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

Plato's Sophist. Bibliography of the studies in English (First Part: A - Buc)


N.B. For the critical editions and translations of the Dialogue see: Plato: Bibliographical Resources on Selected Dialogues

  1. "Plato's Sophist ." 2013. The New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy no. 13:275-362.

    Contents: PART IV: Plato’s Sophist 275; Nickolas Pappas: Introduction 277; John Sallis: Plato’s Sophist : A Different Look 283; Vigdis Songe-Møller: Socrates, the Stranger and Parmenides in Plato’s Sophist: Two Troubled Relationships 292; Jens Kristian Larsen: The Virtue of Power 306; Hallvard J. Fossheim: Development and Not-Being in Plato’s Sophist 318; Kristin Sampson: A Third Possibility: Mixture and Musicality 329; Nickolas Pappas: The Story that Philosophers Will Be Telling of the Sophist 339; Burt Hopkins: The Génos of Lógos and the Investigation of the Greatest Genê in Plato’s Sophist 353-362.

  2. Ackrill, John Lloyd. 1955. "ΣΥΜΠΛΟΚΗ ΕΙΔΩΝ." Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies no. 2:31-35.

    Reprinted in J. L. Ackrill, Essays on Plato and Aristotle , New York, Oxford University Press, 1997, Chapter 4, pp. 72-79.

    "It is the purpose of this short essay• to consider the meaning and implications of a sentence in Plato's Sophist. At the end of the section on μέγιστα γένη (the combination of kinds) the Eleatic visitor is made to speak as follows (259e4-6): τελεωτάτη πάντων λόγων ἐστὶν ἀφάνισις τὸ διαλύειν ἕκαστον ἀπὸ πάντων: διὰ γὰρ τὴν ἀλλήλων τῶν εἰδῶν συμπλοκὴν ὁ λόγος γέγονεν ἡμῖν (the isolation of everything from everything else is the total annihilation of all statements; for it is because of the interweaving of Forms with one another that we come to have discourse). I shall be mainly concerned with the second half of this remark, and shall refer to it, for brevity, as sentence or statement S." (p. 72 of the reprint)


    "I have gradually passed from talking about Forms to talking about concepts, and I have taken these to be, in effect, the meanings of general words. Correspondingly, I have implied that the task assigned in Plato's later dialogues to the dialectician or philosopher is the investigation and plotting of the relations among concepts, a task to be pursued through a patient study of language by noticing which combinations of words in sentences do, and which do not, make sense, by eliciting ambiguities and drawing distinctions, by stating explicitly facts about the interrelations of word meanings which we normally do not trouble to state, though we all have some latent knowledge of them in so far as we know how to talk correctly. To justify all this, and to add the many sober qualifications which it evidently demands, would take a volume." (p. 78 of the reprint)

  3. ———. 1957. "Plato and the copula: Sophist 251-9." Journal of Hellenic Studies no. 77:1-6.

    Reprinted in: R. E. Allen (ed.), Studies in Plato's Metaphysics, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul 1965, pp. 207-218, G. Vlastos (ed.), Plato. A Collection of Critical Essays. I: Metaphysics and Epistemology, Notre Dame: Indiana University Press 1971; J. L. Ackrill, Essays on Plato and Aristotle , New York: Oxford University Press 1997, pp. 80-92.

    "My purpose is not to give a full interpretation of this difficult and important passage, but to discuss one particular problem, taking up some remarks made by F. M. Cornford (in Plato's Theory of Knowledge ) and by Mr. R. Robinson (in his paper on Plato's Parmenides , Class. Phil., 1942)." (Allen 1965, p. 207)


    "This examination of Plato's use of some terms, though far from exhaustive, is, I think, sufficient to discredit Cornford's claim that the 'blending' metaphor is the one safe clue to Plato's meaning, and to establish that μετεχειν and its variants, μετλαμβανειν and κοννειν (with genitive), are not used by Plato as mere alternatives for μειγνυσθαι. It may be admitted that in 2.5 5d, the passage Cornford exploits, μετεχειν is used in an exceptional way; but one passage cannot be allowed to outweigh a dozen others.(1)

    To sum up: I have tried to argue firstly, that the verb μετεχειν, with its variants, has a role in Plato's philosophical language corresponding to the role of the copula in ordinary language; and secondly, that by his analysis of various statements Plato brings out - and means to bring out - the difference between the copula (μετεχει . . . ), the identity-sign (μετεχειν ταυτου ... ) and the existential ἔστιν (μετεχειν του ὄντος)." (Allen 1965, p. 218)

    (1) This is rather a cavalier dismissal of the passage on which Cornford relies so heavily. But it is not possible in the space available to attempt a full study of the perplexing argument of 255c 12-e 1, and without such a study no statement as to the exact force of μετεχειν in 25 5c 4 is worth much. My own conviction is that even in this passage μετεχειν does not stand for the symmetrical relation 'blending'; but it is certainly not used in quite the same way as in the other places where it occurs in 2 5 1-9.

  4. Aguirre, Javier. 2011. "Plato's Sophist and Aristotelian being." Czesk and Slovac Journal of Humanities no. 1:74-81.

    Abstract: "In the chapter M 4 of Metaphysics , Aristotle criticizes the dialectics practiced by Socrates. Aristotle attributes to Socrates the lack of “dialectical power”. In the same way, in N 2, Aristotle criticizes the dialectics practiced by “the dialecticians” imputing the archaic way in which the problem about being is posed. There are many signs that make us think that Aristotle refers to Plato and the Platonics with the term “dialecticians”, to whom he attributes the “dialectical power”. Therefore, Aristotle is aware of the merits and shortcomings of Platonic dialectics, more specifically of the dialectics practiced by Plato in the Sophist . In the development of his own conception of the being (to on ), in the middle books of Metaphysics , Aristotle bears in mind the contents of this dialogue and makes the attempt to overcome the difficulties stated in the Eleatist, such as the deficiencies of the Platonic way of understanding the being."

  5. Albury, W. H. 1971. "Hunting the Sophist." Apeiron no. 5:1-12.

    "The Stranger from Elea is asked by Socrates, at the outset of Plato's dialogue, the Sophist , to distinguish between the Sophist, Statesman, and Philosopher — "not so short and easy a task," as the Stranger tells us (217 b).

    To Theaetetus, his joint inquirer, the Stranger says, "We had better, I think, begin by studying the Sophist and try to bring his nature to light in a clear formula" (218 b-c).

    But being brought to light is, of course, the very thing which the Sophist most resists, for he is a creature who "takes refuge in the darkness of not-being, where he is at home and has the knack of feeling his way" (254 a).

    Thus, the Stranger warns Theaetetus, "it is not so easy to comprehend this group we intend to examine or to say what it means to be a Sophist" (213 c). Now since the Sophist is such a "troublesome sort of creature to hunt down" (212 d) : it seems reasonable to ask why the Stranger has decided to begin with him instead of with the Statesman or the Philosopher." (p. 1)

  6. Alieva, Olga. 2010. "Elenchus and Diairesis in Plato’s Sophist ." Hermatena no. 189:71-91.

    "The well-known sixth definition of the sophist in the homonymous dialogue contains a discussion of the elenchus (230b4-e3) which is often referred to as a manifestation of the late Plato’s attitude towards this method of argumentation. It is generally assumed that the definition of the sophist ‘of noble lineage’ given here should be applied to Socrates as represented in earlier Platonic dialogues."


    "The scope of this paper is to demonstrate that the mention of the elenchus at 230b4-e3 is not merely retrospective, and to draw attention to the elenctic dimension of the whole dialogue. This, in its turn, enables us to reconsider also the method of diairesis and its methodological potential." p. 71)

  7. ———. 2016. "Ὀρθολογία περὶ τὸ μὴ ὄν: Heidegger on the Notion of Falsehood in Plato’s Sophist ." In Sophistes: Plato's Dialogue and Heidegger's Lectures in Marburg (1924-25) , edited by de Brasi, Diego and Fuchs, Marko J., 143-155. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

    "A crucial question Plato poses in the Sophist is how it is possible to say falsehoods: it involves the assumption that non-being exists (τὸ μὴ ὂν εἶναι), for otherwise falsehood could not come into existence (236e–237a). Plato’s solution to this problem has been explored mainly in terms of the modern philosophy of language with an emphasis on the meanings of the verb ‘to be’ existential/copulative/veridical),(1) types of predication (ordinary/definitional),(2) the character of false statements (affirmative/negative)(3) etc. It has been generally acknowledged that to understand the solution Plato offers to the so called “falsehood paradox” we must focus mainly on the propositional dimension of lógos , on its subject-predicate structure. In sharp contrast, Heidegger endeavours to “get rid of propositions” (GA 19, 594/411)(4) while interpreting the Sophist,(5) and this endeavour will be our topic in what follows." (p. 143)

    (1) Ackrill (1957), 1−6; Kahn (1966), 245−265, and others; a useful overview can be found in Fronterotta (2011), 35f.

    (2) Crivelli (2012), 9 and passim .

    (3) Owen (1978), 223f; McDowell (1982), 115f; Brown (2008), 437f, etc.

    (4) 4 Hereinafter the number after the slash refers to the English translation by Rojcewicz and Schuwer (1997)

    (5) There are extremely few references to Heidegger in the vast literature on Plato’s Sophist. See, e.g.: Cordero (1993), 224; 227; Notomi (1999), 7. It has been repeatedly noted that Heidegger fails to do justice to the dialogical form of the writing because he reads Plato “through Aristotle”. See, e.g.: Gonzalez (2009), 60; Rosen (1983), 4f.


    Ackrill, John L. “Plato and the Copula: Sophist 251–259.” Journal of Hellenic Studies 77, no. 1 (1957): 1–6.

    Brown, Lesley. “The Sophist on Statements, Predication, and Falsehood.” In The Oxford Handbook of Plato , edited by Gail Fine, 437–62. Oxford, New York: OUP, 2008.

    Cordero, Nestor-Luis. Platon: Le Sophiste . Paris: Flammarion, 1993.

    Crivelli, Paolo. Plato’s Account of Falsehood: A Study of the Sophist . Cambridge, New York: CUP, 2012.

    Gonzalez, Francisco J. Plato and Heidegger: A Question of Dialogue . University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2009.

    Heidegger, Martin. Plato’s Sophist , translated by Richard Rojcewicz and Andre Schuwer. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1997.

    Kahn, Charles H. “The Greek Verb ‘to Be’ and the Concept of Being.” Foundations of Language 2, no. 3 (1966): 245–65.

    McDowell, John. “Falsehood and Not-Being.” In Language and Logos: Studies in Ancient Greek Philosophy Presented to G.E.L. Owen , edited by Malcolm Schofield and Martha C. Nussbaum, 115–34. Cambridge, New York: CUP, 1982.

    Notomi, Noburu. The Unity of Plato’s Sophist: Between the Sophist and the Philosopher . Cambridge, New York: CUP, 1999.

    Owen, G. E. L. “Plato on Not-Being.” In Plato: A Collection of Critical Essays . Edited by Gregory Vlastos, 223–67. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1978.

    Rosen, Stanley. Plato’s Sophist: The Drama of Original and Image . New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1983.

  8. Allred, Ammon. 2009. "The Divine Logos: Plato, Heraclitus, and Heidegger in the Sophist ." Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy no. 14:1-18.

    Abstract: "In this paper, I address the way in which Plato’s Sophist rethinks his lifelong dialogue with Heraclitus. Plato uses a concept of logos in this dialogue that is much more Heraclitean than his earlier concept of the logos. I argue that he employs this concept in order to resolve those problems with his earlier theory of ideas that he had brought to light in the Parmenides . I argue that the concept of the dialectic that the Stranger develops rejects, rather than continues, the idea reached at the end of the Theaetetus that knowledge has to be grounded in a nous aneu logou (a non-logical, divine intellect) even while the Stranger appropriates the concerns that lead to his conclusion. Ultimately, I suggest that my differentiation of the later Plato’s appropriation of the tradition from Aristotle’s appropriation of that tradition is closely related to the re-thinking of the full sense of logos in the later Heidegger on Heraclitus and on Parmenides. I end by suggesting that the question that Plato and Heraclitus pose to us is to ask what such a divine logos tells about human ways of knowing."

  9. Altman, William H. F. 2016. The Guardians on Trial. The Reading Order of Plato’s Dialogues from Euthyphro to Phaedo . Lanham: Lexington Books.

    See Chapter 2: Plato’s Trilogy: Sophist , Statesman , and Apology of Socrates 69-169.

    "In the traditional retelling of the outworn story of Plato’s Development, Parmenides marks its author’s abandonment or modification of the views of his “middle period,” especially as presented in Republic 5-7 and Phaedo . By configuring Timaeus, Philebus, Sophist-Statesman , and Laws as “late dialogues,” that story suggests that Plato has, in some meaningful ways, outgrown Socrates; I am challenging that story on the basis of Reading Order, an alternative paradigm for ordering and reading his dialogues. Looking back to The Guardians in Action [*], the indisputable fact that Plato joined Republic to Timaeus-Critias in a dramatic sense has not been given its due, and the parallel fact guiding The Guardians on Trial is that Plato, once again indisputably, has joined Sophist-Statesman to the trial and death of Socrates, primarily by means of Euthyphro ." (p. 9, a note omitted)

    [*] W. H. F. Altman, The Guardians in Action. Plato the Teacher and the Post- Republic Dialogues from Timaeus to Theaetetus, Lanham: Lexington Books 2016.

  10. Ambuel, David. 2005. "On What is Not: Eleatic Paradox in the Parmenides and the Sophist ." In Plato's Parmenides. Proceedings of the Fourth Symposium Platonicum Pragense , edited by Havlícek, Ales and Karfík, Filip, 200-215. Prague: Oikoymenh.

    "The following argument undertakes to show one positive thesis implied by the thicket of interrelated contradictions that is the Parmenides. There may well be others. In particular, it is proposed here that, as a consequence of the multiply contradictory conclusions and the methods that lead to them, any analysis of the kind of unity that we find in the world - namely, that of composites, of wholes of parts - demands that being is not a form, but form the principle of being.

    To accomplish this, the following thoughts look into parallels linking the Sophist with the Parmenides. Emphasis is directed especially to the concept of not-being as it appears in the second part of Parmenides and in the Sophist, 237a-244d. Both dialogues reveal inadequacies of Parmenides’ metaphysics by employing the logic of Eleatic metaphysics to examine form - being is and is intelligible (like the ideas), not-being is its opposite, their opposition is that of simple contradictories, i.e. between being and not-being lies nothing - with the result that the real is either empty, transcendent and inaccessible, or that being, all of reality, is reduced to the manner of existence of sensibles (i.e. having the being of wholes and parts), which, subsequently, upon analysis, leads to contradiction and unintelligibility." (p. 200)

  11. ———. 2007. Image and Paradigm in Plato's Sophist . La Vegas: Parmenides Publishing.

    Second edition; first edition Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1991.

    "The Sophist is a rather technical piece. The myth and drama are at their minimum, and Plato introduces a set of plodding definitions that evolves into a discussion of terms of highest abstraction: ‘being,’ ‘rest,’ ‘motion,’ ‘sameness,’ ‘otherness.’

    And yet it is not only a technical piece. This volume aims to give an interpretation of the Sophist as a whole, with sensitivity to its subtleties and implications. The philosophical commentary is followed by a translation. As R. E. Allen remarked on translating Plato, “Plato, as a writer, stands with Shakespeare, but his translators do not, so this task is all but impossible.” There have been several translations of the Sophist, and I have learned from them all. The goal here is not to add one to their number, but to add clarity to the interpretation. Those familiar with other interpretations will quickly apprehend that the reading presented here sets out with an approach distinct from many. The intent is not to make a definitive statement of doctrine; where there is such philosophical richness, there is no finality. Instead, the intent is to overcome the barriers that keep us from the Sophist ’s philosophical depths. As the Philebus states, discussing analysis and definition by divisions, when improperly done, is the cause of impasse; properly done, it is the entry to an open path. The Sophist presented here is not an artifact of our intellectual past or a notable historical point marking the ancestry of later developments; it is living philosophy." (Preface, pp. XI-XII)


    "It has been observed that “all Platonic scholars hold that in the Sophist and subsequent works the protagonist expresses Plato’s own views.”(2) By now, it will not have escaped the attention of the reader familiar with the literature on the Sophist that I share neither this assumption that the Eleatic speaks straight Platonic doctrine nor other related presuppositions about the text. The reasons I find these absurd should become clear to the reader who persists. For the reader who does hold to what “all Platonic scholars” hold, and has both the kindly indulgence and diligence to persevere, let this be a dialectical exercise to discover what this dialogue might uncover, on the hypothesis that it is, after all, a work of metaphysics." (Introduction, P. XVII)

    (2) Richard Robinson, Essays in Greek Philosophy . Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969, p. 21.

  12. ———. 2011. "The Coy Eristic: Defining the Image the Defines the Sophist." In Plato's Sophist: Proceedings of the Seventh Symposium Platonicum Pragense , edited by Havlíček, Aleš and Karfík, Filip, 278-310. Praha: Oikoymenh.

    "The argument of this paper is informed by two observations about the Sophist’s dramatic structure: in contrast to the denial in all other Platonic depictions of the sophist, here the sophist is assumed to have an art. That assumption is never relinquished, even though the reason given elsewhere for declaring him artless is explicitly voiced when he is described as a kind of magician (233b–c). Secondly, the discussion is led, not by Socrates, but by an Eleatic philosopher, and is conducted following a process that adheres to an Eleatic ontology that admits no intermediate between being and absolute not-being.

    Without an ontological intermediary, every image is as real as any reality, and every practice an art." (p. 278)

  13. ———. 2013. "Difference in Kind: Observations on the Distinction of the Megista Gene ." In Plato's Sophist Revisited , edited by Bossi, Beatriz and Robinson, Thomas M., 247-268. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    "In short, the nominalism of an Eleatic metaphysics (or of a Heraclitean metaphysics, as they are interpreted in the Sophist and the Theaetetus ) cannot state what anything “is,” which would require the means to conceive of a character that is universal, distinguishable from things that are characterized by it, and attributable in the same or in related senses to a plurality. Consequently, what a thing “is” becomes what it is not.

    The analysis of combinations furnishes the abstract, if contradictory, logic underpinning the method of division used to pursue the sophist.

    The irony is that, by setting aside the ontological inquiry into the opposite of “being” and identifying “not-being” (in one sense) with “other,” the being and nature of anything as a result is constituted entirely by its difference from what it is not. Being, in effect, is nothing other than not-being." (p. 267)

  14. Andic, Martin, and Brown, Malcolm. 1973. "False Statement in the "Sophist" and Theaetetus' Mathematics." Phoenix no. 27:26-34.

    "The purpose of this paper is to call attention to a parallel between Plato's account of false statement in the Sophist and Theaetetus' study of incommensurables, substantially preserved for us in Euclid's Elements , Book 10." (p. 26)


    The main parallel to which we are calling attention gives rise to the following question. We have emphasized that the proportions into which we analyze assertions that a given statement is true or false put the same objects on both sides of the division between statement and being: does this not collapse the true statement with the fact it states? Readers of Russell's Problems of Philosophy (London 1912), Chapter 12, are often vexed by a similar puzzle in his doctrine of false belief, which is in many ways like the doctrine of the Sophist . If and only if it is true what Othello believes, i.e., that Desdemona loves Cassio, then there exists such a complex as Desdemona's love for Cassio (or, that Desdemona loves Cassio), and this, though its actual existence is independent of Othello's mind, is composed of the very objects which also go to compose his belief. But how, one wonders, can the objects of the world be the very objects in the believer's mind? In reply, one might ask, how can they fail to be the very objects concerning which he has belief? It seems a reasonable answer to this question simply to say that it is the same thing that can be believed and can be. More fully, the same relation which is believed to hold among objects, or holds among them in a picture, can also hold among them in reality, and does so just when the belief or picture is true to reality. Similarly, it is the same thing that one states to be the case with certain objects and which is the case when the statement is true, or not the case when it is false. Finally, a point about the Academy in the mid-fourth century. If we are right in finding a strict parallel between these philosophical and mathematical researches into "not-being in logos " at the Academy, we would have found some confirmation of the familiar Platonic thesis that mathematics prepares the way for philosophy. Nor would it be any surprise if Plato, admiring Theaetetus' work on incommensurability, should have developed his own treatment of false statement so as to run parallel to it, and accordingly had good reason for assigning to this mathematician a central role in the Sophist ." (p. 34)

  15. Anscombe, G.E.M. 1966. "The New Theory of the Forms." The Monist no. 50:403-420.

    Reprinted in The Collected Philosophical Papers of G. E. M. Anscombe , Volume One: From Parmenides to Wittgenstein, Oxford: Basil Blackwell 1981, pp. 21-33.

    "I want to suggest that Plato arrived at a revised theory of forms in the later dialogues. Or perhaps I might rather say that he constructed a new underpinning for the theory. This can be discerned, I believe, in the Sophist , taken together with certain parts of the dialectic of the Parmenides which use the same language as the Sophist ." (p. 21)


    "If I am right, then the idea of some forms as having parts is of extreme importance.

    In the Sophist (1158d-e) it is especially stressed that the other is divided up into many bits and parcelled out among all things in relation to one another, and we hear of the part of the other that stands over against the being of each, or, if we follow Simplicius, of each part of the other that stands over against being. I prefer the MSS reading, but on my interpretation it makes no difference to the sense. For the language of being divided up and parcelled out occurs also in the Parmenides in relation to one and to being (144), and it seems immensely unlikely that this part of the argument there was not also part of Plato's final view. This gives us three points: (1) the being and unity of each form are parts of being and of the one respectively; (2) the one being is a whole of parts, among which are the existent unitary forms of the early theory; (3) each existent form is a whole composed of the form and its being. Thus there will be a part of the other (the bottom right hand layer in my diptych as it lies open) which is a part of being that stands over against being. This part of the other will itself be divided into pans each of which stands over against part of being, i.e. the being in one of the forms of the early theory. We may add that one will, like being, same and other, "run through" everything, and same , like being, one and other, will be "parcelled out" among all things." (p. 30)

  16. Baltzly, Dirk C. 1996. ""To an Unhypothetical First Principle" in Plato's Republic ." History of Philosophy Quarterly no. 13:149-165.

    "This paper argues that we may find examples of two unhypothetical principles in Parmenides and Sophist. But, in the Republic, Plato speaks only of an unhypothetical principle. Moreover, commentators almost universally identify the unhypothetical principle of the Republic with the Form of the Good, or some account of the Form of the Good. My unhypothetical principles-One has a share of Being, some of the kinds blend-do not look like they have much to do at all with the Form of the Good. How, then, can these passages from Sophist and Parmenides be illustrations of the method described in Book VII in the ascent to an unhypothetical starting point?" (p. 157)

  17. Beere, Jonathan. 2019. "Faking Wisdom: The Expertise of Sophistic in Plato's Sophist ." Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy no. 57:153-189.

    "How should we understand the Sophist ’s definition of sophistic?

    We tend to assume that the problem with sophistic is that sophists use bad arguments in the logical sense that the arguments are either invalid or unsound. Sophistic is either some special facility in the use of fallacious forms of argument or it is a character defect, the willingness to use such arguments, or both. But the concept of a logical fallacy distorts Plato’s view of sophistry, which is both stranger and more interesting, as I will argue. Indeed, perhaps the most interesting and, in its own way, puzzling aspect of the definition of sophistic has been neglected: the Eleatic Visitor defines sophistic as an expertise (τέχνη, Soph . 221 d 1–6).(1)" (p. 153)

    (1) While I originally drafted this paper some time before the appearance of L. Brown, ‘Definition and Division in Plato’s Sophist’ [‘Definition’], in D. Charles (ed.), Definition in Greek Philosophy [Definition] (Oxford, 2010), 151–71, the two papers are antitheses to one another. Brown claims, ‘Sophistry, the sophist: these are not appropriate terms to be given a serious definition . . . there is no such genuine kind as sophistry—especially not under the genus of technē, skill, art, or expertise’ (Brown, ‘Definition’, 153). I attempt here to vindicate the seventh and final definition of sophistic by vindicating the claim that sophistic is an expertise.

  18. Benardete, Seth. 1960. "Plato Sophist 223 b1-7." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 5:129-139.

    "We must now ask what bearing this distinction between the hunter and the hunted has on the dialogue as a whole. Suppose all hunters were different, while all the things hunted were of the same kind. Art would then be definable exclusively in terms of its procedure. There would be no separable classes of beings in so far as they were beings, but only in so far as there were different ways of hunting them. There would be no εἶδη, Suppose, on the other hand, all the things hunted were different, while all the hunters were the same. Art would then be definable only in terms of its single subject. It would have no procedure, for an art presupposes a differentiable class of beings on all of which the same procedure can be applied; and a lack of procedure would entail no distinction between knowledge and ignorance. An art, then, must be defined both by its objects - the art of something - and by its way to that something." (p. 131)

  19. ———. 1963. "The Right, the True, and the Beautiful." Glotta no. 41:54-62.

    Whenever a Platonic character says ναί in answer to a question, we know that his "yes" is the same as ours; and if he answers πῶς γάρ; or πῶς γάρ οὔ; he is confirming a negative or positive statement; but when one of them says ὀρθός, αληθή, χαλώς is not self-evident that he means the same as we do in saying "right", "true", "fine". These answers hardly look except for their greater rarity more significant than ναί." (p. 54)


    "Were there a gap in our manuscripts between two questions of Socrates, we should not now be able to say which stereotyped phrase was most suitable. Was Plato equally perplexed?

    Are his "rights", "trues", and "fines" as arbitrary and interchangeable as Homeric formulae, or are they, as we shall try to show, dependent on and prompted by the form the previous question takes?" (p. 54)


    "To bathe the reader in enough examples and yeτ not drown him, I have chosen to explain καλώς (κάλλιστα), ορθώς (ὀρθότατα) and αληθή (αληθέστατα) in two dialogues only, the Sophist and Politicus .

    As the "dramatic" element in them is not so prominent as elsewhere, the propriety of each word for the course of the argument appears more distinctly. The danger, however, of using them lies in the similarity of their themes, style, and speakers, which may be thought to exclude any inference about other dialogues; but these very similarities allow us to check them against one another: to see how a similar remark in each provokes the same answer. And yet to indicate that our definitions are not too parochial, further examples from other dialogues have been added, though without explanation the force of these words is easily missed." (p. 55)


    "If our interpretation of these passages is correct, we should not conclude that it holds everywhere. There may be cases where it would be impossible for us to make any discrimination, and we could go no farther than the almost-empty "fine", "right", and "true"; and possibly Plato did not always keep to the same usage throughout his writings. But the consistency of our results in two dialogues and their agreement with the other passages cited (from a much larger store), put out of court the possibility of accident and randomness. They show Plato's ability even in small things to imitate and sharpen the distinctions of ordinary speech). They further suggest that every context would have to be as thoroughly analyzed before we could decide on the scope and accuracy of our tentative definitions. It is not, however, a project that can be published. Complete lists, without explanation, would be almost useless, and with them, too tedious to be valuable. They would be as long as the Platonic corpus itself. We only offer this paper as a specimen and challenge: the reader of Plato must work out the rest for himself." (p. 62)

  20. ———. 1986. Plato's Sophist: Part II of 'The Being of the Beautiful' . Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Contents: Introduction IX; Guide for the Reader XVII; Sophist II.1; Sophist Commentary II.69; Notes II.168; Selected Bibliography II.178-180.

    "The Sophist ’s dialogic form presents us with another riddle: Either Socrates is just another sophist, or all philosophers prior to Socrates were sophists. The first half of the dialogue, in which the stranger traps Socrates in progressively narrower definitions until the sophist can be only Socrates, is balanced by its second half, in which the stranger proceeds to condemn all earlier philosophers for not understanding the necessity of Socrates’ so-called second sailing. Inasmuch as the second sailing is inseparable from Socrates’ discovery of political philosophy, the Sophist ’s companion dialogue, the Statesman , in which the stranger brings about a complete identity of dialogic form and argument, needs to be put together with the Sophist before the Sophist can be understood by itself. It is because the Statesman is essentially prior to the Sophist that it follows it of necessity. The Sophist then requires a double reading. But even such a double reading does not suffice, for its problem is initiated by the Theaetetus , in which the joint failure of Socrates and Theaetetus to answer the question, What is knowledge?, prompts them to appeal to the Eleatic stranger. His answer is contained in the Sophist and the Statesman ; it is not contained in either of them separately. It is therefore another question whether his twofold answer differs from the answer to be found in the Theaetetus ." (p. 210)

  21. ———. 1993. "On Plato's Sophist ." The Review of Metaphysics no. 46:747-780.

    Reprinted in: S. Benardete, The Argument of the Action: Essays on Greek Poetry and Philosophy, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000, pp. 323-353.

    "It seems at first as if the Stranger's analysis of λόγος into agent and action is designed solely for finding truth or falsity in the correct or incorrect attachment of an action to a known agent; by his restriction of imitation to impersonation, however, the agent becomes significant in himself and independent of what he does.(13) The sophist embodies virtue as it is understood in opinion, despite his suspicion that he does not know what his σχῆμα declares he knows.

    Gorgias exemplifies this perfectly, but what he does is to contradict and refute the opinions about virtue the interlocutor himself maintains and believes he sees represented in the sophist. The sophist impersonates the opinions he refutes. What, then, of Socrates?

    He is not an impersonator. Theodorus at any rate found him pokerfaced, and could not figure out what Socrates believed from his totally convincing presentation of a Protagorean position (Theaetetus 161a6). Socrates, however, is ironical. Does his claim to ignorance come across as knowledge in light of his capacity to show up the ignorance of others? More particularly, does the incoherence in opinion about a virtue, once Socrates has exposed it, induce the impression that Socrates himself possesses that virtue? It would seem impossible that Socrates could display popular virtue without its inconsistencies while bringing to light its inconsistencies, but Socrates the logic-chopping moralist seems to be doing exactly that.

    Λόγος as dialogue thus comes to light as the problem of Socrates the agent in his action. We can say that the Sophist ends at that point where the problem has been uncovered, and the Statesman is designed to treat Socratic agency. Socrates the agent, however, cannot show up in himself; instead, he shows up in the patient, young Socrates." (pp. 779-780)

    (13) In the summary the Stranger gives of the sophist's genealogy (268c8-d4), all but one of his lines of descent can be rephrased as a verb: the difference between divine and human imitation resists such a rephrasing.

  22. Benitez, Eugenio. 1996. "Characterisation and Interpretation: The Importance of Drama in Plato's Sophist ." Literature & Aesthetics no. 6:27-39.

    "I confess that I would not recommend the Sophist to anyone as a work of literature. But I deny that the dramatic form is ever unimportant in Plato. In my own work on Plato I have found that the drama and the philosophy are not separable.(10) to At the very least, the drama complements, supplements, and augments the philosophy. Let me cite what should be an uncontroversial example from the Sophist .

    Theodorus innocently uses the word '(γένος ('kind') in his first speech: the Stranger, he says, belongs to the γένος of Elea (i.e. he is Eleatic by birth). Socrates, who has a nose for ambiguity, picks up the term in his second speech, claiming that the kind called 'philosopher' is scarcely easier to discern than the kind 'god'. The discussion then turns to a consideration of three '(γένη ('kinds') - sophist, statesman and philosopher [216c3, 217a7] - but ultimately even this topic yields to discussion of the five μέγιστα γένη ('greatest kinds'), namely being, sameness, difference, motion and rest. An innocent remark leads to the most extraordinary inquiry. This progression is the dramatic complement of the Stranger's own remark that: 'one must practise first on small and easy things before progressing to the very greatest' [218d1-2]." (p. 28)

    (10) For a discussion of the importance of the dialogue form see E. Benitez, 'Argument, Rhetoric and Philosophic Method: Plato's Protagoras ', Philosophy and Rhetoric 25 (1992): 222-252.

  23. Berger, Fred R. 1965. "Rest and Motion in the Sophist ." Phronesis.A Journal for Ancient Philosophy no. 10:70-77.

    "In a recent article,(1) Professor Julius M. E. Moravcsik has attempted an interpretation of a very difficult passage in Plato's Sophist (255 a4-b 6), in which Plato sought to prove that neither the Same nor the Other is identical with either Rest or Motion. The interpretation which Moravcsik puts forth aims at making Plato's argument sound and consistent with other points made in the dialogue. Unfortunately, Moravcsik's presentation is not always clear itself. It is one of the chief purposes of this paper to clarify Moravcsik's argument. In addition, it will be argued that his interpretation of the passage in the Sophist fails to save Plato's argument, and that it rests on a subtle logical distinction which there seems little reason to assume Plato intended to use. Indeed, it will be argued that an interpretation which Moravcsik rejects seems better suited to Plato's passage." (p. 70)

    (1) Julius M. E. Moravcsik, "Being and Meaning in the 'Sophist'," Acta Philosophica Fennica , Fasc. XIV (1962), pp. 23-78. I am indebted to Professor Jürgen Mau who first called my attention to some of the problems in Moravcsik's interpretation.

  24. Berman, Brad. 2015. "The Secret Doctrine and the Gigantomachia: Interpreting Plato’s Theaetetus-Sophist ." Plato Journal no. 14:53-62.

    Abstract: "The Theaetetus ’ ‘secret doctrine’ and the Sophist ’s ‘battle between gods and giants’ have long fascinated Plato scholars. I show that the passages systematically parallel one another.

    Each presents two substantive positions that are advanced on behalf of two separate parties, related to one another by their comparative sophistication or refinement. Further, those parties and their respective positions are characterized in substantially similar terms. On the basis of these sustained parallels, I argue that the two passages should be read together, with each informing and constraining an interpretation of the other."

  25. Berman, Scott. 1996. "Plato's Explanation of False Belief in the Sophist ." Apeiron no. 29:19-46.

    "Introduction. In this paper, I will reconstruct Plato's explanation of false belief as it emerges from his Sophist and suggest why it is explanatorily better than the principal contemporary account. Since Frege, the received view in contemporary analytic philosophy of mind and philosophy of language is that human cognition of the world is always mediated through some sort of intensional object.(1) Moreover, the identity conditions of such intensional objects have been assumed to be ontologically independent of their relation to the world. This theory of human cognition is worse ontologically as compared with a theory which does not require any mediary objects because the former commits itself to a larger ontology than the latter. However, the larger ontology is allegedly justified by gains in explanatory power. If that is the case, then the postulation of such further entities is justified. On the other hand, if the alleged gain in explanatory power is, as I shall suggest, illusory, then Plato's theory of human cognition, which makes no reference to intensional objects which are ontologically independent of their relation to the world, will be a better explanation insofar as it will commit itself to a smaller ontology in that explanation and further, will actually explain something we want explained." (p. 19)

    (1) I owe a great debt, both here and elsewhere, to Penner, Terry. (1988). Plato and the Philosophers of Language . Unpublished manuscript.

  26. Bernabé, Alberto. 2013. "The Sixth Definition (Sophist 226a-231c) : Transposition of religious language." In Plato's Sophist Revisited , edited by Bossi, Beatriz and Robinson, Thomas M., 42-56. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    "Plato defines the sophist, in the sixth definition of the dialogue of the same name (226a – 231c), as one who purifies the soul of wrong opinions through the technique of refutation. In so doing, however, he ends up in an awkward position: the result of applying the method of diairesis seems to result rather in a definition of the philosopher Socrates (1), or, what is worse, a definition valid for both the sophist and the philosopher, and likely to produce confusion between them. So the sixth definition looks a little bizarre, and is difficult to understand.

    My aim is to make a contribution to the solution of the problem from the point of view of a philologist. I shall be looking at the use of certain words which in Plato’s time were as pertinent to the religious sphere as they were to the philosophical. I shall pay particular attention to those that had been used by him in dialogues antecedent to the Sophist .

    This analysis will allow me to introduce a number of facts into the discussion from a point of view which is different from the usual, and to open up new possibilities for the understanding of this section of the dialogue." (p. 41)


    "The art of the sophist, like the practices of Orpheus and his followers, is deceptive, false, and lies in the realm of δόξα. The philosopher alone is a true educator, physician and purifier, who effects a genuine liberation. And philosophy alone can be placed on the level of genuine religion." (p. 56)

    (1) Cf. N. Notomi, The Unity of Plato’s ‘Sophist’. Between the Sophist and the Philosopher , Cambridge 1999, 65 n. 72, for those who take it that it is Socrates who is represented here.

  27. Berrettoni, Pierangiolo. 2008. "A Metamathematical Model in Plato's Definition of Logos." Histoire Épistemologie Langage no. 30:7-19.

    Abstract: "The definition of logos given by Plato in the Sophist is investigated together with its (meta) mathematical background.

    Terminological resonances found in philosophical and mathematical authors are pointed out in order to show the generalization of an epistemic model based on the concept of generation."

    "In a recent article (Berrettoni, forthcoming) I observed that Plato’s definition of logos, noun and verb in the Sophist makes use of a set of terms and of a phraseology which had a wide range of use in mathematical sciences, in many cases acquiring the status of technical terms; this might lead us to the hypothesis that the definition had a (meta)mathematical background. By this I understand a conceptual frame and mental map ultimately derived from mathematical sciences, which gave Plato the model and the form for his definition of logos, according to the apt expression with which Starobinski (1966), in his study on the history of the concept of “nostalgy”, characterizes the cultural hegemony of a discipline inside a particular historical epistēme, as in the case of the generalization of an epistemic model derived from psychoanalysis in the culture of the 20th century.

    I am fully aware that this hypothesis is very strong and difficult to demonstrate on a strictly textual and philological basis. I am not claiming that Plato was consciously and deliberately applying mathematical concepts to the definition of logos, but simply that he was conditioned by his view of knowledge as based on a hierarchy of sciences, where the central role was attributed to mathematics." (p. 7)


    Berrettoni, Pierangiolo (forthcoming). « Un modello matematico nella definizione platonica di nome e verbo », Atti del XXXI Convegno della Società Italiana di Glottologia, Categorie del verbo. Diacronia, teoria, tipologia (26 - 28 ottobre 2006, Scuola Normale Superiore) [2008, pp. 31-51].

    Starobinski, Jean (1966). « The Idea of Nostalgia », Diogenes 54, 81-103.

  28. Berry, John M. 1986. "A Deconstruction of Plato’s “Battle of Gods and Giants”." Southwest Philosophy Review no. 3:28-39.

    "The Eleatic Stranger's extremely problematic refutation of materialism in Plato's "battle of gods and giants" (Soph . 246-48) is an instance of what Heidegger terms an 'ontology,' a 'theoretical inquiry explicitly devoted to the meaning of entities' - in this case, living things, souls, wisdom, justice, and the like. Every such explicit inquiry into beings, Heidegger claims, "has its foundation" in the implicitly presupposed "pre-ontological understanding of being" that characterizes the inquirers themselves - in this case, the Eleatic Stranger and Theaetetus (as a surrogate materialist). For all inquirers into being "fall prey to the tradition"

    from which they have "more or less explicitly" received their "pre-ontology." The Stranger's and Theaetetus's pre-ontology, that is, dictates the direction and scope of their inquiry without their being aware of it. To understand the Sophist inquiry, then, "this hardened tradition must be loosened up and the concealments ... dissolved." My thesis is that, to a point, Heidegger is correct: The Eleatic Stranger's and Theaetetus's ontology, their explicit inquiry into being, is controlled ('mastered") by their traditional "pre-ontological" understanding of being. To understand them we must "destroy [i.e., unstructure or deconstruct their] ancient ontology' to reveal what it conceals." (p. 28)

  29. ———. 1988. "Plato's Forms. A text that self-destructs to shed its light." Southwest Philosophy Review no. 4:111-119.

    "Heidegger would call Plato's problematic revision of his theory of forms in "the Battle of Gods and Giants" (Soph . 246-48) an "ontology," a "theoretical inquiry explicitly devoted 10 the meaning of entities."


    "On its surface, then, the text is incoherent. It can be coherent only if beneath its surface the Stranger's charge of inconsistency is somehow on target, and his move to conform the theory to his own ontology is somehow relevant.

    I will show that the attack is on target and the revision relevant. For though the Stranger and the friend of forms cannot know it, their startling conclusion that being is nothing but power turns out to be the Heideggerian "preontology" that has controlled their inquiry from the outset, the subsurface upon which the theory of fom1s itself rests. Real being is "power either to affect anything else or to be affected," the Stranger concludes, "I am proposing as a mark to distinguish real things that they are nothing but power" (247de). This explicit ontology is the surfacing of the implicit "pre-ontology" which underlies and supports this text and the theory of forms wherever it is found. When on the surface the Stranger irrelevantly forces the theory of forms to conform to his apparently alien ontology, beneath the surface he is in fact forcing it to conform to its own presupposition. The text. that is, and the theory of forms which it attacks both make sense only if understood as presupposing the text's conclusion. The argument turns a perfect Heideggerian circle: its surface anomalies are the barely decipherable indications that within its depths its presupposition is twisting itself into position to surface disguised as the argument's conclusion." (p. 111)

  30. Bestor, Thomas Wheaton. 1978. "Plato on Language and Falsehood " The Southwestern Journal of Philosophy no. 9:23-37.

    "In a recent article in this journal entitled "Plato and the Foundations of Logic and Language,"(1) William B. Bondeson makes several acute points about Plato's philosophy of language, particularly as it relates to the so-called "paradox of false judgment." On one point he is almost certainly right, and importantly right. On another, however, he is almost certainly wrong, and importantly wrong. Both points deserve a certain amount of amplification, I believe, and that is what I want to give them here. The details provide us with a much clearer perspective on Plato's basic picture of how language works. They also provide a rather nice illustration of the relevance of analytic philosophy to Platonic scholarship today." (p. 23)

    (1) Southwestern Journal of Philosophy 6 (1975): 29-41.

  31. Blondell, Ruby. 2002. The Play of Character in Plato's Dialogues . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Contents: Preface IX; 1. Drama and dialogue 1; 2. The imitation of character 53; 3. The elenctic Sokrates at work: Hippias Minor 113; 4. A changing cast of characters: Republic 165; 5. Reproducing Sokrates: Theaetetus 251; 6. Putting Sokrates in his place: Sophist and Statesman 314; Bibliography 397; General index 428; Index of passages cited 438-452.

    "My first two chapters are devoted to clarifying certain preliminary matters that underlie this way of approaching Plato. I begin, in this chapter, with some general questions about “dramatic” form and literary” interpretation, which will help to clarify my methodology.

    Chapter 2 explores issues surrounding literary and philosophical notions of character and its interpretation in ancient texts generally, and in Plato in particular, with special attention to the figure of Sokrates.

    Subsequent chapters offer readings of a select number of individual dialogues: Hippias Minor, Republic, Theaetetus, Sophist, and Statesman . These works were chosen in part to exemplify a broad range of Platonic styles and methods, and in part because most of them have received relatively limited “literary” study, but also because their discursive content connects with my particular concerns, especially in their focus on the representation and use of literary character." (p. 3)


    "The last chapter was concerned with Theaetetus on its own terms. But it is also the first of a triad of dialogues, completed by Sophist and Statesman , which are linked by a variety of thematic and structural connections.(1)

    These three works are also bound together by formal features, in a way that is unparalleled among Plato’s works. These features include dramatic sequencing, explicit cross-references, and an overlapping cast of characters. At the end of Theaetetus Sokrates looks forward to continuing his conversation with Theaitetos and Theodoros the next day (210d); at the beginning of Sophist Theodoros alludes to “yesterday’s agreement” to continue (216a); and in Statesman , Sokrates refers back explicitly to his first meeting with Theaitetos and the previous day’s discussion (257a, 258a).

    The explicitness and the dramatic character of these links distinguish them from other forms of Platonic intertextuality, and invite us to read these three works together, in a certain sequence, and in each other’s light." (p. 314)

  32. Bluck, Richard Stanley. 1957. "False Statement in the "Sophist"." Journal of Hellenic Studies no. 77:181-186.

    "Various attempts have been made to find a satisfactory alternative to Cornford's explanation of what the Sophist has to say about false statement, and in particular to his interpretation of the passage in which the statements ‘Theaetetus is sitting’ and ‘Theaetetus is flying’ are discussed. The difficulty with Cornford's view is that he wants to find the explanation of truth and falsity entirely in the ‘blending’ or incompatibility of Forms, but that in the examples Socrates chooses, while Sitting and Flying may be Forms, Theaetetus cannot be. Hence Cornford has to say, ‘It is not meant that Forms are the only elements in all discourse. We can also make statements about individual things. But it is true that every such statement must contain at least one Form’. Unfortunately, when talking about the ϵἴδων συμπλοκή at 259e, the Stranger seems clearly to envisage a blending of ϵἴδη with each other:. How can this be reconciled with an ‘example’ in which only one term stands for a Form?

    I do not propose to discuss in detail the various solutions that have been offered, but to set forth my own interpretation of the whole passage. This may be regarded as to some extent a ‘blending’ of what has been said by Professor Hackforth and Mr. Hamlyn, but a number of points arise which deserve further discussion, and it may perhaps be hoped that such a σύνθϵσις as this may prove to be ." (p. 181)

  33. ———. 1975. Plato's Sophist: A Commentary . Manchester: Manchester University Press.

    Edited by Gordon Neal.

    "The problems raised by the Parmenides being extremely complicated, and the date of the Timaeus being a matter of dispute, studying the Sophist is perhaps the most promising way of trying to discover whether, and if so in what manner, Plato’s philosophy—and in particular his theory of Forms—developed or changed after the writing of the Republic .


    No doubt the dialogue is capable, and is meant to be capable, of being interpreted without reference to Platonic Forms. The arguments of the unconverted sophist against the possibility of saying or thinking what is false must be controverted with arguments that he will accept as valid. Yet at the same time it is most unlikely that Plato would repeatedly use the term εἶδη; without bearing in mind that readers acquainted with his earlier works would at once think of his Forms; and it is therefore highly probable that what is said is meant to be capable of being interpreted in terms of Forms. This is all the more likely, as a great deal is said about one Kind (λέγως) or Form (εἶδος) partaking of another, and the question was raised in the Parmenides , clearly with reference to the theory of Forms, whether one εἶδος could partake of another. It is therefore a reasonable working hypothesis that the arguments are intended to be interpreted in terms of Platonic Forms by those acquainted with Platonic doctrine, while at the same time being capable of being interpreted without special reference to such doctrine by those who rejected it or had no knowledge of it. The aim in what follows is to try to determine the most natural significance of each argument from the Platonist’s point of view, taking the γένη or εἶδος; as Forms, and to see whether these arguments and the dialogue as a whole will, after all, make good sense when so interpreted. A positive answer to this question will emerge as the book proceeds. The reader must judge whether the case is proved.

    Those who have never doubted that the Kinds can be taken as Forms may consider such an enquiry unnecessary. But there are many passages, as has already been mentioned, where difficulties raised have never been satisfactorily met, and the precise nature of the Platonic doctrine implied is still far from clear. New interpretations are here offered, for example, of the arguments for the separateness of the Kinds (chapter VII), of what is meant by a vowel Form (chapter VI), and of the argument against the monists (chapter III)" (pp. 1-2).

  34. Bolton, Robert. 1975. "Plato's Distinction between Being and Becoming." The Review of Metaphysics no. 29:66-95.

    Reprinted in: N. D. Smith (ed.), Plato. Critical Assessments, Vol. II: Plato's Middle Period: Metaphysics and Epistemology , London: Routledge 1998, pp. 116-141.

    "The guiding questions to which I refer are familiar ones. First: What is the fate of the theory of paradigm forms of the Phaedo and Republic in view of the apparent criticism of the theory found in the Parmenides ? And second: What is the fate of the distinction of the Phaedo and Republic between being (οὐσία) and becoming (γένεσις) in view of the apparent criticism of the adequacy of that distinction found in the Theaetetus and Sophist ? Lately, the first of these two questions has received the greater share of the attention of philosophers and scholars. I want here to redirect attention to the equally important and equally intriguing second question." (p. 66, note omitted)


    "The conclusion of our investigation is that Plato's theory of reality was neither subject to as much or to as little flux as some have believed. There were important modifications in his view of becoming and also in his view of being. In each case the changes were based on important philosophical developments. But Plato retained a version of the being-becoming distinction strong enough to sustain his theory of degrees of reality and of sufficient conceptual power to make that theory intelligible.

    In the light of the history of Platonic scholarship it would be foolish to claim that no other theory of the development of Plato's views on being and becoming could be defended. All that is here claimed is that the theory which is here offered is the one which best accommodates all the available evidence. It accounts for Aristotle's testimony, for the explicit statements of the Phaedo and Republic and the argument of Republic V , for the explicit changes in Plato's way of characterizing being and becoming after the Theaetetus , and for the changes in Plato's view of the epistemic status of becoming. On this account none of these matters need be explained away or given any interpretation other than the most straightforward one. That constitutes the strongest argument in favor of this account." (p. 95)

  35. Bondeson, William. 1972. "Plato's "Sophist": Falsehoods and Images." Apeiron no. 6:1-6.

    "The chief arguments of the Sophist occur in what is sometimes called its "inner core". The core is that large section which begins after the dichotomies employed to catch the sophist come to an impasse about "nonbeing" and falsehoods, and which ends with the return to dichotomous division after the account of "logos" in the sense of "statement" has been given. This inner core runs from 232B to 263E. The relations between shell and core depend upon how seriously Plato is thought to have regarded the method of "division" (διαίρεσις). Such problems are not relevant to the questions discussed here, nor does Plato's attempt to catch the sophist appear to be entirely serious.

    Rather, I want to discuss the puzzles about falsehood and how these puzzles are connected with the hunt for the sophist." (p. 1)

  36. ———. 1973. "Non-Being and the One: Some Connections between Plato's "Sophist" and "Parmenides"." Apeiron no. 7:13-21.

    "The purpose of this paper is to point out some similarities between a part of Plato's treatment of non-being in the Sophist and two hypotheses of the Parmenides . I shall first discuss a small section of the Sophist and try to show what Plato means by the phrase το μηδαμως όν. I shall then, by an analysis of the first and sixth hypotheses of the Parmenides , try to show that Plato wants to make virtually the same points as he made in the Sophist .

    The conclusions reached here should be helpful for a more comprehensive interpretation of these two dialogues." (p. 13)

    See the reply by Paul D. Eisenberg, "More ou'uon-being and the one". Apeiron , 10, 1976, pp. 6-14.

  37. ———. 1974. "Plato's Sophist and the Significance and Truth-Value of Statements." Apeiron :41-48.

    "The greater portion of Plato's Sophist deals with a number of issues in what might be called the philosophy of language. It also deals with a series of metaphysical and ontological views and attempts to show how language and reality are related. Thus one way of organizing the views of Plato in the Sophist is to view much of the material up to and including 260E as concerned with topics centring around the question: how is discourse possible? Thus Plato talks about Being, Non-being, Sameness and Otherness and makes the claim that it is the των ειδών συμπλοκή which makes discourse possible (259E). The interpretation of this important passage and what precedes it in the dialogue must be left aside for the purposes of this paper because it is concerned with what follows 260E rather than with what precedes it.


    In this paper I want to do four things. First, it will be necessary to discuss and evaluate Plato's answer to the "nature" question about statements and their parts. Second, I want to determine the relation between statements and truth or falsehood, and to determine how statements can be true or false.

    Third, I want to determine whether Plato has adequately discussed and answered the Sophist' s difficulties and confusions about falsehoods (these will be also discussed as the topics in the first two parts are developed), and fourth, to point out the propositional character of belief which will indicate some important connections between the Sophist and the Theaetetus ." (p. 41)

  38. ———. 1975. "Plato and the Foundations of Logic and Language." The Southwestern Journal of Philosophy no. 6:29-41.

    "Whatever Plato's philosophy of language and his logical theory might be, they are backed by a metaphysics and an ontology. Or, to put the claim more strongly, Plato's philosophy of logic and language implies a metaphysics and an ontology, and the elaboration of these is his primary goal, even in those dialogues, i.e., the later ones, where linguistic considerations might seem to be predominant. Or, as one recent interpreter of Plato, Julius Moravcsik, has put it, Plato constructs an elaborate metaphysics and ontology in order to make our ordinary ways of thinking, talking, and knowing intelligible.(14)

    Thus, in this paper, the concern shall be with a variety of topics in Plato's philosophy of logic and language, but there is not the space here for developing many of the metaphysical implications of those views.

    Probably the most fundamental question in interpreting Plato, and in terms of which most questions concerning Plato's views are settled, is the question of whether, and to what extent, the views in the dialogues are cut from the same cloth and form a single philosophic whole. Most analytic interpreters do not hold such a view; rather, they maintain that there are important differences in the doctrines of the various dialogues. Other interpreters have maintained that there are differences in the angle of approach to a problem or that there are differences in topic without real change in the overall doctrine. It will be shown that this will not work for at least some of the logical and linguistic problems with which I am concerned." (p. 30)


    "Many distinctions and clarifications need to be made before the"object" view and its resultant paradoxes can be laid to rest; senses of "is" and "is not" need to be distinguished, negation and negative predication need to be understood, and how the forms and their interrelations make discourse possible needs to be shown. But all of these problems can be solved only if there is a clear awareness of the nature and function of statements in accounts of stating, believing, and knowing.

    It seems to me that Plato realized that the "object" view is confused and contradictory and that in the Theaetetus , and even more so in the Sophist , he attempts to dispel it. Thus, the concept of a λόγος is the fundamental notion which ties the Theaetetus and the Sophist together." (p. 39)

    (14) Being and Meaning in the Sophist , Acta Philosophica Fennica, fasc. 14 (1962).

  39. ———. 1976. "Some Problems about Being and Predication in Plato's Sophist 242-249." Journal of The History of Philosophy no. 14:1-10.

    "One of the central tasks which Plato sets for himself in the Sophist is to say what being (τὸ ὄν) is. In doing this he makes a variety of philosophical moves. The first is to show that non-being in a very restricted sense of the term (τὸ μηδαμώς ὄν) is an impossible and self-contradictory concept. (1) This occupies the first part (237A ff.) of the central section of the Sophist . After discussing some puzzles concerning deceptive appearances (240 B) and falsehoods (240 D), Plato turns to a discussion of being at 242B. In this section of the dialogue Plato claims to show that the attempts of previous philosophers to define being have failed and he makes his own first attempt in the dialogue to define being (cf. 242C and 247E). 2 In this paper I am concerned only with this section of the Sophist (242-249), and I want to show first that Plato's notion of being here is ambiguous, the term τὸ ὄν shifting between "being" and "what has being," between the form and those things which participate in it. Second, I want to show that the definitions of being at 248C and 249D are not only compatible with one another but also that, when properly understood, they make sense of Plato's use of motion and rest in the Sophist . And finally, I want to show that Plato is caught in the snares of self-predication when he talks about being and other Forms of the same ontological level. This is due to the way in which he formulates the difference between statements of identity and predication in the argument against Parmenides in this section of the Sophist ." (p. 1)

    (1) Cf. my "Non-being and the One: Some Connections between Plato's Sophist and Parmenides," forthcoming in Apeiron [1973]. My view is somewhat different from that of G. E. L. Owen's "Plato on Not-Being" in Plato, A Collection of Critical Essays , ed. G. Vlastos (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Co., 1971), vol. I.

    (2) Cf. Owen, ibid. p. 229, n. 14. Owen presents a convincing case that Plato is giving a definition (as opposed to a mark or sign) of being. However, Owen also seems to take the view, for example against Moravcsik in Being and Meaning in the Sophist (Acta Philosophica Fennica , XIV [1962]), that little of philosophical significance happens in 242-249. I hope to show in this paper that this is not the case.

  40. Booth, N. B. 1956. "Plato, Sophist 231 a, etc." The Classical Quarterly no. 6:89-90.

    "Mr G. B. Kerferd , in Classical Quarterly XLVIII (1954), 84 ff. writes of 'Plato's Noble Art of Sophistry'. He suggests that Plato thought there was a 'Noble Art' of sophistry, other than philosophy itself; and he seeks to find this Art in the better and worse arguments of Protagoras . This suggestion is, unfortunately, based on a mistranslation of Plato, Sophist 231 a (...). Mr. Kerferd supposes that this can mean: 'For I do not think there will be dispute about distinctions which are of little importance when men are sufficiently on guard in the case of resemblances.'


    But further, what are these distinctions which, if we accept Mr. Kerferd's view, are 'of little importance'? They are distinctions on the one hand between tame and fierce, and on the other hand between the cathartic process of dialectic and sophistry. The 'tame' and 'fierce' distinction is not between tame and fierce merely; it is a distinction between the very tamest and the very fiercest of animals (Plato uses superlatives at the beginning of 231 a). How Plato could have in the same paragraph stressed the vastness of the difference by means of superlatives and then spoken of 'small distinctions', is more than I can see. I also fail to see how Plato could ever have thought the distinction between sophistry and healing dialectic to be a small one; that would be saying that there was little to choose between Socrates and Thrasymachus. No: Plato is saying here that there is a certain superficial resemblance between healing dialectic and sophistry, but we must beware of that resemblance; in fact the one is a tame watch-dog, the other a ravening wolf, and 'we shall find in the course of our discussion, once we take adequate precautions, that there is no small distinction between the two'." (p. 89)

  41. Bossi, Beatriz. 2013. "Back to the Point: Plato and Parmenides – Genuine Parricide?" In Plato's Sophist Revisited , edited by Bossi, Beatriz and Robinson, Thomas M., 157-173. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    "Famous scholars in the XXth century (1) understood that Plato really does refute Parmenides’ absolute condemnation of not-being as unthinkable and inutterable by his demonstration that ‘not-being’ ‘is’ in the sense of ‘is different from’. Though this goal is made explicit and is almost claimed to have been achieved by the Stranger in the Sophist , Plato offers certain clues that show there is enough evidence for a different reading that admits of some nuances. The Stranger begs Theaetetus not to suppose that he is turning into some kind of parricide (241d3). Yet Plato does toy with a potential parricide, which the Stranger claims he will never commit. The attitude might be regarded as a literary trope inserted for dramatic purposes, but in the context it could be merely rhetorical.

    In my view, the person the Stranger really fights and kills is, not Parmenides himself but the ghost of a ridiculous Parmenides character dreamed up by the sophist, who will shelter his own ‘relativistic’ view beneath his cloak by denying the possibility of falsehood." (p. 158)

    (1) Guthrie (1978) 151; Diès (1909) 7; Taylor (1960) 389; Ross (1966) 115; Cornford (1970) 289 –294 quoted by O’Brien (1995) 43 n.1. Also Notomi: ‘The two extreme philosophical positions of Parmenides and Protagoras converge on the denial of the possibility of falsehood’ (1999) 182.


    Cornford, F.M., Plato’s Theory of Knowledge: The Theaetetus and the Sophist of Plato translated with a running commentary , London 1935, (repr. 1970) = Cornford (1935, 1970).

    Diès, A., La définition de l’être et la nature des idées dans le Sophiste de Platon , Paris 1909 = Diès (1909).

    Guthrie W.K.C., A History of Greek Philosophy 5: Later Plato and The Academy , Cambridge 1978 = Guthrie (1978).

    Notomi, N., The Unity of Plato’s ’Sophist’. Between the Sophist and the Philosopher, Cambridge 1999 = Notomi (1999).

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

    Ross, W.D., Plato’s Theory of Ideas , Oxford 1951, repr. 1966 = Ross (1951, 1966).

    Taylor, A.E., Plato, the Man and his Work , London 1960 = Taylor (1960).

  42. Bossi, Beatriz, and Robinson, Thomas M., eds. 2013. Plato's Sophist Revisited . Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    Proceedings of the International Spring Seminar on Plato's Sophist at the "Centro de Ciencias de Benasque Pedro Pascual", Benasque (Spain), May 26 - May 31, 2009.


    I. Defining Sophistry

    Thomas M. Robinson: Protagoras and the Definition of ‘Sophist’ in the Sophist 3; Francesc Casadesús Bordoy: Why is it so Difficult to Catch a Sophist? Pl. Soph . 218d3 and 261a5 15; Josep Monserrat Molas and Pablo Sandoval Villarroel: Plato’s Enquiry concerning the Sophist as a Way towards ‘Defining’ Philosophy 29; Alberto Bernabé: The Sixth Definition (Sophist 226a– 231c): Transposition of Religious Language 41; Michel Narcy: Remarks on the First Five Definitions of the Sophist (Soph . 221c – 235a) 57; José Solana: Socrates and ‘Noble’ Sophistry (Sophist 226b –231c) 71; Kenneth Dorter: The Method of Division in the Sophist: Plato’s Second Deuteros Plous 87;

    II. Parricide: Threat or Reality?

    Enrique Hülsz: Plato’s Ionian Muses: Sophist 242 d –e 103; Denis O’Brien: Does Plato refute Parmenides? 117; Beatriz Bossi: Back to the Point: Plato and Parmenides – Genuine Parricide? 157; Antonio Pedro Mesquita: Plato’s Eleaticism in the Sophist : The Doctrine of Non-Being 175; Néstor-Luis Cordero: The relativization of “separation” (khorismos ) in the Sophist 187;

    III. Mimesis, Image and Logos

    Francesco Fronterotta: Theaetetus sits – Theaetetus flies. Ontology, predication and truth in Plato’s Sophist (263a –d) 205; Jesús de Garay: Difference and Negation: Plato’s Sophist in Proclus 225; David Ambuel: Difference in Kind: Observations on the Distinction of the Megista Gene 247; Lidia Palumbo: Mimesis in the Sophist 269;

    Bibliography 279; Index Locorum 291; Subject Index 301-304.

    "The papers included fall into three broad categories: a) those dealing directly with the ostensible aim of the dialogue, the definition of a sophist; b) a number which tackle a specific question that is raised in the dialogue, namely how Plato relates to Heraclitus and to Parmenides in the matter of his understanding of being and non-being; and c) those discussing various other broad issues brought to the fore in the dialogue, such as the ‘greatest kinds’, true and false statement, difference and mimesis." (Preface, p. V)

  43. Bostock, David. 1984. "Plato on 'Is Not' (Sophist, 254-9)." Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy no. 2:89-119.

    "According to the received doctrine, which I do not question, the uses of the Greek verb 'to be' may first be distinguished into those that are complete and those that are incomplete. In its incomplete uses the verb requires a complement of some kind (which may be left unexpressed), while in its complete uses there is no complement, and it may be translated as 'to exist' or 'to be real' or 'to be true' or something of the kind. What role the complete uses of the verb have to play in the Sophist as a whole is a vexed question, and one that I shall not discuss. For I think it will be generally agreed, at least since Owen's important article of 1971, (1) that in our central section of the Sophist it is the incomplete uses that are the centre of Plato's attention. Anyway, I shall confine my own attention to these uses, and accordingly my project is to elucidate and evaluate Plato's account of 'is not' where the 'is' is incomplete. I might also add here that, for the purposes of the Sophist as a whole, I am in agreement with Owen's view that what Plato himself took to be crucial was the account of 'not', and what he has to say about 'is' is, in his own eyes, merely ancillary to this. But I do not argue that point, partly because Owen has already done so, and partly because it is not needed for my main contentions. As we shall see, one cannot in fact understand what Plato does say about 'not' without first considering his views on the incomplete 'is'.

    Reverting to the received doctrine once more, the incomplete uses of 'is' may be divided into two. In one sense the verb functions as an identity sign, and means the same as 'is the same as', while in the other it functions merely as a sign of predication, coupling subject to predicate, and cannot be thus paraphrased. The vast majority of commentators on the Sophist seem agreed that Plato means to distinguish, and succeeds in distinguishing, these two different senses of the verb.(2) This I shall deny. In fact I shall argue not only that Plato failed to see the distinction, but also that his failure, together with another ambiguity that he fails to see, wholly vitiates his account of the word 'not'. The central section of the Sophist is therefore one grand logical mistake." (pp. 89-90)

    (1) Plato on Not-Being in Plato I, ed. G. Vlastos (New York, 1971), 223-267.

    (2) One may note P. Shorey, What Plato Said (Chicago, 1933), 298; J. L. Ackrill, ‘Plato and the Copula’, Journal of Hellenic Studies, LXXVII (1957), 1-6 esp. 2; J. M. E. Moravcsik, 'Being and Meaning in the Sophist’, Acta Philosophica Fennica , XIV (1962), 23-64 esp. 51; W. G. Runciman, Plato’s Later Epistemology (Cambridge, 1962), 89; I. M. Crombie, An Examination of Plato’s Doctrines , vol. II (London, 1963), 449; R. S. Bluck, Plato's Sophist (Manchester, 1975), 151; J. Malcolm, ‘Plato’s Analysis of to on and to me on in the Sophist', Phronesis , XII (1967), 130-46 esp. 145; Owen, above n. 1, 256; G. Vlastos, ‘An Ambiguity in the Sophist' in his Platonic Studies (Princeton, 1973), 287; and I would add J. McDowell, ‘Falsehood and not-being in Plato’s Sophist’ in Language and Logos , ed M. Schofield and M. Nussbaum (Cambridge, 1982), 115-34 (discussed below). But the older commentators do not always agree, e.g. F. M. Comford, Plato’s Theory of Knowledge (London, 1935), 296, and A. E. Taylor, Plato, the Sophist and the Statesman (London, 1961), 82. More recently J. C. B. Gosling, Plato (London, 1973), 216-20, has put the case for scepticism, and F. A. Lewis, ‘Did Plato discover the estin of identity?’, California Studies in Classical Antiquity , VIII (1975), 113-43, has argued it at length.

  44. Brisson, Luc. 2011. "Does Dialectic Always Deal with the Intelligible? A Reading of the Sophist 254d5-e1." In Plato's Sophist: Proceedings of the Seventh Symposium Platonicum Pragense , edited by Havlíček, Aleš and Karfík, Filip, 156-172. Praha: Oikoymenh.

  45. Brown, Lesley. 1986. "Being in the Sophist : A Syntactical Enquiry." Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy no. 4:49-70.

    Reprinted with revisions in G. Fine (ed.), Plato 1: Metaphysics and Epistemology (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1999), pp. 455–478.

    "Plato's Sophist presents a tantalizing challenge to the modern student of philosophy. In its central section we find a Plato whose interests and methods seem at once close to and yet remote from our own. John Ackrill's seminal papers on the Sophist , (1) published in the fifties, emphasized the closeness, and in optimistic vein credited Plato with several successes in conceptual analysis. These articles combine boldness of 'argument with exceptional clarity and economy of expression, and though subsequent writers have cast doubt on some of Ackrill's claims for the Sophist the articles remain essential reading for all students of the dialogue. I am happy to contribute an essay on the Sophist to this volume dedicated to John Ackrill.

    Among the most disputed questions in the interpretation of the Sophist is that of whether Plato therein marks off different uses of the verb einai , 'to be'. This paper addresses one issue under that heading, that of the distinction between the 'complete' and 'incomplete' uses of 'to be', which has usually been associated with the distinction between the 'is' that means 'exists' and the 'is' of predication, that is, the copula." (p. 49)

    (1) Symploke Eidon (1955) and Plato and the Copula: Sophist 251-59 (1957), both reprinted in Plato I , ed G. Vlastos (New York, 1971), 201-9 and 210-22.

  46. ———. 1994. "The Verb 'To Be' in Greek Philosophy: Some Remarks." In Companions to Ancient Thought: Language , edited by Everson, Stephen, 212-236. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    "The existence of at least these three distinct uses of 'is' was taken for granted by commentators and assumed to apply, by and large, to ancient Greek, though with some salient differences. These include the fact that Greek can and regularly does omit esti in the present tense, though not in other tenses, and that the complete 'is' is still very much a going concern, though more or less defunct in modern English. The fact that the esti of the copula can be omitted means that a predicative use of esti can convey a nuance over and above that of the mere copula (for instance connoting what really is F rather than merely appearing F, or what is enduringly F).

    And the fact that current English has more or less abandoned the use of the complete 'is' to mean 'exist' (as in Hamlet's 'To be or not to be), while in Greek it is very much a going concern, may lead us to question whether the complete esti really shares the features of the 'is' which means (or used to mean) 'exist'." (p. 215)


    "I cannot offer here a full account of what I take to be the results of the Sophist, far less a defence of such an account, but confine myself to a few points. To the question whether the dialogue distinguishes an 'is' of identity from an 'is' of predication, I have indicated my answer: that it does not, but it does draw an important distinction between identity-sentences and predications (see section I and n. 2 above). Here I focus on the question whether and if so how it distinguishes complete from incomplete uses. I shall suggest that Plato developed a better theory about the negative 'is not' than his argumentation in the Republic suggests, while continuing to treat the relation between the complete use (X is) and the incomplete (X is F) in the way I have described in section IV, that is, by analogy with the relation between 'X teaches' and 'X teaches singing'." (p. 229)

  47. ———. 2001. "Innovation and Continuity: The Battle of Gods and Giants, Sophist 245-249." In Method in Ancient Philosophy , edited by Gentzler, Jyl, 181-207. New York: Oxford University Press.

    "In Greek mythology, Zeus and the other Olympian deities were challenged in a mighty battle by the race of giants, a battle which, with the help of Herakles, the gods won. Unlike the earlier battle of the Titans, in which Zeus' party defeated and supplanted their own forebears, the Titans, the Gigantomachia ended with the preservation of the old order in the face of the newcomers' challenge.


    Here I focus on the section of the Sophist whose high point is represented by Plato, through his chief speaker, the Stranger, as a Gigantomachia , a debate about being between materialists and immaterialists, or so-called Friends of the Forms. The materialists, cast in the role of 'giants', hold that only the material (what is or has a body) is or exists.

    Their opponent the 'gods', labelled 'Friends of the Forms', take the opposite view; they accord the title 'being' only to the immaterial, t0 'certain intelligible Forms', and relegate to the status of genesis (coming to be) those material, changing things the giants champion. In this section, in which the Stranger takes on each party in turn and aims at a rapprochement between them, Plato takes what may be thought of as first steps in ontology. in reflective discussion and argument about what there is and about how one should approach the question of what there is. There is considerable disagreement over the upshot of the whole debate, and especially over whether the discussion of the Friends of the Forms' views concludes with the Stranger advocating a radical departure from the treatment of Forms in the middle dialogues: both Owen and Moravcsik advocate a reading whereby the immutability of the Forms is abandoned.(1) Here I re-examine the Gigantomachia , asking what philosophical moves and results it contains. In doing so, I consider what use Plato makes of two innovations in approach which can be detected in the later dialogues, and in particular in the Sophist ." (pp. 181-182)

  48. ———. 2008. "The Sophist on Statements, Predication, and Falsehood." In The Oxford Handbook of Plato , edited by Fine, Gail, 383-410. New York: Oxford University Press.

    "This essay focuses on two key problems discussed and solved in the Middle Part: the Late-learners problem (the denial of predication), and the problem of false statement. I look at how each is, in a way, a problem about correct speaking; how each gave rise to serious philosophical difficulty, as well as being a source of eristic troublemaking; and how the Eleatic Stranger offers a definitive solution to both. As I said above, the Sophist displays an unusually didactic approach: Plato makes it clear that he has important matter to impart, and he does so with a firm hand, especially on the two issues I've selected." (p. 438)

  49. ———. 2010. "Definition and Division in Plato' Sophist ." In Definition in Greek Philosophy , edited by Charles, David, 151-171. New York: Oxford University Press.

    "In Plato's late dialogues Sophist and Politicus (Statesman) , we find the chief speaker, the Eleatic Stranger, pursuing the task of definition with the help of the so-called method of division.


    However, there are major and well-known problems in evaluating the method as practised in the two dialogues, but especially so in the Sophist .


    I investigate below some of the many scholarly responses to this bewildering display of the much-vaunted method of division. I divide scholars into a 'no-faction', those who hold that we should not try to discern, in any or all of the dialogue's definitions, a positive outcome to the investigation into what sophistry is (Ryle, Cherniss), and a 'yes-faction': those who think an outcome is to be found (Moravcsik, Cornford, and others).(2) I shall conclude that in spite of the appearance of many answers (Moravcsik) or one answer (Cornford, Notomi), the reader is not to think that any of the definitions give the (or a) correct account of what sophistry is. But while I side with the no-faction, my reasons differ from those of Kyle and Cherniss, who, in their different ways, located the failure in the nature of the method of division. In my view the failure lies not, or not primarily, in the method of division itself; but in the object chosen for discussion and definition. Sophistry, the sophist: these are not appropriate terms to be given, a serious definition, for the simple reason that a sophist is not a genuine kind that possesses an essence to be discerned.(3) If we try to carve nature at the joints, we cannot hope to find that part of reality which is sophistry, for there is no such genuine kind as sophistry-especially not under the genus of techne, art, skill, or expertise." (pp. 151-153).

    (2) The views of Moravcsik, Cornford, and Notomi are discussed in the text of section III; those of the 'no-faction' in note 17.

    (3) I use 'genuine kind' to indicate something with a wider extension than that of 'natural kind' familiar from Locke, Putnam, etc. I use it to mean the kind of entity which Plato would allow to have an ousia (essence) or phusis (nature) of its own (cf. Tht. 172b). Virtues, senses like hearing and sight, and crafts like angling would be recognized as genuine kinds in the intended sense."

  50. ———. 2012. "Negation and Non-Being: Dark Matter in the Sophist ." In Presocratics and Plato: Festschrift at Delphi in Honor of Charles Kahn , edited by Patterson, Richard, Karasmanis, Vassilis and Hermann, Arnold, 233-254. Las Vegas: Parmenides Publishing.

    "My aim is to try to understand what I regard as the most difficult stretch of the Sophist , 257–259. In responding to a particularly impenetrable claim made by the Eleatic Stranger (ES), Theaetetus announces at 258b7 that they have found τὸ μὴ ὄν (not being), which they have been searching for on account of the sophist. He is thinking, of course, of what sparked the long excursus into not being and being: the sophist’s imagined challenge to the inquirers’ defining his expertise as involving images and falsehood. Here’s that challenge: speaking of images and falsehood requires speaking of what is not, and combining it with being, but to do so risks contradiction and infringes a dictum of Parmenides. This heralds the puzzles of not being, and of being, which are followed by the positive investigations of the Sophist ’s Middle Part. So Theaetetus’ eureka moment ought to signal some satisfying clarification and closure to the discussions. But in fact the stretch it is embedded in is singularly baffling, and the subject of continuing debate among commentators.(2) There is little agreement about what issues Plato is discussing in this section, let alone about any supposed solutions.

    My strategy is to try to read the passage without preconceived ideas about what it ought to contain." (pp. 233-234)

    (2) I list here and in the next two notes some of the major discussions. I have learned from them all, and from many others not mentioned: M. Frede, Prädikation und Existenzaussage . Hypomnemata 18 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1967). G. E. L. Owen, “Plato on Not-being,” in Plato: A Collection of Critical Essays 1 , ed. G. Vlastos (Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1971), 223–267. Owen’s essay is reprinted in Plato 1: Metaphysics and Epistemology , ed. G. Fine (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999). E. N. Lee, “Plato on Negation and Not-being in the Sophist,” The Philosophical Review 81.3 (1972): 267–304. D. Bostock, “Plato on ‘Is Not’,” Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 2 (1984), 89–119. M. Ferejohn, “Plato and Aristotle on Negative Predication and Semantic Fragmentation,” Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 71 (1989), 257–282. M. Frede, “Plato’s Sophist on False Statements,” in The Cambridge Companion to Plato , ed. R. Kraut (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 397–424.

    (3) J. van Eck, “Falsity without Negative Predication: On Sophistes 255e–263d,” Phronesis 40 (1995), 20–47 (...).

    (4) J. Kostman, “False Logos and Not-Being in Plato’s Sophist,” in Patterns in Plato’s Thought , ed. J. M. E. Moravcsik (Dordrecht, Holland: Reidel, 1973) (...).

  51. ———. 2018. "Aporia in Plato’s Theaetetus and Sophist ." In The Aporetic Tradition in Ancient Philosophy , edited by Karamanolis, George and Politis, Vasilis, 91-111. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Abstract: "The chief aim of this essay is to examine the development of Plato’s use of philosophical puzzles to guide his enquiries. Labelled aporiai , they are prominent in Sophist , but already found in Theaetetus . Section 2 identifies common features in such puzzles, and explores how in Theaetetus they are presented but left unsolved. In both dialogues the young Theaetetus is characterised as an ideal interlocutor, quick to appreciate a philosophical puzzle, and to respond appropriately. By these means Plato links the otherwise very disparate dialogues: Theaetetus, a formally aporetic attempt to define knowledge conducted by Socrates, and Sophist , whose new protagonist, the Stranger from Elea, confidently announces results both in the Outer Part’s search for the sophist and in solving the problems of the Middle Part.(1) Section 3 traces how the Sophist ’s Middle Part is explicitly structured around a series of philosophical puzzles, and notes the plentiful terminology of aporia that signposts this. Plato shows his readers the philosophical payoffs of a serious attempt to diagnose the source of a given aporia: herein (I suggest) lies the real difference between the sophist and the philosopher.

    But first Section I explores the famous image in Theaetetus of Socrates as a midwife, where Plato offers what I read as a new approach to the respondent’s subjective aporia."

    (1) I follow Szaif’s classification of a formally aporetic dialogue, Chapter 2 [same volume], Section 2. Like other formally aporetic dialogues, This has been the subject of many doctrinal readings, cf. Sedley 2004.


    Jan Szaif, "Socrates and the Benefits of Puzzlement", G. Karamanolis, V.Politis (eds.), The Aporetic Tradition in Ancient Philosophy , 2018.

    David Sedley, The Midwife of Platonism: Text and Subtext in Plato’s Theaetetus , Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

  52. Brumbaugh, Robert S. 1983. "Diction and dialectic. The language of Plato's Stranger from Elea." In Language and Thought in Early Greek Philosophy , edited by Robb, Kevin, 266-276. LaSalle: Open Court.

    Reprinted in R. S. Brumbaugh, Platonic Studies of Greek Philosophy: Form, Arts, Gadgets, and Hemlock , Albany: State University Press, 1989, pp. 103-111.

    "An interesting effect of Eric Havelock's discussion has been the constant reminder of the location of Plato at the end of a dominant oral tradition, without which there might be the temptation to take Platonic dialogue as a discontinuous leap into literacy, thus leading a modem reader to misread the texts. For example, we easily assume, because we have not thought about it, that reading was done silently in Plato's time; that there were equivalents of our copyrights and publishers; even -in some cases- an axiom that "mature" thought must be expressed in clear, monochrome treatise. All of this helps misunderstand

    the dialogue form.


    The purpose of my present comments is to relate this framework to the interpretation of Plato's Sophist , with a passing glance at the Statesman . In particular, I want to follow up a suggestion I made earlier, that the principal speaker, the Eleatic Stranger, is an imported bounty-hunter, brought in to shoot the Sophist down (or, more exactly in the absence of the rifle, to catch him in a net). The "weapons" are, perhaps, new (or old) techniques of method and language. (For this simile, compare Socrates' remark in the Philebus that he will now require "weapons of a different kind" to resolve a shifted point under debate.)(2)" (p. 103)

    (2) Philebus 23B5

  53. Brunschwig, Jacques. 1994. "The Stoic Theory of the Supreme Genus and Platonic Ontology." In Papers in Hellenistic Philosophy , 92-157. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    English translation by Janet Lloyd of La théorie stoïcienne du genre suprême et l'ontologie platonicienne (1988).

    "The discussion upon which I shall now embark is divided into six parts. In the introduction (i), I shall make a few observations on various structural problems which spring to mind once one examines the TSG doctrine [the doctrine of the τί as the supreme genus]. In part II, which is devoted to the chronology of the TSG doctrine, or more precisely to a kind of chronological topology of this doctrine, I shall be analysing a number of texts which could have been and/or were used as arguments to support the adoption of the TSG doctrine at a relatively late date in the history of Stoic thought, and I shall try to show that these texts do not justify such a conclusion. In the next two parts, I shall try to establish the role that may have been played by the reading of Plato's Sophist (III) and that possibly played by critical reflection upon the Platonic theory of Forms (IV) in the elaboration of the TSG doctrine. In the last two parts, finally, I shall try to put together two kinds of arguments that confirm my general thesis: to refute the idea that the TSG doctrine is the fruit of an induction based upon an analysis of the canonical incorporeals, I shall try to bring to light the disparities that those incorporeals present and the discrepancies between the various arguments used by the Stoics to fix their ontological status (V). To confirm the role played by the mediation of Platonism in the construction of the TSG doctrine, I shall examine some of the objections put to the Stoics by their adversaries on the subject of this doctrine and the varying degrees of attention that the Stoics paid to those objections (VI)." (pp. 95-96)

  54. Bruseker, George. 2018. "The Metaphor of Hunting and the Method of Division in the Sophist ." In Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy Volume 2, Section II: Classical Greek Philosophy , edited by Boudouris, Kostantinos, 55-60. Athens: Greek Philosophical Society.

    Abstract: "This paper examines the metaphor of hunting as used in Plato’s dialogue, the Sophist . In it, we explore the idea that the example of the ‘angler’ given at the start of the dialogue is no throw-away example, but opens up the metaphor of hunting as an important element of understanding how to use the method of division introduced for coming to definitional knowledge. I argue that the use of the metaphor of hunting is a pedagogical tool that transforms the attentive student’s understanding of the method of division from a dry science of definition, to a manner of approaching the search for truth. Applied reflexively to the search for the definition of the sophist, it helps reveal that the search for knowledge is a non-linear, iterative process which requires passing-through, and abides no shortcuts. It leaves open the suggestion that the true image of knowledge and the philosopher may finally be found in a version of acquisitive rather than productive or separative arts (as they are classified within the dialogue)."

  55. Buckels, Christopher. 2015. "Motion and Rest as Genuinely Greatest Kinds in the Sophist ." Ancient Philosophy no. 35:317-327.

    "The blending of the greatest kinds (γένη) or forms (εϊδη) is one of the central topics of Plato's Sophist . These greatest kinds, or megista gene , which seem to be either Platonic Forms or very similar to Platonic Forms, are Being, Motion, Rest, Sameness, and Otherness; I take them to be properties that are predicated of other things, for reasons we will examine. Why these five kinds are greatest is not made explicit, but immediately before taking up his investigation, the Eleatic Visitor, the main speaker of the dialogue, says that some kinds are ‘all-pervading’, such that nothing prohibits them from blending with every other kind, i.e., from being predicated of every other kind (254b10-c1). One might think, then, that these five are examples of all-pervading kinds. Almost immediately, however, the Visitor and his interlocutor, Theaetetus, agree that Motion and Rest do not blend with each other, which seems to cut off this explanation of their greatness (252d9-11). For this reason, many commentators suggest that Motion and Rest are simply convenient examples of kinds, garnered from discussions earlier in the text, and only Being, Sameness, and Otherness are special, all-pervading kinds. On this reading. Hot and Cold, which are also examples from earlier in the text (243d6-244b4), would seem to do the job just as well as Motion and Rest, since both pairs are opposites that do not blend with each other but which are (by blending with Being), are self-identical (by blending with Sameness), and are distinct (by blending with Otherness).

    I think this reading is incorrect; Motion and Rest are carefully selected as megista gene , greatest kinds, and are not just convenient examples (Reeve [Motion, Rest, and Dialectic in the Sophist ] 1985, 57 holds a similar position). In fact, I think the kinds are greatest because they are all-pervading; the Visitor intends us to question the agreement that Motion and Rest do not blend, as is suggested when Theaetetus agrees, later, that if Motion shared in Rest, there would be nothing strange about saying that Motion is at rest (255b6-8). Thus, I argue, Motion and Rest can blend, i.e., they can be jointly predicated of one subject and can be predicated of each other, just as Sameness and Otherness can. While Sameness and Otherness are opposites, a single subject may be the same in one respect, namely, the same as itself, and other in another respect, namely, other than other things. Thus they can be predicated of a single subject, and they can be predicated of each other, as well, since Sameness is other than other things and Otherness is the same as itself." (p. 317)

Related pages