David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Phronesis 43 (4):291 - 305 (1998)
In this paper I reexamine Plato's method of collection and division, and specifically of collection. If collection and division are simply methods for mapping out genus-species trees, then it is hard to understand why Plato is so excited about them. But a close study of Plato's examples shows that these methods are something broader, and shows why Plato would regard collection as an important tool for coming to know "elements" in any domain of inquiry. In the first section I focus on a notoriously problematic example of collection from the "Philebus," Theuth's discovery of the letters of the alphabet; I show how Plato interprets this discovery as a process of collection, and draw conclusions about what Plato takes collection to be. In the process, I try to bring out Plato's analysis of what is involved in learning to read and write a language, which he takes as paradigmatic for other knowledge. In the second section, stepping back from the "Philebus" passage and applying its lessons, I describe the function of collection and division, for the late Plato, in coming to know "elements," including the Forms, or the most basic Forms. Reflection on Plato's use of collection suggests a (relatively non-mystical) account of what it is to know non-complex intelligible entities, and of how we can come to know them. I also use Plato's descriptions of collection and division to suggest a Platonic context for the notion of the separation of the Forms, to which the late Plato remains firmly committed.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Devin Henry (2012). A Sharp Eye for Kinds: Plato on Collection and Division. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 41 (January):229-55.
S. Marc Cohen (1973). Plato's Method of Division. In J. M. E. Moravcsik (ed.), Patterns in Plato's Thought. Reidel. 181--191.
John Malcolm (1991). Plato on the Self-Predication of Forms: Early and Middle Dialogues. Oxford University Press.
Andrew S. Mason (2010). Plato. Acumen Pub. Ltd..
David Robjant (2012). The Earthy Realism of Plato's Metaphysics, Or: What Shall We Do with Iris Murdoch? Philosophical Investigations 35 (1):43-67.
Travis Butler (2007). On Today's Two-Worlds Interpretation: Knowledge and True Belief in Plato. Southern Journal of Philosophy 45 (1):31-56.
Hallvard Fossheim (2012). Dialectic as Inter-Personal Activity: Self-Refutation and Dialectic in Plato and Aristotle / Luca Castagnoli ; The Role of the Respondent in Plato and Aristotle / Marja-Liisa Kakkuri-Knuuttila ; Division as a Method in Plato. In Jakob L. Fink (ed.), The Development of Dialectic From Plato to Aristotle. Cambridge University Press.
Kenneth M. Sayre (2006). Metaphysics and Method in Plato's Statesman. Cambridge University Press.
Rachel Barney (1992). Plato on Conventionalism. Phronesis 42 (2):143-62.
Rachel Barney (1997). Plato on Conventionalism. Phronesis 42 (2):143-62.
Mary Margaret McCabe (2000). Plato and His Predecessors: The Dramatisation of Reason. Cambridge University Press.
Tushar Irani (2013). Reason and Value in Plato. Philosophy and Literature 36 (2):378-390.
Gail Fine (2003). Plato on Knowledge and Forms: Selected Essays. Oxford University Press.
Deborah K. W. Modrak (2012). Meaning and Cognition in Plato's Cratylus and Theaetetus. Topoi 31 (2):167-174.
Added to index2011-05-29
Total downloads8 ( #163,493 of 1,096,601 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #258,571 of 1,096,601 )
How can I increase my downloads?