Plato, Wittgenstein and the definition of games

In Luigi Perissinotto & Begoña Ramón Cámara (eds.), Wittgenstein and Plato: connections, comparisons and contrasts. Palgrave. pp. 196-219 (2013)

Catherine Joanna Rowett
University of East Anglia
In this paper I argue, controversially, that Plato's Meno anticipates Wittgenstein's critique of essentialism. Plato is usually read as an essentialist of the very kind that Wittgenstein was challenging, and the Meno in particular is usually taken as evidence that Plato thought that to know something you must be able to define it, and that if you can't define it you can't investigate any other questions on the topic. I suggest instead that Plato shows Socrates proposing such a position (much as Wittgenstein's imaginary interlocutor might do), only to have it knocked down by what happens in the dialogue. Plato shows that one knows a concept when one can apply it in practice, or, for virtue, when one typically chooses to act in certain ways, passes certain judgements and so on. It turns out, then, that one who claims to "know what virtue is" need not give necessary and sufficient conditions for it.
Keywords Wittgenstein  Essentialism  Family resemblances  Definition
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 43,822
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Family Resemblances and Criteria.Heather J. Gert - 1995 - Synthese 105 (2):177-190.
Kaufman on Art, Family Resemblances, and Wittgenstein.Ben Tilghman - 2008 - British Journal of Aesthetics 48 (1):86-88.
Virtue, Practice, and Perplexity in Plato's Meno.William Wians - 2013 - Plato: The Internet Journal of the International Plato Society (Plato 12 (2012)).
Definition And Hypothesis In Plato's "Meno" (I).Egil A. Wyller - 1964 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 7 (1-4):219-226.
Plato and the "Socratic Fallacy".W. J. - 1998 - Phronesis 43 (2):97-113.
Plato and the "Socratic Fallacy".William Prior - 1998 - Phronesis 43 (2):97 - 113.


Added to PP index

Total views

Recent downloads (6 months)

How can I increase my downloads?


Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

My notes

Sign in to use this feature