This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
1 Plato is merely restating the theory of Ideas to prepare for his practical distinction between minds that can and minds that cannot apprehend abstractions. He does not here enter into the metaphysics of the subject. But he does distinctly show that he is “already” aware of the difficulties raised in the Parmenides, 131 B ff., and of the misapprehension disposed of in the Sophist 252 ff. that the metaphysical isolation of the Ideas precludes their combination and intermingling in human thought and speech. For the many attempts to evade ἀλλήλων κοινωνία Cf. Unity of Plato's Thought, n. 244, and add now Wilamowitz, Platon, i. p. 567, who, completely missing the point, refers to 505 A, which is also misunderstood. He adds “mit den Problemen des Sophistes hat das gar nichts zu tun; sie waren ihm noch nicht aufgestossen,” which begs the question.
2 “Le petit nombre des élus” is a common topic in Plato. Cf. on 494 A.
3 The dream state is a very different thing for Plato from what it is for some modern sentimental Platonists. Cf. 520 C-D, Phaedrus 277 D, Timaeus 52 B, and 71 E, if rightly interpreted.
5 For the humor of the sudden shift to the second person cf. Juvenal, Satire i. “profer, Galla, caput.”
6 To understand what follows it is necessary (1) to assume that Plato is not talking nonsense; (2) to make allowance for the necessity that he is under of combating contemporary fallacies and sophisms which may seem trivial to us (Cf. Unity of Plato's Thought, pp. 50 ff.); (3) to remember the greater richness of the Greek language in forms of the verb “to be”; and the misunderstandings introduced by the indiscriminate use of the abstract verbal noun “being” in English—a difficulty which I have tried to meet by varying the terms of the translation; (4) to recognize that apart from metaphysics Plato's main purpose is to insist on the ability to think abstractly as a prerequisite of the higher education; (5) to observe the qualifications and turns of phrase which indicate that Plato himself was not confused by the double meaning of “is not,” but was already aware of the distinctions explicitly explained in the Sophist. (Cf. Unity of Plato's Thought, pp. 53 ff. nn. 389 ff.)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.