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date: 20 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In his 1960 paper ‘Letters and Syllables in Plato’, Gilbert Ryle argued that Plato’s interests in his later dialogues, and in particular in the Parmenides, the Theaetetus, and the Sophist, coincided significantly with those of the founding fathers of modern analytic philosophy. This chapter focuses on a particular aspect of that coincidence—one which greatly exercised Ryle—namely, the supposed commonalities of purpose and outlook between Socrates’ dream in the Theaetetus, on the one hand, and the logical atomism of the early Ludwig Wittgenstein and early Bertrand Russell, on the other. An examination of that topic leads on naturally to a consideration of the extent to which the ‘object and designation’ model of meaning is applicable to sentences and their semantically significant parts, and correspondingly whether Ryle is right to maintain that naming and saying are entirely distinct. The chapter concludes with some reflections on the place of these issues in Ryle’s philosophy more generally, and on the bearing of Ryle’s treatment of the alleged naming–saying dichotomy on the problem of propositional unity.

Keywords: Gilbert Ryle, Plato, Socrates, analytic philosophy, Theaetetus, logical atomism, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Bertrand Russell, naming, saying

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