Plato's Parmenides: The Conversion of the Soul

Princeton NJ, University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press (1986)
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The Parmenides is arguably the pivotal text for understanding the Platonic corpus as a whole. I offer a critical analysis that takes as its key the closely constructed dramatic context and mimetic irony of the dialogue. Read with these in view, the contradictory characterizations of the "one" in the hypotheses dissolve and reform as stages in a systematic response to the objections that Parmenides earlier posed to the young Socrates' notions of forms and participation, potentially liberating Socrates from his dependence on sensible simile and yielding a distinctively conceptual articulation of the difference and relation of forms and their sensible participants. The dialogue as a whole thereby functions as the means for the "conversion" of the soul to eidetic being for which Plato has the elder Socrates call in Republic VII.

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Mitchell Miller
Vassar College


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