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|Title:||Plato's Response to the Sophists' Rejection of Falsity|
|Keywords:||Sophist, falsity, ontological, being, epistemological, truth, historical, Parmenides|
|Abstract:||In this paper I examine Plato's response in the Sophist to the problem of falsity as it had developed in ancient Greek philosophy. The problem of falsity has its origins in Parmenides' absolute ontological distinction between being and not-being. This ontological distinction was translated by the sophists into an epistemological distinction between truth and falsity: a true statement says what is; a false statement says what is not. Because the problem of falsity has its roots in the views of these earlier thinkers, Plato's approach to this problem in the Sophist is historical. In this paper I attempt to trace out the ways in which Plato's response to the problem of falsity is a response to those thinkers who had made falsity so problematic, viz. Parmenides and the sophists. It has long been recognized that the first part ofPlato's Sophist is a response, indeed a challenge, to Parmenides. What has not been recognized is that the second part of the Sophist is also a challenge--to the sophists. The role the sophists played in the development of Plato's later period epistemological views has been, I think, quite underrated. Though Plato's middle period views on truth and falsity were not quite the same as those of Parmenides, they were certainly Parmenidean in spirit. In the Sophist we see a change. The Parmenides-inspired views on falsity have been quietly dropped. It is the sophists' definition of falsity-a false statement says that which is not--which is adopted, though with significant modifications. I believe it is the purpose of the second part of the Sophist to challenge the sophists by showing that they didn't understand their own definition. Though the sophists were right in holding that a false statement says that which is not, the implications they drew from this were entirely incorrect. A statement which says that which is not is no more problematic than a statement which says that which is. In this paper I examine the Sophist as a challenge directed towards Plato's predecessors. I believe this dialogue can only be properly understood against the historical backdrop ofthe problem ofnot-being and falsity as it developed out of the philosophies of Parmenides and the sophists. It is only by looking at the Sophist against this backdrop that Plato's accomplishment in this dialogue can truly be appreciated.|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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