This book sheds new light on Plato's cosmology in relation to Greek religion by examining the contested distinction between the traditional and cosmic gods. A close reading of the later dialogues shows that the two families of gods are routinely deployed to organise and structure Plato's accounts of the origins of the universe and of humanity and its social institutions, and to illuminate the moral and political ideals of philosophical utopias. Vilius Bartninkas argues that the presence of the two kinds (...) of gods creates a dynamic, yet productive, tension in Plato's thinking which is unmistakable and which is not resolved until the works of his students. Thus the book closes by exploring how the cosmological and religious ideas of Plato's later dialogues resurfaced in the Early Academy and how the debates initiated there ultimately led to the collapse of this theological distinction. (shrink)
Despite Aristotle’s claim in Topics I that all dialectical argument is either syllogism or epagōgē, modern scholars have largely neglected to assess the role of epagōgē in Platonic dialectic. Though epagōgē has no technical use in Plato, I argue that the method of collection (which, along with division (diairēsis), is central to many of the dialogues’ accounts of dialectic) functions as the Platonic predecessor to Aristotelian epagōgē. An analysis of passages from the Sophist and Statesman suggests that collection is a (...) purificatory practice. I argue that collection is not only Plato’s account of generalization from a sensible many to an intelligible many, as suggested by the Phaedrus, but also functions as a method of diacritical selection that allows inquiry to move from the intelligible many produced by division to the intelligible unity of a definition. This reading contributes a deeper understanding of the mutual relationship of division and collection within Platonic dialectic as well as a way of unifying the accounts of dialectic in the Sophist and Statesman with the otherwise idiosyncratic account of dialectic in the Republic. Finally, this analysis of Platonic epagōgē sheds light on the connection between inquiry and argument present in Aristotle’s use of epagōgē. (shrink)
What is the nature of truth? Blake Hestir offers an investigation into Plato's developing metaphysical views, and examines Plato's conception of being, meaning, and truth in the Sophist, as well as passages from several other later dialogues including the Cratylus, Parmenides, and Theaetetus, where Plato begins to focus more directly on semantics rather than only on metaphysical and epistemological puzzles. Hestir's interpretation challenges both classical and contemporary interpretations of Plato's metaphysics and conception of truth, and highlights new parallels between Plato (...) and Aristotle, as well as clarifying issues surrounding Plato's approach to semantics and thought. This book will be of interest to scholars and students of ancient Greek philosophy, metaphysics, contemporary truth theory, linguistics, and philosophy of language. (shrink)
In this paper I will focus on a crux in two Platonic scholia, where manuscripts have the impossible διονύσιον, but Greene suggests δίκαιον. This amendment was made on the basis of a gloss of Photius’ Lexicon, although the corresponding gloss of Suidas confirms the text of Platonic scholia. However the agreement with Photius is not so important, not only because it is impossible to prove that he reproduces the text of the glossary composed by the Atticist Aelius Dionysius without any (...) modification (it is also the source of Suidas and other Byzantine lexica, and especially of the so called Erweiterte Synagoge, which the Platonic scholia derive from as well), but also because our scholia reveal elsewhere a major affinity with Suidas than with Patriarch’s Lexicon. In the light of a careful review of the loci paralleli I therefore suggest the reading δημόσιον. (shrink)
"The Notion of the concrete General in Plato and Aristotle – Questioning formal logical Ontologies" - The problem of the concrete general notion is equivalent to enquiring about the unity of the general and the singular. Since Plato, this question - which is commonly referred to as the problem of methexis – is one of the most fundamental problems which philosophy is engaged in. This article pursues two goals: Firstly, it aims to provide a brief systematical account on the origin (...) and the solution of this problem with regards to Plato and Aristotle. In doing so, Plato’s solution of the problem of methexis, in the dialectic of his late period, is contrasted with Aristotle’s concept of substance. In this regard the question arises whether Aristotle’s thinking of the problem of methexis has exceeded his teachers achievements in the field of fundamental philosophy or not. Is Aristotle not ultimately avoiding the dialectic, which is contained in the concept of substance – for reasons of formal logic? This point, secondly, shall question the currently prevailing implicitness of the presupposed autarky of formal logic. For it is the very problem of logical justification of the concept of substance in Aristotle which raises this issue: Can the notion of the concrete general be conceivable at all under the precondition that formal logical axioms are also ontologically relevant? (shrink)
This paper focuses on two methodological questions that arise from Plato’s account of collection and division. First, what place does the method of collection and division occupy in Plato’s account of philosophical inquiry? Second, do collection and division in fact constitute a formal “method” (as most scholars assume) or are they simply informal techniques that the philosopher has in her toolkit for accomplishing different philosophical tasks? I argue that Plato sees collection and division as useful tools for achieving two distinct (...) goals – generating real definitions and discovering the basic natural kinds of a given domain of knowledge – both of which occupy a preliminary stage in his account of philosophical inquiry. As to the second question, I claim that the evidence for seeing collection and division as a formal method is weak. Although Plato calls the procedure a technê and a methodos, he makes no real attempt to formalize it in any way. For Plato, collection and division do not constitute an algorithmic process that can be learned from a rule book. Instead the ability to collect and divide properly are skills that good dialecticians must acquire through the kind of hands-on training illustrated by the Sophist and Statesman. Whereas Aristotle insists on formal rules for making proper divisions, Plato seems to emphasize the need to recognize where the natural joints of the world are. In this sense, Plato’s Sophist and Statesman and Aristotle’s Topics and Analytics present two very different pictures of collection and division. (shrink)
Plato's Utopia Recast is an illuminating reappraisal of Plato's later works, which reveals radical changes in his ethical and political theory. Christopher Bobonich examines later dialogues, with a special emphasis upon the Laws, and argues that in these late works, Plato both rethinks and revises the basic ethical and poltical positions that he held in his better-known earlier works, such as the Republic. This book will change our understanding of Plato. His controversial moral and political theory, so influential in Western (...) thought, will henceforth be seen in a new light. (shrink)
Both Plato's theory of virtue and his attitude towards democracy -the two being correspondent- change significantly as we move from the middle to the late dialogues. The Republic is a substantially authoritarian work which expresses an unmitigated rejection of democracy. Its authoritarianism is deeply rooted in the fact that its ethical and political assertions are justified on a metaphysical basis. Plato suggests that virtue and metaphysical knowledge legitimize political power, but both virtue and knowledge are so defined as to be (...) attainable only by a tiny minority. In the Politicus Plato reasserts the superiority of a complete virtue grounded on philosophical knowledge, but seriously questions the attainability of this ideal. In the closing part of this dialogue Plato demonstrates an interest in history and in this respect the Politicus anticipates the Laws, where political theory is not justified by metaphysics, but is informed by historical experience. More specifically, Plato attempts to reproduce on a theoretical level a legislation similar to the actual historical legislation of Solon and he underlines the need for a moderate state involving elements from different constitutions. Because Plato adopts a historical perspective in the Laws, his earlier authoritarianism is severely curtailed (though not completely abandoned). So, despite still holding a low opinion of democracy, Plato does use some democratic elements in his Magnesian constitution and the predominant conception of moral virtue put forward in the Laws is not the highly exclusive virtue of the Republict but a virtue falling within the capacities of the ordinary citizen. In comparison to the state of the Republic the city of the Laws is for Plato only a "second best". Even so, however, the latter dialogue with its moderation, its rejection of absolutism and its surprisingly modern emphasis on the accountability of all officials constitutes a contribution of lasting interest to Western political thinking. (shrink)
Acknowledging with Professor Clay the important methodological principle that interpretation must begin within the dramatic horizon of each dialogue, I argue that there are analogies between discontinuities within single dialogues and discontinuities between certain dialogues. Recognizing this opens up the possibility of thinking of certain groups of dialogues as a series of fresh beginnings that lead the reader through different levels of understanding. I illustrate this idea by considering the unity of the Republic and the Parmenides.
ONE of the central characteristics of Plato's later metaphysics is his view that Forms can participate in other Forms. At least part of what the Sophist demonstrates is that though not every Form participates in every other, every Form participates in some Forms, and that there are some Forms in which all Forms participate. This paper considers some of the reasons for this development, and some of the issues raised by it.
Do the later Platonic dialogues abandon the earlier doctrine of forms? If not, do the forms, as the objects or contents of thought, have any relation to experienced things? Schipper, in this lucid and scholarly study of the Parmenides, Theaetetus, Sophist, Philebus, and Timaeus, maintains that Plato continues to assume the essentials of the earlier doctrine of forms, and that while he offers no complete and explicit answer to the second question, the later dialogues do provide clues which are consistent (...) with each other. In formulating this answer, Schipper suggests that sensible things can be considered in two aspects: as immediately sensed and as known by means of the forms; the two aspects are united by the perceiving and knowing mind. However, this seems to be merely a restatement of the problem. Her other, more provocative suggestion is that forms are not discovered by an intellectual perception, but are assumed or posited as demanded by logos or argument in order to explain and define experienced things. Thus the interrelated forms can apply to things without being immanent in them. Although the treatment of the dialogues is careful, the book is primarily a spiritless exegesis of the text, together with an account of what other scholars have said. It is bereft of an index.—S. A. S. (shrink)
This is, as from the author of The Concept of Mind it could scarcely fail to be, a bold and rollicking book. It is also one of the most important works about Plato to have appeared since the first volume of Sir Karl Popper's The Open Society. Whereas The Concept of Mind was a general offensive against Cartesian views of man, eschewing any precise references to particular sources, Plato's Progress deals with scholarly questions of datings and developments, showing and demanding (...) familiarity with a wide literature. Yet Professor Ryle is still incapable as ever of the dry-as-dust. (shrink)