Theory and History of Ontology by Raul Corazzon | e-mail:

Annotated Bibliography on Plato's Sophist. Fifth Part: Mil - Pec


  1. Miller, Dana. 2004. "Fast and Loose about Being: Criticism of Competing Ontologies in Plato's Sophist ." Ancient Philosophy no. 24:339-363.

    "In the Sophist , in the context of an argument designed t0 demonstrate that being (τὸ ὄν) is as puzzling as non-being, the Eleatic Visitor embarks on a discussion of competing views about being. It is generally thought that this discussion (242b6-250e4) establishes a number of significant claims that are made in the course of the Visitor's argument. The argument proceeds on two levels: (i) a general argument that focuses on what the Visitor regards to be a muddle about being and the consequences of this muddle, and (ii) specific argun1ents against specific views, where these arguments seek both (a) to refute these views and (b) to shed light on the muddle and consequences that are the concern of (i). Scholarship has been largely concerned with the claims made under (iia), as for example, the claim made in the argument against the Friends of the Forms that the objects of knowledge are somehow moved or changed by their being known. My intent, however, is chiefly to set out (i), the general argument, and then to examine the particular arguments from the perspective of (iib), that is, how these arguments relate to the general argument. Yet to get at (iib). it is necessary to examine the Visitor's arguments in some detail and this requires approaching them from the perspective of (iia). Because the claims made in the discussion should be understood with reference to their context, I begin by situating the general argument within the larger argument of the Sophist and explain the dialectical purpose that the discussion is meant to serve. Then, in brief, l argue that the puzzle about being derives from muddled thinking about the notion of being and that this muddled thinking lies at the base of the various earlier views about being that the Visitor undertakes to refute. To show how this is the case, I examine the argument against these views." (p. 339)

  2. Miller, Mitchell. 2016. "What the Dialectician Discerns: a new reading of Sophist 253d-e." Ancient Philosophy no. 36:321-352.

    "At Sophist 253d-e the Eleatic Visitor offers a notoriously obscure schematic description of the kinds of eidetic field that the philosopher practicing dialectic ‘adequately discerns’ (ἱκανῶς διαισθάνεται, 253d7). My aim is to propose a fresh reading of that obscure passage. For all of their impressive thoughtfulness and ingenuity, the major lines of interpretation pursued so far have missed, I will argue, the full context of the passage. As a consequence, the proponents of these lines Statesman of interpretation have failed to avail themselves of resources that would have freed them from otherwise unavoidable moments of force or neglect in their readings. The key is to recognize the place of the Sophist within the trilogy of the Theaetetus , Sophist , and, accordingly, to expand the context of Sophist 253d-e to include the Theaetetus and the Statesman . In his schematic description at Sophist 253d-e, the Visitor refers to the eidetic fields traced by two distinct modes of logos. At the end of the Theaetetus , Socrates offers anticipatory sketches of each of these modes; but in the body of the Sophist the Visitor restricts his practice of dialectic to just one of the two—only in the second half of the Statesman does he take up the other mode. As a consequence, only a reader who is oriented by the close of the Theaetetus and who lets this orientation guide her in a reading of the Sophist and the Statesman together is well positioned to recognize the referents of the Visitor’s remarks at Sophist 253d-e." (p. 321)

  3. Mohr, Richard D. 1982. "The Relation of Reason to Soul in the Platonic Cosmology: "Sophist" 248e-249c." Apeiron no. 16:21-26.

    Reprinted as Chapter X in R. D. Mohr, The Platonic Cosmology , Leiden: Brill, 1985, pp. 178-183.

    "Since Cherniss' Aristotle's Criticism of Plato and the Academy I , there has been nearly universal agreement among critics that Plato's God or divine Demiurge is a soul.(1) Yet the prima facie evidence is that the Demiurge is not. In all three of Plato's major cosmological works the Timaeus , the Statesman myth, and the Philebus (28c-30e), the Demiurge is fairly extensively described and yet not once is he described as a soul. Rather souls, and especially the World-Soul, and what rationality souls have are viewed as products of the Demiurge (Timaeus 35a, 36d-e, Philebus 30c-d, Statesman 269c-d). Nonetheless, the overwhelming critical opinion is that since the demiurgic God of these works is described as rational, this entails that God is a soul. Three texts are adduced to prove this, Timaeus 30b3, Philebus 30c9-10, and Sophist 249a. These texts are taken as claiming A) that if a thing is rational, then it is a soul. Proclus saw that at least the Timaeus passage can mean only B) that when reason is in something else, what it is in must be an ensouled thing. The rhetoric of the Timaeus sentence strongly suggests that reading Β is correct and the argumentative context of the Philebus sentence (properly understood) requires sense B. This leaves (as Cherniss is willing to admit, ACPA , p. 606) the Sophist passage alone as bearing the whole weight of Plato's alleged commitment to the view A) that everything that is rational is a soul. I wish to give a new, tentative interpretation to this passage which shows that it is, like the Timaeus and Philebus , committed only to the weaker claim B) that when reason is in something, it is so along with soul. This leaves the Demiurge who is not in anything free to be rational without being a soul and to serve rather as a maker of souls." (p. 21, notes omitted)

    (1) H.F. Cherniss, ACPA l (Baltimore, 1944), appendix XI, which is in part an attack on Hackforth's "Plato's Theism" (1936) rpt. in R.E. Allen (ed.), Studies in Plato's Metaphysics (London, 1965), pp. 439-447.

  4. Mojsisch, Burkhard. 1998. "Logos and Episteme. The Constitutive Role of Language in Plato's Theory of Knowledge." Bochumer Philosophisches Jahrbuch für Antike und Mittelalter no. 3:19-28.

    Abstract: "This essay first differentiates the various meanings of the term logos as it appears in Plato's dialogues Theaetetus and The Sophist . These are: the colloque of the soul with itself, a single sentence, a proposing aloud, the enumeration of the constitutive elements of a whole and the giving of a specific difference; further, opinion and imagination. These meanings are then related to Plato's determination of knowledge (episteme ) and therewith truth and falsity. One can be said to possess knowledge only when the universal contents of thought -- dialogical thought -- are set in relation to the perceivable, imagination or opinion. Reflections on the principle significance of possibility as such -- a thematic not addressed by Plato -- conclude the essay."

  5. Monserrat Molas, Josep, and Sandoval Villarroel, Pablo. 2013. "Plato’s Enquiry Concerning the Sophist as a Way Towards “Defining” Philosophy." In Plato's Sophist Revisited , edited by Bossi, Beatriz and Robinson, Thomas M., 29-39. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    "The Sophist discloses the urgency of the question concerning being, and it is only in pondering this question that the essence of philosophising comes to light and is realised . In other words, the dialogue does not deal with the question of being simply because the problem of the sophist requires that it do so, but rather it deals and has to deal with the question concerning being in that its fundamental concern, its σκοπός, which consists in moving towards the essence of philosophy, not by way of a formal, abstract “definition”, but rather through the consummation of philosophising.

    For this reason the Stranger of Elea later on poses the question: καὶ κινδυνεύομεν ζητοῦντες τὸν σοφιστὴν πρότερον ἀνηυρηκέναι τὸν φιλόσοφον [253c8 – 9], “and have we unwittingly found the philosopher while we were looking for the sophist?”. Who, then, is the philosopher?

    He is that human being who has devoted himself fully, through thinking, to enquiring again and again into the essence of being: ὁ δέ γε φιλόσοφος, τῇ τοῦ ὄντος ἀεὶ διὰ λογισμῶν προσκείμενος ἰδέᾳ [254a8 – 9]." (pp. 38-39, note omitted)

  6. Moravcsik, Julius M. E. 1958. "Mr. Xenakis on Truth and Meaning." Mind no. 67:533-537.

    "In a somewhat breathless article Mr. J. Xenakis has presented us with a new interpretation of Plato's theory of truth and meaning in Sophist , pp. 260-263.(1) In this brief note I shall show that the theory which Xenakis champions is objectionable, and toward the end I shall suggest that Plato need not be burdened with it. Xenakis claims that all statements must satisfy four rules. According to the third of these, all statements - if they are to be statements - must be about something.(2) Little can be found in the article that pertains to the status of the four rules. We are told, however, that two of them are formation rules, and two are truth-conditions. Since Xenakis insists that all statements must satisfy the truth-conditions, one can assume that he excludes the possibility of there being statements which are neither true nor false. I am not sure whether he would go on to say that any utterance which does not satisfy one of the truth-conditions is meaningless. It may be that he would restrict himself to maintaining that if any utterance does not meet one of the truth-conditions, then meaningful as it may be, it cannot be true or false - and hence it cannot be a statement. In order to be on the safe side, I shall examine rule [3] first as a criterion of meaningfulness, and then as a mere truth-condition." (p. 533)

    (1) Mind (April 1957), pp. 165-172.

    (2) Ibid . pp. 168-169.

  7. ———. 1960. "ΣΥΜΠΛΟΚΗ ΕΙΔΩΝ and the Genesis of ΛΟΓΟΣ." Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie no. 42:117-129.

    "Διὰ γὰρ τὴν ἀλλήλων τῶν εἰδῶν συμπλοκὴν ὁ λόγος γέγονεν ἡμῖν [For our power of discourse is derived from the interweaving of the classes or ideas with one another. (Translation added)] (Sophist 259e5—6)*. In these lines Plato states that rational discourse is made possible by the interwovenness of the Forms. The task of the Interpreter is to discover what the nature of this interwovenness is, and to ascertain the exact nature of the relationship between the interwovenness of the Forms and the structure of rational discourse. At present there is considerable disagreement concerning these issues. In this paper the main difficulties of 259e5—6 will be outlined, and some recent attempts to overcome these difficulties will be surveyed. It will be indicated where and why I dissent from the positions taken by several contemporary authors, and a new Interpretation will be presented which attempts to show that a plurality of Forms, woven into a pattern, underlies each meaningful sentence, and that the interwovenness can be explained by reference to formal concepts. The importance which — in my opinion — Plato attaches to formal concepts in the Sophist has implications for the Interpretation of the theory of Forms as found in the later dialogues." (p. 117)


    "In conclusion let me sum up the most important implications of what Plato says in 259e5—6. Plato believes that the changing dynamic combination of words, yielding meaningful discourse, is based on the static interwovenness of the Forms. For discourse is changing, man-made; and the language of 262d2—6 shows that Plato regards it s such. But he also believes that one of the essential tasks of meaningful discourse is to convey Information. Fundamental to the conveying of Information is the ability to order the elements of reality according to concepts (23). What makes this ordering possible, according to Plato, is the general fact that the elements of reality are identifiable and describable." (p. 129)

    (*) Burnet's numbering of lines is followed throughout the paper.

  8. ———. 1962. "Being and Meaning in the Sophist ." Acta Philosophica Fennica no. 14:23-78.

    From the Conclusion: "Communion and interweaving are the key concepts of the Sophist . They are used on two levels; the ontological and the semantic. The two are not sharply separated, and each helps to explain the other. The Communion of the Forms parallels the interwovenness of words, and thus 253-256 parallels 260-262. A similar parallel and relations of dependence are presented between the discussions of Not-being and falsehood. Thus 257-258 and 263 go together. This interrelatedness not only brings out the nature of Plato's philosophizing in this period, but it also presents the interpreter with the task of working out the whole passage as a unit, for the interpretations of the parts are interdependent. This justifies and necessitates my lengthy analysis.

    Plato's arguments show that truth and falsehood are not matters of mental sight or blindness. Thus one should not conceive of the objects of knowledge as self-sufficient atomic units. Philosophical atomism is denied on all levels. The paradigm-case of how not to read Plato therefore is: "each element in the statement has now a meaning; and so the statement as a whole has meaning". (1) The notion of Communion and the analogy with vowels lead to the conception of the Forms as functions, as something incomplete, something which need arguments in order really to express something. At least some of the Forms are shown to be like functions in this dialogue. If we are willing to pursue Plato's line of thought beyond the point to which it is carried in the dialogue, we see that what Plato says leads to construing all Forms as functions. For what we know are truths and falsehoods, and these are complexes which contain Forms. The constituents of these complexes are not 'simples', or metaphysical atoms of some sort. In order to understand them we have to know into what complexes they fit. We do not grasp them prior to all completions.

    It is small wonder that modern commentators of this dialogue have not made much progress with it. They approach it with the 'part-sum, division-collection, genus-species' distinctions in mind. Merely because one aspect of dialectic is said to be the method of division they identify all of Plato's methodology with this notion, and seek to explain the middle part of the Sophist within this framework. But these are the wrong tools and the wrong questions. When seen in proper light, the suggestions of the Sophist present themselves as topics the further exploration of which is one of the more important philosophical tasks today." (p. 77-78)

    (1) F. M. Cornford, Plato's Theory of Knowledge. The Theaetetus and the Sophist of Plato translated with a running commentary , p. 315.

  9. Morgan, Michael L. 1993. ""Philosophy" in Plato's Sophist ." Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy no. 9:83-111.

    "In this paper I want to use a different approach to understand Plato's primary task in the Sophist . I want to ask a rather large set of questions about the dialogue. These questions arise out of the dialogue when it is viewed in terms of its relation to the Theaetetus and Politicus , to issues Plato discusses in the Phaedo, Republic , and Phaedrus , and to a consideration of Plato's place in fourth century Athenian culture. Once I have stated these questions and clarified them, I shall consider how the Sophist might be taken to answer them. All of this will be somewhat programmatic and provisional. The Sophist is a puzzling, demanding, complex text, and to make my case regarding the issues I have in mind would require much more evidence, interpretation, and argument than I can provide here. This is a beginning, with a promissory note for future development.

    The questions that I want to ask about the Sophist are these: where, in the dialogue, do we find what Plato would think of as philosophy? Where - if anywhere - does he engage in it? Where does he refer to it or describe it, either directly or indirectly?

    Who is a philosopher in the Sophist-Socrates, the visitor from Elea, Plato, all or none of these? And why does Plato here seek to articulate what sophistry is and how it differs from philosophy?" (p. 84)


    "Philosophy, then, differs from sophistry in purpose—as well as in method and object, for philosophy is essential to the best human life. It is a form of intellectual and religious transcendence that is divine because its objects are divine and hence because its cognitive goal is pure, permanent, and comprehensive.

    As the philosopher's understanding of the map of the world of Forms increases, so does the clarity, purity, and stability of the soul.

    To Isocrates Parmenides is a sophist; to Plato he is a philosopher and divine, epithets that transfer to his followers, one a visitor to Athens, another Plato himself. Eleatic in spirit, the visitor advocates views that are Platonic in letter, for Plato is himself an Athenian with Eleatic convictions, and like the visitor a parricide and disciple all at once." (p. 110)

  10. Morgenstern, Amy S. 2001. "Leaving the Verb 'To Be' Behind: An Alternative Reading of Plato's Sophist ." Dionysius no. 19:27-50.

    "Equating the terms esti, to on, and ta onta with the verb "to be", understood existentially, predicatively, or as an identity sign, cannot serve as a basis of an illuminating approach to the Eleatic Stranger's investigation in Plato's Sophist . An alternative reading of esti at 256 A 1, Esti de ghe dia to methexein tou ontos , allows a more comprehensive analysis of the limitations and accomplishments of this investigation. Here esti should be interpreted as rhema , i.e. a name that, in this instance, says something about kinesis , the implied subject."

  11. Mourelatos, Alexander. 1979. "'Nothing' as 'Not-Being': Some Literary Contexts that Bear on Plato." In Arktouros. Hellenic studies presented to Bernard M. W. Knox on the occasion of his 65th birthday , edited by Bowersock, Glen, Burkert, Walter and Putnam, Michael, 319-329. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    Reprinted in: J. P. Anton, A. Preus (eds.), Essays in Ancient Greek philosophy, Volume Two, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1983, pp. 59-69.

    "It has often been noticed that Plato, and before him Parmenides, assimilates "what is not" (to me ón ) to "nothing" (medén or oudén ).' Given that the central use of "nothing" has important ties with the existential quantifier ("Nothing is here" ---- "It is not the case that there is anything here"), it has widely been assumed that contexts that document this assimilation also count as evidence that both within them and in cognate ontological contexts the relevant sense of "being" or "to be" is that of existence. That this assumption is not to be granted easily, has been compellingly argued by G. E. L. Owen [Plato on Not-being , 1971]. His main concern was to show that the assumption is particularly mischievous in the interpretation of the Sophist , where he found it totally unwarranted. My own concern is to attack the assumption on a broader plane. "Nothing" in English has uses that do not depend on a tie with the existential quantifier. So too in Greek: medén or oudén can be glossed as "what does not exist," but it can also be glossed as "not a something," or in Owen's formulation, "what is not anything, what not-in-any-way is': a subject with all the being knocked out of it and so unidentifiable, no subject." In effect, the assimilation of "what is not" to "nothing" may-in certain contexts-work in the opposite direction: not from "nothing" to "non-being" in the sense of non-existence; rather from "non-being" as negative specification or negative determination to "nothing" as the extreme of negativity or indeterminacy. To convey the sense involved in this reverse assimilation I borrow Owen's suggestive translation "not-being" for me on , a rendering which makes use of an incomplete participle, rather than the complete gerund, of the verb "to be"." (p. 59 of the reprint)


    "Observations made in this paper can be read as providing support, in yet a different way, for a thesis advanced by Charles H. Kahn (22) and others. In a formulation I prefer, the thesis is that the dialectic of Being in classical Greek speculation focuses not on "What there is" but on "What it is" or "How it is"; not on existence but on physis , constitution, or form. (23)" (p. 67 of the reprint)

    (22) See "Why Existence Does Not Emerge as a Distinct Concept in Greek Philosophy," Arch. f. Gesch. d. Philos. 58 (1976): 323-34; cf. Kahn, The Verb 'Be' in Ancient Greek , Foundations of Language, suppl. ser., 16 (Dordrecht and Boston, 1973): 394-419.

  12. Mouzala, Melina. 2019. "Logos as "weaving together or communion of indications about ousia" in Plato' s Sophist ." Platonic Investigations no. 10:35-75.

    Abstract: "In this paper, we set out to show that in the Sophist the interweaving of Forms (sumplokē tōn eidōn ) is the substantial presupposition of the existence of logos, because what we do when we think and produce vocal speech is understanding by our dianoia the way in which the Forms are interwoven, and what we weave together in our speech are indications about ousia (peri tēn ousian delōmata ). Dianoia conceives of the relations between the Forms, and these relations are reflected in our thought and its natural image, vocal speech. We support the idea that we cannot interpret the Platonic conception of the relationship between language and reality through the Aristotelian semiotic triangle, because according to it the relation between pragmata or onta and logos becomes real through the medium of thought (noēmata ). On the contrary, logos in Plato has an unmediated relation with reality and is itself reckoned among beings.

    In parallel, we set out to show the difference between the Platonic conception of logos and the Gorgianic approach to it, as well as the approaches of other Sophists and Antisthenes.

    Logos itself in Plato is a weaving which reflects the interweaving of Forms, while vocal speech is a natural image of thought. Logos in its dual meaning, dianoia and vocal speech, is illustrated in Dialectic, because as vocal speech is a mirror to dianoia , so Dialectic is a means which clearly reflects the thinking procedures of dianoia ."

  13. Muckelbauer, John. 2001. "Sophistic Travel: Inheriting the Simulacrum through Plato's The Sophist ." Philosophy and Rhetoric no. 34:225-244.

    "A single question marks our departure, a question that, while apparently straightforward, has assumed so many shapes and disguises that it would not be unjust to claim it has infected all of Western history. In its current manifestation, however, we will take our cue from Plato in phrasing it thus: What is a Sophist? When Plato first formulated the question in these terms, he well understood that its self-evident simplicity could be deceptive and that its effects might proliferate uncontrollably. As Jacques Derrida comments, “The question of what the Sophists really were is an enormous question” (Olson 17). In Plato’s case, attempting to “hunt down” the Sophist led from a disturbing journey through the world of images to an unsettling encounter with the existence of nonbeing." (p. 225)


    Olson, Gary. 1990. “Jacques Derrida on Rhetoric and Composition: A Conversation,” Journal of Advanced Composition , 10.1: 1–21.

  14. Muntz, Fernando, and Rudebusch, George. 2018. "Dividing Plato’s Kinds." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 63:392-407.

    Abstract: "A dilemma has stymied interpretations of the Stranger’s method of dividing kinds into subkinds in Plato’s Sophist and Statesman . The dilemma assumes that the kinds are either extensions (like sets) or intensions (like Platonic Forms). Now kinds

    divide like extensions, not intensions. But extensions cannot explain the distinct identities of kinds that possess the very same members. We propose understanding a kind as like an animal body—the Stranger’s simile for division—possessing both an extension

    (in its members) and an intension (in its form). We find textual support in the Stranger’s paradigmatic four steps for collecting a subkind."

  15. Murr, Dimitri El. 2006. "Paradigm and diairesis : A Response to M.L. Gill’s ‘Models in Plato’s Sophist and Statesman ." Plato Journal no. 6:1-9.

    "At the start, I have to say I am sympathetic with most of the conclusions Gill has drawn from the important issues she tackles in this paper. So it will come as no surprise that my response to her will consist of a series of reflections on certain points she has singled out rather than a proper response built on an alternative interpretation.

    I choose to focus on three distinct points, all of which I take to be crucial to Gill’s argument as well as to our understanding of the Sophist and the Statesman in general.

    First, I offer some further reflections on the two interpretations Gill has given of the key text on paradigms in the Statesman , i.e. 277D-279A.

    Second, one might ask, following Gill's analysis, what the differences are between the uses made of paradigms in the Sophist and in the Statesman . Gill has produced some very convincing arguments to explain these differences, but I think there may be more to be said. In particular, I shall allude to a related question that the paper, to my knowledge, did not address, namely of how an adequate paradigm in a dialectical inquiry is to be chosen.

    Finally, I will conclude by stressing what, to me, is a crucial methodological issue of the dialogue, i.e. the relation between paradeigma and diairesis . It is not a topic Gill deals with directly, but it seems to me to be in the background of her paper; and in any case, there is no doubt that this is a methodological issue Plato wanted his readers to reflect upon, and that consequently it is one every reader concerned with the use of paradeigmata in the Statesman has to address." (pp. 1-2)

  16. Naas, Michael. 2003. "For the Name's Sake." Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy no. 7:199-221.

    Abstract: "In Plato's later dialogues, and particularly in the Sophist , there is a general reinterpretation and rehabilitation of the name (onoma ) in philosophy. No longer understood rather vaguely as one of potentially dangerous and deceptive elements of everyday language or of poetic language, the world onoma is recast in the Sophist and related dialogues into one of the essential elements of a philosophical language that aims to make claims or propositions about the way things are. Onoma , now understood as name, is thus coupled with rhema , or verb, to form the two essential elements of any logos , that is, any claim, statements, or proposition.

    This paper follows Plato's gradual rehabilitation and reinscription of the name from early dialogues through late ones in order to demonstrate the new role Plato fashions for language in these later works."

  17. Narcy, Michel. 2013. "Remarks on the First Five Definitions of the Sophist (Soph . 221c-235a)." In Plato's Sophist Revisited , edited by Bossi, Beatriz and Robinson, Thomas M., 57-70. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    "The Sophist is explicitly dedicated to the question of getting to know what constitutes a sophist. It is, however, far from being the only dialogue where one finds a definition of one. This is natural enough, given that, from the Apology to the Theaetetus , a good part of Plato’s work is devoted to pointing out the difference between Socrates and the sophists who were his contemporaries, considered less for who they were as individuals or for the particular positions they adopted than as representatives of a manner of thinking which Plato himself calls ‘sophistry’.(2) So it is normal that, as part of the enterprise, Plato would have been led to clarify just what the manner of thinking is which he condemns through the character Socrates. The question one ought rather to answer, however, is: Why, after so many repeated condemnations of sophistry, does Plato feel the need to devote a dialogue to it? After the Theaetetus, and the antithesis there – which takes up the central part of the dialogue – between the frequenter of the law courts and the philosopher,(3) is it still necessary to ask the question whether the sophist and the philosopher are or are not the same thing?" (p. 57)

    (2) Cf. Gorg . 463b6, 465c2, 520b2; the Protagoras (316d3 – 4) talks of the σοφιστική τέχνη. (I naturally leave aside from the calculation the occurrences of the word in the Sophist ).

    (3) Theaetet . 172c3 –177b7.

  18. Nehamas, Alexander. 1982. "Participation and Predication in Plato's Later Thought." The Review of Metaphysics no. 36:343-374.

    Reprinted in: A. Nehamas, Virtues of Authenticity. Essays on Plato and Socrates , Princeton: Princeton University Press 1999, pp. 196-223.

    "One of the central characteristics of Plato's later metaphysics is his view that Forms can participate in other Forms. At least part of what the Sophist demonstrates is that though not every Form participates in every other (252d2-11), every Form participates in some Forms (252d12-253a2), and that there are some Forms in which all Forms participate (253cl-2, 256a7-8). This paper considers some of the reasons for this development, and some of the issues raised by it." (p. 343)


    "Having many properties is not being many subjects. Beauty is many things in virtue of participating in them, in virtue of bearing to them that relation which Plato had earlier introduced in order to account for the claim of some things which are not beautiful to be called "beautiful" nonetheless. But Plato came to see that the phrase "are not" is illegitimate in this context.


    In arriving at this realization and in extending the ability to have many names, that is, to bear predicates, to Forms as well as to their participants, Plato finally left behind the tradition from which he had emerged. This tradition, he realized, was common to thinkers ranging from the sophists to the sage he most venerated and who was, astonishingly, discovered in the many-headed sophist's hiding place-a place which, even more astonishingly, he had himself supplied. In the Sophist Plato liberated himself from that tradition and showed that to have a characteristic is not an imperfect way of being that characteristic. In this, I think, he offered us the first solid understanding of the metaphysics of predication in western philosophy." (p. 374)

  19. Noriega-Olmos, Simon. 2012. "Plato’s Sophist 259E4-6." Journal of Ancient Philosophy no. 6.

    Abstract: "There are at least seven different well-known interpretations of Sophist 259E4-6. In this paper I show them to be either misleading, in conflict with the context, or at odds with Plato’s project in the dialogue. I argue that 259E4-6 tells us that in view of the fact that statements consist in the weaving of different linguistic terms that stand for different extra-linguistic items, if there is to be statements, then reality must consist in a plurality of items some of which mix with some and some of which do not mix with some according to certain ontological rules. My argument for this construal of Sophist 259E4-6 involves an analysis of the passage as well as an assessment of how that text fits into its context."

  20. ———. 2018-2019. "'Not-Being', 'Nothing', and Contradiction in Plato's "Sophist" 236D–239C." Archiv für Begriffgeschichte no. 60-61:7-46.

    Abstract: "At 236D-239C, Sophist presents three arguments to the conclusions, that the expression 'not-being' does not say or express anything, that we cannot even conceive of the alleged entity of not- being and that we contradict ourselves when claiming that not-being is not and that the expression 'not-being' does not express anything at all. I intend to answer five questions concerning these arguments: (Question 1) What does Plato mean when he says that the expression 'not-being' does not say any- thing at all? (Q2) What sort of semantic relation does he think the expression 'not-being' involves? (Q3) How could he possibly explain that 'not-being' is, after all, an expression? (Q4) What does he think we are to learn about the contradictions ensued by our talk of not-being? (Q5) And what does he think is the ontological status of not- being? My motivation for considering these questions is that the arguments against not-being in Sophist 236D-239C have not been charitably discussed and therefore have not been fully explored."

  21. Notomi, Noburu. 1999. The Unity of Plato's Sophist: Between the Sophist and the Philosopher . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    "The aim of this work is to clarify the topic with which the Sophist is mainly concerned, and I do not discuss other hotly debated topics, such as the senses of the verb 'to be', and the dialogue's relation to the theory of Forms." (p. XIV)

    "About the philosopher only a few passing reflections are offered in the Middle Part, as we saw in Chapter 7. It is a philosopher's attitude to value intelligence, wisdom, and knowledge (249cro-d5), and it was also philosophical to admit the proper combination of kinds, since it saved discourse, and therefore philosophy (26oar-7). The more important passage is in the midst of the Middle Part (253c6-254b6), where knowledge of dialectic is said to be rightly ascribed to the philosopher. In that digression, the Eleatic visitor wonders whether the inquirers, in searching for the sophist, may by chance have stumbled on the philosopher (Passage 38: 253c6-9; cf. e4-6). Yet clearly the description of dialectic in that digression (Passage 39) is not decisive, but rather, proleptic, and the mention of the philosopher is just an anticipation which needs further investigation. In this way, the question of what the philosopher is is not explicitly discussed in the Sophist. However, this does not imply that Plato intended another dialogue, the Philosopher, to give a fuller account and definition of the philosopher. On the contrary, the whole project of the Sophist has already shown the philosopher in three ways." (p. 297)

    "The Sophist says little about the philosopher, but the dialogue as a whole shows something of what the philosopher really is. The inquirers try to be philosophers in defining the sophist, by performing dialectic. Apart from this way, there does not seem to be any other proper way of revealing the essence of the philosopher; for it is by our confronting the sophist within ourselves that philosophy can be secured and established." (p. 299)

  22. ———. 2007. "Plato on What Is Not ." In Maieusis. Essays on Ancient Philosophy in Honour of Myles Burnyeat , edited by Scott, Dominic, 254-275. New York: Oxford University Press.

    "What is not (τὸ μὴ ὄν) was scarcely discussed in ancient philosophy before Plato.

    Although this phrase, or concept, made occasional appearances in philosophical arguments, it did not figure as their primary subject." (p. 254)


    "Modern philosophers often assume that Plato treats what is not merely as the privation of being and that he dismisses the idea of absolute nothingness from the inquiry altogether, although the latter always remains a real philosophical problem. Pointing to the way in which Plato in the Sophist describes what is not as ‘different from what is ’, these philosophers fault him for reducing the problem of absolute nothingness to that of something lacking particular properties. Against this interpretation, which at first sight seems to give an adequate account of the argument of the dialogue, I suggest that Plato tackles a more profound problem.

    What is not is no more trivial or easy to deal with than its counterpart, what is . It is perhaps a more perplexing concept, since it seems to prevent any discussion (λόγος). This feature takes us to the heart of the problem that Plato faces in the Sophist . There he works out a new strategy to overcome the difficulty: what is not can only be clarified together with what is . The purpose of my paper is to clarify the implication of this strategy." (pp. 255-256)

  23. ———. 2008. "Plato Against Parmenides: Sophist 236d-242b." In Reading Ancient Texts: Vol. I: Presocratics and Plato. Essays in Honour of Denis O'Brien , edited by Suzanne, Stern-Gillet and Corrigan, Kevin, 167-187. Leiden: Brill.

    "Parmenides, one of the greatest and most influential Greek thinkers, is not mentioned in Plato’s earlier dialogues. His name appears only n four dialogues: Symposium , Parmenides , Theaetetus , and Sophist . This peculiar fact by no means implies that Parmenides had little influence on Plato’s earlier thinking. On the contrary, it is generally agreed that Republic V bases the theory of forms on the Parmenidean scheme of what is and what is not. Nevertheless, that passage contains no reference to its source. (p. 167)


    "It is noteworthy that Parmenides is never mentioned again after the Sophist ." (p. 168)


    "In presenting his own view, O’Brien criticises my reading of the Sophist on philological and philosophical grounds.(8)" (p. 169)


    "Our disagreement concerns how we view Plato’s attitude toward Parmenides.

    O’Brien suggests that Plato introduces a new distinction between two ‘kinds’ of what is not , which is unknown to Parmenides. Consequently, according to him, Plato’s response is oblique. From one point of view, Plato can agree with Parmenides, while from another he is in disagreement; but from the standpoint of Parmenides himself, Plato’s criticism is irrelevant or unanswerable. By contrast, my reading is straightforward: Plato tackles the same philosophical difficulty that Parmenides faces, and criticises him so forcefully in order to secure the possibility of logos and philosophy.

    In this paper, I present my arguments against O’Brien’s criticisms, first by focusing on the key text, secondly by reconsidering Plato’s strategy, and finally in respect of philosophical interpretation.(9)" (p. 170)

    (8) O’Brien (2000), 56, 68–75, 79, 84, 93–94, 96, takes up and criticises my 1999 (esp. pp. 173–179).

    (9) I have also discussed Plato’s argument on what is not , in Notomi (forthcoming).


    Notomi, N. (1999), The Unity of Plato’s Sophist: between the sophist and the philosopher, Cambridge.

    Notomi, N. (forthcoming), ‘Plato on what is not’, D. Scott ed., Maieusis: Festschrift for Myles Burnyeat , Oxford. [2007]

    O'Brien D. (2000), ‘Parmenides and Plato on what is not’, M. Kardaun and J. Spruyt eds., The Winged Chariot, Collected Essays on Plato and Platonism in Honour of L.M. de Rijk , Leiden: 19–104.

  24. ———. 2011. "Where is the Philosopher? A single project of the Sophist and the Statesman ." In Formal Structures in Plato's Dialogues: Theaetetus, Sophist and Statesman , edited by Lisi, Francesco Leonardo, Migliori, Maurizio and Monserrat-Molas, Josep, 216-236. Sankt Augustin: Academia Verlag.

  25. ———. 2011. "Dialectic as Ars combinatoria : Plato's Notion of Philosophy in the Sophist ." In Plato's Sophist: Proceedings of the Seventh Symposium Platonicum Pragense , edited by Havlíček, Aleš and Karfík, Filip, 146-195. Praha: Oikoymenh.

  26. ———. 2011. "Image-Making in Republic X and the Sophist . Plato’s Criticism of the Poet and the Sophist." In Plato and the Poets , edited by Destrée, Pierre and Herrmann, Fritz-Gregor, 299-326. Leiden: Brill.

    "The famous phrase, ‘the ancient quarrel between philosophy and poetry’ (Rep . X, 607b), represents Plato’s critical attitude towards poetry. However, this phrase might mislead us, the modern readers, in multiple ways.

    I believe it as yet a matter in need of clarification what the real target of Plato’s criticism is and how he deals with it. To re-examine his treatment of poetry reveals how Plato conceptualizes his own pursuit, namely philosophy, in contrast to its rivals." (p. 299)


    "The Sophist is the later dialogue which finally defines the sophist as ‘the imitator (mimêtês ) of the wise’ (Soph . 268c). While this dialogue does not deal with a poet or poetry in a direct way, it nevertheless examines the foundation of Plato’s earlier criticism of poetry in Republic X : namely the ontological basis of the art of image-making. Plato’s implicit intention can be seen in remarkable correspondences between the two dialogues."


    "Republic X presents the ontological argument to criticise the poet; poetry is treated as a special kind of making, i.e. image-making or imitation.

    In a parallel way, the Sophist defines the sophist as a specific kind of making, i.e. image-making and apparition-making in particular. Finally we should consider some differences between the two treatments of image-making.

    First of all, while, as we saw in the previous section, the Sophist confronts the difficult challenge concerning the problematic notions of ‘image’ and ‘making’, the Republic does not seem to worry about such a metaphysical danger. Whereas the Sophist clarifies the concept of image in the course of defining the sophist, the Republic simply uses it." (p. 324, notes omitted)

  27. ———. 2017. "Reconsidering the Relations between the Statesman, the Philosopher, and the Sophist." In Plato’s Statesman: Dialectic, Myth, and Politics , edited by Sallis, John, 183-195. Albany: State University of New York Press.

    "In the opening conversation of the Sophist , Socrates (just before the trial in 399 BC) raises a crucial problem about the philosopher: how to distinguish between three kinds of people, a philosopher, a sophist, and a statesman." (p. 184)


    "From this initial problem, the Sophist first engages in definition of the sophist and finally clarifies what the sophist is. The Statesman next discusses and defines the statesman." (p. 184)


    "In the Sophist , the philosopher surprisingly appears in the middle of the inquiry. When the art of discerning combinations and separations of kinds is discussed, the Eleatic Visitor abruptly suggests that they may have come across the philosopher before finding the sophist (253c), and he gives a description of the art of dialectic, which belongs to philosophy. However, when he says that they will see the philosopher more clearly if they wish (254b), this is far from clear indication of a plan for another dialogue.

    Rather, it is more important that the inquirers may have encountered the philosopher already in search for the sophist; for they are like two sides of one coin, or, more precisely, the original and its image." (p. 185)

    The Sophist does not present the definition of the philosopher, but it finally shows the philosopher through definition of the sophist in three ways (11):

    (1) First, since each feature of the sophist illuminates its opposite characteristic, the definitions of the sophist show what the philosopher should be. In addition to the contrast between apparition making (φανταστική) and likeness making (εἰκαστική), which we shall see, the sophist is characterized as “ironical” in consciously concealing his ignorance (267e–268a), while the philosopher sincerely admits it.

    (2) Second, the inquiry into the sophist discusses dialectic (διαλεκτική), the art of the philosopher, in the middle part of the dialogue. The inquirers actually practice and demonstrate dialectical arguments, and thereby show what philosophers should do.

    (3) Third, the project of the whole dialogue, namely, to define the sophist and thereby to show the philosopher, is itself a pre-eminent task of the philosopher. In this way, the Sophist represents the philosopher in stark contrast to the sophist. As for the problematic sixth definition, the “sophist of noble lineage” eventually turns out to represent more Socrates than the sophist." (pp. 185, 186 a note omitted)

    (11) Cf. Notomi, The Unity of Plato’s Sophist, 296–301.

  28. O'Brien, Denis. 1993. "Non-Being in Parmenides, Plato and Plotinus: a Prospectus for the Study of Ancient Greek Philosophy." In Modern Thinkers and Ancient Thinkers , edited by Sharples, Robert W., 1-26. London: University College London Press.

    English version of "Le non-être dans la philosophie grecque: Parménide, Platon, Plotin", in Pierre Aubenque (ed.), Études sur le Sophiste de Platon , Napoli: Bibliopolis 1991, pp. 317-364.

    "Negation and contrariety. In the Sophist , a Stranger from Elea sets out to refute Parmenides. Or so at least he does in most modern studies of that deceptively simple dialogue. But because Parmenides has been misunderstood, so too, inevitably, has been the Eleatic Stranger's criticism of Parmenides. For although the Eleatic Stranger does warn of the dangers of parricide (he may have to murder Parmenides, the father of Greek philosophy), in fact he starts off by agreeing with Parmenides, and that agreement, contrary to what most modern scholars will tell you, is never withdrawn or cancelled in the course of the argument.

    Let me explain. The Eleatic Stranger distinguishes between two uses of the negation in the expression to me on, "what is not".

    The negation may be used to mean "what is not in any way at all" (to medamos on , 237b7-8). "What is not in any way at all" is what would be, impossibly, the contrary of being (d. 258e6-7).

    Impossibly: for there is no contrary of being, since there is nothing entirely without participation in being. What is entirely without participation in being is what you might expect it to be - just plain nothing. There isn't any." (p. 5)

  29. ———. 2000. "Parmenides and Plato on What is Not." In The Winged Chariot: Collected Essays on Plato and Platonism in Honour of L.M. de Rijk , edited by Kardaun, Maria and Spruyt, Joke, 19-104. Leiden: Brill.

    "Understanding of Plato's Sophist cannot therefore be dissociated from our understanding of the poem of Parmenides, and vice versa.

    To understand the poem of Parmenides we need to appreciate that the goddess is working with a single conception of non-being, an appreciation which we can best arrive at by seizing the distinction between the two uses of non-being that are established in Plato's Sophist and yet, at the same time, refusing to read back that distinction into the poem of Parmenides.

    Understanding the Sophist requires us, on the contrary, to appreciate that the Stranger arrives at his new definition of 'what is not' by consciously distancing himself from the way in which Parmenides had thought of nonbeing, nearly one hundred years before.

    The distinction between the two 'kinds' of non-being is, in both cases, the same. But where the Stranger consciously and deliberately marshals his arguments in the light of that distinction, Parmenides, on the contrary, produces the arguments he does because the Stranger's distinction forms no part of his conscious self. (298)" (p. 90)

    (298) Some of the implications of this style of conclusion for how I understand the history of philosophy are spelt out in O'Brien (1993).


    O'Brien, D. (1993) 'Non-being in Parmenides, Plato and Plotinus: A Prospectus for the Study of Ancient Greek Philosophy', in Modem Thinkers and Ancient Thinkers, The Stanley Victor Keeling Memorial Lectures at University College London, 1981-1991, ed. R. W. Sharples (London) 1-26.

  30. ———. 2011. "The Stranger's "Farewell" (Sophist 258e6-259a1)." In Plato's Sophist: Proceedings of the Seventh Symposium Platonicum Pragense , edited by Havlíček, Aleš and Karfík, Filip, 199-220. Praha: Oikoymenh.

    "‘Don’t let anyone try and tell us that we dare say of the contrary of being that it is. We have long ago said farewell to any contrary of being, to the question of whether it is or of whether it isn’t…’ Those are the first words spoken by the Stranger after Theaetetus’ enthusiastic reaction (258 E 4-5: ‘absolutely so’, ‘most true’) to the Stranger’s declaration (258 D 5-E 3) that he and Theaetetus have ‘dared’ speak of ‘the form that there turns out to be, of what is not’.

    A ‘contrary of being’. A ‘form that there turns out to be, of what is not’. The meaning of those two expressions, together with their difference of meaning, lies at the very heart of Plato’s dialogue, of what the Sophist is all about. If the meaning, with the difference in meaning, of those two expressions has not been understood, then the dialogue itself has not been understood." (p. 199)

  31. ———. 2013. "A Form that 'Is' of What 'Is Not' . Existential Einai in Plato's Sophist " In The Platonic Art of Philosophy , edited by Boys-Stones, George, El Murr, Dimitri and Gill, Christopher, 221-248. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    "Motivated by an otherwise very understandable desire to study ancient philosophical texts philosophically, recent commentators have taken to weeding out from Plato’s dialogues any existential use of the verb einai , seemingly in deference to the supposedly philosophical principle that existence cannot be a predicate. The result is disastrous. This is not only because Plato very clearly does use the verb as a predicate complete in itself, with a meaning that can properly be described as ‘existential’, notably in his account of being and non-being in the Sophist , but also because the principle itself is not what it is all too often thought to be." (p. 221)


    "Veer to one side or another of that narrow line and you end up in one or other of the errors portrayed in the concluding pages of this essay. Identify the form of non-being with a straightforward negation of the existential meaning of the verb, and the Stranger will end up asserting, of ‘what is not in any way at all’, that it ‘is’ (Notomi’s error). Identify the form of non-being with a negation of the copulative use of the verb joined to any and every complement, so that ‘non-being’ is so because it is ‘other than’ and therefore ‘is not’ any one of all the vast variety of different forms that participate in being, and you will end up asserting, of ‘being itself ’, that it is ‘non-being’ (Owen’s error). Start from Plato’s own assumption that an existential use of einai has to be subjected to the same analysis as ‘is the same’ or ‘is beautiful’, with one specific part of otherness, and only one, opposed to ‘being’, whether to the form or to the instantiation of the form, while at the same time taking into account the different extension of forms that are, and forms that are not, participated universally, and you will, if you pay close attention to both syntax and argument, avoid both errors. You may even come within shouting distance of the essentials of Plato’s reply to Parmenides." (p. 248)

  32. ———. 2013. "Does Plato refute Parmenides?" In Plato's Sophist Revisited , edited by Bossi, Beatriz and Robinson, Thomas M., 117-155. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    "I have a couple of times ventured to suggest that in the Sophist Plato does not refute Parmenides.(2) The reaction has been, to say the least, hostile.(3) Hostile, with more than a touch of disapproval. You might have thought I had suggested that the Queen of England was a man. The suggestion was not only false, but foolish. A mere eye-catcher. Absurd, and unseemly." (p. 117)


    "Not only is it obvious why Plato should want to refute Parmenides; it also seems clear enough, to many readers of Plato’s Sophist, that he no less obviously claims to do so. When the Stranger of Plato’s dialogue introduces Parmenides (237a3 – b3), he quotes a pair of verses giving voice to what are called elsewhere in the poem the ‘opinions of mortals’ (fr. 1.30 and 8.51 –52), summarised in the pithy sentence ‘things that are not, are’ (237a8 = fr. 7.1: εἶναι μὴ ἐόντα)." (p. 119)


    "Pinned down to their context, the places where the Stranger supposedly speaks of successfully ‘refuting’ Parmenides vanish like the morning dew on a summer’s day. But if the Stranger doesn't claim to have ‘refuted’ Parmenides, does he then leave it to be understood that he therefore agrees with him?

    Not at all. But at the crucial moment when he prepares to trumpet his discovery of ‘the form that there turns out to be, of what is not’, the language he uses is not the language of ‘refutation’.

    The Stranger: ‘So do you think we’ve been unfaithful to Parmenides, in taking up a position too far removed from his prohibition?’ (258c6 – 7: οἶσθ᾽ οὖν ὅτι Παρμενίδῃ μακροτέρως τῆς ἀπορρήσεως ἠπιστήκαμεν) Theaetetus: ‘What do you mean?’ (258c8: τί δή;)

    The Stranger: ‘By pushing on ahead with the search, what we’ve shown him goes beyond the point where he told us to stop looking’ (cf. 258c9 –10: πλεῖον ἢ 'κεῖνος ἀπεῖπε σκοπεῖν, ἡμεῖς εἰς τὸ πρόσθεν ἔτι ζητήσαντες ἀπεδείξαμεν αὐτῷ.).

    Just so. The metaphor of distance, of uncharted and forbidden territories, hits off the situation very neatly. The Stranger and Theaetetus have entered a new world, far removed from the world of Parmenides, and have survived to tell the tale. But that does not mean that they claim to have ‘refuted’ him in any simple sense. How could they have done?

    Refutation implies contradiction. No-one in his right mind would think to contradict Parmenides’ denial that ‘things that are not, are’, in so far as those words are taken as meaning, or even as implying, that ‘things that do not exist, do exist’." (pp. 151-152, note omitted)

    (2) O’Brien (1995) 87 – 88, (2000) 94 –98.

    (3) Dixsaut (2000) 269 n. 2. Notomi (2007) 167 – 187.


    Dixsaut, M., Platon et la question de la pensée , Paris 2000 = Dixsaut (2000).

    Notomi, N., ‘Plato against Parmenides: Sophist 236D-242B’, in S. Stern-Gillet and K.Corrigan (eds.), Reading Ancient Texts, vol. I: Presocratics and Plato. Essays in Honour of Denis O’Brien , Leiden-Boston 2007, 167 – 187 = Notomi (2007).

    O’Brien, D., Le Non-être. Deux études sur le ‘Sophiste’ de Platon, Sankt Augustin 1995 = O’Brien (1995).

    O’Brien, D., ‘Parmenides and Plato on What is Not’, in M. Kardaun and J. Spruyt (eds.), The Winged Chariot. Collected essays on Plato and Platonism in honour of L. M. de Rijk, Leiden, Boston, Köln 2000, 19 – 104 = O’Brien (2000).

  33. ———. 2019. "To Be and Not To Be in Plato's Sophist ." In Passionate Mind. Essays in Honor of John M. Rist , edited by David, Barry, 93-136. Baden-Baden: Academia Verlag.

    "Surely you can no more say of something that it both is and is not (as do Parmenides’ mortals) than you can say of it that, at one and the same time, it is non-being and being (as does the Stranger of Plato’s Sophist )?

    3. Words and their meaning

    The solution to the puzzle, if there is one, will have to depend on the precise meaning of the words in Greek. Dictionaries and grammars will take you only so far. The ultimate test has to be Plato’s use of the common idiom of his time, modified, when necessary, by the context—by the meaning, however idiosyncratic, that he has given his words in the course of an argument.

    Those are the two criteria adopted in the course of this article. To steer your way through the Greek text of the Sophist , you will need to recognise a distinction that Plato has taken over from the common parlance of the day, while at the same time adapting it to his own purposes.

    The distinction lies between two uses of einai , its common-or-garden use as a copula, joining a subject to an attribute, the verb and its attribute making up the predicate (x ‘is so-and-so’), and a less common, but still well authenticated, use as a predicate complete in itself (x ‘is’), traditionally called, for convenience, an ‘existential’ use of the verb, simply because such a use may easily lend itself, in modern English, to translation by ‘exist’." (p. 3 a note omitted)

  34. O'Leary-Hawthorne, Diane. 1996. "Not-Being and Linguistic Deception." Apeiron no. 29:165-198.

    "Though it is certainly clear that Plato spends a great deal of time in this dialogue [the Sophist ] grappling with problems that we now place squarely in the domain of philosophy of language, we should think carefully about the context of these pursuits. As Owen,

    Wiggins, Pelletier and countless others would have it, Plato is concerned with the nature of language, with the structure of sentences, with negation, with truth and with falsity simply because these problems are important and Plato was aware of their importance. Reluctant as I am to place any obstacles in the way of Plato's unstable popularity, I submit that we must think again about the relevance that these problems had for Plato." (p. 167)


    "At the very least, even if we are skeptical about attributing a mistrust of language to Plato, there are certainly grounds here for caution. If indeed Plato has devoted himself in the Sophist to repairing 'the naive semantics of natural language' or some similar project, it is

    unlikely that he will have done so without some hint as to how these issues might fit into his broad scheme of philosophical knowledge. At best Plato is concerned with linguistic matters in the Sophist precisely because he wants to examine and explain what underlies the linguistic skepticism that runs through the dialogues. In what follows I shall argue that beneath the glistening surface of debate about reference and truth in the Sophist there does lie a beautifully simple, though highly rigorous, account of the disparity between language and the world it purports to represent. Embedded within the Stranger's most technical linguistic pursuits is something we should have been missing in the Platonic corpus, that is, an explanation of Plato's persistent suggestion that language is not a good place to turn for philosophical insight." (p. 168)

  35. O'Rourke, Fran. 2003. "Plato's Approach to Being in the Theaetetus and Sophist , and Heidegger's Attribution of Aristotelian Influence." Diotima.Revue de recherche philosophique no. 31:47-58.

    "Olympiodorus reports the last dream of Plato: «Shortly before he died, Plato dreamt that he had become a swan which flew from tree to tree, thereby causing the utmost trouble to the archers who wanted to shoot him down.

    Simmias the Socratic interpreted the dream as meaning that Plato would elude all the pains of his interpreters. For to archers may be likened those interpreters who try to hunt out the hidden meanings of the ancients, but Plato is elusive because his writings, like those of Homer, must be understood in many senses, both physically, and ethically, and theologically, and literally»(1)" (p. 47)

    "It is significant to note that in the three dialogues we have examined, the Phaedrus , Theaetetus and Sophist , Plato brings the reciprocal, dynamic, distinction and relation «to act and act upon» to bear in his reflections, respectively, on φύσις, κίνησις, and είναι: these themes are inseparable; they refer to the intrinsic principles of every reality in its constitution, operation and foundation. The distinction and relation are clearly for Plato of central and lasting importance. In further support of Plato's own discovery of δύναμις it is worth noting that for Plato in the Republic , the Good which is the principle of all things, the source of their Being and intelligibility, is not itself Being, but «lies beyond Being, surpassing it in dignity and power» (509 b: ἐπέκεινα τῆς οὐσίας πρεσβείᾳ καὶ δυνάμει ὑπερέχοντος.). This is to place power at the heart of being, suggesting that for Plato the dignity or value of being is its power to act or be acted upon! Επέκεινα is indeed an unresolved dilemma.

    Despite the criticisms offered earlier, we must conclude that Plato contributed immeasurably to the early development of the philosophy of being. His self-reproach, that the discussion in the Sophist concerning nonbeing was lengthy and irrelevant, is not only harsh but untrue. To quote Solon, as he does himself: x.χαλεπὰ τὰ καλά [beautiful/goods things are difficult]. The Sophist is a worthy contribution to this most difficult and rewarding of questions. It offers rich insights and distinctive signposts on a path of far reaching discovery. To refer again to Olympiodorus (32): whereas Aristotle wrote that all men seek wisdom, he suggests that all philosophers seek Plato as a source which overflows with wisdom and inspiration. Plato deserves our praise and, in words which he placed in the mouth of Socrates, in Athens it is easy to praise an Athenian." (pp. 57-58)

    (1) Olympiodorus, Commentary on the First Alcibiades of Plato , ed. L. G. Westerink, Amsterdam, North-Holland Publishing Company, 1956, p. 6.

    (32) Loc. cit ., cf. supra and n. 1.

  36. Oberhammer, Arnold. 2020. "Dialectic in Plato’s Sophist and Derrida’s ‘Law of the Supplement of Copula’ " In Platonism: Ficino to Foucault , edited by Rees, Valery Rees, Corrias, Anna, Crasta, Francesca M., Follesa, Laura and Giglioni, Guido, 314-324. Leiden: Brill.

    "Derrida [*] refers to Sophist 253d, where the Eleatic Stranger determines being to be the ability (δύναμις) to connect. He sees being (ὄν), in addition to motion and rest, as the third ‘in the soul’ (ἐν τῇ ψυχῇ).(12) The progress of the Eleatic Stranger, as opposed to the older aporetic ontologies where either motion or rest were considered to be, is based on the concept of ‘otherness’, ἕτερον. Being is different (ἕτερον) to motion and rest with the result that, ‘according to its own nature’ (κατὰ τὴν αὑτοῦ φύσιν), it is neither one nor the other.(13) Plato’s definition of being as disposition (δύναμις) or commonality (κοινωνία) takes place with reference to ‘the most general classes’ (μεγίστα γένη), which are connected because they are different to each other. In line with the critique of some ‘old men who came by learning late in life,’ it is impossible for one to be many.

    Here the relationship between λόγος and ὄν takes centre stage.(14)" (pp. 316-317)

    (12) Plato, Sophist, 250b7–10: ‘τρίτον ἄρα τι παρὰ ταῦτα τὸ ὂν ἐν τῇ ψυχῇ τιθείς, ὡς ὑπ᾽ ἐκείνου τήν τε στάσιν καὶ τὴν κίνησιν περιεχομένην, συλλαβὼν καὶ ἀπιδὼν αὐτῶν πρὸς τὴν τῆς οὐσίας κοινωνίαν, οὕτως εἶναι προσεῖπας ἀμφότερα.’

    (13) 13 Ibid., c3–7: ‘οὐκ ἄρα κίνησις καὶ στάσις ἐστὶ συναμφότερον τὸ ὂν ἀλλ᾽ ἕτερον δή τι τούτων. […] κατὰ τὴν αὑτοῦ φύσιν ἄρα τὸ ὂν οὔτε ἕστηκεν οὔτε κινεῖται.’

    (14) Ibid., 251b6: ‘τῶν γερόντων τοῖς ὀψιμαθέσι.’

    [*] Derrida, Jacques. ‘Le supplément de copule: La philosophie devant la linguistique,’ in

    J. Derrida, Marges de la philosophie . Paris: Les Éditiones de Minuit, 1972, 209–46.

  37. Oscanyan, Frederick S. 1973. "On Six definitions of the Sophist: Sophist 221c-231e." Philosophical Forum no. 4:241-259.

    Abstract: "The paper shows that the definitions of the Sophist on 221c-231e refer to specific contemporaries of Socrates: Gorgias, Protagoras, Hippias, Prodicus, Euthydemus and Thrasymachus. Produced by the method of divisions, each definition consists of a nesting class of attributes. An examination of the Platonic corpus reveals that these same characteristics are used to satirically describe the sophists listed above. As the final definition equally describes Thrasymachus and Socrates, it is shown why Plato viewed the method of divisions as inadequate for obtaining the proper definition of sophistry: a good Platonic definition must have ostensive truth as well as essential validity."

  38. Owen, Gwilym Ellis Lane. 1966. "Plato and Parmenides on the Timeless Present." Monist :317-340.

    Reprinted in: Alexander Mourelatos (ed.), The Pre-Socratics: A Collection of Critical Essays, Garden City: Anchor Press, 1974 and in: G. E. L. Owen, Logic, Science, and Dialectic. Collected Papers in Greek Philosophy, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986 pp. 27-44.

    "In sum, it is part of the originality of Plato to have grasped, or half-grasped, an important fact about certain kinds of statement, namely that they are tenseless whereas others are tensed. But he tries to bring this contrast under his familiar distinction between the changeless and the changing. So he saddles the familiar distinction with a piece of conceptual apparatus taken from Parmenides, a tense-form which retains enough of a present sense to be coupled with expressions for permanence and stability, yet which has severed its links with the future and the past. Armed with this device Plato is able to turn the distinction between tensed and tenseless statements into a more congenial distinction between timebound and timeless, changing and immutable, objects.

    But at a price. The concept of stability has been stretched so that stability is no longer a function of time. And the interesting propositions, so far from staying tenseless, are restated in an artificial and degenerate tense-form. The theory for which we are asked to tolerate these anomalies will need to hold firm against scrutiny. But on scrutiny there seems to be something wrong at its roots.

    What is wrong, I think, can be put very shortly. It is that to be tensed or tenseless is a property of statements and not of things, and that paradoxes come from confusing this distinction; just as they come from trying to manufacture necessary beings out of the logical necessity that attaches to certain statements. But how is the distinction to be recognized? One way, a good way, is to notice that tenseless statements are not proprietary to one sort of subject and tensed statements to another. And there seems to be evidence in another work of Plato that he did notice this, and brought the point home by a valid argument.

    I want to end by discussing that evidence. It occurs in the Sophist , in the criticism that the chief speaker brings against the so-called "friends of the Forms.(15)" (pp. 335-336)

    (15) My account of this argument lies close to that given by J. M. E. Moravcsik [Being and Meaning in the Sophist ] in Acta Philosophica Fennica, 14 (1962), 35-40, which should be consulted for its criticism of alternative views.

  39. ———. 1971. "Plato on Not-Being." In Plato. A Collection of Critical Essays. I: Metaphysics and Epistemology , edited by Vlastos, Gregory, 104-137. Notre Dame: Notre Dame University Press.

    Reprinted in: G. E. L. Owen, Logic, Science and Dialectic. Collected Papers in Ancient Greek Philosophy, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986, pp. 104-137 and in: Gail Fine (ed.), Plato 1: Metaphysics and Epistemology , Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 416-454.

    "Platonists who doubt that they are Spectators of Being must settle for the knowledge that they are investigators of the verb 'to be'. Their investigations make them familiar with certain commonplaces of the subject for which, among Plato's dialogues, the Sophist is held to contain the chief evidence. But the evidence is not there, and the attempt to find it has obstructed the interpretation of that hard and powerful dialogue. The commonplaces that I mean are these: In Greek, but only vestigially in English, the verb 'to be' has two syntactically distinct uses, a complete or substantive use in which it determines a one-place predicate ('X is', 'X is not Y') and an incomplete use in which it determines a two-place predicate ('X is Y' , 'X is not Y'). To this difference there answers a semantic distinction. The verb in its first use signifies 'to exist' (for which Greek in Plato's day had no separate word) or else, in Greek but only in translators' English, 'to be real' or 'to be the case' or 'to be true', these senses being all reducible to the notion of the existence of some object or state of affairs; while in its second use it is demoted to a subject-predicate copula (under which we can here include the verbal auxiliary) or to an identity sign. Plato's major explorations of

    being and not-being are exercises in the complete or 'existential' use of the verb. And, lest his arguments should seem liable to confusion by this versatile word, in the Sophist he marks off the first use from the verb's other use or uses and draws a corresponding distinction within the negative constructions represented by to me on , 'not-being' or 'what is not'. For the problems which dominate the central argument of the Sophist are existence problems, so disentangling the different functions of the verb 'to be' is a proper step to identifying and resolving them." (pp. 104-105, notes omitted)

  40. ———. 1973. "Plato on the Undepictable." In Exegesis and Argument. Studies in Greek philosophy presented to Gregory Vlastos , edited by Lee, Edward N., Mourelatos, Alexander and Rorty, Richard, 349-361. Assen: Van Gorcum.

    Reprinted in: G. E. L. Owen, Logic, Science and Dialectic. Collected Papers in Ancient Greek Philosophy, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986, pp. 138-147.

  41. Pacitti, Domenico. 1991. The Nature of the Negative. Towards an Understanding of Negation and Negativity . Pisa: Giardini editori.

    Contents: Preface IX-X; On the nature of the Negative 1; Epilogue 77; Notes 79; Bibliographical references 103; Index nominum 115-118.

    On Plato's Sophist see in particular pp. 63-75.

    "The immensity of the 'tours de force' necessary in the Parmenides and Sophist for the admission of nonbeing on a par with being reflects the enormous hold that Parmenides must have exerted over the Greeks. His writing in verse, like the monotheist Xenophanes, reflects divine inspiration and the transcendent powers of thought. Thus it is not he but the goddess who speaks throughout.

    The style of Parmenides fr. B8, 12-21 is strikingly reminiscent of the Vedic hymn and may easily be read as a solution to the anonymous poet's riddle. But his answer that there is only 'is' and no 'is not' cannot, I think, be understood as meaning that Parmenides wished to reject negative predication out, as Anscombe (Parmenides, Mystery and Contradiction, 1969) would have in the first place, Parmenides himself consistently uses negatives, which would be highly implausible if that was what he wished to outlaw, and secondly, his position on the illusory nature of 'opinion' and the nonexistence of what is not is quite compatible with the use of the negative.

    For in Parmenides (fr. B2, B6, 1-2, & B8 34-36) thought and reality are probably even more closely bound together than in Plato, in that reality - or at least true reality - can be thought, and if 'opinion' is part of what is not, then the result of thinking that is what he calls a non-thought, which must be taken to mean something that is not a true or authentic thought. We find Aristotle (Posterior Analytics 89a) still pondering over this problem of how true knowledge and mere opinion could have the same object of reference.

    Similarly, Parmenides' convincing rebuttal (fr. 3) of what is having been produced out of what is not, which would then mean what is being in some sense what is not, led Aristotle (De Anima 417a and Metaphysics 1051b) to his theory of potentiality in order to bridge the gap somehow between nonbeing and being.

    And this is a radical challenge to the common concept of time: the unreality of past and future which are illusory, the present which is all there is, timeless and eternal.

    For Parmenides, then, reason, namely the correct use of thought in contact with reality - not the world of appearance but the real world - will alone lead to truth." (pp. 73-74)

  42. Painter, Corinne. 2014. "The Stranger as a Socratic Philosopher: The Socratic Nature of the Stranger’s Investigation of the Sophist ." The St. John's Review no. 56:65-73.

    "Much of the secondary literature on Plato’s Sophist considers the Stranger to be a non-Socratic philosopher, and regards his appearance in the dialogues as a sign that Plato had moved on from his fascination with Socrates to develop a more “mature” way of philosophizing.(2) This essay will argue, on the contrary, that the investigation led by the Stranger in the Sophist demonstrates an essentially Socratic philosophical stance. In order to do this, I will consider carefully some dramatic evidence in the Sophist that allows us to notice a philosophical “transformation” in the Stranger.

    My consideration focuses upon the Stranger’s rejection of the Parmenidean way of philosophizing followed by his acceptance of the Socratic way of practicing philosophy. This is revealed most decisively by the Stranger’s willingness to pursue truth and justice at the expense of overturning the practices of his philosophical training, and, secondarily, by his genuine concern with showing that Socrates is not guilty of sophistry."

    (2) There are far too many accounts to list here; but see, for example, Stanley Rosen, Plato’s Sophist: The Drama of the Original and Image (South Bend, Indiana: St. Augustine’s Press, 1999). Just as Rosen argues in his text, most of the accounts in the literature that treat this issue view the Stranger as non-Socratic and advance the position that he represents at least a change, or perhaps even a progression, in Plato’s thinking away from, for instance, emphasis on the Socratic elenchus, to a more developed, mature philosophical practice that emphasizes dialectic."

  43. Painter, Corinne Michelle. 2005. "In Defense of Socrates: The Stranger's Role in Plato's Sophist ." Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy no. 9:317-333.

    Abstract: "In this essay I argue that the Stranger's interest in keeping the Philosopher and the Sophist distinct is connected, primarily, to his assessment of the charges of Sophistry advanced against Socrates, which compels him to defend Socrates from these unduly advanced accusations. On this basis, I establish that the Stranger's task in the Sophist , namely to keep philosophy distinct from sophistry, is intimately tied to the project of securing justice and is therefore not merely of theoretical importance but is also -- and essentially - of political and ethical significance."

  44. Palmer, John. 1999. Plato's Reception of Parmenides . Oxford: Clarendon Press.

    "The Gorgianic perspective on Parmenides' philosophy also figures crucially in the First Deduction of the subsequent exercise in which Parmenides undertakes an examination of his own theory. Plato has Parmenides reject this reductive perspective, thereby providing us with a crucially important instance of how Plato is concerned with combating certain sophistic appropriations of Parmenides so as to recover him for the uses he himself wants to make. This dynamic of reappropriation becomes increasingly important as we continue to examine Plato's later period reception.

    This theme in fact guides my discussion of the complex representation of Parmenides in the Sophist , where I argue that Plato's efforts to define the Sophist so as to discriminate between this figure and the Philosopher are accompanied by an attempt to recover Parmenides from sophistic appropriations that challenge certain of the key distinctions of Plato's middle period metaphysics. I therefore take

    issue with the common view that Plato in the Sophist is determined to 'refute' Parmenides. The Sophist' s denial of the viability of the distinctions between truth and falsehood and between reality and

    appearance employ the logic of Parmenides in ways Plato himself finds unacceptable. Plato's own view of Parmenides in this dialogue emerges in the ontological doxography in which Parmenides is significantly associated with Xenophanes and in the subsequent interrogation of this doxography's first two groups. The interrogation of the Eleatics in particular has important connections with various deductions in the Parmenides 's dialectical exercise. These connections make it possible to see where in each dialogue Plato is concerned with sophistic appropriations of Parmenides and where he is engaging with him in ways that reflect his own understanding. This understanding is reflected to some extent in portions of the Timaeus but most directly and importantly in the Parmenides 's Second Deduction. I therefore conclude this study by describing how Plato will have understood Parmenides' account of the attributes of Being in B8 and the relation of this account to the cosmology he presented alongside

    it, and I explain how this understanding is reflected in the Second Deduction." (p. 16)

  45. Palumbo, Lidia. 2013. "Mimesis in the Sophist ." In Plato's Sophist Revisited , edited by Bossi, Beatriz and Robinson, Thomas M., 269-278. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    "Mimesis is the production of images (Soph . 265b1 – 3). These cover a very wide semantic field, including the meanings of “opinion” and “viewpoint”. A false image is a wrong opinion that says the things that are not: in believing, we imagine; in thinking, we represent what we think. The false belief is therefore a mental scene, an image that possesses neither a corresponding reality nor a model, although it is perceived as a real scene. The virtue of an image (the arete eikonos ) lies in its being similar to what is true, whereas the similarity between false and true can produce a deception similar to that caused by a dream or by poetry.

    The aim of this paper is to show that in the Sophist falsity is closely linked to mimesis . This is not because every mimesis is false, but because all falsity is mimetic. That not every mimesis is false is shown at 235c – 236c. The crucial distinction between eikastike and phantastike must be understood as the distinction between true and false mimesis . That every falsity is mimetic is a far more complex issue, which I shall be discussing in this paper. I shall claim that falsity does not consist in confusing something for something else, but, more specifically, in confusing an image for its model." (p. 269)

  46. Panagiotou, Spiro. 1981. "The 'Parmenides' and the 'Communion of Kinds' in the 'Sophist'." Hermes no. 109:167-171.

    "The section on the Communion of Kinds in the 'Sophist ' is prefaced with an outline of the view that in calling the same thing by many names we make it 'many', and are thus guilty of contradiction: we make what is 'one' to be 'many' and vice versa (251 A - C). The language here leaves no doubt that this aspect of the 'one and many' problem ought to be regarded as specious (cf. 251 B 5 - 6; C 4), although the Stranger does not explain why it should be so regarded. After making some derogatory remarks on those who are impressed by this aspect of the problem, the Stranger abruptly turns to the section on the Communion of Kinds. Though we are not told so, we may be certain that the two sections are related and that the Communion of Kinds has something to do with problems of the 'one and many' variety. We may, furthermore, fill in some of the missing details by considering what Plato has to say on the same topic in the 'Philebus '." (p. 168)

  47. Pappas, Nickolas. 2013. "Introduction." The New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy :277-282.

    Abstract: "Plato’s Sophist is part of the most striking change that occurs within the chronology of his dialogues. Their dramatic presentation changes, the main speaker Socrates replaced by the Eleatic stranger. The dialogues still seek to define terms, but now use the method of division and collection and succeed where earlier attempts used to fail. They transform Platonic metaphysics to include the great kind heteron “other,” which points the way to a new enterprise of understanding the reality of appearance rather than opposing appearance to reality. The seven papers collected in this part explore metaphysical, methodological, and pedagogical topics explored in or arising from the Sophist . Their subjects include the other, number (arithmos ), power (dunamis ), mixture, appearance, and myth."

  48. ———. 2013. "The Story that Philosophers Will Be Telling of the Sophist." The New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy no. 13:338-352.

    Abstract: "Plato’s stranger exemplifies the impulse to move beyond myth into logos, anticipating the later author Palaephatus. The stranger wishes earlier philosophers had not mythologized being to their students; he works to define the sophist so as to escape myths about that figure. Yet reading the Sophist alongside Palaephatus illuminates how far myth continues to permeate this work. The sophist’s moneymaking is mythologized into his wildness. The stranger’s closing words about announcing the meaning of the sophist hark back to a dense mythic passage from the Iliad . If philosophy begins by bidding good-bye to myth, it has not left home yet."

  49. Partenie, Catalin. 2004. "Imprint: Heidegger Interpretation of Platonic Dialectic in the Sophist lectures (1924-25)." In Heidegger and Plato: Toward Dialogue , edited by Partenie, Catalin and Rockmore, Tom, 42-71. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

    "My essay will follow one episode of this Platonico-Heideggerian interplay. The episode has at its core four theses centered upon the Platonic dialectic that Heidegger advances in his lectures on Plato’s Sophist . I shall argue that these theses, although they reveal a biased reading of Plato, manage to draw our attention to a genuine and important Platonic distinction, usually overlooked, between authentic and inauthentic human existence, and that this distinction also lies at the core of the fundamental ontology expounded in Being and Time . At the close of the essay I shall address, but only in a preliminary way, the question of why Heidegger did not acknowledge this Platonic imprint on his Being and Time .

    The lectures on Plato’s Sophist were delivered at the University of Marburg during the winter semester 1924–25. They contain a running commentary of the Sophist completed by extensive analyses of book Z of the Nicomachean Ethics , book A (chapters 1 and 2) of the Metaphysics , and the Phaedrus .

    Of the many theses Heidegger advances in these lectures (whose published text counts 653 pages), I shall focus here on four, centered upon the Platonic dialectic." (pp. 42-43)

  50. Partenie, Catalin. 2004. "Imprint: Heidegger Interpretation of Platonic Dialectic in the Sophist lectures (1924-25)." In Heidegger and Plato: Toward Dialogue , edited by Partenie, Catalin and Rockmore, Tom, 42-71. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

    "My essay will follow one episode of this Platonico-Heideggerian interplay. The episode has at its core four theses centered upon the Platonic dialectic that Heidegger advances in his lectures on Plato’s Sophist . I shall argue that these theses, although they reveal a biased reading of Plato, manage to draw our attention to a genuine and important Platonic distinction, usually overlooked, between authentic and inauthentic human existence, and that this distinction also lies at the core of the fundamental ontology expounded in Being and Time . At the close of the essay I shall address, but only in a preliminary way, the question of why Heidegger did not acknowledge this Platonic imprint on his Being and Time .

    The lectures on Plato’s Sophist were delivered at the University of Marburg during the winter semester 1924–25. They contain a running commentary of the Sophist completed by extensive analyses of book Z of the Nicomachean Ethics , book A (chapters 1 and 2) of the Metaphysics , and the Phaedrus .

    Of the many theses Heidegger advances in these lectures (whose published text counts 653 pages), I shall focus here on four, centered upon the Platonic dialectic." (pp. 42-43)

  51. ———. 2016. "Heidegger: Sophist and Philosopher." In Sophistes: Plato's Dialogue and Heidegger's Lectures in Marburg (1924-25) , edited by De Brasi, Diego and Fuchs, Marko J., 61-74. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

    "Heidegger's Lectures on Plato's Sophist are a long and complex affair. In their opening section, entitled "Preliminary Considerations", Heidegger claims that a double preparation is required for an interpretation of Plato's late dialogues: one philosophical-phenomenological, the other historiographical-hermeneutical." (p. 61)


    "Usually, scholars go "from Socrates and the Presocratics to Plato"; Heidegger, however, will go from "Aristotle back to Plato" (11). Why? Because "what Aristotle said is what Plato placed at his disposal, only it is said more radically and developed more scientifically" (11-12)." (p. 62)


    "So, we know how to grasp in the right way the past we encounter in Plato: through Aristotle. But how are we to grasp in the right way the past we encounter in Aristotle? In other words, if Aristotle is going to be the guiding line for our interpretation of Plato, what will be our guiding line for the interpretation of Aristotle? Who said more radically, and developed more scientifically, what Aristotle placed at our disposal? Nobody, Heidegger claims. Aristotle "was not followed by anyone greater", so "we are forced to leap into his own philosophical work in order to gain an orientation" (12), or guiding line. In what follows I shall argue that Heidegger's actual guiding line throughout the lectures was not Aristotle, but his own thinking at the time, which he brought to its fullest development in the fundamental ontology of Being and Time ." (p. 62)

  52. Peck, Arthur Leslie. 1952. "Plato and the ΜΕΓΙΣΤΑ ΓΕΝΗ of the Sophist . A Reinterpretation." The Classical Quarterly no. 2:32-56.

    "It is important to recognize that the problem dealt with by Plato in the central part of the Sophist (232 b-264 d) is one which arises from the use of certain Greek phrases, and has no necessary or direct connexion with metaphysics (although the solution of it which Plato offers has an important bearing on the defence of his own metaphysical theory against one particular kind of attack).

    We tend to obscure this fact if we use English terms such as 'Being', 'Reality', 'Existence', etc., in discussing the dialogue, and indeed make it almost impossible to understand what Plato is trying to do. It is the way in which the Greek terms ὄν and μή ὄν and other such terms are used by the 'sophists' which gives rise to the problem." (32)


    "It is not easy to suppose that Plato thought the business of the true philosopher, as described at Sophist 253 d-e, consisted in spending his time on such verbal futilities as saying that Rest is not Motion, Motion is the same as itself, Motion is other than Being, etc. (Indeed, even in the discussion in the Sophist , the Eleatic Visitor and Theaetetus require no 'high art' to see that Rest and Motion cannot 'mix'.) The difficulties caused by sophistic verbal conjuring must, of course, be overcome by the philosopher; but once they are overcome, the philosopher can go forward with his own proper work. It is indeed surprising that the view has ever been entertained that the business of the true philosopher, as described in Sophist 253 d-e, is illustrated by the argument about the μέγιστα γένη. The philosopher's work, as epitomized in the phrases κατὰ γένη διαιρεῖσθαι (253 d) and διακρίνειν κατὰ γένος ἐπίστασθαι (253 e), is surely much more closely represented by the making of 'Divisions', of which semi-serious examples are given in the earlier part of the dialogue, than by the discussion about the μέγιστα γένη. It is, of course, true that any such work of Division would be blocked at the outset so long as the τό μη όν ουκ έστιν objection held the field; but once that objection is cleared away the course is open for the true dialectical philosopher to proceed with his work." (p. 56)

  53. ———. 1962. "Plato's "Sophist": The συμπλοϰὴ τῶν εἰδῶν." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 7:46-66.

    In Plato's Sophist, at 259 E 4 ff., we read the following sentence:

    τελεωτάτη πάντων λόγων ἐστὶν ἀφάνισις τὸ διαλύειν ἕκαστον ἀπὸ πάντων: διὰ γὰρ τὴν ἀλλήλων τῶν εἰδῶν συμπλοκὴν ὁ λόγος γέγονεν ἡμῖν [The complete separation of each thing from all is the utterly final obliteration of all discourse. For our power of discourse is derived from the interweaving of the classes or ideas with one another (translation added )].

    A few pages later, at 263 A2 and 8, we find these examples of λόγος:

    ‘Θεαίτητος κάθηται, [Theaetetus sits] Θεαίτητος πέτεται [Theaetetus flies].

    The difficulty which seems to present itself is that these examples of λόγος do not illustrate what is said in the second part of the sentence quoted." (p. 46)


    "The amount of effort expended by Plato in combating the activities of 'sophists' and αντιλογικοι is itself an indication of the prevalence and (as he felt it) the danger to philosophy of the kind of talk which was in vogue. The danger of this attitude, as Plato saw it, was its superficiality, its undue preoccupation with words instead of realities."


    "Plato's attack, then, is against those who confine their attention to terminology, who fail to consider whether their terminology is a correct representation of the facts, or who believe it is a reliable index to truth and reality - or think they can floor Plato by specious verbal manipulations.

    It will, I believe, be found that μετέχειν and all the various verbs and nouns used to denote 'combining' and 'mixing' in the Sophist imply no more than that two terms can be used together in the same sentence without self-contradiction." (p. 66)

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