His puzzlement is due to the fact that the sophist has appeared in many ways BC1 and it concerns what one could truly and confidently say a sophist really is, i. Theaetetus puzzlement is probably due to the fact that each of the six definitions of the sophist gave him the impression of capturing the essence of the sophist, while he also accepts the reasonable view that the sophist has only one essence. After summarizing these six different definitions CE7 , the ES and Theaetetus agree that the sophist appears to have many arts or skills and that whoever is taken in by this appearance will find it difficult to spot the single aspect of the sophists art in which all these skills converge A A fresh start is needed.
Images, likenesses, and apparitions. The six definitions of the sophist made it clear that the sophist appears to have many arts or skills. Precisely the point that the sophist appears to have certain arts or skills provides the starting point for the new division and definition of the sophist, a definition that turns upon the concept of appearance: the essence of the sophist is exactly the appearance of having certain arts and skills which he in fact lacks.
Before attempting the new, definitive division and definition of the sophist, the ES and Theaetetus embark on a discussion BD4 of the sophists art that is supposed to provide the background for this division and definition. The ES begins this discussion by taking up some points that had emerged in the course of the earlier six definitions: the sophist engages in disputes and teaches others to do so B This description raises the question of the range of topics which the sophist claims to make others able to engage in disputes about.
The simple answer is that it extends over all topics: divine things that cannot be perceived, perceptible objects both in the heavens and on earth, problems of being and becoming, issues of law and politics, and questions concerning the crafts BE5. In the next step of their discussion ED2 , the ES and Theaetetus bring in the idea that the sophist has apparent knowledge. Since nobody can know everything, the sophist cannot know about all the topics he engages in disputes about. On the other hand, the sophist brings young people to believe that he does have knowledge of the topics he engages in disputes about: otherwise they would not pay him a fee to be taught.
The sophist as characterized in the sixth definition looks very much like a philosopher. Recall that at the beginning of the dialogue D1 Plato hinted that philosophers sometimes take on the appearance of sophists. This is the second time that the concept of a model is invoked to ease the progress of the inquiry: the earlier model had been that of the definition by division of the angler cf. A plastic imitator a sculptor can produce plastic imitations sculptures of all objects and he can lead those young children who are silly B8 to think that his plastic imitations are the real objects they imitate and that he is able to produce all objects i.
Note that the concept of imitation is here used to describe the relationship obtaining between false statements and true statements: false statements are imitations of true statements. Precisely because they are imitations, false statements may induce those who hear them to confuse them with the true statements they imitate.
Let me introduce some conceptual tools that will help to clarify Platos conception. Every imitation is an imitation of something and with any imitation of anything there is associated a cognate deception which it can induce people to fall for, i. There are two kinds of imitations, and correspondingly two kinds of cognate deceptions they can induce. On the one hand, there are singular imitations, like a portrait of Theaetetus. In the case of a singular imitation, the correct answer to the question What is it an imitation of?
In the case of a singular imitation, the cognate deception is a misidentification: if one erroneously takes the imitation to be what it is an imitation of, one misidentifies the imitation with what it is an imitation of e. On the other hand, there are general imitations, like a waxen apple. In the case of a general imitation, the correct answer to the question What is it an imitation of?
In the case of a general imitation, the cognate deception is a misdescription: if one erroneously takes the imitation to be what it is an imitation of, one misdescribes the imitation as being of the kind which would be introduced by a correct answer to the question What is it an imitation of? When false statements are regarded as imitations of true statements, what appears to be playing a role is the concept of a general imitation: what I do when I produce a false statement that imitates true statements and thereby induce you to confuse my false statement with a true one is relevantly similar to what I do when I produce a waxen object that looks like an apple and then induce you to believe that it is an apple it is more similar to this than to what happens when I produce a waxen statue of Theaetetus and then induce you to believe that it is Theaetetus.
For, if I produce a false statement and you believe me, your confusion does not amount to thinking that my false statement is numerically identical with a certain true statement from which it is as a matter of fact numerically distinct, but to thinking that my false statement is true whereas it is not.
Plato here is to some extent reducing the concept of propositional falsehood the concept of falsehood according to which what may properly be said to be false is a statement or a belief or a proposition to that of ontological falsehood the concept of falsehood according to which anything may properly be said to be a false thus and so in so far as it is a fake or defective thus and so : a false statement is a fake true statement, a false true-statement.
This is the opposite of what tends to be done by modern philosophers, who prefer to reduce ontological falsehood to propositional falsehood. Having introduced the conceptual apparatus of imitation, the ES and Theaetetus draw some distinctions that are intended to be relevant to the division leading to the definition of the sophist BD4.
The sophists art is an imitative art, one that produces imitations or images imitation, mimhma, and image, eidwlon, are treated as synonyms in this context. Accordingly, there are two kinds of imitative art: one produces likenesses, the other produces apparitions CC8. At this point, the ES and Theaetetus interrupt their account: they have doubts as to which of these two arts the sophist is to be subsumed under, they lament the obscurity of the subject and they agree that the sophist has found a very confusing hiding-place CD4.
Their difficulty has to do with appearance and falsehood: the point of the dialogue has been reached where the central digression DB10 on not being, being and falsehood begins. Of course, one is inclined to suppose that the ES and Theaetetus intend to subsume the sophists art under the skill that produces apparitions and this hypothesis is confirmed by some incidental remarks later in the central digression cf. Bondeson , 1.
The word image occurs for the first time in the Sophist at C5, in the context of the description of the activity of the sophist. At the corresponding point of the description of the activity of the plastic imitator there is the word imitation B6. Robinson , He is probably being careless. We would expect an explanation of what corresponds on the linguistic level to the distinction, drawn on the plastic level, between likenesses and apparitions.
But we are not told. We are left to speculate, and the most plausible speculation is the following. In the case of verbal images, i. The sophist is a producer of verbal images, in particular of verbal apparitions, i. Since the sophists statements are false while appearing to be true, they induce those who hear them to believe them to be true. Thus, the sophist makes false statements and induces false beliefs. For instance, the sophist makes the statement Justice is the interest of the stronger, which is false but appears to be true. Since it appears to be true, it induces those who hear it to believe it to be true.
Note that, properly speaking, the false belief induced in the audience concerns the false statement itself: it is the false belief that the statement Justice is the interest of the stronger is a true statement, not the false belief that justice is the interest of the stronger. Of course, whoever has the false belief that the statement Justice is the interest of the stronger is a true statement is committed to having the further false belief that justice is the interest of the stronger.
The analogy between plastic images and verbal images is brought out by the following diagrams: likenesses. Here are a few remarks on the analogy and the diagrams. It is employed twice on the horizontal dimension to describe the relationship between a plastic or linguistic imitation and its model. Three points are worth noting with regard to the imitations on the horizontal dimension.
The kind of imitation that seems involved in the horizontal dimension is singular imitation: just as the statements which will be studied at the end of the Sophist will be true and false singular statements about Theaetetus, so the plastic imitations that are considered here are likely to be singular imitations e. The distinction between faithful and unfaithful images, i. The cognate deception does not seem to play any role in the case of the imitations on the horizontal dimension: there is no suggestion that someone producing a faithful or unfaithful monumental statue of Theaetetus intends to deceive the viewers into believing that the statue itself is Theaetetus; similarly, there is no suggestion that someone producing a true or false statement about Theaetetus intends to deceive the viewers into believing that the statement itself is Theaetetus.
The concept of imitation is applied a third time on the vertical dimension to describe the relationship between a plastic or linguistic apparition and its model, which is a plastic or linguistic likeness. In the case of the concept of imitation deployed on the vertical dimension exactly the opposite happens with respect to that deployed twice on the horizontal dimension, correspondingly to each of the three points mentioned in the last paragraph. The kind of imitation that seems involved in the vertical dimension is general imitation. If I produce an unfaithful monumental statue of Theaetetus that is an imitation of a faithful monumental statue of him, then the correct answer to the question What is it an imitation of?
Similarly, if I produce an unfaithful false statement about Theaetetus that is an imitation of a faithful true statement about him, then the correct answer to the question What is it an imitation of? The distinction between faithful and unfaithful imitations plays no role on the vertical dimension: no distinction is drawn between the case of an unfaithful imitation faithfully imitating a faithful imitation and the case of an unfaithful imitation unfaithfully imitating a faithful imitation. As I pointed out earlier, in the initial stage of the analogy between plastic and linguistic imitation the concepts of truth and falsehood were left unanalyzed: all that was said was that false statements are imitations of true statements Now, in the later stage of the analogy, the concept of imitation is deployed again in order to provide a model for explaining truth and falsehood.
This analogy between faithfulness and truth and, implicitly, between unfaithfulness and falsehood is however problematic in that faithfulness and unfaithfulness admit of degrees whereas truth and falsehood do not: a statue can be more or less faithful or unfaithful to its model, but a statement cannot be more or less true or false. This paradox probably attaches to the imitation in the vertical dimension, that whereby apparitions imitate likenesses and tend to be confused with them. For, as I pointed out earlier, the distinction between faithful and unfaithful imitations plays no role on the vertical dimension.
On reflection, however, this inclination ought to be resisted: every statement, by virtue of its intrinsic assertoric force, presents itself as true and to that extent appears to be true. False statements therefore coincide with deceptive statements. Since the concept of model is intimately connected with that of imitation cf. The final division and definition of the sophist. The discussion of the sophists art issues in the division illustrated by the following diagram:. This division is carried out in the second part of the frame section of the dialogue BC4.
Its summing up leads to the final definition of the sophist CD5. The graphic description of the method of division as in the diagram above was probably already used in the Academy: for Aristotle PA 1. The structure of the section dealing with the difficulty of saying what is not. At the end of the discussion that prepares the final division and definition of the sophist, the ES notes that the sophist has hidden himself in a class that baffles investigation.
He has in mind the problems connected with appearing without being and saying something that is not true. He thus introduces a discussion about the difficulty of saying what is not, the paradox of images, and the falsehood paradox DB5. This section of the dialogue may be divided into five subsections: 1 an introduction to the difficulties that bedevil this area of thought DB7 ; 2 three arguments in support of the thesis that it is impossible to say what is not BC8 ; 3 an argument for the claim that the concept of image implies a contradiction CC6 ; 4 an argument for the claim that it is impossible to believe or state what is false CB4 ; 5 a summary of the difficulties already encountered and a sketch of the moves that will enable us to overcome them BB5.
The introduction to the section dealing with the difficulty of saying what is not. The core of the introduction to the difficulties raised by the concept of falsehood DB7 is the following passage: ES. We are really faced, my dear friend, with an extremely difficult inquiry.
For this appearing and seeming, but not being, and saying things, but not true ones, all of this has always been in the past and still now is full of difficulty. For, Theaetetus, it is extremely difficult to see by speaking in what way one should affirm that saying or believing falsehoods really exists, and not to be caught in a contradiction in uttering this.
This account dared to assume that what is not is: for in no other way would falsehood have turned out to be. But, my boy, when we were of your age, the great Parmenides from beginning to end testified this, constantly saying so in prose as well as in verse: Never shall this be proved, that things which are not are, but do thou, in thy inquiry, hold back thy thought from this way.
So we have his testimony and the account itself would reveal this more than anything else if it were appropriately examined. One is: For, Theaetetus, it is extremely difficult to see how it is appropriate that someone who claims that saying or believing falsehoods really exists, in uttering just this should avoid being caught in a contradiction.
LSJ s. He therefore deletes it as having crept into the text from the second syllable of the immediately preceding einai. His emendation is adopted by Schanz. The interpretations of the introduction. Most commentators think that DB2 contains a precise version of the paradox of false belief. Here are the main interpretations they offer. This argument involves two senses of to be einai : the veridical sense whereby to be means to be true and the existential sense whereby to be means to exist, so that the conclusion makes the paradoxical claim that falsehood does not exist.
Therefore the argument is fallacious: in particular, the result that not being is fails to be a contradiction because contradictions require that a predicative expression should be affirmed and denied of the same thing in the same sense cf. V BC5; Sph. The semantical-gnoseological interpretation takes different forms with different commentators, so that it would be more correct to speak of a family of semantical-gnoseological interpretations. Two main branches of this family may be distinguished.
Two main versions of this interpretation may be distinguished. This paradox depends on the ambiguity of the verb to be, which may mean both to exist and to be true. Frege expounded a paradox that is rather similar to this one, but does not depend on an ambiguity of to be: Frege considers the possibility that the being of a proposition a Gedanke might depend on its truth, in which case a false sentence would express no proposition.
Heindorf , suggests diidein cf. Campbell , Sph. Cornford , ; Ross , ; Bluck , ; Bondeson , 1; Guthrie , ; Szaif , Frege , Frege notoriously uses Gedanke in a sense very close to that in which many later philosophers use proposition. Here is an example: in order for Theaetetus is flying to be meaningful, it must link up with the fact that Theaetetus is flying and this fact guarantees the truth of Theaetetus is flying.
Here is an example: in order for Theaetetus is flying to be meaningful, it must link up with the existent attribute of Theaetetus flying and this existent attribute guarantees the truth of Theaetetus is flying. Here is an example: in order for Theaetetus is flying to be meaningful, it must link up with the existent object which is the flying Theaetetus and this existent object guarantees the truth of Theaetetus is flying. The simple fact that the choice of one interpretation is so difficult suggests that perhaps no such choice should be made. Since the passage is so vague that it admits all these different interpretations, perhaps it is not supposed to be understood in a precise way: it does not contain a precise version of the paradox, but only a very general introduction to it, in which some important points connected with it are briefly touched upon.
This hypothesis is confirmed by the fact that at E12 Plato briefly mentions the difficulty of seeming without being and the difficulty of saying something that is not true: these paradoxes will be fully expounded later on, at CC6 and respectively CB4. This strengthens the feeling that what we are now having is merely a preliminary summary. I shall therefore assume that DB7 is the introduction to a long stretch of argument that extends from B7 to B4.
The first aporetic argument about not being BE7. After the introductory subsection, Plato presents three aporetic arguments in support of the thesis that it is impossible to say what is not BC8. Here is the first aporetic argument in support of the thesis that it is impossible to say what is not BE7 :. ES THT. And tell me: do we somehow dare to express what in no way is? Why shouldnt we? So if, not for the sake of contention nor of play, but seriously and thoughtfully, one of the hearers were to answer the question to what this name, not being, should be applied,15 what would we think?
What, and what sort of thing, should he apply it to, and show to the questioner? You asked a difficult question and perhaps it is completely puzzling for one like me to say. I read twn ontwn epi with the main MSS cf. Cordero , ; Aubenque , ; Cordero , ; Fronterotta , Most eds. For e pi suffering anastrophe, cf. For anastrophe in the Sophist, cf. For e pi with the genitive indicating the goal of motion, cf.
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One should avoid introducing ti here because in the next step C the point is made that what is not cannot be applied to ti. But this is at least clear, that not being should not be applied to beings. How could it? So, since it cannot be applied to being, by applying it to any something one would again fail to apply it correctly. How so? This is also16 somehow clear to us, that we always utter this expression, something, in connection with a being: for it is impossible to utter it on its own, as if naked and isolated from all beings.
Is that not so? Do you agree when you look at matters this way, that it is necessary that whoever says something say at least one something? For you will say that something is a sign of one thing, two things of two, and things of many. Of course. But, as it seems, it is then most necessary that whoever does not say something say absolutely nothing. Most necessarily. This, then, should also not be conceded, that such a person speaks, but says nothing. One should instead say that whoever tries to express what is not does not even speak. The puzzlement generated by the argument would at least reach its completion.
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Two issues of translation need to be discussed. I would like to focus on three. V E3; Sph. When it is used in this way, it is most naturally rendered by to utter. When it is used in this way the verb is most naturally rendered by to call. II B7 or by some other device, like a pronoun in the accusative cf. II C5; X A8. When it is used in this way, the verb is most naturally rendered by to express or simply to say. Which of the last.
A pun is probably intended: the puzzlement reaching its completion can be both its coming to an end and its reaching its culmination. At Cra. Some translators19 opt for the first use: in their view, what Theaetetus concedes at the beginning is that we dare to utter the phrase what in no way is and at the end we learn of what happens to whoever tries to utter the phrase what is not.
This solution is however rather unlikely, in view of several considerations. First, this solution has the consequence that the arguments conclusion should be that whoever tries to utter the phrase what is not fails to carry out an act of saying. But the earlier steps of the argument cannot be easily seen to provide support for this conclusion.
Thirdly, the solution we are looking at has the consequence that the argument begins by considering someone uttering what in no way is and ends speaking about what happens to someone uttering what is not, which is a different linguistic expression. Of course, it might be retorted that what in no way is and what is not have the same meaning. Nevertheless, if we take seriously the idea that the argument concentrates on someone producing certain utterances, there is something inelegant in allowing a change of linguistic expression in the course of the argument.
The issue of expressing a propositional content which as a matter of fact is not is obviously relevant to the problem of the possibility of speaking falsely. Perhaps because he wants to concentrate on a version of the paradox that concerns audible utterances of false sentences rather than private false thoughts cf. Issues of translation: ii The sentence at D The corresponding translation is: In. White , 26; Bianchini , 92; Ambuel , ; Fronterotta , Apelt , 66; Dis , ; Martini , ; Taylor , ; Meinhardt , 85; Giardini , ; Duerlinger , The linguistic evidence favors the second construal.
I A7; Tht. A decision between these two translations is important: on the first translation, the proposition expressed by the declarative sentence introduced by wj is supposed to be a ground supporting what comes before in the argument; on the second translation, the proposition expressed by the declarative sentence is supposed to be a step forward in the argument. The decision will also affect how the declarative sentence introduced by wj is to be rendered.
One reflection that might be deployed to reach a decision is based on parallel arguments in other dialogues. V BC2. On the reasonable assumption that an argument of this sort is being put forward also in our Sophist passage, it may be inferred that the first translation is the correct one. For, on the first translation, the proposition expressed by the declarative sentence introduced by wj is supposed to be a ground supporting what comes before in the argument, namely the point that something is correctly applied only to beings: Plato may be taken to.
Apelt , 67; Fowler , ; Cornford , ; Warrington , ; Matthews , ; Mazzarelli , ; N. White , 26; Brann, Kalkavage, and Salem , Owen , One passage, Phlb. I , 4 J. But another consideration speaks strongly against the first translation. As we have seen, on the first translation the proposition expressed by the declarative sentence introduced by wj is supposed to be a ground supporting what comes before in the argument, namely the point that something is correctly applied only to beings.
The only way of extracting this feat from the declarative sentence is to take it to be mentioning the expressions something and at least one something: this was in fact done in my reconstruction in the last paragraph, where I also showed how the goal of supporting the earlier point was achieved. The problem is with what comes later: for, on any reasonable interpretation of the argument, at E1 Plato does not mention the expression something, but uses it.
In other words, when he affirms that it is most necessary that whoever does not say something say absolutely nothing E12 , Plato is not speaking of a person who is not uttering the expression something, but of a person who is not saying something. This result has a damning effect on the first translation: although it cannot be excluded that Plato is confused about use and mention, or that he is not confused but he intends the argument to be fallacious, nevertheless an interpretation that avoids such a shift in the usage of a key expression ought to be preferred.
I therefore opt for the second translation, which, as we shall see, is able to yield such an interpretation. The progression of the first aporetic argument. Here is a step-by-step reconstruction of the first aporetic argument about not being. The first step B79 states the initial assumption: we express what in no way is. The second step BC9 is the claim that the expression not being cannot be applied to beings.
This claim is analogous to the claim that the expression not man cannot be applied to men. It is an instance of the general principle that a negative predicative expression consisting of not followed by a predicative expression P cannot be applied to anything falling under P. The third step C is the claim that the expression not being cannot be applied to anything that is something because, as was established in the second step, it cannot be applied to any being.
Theaetetus is bewildered: he asks How so? No weight is to be attached to the difference between the active skopein and the middle skopeisqai: cf. The fourth step D15 is the claim that the expression something can only be used in connection with beings.
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This provides a ground for the third steps claim that the expression not being cannot be applied to anything that is something: could the expression not being be applied to anything that is something, then it could after all be applied to beings because, as the fourth step points out, the expression something can only be used in connection with beings , contrary to what had been agreed in the second step.
The claim made in the fourth step reflects certain facts of Greek language and in particular of Platos Greek: to be something einai ti may be used make existential claims,27 and instances of to call something or to call something may be employed to make the point which could also have been made by using the corresponding instances of to accept as existent. The fifth step D makes two claims, a primary and a secondary one.
The primary claim is that one says something just in case one says at least one something. The secondary claim is that the word something is a sign of unity because it is a singular form of the pronoun, as opposed to its dual and plural forms. The secondary claim supports the primary one. Note that the primary claim is a universally quantified biconditional: its formulation, i. The secondary claim supports the left-to-right direction of the biconditional with saying something in the antecedent and saying at least one something in the consequent ; the right-to-left direction with saying at least one something in the antecedent and saying something in the consequent is self-evident.
Unless it states a universally quantified biconditional, the fifth step will fail to support the following sixth step. This is also a universally quantified biconditional: its formulation, i. This universally quantified biconditional follows by contraposition from the universally quantified biconditional stated in the fifth step, on the basis of the implicit equation of nothing with not at least one something.
This equation is. The eighth step E56 is the arguments conclusion: whoever expresses what is not fails to speak. The structure of the first aporetic argument. How is the conclusion of the first aporetic argument reached? Let us first of all note that the arguments sixth step is . So it is reasonable to expect that the arguments conclusion is reached on the basis of the following claim which is not formulated : .
Our target is therefore reduced to obtaining . As I said, this claim is not formulated. However, most of the materials are there which enable the reader to establish it. The fourth step of the argument is the claim that the expression something can only be used in connection with beings. I noted that this may perhaps be taken to amount to the claim that the particular quantifier something has existential import, i.
If we apply this to the case of saying, we obtain warrant for .
Whoever does not say something that is does not say something. Propositions  and  immediately entail , which is what we needed. If you carry out an act of saying, then you say something, so that you say something that is. Therefore if you say what is not then you do not carry out an act of saying this last move is based on contraposition and relies on taking You say what is not to entail It is not the case that you say something that is. The strength of the first aporetic argument: i The ambiguity of to say something. How compelling is the first aporetic argument about not being?
David Wiggins makes a case that the argument is fallacious. In his view, the fallacy depends on the ambiguity of the sentence You are saying something. In a first sense, You are saying something means that you are carrying out a speech-act with some content: in this first sense of You are saying something, the inference from You carry out an act of saying to You are saying something is valid. In a second sense, You are saying something means that there is an object that constitutes the target on which your act of saying is directed: in this second sense of You are saying something, the inference from You are saying something to You are saying something that is is valid or at least exempt from the specific fault in which Wiggins is interested.
The two senses of the sentence have an important difference with regard to what may or may not be inferred. If You are saying something is understood in the first sense, then You are saying is an opaque context and is therefore not open to substitutions of appropriately equivalent expressions similarly, the fact that You are saying that is honest is an opaque context blocks the inference from You are saying that Nixon is honest to You are saying that the most corrupt president is honest or You are saying that a crook is honest.
If You are saying something is understood in the second sense, then You are saying is a transparent context and is therefore open to substitutions of appropriately equivalent expressions similarly, the fact that You are saying of that he is honest is a transparent context warrants the inference from You are saying.
The above reconstruction of the first aporetic argument about not being owes a lot to the excellent accounts offered by Wiggins , and Szaif , cf. It is radically different from the reconstruction of Moravcsik , 26, who takes Plato to argue that since what is not applies to nothing it has no meaning the argument would then invalidly infer lack of meaning from emptiness of extension.
The interpretation I favored in Crivelli , was close to Moravcsiks. In defense of the argument one may say that perhaps it does not depend on Wigginss ambiguity. Perhaps the argument is to be understood as an attack on those thinkers who believe that the way a speech-act has content is by being directed on an object a proposition which may be properly qualified as being either true or false: such a position may be associated with Frege and constitutes the mainstream framework of modern philosophy of language.
An interpretation along these lines restores the validity of the argument at least with respect to Wigginss criticism : it assumes that in the argument the sentence You are saying something is understood in only one sense, the second one, so that the arguments first inference amounts to the inference from You carry out an act of saying to You are saying something meaning There is an object that constitutes the target on which your act of saying is directed. This inference is based not on an analysis of how we ordinarily use the sentences You carry out an act of saying and You are saying something, but on a substantial philosophical view about what is involved in carrying an act of saying.
There is some textual support for this interpretation. The cost incurred by this interpretation is that the first aporetic argument about not being comes out having a restricted scope: it targets only those philosophers who have a certain conception of propositional attitudes, a conception which is ontologically loaded in that it explains propositional attitudes in terms of a relation obtaining between the attitudes subject and an object a proposition.
Such a conception of propositional attitudes is not mandatory. One may well avoid claiming that the way a speech-act has a publicly shareable content is by being directed on some object or other: one might claim that the common public content of intentional events boils down to a shared structure of the private mental or linguistic events, a shared structure that might perhaps be expressed by adverbial formulations.
The strength of the first aporetic argument: ii The veridical and the existential uses of to be. Suppose we are satisfied with the defence from the first objection. A different objection may then be raised against the first aporetic argument about not being. Let us go with the argument and accept its conclusion: if you are saying what is not then you do not carry out an act of saying.
Is this relevant to the problem of speaking falsely? One might deny it. For one might claim that if you are speaking falsely then you are saying what is not, where what is not is what is not true veridical use of to be , and insist that you need not therefore be saying what is not, where what is not is what does not exist existential use of to be. But the antecedent of the conditional. Again, the first aporetic argument about not being is surely vulnerable to this objection. Nevertheless, the argument may be viewed as presenting a serious philosophical challenge: must we really accept in our ontology propositions that are there even though they are false?
Such an ontology is crowded and we would be better off if we were able to account for falsehood without so expensive a commitment. In sum, the first aporetic argument about not being poses a challenge to those theories of propositional attitudes which are committed to explain propositional attitudes in terms of relations obtaining between the subjects of the attitudes and certain things propositions which may be properly qualified as being either true or false.
The challenge is that these theories are ontologically uneconomical because they need to postulate abstract entities which are there despite their not being in the sense of being false. In resisting this position, Plato is revealing himself as far less of a Platonist than most modern philosophers of language. The second aporetic argument in support of the thesis that it is impossible to say what is not purports to prove that no predicative expression applies to what does not exist AC Do not yet speak loud. For it happens to be about the very principle of the matter.
What do you mean? Speak and do not hesitate. Some other being could come to be attached to what is.
How could it not? But shall we say that some being can come to be attached to what is not? How could we? If anything else is to be posited as a being. Let us then not try to apply either plurality or unity of number to what is not. We would not be making a correct attempt, it seems, as the argument says.
In what way could one express through ones mouth or in any way grasp with thought not beings or not being without number? Will you say how? If we say not beings, are we not trying to apply multiplicity of number? So what? And if we say not being, are we not trying to apply unity, in turn? Most clearly. And we say that it is neither right nor correct to try to apply being to what is not. What you are saying is most true. You then understand that one cannot correctly express nor say nor think of what is not in its own right,36 but it is unthinkable and unspeakable and inexpressible and unsayable?
By all means. After some introductory remarks A14 , whose purpose is to indicate the importance of the coming puzzle, the first step of the argument A is the claim that while an attribute that implies being may well be assigned to what is, an attribute that implies being does cannot be assigned to what is not. This claim is straightforward: it is analogous to the claim that an attribute that implies whiteness cannot be assigned to what is not white. Plato uses the expression some being to quantify over attributes that imply being: in a similar manner one might use the expression some animal to quantify over attributes like dog, cat, etc.
The second step AB5 is the claim that numerical attributes i. How is it that Plato does not explain. One point that is probably relevant has to do with views about to be which can be plausibly attributed to Plato here I anticipate some points which will be elaborated upon later. Briefly: to be implies to exist.
On this conception, all attributes may be regarded as implying being because any application of the incomplete use of to be that expresses participation in an attribute implies an application of the complete use of to be that expresses existence. So, at least part of the explanation of why numerical attributes imply being is that all attributes imply being.
But this is unlikely to be the complete explanation. For Theaetetus enthusiastical answer B1 to the question whether numerical attributes imply being suggests that the implication of being by numerical attributes is especially intimate and tight. This may be accounted for by highlighting two facts about numerical attributes. First, numerical predicative expressions, which express numerical attributes, are always connected to a possibly understood count-noun one and the same chunk of reality may be described as one book, one hundred sheets, two hundred pages, etc.
This may be plausibly taken to indicate that numerical attributes imply existence. The fourth step C states the arguments conclusion: that what is not is unsayable and unthinkable. The ground for this conclusion might be that no expression can be used to pick out what is not because any expression one might try to use will be either in the singular or in the plural and will therefore involve some numerical attribute just like not being and not beings. The extension from speech to thought is warranted by Platos view that thought is internal silent speech cf.
Note that the second aporetic argument does not purport to establish that the expression not being is inconsistent or that the concept of not being is inconsistent. Its purpose is merely to show that no thing which is not can be referred to either in language or in thought. The third aporetic argument about not being DA The third aporetic argument in support of the thesis that it is impossible to say what is not maintains that the paradox itself cannot even be stated: saying that what is not is unsayable and unthinkable involves attributing unity to what is not because an expression of singular form is used , contrary to an earlier result DA Not being and non-existence.
In my reconstruction of the three aporetic arguments for the thesis that it is impossible to say what is not I have assumed that what is not is what does not exist. Such an assumption clashes with an interpretation which has enjoyed widespread favor among commentators in recent decades. According to this widespread interpretation, in the three aporetic arguments for the thesis that it is impossible to say what is not, what is not is what has no attributes, that which for all F is not F , an object completely naked, with all the being knocked out of it. Such an expression does suggest that naked objects are in the offing.
This is easily understood if what is not is a naked object, i. Later in the dialogue Plato seems to think that the puzzles depend on the concept of the contrary of what is cf. But the contrary of what is may be naturally understood as a naked object, something totally devoid of being. None of these arguments is however compelling.
As for argument 1 , the expression what in no way is may be naturally understood as a strong denial, meaning what absolutely is not, what no way is. As for argument 2 , I have already offered an interpretation of the second puzzle about not being that works without the assumption that what is not is a naked object. As for argument 3 , nothing guarantees that the contrary of what is should be a naked object. In due course I shall offer an interpretation of Platos concept of the contrary of what is that does not make it into a naked object, but takes it to be what does not exist. Moreover, there are considerations that suggest that in the three aporetic arguments for the thesis that it is impossible to say what is not, what is not is what does not exist.
It is extremely unlikely that the young and philosophically unskilled Theaetetus cf. Frede , 75; Malcolm , ; Owen , , , ; Gosling , ; Bondeson , 8; Lewis , ; Malcolm b , ; Bordt , At that stage of the argument it is much more plausible that he should understand the expression in the sense of what does not exist. Plato presents two arguments which a sophist could use to avoid being captured by the hunt of the ES and Theaetetus.
The first argument CC6 purports to establish that the concept of an image implies a contradiction. The argument helps the sophists escape because the ES and Theaetetus had deployed the concept of an image in their attempt to define the sophist. The argument opens with the request of a characteristic that belongs to all and only the objects to which the expression image applies D After an answer to this question has been offered, the argument develops by steps where one uses the verb to be and its negation not to be while thinking of some complement for their predicate position, but the complement is dropped out a predicative elliptical use of to be and not to be.
Such a predicative elliptical use creates the illusion of a contradiction involving the existential use of to be.
Plato's Account of Falsehood
Consider, for instance, an image of a cat: an image of a cat is an image, but is not a cat. These two claims, An image of a cat is an image and An image of a cat is not a cat, involve the predicative use of to be and not to be. But in the argument actually presented in the Sophist the two complements for the predicate positions of to be and not to be, namely the expressions an image and a cat, are dropped. So, what we actually find is: An image of a cat is and An image of a cat is not. This looks like a flat contradiction involving the existential use of to be cf.
In order to disarm this puzzle, Plato will have to point out what is going on: that there is a fallacy involving the dropping of a complement for the predicate positions of to be and not to be and passing from the predicative to the existential use of the verb. Heinaman , 4; Brown , However in the Cratylus D34 Plato credits Euthydemus with the view that all things always have all attributes simultaneously.
Such an antidote will be offered by Plato in his account of negation at BC4. Plato presents a second argument which a sophist could use to avoid being captured by the hunt of the ES and Theaetetus. This argument CB4 is a version of the paradox of false belief and false statement, i. This will help the sophist to evade the attempted definition of the ES and Theaetetus because their attempt relies on the idea that the sophists art is one deception and therefore leads people to believe falsehoods: ES THT.
What then? By offering what definition of his art will we be able to be consistent with ourselves? How do you mean? What do you fear in speaking thus? When we say that he deceives us in connection with apparition45 and that his art is one of deception, shall we say that our soul believes falsehoods because of his art?
Or what shall we say? This: for what else could we say? And a false belief will be one that believes the contraries of the things which are. Or what? Yes, the contraries. Do you then say that a false belief believes the things which are not? By believing that the things which are not are not, or that the things which in no way are somehow are? It must believe that the things which are not somehow are, if anyone will ever somehow err even for a short time.
Does it not also believe that the things which in all ways are are in no way? Is this then also a falsehood? This too. Then, I think, a statement will also be regarded as false in the same way, by stating that the things which are are not and that the things which are not are. How else could it come to be such? Perhaps in no way. But the sophist will deny these things. Or what means are there by which anyone of those who are able to reason well should concede them, when, in conformity with our earlier agreements, the things which are not have been additionally agreed to be inexpressible and unspeakable and unsayable and unthinkable?
Do we understand, Theaetetus, what he says? How do we not understand that he will claim that by daring to affirm that falsehoods exist in beliefs and statements we say things contrary to what was said just now? For we are obliged often to apply being to what is not, having agreed just now that this is the most impossible thing of all. The text handed down by the main MSS and the difficulties it raises. The text at A37 deserves some discussion. The text of the main MSS is hard to make sense of. At B47 the ES characterized an apparition as an image which appears to be like its model but actually is not like it.
An apparition therefore leads people to form a false belief i. On the other hand, what was earlier agreed to be inexpressible and unspeakable and unsayable and unthinkable was what is not cf. So the text of the main MSS seems to presuppose that the things agreed before these are identical with what is not. But such an identification is very implausible. Heindorf and Campbell do attempt to justify it, by claiming that Plato wants to avoid the expression what is not and therefore replaces it with the phrase the things agreed before these.
But how could the things agreed before these be identical with what is not? Some philosophers argue that false speech and false belief are impossible. In the Sophist, Plato addresses this 'falsehood paradox', which purports to prove that one can neither say nor believe falsehoods because to say or believe a falsehood is to say or believe something that is not, and is therefore not there to be said or believed. In this book Paolo Crivelli closely examines the whole dialogue and shows how Plato's brilliant solution to the paradox is radically different from those put forward by modern philosophers.
He surveys and critically discusses the vast range of literature which has developed around the Sophist over the past fifty years, and provides original solutions to several problems that are so far unsolved. His book will be important for all who are interested in the Sophist and in ancient ontology and philosophy of language more generally.
Puzzles about notbeing.