plato sophist summary

Is not thereconciliation of mind and body a necessity, not only of speculation but ofpractical life? Or our attention may be drawn toideas which the moment we analyze them involve a contradiction, such as'beginning' or 'becoming,' or to the opposite poles, as they are sometimestermed, of necessity and freedom, of idea and fact. The third (3) remains, whichaffirms that only certain things communicate with certain other things. The philosophy of history and the history ofphilosophy may be almost said to have been discovered by him. They seem also toderive a sacredness from their association with the Divine Being. But ought we to give him up? Therefore, he examines Parmenides’ notion in comparison with Empedocles and Heraclitus’ in order to find out whether Being is identical with change or rest, or both. Who ever thinks of the world as a syllogism? The doctrine of Hegel will to many seem the expression of an indolentconservatism, and will at any rate be made an excuse for it. Because each seems distinguished by a particular form of knowledge, the dialogue continues some of the lines of inquiry pursued in the epistemological dialogue, Theaetetus, which is said to have taken place the day before. But one thing we can say--that they went on their way without much caringwhether we understood them or not. Tenthousands, as Homer would say (mala murioi), tell falsehoods and fall intoerrors. If the knowledge of all were necessary to the knowledge ofany one of them, the mind would sink under the load of thought. And the words provethemselves! It seems to say to us, 'The world is a vastsystem or machine which can be conceived under the forms of logic, but inwhich no single man can do any great good or any great harm. Hegel boasts that the movement ofdialectic is at once necessary and spontaneous: in reality it goes beyondexperience and is unverified by it. But Hegel employs some ofthem absolutely, some relatively, seemingly without any principle andwithout any regard to their original significance. He had once thought as he says, speakingby the mouth of the Eleatic, that he understood their doctrine of Not-being; but now he does not even comprehend the nature of Being. I. Nevertheless the consideration of a few general aspects of the Hegelianphilosophy may help to dispel some errors and to awaken an interest aboutit. (iii) Whetherregarded as present or past, under the form of time or of eternity, thespirit of dialectic is always moving onwards from one determination ofthought to another, receiving each successive system of philosophy andsubordinating it to that which follows--impelled by an irresistiblenecessity from one idea to another until the cycle of human thought andexistence is complete. This is especially true of the Eleatic philosophy: while the absoluteness of Being was asserted in every form of language, thesensible world and all the phenomena of experience were comprehended underNot-being. 2 The Sophists in Plato’s Dialogues In his dialogue, The Sophist, Plato has a silent Socrates look on while a stranger from Elea investigates the nature of sophistry with a pupil, Theaetetus. Whatever is, ifnot the very best--and what is the best, who can tell?--is, at any rate,historical and rational, suitable to its own age, unsuitable to any other. We may callhim an image-maker if we please, but he will only say, 'And pray, what isan image?' But the later Megarians alsodenied predication; and this tenet, which is attributed to all of them bySimplicius, is certainly in accordance with their over-refining philosophy.The 'tyros young and old,' of whom Plato speaks, probably include both. a superintending science of dialectic. That they wereforeigners, that they made fortunes, that they taught novelties, that theyexcited the minds of youth, are quite sufficient reasons to account for theopprobrium which attached to them. The difficulty is greatlyincreased when the new is confused with the old, and the common logic isthe Procrustes' bed into which they are forced. In other words, the first sphere is immediate, thesecond mediated by reflection, the third or highest returns into the first,and is both mediate and immediate. Of the Pythagoreans or of Anaxagoras he makes no distinct mention. We are not to suppose that Plato intended by sucha description to depict Protagoras or Gorgias, or even Thrasymachus, whoall turn out to be 'very good sort of people when we know them,' and all ofthem part on good terms with Socrates. There is unfortunately nocriterion to which either of them can be subjected, and not much forcingwas required to bring either into near relations with the other. But, before making this appeal tocommon sense, Plato propounds for our consideration a theory of the natureof the negative. But if I am to make the attempt, I think that Ihad better begin at the beginning. Yet it can hardly be said to have consideredthe forms of thought which are best adapted for the expression of facts. No book, exceptthe Scriptures, has been so much read, and so little understood. There can be no question of the importance of showingthat two contraries or contradictories may in certain cases be both true. The puzzle about 'Not-being' appears to us to be one of the mostunreal difficulties of ancient philosophy. Not-being is difference, not the opposite of Being. Thus we have discovered that not-being is the principle ofthe other which runs through all things, being not excepted. If we were met by the Sophist'sobjection, the reply would probably be an appeal to experience. was the most prominent member of the sophistic movement and Plato reports he was the first to charge fees using that title (Protagoras, 349a). Henever appears to have criticized himself, or to have subjected his ownideas to the process of analysis which he applies to every otherphilosopher. In several of the later dialogues Plato is occupied with the connexion ofthe sciences, which in the Philebus he divides into two classes of pure andapplied, adding to them there as elsewhere (Phaedr., Crat., Republic,States.) For Plato, the sophist reduces thinking to a kind of making: by asserting the omnipotence of human speech the sophist pays insufficient regard to the natural limits upon human knowledge and our status as seekers rather than possessors of knowledge (Sophist, 233d). They admit the existence of a mortal living creature, which isa body containing a soul, and to this they would not refuse to attributequalities--wisdom, folly, justice and injustice. 3. The truth is, that we know little about them; and thewitness of Plato in their favour is probably not much more historical thanhis witness against them. And certainly we canscarcely understand how a deep thinker like Hegel could have hoped torevive or supplant the old traditional faith by an unintelligibleabstraction: or how he could have imagined that philosophy consisted onlyor chiefly in the categories of logic. Themost noticeable point is the final retirement of Socrates from the field ofargument, and the substitution for him of an Eleatic stranger, who isdescribed as a pupil of Parmenides and Zeno, and is supposed to havedescended from a higher world in order to convict the Socratic circle oferror. On land you may hunt tame animals, or you may hunt wild animals. They were the symbols of different schools ofphilosophy: but in what relation did they stand to one another and to theworld of sense? Despite his animus towards the sophists, Plato depicts Protagoras as quite a sympathetic and dignified figure.One of the more intriguing aspects of Protagoras’ life and work is his association with the great Athenian general and statesman Pericles (c. 495-429 B.C.E.). But in order to avoid paradox and the danger of givingoffence to the unmetaphysical part of mankind, we may speak of it as due tothe imperfection of language or the limitation of human faculties. The chief points of interest in the dialogue are: (I) the characterattributed to the Sophist: (II) the dialectical method: (III) the natureof the puzzle about 'Not-being:' (IV) the battle of the philosophers: (V)the relation of the Sophist to other dialogues. The philosophy of Hegel appeals to an historical criterion: the ideas ofmen have a succession in time as well as an order of thought. Finally, so-called Not-Being is not the opposite of Being, but simply different from it. Otherwise, the sophist couldn't "do" anything with it. We rather incline tothink that the method of knowledge is inseparable from actual knowledge,and wait to see what new forms may be developed out of our increasingexperience and observation of man and nature. A doubt may be raised whether this account of the negative is really thetrue one. And 'being'is one thing, and 'not-being' includes and is all other things. And for this reason we may be inclined to do less thanjustice to Plato,--because the truth which he attains by a real effort ofthought is to us a familiar and unconscious truism, which no one would anylonger think either of doubting or examining. "All three are situated in the last year of Socrates' life, with interrogations carried out upon both the young Theaetetus, who (having a snub nose) looks like Socrates, and Theaetetus' young friend, who (being named "Socrates") sounds like the elder … 3. And he extends this relativity tothe conceptions of just and good, as well as to great and small. The story Socrates tells involves the presence in Athens of the famous Sophist Protagoras, at the time the most famous thinker in Greece. These sciences have each of them their own methods and arepursued independently of one another. But (2) if all things have communion with all things, motion willrest, and rest will move; here is a reductio ad absurdum. He loves to touch with the spear of logic the follies and self-deceptions of mankind, and make them appear in their natural form, strippedof the disguises of language and custom. It seems impossible to say that the sophist presents things that are not as though they were, or passes off "non-being" as "being," since this would suggest that non-being exists, or that non-existence exists.

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