The Coy Eristic: Defining the Image that Defines the Sophist

In Ales Havlicek & Filip Karfik (eds.), Plato's Sophist: Proceedings of the Seventh Symposium Platonicum Pragense. Oikoymenh. pp. 278-310 (2011)
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The eponymous dialogue presents the sophist as a figure who defies definition, and those difficulties are attributed to the conception of the image. Ultimately, the sophist is defined as a species of image maker. The image, however, which is important throughout the Platonic corpus as a metaphor, an analogy, and a metaphysical concept as well, receives in the Sophist little clarification or definition apart from whatever may be inferred from the division of image making arts. In the Sophist, the sophist escapes definition as in no other dialogue, rendering even the concluding division one that makes the distinction of the sophist from the philosopher problematic, if not impossible. The paper explores how the dialogue problematizes and rethinks the metaphysics of the image, as compared to its use in dialogues such as the Phaedo and the Republic, pointing to a refinement in understanding the relation of judgment to knowledge and appearance to reality.



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David Ambuel
Mary Washington College

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