Plato's "Side Suns" : Beauty, Symmetry and Truth. Comments Concerning Semantic Monism and Pluralism of the "Good" in the "Philebus"

Elenchos: Rivista di Studi Sul Pensiero Antico 31 (1):51-76 (2010)
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Under semantic monism I understand the thesis “The Good is said in one way” and under semantic pluralism the antithesis “The Good is said in many ways”. Plato’s Socrates seems to defend a “semantic monism”. As only one sun exists, so the “Good” has for Socrates and Plato only one reference. Nevertheless, Socrates defends in the Philebus a semantic pluralism, more exactly trialism, of “beauty, symmetry and truth” . Therefore, metaphorically speaking, there seem to exist not only one sun, but three suns. If the platonic Socrates defends a semantic monism on the one hand and pluralism on the other, how can we unite his pluralism with his monism? My thesis is that the three references are “qualities” of the one single reference, or again, speaking metaphorically, “side suns” of the single sun. In the following, I propose first an exegesis of Plato’s last written word on the Good in Phil. 65 A 1-5 by dividing it into five sentences. Second, I ask a philosophical question on this monism and the corresponding hierarchy of values

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Rafael Ferber
University of Zürich

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Statesman.C. J. Plato & Rowe - 1952 - Hackett Publishing Company.

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