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Plato Against Parmenides: Sophist 236d–242b

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Chapter Summary

Parmenides, one of the greatest and most influential Greek thinkers, is not mentioned in Plato?s earlier dialogues. His name appears only in four dialogues: Symposium, Parmenides, Theaetetus, and Sophist. In order to judge how much Plato owes to Parmenides and in what way he reacts to this great philosopher, this chapter focuses on the Sophist. For this is the main dialogue to tackle the philosophy of Parmenides?the project postponed in the Theaetetus. This chapter discusses the various contexts in the Sophist where the name of Parmenides appears. It examines Denis O?Brien?s interpretation of Plato?s reaction to Parmenides concerning what is not. The chapter presents the author's arguments against O?Brien?s criticisms, first by focusing on the key text, secondly by reconsidering Plato?s strategy, and finally in respect of philosophical interpretation.

Keywords: Denis O?Brien; Parmenides; Plato; Sophist; Symposium; Theaetetus



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