Plato on the Self-Predication of Forms: Early and Middle Dialogues

Hardcover | May 1, 1987

byJohn Malcolm

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Much of the recent literature published on Plato's metaphysics has involved the Third Man Argument found in his dialogue Parmenides. This argument depends upon construing Forms both as universals and as paradigm examples, and thus as being subject to self-predication. Professor Malcolm first presents a new and radical interpretation of Plato's earlier dialogues. He argues that the few cases of self-predication contained therein are acceptable simply as statements concerning universals (for example, `beauty is beautiful'), and that therefore Plato is notvulnerable in these cases to the Third Man Argument. In considering the middle dialogues, Professor Malcolm takes a conservative stance, rejecting influential current doctrines which portray the Forms as being not self-predicative. He shows that the middle dialogues do indeed take Forms to be both universals and paradigms, and thus to exemplifythemselves. The author goes on to consider why Plato should have been unsuccessful in avoiding self-predication. He shows that Plato's concern to explain how the truths of mathematics can indeed be true played an important role in his postulation of the Form as an Ideal Individual. The authorconcludes with the claim that reflection on the ambiguity of such notions as the `Standard Yard' may help us to appreciate why Plato failed to distinguish Forms as universals from Forms as paradigm cases.

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Much of the recent literature published on Plato's metaphysics has involved the Third Man Argument found in his dialogue Parmenides. This argument depends upon construing Forms both as universals and as paradigm examples, and thus as being subject to self-predication. Professor Malcolm first presents a new and radical interpretation ...

John Malcolm is a Professor of Philosophy at University of California, Davis.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:238 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.75 inPublished:May 1, 1987Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198239068

ISBN - 13:9780198239062

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'Malcolm has done a great service by providing us with a book we can use for many years as a handbook on modern interpretations of Platonic metaphysics ... the chief value of the book is its thorough discussions of most of the views about Plato's metaphysics that have been proposed in Englishover the last thirty years.'Paul Woodruff, The University of Texas at Austin, Review of Metaphysics, September 1993