Plato on Truth and the Problem of Falsehood

Dissertation, The Florida State University (1998)
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Plato conceives of truth in two different ways: on the one hand, truth is an object which philosophers aim at in dialectic, yet, on the other hand, truth is treated as a quality of a particular brand of statements and beliefs . Examples of both of these conceptions can be found in almost all of Plato's dialogues, though the former conception of truth is most visible in the Republic , while the latter conception is expressed most succinctly in the Sophist. My intent is to offer an explanation of what Plato means by truth and what role the solution to the problem of falsehood plays in shaping this notion of truth. My project is, therefore, two-fold: first, I clarify and describe these two conceptions of truth which we find in the Republic and Sophist, respectively; second, since Plato's conception of truth in the Sophist is inextricably bound up with Plato's solution to the problem of falsehood, I explain in some detail that solution and show how the solution, as I understand it, motivates the particular conception of truth we find in the Sophist . ;These two conceptions of truth are not totally unrelated. In the Republic, truth is synonymous with all the things that really are, i.e. being, and these things that are the forms. In the Sophist, Plato says that a true statement states of the things that are that they are about something and a false statement states of the things that are not that they are about something. Some interpreters have argued that in the Sophist the expression `the things that are' refers to states of affairs. I argue that the expression refers to the forms insofar as they have being with respect to some subject. Some of these same interpreters suggest that Plato conceived of truth in terms of correspondence. I question the evidence for such a view by showing how my interpretation of Plato's account of true and false statement suggests that truth might be a simpler notion than correspondence



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Blake Hestir
Texas Christian University

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