August 16, 2018
In Soph . 237b7–239a11 Plato lays out a sequence of arguments that are generally considered homogenous. An analysis of each argument can shed light on the need to differentiate their respective nature. Firstly, it will be shown that the arguments do not work only at the linguistic level, contrary to the way these passages are interpreted by most of commentators. The meta–linguistic nature of the third argument will be particularly emphasised. Secondly, it will be argued that the three arguments follow each other according to a crescendo . The implications of this argumentative structure will be specifically appreciated. Both these results of the analysis induce to attribute a crucial importance to the notion of medamos on : the arguments do not aim to definitively exclude the possibility of a Parmenidean non–being; they play a positive role within the inquiry of the Stranger of Elea, inasmuch the thematisation of Parmenidean non–being is seriously taken into account and embraced at this stage of the dialogue. In fact it is only through this dialectical step that the Stranger gains the chance to proceed in the direction of a relational ontology and a new concept of non–being. The positive role played by the medamos on presupposes that this expression and the equivalent ones are not mere absurdities and can find place in the Platonic use of language; this implies that the notion of medamos on must have a justification in the framework of Platonic relational ontology and conception of language. The consideration of this aspect eventually gives the opportunity to return to the three arguments and present an explanation of their positioning in that stage of the dialogue.