Oxford Studies in ancient philosophy, supplementary volume; by J. Klagge, N. Smith

By J. Klagge, N. Smith

Papers from a convention on 'Methodological ways to Plato and his dialogues', organised via the Philosophy division of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and country college in March 1988

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One result of this is that Forms will only be generated for terms that have opposites; yet Plato nowhere welcomes or even recognizes such a limitation. The role of opposites in these passages becomes more comprehensible, I think, if we see Plato as making a non-sceptical application of a form of argument which, if applied in a different spirit, leads to equipollence and suspension of judgement-as indeed we find it doing in later sceptics like Sextns 41 However, our result is that while Plato does sometimes argue on both sides of an issue, and even urge that we be led to equipollence, this has no tendency to show him to be a sceptic; he rejects the sceptical attitnde to this kind of argument, and uses it in his own case to establish the conclusion that there are Forms which the mind can grasp-a quintessentially dogmatic conclusion.

31 Anonymous does so in an introduction to PlatOnIC philosophy; OlymplOdorus, Ammonius, Elias, Philoponus, and Simplicius all do so in their introduction to Aristotle's Categories. 32 Philoponus calls the founder of the sceptics Pyrrho, and does not seem to realize that it is the sceptical Academy that is in question. Elias, Ammonius, Philoponus, ~nd Olympiodorus all refer to akatalipsia, characteristic of the New Academy. a confused reminiscence of the first part of the Theaetetus. Sometimes sceptiCIsm IS assimilated to Protagoreanism, sometimes clearly distinguished from it.

The 6th-cent. anonymous Introduction toPlatonicPhilosophy (ed. L. G. Westcrink [Amsterdam, 1962]) says that Plato does not demolish all accounts of knowledge in the Theaetetus, since he does not himself accept that the soul is like a blank tablet, but thinks ofit as needing only purification to attain (non-empirical) truth. Something similar seems to lie behind the odd 'Platonic' arguments retailed by other Neoplatonist commentators against the 'sceptical' claims that knowledge is impossible because everything is in flux (a confused version of the first part of the Theaetetus): these are to the effect that Plato accepts what is said about flux, but restricts it to the perceptible realm, above which the soul rises to grasp truth (Ammonius In Cat.

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