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Plato

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Chapter Summary

The very attribution to Plato of anything that can be called a 'metaphysics' is at present controversial, and demands at least a preliminary apologia. The dramatic form of presentation also highlights the fact that metaphysics is for Plato profoundly personal and existential. Plato's metaphysics, centered on the concept of 'form', can reasonably be said to begin with the problem of sameness and difference. The word here translated, traditionally but inadequately, as 'form', is εἶδος, or, in other similar passages, the related word ἰδέα. As has often been pointed out, these words are related to words for 'seeing', and, less directly, 'knowing', in Greek and other Indo-European languages. This interpretation of Plato's 'paradigmatism' reflects a pictorial imagination of the forms as, so to speak, higher-order sensibles located in 'another world', rather than as the very intelligible identities, the whatnesses, of sensible things.

Keywords: apologia; Greek; Indo-European languages; Plato's metaphysics; Plato's paradigmatism

10.1163/9789004265769_004
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