Non-Being and the Structure of Privative Forms in Plato’s Sophist

Abstract
In Plato’s Statesman, the Eleatic Stranger explains that the division of all human beings into Greek and barbarian is mistaken in that it fails to divide reality into genuine classes or forms (eidē). The division fails because “barbarian” names a privative form, that is, a form properly indicated via negation: non-Greek. This paper examines how the Stranger characterizes privative forms in the Sophist. I argue that although the Stranger is careful to define privative forms as fully determinate, he nevertheless characterizes them as having a structure unlike that of their non-privative counterparts. A privative form, in contrast to a non-privative form, is indifferent to the specificity of its members.
Keywords Plato  Statesman  Privative Forms  Non-Being  Negative Forms  Forms  Sophist
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ISBN(s) 1085-1968
DOI 10.5840/epoche2014123134
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