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Phaedo 100b3-9

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image of Mnemosyne

The paper examines a puzzling sequence of verb tenses at Phaedo 100b3-9. It rejects the idea, almost universal among commentators, that the puzzle is to be solved by construing the first verbal expression as if it were equivalent to a future. The paper then offers another solution and explores its implications for understanding the broader philosophical context of the passage. What emerges is that the new solution provides a valuable clue to figuring out what precisely Socrates has in mind when he speaks at 100b4 of the ‘mode of explanation’ with which he is presently engaged. Hence, the tightly focused linguistic discussion at the paper’s outset ultimately takes on a good deal of significance for the interpretation of this difficult but important section of the dialogue.

Affiliations: 1: Clark University, Department of Philosophy950 Main St., Worcester, ma


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