Review of Metaphysics 33 (4):727 - 744 (1980)

IN THE beginning Parmenides sought to deny the void. But he found himself trapped by his language and his thought into admitting what he sought to deny. Wisely, he counseled others to avoid the whole region in which the problem arises, lest they too be unwarily ensnared. Plato, being less easily intimidated and grasping for the first time the urgency of the paradox, unearthed each snare in turn until he felt he had found a safe path through the forbidden terrain in a new conception of being and the derivation of its linguistic consequences in the Sophist. Aristotle evidently took Parmenides’ advice; and save for a few groping scholastics, perhaps Leibniz, Brentano, and Meinong, and Frege only in passing, no one else attempted the crossing before Russell made his spectacular dash through the posted ground from the completely new direction of linguistic reference. Again the problem lay dormant for half a century until Strawson constructed a new low road through ordinary language and Quine improved Russell’s high algebraic pass. Refinements of these routes have been forthcoming, especially from Searle and Kripke, until today it might appear that there are two super highways through Parmenides’ forbidden country of nonbeing. In this essay I will first argue that these new linguistic highways are no more than flimsy camouflage hiding but not resolving the old paradoxes. I will then show how Plato’s ontological way out, though more difficult, is the straight and narrow path.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph198033435
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