , dialectical dihairesis and everything entangled with allegory and myth. In the first dialogue of the trilogy Socrates searches in Theatetus' soul for the definition of episteme , not knowledge in general, but the specific wisdom proper of the true philosophers. In the following Sophist and Statesman , on the other hand, a new character, the guest from Elea, offers the science they had looked for as a gift, the diairesis. The exercises in it serve also for distinguishing the true philosopher-statesman from his fake: the sophist and all the historical politicians acting in the scene. Actually these dialogues develop the subject of the excurse, which stands at the centre of the Theaetetus (172d3-177d5): the opposition between true and false philosopher."
Essays on the Sophist :
Milena Bontempi: Opinione e legge: l’anima e la città nella trilogia, Teeteto, Sofista, Politico , pp. 47-58; Elisabetta Cattanei: Arithmos nel Teeteto, nel Sofista et nel Politico di Platone , pp. 59-71; Francesco Fronterotta: Dialettica et diaíresis nel Sofista platonico , pp.151-167; Beatriz Bossi: ¿Por qué Platón no refuta Parménides en el Sofista? , pp. 180-192; Noburu Notomi: Where is the Philosopher? A single project of the Sophist and the Statesman, pp. 216-236.
Lloyd, A. C. 1953. "Falsehood and Significance According to Plato." In Proceedings of the XIth International Congress of Philosophy. Vol. 12 , 68-70. Amsterdam: North-Holland.
Losev, Alexandre. 2020. "Plato's Quincunxes." Philosophia: E-Journal for Philosophy and Culture no. 26:200-209.
Abstract. The Five Greatest Kinds discussed in Plato‘s Sophist are taken to be just one instance of a fivefold structure found in various related texts. Contemporary linguistic theories are a source for ideas about its functioning."
Lott, Micah. 2012. "Ignorance, Shame and Love of Truth: Diagnosing the Sophist’s Error in Plato’s Sophist ." Phoenix no. 66:36-56.
"In the past several decades, philosophers have shown substantial interest in Plato’s dialogue the Sophist . Much of this interest has focused on the sections of the dialogue which provide an account of being and not-being, and of true and false speech. The sixth definition of the sophist, however, which is developed at 226b–231e, has received less attention." (p. 36, note omitted)
"I begin with a brief overview of the dialogue and a summary of the argument leading to the sixth definition. I then address some of the ambiguities in that argument and spell out some of the argument’s implications, paying particular attention to the notions of ignorance and shame. I then show how ideas from the sixth definition illuminate the final definition of the sophist. Although my focus in this paper is the Sophist , in my discussion of the sophist’s condition I also touch on some relevant cases of learning and shame from other Platonic dialogues, including the Apology , Charmides , and the Republic . Two key assumptions that affect my interpretation but which remain mostly unargued for are: 1) that the sixth definition describes some kind of expertise, even if it does not accurately describe the sophist, and 2) that the final definition of the sophist is, at least within the context of the dialogue, an adequate definition of the sophist." (p. 37)
Luce, J. V. 1969. "Plato on Truth and Falsity in Names." The Classical Quarterly no. 19:222-232.
"Further discussion of the logical points at issue between Lorenz-Mittelstrass [*] and Robinson [**] would involve a critique of the modern reference-theory of names. I propose to confine myself to Platonic exegesis, and to ask which of their theories better fits the facts of Plato's thought about names, not only as it appears in the Cratylus , but as stated or implied in other dialogues. My general conclusion will be that Plato in practice regards names as functioning in the sort of way required by the Lorenz-Mittelstrass theory, though I would not be prepared to ascribe to Plato a theory of the proposition as sophisticated as that implied in their symbolism (p. 6). In section II of the paper I aim at showing in detail that the concept of 'stating a name', i.e. applying a name as a predicate to its nominate, is fully accepted and used by Plato throughout the Cratylus , that this implies that names may be vehicles of truth or falsity, and that there is no reason to suppose that Plato was unhappy or suspicious about the logical validity of the concept of truth/falsity in names. In section III I shall argue that Plato treated names as descriptive predicates in earlier dialogues, and continued to do so in late dialogues, notably in the Sophist and Politicus , and that this is not incompatible with the fact that a doctrine of propositional truth is developed in one section of the Sophist (261 d-263 d). In section IV I shall consider briefly how a doctrine of truth-names and lie-names fits into Plato's general conception of the relations between language, truth, and reality." (p. 223)
[*] KUno Lorenz, Jürgen Mittelstrass, "On Rational Philosophy of Language: the Programme in Plato's Cratylus Reconsidered", Mind LXXVI (1967), 6.
[**] Richard Robinson, "The Theory of Names in Plato's Cratylus ", Revue Internationale de Philosophie , XXXII, 1955, 1-16.
Malabed, Rizalino Noble. 2016. "The Sophist of Many Faces: Difference (and Identity) in Theaetetus and the Sophist ." Φιλοσοφια: International Journal of Philosophy no. 17:141-154.
Abstract: "One can argue that the problem posed by difference/identity in contemporary philosophy has its roots in the persistent epistemological imperative to be certain about what we know. We find this demand in Plato's Theaetetus and Sophist . But beyond this demand, there is a sense in the earlier dialogue that difference is not a passive feature waiting to be identified. "Difference" points towards an active differentiating. In the Sophist , difference appears in the method of dividing and gathering deployed to hunt for the elusive "sophist." Difference is also one of the great kinds that weaves together other kinds. Practically, difference enables the sophist's expertise of appearance-making as he knowingly confuses things with words. This paper then quizzes the concept of difference in all these guises in the two dialogues."
Malcolm, John. 1967. "Plato's Analysis of τὸ ὄν and τὸ μή ὄν in the Sophist ." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 12:130-146.
"The main thesis I shall present is that in the Sophist Plato does not distinguish the existential sense of εἶναι from the predicative and identifying senses. It is regarded as a commonplace that he did so, (1) but I shall try to show that it is advisable to translate τὸ ὄν and εἶναι in a more general way, as "being" and "to be" respectively. This is sufficient not only to bring out the force of the paradoxes in 236e-250e, but also to explain Plato's use of the expression μἑτέροιν τοϋ ὄντος in 251 a-259 e and his account of τὸ ὄν as a vowel form in the same section." (p. 130)
"In short, I am suggesting that neither in Sophist 251-259 nor in 236e-250e do we need to take τὸ ὄν to be existential. Insofar as it need not be so taken, and in certain places it must not be so taken, it ought to be translated as 'being' rather than as 'existence'." (p. 131)
"Although I have denied that Plato distinguishes an existential sense of εἶναι, I would agree that he does distinguish positive predication from positive identity. He makes the latter a sub-division of the former.
To say "XpY" is to predicate Y of X. 'X is identical with Y' is written 'XpSrY.' To identify is to predicate sameness.
Plato, however, does not distinguish negative predication from negative identity. At 256e τὸ μή ὄν is limited to non-identity (as opposed to predication which is here τὸ ὄν), but at 263b, a parallel phrasing, τὸ μή ὄν must include predication (e.g. the flying of Theaetetus).
Plato's account of negation holds only for negative identity. He gives no account of negative predication as such.(30) (p. 145)
(1) Pro Taylor pp. 60, 81; Cornford p. 296; Ackrill p. 1; Moravcsik pp. 42, 51.
Crombie, though he has reservations as to the success of Plato's undertaking, maintains (p. 502) that it was a prime purpose of his to distinguish the existential sense of εἶναι in the Sophist . Contra Runciman p. 84.
(30) See Taylor pp. 64-65, also Runciman pp. 98, 101, Crombie p. 500, n. 1. For a dissenting opinion, see Moravcsik pp. 68-75.
Ackrill, J. L., 'Plato and the Copula: Sophist 251-259,' Journal of Hellenic Studies , vol. 77 (1957), pp. 1-6.
Cornford, F. M., Plato's Theory of Knowledge (London, 1935).
Crombie, I. M., An Examination of Plato's Doctrines , vol. 2, (London, 1963).
Moravcsik, J. M. E., 'Being and Meaning in the Sophist,' Acta Philosophica Fennica, Fasc. 14, (1962), pp. 23-78.
Peck, A. L., 'Plato and the ΜΕΓΙΣΤΑ ΓΕΝΗ of the Sophist: a Reinterpretation,' Classical Quarterly , n.s. vol. 2, (1952), pp. 32-56.
Runciman, W. G., Plato's Later Epistemology (Cambridge, 1962).
Taylor, A. E., Plato, the Sophist and the Statesman (ed. Klibansky and Anscombe, London, 1961).
I note with some satisfaction that my major thesis is consistent with the results attained by Michael Frede in his thorough study Prädikation und Existenzaussage . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Gottingen, 1967.
———. 1983. "Does Plato Revise his Ontology in Sophist 246c-249d?" Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie no. 65:115-127.
"At Sophist 248 e—249 a, while examining the doctrine of the Friends of the Forms to the effect that real being or true reality (ή όντως ουσία) is always unchanging and is attained by thought alone (248 a), the Eleatic Stranger forcefully poses the rhetorical question whether we can easily be convinced that change, life, soul and intellect are not present to true reality: is that which completely is (το παντελώς δν), devoid of mind and changeless? Theaetetus readily agrees that we cannot exclude mind and change from the real. The Stranger concludes (249 b) that both change and that which is changed qualify as "beings" (οντά), and later (at 249d), that being (reality) is both the unchanging and the changed." (p. 115)
"Although I am persuaded that the Friends of the Forms include Plato himself, I shall not try to establish this or, indeed, to say definitively how the supposed emendation might apply in detail to Forms, souls and sense-objects. I shall suggest, rather, that the best way to read the passage in question is not to assume that Plato is here categorically affirming metaphysical truths which he endorses, be they at the expense of his earlier views or otherwise. On the contrary, given that we have here a part of a section which aims at showing confusion in the use of the term "being," we cannot plausibly regard it as a source of any new commitments on his part as to the nature of the real." (p. 116)
———. 1985. "Remarks on an Incomplete Rendering of Being in the Sophist ." Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie no. 67:162-165.
"In this journal, Band 65, Heft 1, pp. 1-17, Robert Heinaman has launched an attack on those (1) who have claimed that Plato's solution to the alleged paradox of false statement (Sophis t 236-264) restricts itself to an incomplete use of "being" (identity and predication) and is not concerned with questions of existence. It is my contention that Heinaman 's assault miscarries in that he has totally misjudged the position he purports to oppose."
(1) I consider pages 1-13 of Heinaman 's "Being in the Sophist ". These are directed at G. E. L. Owen, "Plato on Not-Being, in: G. Vlastos (ed.), Plato I, New York 1971, pp. 223-267 and J. Malcolm, "Plato's Analysis of τὸ ὄν and τὸ μή ὄν in the Sophist ", Phronesis (1967), pp. 130-46. An appendix, pp. 13-17, treats of M. Frede's Prädikation und Existenzaussage , Gottingen 1967 and is beyond the scope of this paper.
———. 1985. "On 'What is Not in any Way' in the Sophist ." The Classical Quarterly no. 35:520-523.
"To ensnare the sophist of the Sophist in a definition disclosing him as a purveyor of images and falsehoods Plato must block the sophistical defence that image and falsehood are self-contradictory in concept, for they both embody the proposition proscribed by Parmenides - 'What is not, is'. It has been assumed that Plato regards this defence as depending on a reading of' what is not' (to me on ) in its very strongest sense, where it is equivalent to 'what is not in any way' (to medamos on ) or 'nothing'.
Likewise, the initial paradoxes of not-being (237b-239c) are seen as requiring that to me on be understood in this way, that later designated by Plato (257b, 258e-259a) as the opposite of to on or 'being'. On this interpretation, Plato's counter-strategy is to recognise a use of to me on which is not opposed in this strict sense to being, but is indeed a part of it and is 'being other than'.
In a stimulating article,(1) R. W. Jordan challenges this account.(2) I shall briefly attempt to show that his objections are not decisive and that his own interpretation is open to question." (p. 520)
(1) R. W. Jordan, 'Plato's Task in the Sophist',Classical Quarterly 34 (1984), 113-29.
(2) Referred to by Jordan as' Malcolm's view'. Though flattered by the appellation, I can claim to be but an adherent and not the initiator (see Jordan, p. 120, notes 14 and 15.
———. 2006. "A Way Back for Sophist 255d12-13." Ancient Philosophy no. 26:275-289.
"At Sophist 255c8 the Eleatic Stranger asks whether Difference is to be distinguished from Being. As evidence that these are two distinct items he introduces at d12-13 two ways in which beings can be: (1) in themselves or αυτά καθ' αυτά (hereafter, KH) and (2) with reference to others or προς αλλα (hereafter, PA).(1)
At 255d1-7 it is then shown that Difference, unlike Being, only shares in the second way of being, since what is different is always different in relation to something else. Now this may be read in a straightforward and unproblematic manner since there are many ways in which something can be said to be without this something being said, in the surface grammar, to be in relation to something else.
Compare, for example, ‘Socrates exists’ or ‘Socrates is a man’ with ‘Socrates is wiser than Miletus’.
Yet some of the most distinguished and deservedly influential commentators differ radically from such a ‘naïve’ reading and see the KH/PA contrast here as germane to such issues as replying to the late-learners, dealing with self-predication, contrasting statements of identity with those of predication, involving different uses of ‘is’, and discussing the so-called ‘two-level’ paradoxes.(2) There is no doubt that these approaches have been philosophically most instructive and inspiring, but, I shall maintain, they should not intrude into the exegesis of this particular passage. The naïve reading is to be preferred."
(1) Line references to Plato are from Burnet 1900. The title’s passage is at lines 13-14 (mislabeled 15!) in Duke et al. 1995. The Budé edition, Diès 1925, agrees with Burnet.
(2) For this last item see Vlastos 1973, 323ff. The most discussed example is that where Motion, qua its nature as motion, moves, but, qua Form is at rest.
Burnet, John. 1900. Platonis Opera . vol. 1. Oxford Classical Texts. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Diès, Auguste. 1925. Platon: le Sophiste . Édition ‘Les Belles Lettres’. Paris: Budé.
Duke, E.A. et al. 1995. Platonis Opera . vol. 1. Oxford Classical Texts. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Vlastos, Gregory. 1973. Platonic Studies . Princeton: Princeton University Press.
———. 2006. "Some Cautionary Remarks on the ‘Is’ / ‘Teaches’ Analogy." Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy no. 31:281-296.
"Ancient Greek thinkers, notably Parmenides, Plato, and Aristotle, are regarded by some as having been led into error through a failure to recognize the difference between two uses of (their equivalent of) the verb ‘to be’: the incomplete or copula, and the complete or existential.(1) They allegedly acted as if ‘X is F’ entailed ‘X is’, i.e. ‘exists’.
Not everyone is convinced by this. I shall consider two responses.
The one I favour is to grant that a rigid existence/copula distinction is a legitimate tool for the interpretation of these philosophers.
Furthermore, I suggest that their reasoning may be understood in a way that does not leave them as vulnerable to the charge of this confusion as is sometimes supposed. The other reaction takes a more subtle approach. It maintains that, with respect to ‘being’, the complete/incomplete distinction is a modern contrivance,(2) hence it is anachronistic to employ it in addressing the ancients. In the use of the Greek equivalent of ‘to be’ the copula had some ‘built-in’ existential import. Since writers in that language did not have two completely different uses to confuse, it is unfair to look at them from this perspective.
Two leading proponents of this latter doctrine are Charles Kahn and Lesley Brown. Although it was introduced some time ago, this view continues to enjoy current endorsement(3) and I believe it is not inappropriate to examine the reasoning offered in its support in the work of Brown, especially that of 1994.(4)" (pp. 281-282, note 1 abbreviated)
(1) The charge is found in J. S.Mill, A System of Logic (London, 1843), 1. iv. i, who mentions Plato and Aristotle and implies that they were open to this error. He refers us to the Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind , 2 vols. (1829; new edn. London, 1869), by his father James Mill.
(2) See e.g. C. Kahn, ‘A Return to the Theory of the Verb be and the Concept of Being’ [‘Return’], Ancient Philosophy , 24 (2004), 381–405 at 385, who allows that we should use ‘such modern distinctions’ in our ‘hermeneutical metalanguage’, but that are (i.e. exist).’ My aim will be to help him avoid this precarious position as far as is possible.
(3) Let me give two items from 2003: B.Hestir, ‘A “Conception” of Truth in Plato’s Sophist’, Journal of the History of Philosophy , 41 (2003), 1–24 at 6 n. 16 ; J. Szaif, Der Sinn von ‘sein’ (Freiburg and Munich, 2003), 19 n. 13. To these may be added two from 2002: J. van Eck, ‘Not-Being and Difference: On Plato’s Sophist 256 d 5–258 e 3’, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy , 23 (2002), 63–84 at 70–1; A. Silverman, The Dialectic of Essence (Princeton, 2002), 145 n. 17, 150 n. 21.
(4) The article in question is L. Brown, ‘The Verb “to be” in Greek Philosophy: Some Remarks’ [‘Verb’], in S. Everson (ed.), Language (Companions to Ancient Thought, 3; Cambridge, 1994), 212–36. (Any ‘bare’ page references in my article will be to this item.) Kahn, ‘Return’, 383, accepts Brown’s contribution unreservedly. He writes, ‘She shows [emphasis added] that the relation between the verb einai in sentences of the form X is and X is Y is like that between the verb teaches in Jane teaches and Jane teaches French’. See also his 385.
Marback, Richard C. 1994. "Rethinking Plato's Legacy: Neoplatonic Readings of Plato's Sophist ." Rhetoric Review no. 13:30-49.
"In what follows I will historicize the reception of the terms Platonist and sophist by briefly exploring neo-Platonic discussions of sophistry and sophistic. As late Roman and early Christian exegetes of the Platonic texts, the neo-Platonists might at first seem unflinching adversaries of sophistry. While it might be unrealistic for us to expect any sympathetic treatment of Gorgias from scholars so invested in the authority of classical authors like Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero, we should not be surprised to find these same scholars promoting sophistry-the contingency of meaning in the context of expression -- in the name of Plato." (p. 31)
"To recognize that Plotinus and Proclus and Augustine discerned and grappled with issues of sophistry raised by Plato in the Sophist is, I think, to recognize their creative influence over the subsequent reception and impact of classical rhetoric.
Along these lines I have attempted to show how the Sophist , as one instance, was used and can be used to fashion sophistic or antisophistic perspectives, how readings of it by rhetoricians, logicians, and ethicists, or by Augustine, Plotinus, and Proclus, reiterate or reject an antagonism to sophistry. Reading Plato in this way, I think we benefit from finding that along with the sophist whose language skills eluded easy capture in the Stranger's philosophical net, the neo-Platonist similarly eludes well-defined historical categories. Adding the Sophist to our Plato makes more elusive, more sophistical, the contingent and contextual elements by which we fashion our rhetorical terms as historical, genealogical categories. This approach also raises questions about the kinds of textual strategies that led to the dialogue's exclusion from Plato's rhetorical canon. Discussions of why the primary rhetoric texts in the Platonic corpus have come to be the Phaedrus and Gorgias can and should inform discussions of what sophistry has meant throughout the years people have been forming this canon. Such selectivity presupposes reading and writing and talking about the dialogues in particular ways, employing strategies and making choices influenced by an inheritance of possible issues and conflicts as well as settled ways of reading and representing that reading that may or may not be identified as "sophistic." Attention to the neo-Platonists and their readings of Plato's Sophist thus points not only, as Quandahl says, to the rhetorical elements of Plato (347), such attention points as well to the contextual and contingent rhetorical strategies constantly at work in the shaping of philosophy's, rhetoric's, and sophistry's intertwined histories." (p. 47)
Quandahl, Ellen. "What is Plato? Inference and Allusion in Plato's Sophist ", Rhetoric Review 7 (1989): 338-51.
Marcos de Pinotti, Graciela Elena. 2016. "Plato’s Argumentative Strategies in Theaetetus and Sophist ." In Plato’s Styles and Characters. Between Literature and Philosophy , edited by Cornelli, Gabriele, 77-87. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
"In Theaetetus and Sophist , Plato accomplishes a construction operation of his adversaries which leads him to associate doctrines regularly attributed to Heracliteans or Eleatic thinkers with different sophistical positions. However, his primary purpose is not to refute historical positions, but to assert fundamental theses and principles of his own philosophy. So I am not interested here in evaluating the legitimacy of such associations, or “dialectical combinations”, as Cornford (1935, p. 36) calls them. I will focus instead on the peculiar kind of argument he employs for the refutation of both kinds of opponents. This is a sort of peculiar argumentation, as I will try to show, which does not appeal to the existence of the Forms but to the conditions of the possibility of language." (p. 77)
"To conclude, I would like to emphasize once more that the resource to the conditions of possibility of language rather than to the thesis of the existence of the Forms is not a defect of the argumentative strategy displayed in the passages of Theaetetus and Sophist analyzed here. On the contrary, such resource gives rise to a special type of argument that tries to persuade every language user and not only those who defend the Forms. Despite this, Plato’s reader will inevitably find veiled references to these realities in almost all of them." (p. 86)
Matthen, Mohan. 1983. "Greek Ontology and the 'Is' of Truth." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 28:113-135.
Abstract: "This is an essay about the ontological presuppositions of a certain use of 'is' in Greek philosophy - I shall describe it in the first part and present a hypothesis about its semantics in the second.
I believe that my study has more than esoteric interest. First, it provides an alternative semantic account of what Charles Kahn has called the 'is' of truth, thereby shedding light on a number of issues in Greek ontology, including an Eleatic paradox of change and Aristotle's response to it.
Second, it finds in the semantics of Greek a basis for admitting what have been called 'non-substantial individuals' or 'immanent characters' into accounts of Greek ontology. Third, it yields an interpretation of Aristotle's talk of 'unities' which is crucial to his treatment of substance in the central books of the Metaphysics ."
"I have argued in this essay for the recognition of a sort of entity that is not familiar in modem ontologies. I have argued on the basis of a syntactic and semantic analysis of certain uses of 'is', and found textual support for the analysis in certain texts of Aristotle. In addition, the recognition of predicative complexes enables us to give a unified treatment of a number of puzzling features of Greek ontology.
It is possible that the Greeks may have regarded predicative complexes not in the way I have presented them, namely as constructed entitles derivative from more basic types, but as the entities given in perception, and so epistemically and even ontologically prior. If so, we may find that in positing the Forms, Plato was making a break with an ontology of predicative complexes, not, as is usually thought, with an ontology of individual substances. Similarly, it is possible that Aristotle posited individual substances against the background of an ontology composed of predicative complexes and Platonic Forms. These possibilities offer the prospect of a richer appreciation of the development of Greek ontology than is now customary." (pp. 130-131)
Mazur, Zeke. 2013. "The Platonizing Sethian Gnostic Interpretation of Plato’s Sophist ." In Practicing Gnosis: Ritual, Magic, Theurgy and Liturgy in Nag Hammadi, Manichaean and Other Ancient Literature. Essays in Honor of Birger A. Pearson , edited by DeConick, April D. , Shaw, Gregory and Turner, John D. , 469-493. Leiden: Brill.
"This essay constitutes the second part of a larger investigation into the evidence of a tacit debate between Plotinus and the Gnostics over the interpretation of Plato. In a previous part of this study, I made the case that Zostrianos drew on a number of specific passages describing the cyclical reincarnation of souls especially in the Phaedrus , but also in the Phaedo and Republic , and that Plotinus and Porphyry had tacitly responded in several locations throughout their writings.(4) Here I would like to present a similar case for the Gnostic use of the Sophist . The specific thesis of this essay is that the Platonizing Sethians drew at least in part upon the text of Plato’s Sophist for central aspects of their metaphysics, and—in relation to the topic of the present volume—they even went so far as to reconceptualize the dialectical methods described in the Sophist in terms of their praxis of visionary ascent." (pp. 469-470)
(4) Mazur, Zeke. 2016. Traces of the Competition Between the Platonizing Sethian Gnostics and Plotinus’ Circle: the Case of Zostrianos 44–46. In Estratégias anti-gnósticas nos escritos de Plotino. Actas do colóquio internacional realizado em São Paulo em 18–19 de março 2012 , M.P. Marsola and L. Ferroni, eds. São Paulo: Rosari et Paulus, pp. 125-211.
McCoy, Marina. 2008. Plato on the Rhetoric of Philosophers and Sophists . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Contents: Acknowledgments VII; 1 Introduction 1; 02 Elements of Gorgianic Rhetoric and the Forensic Genre in Plato’s Apology 23; 3 The Rhetoric of Socratic Questioning in the Protagoras 56; 4 The Competition between Philosophy and Rhetoric in the Gorgias 85; 5 The Dialectical Development of the Philosopher and Sophist in the Republic 111; 6 Philosophers, Sophists, and Strangers in the Sophist 138; 7 Love and Rhetoric in Plato’s Phaedrus 167; Bibliography 197; Index 209-212.
"In this chapter, I argue that part of Plato’s purpose in the Sophist and Theaetetus is to offer two different accounts of the nature of philosophy.
Plato engages his audience in a reflection upon the nature of philosophy through the contrast between Socrates’ and the Stranger’s ways of speaking. I focus on two main questions about the Sophist . First, how is the Stranger’s character and way of speaking distinct from Socrates’ character and speech in the Theaetetus ? Second, how do the divisions and collections of the Sophist illuminate some of the differences between Socrates and the Stranger? I argue that the Eleatic Stranger is deliberately presented as an enigmatic figure who may alternately be identified as either a sophist or a philosopher. While the Stranger defines sophistry in such a way that he would separate his own activity from that of the sophists, the drama of the dialogue suggests that Socrates would not consider the Stranger to be a philosopher. That is, the dialogues function to draw us into the philosophical question of what philosophy is. The Sophist and Theaetetus as a pair demonstrate that the philosopher–sophist contrast is relative to the way in which one constructs a positive understanding of philosophy.
I argue that the Stranger’s understanding of himself as a philosopher is inadequate from Socrates’ standpoint, although the Stranger seems to identify himself as a philosopher. While the Stranger identifies philosophy with a method of division and collection, and especially with applying that method to metaphysical questions, Socrates emphasizes self-knowledge and knowledge of the human soul and its moral good as central to philosophical practice.4 Both Socrates and the Stranger are interested in persuasion, but Socrates’ rhetoric is to be found in the role of a midwife who is helping others to give birth to ideas and to grow in self-knowledge, while the Stranger’s rhetoric is oriented toward making his interlocutor more compliant and dispassionate." (pp. 139-140, notes omitted)
McDowell, John. 1982. "Falsehood and Not-Being in Plato's Sophist ." In Language and Logos. Studies in Ancient Greek Philosophy Presented to G. E. L. Owen , edited by Schofield, Malcolm and Nussbaum, Martha, 115-134. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
"For me, G. E. L. Owen's 'Plato on Not-Being' (1971) radically improved the prospects for a confident overall view of its topic. Hitherto, passage after passage had generated reasonable disagreement over Plato's intentions, and the disputes were not subject to control by a satisfying picture of his large-scale strategy; so that the general impression, as one read the Sophist, was one of diffuseness and unclarity of purpose. By focusing discussion on the distinction between otherness and contrariety (257B1-d4), Owen showed how, at a stroke, a mass of confusing exegetical alternatives could be swept away, and the dialogue's treatment of not-being revealed as a sustained and tightly organised assault on a single error. In what follows, I take Owen's focusing of the issue for granted, and I accept many of his detailed conclusions. Where I diverge from Owen - in particular over the nature of the difficulty about falsehood that Plato tackles in the Sophist (§§5 and 6 below) -it is mainly to press further in the direction he indicated, in the interest of a conviction that the focus can and should be made even sharper." (p. 115)
McPherran, Mark L. 1986. "Plato's Reply to the 'Worst Difficulty' Argument of the Parmenides : Sophist 248a- 249d." Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie no. 68:233-252.
"In a previous paper I have argued that the theory of relations Hector-Neri Castañeda has discovered in the Phaedo is clarified and extended in the Parmenides . In particular, the paper contains an Interpretation of the 'worst difficulty' argument (Parm . 133a —135a), an argument purporting to establish that human knowledge of the Forms is impossible. My Interpretation showed the argument to utilize the extended theory of relations in its premises. I also showed, contrary to previous interpretations, how Plato's argument was logically valid.
One consideration in favor of the Interpretation I offered is that it allows the argument at last to live up to its description as the most formidable challenge to the early theory of Forms (in a long series of tough arguments), requiring a "long and remote train of argument" by "a man of wide experience and natural ability" for its unsoundness to be exposed (Parm . 133b4 —d1).
Unfortunately, the Parmenides does not contain such a reply, even though the text at 133b seems to hint that Plato had already formulated one. Did he ever entertain and record a reply, and if so, could that reply rescue some version of the theory of Forms from the devastating consequences of the 'worst difficulty'? In the following, I present my previous reconstruction of that argument and the most plausible lines of response open to a defender of a theory of Forms. In the second section I argue that Plato gives clear recognition to one of those replies in the Sophist , and I show how that reply would save the theory of Forms. Finally, I will contend that this reply is Plato's best line of response, and I will discuss the problem of actually attributing the adoption of this solution to him." (pp. 233-234, some notes omitted)
(1) Mark McPherran, "Plato's Parmenides Theory of Relations," in F. J. Pelletier and J. King-Farlow (eds.), New Essays on Plato , Canadian Journal of Philosophy , Supplementary Volume IX (1983): 149 — 164 (hereafter, "Plato's Parmenides Theory").
(2) My Interpretation dealt explicitly only with the first half of the argument (133a11 — 134d3). The second half (134d4—135a3) attempts to establish that just as men cannot know Forms, so the gods cannot be knowers of particulars (e. g., men), but only Forms.
References to Hector-Neri Castañeda:
"Plato's Phaedo Theory of Relations," Journal of Philosophical Logic I (1972): 467—480.
"Plato's Relations, Not Essences or Accidents, at Phaedo 102b — d2," Canadian Journal of Philosophy 1 (1978): 39 — 53.
"Leibniz and Plato's Phaedo Theory of Relations and Predication," M. Hooker (ed.). Leibniz: Critical and Interpretive Essays (Minneapolis, 1982): 124—159.
Mesquita, Antonio Pedro. 2013. "Plato’s Eleaticism in the Sophist . The Doctrine of Non-Being." In Plato's Sophist Revisited , edited by Bossi, Beatriz and Robinson, Thomas M., 175-186. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
"The aporia experienced by the interlocutors in the Sophist on the notion of non-being is, essentially, the following:
1. That which absolutely is not cannot be thought of or spoken of (238c).
2. However, every assertion concerning that which is not, even if negative in content, requires the mediation of an “is” in order to be expressed.
3. In effect, when we say that non-being is not thinkable or utterable, we are, in actual fact, uttering it and, necessarily, uttering it as being, namely, as being unutterable (239a).
4. Therefore, due not to linguistic ambiguity but to ontological requirement, to say that non-being is not utterable is the same as asserting that it is unutterable and, in general, to say that non-being is not is to say that non-being is non-being, which certainly collides with what those assertions were intended to demonstrate in the first place, that is, the absolute unutterability and the absolute non-being of non-being.
5. In fact, each of those assertions tacitly affirms the opposite of what it declares, namely, that non-being is utterable (precisely as being unutterable) and, therefore, that non-being is (precisely as being nonbeing).
The most immediate interpretation of this section would be as follows: the Eleatic notion of non-being, here patently challenged, must be superseded; and the Platonic notion of “other” (ἑτέρων), introduced through the novel doctrine of the κοινωνίᾱ των ειδων, is exactly what supersedes it.
Such an interpretation has, however, the disadvantage of being external to the argument, replacing analysis of its internal progress with the abstract assumption of the two extreme moments that structure it, namely, the two different notions of non-being. As an act of supersession, it excludes the Eleatic notion of non-being to the benefit of the Platonic one, without realizing that every act of supersession is never simply one of negation, but also one of incorporation.
Now, this is precisely what happens with the question of non-being in the Sophist .
The Eleatic notion is not dissolved; it is, rather, interpreted in the light of another conception of non-being which, in absorbing it, refashions it into a different shape.
The peremptory interdiction of Parmenides, according to which non-being is not,(1) is never actually refuted: it is taken as possessing its own truth, although such truth is understood as limited, and confined within new boundaries." (pp. 175-176)
(1) In summary form, for the exact statement never appears as such. See DK B 2.5 – 8, B 6. 2, B 7. 1, etc.
Michaelides, C. P. 1975. "The concept of not-being in Plato." Diotima.Review of Philosophical Research no. 3:19-26.
Mié, Fabian. 2011. "Plato's Sophist on Negation and Not-Being." In Parmenides, 'Venerable and Awesome' (Plato, Theaetetus 183e) , edited by Cordero, Néstor-Luis, 363-372. Las Vegas: Parmenides Publishing.
Summary: "This brief paper develops an interpretation of Plato’s theory of negation understood as an answer to Parmenides’ paradoxes concerning not-being. First, I consider some aspects that result from an analysis of Sophist 257b–259d, formulating some general theses which I then go on to unfold in more detail in the following section. Finally, I show what exactly Plato’s so-called overcoming of the Eleatic problem related to negation and falsehood is; and I outline some of the main semantic and metaphysical consequences that are entailed by this overcoming."
Migliori, Maurizio. 2007. Plato's Sophist: Value and Limitation on Ontology . Sankt Augustin: Academia Verlag.
Five lessons followed by a discussion with Bruno Centrone, Arianna Fermani, Lucia Palpacelli, Diana Quarantotto.
Original Italian edition: Il Sofista di Platone. Valore e limiti dell'ontologia , Brescia: Morcelliana 2006.
Contents: Preface p. 9; First Lecture – Plato’s Writings and Dialectical Dialogues p. 11; Contents: Preface p. 9; First Lecture – Plato’s Writings and Dialectical Dialogues p. 11; Second Lecture – The Sophist’s Manifold Nature p. 29; Third Lecture – The driving force of Plato’s Philosophy p. 51; Fourth Lecture – Ontology and Meta-ideas p. 69; Fifth Lecture – The relative importance of the Sophist p. 93; Appendix I – The Whole-Part relation in the Parmenides and the Theaetetus p. 103; Appendix II – The Doing-Suffering Pair p. 121; Appendix III – The Dialectics of Being in the Parmenides (161 E - 162 B) p. 125; Exchanges with the Author 127-206.
"The Philosophical Contents of the Sophist.
First of all, one should establish as closely as possible the meaning of the dialogue in its Author’s mind. With Plato this task is far from easy, for it is one of the issues that arouses the liveliest debate among critics. As elsewhere, I suggest following the classification put forward by Szlezák (1) in an attempt to single out three elements in the dialogue:
a) The overriding issue, the aggregating force that breathes life into the text and which Plato never lets his readers forget about;
b) The thematic hub of the writing, the philosophically crucial question which assesses the worth of the overriding issue and/or confers it legitimate meaning;
c) The foremost problem which the argumentative development must grapple with.
This model has always appeared to me as capable of yielding some kind of clarifying effect. It is especially helpful in showing how the various facets of the discourse are not set alongside one another but necessarily recall each other. The aim is to identify three elements, strongly-linked yet not mutually coinciding, among the wealth of opinions in Plato’s text. Weaving them into one another will provide us with the thread that can guide us through the dialogue." (pp. 93-94)
(1) T. A. Szlezák, Come leggere Platone, Rusconi, Milano 1991, pp. 126-127. [in English: Thomas A. Szlezák, Reading Plato , Translated by Graham Zanker, New York: Routledge 2003].
———. 2021. "The Use and Meaning of the Past in Plato." Plato Journal no. 21:43-58.
Abstract: "This essay is based on two premises. The first concerns the vision of writing proposed by Plato in Phaedrus and especially the conception of philosophical writing as a maieutic game.
The structurally polyvalent way in which Plato approaches philosophical issues also emerges in the dialogues. The second concerns the birth and the development of historical analysis in parallel with the birth of philosophy.
On this basis the text investigates a series of data about the relationship between Plato and “the facts”.
1) If we compare the Apology of Socrates with other sources, we discover a series of important “games” that Plato performs to achieve the results he proposes.
2) The famous passage of Phd . 96A-102A, which concludes with the Ideas and with a reference to the Principles, expresses definite judgments on the Presocratics.
3) In his works Plato attributes to the sophists some merits, even if the outcome of their contribution is overall negative.
4) However, in the fourth complicated diairesis of the Sophist, there is a “sophist of noble stock”, an educator who can only be Socrates.
5) Plato in the Sophist shows the weakness of the Gigantomachy, and proposes an adequate definition of the beings: the power of undergoing or acting. This reveals, before the Philebus and the Timaeus , the dynamic and dialectical nature of his philosophy
In summary, a multifocal vision emerges, adapted to an intrinsically complex reality."
Selected Bibliography on Plato's Sophist in English:
Bibliographies on Plato's Sophist in other languages:
Plato's Cratylus and the Problem of the "Correctness of Names" (under construction)