In Michael Frede, James V. Allen, Eyjólfur Kjalar Emilsson, Wolfgang-Rainer Mann & Benjamin Morison (eds.), Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy. Oxford University Press. pp. 229-55 (2011)
AbstractThis 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.
Added to PP
Historical graph of downloads
References found in this work
No references found.
Citations of this work
Brad Inwood, Ed. , Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Volume 39 . Reviewed By. [REVIEW]Sean McConnell - 2012 - Philosophy in Review 32 (6):475-480.
Similar books and articles
Form and Argument in Late Plato.Christopher Gill & Mary Margaret McCabe (eds.) - 1996 - Oxford University Press.
The Works of Plato, Viz His Fifty-Five Dialogues and Twelve Epistles ; Translated From the Greek, Nine of the Dialogues by the Late Floyer Sydenham, and the Remainder by Thomas Taylor ; with Occasional Annotations on the Nine Dialogues Translated by Sydenham and Copious Notes by the Latter Translator . Plato - 1804 - American Mathematical Society.
Plato's Philosophers: The Coherence of the Dialogues.Gerald A. Press - 2012 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 50 (1):133-135.
Approaching Plato: A Guide to the Early and Middle Dialogues.Mark Anderson & Ginger Osborn - manuscript
Method and Metaphysics in Plato's Sophist and Statesman.Mary Louise Gill - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.