This paper is a brief discussion of the famous 'Third Man Argument' as it appears in Plato's dialogue Parmenides . I mention, criticise and refine the most influential analytic approach to the argument; show that the actual conclusion of the argument is different from the one attributed to it by the majority of scholars; and elaborate two responses to the argument, both of which shed interesting light on the Theory of Forms.
Our interpretation of the "parmenides" 132a1 - 132b2 has the following features. (i) it stresses that the third man argument is an infinite regress and (ii) notes its epistemological thrust. (iii) a faithful translation of the last line of the argument reads "and no longer will each of the forms be for you one but each is infinite in multitude." parmenides' point is that each form, which socrates believed to be complete (one), turns out to be an (...) unbounded, incompletable series of subforms useless for comprehending the unity of many particulars. (iv) related problems are seen to occupy plato in the "philebus" and in the "sophist". (shrink)
In this paper i offer a detailed analysis of the dilemma of participation (parmenides, 130e-131e), in which plato considers the consequences of participation in the whole, and in a part of, a form. This analysis explains, in contrast to existing interpretations of the argument, plato's claim that participation in parts of a form is incompatible with the uniqueness of the form, and his modal claim that becoming equal by possessing part of the equal is absurd. In the second part (...) of the paper, i give the premisses and logical steps of the third man argument in the parmenides, and show the premisses to be committed to absurdity, even without the assumption that there is a unique form per character f. (shrink)
This article is concerned with the problem of how to avoid the Third Man Argument which Plato put forward in Parmenides 132a1-b2. According to Gregory Vlastos, this argument is based on two tacit assumptions: the Self-Predication and the Non-Identity Assumption. In recent years there have been a number ofinterpretations which attempted to avoid the Third Man Argument by proving that the Self-Predication Assumption is not an acceptable part of Plato’s theory. However, in this article I (...) will show that the fallacy of the Third Man Argument does not lie in the Self-Predication Assumption, but in the Non-Identity Assumption. That is, we may avoid the Third Man Argument by proving that the Non-Identity Assumption is false. Besides, in this article I will point out that in putting forward the Third Man Argument, Plato does not really intend to raise a criticism of his own theory. Rather, his device of the Third Man Argument in Parmenides 132a1-b2 should be considered as a warning against the materialistic interpretation of the relation between Forms and particulars: if we interpret the conception of“participation” in a materialistic manner, the Theory of Forms will inevitably be caught in the Largeness Regress. (shrink)
In this article I argue that "timaeus" 48e-52d, The passage in which plato introduces the receptacle into his ontology, Contains the material for a satisfactory response to the third man argument. Plato's use of "this" and "such" to distinguish the receptacle, Becoming, And the forms clarifies the nature of his ontology and indicates that the forms are not, In general, Self-Predicative. This result removes one argument against regarding the "timaeus" as a late dialogue.
The article calls into question the view that the third man arguments in the first part of plato's parmenides reflect puzzlement on plato's part with regard to the theory of forms. By viewing the parmenides as an exercise in dialectical training, a context is provided which allows plato to identify and state the false premises of the tma without requiring him to present a fully argued refutation.
This paper is a restatement of my earlier analysis of this argument (1954), Revised in the light of critical comments by other scholars and of closer study of the text. It includes a critical discussion of an alternative formalization of the argument, First offered by wilfrid sellars (1955) and retained (with modifications) by colin strang (1963), Which eliminates successfully the inconsistency of the premises of the argument but has dubious support from plato's text.
(1) anything that fs does so because it participates in the f itself. (2) it is impossible that: a form phi fs because phi participates in phi. (3) the f itself fs. These are inconsistent all right, but (1) is not a doctrine of the theory of forms, and (2) is neither reasonable nor held by plato! but the tma does not involve any of these three. Rather, the tma is aimed at (4) anything that fs does so (a) because (...) it participates in the f itself and (b) because the f itself fs. And the tma uses only simple inference rules of the logic of 'because'–no suppressed premises. I also discuss causal regress arguments generally. (shrink)
Aristotle's illustrations of the fallacy of Figure of Speech (or Form of Expression) are none too convincing. They are tied to Aristotle's theory of categories and to peculiarities of Greek grammar that fail to hold appeal for a contemporary readership. Yet, upon closer inspection, Figure of Speech shows many points of contact with views and problems that inhabit 20th-century analytical philosophy. In the paper, some Aristotelian examples will be analyzed to gain a better understanding of this fallacy. The case of (...) the Third Man argument and some modern cases lend plausibility to the claim that Figure of Speech is of more interest as a type of fallacy than has generally been assumed. Finally, a case is made for the view that Figure of Speech, though listed among the fallacies dependent upon language, is not properly classified as a fallacy of ambiguity. More likely, it should be looked upon as a type of non sequitur. This has important consequences for the profile of dialogue associated with this fallacy. (shrink)
To understand the tma we should follow a rule of polemical force as well as a rule of validity. Following just the latter vlastos renders the explicit theory of forms and the two suppressed premises as an inconsistent triad. But the rule of polemical force indicates that the explicit theory is ambivalent. Just one f-Ness must be the basis, Either for any f thing being f, Or for any set of f things being just that set. It cannot be the (...) basis for all f things being f. (shrink)
Plato presents us with two versions of the "third man" argument in the "parmenides": they occur in a tightly-knit passage of reasoning containing four arguments against the theory of forms (130e-133a). The orthodox interpretation is that both versions are attempts to show that certain basic tenets of the theory, including a one-over-many principle, form an inconsistent set. The author argues that this interpretation cannot be correct, since it renders incoherent the train of thought in the wider passage and (...) is unable to explain the occurrence of certain perceptual expressions within the first version of the "third man" argument. The author proposes an alternative reading of this version which avoids these difficulties. (shrink)
The main lines of interpretation offered to date of the Third Man Argument in Plato's Parmenides (132a1-b2) are considered and rejected. A new, set-theoretic, reconstruction of the argument is offered. It is concluded that the philosophical point of the argument is different from what it has been generally supposed to be: Plato is pointing out the logical shortcomings in his earlier formulated principle of One-Over-Many.
In (1991), Meinwald initiated a major change of direction in the study of Plato’s Parmenides and the Third Man Argument. On her conception of the Parmenides , Plato’s language systematically distinguishes two types or kinds of predication, namely, predications of the kind ‘x is F pros ta alla’ and ‘x is F pros heauto’. Intuitively speaking, the former is the common, everyday variety of predication, which holds when x is any object (perceptible object or Form) and F is (...) a property which x exempliﬁes or instantiates in the traditional sense. The latter is a special mode of predication which holds when x is a Form and F is a property which is, in some sense, part of the nature of that Form. Meinwald (1991, p. 75, footnote 18) traces the discovery of this distinction in Plato’s work to Frede (1967), who marks the distinction between pros allo and kath’ hauto predications by placing subscripts on the copula ‘is’. (shrink)
Discussions of plato's third man argument have tended to obscure its force within the context of "parmenides". The tma introduces a demonstration by parmenides of the logic of dialectic. The argument does not refute the theory of forms: rather it illuminates particular difficulties involved in any attempt to conceive of what forms do. As a form, the large enables us to observe the same attribute in a number of objects. As such it is not an object of (...) cognition. When we try to think of a form, however, we transform it into such an object. That object presupposes another form which enables us to conceive of it. "there will be no end to this emergence of fresh forms," parmenides tells socrates. "if the form is to be like the things which participate in it". What the regress of the tma manifests is that a form of which we conceive can never bebut will always presupposea form "with" which we conceive. (shrink)
The "third man" argument presented in plato's "parmenides" is valid against any articulated version of the theory of forms. Plato recognized this fact, yet continued to hold the theory because the most fundamental description of what is (the "unwritten theory") cannot be articulated and does not fall victim to the third man.
I develop Iris Murdoch's argument that “there is no Platonic ‘elsewhere,’ similar to the Christian ‘elsewhere.’ ” Thus: Iris Murdoch is against the Separation of the Forms not as a correction of Plato but in order to keep faith with him; Plato's Parmenides is not a source book of accurately targeted self-refutation but a catalogue of student errors; the testimony of Aristotle and Gilbert Ryle about Plato's motivations in the Theory of Forms is not an indubitable foundation from which (...) to denounce Iris Murdoch's treatment of Plato as inaccurate but a rival reading of dubious charity. If Iris Murdoch's version of the Theory of Forms strikes Newton Garver as an incoherent mix of influences from Wittgenstein and Plato, this is not because Iris Murdoch is herself confused, but because in important respects the orthodoxy has Plato wrong. (shrink)
Thomas Reid uses the term ?moral liberty? to refer to a kind of free will that is agent-causal and incompatible with determinism. I offer and textually support a new interpretation of Reid's thirdargument for moral liberty, which Reid presents in Section 4.8 of Essays on the Active Powers of Man. Generally regarded as obscure, most commentators either ignore Reid's thirdargument or lend it cursory attention. In my interpretation, Reid points to the truism that we (...) have reason to think that human persons conceive of long-term plans. Then, Reid argues that determinism implies that God both conceives of and enacts these plans, leaving us without any reason to believe that people even conceive of these plans. Therefore, we should hold onto the truism and reject determinism. On my interpretation, Reid employs the premises of a theistic argument from design as premises of his argument. (shrink)
The paper addresses the widely held position that the Third Man regress in theParmenides is caused at least in part by the self-predicational aspect of Plato's Ideas. I offer a critique of the logic behind this type of interpretation, and argue that if the Ideas are construed as genuinely applying to themselves, then the regress is dissolved. Furthermore, such an interpretation can be made technically precise by modeling Platonic Universals as non-wellfounded sets. This provides a solution to the (...) class='Hi'>Third Man regress, and allows a consistent reading of both self-predication and the singularity of the respective Forms. (shrink)
This project uses creative/professional production processes to explore an established dramatic and cinematographic phenomenon from a contemporary perspective. The starting-point was Greene's retention of copyright on The Third Man, which meant that I could excavate the original dramatic 'story' that bears his signature, 'liberating' it from the accretions of additional text/restructuring imposed by the film-makers, Reed and Welles. I sought to 'reinvent' its dramatic specificity in terms of Greene's authorship, and to stage aspects of that authorship in a production (...) that also operated as a complex reflection on authorship itself. Research questions: 1. how to identify and acknowledge the filmic qualities of the story, but from the perspective of 21stC theatre technology and audience expectations? 2. how to reinstate and magnify the thematically darker elements of Greene's original text, that were omitted from the film version because of constraints applying at the time of the film's production? 3. how to introduce a contemporary, multi-media conceit, drawing out the notion of Harry Lime's constant surveillance, linked, in historically- specific terms, to the paranoia of occupied Austria, but equally to current anxieties about surveillance. Original music was composed by Ross Brown, creating a pastiche B' movie Western score. N.Irish's set employed a series of substantial steel skeletal two-storey trucks that created a set of spaces made too small for the actors to occupy comfortably (giving the effect of a bombed-out city). These were manhandled into constantly changing configurations requiring considerable muscular effort of the performers: this added physical texture, meaning that the performers themselves struggled to operate in terms equivalent to those of the fictional world depicted. The set was littered with miniature security cameras, worn or carried by the actors, projecting b/w images on screens facing the auditorium, disorientating and multiplying potential interpretations. (shrink)
In this paper, I present a solution to the Doomsday argument based on a third type of solution, by contrast to, on the one hand, the Carter-Leslie view and, on the other hand, the Eckhardt et al. analysis. I begin by strengthening both competing models by highlighting some variations of their original models, which renders them less vulnerable to several objections. I then describe a third line of solution, which incorporates insights from both Leslie and Eckhardt’s models (...) and fits more adequately with the human situation corresponding to DA. I argue then that this two-sided analogy casts new light on the reference class problem. This leads finally to a novel formulation of the argument that could well be more plausible than the original one. (shrink)
Generations of scholars have worked to clarify the structure and content of the TMA, one of the most famous arguments in the history of philosophy. Though progress has been made, I show that a premise crucial to the argument has yet to be stated openly. This premise holds the way out of the predicament that enables Plato to retain intact the foundations of the Theory of Forms.