Theory and History of Ontology by Raul Corazzon | e-mail: rc
Sayre, Kenneth M. 1970. "Falsehood, Forms and Participation in the Sophist ." Noûs no. 4:81-91.
"The Sophist is one of Plato's most constructive dialogues, and one of the most cleverly constructed. Feigning pursuit of the essential sophist, Plato analyzes in turn (a) δύναμις as the mark of what is, (b) collection and division as the source of "the free man's knowledge," (c) the modes of combination among the forms, (d) Difference as the nature of "that which is not" and, in culmination, (e) the distinction between false and true judgment which separates the sophist from the philosopher. These results surpass in their solidity any positive contribution of the Phaedo or the Republic .
Yet they are achieved with a more austere conception of the forms than any found in these earlier dialogues. The structure of this more mature conception, I believe, is best illustrated in Plato's analysis of true and false discourse. My purpose in this paper is (1) to recapitulate what I take to be Plato's analysis of truth and falsehood in the Sophist , (2) to contrast the theory of forms presupposed by this analysis with the theory of the Phaedo and the Republic , and (3) to sketch against this background the theory of participation which seems to be implicit in the Sophist and other late dialogues. My contention, in preview, is that a form in this later context is a kind definable in terms of criteria for membership, and that participation is the relationship by which individuals qualify for membership in a kind." (pp. 81-82)
———. 1976. "Sophist 263b Revisited." Mind no. 85:581-586.
"This passage [Sophist 263b: "Theaetetus sits' and 'Theaetetus flies'] has posed problems for sympathetic commentators. One is the problem of mere intelligibility. (1) A more basic problem has been that of reconstructing from the passage a credible account of true and false judgment. In Plato's Analytic Method (Chicago, 1969) I offered an interpretation which, although I believe accurately directed, is potentially flawed in an important respect.(2) The difficulty with this interpretation stems from a mistaken assumption, which most commentators share, about the nature of not-Being in the Sophist account. Correcting this mistake yields an interpretation which is more fully Platonic both in content and elegance, and which is considerably more faithful to the text of the dialogue."
(1) A sensitive discussion of syntactical ambiguities in these sentences may be found in David Keyt's 'Plato on Falsity: Sophist 263B,' in E. N. Lee, A. P. D. Mourelatos, and R. M. Rorty (eds.), Exegesis and Argument: Studies in Greek Philosophy Presented to Gregory Vlastos (Humanities Press, New York: 1973), to which I am indebted in the translation above.
Robert Vacca also is to be thanked for advice on Plato's use of ὄν ἔστῐν .
(2) I say 'potentially flawed' because, although the interpretation in the book is literally compatible with what I now believe to be the correct account, its further elucidation in my 'Falsehood, Forms and Participation in the Sophist,' Noûs , iv (1970), 81-91, brought the flaw to the surface. I am indebted to Alvin Plantinga for drawing the problem to my attention.
This interpretation was developed originally in response to difficulties with other accounts of false judgment in the Sophist , which need not be reviewed for present purposes.
———. 1983. Plato's Late Ontology: A Riddle Resolved . Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Second edition: Parmenides Publishing, 2005 with a new introduction and the essay "Excess and Deficiency at Statesman 283C-285C ".
———. 1992. "A maieutic view of five late dialogues. Methods of interpreting Plato." Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy no. Supplementary volume:221-243.
"There are five dialogues of Plato's late period, each consisting of a conversation with a master philosopher, in which the conversation is organized by methodological principles explicitly proposed by the philosopher himself. In the case of the Theaetetus , the method was stated by Socrates in earlier dialogues, notably the Phaedo and book 6 of the Republic . In each of the remaining four, however, the method is expounded and applied within the same conversation-by the Stranger from Elea in the Sophist and the Statesman , by Parmenides himself in his namesake dialogue, and by a renovated Socrates in the late Philebus . I shall refer to these five as the methodological dialogues." (p. 221)
"I have made two claims concerning the methodological dialogues.
The first is that the conversational format of these dialogues is intended to serve the maieutic function described by Socrates in the Theaetetus, and characterized in the Seventh Letter as the only path to the flame-like revelation of philosophic knowledge. The second is that the respective methods of these conversations provide the structure by which they are enabled to lead the reader to that state of fulfilment.
The first claim is supported by the texts involved, the second by the experience of the attentive reader. Neither claim by itself, perhaps, is particularly adventuresome. I have suggested further, however, that together these claims answer the question posed at the beginning of this discussion: namely, how the conversational format of these five late dialogues relates to the methods they severally illustrate. The answer, in summary, is that the method in each case provides the discipline by which the reader is enabled to follow the path of the conversation, to the state of wisdom that can be found at its end." (p. 243)
———. 2006. Metaphysics and Method in Plato’s Statesman . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Chapter 2. Collection in the Phaedrus and the Sophist 36; Chapter 3. Division in the Phaedrus and the Sophist 52-72.
"The Statesman is third in a sequence of dialogues employing the method of dialectical division. In both the Phaedrus and the Sophist , division is paired with a companion procedure of collection. To evaluate the absence of collection in the Statesman , it is helpful to look carefully at how it functions in these two previous dialogues. This is the purpose of Chapter 2. Also discussed in this chapter is the language of collection that appears in the Philebus , despite the absence of the corresponding methodological procedure.
In similar fashion, Chapter 3 addresses the use of division in those two earlier dialogues. A notable feature of division in the Phaedrus is its use of nondichotomous distinctions, a feature which is absent in the Sophist but reappears in the Statesman . The Sophist contains eight fully developed lines of division in all, each of which is examined in the course of this chapter." (p. 5)
———. 2008. "Dialectic by Negation in Three Late Dialogues." In Reading Ancient Texts: Vol. I: Presocratics and Plato. Essays in Honour of Denis O'Brien , edited by Suzanne, Stern-Gillet and Corrigan, Kevin, 189-212. Leiden: Brill.
"While little is beyond dispute in Platonic commentary, it seems clear that there are three distinct methods of dialectical inquiry to be found in the middle and late dialogues. One is the method of hypothesis featured in the final arguments of the Phaedo and implicated in the Divided Line of the Republic . Another is the method of collection and division, introduced in the Phaedrus and employed extensively in the Sophist before collection is phased out in the course of the Statesman . And third is the method introduced by Parmenides in his namesake dialogue and meticulously illustrated in the ensuing arguments on Unity.(1) I shall refer to this latter as “Parmenides’ method.” (p. 189)
But what are we to say in this regard about Parmenides’ method?
Unlike the other two, the dialectical procedure employed by Parmenides is confined to a single dialogue. On initial consideration, at least, it appears that we lack evidence for earlier versions in Plato’s thought.(4)
While the dialectical approach in question is said (at Parmenides 135D) to be essential for achieving the truth, and while it produces some of the most substantial results in the entire Platonic corpus, (5) we encounter it here in full-blown form with no indication of prior development. Or so at least it appears.
The purpose of the present paper is to dispel this appearance. Parmenides’ method is distinguished from the other two primarily by its use of negative hypotheses. As we shall see, there are sections of both the Sophist and the Statesman where negation figures in the explication of important topics. While these passages are familiar in their own right, I am not aware of any previous attempt to connect them with the distinctive method of the Parmenides . If the attempt of the present paper is successful, we will have reason to believe that Parmenides’ method was anticipated in dialectical manoeuvers employed (appropriately enough) by the Eleatic Stranger." (p. 190)
(1) While any of these three methods might be accompanied by elenchus in a particular rhetorical setting, it should be noted that Socratic refutation by itself is not a dialectical method.
(4) Although one part of the procedure is said at 135D8 to trace back to Zeno, there is no reason to think that the method overall is not due to Plato himself.
(5) This claim is supported in K. Sayre, Parmenides’ Lesson: Translation and Explication of Plato’s Parmenides (University of Notre Dame Press, 1996).
Schipper, Edith Watson. 1964. "The Meaning of Existence in Plato's Sophist ." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 9:38-44.
"In this paper, I should like to give arguments for the following points: (1) that, for the later Plato, what exists must be defined by forms interrelated in logos; (2) that the particular things of experience exist, and also are defined by the interrelated forms. Their existence is not that of substantial subjects beyond their predicative forms, but is comprised by the forms, which formulate them and bring them out of the matrix of experience. Thus, Plato is sketching a profoundly original approach to the perennial problems of philosophy." (p. 38)
———. 1965. "Souls, Forms, and False Statements in the Sophist ." The Philosophical Quarterly no. 15:240-242.
"In a provocative and ingeniously worked out article, Robert Turnbull has presented his view of the Sophist 's account of false statements.(1) I should like to bring out some passages which raise questions about his position, and briefly suggest an alternative view to which I think they point.
The argument, as I understand it, rests upon Mr. Turnbull's interpretation of the Platonic ontology as consisting of " forms, souls, and immanent characters "(2) Immanent characters or actions, " the stuff of Becoming ", exist in the souls, and participate in the forms for which the souls strive.
A false statement about a soul ascribes to it a possible action participating in a form which is not (is different from or contrary to) the form for which the soul strives. For " the contrariety of forms is reflected in references to actions "(3) Thus, a false statement rests on the difference of some forms from others, though it is about the possible actions which illustrate the contrary forms and are somehow in the souls." (p. 240)
(1) "The Argument of the Sophist ", The Philosophical Quarterly , vol. 14, Jan. 1964, pp. 23-34.
(2) op. cit ., p. 24.
(3) op. cit ., p. 34.
———. 1965. Forms in Plato's Later Dialogues . The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.
Chapter IV: Forms in the Sophist , pp. 31-42.
"This little book is concerned with one problem, that of whether and in what respects Plato continued to hold his earlier theory of forms of the Phaedo and Republic in his later dialogues. The earlier theory is first considered; since those who deny that Plato continued to hold his theory base their contention on an interpretation of it which is inadequate to explain even the arguments of the earlier dialogues. The later dialogues are then examined, in an attempt to show that the earlier theory is continually assumed, in all its essentials; although it is developed and modified to make it more consistent and adequate to experience.
Special attention is given to Plato's treatment of the problem of the relation of the forms to the perceived things, left unexplained in the earlier dialogues, but clearly recognized and wrestled with in the later ones. This problem is the perennial one of how the objects of intellectual argument and explanation are related to the things of experience. A solution to that problem is brought out in Plato's reconsideration of his theory of forms." (Preface , P. VII)
"The Sophist by common consensus, is placed sometime after the Parmenides and Theaetetus , and before the Politicus . Its place in the dialogues is thought to follow their literary order; and it starts with an appointment made at the end of the Theaetetus , while the Politicus refers to the immediately preceding discussion of the Sophist .
The Sophist could be subtitled: On Being and Not Being .
Ostensibly, it is a laboriously worked out definition of the sophist by means of diaeresis, carried on by the Eleatic Stranger. Again, Theaetetus responds. Yet the defining of the sophist seems to serve primarily as a means of introducing discussions of the nature of existence and as an illustration of the interconnecting of the forms, the συμπλοκη ειδων, the central conception of the dialogue and the most important addition to Plato's later metaphysics." (p. 31)
Schoener, Abraham. 2000. "Not the Sophist." In Retracing the Platonic Text , edited by Russon, John Edward and Sallis, John, 41-54. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.
"We must pause for a moment to recall just what Penelope is weaving. It is a burial shroud for Laertes, the father of Odysseus-the father of the image of the philosopher-who is not yet dead. This is a sign that, for Plato, the writing of the dialogues is not a supplement or marker for the dead, defunct Philosopher, but that the writing precedes and even announces his death. Plato's Socratic dialogues are Socrates' Penelopean burial shroud, tolling the death of conversational, "living," philosophy.
This brings us to our last question. This is a very vexed one and seems to be addressed with the greatest seriousness in all of the literature on the Sophist . The question is: Who is the (real) Philosopher?
Our answer must now be "Nobody in particular." Stop worrying about the question. It is a question left over from the pretextual era of philosophy. Once philosophy becomes and recognizes itself to be textual, the question for now and all time is: What is being? This displacement is the deepest form of the patricide of Socrates by Plato." (p. 53)
Seligman, Paul. 1974. Being and Not-Being. An Introduction to Plato's Sophist . The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.
"The present study has been undertaken with the ontological perspective in mind. In addition the historical roots of Plato's thinking will be emphasized. His struggle with the Eleatic legacy permeates this dialogue in a deeper sense and to a greater degree than has generally been admitted. On the other hand, the value of logically and linguistically oriented exegeses of the Sophist , such as have appeared during the last thirty years, is readily acknowledged. Still, they have not given us the whole story; they have neglected a significant dimension of Plato's thinking, and therefore need supplementing, and it only speaks for the richness of his work that it can be approached in more than one way.
My discussion will concentrate on the middle sections of the dialogue and follow the order of its argument, which develops organically and with greater cohesion than its dramatic form and artistic presentation might suggest. There can be no doubt about the seriousness of Plato's concern (contra Peck, 1952, cp. Runciman, 1962, p. 59), but there is also present a tinge of poetic playfulness which can have a baffling effect on readers seeking straightforward, unequivocal answers. At times it looks as though Plato lived up to the Heraclitean word that nature likes to conceal itself. It seems though that on some issues raised in the Sophist Plato himself was wavering, that there are others on which he had not made up his mind. In any case, he was never prone to produce a closed and final system, and each dialogue right to the end of his life meant a fresh start. But certain positions he never surrendered, and some of these permeate the Sophist as well. One of them is his belief in a rational and intrinsically knowable order of reality. That order is apprehended by the intuitive intellect and capable of being set out, indeed needing to be set out, in reasoned discourse; i.e., it is apprehended by noesis , accompanied by logoi . As Plato matured, the emphasis shifted from the former to the latter mode. And while the latter takes the stage in the Sophist , there is no evidence that the former was abandoned by him even then." (pp. 2-3)
Peck, A. L. (1962). "Plato's Sophist: The Symploke ton Eidon," Phronesis , VII, I.
Runciman, W. G. (1962). Plato's Later Epistemology . Cambridge, U.P.
Sellars, John. 2010. "Stoic Ontology and Plato’s Sophist ." Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies :185-203.
"It has been suggested that Stoic ontology should be conceived as a reaction against Platonism thus understood. It has also been suggested that Stoic ontology be conceived as a ‘reversal’ of Platonism,(4) inverting the order of priority between bodies and incorporeals, or particulars and universals, depending how one views it. The most significant attempt to analyse the relationship between Stoic ontology and the work of Plato, however, must be Jacques Brunschwig’s article ‘The Stoic theory of the supreme genus and Platonic ontology" in which he argues that Stoic ontology was in effect a philosophical response to material the early Stoics found in Plato’s Sophist .(5) It was through reading Plato, Brunschwig claims, that the early Stoics developed their own distinctive position.
The aim of what follows is to assess this claim and to ask whether Stoic ontology can be read as the product of a critical engagement with Plato’s Sophist . I shall begin in the first section with a brief overview of Stoic ontology along with a closer look at some of the differences between the principal recent interpretations. I shall focus my attention not only on Brunschwig’s account of Stoic ontology but also those of David Sedley (which came before) and Victor Caston (which came after).(6) In the second section I shall move on to consider the Sophist , giving a brief overview of those sections of the dialogue that Brunschwig claims already contain the central features of Stoic ontology. In the third and final section I shall consider to what extent, if any, Stoic ontology can be said to be the product of a critical reading of the Sophist ." (pp. 183-184)
(4) This is a claim made by G. Deleuze, Logique du sens (Paris 1969), where he says that the Stoics were the first to reverse Platonism. However he doesn’t specify how he thinks they achieved this and his account of Stoic ontology is eccentric to say the least (on which see J. Sellars, ‘Aiôn and Chronos: Deleuze and the Stoic theory of time’, Collapse 3 (2007) 177-205 (178 n. 4)). Elsewhere, in Différence et répétition (Paris 1968), he claims that Plato himself was the first to reverse Platonism.
(5) First published as J. Brunschwig, ‘La théorie stoïcienne du genre suprême et l’ontologie platonicienne’, in Matter and metaphysics , ed. J. Barnes and M. Mignucci (Naples 1988) 19-127 and translated in Brunschwig’s Papers in Hellenistic philosophy (Cambridge 1994) 92-157. All subsequent references are to the English version.
(6) It goes without saying that I have learned an enormous amount from the work of each of these authors and what I offer here is merely by way of a footnote to their contributions to our understanding of Stoic ontology. I shall not discuss directly earlier accounts of Stoic ontology as they are dealt with and taken into consideration in the works I shall consider, but I note the earlier discussion in J. M. Rist, Stoic philosophy (Cambridge 1969) 152-72.
Shorey, Paul. 1930. "Plato Sophist 255c and το δισσόν." Classical Philology no. 88:80.
———. 1931. "Plato Sophist 236 C and Laws 668 A ff." Classical Philology no. 81:323-324.
"To sum up the common sense of the matter, in the Sophist and in order to disparage the sophist, Plato says that we may distinguish two kinds of imitation in all the mimetic arts, that which produces a likeness and that which produces an illusion. He employs a similar if not precisely identical distinction in Republic 380 D for another purpose. Elsewhere, when he has no such purpose in mind and is merely speaking of the general theory of art, he amplifies "imitation" by the addition of the virtual synonym "representation," and says art is imitation and representation. This, as the passage of Aristotle quoted shows [*], is a perfectly natural mode of expression, and it is the height of hypercriticism to read into it a contradiction or withdrawal of the special point that there are tricky arts for which illusion is a better name than representation or the production of an objective likeness." (p. 324)
[*] Aristotle, Poetics , 11447 a 19: πολλὰ μιμοῦνταί τινες ἀπεικάζοντες.
Shukhoshvili, Maia. 2016. "Tékhnē in Plato's Sophist (Discussing Heidegger's Opinion)." In Sophistes: Plato's Dialogue and Heidegger's Lectures in Marburg (1924-25) , edited by De Brasi, Diego and Fuchs, Marko J., 131-142. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
"The aim of this chapter is a discussion of the concept of tékhnē in Plato's Sophist , since this dialogue distinguishes and defines many different tékhnai. But what is tékhnē for Plato? Very often tékhnē is translated by 'art', but this is not the case for Plato and especially not in the Sophist.
The chapter is divided into four main parts. First of all I would like to propose Heidegger's definition and interpretation of tékhnē . Then I will examine the etymology and precise meaning of tékhnē in Ancient Greek.
The third part is concerned with the meaning and use of tékhnē in Plato's dialogues, and finally, in the last part of the chapter I will try to reach the meaning of tékhnē in Plato's Sophist. " (p. 131)
Silverman, Allan. 2002. The Dialectic of Essence. A Study of Plato's Metaphysics . Princeton: Princeton University Press.
See in particular Chapter Five: Forms and Language, pp. 137-181 and Chapter Six: Not-Beings , pp. 182-217.
Smith, Colin C. 2019. "Dialectical Methods and the Stoicheia Paradigm in Plato’s Trilogy and Philebus ." Plato Journal no. 19:7-23.
Abstract. "Plato’s Theaetetus, Sophist, and Statesman exhibit several related dialectical methods relevant to Platonic education: maieutic in Theaetetus , bifurcatory division in Sophist and Statesman , and non-bifurcatory division in Statesman , related to the ‘god-given’ method in Philebus . I consider the nature of each method through the letter or element (στοιχεῖον) paradigm, used to reflect on each method. At issue are the element’s appearances in given contexts, its fitness for communing with other elements like it in kind, and its own nature defined through its relations to others. These represent stages of inquiry for the Platonic student inquiring into the sources of knowledge."
———. 2020. "Diairesis and Koinonia in Sophist 253d1-b3." History of Philosophy Quarterly no. 378:1-20.
Abstract: "Here I interpret a central passage in Plato’s Sophist by focusing on understudied elements that provide insight into the fit of the dialogue’s parts and of the Sophist–Statesman diptych as a whole. I argue that the Eleatic Stranger’s account of what the dialectician “adequately views” at Sophist 253d1–b3 involves both division and the communion of ontological kinds—not just one or the other as has usually been argued. I also consider other key passages and the turn throughout the dialogue from imagistic opining toward noetic understanding."
Solana, José. 2013. "Socrates and «Noble» Sophistry (Sophist 226b-231c)." In Plato's Sophist Revisited , edited by Bossi, Beatriz and Robinson, Thomas M., 71-85. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
"The sixth division of the Sophist has caused and continues to cause notable perplexity for several reasons.
1. It is introduced into the dialogue in an anomalous way. The Stranger speaks about two kinds of art: acquisitive (κτητική) and productive (ποιντική). However, later on he introduces a third kind: separative (διακριτική) art, whose relationship with the earlier types remains unexplained.
2. The role of this new art in relation to the overall objective of the dialogue, which is to reach a strict definition of the nature of the sophist, is also not explained.
3. Apart from not contributing to the main objective, it creates great difficulties, since, on the one hand, the Stranger speaks of a “noble Sophistry” and, on the other hand, the sophist is defined as a negative figure: one who is in possession of a knowledge which is merely apparent (233d10). Thus the paradox occurs that noble Sophistry is entrusted with the task of destroying the apparent knowledge (231b5) produced by Sophistry.
In view of these difficulties, it is relevant to question, with Cornford ([1935)] 182), why in that case this division stands here." (pp. 71-72, notes omitted)
"So Plato would have faced two options: either to discard the αντιλογική τεκνηέ which would have seriously affected the ἔλεγχος, or to preserve it in the form of γενναια σοφιστική. This second option, chosen by Plato in the Sophist, is proof that Plato’s position against the sophists has to do with axiological and normative postulates rather than with theoretical questions and arguments." (p. 85)
Speliotis, Evantha. 2013. "Sophist and Philosopher in Plato's Sophist ." In Socratic Philosophy and Its Others , edited by Dustin, Christopher and Schaeffer, Denise, 197-215. Lanham: Lexington Books.
"Having completed the search for the sophist and having identified the nature of his activity (see 218b-c), we may now reflect back and "calculate before ourselves" (dialogisometha , 231d) how he has appeared and what we have learned. From the beginning, the sophist has been particularly associated with appearances, and he may be said to dwell in, even to be a master of, appearances.
And yet the philosopher, too, appears. Just as the sophist faces a threat because of his overweening attention to the appearances and, the Stranger has argued, insufficient attention to knowledge, being, and truth; the philosophr also faces a challenge and a threat if, in his devotion to and pursuit of knowledge and truth, he does not care sufficiently for the appearances.
The Stranger, therefore, concludes the Sophist with both an affirmation and a criticism of Socrates. Socrates is in his being, his intention, and his activity a philosopher. But Socrates is also, in a sense "poor in speeches" (phaulos en logois ). As masterful as he is at phantastic imitation, he is not masterful enough. For all his knowledge and his skill, his devotion to truth and being to the exclusion of appearance is a weakness, not a strength. The philosopher need not be a victim of others' opinions. Being masterful as he is at phantastike , he should also give some care and attention not only to what he does, but how he appears to others when he does it. As Plato seems to suggest also in the Phaedrus, the philosopher must embrace, not eschew, the true art of rhetoric, the art of making both true and beautiful speeches (see Phaedrus 277b-d)." (pp. 212-213)
Starr, David E. 1974. "The Sixth Sophist: Comments on Frederick S. Oscanyan's "On Six Definitions of the Sophist: Sophist 221e-231e"." Philosophical Forum no. 5:486-492.
Stenzel, Julius. 1940. Plato's Method of Dialectic . Oxfordf: Clarendon Press.
Translated and edited by D. J. Allan.
Stough, Charlotte. 1990. "Two Kinds of Naming in the Sophist ." Canadian Journal of Philosophy no. 20:355-381.
"Those who hold the view that Plato is committed to self-predication by his theory of Forms are forced to consider whether he ever came to terms with the problem and, if he did not, why he did not, in view of the apparently damaging effects of the Third Man Argument. Their opponents in the tradition, on the other hand, insist that Plato would not have agreed that a Form can be predicated of itself and that his theory does not imply it. But they in turn have been hard put to explain the import of the Third Man Argument, which appears to trade so heavily on that assumption, as well as the unmistakably self-predicative language of the dialogues.
I believe that this line of thinking focuses too narrowly on what we have come to understand as the 'problem of self-predication'. To begin with, no winner in the debate is anywhere in view. Plato's language, overtly self-predicative though it is, gives no purchase to either party in the dispute, and the textual evidence on both sides is notoriously inconclusive. Much of the debate has centered on several controversial passages in the Sophist. In this paper I shall argue that the Sophist offers no unambiguous interpretation of grammatically self-predicative statements because it does not, either by design or in effect, distinguish between predication and identity. Instead of attacking certain troublesome puzzles connected with Being by directly analyzing that concept (esti ), Plato offers a solution to those problems by distinguishing between two kinds of names." (pp. 355-356)
Strawser, Bradley Jay. 2012. "Those Frightening Men: A New Interpretation of Plato’s Battle of Gods and Giants." Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy no. 16:217-232.
Abstract: "In Plato’s Sophist (245e–247e) an argument against metaphysical materialism in the “battle of gods and giants” is presented which is oft the cause of consternation, primarily because it appears the characters are unfair to the materialist position. Attempts to explain it usually resort to restructuring the argument while others rearrange the Sophist entirely to rebuild the argument in a more satisfying form. I propose a different account of the argument that does not rely on a disservice to the materialist nor restructuring Plato’s argument. I contend, instead, that the argument is enthymematic in nature, allowing the definitions employed to flow out of the reasoning as originally presented. Moreover, it suggests that Plato’s idealism was so deeply ingrained that modern defenses of materialism were not even live options."
Sweeney, Leo. 1988. "Participation in Plato's dialogues: Phaedo, Parmenides, Sophist, Timaeus ." The New Scholasticism no. 62:125-149.
"Having witnessed Plato's upgrading intelligence (and thereupon the efficient causality it exercises) and his disclosing the efficient causality it exercises) and his disclosing the extent and nature of divine artistry, let us now, before moving to the Timaeus . bring the Sophist into focus with the Phaedo and Parmenides ." (p. 125)
"In order to succeed, the three-factor theory of the Phaedo (the Form itself, the participated perfections, participants) needed further causes to explain how the participated perfections themselves were produced in the participants without the Form itself being changed, multiplied, divided. His answer can be found in the Parmenides and Sophist , where he joined participation explicitly with exemplarity and efficiency. More adequately, then, participation consists in things being made-as-images of the Forms (Parm . 132D3-4), which thereby are present in their participants through the participated perfections they cause by paradigmatically directing the artistic activity of cognitive agents (Sophist . 248E sgg. and 264 sgg.).
The advantages of this more adequate conception are obvious. By their activity agents are genuine causes that sensible existents are what they are. By their indirect presence through participated perfections the Forms are genuine causes of what things are. Yet they are not divided or multiplied or changed or lessened by their causality. Simply by being what it is, a Form can constantly direct as model whatever artistic activity the cognitive agent wishes to engage in. Sensible existents themselves are actually produced and yet they remain imperfect: they are only images of the Forms, upon which they depend constantly for being what they are.
Plato's procedure in formulating his philosophy was, then, to start with participation and end with efficient and exemplary causalities. But these latter do not replace the former: they complement and enrich it. à thing's participation in Forms results from the divine agent producing it while acting under their paradigmatic guidance." (p. 134)
Swindler, James Kenneth. 1980. "Parmenides' Paradox: Negative Reference and Negative Existentials." The Review of Metaphysics no. 33:727-744.
"In this section I hope to show that Plato offers in the Sophist an alternative conception of being and irreferential language which avoids commitment to forms without instances.
Although I believe the Sophist contains a general semantics of reference, including the germ of a solution to the paradoxes of intensionality, I will confine myself here to Plato's solution of Parmenides' Paradox. Whereas the modern accounts I have been discussing begin with language and take some settled ontology for granted, Plato insists that a real solution requires a reconsideration of being itself. Only when we understand the nature of being can we begin to fathom reference to nonbeings.
There are at least three statements by the Eleatic Stranger defining being. At 238a he says, "To that which is may be added or attributed some other thing which is. . . . But shall we assert that to that which is not anything which is can be attributed?" (24) An object exists if and only if it is possible for it to possess some real property besides existence. This principle is said to be violated in all attempts to refer to or describe what does not exist. At 247a, in refutation of materialists, the Stranger, alluding to virtues and vices, says, "But surely they will say that that which is capable of becoming present or absent exists." If it is possible for anything to possess or not to possess some property, then that property exists. These two principles give us existential conditions for objects and properties.
"Being'' means "possible relatedness"; being is exactly identical to possibility (dunamis ); being is the possible possession of properties. At Plato's hands Parmenides' ontology falls prey to his own logic. They agree that nonbeings can have no properties, but Plato adds that beings must have properties besides their being. There can be no simple, either Parmenidean or Russellian." (p. 738)
(24) All passages from the Sophist are in H. N. Fowler's translation, Theaetetus and Sophist (New York: Loeb, 1921)
Tabak, Mehmet. 2015. Plato's Parmenides Reconsidered . New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Chapter 4: Parmenides in Theaetetus and Sophist : Introduction 127; Plato’s Critique of Protagoras in Theaetetus 128; Parmenides and Parmenides in Sophist 141; Conclusion 163-165.
"The eight arguments of the Parmenides are governed by eight hypotheses, or “suppositions” (henceforth, H1, H2, H3, etc.)." (p. 59)
"There is a noteworthy suggestion in Sophist to the effect that Parmenides’s principle is self-contradictory. On the one hand, (1) Parmenides claims that only the one is (as in H1) or that it is not many in any way. On the other hand, (2) his description of the one suggests that it has being and thus is a whole with parts (as in H2). What we have here is akin to setting argument 2 against argument 1. Relatedly, Sophist does not take up (1) directly as an object of refutation except when the Stranger mentions briefly, but critically, that Parmenides denies any combination and any conception of the real as a plurality.
However, the Stranger’s refutation of (2) makes it rather evident that H2 is attributable to the historical Parmenides and that Plato thinks it creates a “measureless perplexity” for Parmenides’s doctrine.
Sophist also briefly, but strongly, suggests that Plato supports H3.
This is implied in the Stranger’s definition of Unity itself." (p. 163)
Tegos, Michalis. 2019. "How does the Sophist reply to the Parmenides? Or, Why the One is not among the Megista Gene ." Platonic Investigations no. 10:42-73.
Abstract: "This paper explores the relation of the Sophist to the Parmenides : in what ways the Sophist responds to the questions, aporias and demands raised in the Parmenides.
It aims to show how the problems encountered in the first part and the categories used in the second part of the Parmenides, relate to the solutions proposed in the Sophist . The Parmenides has been interpreted in various ways: as a logical exercise and as a theory about gods, even as an example of perfect symmetry in impossibility.
It has been acclaimed as the best collection of antinomies ever produced, but also, as an impossible map sketching how the theory of forms should not be thought. Its purpose, a parody, or training, a pedagogic exercise necessary for the proper way to truth.
Not, however, in order to discard forms, but, on the contrary, to affirm their necessity and to refine them, lest we end up abandoning forms and, with them, the possibility of dialectic and Philosophy. Throughout the Parmenides , the Theaetetus and the Sophist , we are led through a complex argumentative and dramatic strategy to the refutation of the Eleatic doctrine and the mature ontology of the Timaeus. We shall seek to show that the sections on dunamis, the megista gene and the community of forms that follow the Gigantomachia episode about ousia in the Sophist, propose a way out of the aporias of participation and the ‘greatest difficulty’ of the Parmenides, a way to salvage the theory of forms, and, with them, the possibility of knowledge, logos and Philosophy altogether."
Thomas, Christine Jan. 2008. "Speaking of Something: Plato's Sophist and Plato's Beard." Canadian Journal of Philosophy no. 38:631-668.
"After close examination of the Eleatic Visitor's arguments, I shall defend the view that Plato intends the something requirement articulated in the Sophist to be a metaphysical condition on significant discourse and contentful thought. For Plato, whatever is something is some one thing that is. In other words, whatever is something exists as a well-individuated, countable entity. Being and number 'belong to' whatever is something. Moreover, whatever is something is self-identical (by sharing in sameness) and different from everything else (by sharing in difference).
One of the central aims of the Sophist is to articulate and to develop Plato's metaphysics of somethings. We learn in the dialogue that, strictly speaking, speech and thought must be of existing, countable beings that are self-identical and different from everything else.
Some qualifications are, of course, in order. There is reason to believe that not simply any apparently contentful piece of speech commits Plato to the somethinghood and existence of the purported subject. For example, the apparent meaningfulness of the sentences 'Pegasus does not exist' and 'Pegasus is winged' does not commit Plato to the somethinghood or existence or being of Pegasus. Or so I argue. (pp. 632-633 a note omitted)
Thorp, John. 1984. "Forms, Concepts and TO MH ON ." Revue de Philosophie Ancienne no. 2:77-92.
Note 1: "This paper is a reply to Y. Lafrance "Sur une lecture analytique du Sophiste 237 b 10 - 239 a 12" [Revue de Philosophie Ancienne , 2, 1984, pp. 41-76]. His paper and my reply continue a discussion which began when we gave a seminar together in 1982 - 83 at the University of Ottawa on 'The analytic and continental traditions in the exegesis of Plato's Sophist '. I wish to thank him both for his vigorous curiosity and also his friendly tolerance throughout the seminar and since." (p. 77)
In conclusion let me simply restate the principal thesis which I have argued. Plato's Forms and analysts' concepts are fundamentally the same things. Once we see this a good deal of Plato's philosophical work becomes remarkably alive.
And given that Plato is thus sufficiently on our wavelength that we can take him out of the museum and treat him seriously as a philosopher, why should we not do so? I am sure it is what he would have wanted." (p. 92)
Tilgham, B. R. 1969. "Parmenides, Plato and logical atomism." Southern Journal of Philosophy no. 7:151-160.
"In the Sophist Plato does not give us a theory of proper names although there is no reason to suppose he is not committed to thinking of names as meaning their bearers and likely enough he thinks of the names of the forms as logically proper names. Whether he would consider the name of a sensible object, e.g., “Theaetetus,” as a logically proper name, there is no evidence to suggest. At any rate, it doesn't make any difference. Whatever he takes to be logically proper names, it would, I think, be easy enough to impose the theory of descriptions upon him to take care of the other words that we use to refer and, besides, what is important and original is not a theory of names, but a theory of sentence meaning." (p. 157)
Trevaskis, J.R. 1955. "The Sophistry of Noble Lineage (Plato, Sophistes 230a5-232b9 )." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 2:36-49.
"This passage has recently been examined by Mr G. B. Kerferd in the Classical Quarterly .(1) He reaches interesting and novel conclusions.
The following article questions the results of his investigations and attempts to support the usual view of the passage.
It may be best to begin with a recapitulation of the dialogue up to 231 b6. An Eleatic visitor and Theaetetus attempt to define the sophist.
Five divisions are pursued under the generic starting-point κτητική. The sixth is preceded by a Collection which yields the term διαλεκτική. The τέχνη διαλεκτική is successively divided until a cathartic method of education is isolated. The question is then raised whether its practitioners are sophists. The Eleatic is doubtful about this, but is prepared to accept the qualified title." (p. 36)
"The reason for the sixth division appearing where it does in the Sophist must surely be that the method of Socrates portrayed in it was often confused with sophistry. After five divisions which characterize sophistry as Plato saw it and are plainly hostile, the sixth is "serious and sympathetic; towards the close it becomes eloquent.(2)" (p. 48)
(1) N.S. IV I, 2 (Jan.-Apr. 1954) pp. 84-90.
(2) i.e. Plato to his reader: "Continue to call it sophistry, if you insist; but if you do you are talking of a 'sophistry' of a very different order."
———. 1966. "The μέγιστα γένη and the Vowel Analogy of Plato, Sophist 253." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 11:99-116.
"I wish to discuss the μέγιστα γένη section of the Sophist (251a5-259d8) and in particular some difficulties in the passage 253a1-d3.
Let us begin by considering a couple of general points about the Sophist : 1. What is the Sophist about? Answers commonly given are that it is concerned with the relations of Ideas to one another, or with the elucidation of significant negative and of false statement, or with a development in Plato's ontology, or with the practical illustration of the method of Collection and Division, or with a number of these topics.
Even on the assumption (which I do not share) that all these topics are to be found treated in the dialogue, it does not seem to me that their treatment is other than incidental to a more fundamental theme: philosophy. The dialogue is an exercise in doing philosophy, which is distinct from its counterfeit, sophistry or casuistry. Of course all the dialogues are in a sense exercises in doing philosophy: the reader's mind is exercised by them in philosophical questions. But the Sophist is a dialogue which is itself pre-eminently a demonstration of philosophy in action. The passages concerned with significant negative and with false statement, for instance, are practical examples of casuistical positions refuted. No-one strongly interested in philosophy is likely to find the dialogue dry or technical. These adjectives may be applied to it by those more interested in literature than philosophy.
2. The discussion is led by a visitor from Elea' who, it is emphasized at the beginning of the dialogue and elsewhere, is a philosopher and no mere logic-chopper. He is, in fact, indistinguishable from Plato's Socrates in some traits: for example, his use of the aporematic method, and his penchant for the method of diaeresis.
The dialogue, then, shows us philosophy in action, and is conducted by a serious philosopher." (p. 99)
(1) I call him an 'Elean' rather than an 'Eleatic' since, although he is described at the opening of the dialogue as ἑταῖρον... τῶν ἀμφὶ Παρμενίδην καὶ Ζήνωνα, it becomes clear in the course of the dialogue that he does not adopt the Eleatic position.
———. 1967. "Division and its Relation to Dialectic and Ontology in Plato." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 12:118-129.
"The formal divisional exercises which we meet above all in the Sophist may strike the reader as tedious. Yet it is usually said that Plato lays great store by Division as a method of philosophy, one, moreover, to which he gives the title of 'dialectic' and which reveals the real structure of Ideas.
I wish to discuss how far the method is to be identified with dialectic, what relation, if any, it bears to Plato's ontology, and what Plato hopes for from it. I shall be mainly concerned with Phaedrus , Sophist and Statesman , having discussed the Philebus on a previous occasion (Phronesis 5,1 , 39-44)." (p. 118)
Trindade Santos, José. 2013. "For a Non-Predicative Reading of esti in Parmenides, the Sophists and Plato." Méthexis no. 26:39-50.
Abstract: "The absence of grammatical subject and object in Parmenides' "it is/it is not" allows the reading of the verbal forms not as copulas but as names, with no implicit subject nor elided predicate. Once there are two only alternatives, contrary and excluding each other, sustaining that a 'no-name' does not grant knowledge implies identifying its opposite – "it is" – as the only name conducive to knowledge in itself, denouncing the 'inconceivability of a knowledge that does not know. If "it is" is the only [name] "which can be thought/known", and "what is" is the way in which 'thought/knowledge' can be accomplished, there is no need to postulate the existence of 'anything' that is, nor of anything that can be said of "what is". Being the only name which "can be thought of/known", the unifying synthesis of "knowledge, knowing and known" in one infallible cognitive state, it is unthinkable that "what is" does not exist."
———. 2016. "Reading Plato’s Sophist ." In Plato’s Styles and Characters. Between Literature and Philosophy , edited by Cornelli, Gabriele, 89-99. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
"Plato’s Sophist explores a cluster of philosophical interconnected problems, namely those of truth/falsity and being/not-being. Highlighting some key passages in Plato’s dialogues in which these problems are approached I come to the Sophist where they are brought together and solved." (p. 89)
"The greatest innovation contained in this conception of dialectics consists in the previous separation and subsequent combination of the ontological and epistemological perspectives on reality(14). While the three first Greatest Kinds – Being, Movement and Rest – refer to what exists, the Same and the Other provide the dialectician with the ability to relate them using different kinds of statements: existential, identitative and predicative ones (this last one exploring the participation of Forms in one another: 255a–b, 256a).
Plato’s theory of Being shows how this kind includes all the others granting them ‘existence’ (Being is everything that is, seen in itself). In his conception of Not-Being he starts by making manifest the function played by the Other as ‘difference’ (Not-Being is Being seen from the perspective of any other kind: 255d, 256d–e). He then proceeds to condense in the idea of ‘contraposition’ (257d–258c) the role played by Not-Being in the generation of ontological hierarchies.
In these each grade is what it is, in contraposition to all the others it is not, but in relation to which it is and is said by discourse (258d–259b)." (p. 97)
(14) In the Phaedo or the Republic Epistemology and Ontology are tied together, for each one of the two cognitive competences “is related to” its own content – “being” or “opinion” – and “effects” its product: “knowledge” or “belief” (R. [Republic] V 477d ff.).
Turnbull, Robert G. 1964. "The Argument of the Sophist ." Philosophical Quarterly no. 14:23-34.
"The aim of this paper is to present and defend an explanation of the connections between the most noteworthy parts of Sophist . That explanation ties together the battle of gods and giants, the section on non-being and the section on speaking and thinking falsely. As always in Platonic interpretation, however, my explanation accords with a more comprehensive interpretation of Platonic ontology and has ramifications for the explanation of other dialogues.
Baldly stated, my claim is as follows. In the battle of gods and giants section the Stranger insists that both forms and souls are, both being dynameis (powers). In the section on non-being a distinction is drawn between forms which, as it were, run through all the other forms as principles of their division and contrariety and forms which might be called " illustrable " forms (cf. the " illustrability " of mathematical forms in Republic in that the mathematician may draw diagrams). The former are Being, Same, and Different, the latter, Motion and Rest. Motion and Rest are among the " most important ", for every other illustrable form may be regarded as a kind (or sub-kind) of one of them. They are, moreover, contraries, that is, they mingle with Different with respect to each other. The section on speaking and thinking falsely requires that souls are, for " names " refer always to souls. It also requires contrariety, for " verbs " refer to immanent characters (i.e., to what, strictly, participate in forms) or, better, to " possible " immanent characters. And immanent characters, sharing contrariety with the forms in which they participate, provide the possibility of speaking or thinking what is not. To speak or think what is not (i.e., to make a false " statement ") is to refer to a soul and a " possible " immanent character, the " possibility " of which is assured by the diversity and contrariety of " illustrable " forms. The " discourse " principle which parallels the contrariety principle among the forms is : No soul may have in it at the same time (and in the same respect) contrary immanent characters.
And discourse here, of course, consists of juxtaposition of " names " and " verbs ".
In what follows, Part I will develop the intellectual considerations upon which my interpretation rests, providing a more general framework for it.
Part II will deal directly and briefly with the text of Sophist ." (p. 23)
Turner, E. G. 1955. "A Ptolemaic scrap of Plato, Sophistes ." Rheinisches Museum für Philologie no. 98:97-98.
"Shortly before the publication in May 1955 of The Hibeh Papyri Part II, I identified the contents of two small scraps printed therein as No. 228 as from Plato, Sophistes . I had time to insert a slip stating the identification, but not to revise or assess the value of the text, and I attempt that revision and evaluation here." (p. 97)
Van Eck, Job. 1995. "Falsity without Negative Predication: On Sophistes 255e-263d." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 40:20-47.
"The dramatic aim of the Sophistes is to characterise the sophist and capture him in a definition. He is to be described as an illusionist who creates false beliefs. Therefore, an analysis of falsity is needed, which is provided in 263.
Now, three of the main problems the Sophistes has raised among interpreters are: 'What is the preparation Plato made before he could arrive at his analysis of falsehood?', 'What is the nature of the problem about falsity Plato gets to grips with?' and 'What account of negative predication, if any, can we derive from the dialogue?' In the following I want to deal with these questions." (p. 20)
"To conclude: there is no treatment of what we usually call negative predication (that is, nonpredication) in 255e-258e, nor any reference to it, nor any use made of it in 258e-263d; further, the analysis of a sentence of the type 'x is not F' we can derive from 240e-241a and 263b-d, shows that it does not imply negative predication in the strict meaning of the phrase, viz. that a negative predicate is attributed to x. Thus, in a double sense we can say that there is no negative predication in the Sophistes . What we do find is falsity without negative predication. In consequence, it is wrong to speak of the 'crucial inadequacy of [the] Sophist account of negation to sustain Plato's theory of false judgement (50); the Platonic account of negation we can derive from the Sophist is an immediate result of the theory of false judgement we find there, and an adequate one indeed." (p. 40)
(50) Wiggins (1971), 268.
G. Vlastos ed. 1971. Plato I: Metaphysics and Epistemology . New York.
Wiggins, D. 1971. 'Sentence Meaning, Negation, and Plato's Problem of Non-Being'. 268-303 in G. Vlastos ed. 1971.
———. 1997. "A Note on Sophist 257b9-d3." Mnemosyne no. 50:75-77.
"In the literature we find two kinds of translations of Sophist 25 7b9-d3, but, strange enough, no discussion among the commentators of the point of difference at issue. In my opinion, both versions are unsatisfactory. I will try to prove this claim and offer an alternative. The question behind the difference between the translations is: on what part of the sentence do the genitives τῶν ἐπιόντων ὀνομάτων (d1-2) and τῶν πραγμάτων (d2) depend?" (p. 75)
———. 1999. "Plato's Analysis of Falsity. A Landmark in the History of Logical Analysis." In JFAK — Essays Dedicated to Johan van Benthem on the Occasion of his 50th Birthday , edited by Gerbrandy, Jelle, Maarten, Marx., de Rijk, Maarten and Venema, Yde. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
Abstract: "Plato's theory of falsity and its preliminaries, as presented in Sophistes 254d-263d, has evoked many grave criticisms: it is said to be fundamentally flawed in several respects. Yet it appears that the main origin of this view is an incorrect reading of the section on negation, which precedes the analysis of falsity. This section is interpreted as treating negative predication; in fact it treats higher order (non-)identity propositions (F is [not] G). And it is on the basis of these (non)identity propositions that the falsity of atomic first order sentences is explained. The resulting analysis turns out to be impeccable and fully adequate to the problems at issue."
———. 2000. "Plato's logical insights: On Sophist 254d-257a." Ancient Philosophy no. 20:53-79.
"Plato has often been censured for a serious lack of important logical insights.
Especially his theory of not being and falsity and its preliminaries, as presented in the middle part of the Sophist , particularly 254d-263d, has evoked many grave criticisms." (p. 53)
"I shall discuss those parts of the text that have given rise to these criticisms, which I show to be all mistaken: Plato is not guilty of any of the fallacies or failures mentioned. On all points at issue here Plato's logical insights are perfectly sound." (p. 54)
"On the basis of the criticisms dealt with above, the section 254d-263d of the Sophist , containing Plato's theory of not-being and falsity, has been called 'one great logical mistake' (Bostock 1984, 90). Now that we have seen all these criticisms are false, how should we evaluate the theory? We found that it is not faultless either, as it contains the idea that (a) rest does not participate of movement and movement not of rest, because (b) this would turn their-opposite-natures into each other. Actually, only the first part of (a) is true and the reason given for it is not sound. In fact, this makes the system inconsistent: it follows from the text
that every form is at rest (contra a), and also that resting is not part of the physis of any form (except for rest, of course), and so will not interfere with the form of movement either (contra b). How serious is this and what is the position of the inconsistency within the theory as a whole?" (p. 77)
"Thus, within the theory as a whole the idea that movement would not partake of rest and vice versa because this would turn their natures into each other, is merely a marginal slip. In fact it is the only fault in an otherwise impeccable series of arguments, leading, as our outline in the introduction can only adumbrate, to a highly adequate analysis of not being and falsity. Far from being the logical mess the criticisms would make us believe it is, the theory of falsity and negation we find in the Sophis t is a masterpiece of logical analysis, to be reckoned among the great achievements in the history of the discipline." (p.78)
Bostock, D. 1984. 'Plato on "Is not' " Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 2: 89-119.
———. 2002. "Non-Being and Difference: on Plato's Sophist 256d5-258b3." Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy no. 23:63-84.
"Plato's analysis of falsity at Sophist 263 is given in terms of notbeing and difference. 'Theaetetus flies' is false because what is different is stated as the same, and what is not as what is, θάτερα ὡς τὰ αὐτὰ καὶ μὴ ὄντα ὡς ὄντα, (263 D 1-2), things that are different from what is the case concerning him (viz. flying) are described as the same (as what is the case about him). That there are indeed many μὴ ὄντα, 'not-beings' in the sense of things different from the things that are, the Eleatic Stranger (ES) and Theaetetus remarked some lines above, 'for we said there are many things that are with regard to each thing and many things that are not' (263 B 11-12), referring to 256 E 6-7, 'so, with regard to each of the forms, being is many and not-being is indefinite in quantity' . In this way they had been disobedient to Parmenides, who had stated, 'Never shall it force itself on us that things that are-not are [είναι μη έόντα].' But they had gone even further in their disobedience: 'but we have not merely shown that the things that are-not are, but also brought to light the form not-being happens to have' (258 o 5-7).
The context of both points has caused commentators a lot of problems. The main question is, how is it that something (i.e. a form) is called an ουκ όν in 256 o 8-257 A 6? Is it because it is different from the form of being; or is it because it is different from any thing (i.e. any form) it is not identical with? And on which of the two lines is the form of not-being defined as it is introduced in the section that follows, in 258 A 11-B 8 and 258 D 7-E 3? Only a few commentators have tackled the problems systematically, and as far as I know no interpretation has been reached that is both coherent and sound. Nevertheless, such an interpretation is possible, as I shall argue in the following. I shall discuss the passages at issue, criticize commentaries that have been given, and present the interpretation intended." (pp. 63-64)
———. 2008. "Self-predication and Being the Aitia of Things." Ancient Philosophy no. 28:105-124.
"In recent times sentences of self-predication in Plato, that is, sentences in which it is said that a certain form F-ness, is itself F. have been explained by referring to the causal role of forms. The form F-ness is F because it is the aitia of any particular x being F. This is taken in different senses. Some commentators are of the opinion that to say that F-ness, also called ' the F'. is itself F is to say that it is the ultimate source (explanation) of why anything is F (Fine 1992, 26 and 2003, 36, 314-315). For others, sometimes the form of F is itself F because as a cause of other things' being F, it must itself have the quality F (Malcolm 1991, 154-158 and Devereux 2003, 79).
I examine the evidence put forward for these interpretations and look at some passages pertinent to the issue of self-predication from the Phaedo and the Sophist . The Sophist features a context in which there is no question of the role of forms as aitiai ; the Phaedo passage is explicitly about the causal role of the forms concerned. From both dialogues we can learn why a form F-ness cannot be not F, and what it means that it is F, without referring to the F as the aitia of F-things being F. Yet there is a very interesting connection between the causal role of the forms and a certain type of self-predication. Surprisingly. however, it is not self-predication of forms that is at issue, but self-predication with relation to the F-ness 'in us'." (p. 105)
Devereux, D. 2003. 'Plato: Metaphysics' 75-99 in C. Shields ed. The Blackwell Guide to Ancient Philosophy . Oxford: Blackwell.
Fine, G. 1992. 'Aristotle's Criticisms of Plato' 13-41 in J. Klagge and N. Smith edd. Methods of Interpreting Plato and his Dialogues . Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy , supplementary volume.
Fine, G. 2003. Plato on Knovledge and Forms, Selected Essays . Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Malcolm, J. 1991. Plato on the Self-Predication of Forms. Early and Middle Dialogues. Oxford: Oxford University.
———. 2014. "Plato’s Theory of Negation and Falsity in Sophist 257 and 263: A New Defense of the Oxford Interpretation." Ancient Philosophy no. 34:275-288.
"There are two main rival interpretations of the text, the so-called Oxford interpretation and the incompatibility range interpretation.(1) On the Oxford interpretation, the sentence ‘Theaetetus flies’ is false, because flying is different from everything that applies to Theaetetus. So it reads a universal quantifier implied in the text: ‘other things than all the things that are’. The incompatibility range interpretation, however, says that ‘Theaetetus flies’ is false, because flying is different from something taken from the range of attributes incompatible with flying (viz., sitting) that applies to Theaetetus. Thus it reads an existential quantifier in the text: ‘other things than some things that are’. This reading finds its inspiration in an earlier passage, 257b1-d3, on negative expressions, where the idea of a range of incompatible attributes is introduced indeed, and where it is said that ‘the prefixed “not” indicates some of the other things than… the things the words uttered after the negative stand for’. On this interpretation ‘not big’, for instance, would signify middle-sized, or small, because it means ‘something other than big’.
What is at issue here, namely, to which interpretation we should subscribe, concerns an important point: whether the Sophist offers an adequate theory of falsity or not. On the Oxford interpretation it does, on the incompatibility range interpretation it does not.
Now, the incompatibility range interpretation is winning more and more support.2 Brown 2008, 453-458 argues against the Oxford interpretation. As her criticisms are incisive and forceful indeed, adherers to this interpretation cannot ignore them. In the following, I will oppose the incompatibility range interpretation and point out that it involves a remarkable inconsistency in the treatment of negative terms in 256-257. Then I will show that a natural reading of 263 justifies the Oxford interpretation." (pp. 275-276)
(1) The name ‘Oxford interpretation’ was introduced by Keyt 1973.
(2) Szaif 2004; Brown 2008; Gill 2009. Crivelli 2012 adheres to the Oxford interpretation.
Brown, L. 2008. ‘The Sophist on Statements, Predication, and Falsehood’ 437-462 in G. Fine ed. 2008. The Oxford Handbook of Plato . Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Crivelli, P. 2012. Plato’s Account of Falsehood. A Study of the Sophist. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gill, M.L. 2009. ‘Method and Metaphysics in Plato’s Sophist and Stateman ’ 1-34 in E.N. Zalta ed. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy .
Keyt, D. 1973. ‘Plato on Falsity: Sophist 263B’. 285-305 in E.N. Lee, A.P.D. Mourelatos, R. Rorty edd. Exegesis and Argument: Studies in Greek Philosophy Presented to Gregory Vlastos . Assen: Van Gorcum.
Szaif, J. 2004. Platons Begriff der Wahrheit . Munich: Alber.
van Fraassen, Bas C. 1969. "Logical Structure in Plato's Sophist ." The Review of Metaphysics no. 22:482-498.
"In view of much recent discussion of the passage in the Sophist in which Plato discusses the relations among the forms, (*) it may not be inappropriate to examine this passage from the point of view of modern logical theory. There is indeed already one such study by Karl Dürr, (**) who attempts to represent the relations among the forms within the framework of classes in Principia Mathematica . Since we consider some of these relations to be modal in character, we cannot accept the adequacy of this framework for this purpose.
In what follows we shall examine the connection between relations among the forms and the relation of participation between forms and individuals (section 2) , the peculiar character of forms corresponding to relative terms (section 3), and finally the formal representation of the described logical structures (section 4). The main point which emerges is that the problems discussed by Plato are closely related to difficult problems in current logical theory." (p. 482)
(*) 251A-259D. See for example J. B. Trevaskis, "The megista genê and the vowel analogy of Plato, Sophist 253," Phronesis 11 (1966), pp. 99-116, and the references therein.
(**) "Moderne Darstellung der platonischen Logik. Ein Beitrag zur Erklärung des Dialoges Sophistes ," Museum Helveticum 2 (1945), pp. 166-194.
Vázquez, Daniel. 2018. "Argumentation and Reflection in Plato’s Gigantomachia (Sophist 245b6–249d5)." Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie no. 100:241-285.
Abstract: "This paper argues that Plato’s gigantomachia is simultaneously concerned with first-order arguments about metaphysics and epistemology and with second-order arguments that reflect on the impact of ethical components, argumentative strategies and theoretical assumptions in the conversation. This complex argumentative structure reveals, I suggest, an organic and systematic conception of philosophy where all the elements are interdependent. This interpretation has four consequences, two at the second-order level, and two concerning the first-order arguments. First, it shows that there are methodological and ethical requirements without which philosophy is impossible. Second, it shows that the text does not refute materialism but tries to reflect the necessary conditions
to consider possible the existence of incorporeal beings. Third, it argues that the text assumes a conception of knowledge where knowing something is a complex activity composed of two causal relations. Finally, it offers a new interpretation of the overall conclusion of the passage."
Vigdis, Songe-Møller. 2013. "Socrates, the Stranger, and Parmenides in Plato’s Sophist : Two Troubled Relationships." The New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy no. 13:292-305.
Abstract: "Who is the xenos , the Eleatic stranger, in the Sophist ? Or rather: who is he not? In this paper, I try to shed light on this (latter) question by discussing Socrates’ relationship toward the stranger as well as the stranger’s relationship toward Parmenides. I argue that in the opening of the dialogue, Socrates creates an aura of disinterest, distance, and alienation toward the visitor and thus indicates that the stranger is a philosopher of another kind than himself. Through an analysis of the stranger’s treatment of Parmenides’ notions of non-being and being I come to the conclusion that the stranger also diverges from his spiritual father Parmenides: while both Socrates and Parmenides never lose the divine ideal out of sight, the stranger confines himself to a purely human perspective, in total isolation from the divine ideal."
Vlastos, Gregory. 1969. "Self-predication and self-participation in Plato's later period." The Philosophical Review no. 78:74-78.
Reprinted in G. Vlastos, Platonic Studies , Princeton. Princeton University Press 1973, pp. 335-341.
———. 1973. "An Ambiguity in the Sophist ." In Platonic Studies , 270-322. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Appendix I: On the interpretation of Sph. 248D4b4 pp. 309-317; Appendix II: More on Pauline predication in Plato pp. 318-322
Webb, David. 2000. "Continuity and Difference in Heidegger's Sophist ." Southern Journal of Philosophy no. 38:145-169.
"My argument in this paper comprises four claims. First, Heidegger’s interpretation of nous and logos can only be fully understood in conjunction with his reading of phronesis and sophia . Second, the way in which the two pairs of terms bear upon each other turns at a series of levels on the question of relation. Third, for Heidegger the question of relation is articulated in terms of movement, and moreover Heidegger wishes movement, and thereby relation, to show itself as itself without being reduced either to a thing or to a subsequent relation between preexisting things. Fourth, while Heidegger’s reception of the Aristotelian conception of movement as “continuous” (squelches ) assists in holding open the possibility of a more fundamentally ontological discourse than is possible within the dialectical form of inquiry as presented in Plato’s Sophist , it is paradoxically Heidegger’s deployment of continuity that leads to the movement by which philosophy relates to truth being revealed as aporetic and even discontinuous. As a result, we shall see that Heidegger’s attempt to secure a more “fundamental” philosophical relation to truth in fact draws philosophy back into the concreteness of human existence." (p. 146)
Wedin, Michael V. 1981. "Plato on What "Being" is Not." Philosophia no. 10-11:265-295.
"Three puzzles are raised at "Sophist" 243b-245e concerning theories that make claims about the number of things that are. I argue that they are preliminary to and reflect Plato's positive theory of being, in particular they indicate that it is a mistake to regard being as a standard first-order predicate and so support the thesis that for Plato being is a second-order or formal concept."
Wiggins, David. 1971. "Sentence Meaning, Negation, and Plato's Problem of Non-Being." In Plato. A Collection of Critical Essays. I: Metaphysics and Epistemology , edited by Vlastos, Gregory, 268-303. Notre Dame: Indiana University Press.
Synopsis: "I. An analysis of Sophist 236E ff. The sentential variant of the problem of non-being in dialogues earlier than Theaetetus and Sophist . II. The display theory of sentence meaning as an escape from Plato's problem of false judgement. The theory's inability to accommodate negation. III. Plato's analytical approach to the problem of sentence-sense in Sophist , and anticipations of this in Cratylus and Theaetetus . IV. Relevant points from the discussion of Being in Sophist . V. The Sophist explanation of negation. Preliminary criticism and a suggested amendment of the explanation. VI. The analysis of true and false judgement at Sophist 263B4 ff. and Plato's return from negation to falsity. VII. Crucial inadequacy of Sophist account of negation to sustain Plato's theory of false judgement. VIII. Positive achievements of the analysis."
"For these reasons I do not myself believe that Plato came near to solving the problem of negation, or that he reached any satisfactory understanding of what problem this problem really is. The little clarity we now have about the nature of the problem of negation does not lead me to think that Plato's notion of the notion of Other is of fundamental importance in solving it. A theory of speech acts is a more likely focus for a satisfying answer. On the other hand we are not in a position to condescend to him on the subject. As J. L. Austin complained, we ourselves are all too apt to define negation in terms of falsehood and falsehood in terms of negation, and to fend off the charge of circularity by keeping the occasions of such interdefinition apart (rather than by getting really clear about what exactly is to be expected from an analysis of negation).
As for falsity, Plato's objective was as much to find room for falsity as to define it by means of his account of negation; and in the former project I believe he has more success. Admittedly he mistakes the gravity of some of the obstacles which he thinks he sees in the way of admitting the existence of falsity, and he does not always take the best or the shortest way round them. As a result his eventual theory is a more primitive theory than it otherwise might have been. But in the course of it he puts logic and philosophy onto the subject of parts of speech and the asymmetrical roles of names and other parts in the completed sentence." (p. 302)
Wiitala, Michael. 2015. "Non-Being and the Structure of Privative Forms in Plato’s Sophist ." Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy no. 19:277-286.
Abstract: "In Plato’s Statesman , the Eleatic Stranger explains that the division of all human beings into Greek and barbarian is mistaken in that it fails to divide reality into genuine classes or forms (eide ). The division fails because “barbarian” names a privative form, that is, a form properly indicated via negation: non-Greek. This paper examines how the Stranger characterizes privative forms in the Sophist . I argue that although the Stranger is careful to define privative forms as fully determinate, he nevertheless characterizes them as having a structure unlike that of their non-privative counterparts. A privative form, in contrast to a non-privative form, is indifferent to the specificity of its members."
———. 2018. "The Argument against the Friends of the Forms Revisited: Sophist 248a4-249d5." Apeiron no. 51:171-200.
Abstract: "There are only two places in which Plato explicitly offers a critique of the sort of theory of forms presented in the Phaedo and Republic : at the beginning of the Parmenides and in the argument against the Friends of the Forms in the Sophist . An accurate account of the argument against the Friends, therefore, is crucial to a proper understanding of Plato’s metaphysics. How the argument against the Friends ought to be construed and what it aims to accomplish, however, are matters of considerable controversy. My aim in this article is twofold. First, I show that the two readings of the argument against the Friends that dominate the contemporary literature – the “Cambridge Change” reading and the “Becoming-is-Being” reading – lack sufficient textual support.
Second, I offer an alternative reading of the argument against the Friends that better explains both the text of 248a4-249d5 and the role the argument plays within the Stranger’s wider project of demonstrating that non-being is. My thesis is that the Stranger’s argument against the Friends seeks to demonstrate that the forms must be both at rest and moved, where “moved” (kineisthai ) has the sense of “affected.” To participate in a form is to be affected by that form. I argue that since, according to the Stranger, every form participates in some other forms (see 251d5-253a2), every form is “moved” in the sense that it is affected by the forms in which it participates. Likewise, I argue that every form is at rest in the sense that its unique nature remains unaffected by the other forms in which it participates."
Wiles, Anne M. 1999. "Forms and Predication in the Later Dialogies." In Plato and Platonism , edited by Ophuijsen, Johannes M.van, 179-197. Washington: Catholic University of America Press.
Wolfe, C. J. 2012. "Plato's and Aristotle's Answers to the Parmenides Problem." The Review of Metaphysics no. 65:747-764.
"The question raised by the great pre-Socratic philosopher Parmenides were perhaps the main challenge for Plato and Aristotle, two of the greatest post-Socratic philosophers. To summarize the challenge briefly: Parmenides denied that there was any change in the world.
If Parmenides' argument seems tricky, it ought to. It has seemed tricky to all thinkers who have followed Parmenides. There were even a few unscrupulous thinkers who took advantage of this trickiness and used it as a justification for moral relativism. These thinkers were the sophists, and the most brilliant of them was Protagoras.
Protagoras claimed that each individual man was "the measure of all things," so the same thing that was good for one man might not be good for another based on perspective.(1) Ultimately, Protagoras claimed there was no measure of goodness based on human nature because human nature as a separate individual form did not exist. Only being exists, as Parmenides argued; Protagoras said the rest of what we take to be reality is an illusion and subjective. Protagoras' argument is a stronger version of the sophist arguments about convention and nature (nomos and phusis ). As Plato and Aristotle both recognized, the Parmenides problem had implications for politics as well as for philosophy.
No philosopher was able to accurately interpret and refute the Parmenides problem until Plato and Aristotle. Plato answered it in an important way in his dialogue the Sophist , and Aristotle followed this up with the complete answer in Physics book 1, chapter 8. My thesis is that Plato's answer would have been good enough to defeat Protagoras in extended argument, thereby remedying the political aspects of the Parmenides problem. However, Aristotle's answer is required to answer some additional philosophical and scientific aspects.
The first section of this paper will summarize the history of presocratic philosophy and explain why Parmenides was a turning-point.
The second section will explain the sophist Protagoras' relation to the Parmenides problem. The third part will present Aristotle's complete answer to the Parmenides problem, and in the fourth part I will compare that approach with Plato's solution in the Sophist . Lastly, I will sum up by characterizing how I think Plato and Aristotle would have responded to Protagoras' Parmenidean sophistry in political life." (pp. 747-748)
(1) See Joe Sachs' footnote 10 on page 214 in his translation of Aristotle's Metaphysics (Santa Fe, NM: Green Lion Press, 2002).
Wood, James L. 2009. "Is There an "Archê Kakou" in Plato?" The Review of Metaphysics no. 63:349-384.
"Does Plato admit an archê kakou, a source or principle of evil? One or more than one? If he does, is the principle of evil matter, soul, a god or gods, some combination of these, or something else entirely? Or, is evil merely a human phenomenon? Just what does Plato understand by evil anyway? These questions have been repeatedly addressed by Plato's commentators, but by no means has a consensus been reached on any of them. (p. 349)
"In what follows I intend to defend this stance by an analysis of key metaphysical passages in several Platonic dialogues, and in the process I will address the central disputes in the scholarship on the present topic. I begin with the idea of the good in the Republic in order to elicit, by contrast, the concept of an arche kakou , and the negativity of this notion will be developed through the discussion of me on (nonbeing) and thateron (difference) in the Sophist . I turn then to the Philebus , where negativity is conceived as the unlimited or indeterminate (apeiron ), and evil is realized in the embrace of the unlimited in hedonism, the pursuit of pleasure, and particularly the pleasure of the body. In the next section I show with reference to key passages in the Statesman and Timaeus that what seems to be a competing principle of evil, the bodily element (to somatoeides ), in fact is a metaphysically derivative notion referring back to the generative cosmic order and specifically to the relative negativity, thateron , that makes genesis possible. Finally, I consider the possibility of psychic evil on the cosmic level in the discussion of an evil cosmic soul in the Laws . Throughout I will show that positive evil lies only in the defection of the intellect from its responsibility to generate our being as good." (p. 350)
Xenakis, Jason. 1957. "Plato on Statement and Truth-Value." Mind no. 66:165-172.
"Plato discusses the notions of false, true and statement in a number of places, but Sophist 261e-3b stands out. I propose to analyse, and not merely to reproduce in other words, this passage because I expect to make it evident that it has been unduly if not regretfully neglected by those who concern themselves with such matters. I am almost tempted to retrodict, for example, that the Theory of Descriptions would not have been born had this passage been paid the attention it deserves. In any case, 'the present King of France is bald' would not have perplexed anybody because it would not have been even seriously considered, let alone chosen as a legitimate specimen of a false statement, or indeed of a statement." (p. 165)
"That Plato's analysis applies to 'there is '-statements of the form 'there is (isn't) a mouse in here 'is evident from what has already transpired before the preceding paragraph; the subject (in the by now familiar sense of 'subject') of this statement is not of course 'a mouse'—a substance expression—but 'in here', a place expression. Relational statements too can be accommodated in Plato's analysis, only that the elucidation of the truth-value of these is, perhaps, more complicated.
I am not necessarily maintaining, with Russell and others, that the higher-order use or elucidation of 'to exist' is the only one; nor that Plato did successfully cope with existential, as against attributive, statements, but rather that his present analysis can accommodate the former without postulating a Meinongian Realm of Being. If so, Quine's 'Plato's beard' need not be Plato's." (p. 172)
———. 1959. "Plato's Sophist : A Defense of Negative Expressions and a Doctrine of Sense and of Truth." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 4:29-43.
"The Sophist anyhow may be said to surmount the difficulty about knowledge and logos appearing toward the end of the Theaetetus : logos , not being a name, can after all enter into the definition of knowledge; and it can do so, of course, as true not as false logos . You have knowledge not because you are "apprehending" an object if an ethereal one - for apprehension according to the Sophist is not thought and hence knowledge - but because you have a true logos .
This does not conflict with the Theaetetus thesis that perception is not knowledge; on the contrary it agrees with it, since perception is a form of apprehension - I should say the only form, but let that be as it may.
Nor would it conflict with that dialogue had Plato maintained in it, as perhaps he at bottom at does, that knowledge is not of particulars but of principles; for principles demand logoi. (1) However, the Theaetetus is not my present concern. In fact, I am rather uneasy over the way certain concepts are managed in the "commons" passage (185a ff.), some of which might correspond to some of the "highest concepts" of the Sophist : they seem to be treated as though they were first-order or attributive concepts, like "red" and "sound," only not perceptual.
Perhaps this is a slip. Anyhow Plato's stand against perceptionism does not require anything of the kind. Indeed, that passage could be said to amount to the following valid argument: Knowledge entails reality or truth (right: "illusory or false knowledge" is a contradiction in terms); neither truth nor reality is a perceptual concept (right; cf. " 'existence' is not a predicate"); therefore knowledge cannot be identical with perception." (pp. 42-43)
(1) It is worth adding that the Wax Tablet metaphor in the Theaetetus goes against 'innate ideas" of course, but also against the "Theory of Recollection" and, to that extent, against Formism.
Zaks, Nicolas. 2016. "Is the ‘In-Itself’ Relational? Heidegger and Contemporary Scholarship on Plato’s Sophist 255c–e." In Sophistes: Plato's Dialogue and Heidegger's Lectures in Marburg (1924-25) , edited by De Brasi, Diego and Fuchs, Marko J., 95-112. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
"For some scholars, the proof offered by the Eleatic Stranger in Plato's Sophist 255c9-b2 of the fact that otherness and being are not two names for one kind is "probably the most crucial text in the dialogue", since "it contains two lines (255d13-14) that seem to speak directly about being and how the form being is spoken of'." (p 95, a note omitted)
"I will proceed as follows. After presenting the difficult text, accompanied by preliminary remarks making explicit how Heidegger's interpretation both aligns with and yet remains very different from contemporary scholarship, I start with two versions of what one might call the 'standard reading' of the proof. I claim that Heidegger would have endorsed this standard reading. But Heidegger goes further by adding a sharp remark concerning the relational character of the 'in-itself. To clarify his argument, I dig into the conception of 'understanding' and temporality developed in Being and Time . Then, I argue that Heidegger's remark concerning the relational character of the 'in-itself in some sense foresees Michael Frede's objection to the standard reading.(3) Finally, I present and discuss two different kinds of reactions to this objection. The first kind is a defence of the standard reading; the second regards the 'in-itself as relative. In my conclusion, I argue that even if the standard reading is right concerning the proof of 255c9-b2, the fact remains that Plato, at strategic points of the Sophist , speaks of forms relatively to themselves." (p. 96)
(3) Frede (1967), 17; 19, and 22. Cited and described by Heinaman (1983), 14-15.
Frede, Michael. Prädikation und Existenzaussage. Platons Gebrauch von '...ist' und '...ist nicht...' in Sophistes . Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1967.
Heinaman, Robert. "Being in the Sophist." Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 65, no. 1 (1983): 1-17.
———. 2018. "Socratic Elenchus in the Sophist ." Apeiron no. 51:371-390.
Abstract: "This paper demonstrates the central role of the Socratic elenchus in the Sophist . In the first part, I defend the position that the Stranger describes the Socratic elenchus in the sixth division of the Sophist . In the second part, I show that the Socratic elenchus is actually used when the Stranger scrutinizes the accounts of being put forward by his predecessors. In the final part, I explain the function of the Socratic elenchus in the argument of the dialogue. By contrast with standard scholarly interpretations, this way of reading the text provides all the puzzles about being (241d4-251a4) with a definite function in the dialogue. It also reveals that Plato’s methodology includes a plurality of method and is more continuous than what is often believed."
———. 2020. " Διακριτικὴ as a ποιητικὴ τέχνη in the Sophist ." The Classical Quarterly :1-3.
Abstract: "The διακριτικὴ τέχνη (the art of separating or discriminating), from which the sixth definition of the Sophist starts (226b1–231b9), is puzzling. Prima facie the art of separating does not fit the initial division of art between ποιητικὴ τέχνη (production) and κτητικὴ τέχνη (acquisition) at 219a8–c9. Therefore, scholars generally agree that, although mutually exclusive, ποιητική and κτητική are not exhaustive and leave room for a third species of art, διακριτικὴ τέχνη, on a par with ποιητική and κτητική. However, I argue that textual evidence suggests otherwise."
Zistakis, Alexandar H. 2006. "Difference, συμπλοκή and the hierarchy of ideas in Plato's Sophist ." Phronimon no. 7:29-45.
Abstract: "Starting from the dialectic of intertwinement, the weaving together (συμπλοκή) of ideas in the Sophist , this paper tries to determine the place, function and significance of Difference and Hierarchy among platonic ideas. To that effect, it is first established that and how the notion of difference becomes the fundamental and even substantial structural principle of the dialectic of being and non-being, motion and rest, and finally of the notions of unity and identity themselves. In the second instance, the question of the hierarchy among ideas is interpreted and understood as the question of liberty. Namely, that very hierarchy is understood as an intrinsic and an innate one, i.e. as the set of dialectical relationships between ideas that follow from their own essence and being, which therefore is not nor cannot be externally imposed or forced upon them. Such a character of hierarchy is, then, recognized and exemplified in the case of the individual and the collective, where it turns out not only that there exists a clear idea of individuality in Plato, but also that every individual necessarily belongs to some collective and indeed seeks to unite with the collective in the same way and for the same reasons everything or idea tends towards its form, or its own proper good."
Zucchetti, Nicholas. 2020. "An unexplained overlap between Sophist 232b1-236d4 and Republic X. The case of the sophist as a painter." Archai no. 30:1-27.
"In what follows I will present an interpretation of [Sophist ] 232b1-236d4 (henceforth seventh definition) which clarifies if and how the seventh definition is compatible with Plato’s Republic. My main argument is that although the sophist is an imitator of the wise person and lacks knowledge, he appears to be wise in everything because the judgment of his pupils is not a result of reflection but rather of an unreflective acceptance of what appears. Republic X is not only consistent with this argument, but it also integrates it. More particularly, Plato’s conception of imitation in the Republic integrates the conception of imitation in the seventh definition by adding the ontological distinctions of the middle books. Understanding is the result of a judgment that has Forms as its ultimate target. On the other hand, the false belief instilled by the sophist is the result of an uncritical judgment that arises from perception. This occurs through the lowest kind of reality: the shadows and reflections of the cognitive state of εἰκασία of book 6 and 7." (p.3)
Zuckert, Catherine H. 2000. "Who's a Philosopher? Who's a Sophist? The Stranger v. Socrates." The Review of Metaphysics no. 54:65-97.
"Many readers have taken the Eleatic Stranger to represent a later stage of Plato's philosophical development because the arguments or doctrines the Stranger presents in the Sophist appear to be better than those Socrates articulates in earlier dialogues. (1) In particular, in the Sophist Plato shows the Stranger answering two questions Socrates proved unable to resolve in two of his conversations the day before. In the Theaetetus Socrates admitted that he had long been perplexed by the fact of false opinion; he was not able to explain how it was possible. Likewise, in the Cratylus Socrates and his interlocutors were not able to determine satisfactorily the relation between names and the things to which they refer. Through his teaching about the idea of the other, the Stranger shows not only how false opinion is possible but also why names do not always correspond to the kinds or ideas of things. More generally, in the course of his account of previous thought the Stranger presents a fundamental critique of the teaching of "friends of the forms" like Socrates. When we examine the definition of the sophist to which the Stranger comes at the end of the dialogue, however, we find reasons to question the adequacy of his teaching and, consequently, his superiority to Socrates.
If philosophy consists in knowledge - of the whole or merely of self - we are forced to conclude, neither the Stranger nor Socrates is a philosopher.
Each or even both might appear, therefore, to be a pretender - or sophist. If, on the other hand, philosophy consists in the search for knowledge by means of a dialectical sorting of things according to kinds, Socrates and the Stranger represent two different, although related types." (pp. 65-66, a note omitted)
(1) For example, Paul Friedlaender, Plato , trans. Hans Meyerhoff (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1958-69); Kenneth M. Sayre, Plato's Late Ontology (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983); Statesman , trans. Joseph Bright Skemp (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1957), 96 n. 48.
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)