Plato’s Third Man Argument

This article is concerned with the problem of how to avoid the Third Man Argument which Plato put forward in Parmenides 132a1-b2. According to Gregory Vlastos, this argument is based on two tacit assumptions: the Self-Predication and the Non-Identity Assumption. In recent years there have been a number ofinterpretations which attempted to avoid the Third Man Argument by proving that the Self-Predication Assumption is not an acceptable part of Plato’s theory. However, in this article I will show that the fallacy of the Third Man Argument does not lie in the Self-Predication Assumption, but in the Non-Identity Assumption. That is, we may avoid the Third Man Argument by proving that the Non-Identity Assumption is false. Besides, in this article I will point out that in putting forward the Third Man Argument, Plato does not really intend to raise a criticism of his own theory. Rather, his device of the Third Man Argument in Parmenides 132a1-b2 should be considered as a warning against the materialistic interpretation of the relation between Forms and particulars: if we interpret the conception of“participation” in a materialistic manner, the Theory of Forms will inevitably be caught in the Largeness Regress
Keywords Conference Proceedings  Contemporary Philosophy
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DOI wcp22200821196
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