Plato'S Explanatory Predication
One of the most classic puzzles in Plato's metaphysics is how to interpret his apparently self-predicational language. Plato seems committed, at least in his middle dialogues, to the view that for all forms, the form of F "is F". For instance, he seems to say that the form of largeness itself "is large", and to generalize this claim to all forms. Commentators have struggled to find an interpretation of such claims that is consistent with Plato's text and that attributes to Plato a view with some plausibility. One aim of this dissertation is to show that we have good reason to doubt all of the most influential interpretations offered by commentators. The views discussed include Narrow Self-Predication, the Tautologous Identity view, two NonTautologous Identity views, the Pauline Predication view, Broad Self-Predication, and a view distinguishing different kinds of predication. It is doubtful whether any of these interpretations correctly captures Plato's self-predicational commitments. Another aim of the dissertation is to argue that the textual evidence most often thought to commit Plato to the Self-Predication Assumption (SP), that for all forms, the form of F is itself an F thing, is insufficient to establish such a commitment. One chapter focuses on Plato's repeated discussion of the resemblance between form and participant. Other chapters present new interpretations of key arguments: the argument in the Phaedo distinguishing the form of equality from "sensible equals" and the famous Third Man Argument in the Parmenides. On a correct interpretation of these passages, they do not express a commitment to SP. Finally, this dissertation defends a new interpretation of Plato's apparently self-predicational language called the Explanatory Predication view (EP). According to EP, Plato rejects SP and, when he suggests that for all forms, the form of F "is F", he only means to emphasize the explanatory role of forms. In such contexts, he uses the predicate 'F' as shorthand to refer to the property of being F-explaining rather than to the property of being F. EP ought to be favored over other views because it is consistent with the textual evidence and avoids any highly counterintuitive consequences.
Plato; self-predication; forms
Fine, Gail Judith
Irwin, Terence Henry; Brennan, Theodore R.
Ph. D., Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis