What the Dialectician Discerns: a new reading of Sophist 253d-e

Ancient Philosophy 36 (2):321-352 (2016)
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At Sophist 253d-e the Eleatic Visitor offers a notoriously obscure description of the fields of one-and-many that the dialectician “adequately discerns.” Against the readings of Stenzel, Cornford, Sayre, and Gomez-Lobo, I propose an interpretation of that passage that takes into account the trilogy of Theaetetus-Sophist-Statesman as its context. The key steps are to respond to the irony of Socrates’ refutations at the end of the Theaetetus by reinterpreting the last two senses of logos as directed to forms and to recognize their correlation with the two different modes of diairesis practiced by the Eleatic Visitor. These steps position us to recognize in the Visitor’s remarks at Sophist 253d-e a schematic description of the two kinds of eidetic field that the two modes of diairesis trace.

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Mitchell Miller
Vassar College


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