Plato on Self-Predication of "the fine"–"Hippias Major" 292, e6-7

Bigaku 45 (4):12-22 (1995)
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In Plato's "Hippias Major" 292e6-7, we can find a self-predication sentence; "The fine is always fine." (We have similar expressions in "Protagoras" 330c4-6, 330d8-el, "Lysis" 220b6-7.) How should we interpret this sentence? We cannot give it any metaphysical meaning drawn from Plato's own theory of Form, which is explicit in his middle dialogues. "The fine" here should be the logical cause, not the one of the metaphysical essentials (cf. Paul Woodruff's "Plateo Hippias Major", p. 150). So taking a sentence like "parthenos kale kalon" (287e4), we can safely paraphrase it in Woodruff's manner: "a fine girl is a fine thing." This can avoid reading the metaphysical meaning into the text. And I would like to make a new proposal for reading of 292e6-7: "the fine thing is what is to be called fine." This is to emphasize the unique character of the self-predication sentences in the early dialogues. In the Socratic way of discourse, Socrates and his partner get involved into "trial and error" during their pursuit of the knowledge. What they can do then is to give their opinions which seem to them true (so-called alethes doxa", cf. "Meno" 85c), and to get close examinations of them. And in this way they are getting closer to the knowledge. My interpretation well describes these activities



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