Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 23 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Plato’s late dialogue, the Sophist, divides clearly into two very different parts. In the Outer Parts (216–236d; 264b9–end), the main speaker, a nameless visitor from Elea in Italy (hereafter ES, for Eleatic Stranger) embarks on a discourse ostensibly designed to say what a sophist is. Using the so-called Method of Division, the ES offers no fewer than seven accounts of what the sophist is. Interrupting the seventh attempt, the Middle Part (236d9–264b8) provides a striking contrast. There the ES undertakes a lengthy discussion sparked by problems arising from defining a sophist as a maker of images and purveyor of false beliefs. This chapter focuses on two key problems discussed and solved in the Middle Part: the Late-learners’ problem (the denial of predication), and the problem of false statement. It looks at how each is, in a way, a problem about correct speaking; how each gave rise to serious philosophical difficulty, as well as being a source of eristic troublemaking; and how the ES offers a definitive solution to both. The Sophist displays an unusually didactic approach: Plato makes it clear that he has important matter to impart, and he does so with a firm hand, especially on the two issues discussed.

Keywords: Plato, dialogues, philosophy, Sophist, predication, false statement, correct speaking

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.