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Contextual and relational perspectives on adult psychology.

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Advanced Search. Article Navigation. Close mobile search navigation Article Navigation. Volume Book Reviews The Word and the World. Department of Philosophy. Oxford Academic. Google Scholar. Cite Citation. We did not want to count them, but to find out what the thing itself -- knowledge -- is. Suppose we were asked To begin with, it is absurd to imagine that our answer conveys any meaning to the questioner, when we use the word 'clay', no matter whose clay we call it You do not suppose that the man can understand the name of a thing when he does not know what the thing is?

Then if he has no idea of knowledge [i. The answer is 'knowledge of so-and-so', but that was not what the question called for And besides we are going an interminable way round, when our answer might be quite short and simple. In this question about clay, for instance, the simple and ordinary thing to say is that clay is earth mixed with moisture, never mind whose clay it may be.

Question: which is logically prior to the other -- the concept 'clay' or the essence of the various phenomena we call 'clay'? Is sand not a kind of earth? We do not call sand mixed with moisture clay. As an example of a general definition, in the Laches Plato gives "quickness", which he defines as "the quality which accomplishes much in a little time" a , regardless of what particular thing is quick. An example we might give is our common definition of the English word 'simile' which is: a comparison using the word 'as' or 'like'.

For anything to be a 'simile' it must 1 be a comparison, and 2 use the word 'as' or 'like'. Those two requirements not only state the defining common-quality of all similes, but they also distinguish similes from all other classes [categories, concepts] of things, and therefore this is an example of a Socratic definition. Contrast the way Aristotle describes Socrates' method as inductive -- i.


Plato's Theaetetus - Selections - Comments

And the highest point of my art is the power to prove by every test whether the offspring of a young man's thought is a false phantom or instinct with life and truth. That is the Socrates of Plato, the more or less literary invention or inventions, for the character of "Socrates" varies from one dialog to the next of Plato. But the Socrates of Xenophon "never gave up considering with his companions what any given thing is. To go through all his definitions would be an arduous task " iv, 6, 1. But he did have definitions, things that he himself had brought to light.

Why should a dialectician learn to count to four?

It was the same that was given by Protagoras He says, you will remember, that "man is the measure of all things -- alike of the being of things that are and of the not-being of things that are not" He puts it in this sort of way, doesn't he, that any given thing "is to me such as it appears to me, and is to you such as it appears to you", you and I being men? Perception, then, is always of something that is , and, as being knowledge, it is infallible. Socrates held that if anyone knew something he could give an account of it to others. A concise criticism of Protagoras's view is given in Cratylus a ff.

We are wrong [it says] to speak of [anything] as "being", for none of them ever is; they are always becoming [something else]. In this matter let us take it that, with the exception of Parmenides, the whole series of philosophers agree -- Protagoras, Heraclitus, Empedocles -- and among the poets the greatest masters When Homer speaks of "Oceanus, source of the gods, and mother Tethys" [ Iliad 14] he means that all things are the offspring of a flowing stream of change [" Heraclitus' doctrine that everything is in flux is stated in Cratylus d and a.

And it is the foundation of Plato's thinking in Metaphysics for not only Socrates, but also Heraclitus is Plato's teacher in philosophy that what man perceives is in a state of constant change -- but that knowledge can only be of what is unchanging permanent, eternal , which is what Plato's supersensible and existing independently of the perceptible things which "partake" of them Forms "Patterns", "Archetypes", "Ideals" or "Absolutes" are imagined by him to be. When Protagoras says, that "Man is the measure of all things, of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not" [c-d], his view agrees with Heraclitus' view [d].

But Plato's view is that, despite Heraclitus' doctrine, knowledge must be possible. Now, as we normally use the word 'knowledge', knowledge is objective, not subjective -- i. And so Protagoras is either saying that knowledge is impossible or he is redefining the word 'knowledge', but for Plato that would amount to the same thing. Plato uses the word 'knowledge' as we normally do in this respect: that knowledge is objective; Plato's Forms are objective. But Plato's Forms are metaphysical constructs theory , not logic of language i. For Plato Phaedo e "] could not possibly be seeking the truth But in the modern world The time is long past when the rejection of any transcendent reality can be taken as evidence that the search for truth has been abandoned.

Kerferd, "Sophists" in Encyclopedia of Philosophy , vol. Well, there is a lot to be said here. First, rather than "going beyond" phenomena it may be clearer to say "going behind" them for that is the picture : the truth is in the background: all we see are reflections or shadows of it. Second, the expression 'true reality' is not helpful; 'reality' does not need a modifier; 'true' contrasts with 'false', but we do describe a 'false reality' with false statements.

Sophist b Third, Plato himself rejected the second Eleatic clause: instead, both rest and motion are real ibid. Theaetetus c-d], and for Plato a definition is the identification of a form ], discourse ibid. What our senses perceive -- or appear to perceive -- is constantly changing, and therefore if we find it intelligible it is not through the eyes of senses that we see it but through the eye of the intellect: it is the intellect or soul that perceives Forms in the what is otherwise unintelligible flux. If Kerferd is correct, then in Plato's view the Sophists would have to have been strict followers of Heraclitus: there is no rest, only motion.

Even if the Sophists were concerned with natural philosophy "physics" , it was certainly not modern science they had in mind but a rival metaphysics. Clearly if the world has anything like a philosophical explanation, that explanation is not found in this world; the visible world does not explain itself: it does not explain why it exists rather than nothing. The abandonment of metaphysics in favor of natural philosophy -- i. It would not be unfair to say that Wittgenstein abandoned philosophy; he called his own work in philosophy -- i.

Now, obviously, the reign of his anti-philosophical [anti-metaphysical] point of view is not going to be eternal. The various pictures of the world, of the real, invented by the pre-Socratics -- these are not nonsense; they are metaphysics. The trouble with these pictures is that they cannot be compared with experience.

And if we want to say something about reality, as opposed to simply saying how we might picture what is behind our perceptions of it, then the issue of verification -- of the confrontation of idea [i. What is the point of their speculation? They draw all these pictures. Well, if you like you can put them in a picture book. But with respect to knowing reality they get you no further. In Plato philosophy -- not in Plato's philosophy according to Plato -- it is as if the world cast a shadow, and that shadow were reality.

The shadow is more real than what casts it. The forms belong to the shadow reality. The shadows are more real than what casts them. If I were to say 'I have never been to the moon -- but I may be mistaken', that would be idiotic. For even the thought that I might have been transported there, by unknown means, in my sleep, would not give me any right to speak of a possible mistake here.

I play the game wrong if I do. But why "idiotic"? Or is this "nuance"? No, it is our eternal "pictures". We distinguish between empirical possibility and fantasy: saying 'I may be mistaken' about a moon visit would be like saying 'I may be mistaken' about the existence of elves. Where verification is impossible logically impossible, i. But if you speak of them as if they were hypotheses, "you play the game wrong" -- just as you do if you ask what color the number 3 is. Of course, as always, it is the combination of words in the context in which they are uttered that is nonsense, not the individual words considered as words of the English language nor the combination of words spoken in other contexts.

This is what misleads us when we try to explain what logic-of-language means by 'nonsense': it is not the meaning that is meaningless. For Wittgenstein, is metaphysics playing the game wrong? No, fantasy pictures are not meaningless -- but, yes, treating fantasy pictures as though they were hypotheses is. Of course, the question is if "you play the game wrong", do you play the game at all? Well, you play a game [with such fantasy pictures], but not our normal one; well, but does that matter?

Again, your statement expresses confusion -- confusion about the logic of our language, that is. Suppose in chess you moved your pawn backward or along an angle Suppose someone added 'but I may be mistaken' to every assertion he made; in that case, would it be that this addition was meaningless -- i. There is a game played according to fixed rules with 'but I may be mistaken'; but unlike chess, what changes to the rules would result in merely a new game rather than in nonsense?

Or would you be prepared to maintain that every color appears to a dog [c] or any other creature just such as it appears to you? Or to another man? Does anything you please appear to him such as it appears to you? If knowledge is perception, then the dog has knowledge And a wasp -- does a wasp have knowledge? The concept is there -- like our life. We ourselves did not invent it. I myself did not invent it, but what am I to make of it? It belongs to our common currency. If it were the name of an object, as is the word 'cow', I could look at the cow [examine the cows in the field].

But it isn't. It's not the name of anything. Therefore, what is it? This is the gap in my thinking that I refuses to stay closed; so I have to keep taking this topic up again and again: what is the meaning of a word when that word is not a name? I understand [ "meaning is use" ], but then again I don't understand [because I am not a rest as I am about the concept 'mind' e. I don't feel comfortable. The word 'justice' is not the name of an object, is not the name of anything. Nonetheless, the concept is there -- like our life.

How do I determine whether justice is real -- how am I to determine what the meaning of that word is, if it has a meaning? The word has a role in our life, and that is what it means to say that 'justice exists'. The sign [bare word] is there; -- what gives it meaning? I fancy, at any rate, such puzzles are not altogether strange [i.

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  5. Sometimes I get quite dizzy with thinking of them. This sense of wonder is the mark of the philosopher. Philosophy indeed has no other origin , and he was a good genealogist who made Iris the daughter of Thaumas. The etymology of 'Thaumas' is 'wonder', and his child named 'Iris' here appears to me to mean 'messenger of the gods' as in: it is through wonder that we acquire wisdom, if we acquire it, for the gods alone are wise [ Phaedrus d] , although it also might mean 'rainbow'.

    SOCRATES: I see, my dear Theaetetus, that Theodorus had a true insight into your nature when he said that you were a philosopher; for wonder is the feeling of a philosopher, and philosophy begins in wonder. Moore's testimony in his "Autobiography" that for him philosophy began in his being puzzled by the strange things philosophers said. Does 'wonder' here in Plato d mean 'perplexity', 'puzzlement' at the things philosophers say? I think it includes that ea , but also what we ourselves are inclined to say -- or wonder at, e.