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The « problem of Cratylus » consists in the difficulty of combining his two main theseis, that is the universal flow and the natural rectitude of nouns. Aim of this paper is to show that this evolution can be recomposed more precisely than it used to be. The first step of Cratylus’ thought is an etymological and lexical attempt to find the logos contained in the noun, which expresses its true nature, following a method already used by Heraclitus. Considering the deficiencies of this solution, and particularly the problem of the fixity of the meaning of nouns by comparison with verbs which indicate a movement, Cratylus explorated a syntactical way to mould the flow of the reality into the flow of the language itself. This peculiar language is based on the use of neutral present participles. But once again some difficulties, maybe derived from the consideration of Eleatic arguments on the impossibility for language, as runnig after thing, to move and change as fast as the reality does, force Cratylus to leave out this project. This respect for the Heraclitean flow leads him to modify in a more radical sense the Heraclitus’ river flow formula and to search refuge in silence. The evolution of Cratylus, hence, would testify to the presence in Athens of an Heraclitean circle, which is not impermeable to the arguments of the Eleatic followers and which contributes both to reduce the doctrine of Heraclitus to the theory of flow and to contrast it with that of Parmenides and Zeno.


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