Names and Nature in Plato's Cratylus

Names and Nature in Plato's Cratylus

Names and Nature in Plato's Cratylus

Names and Nature in Plato's Cratylus

Synopsis

This study offers a comprehensive new interpretation of one of Plato's most enigmatic and controversial dialogues, the Cratylus, showing it to present a complex and unifiedargument for a positive conclusion.

Excerpt

This book is a version of my Ph.D. thesis, ‘A Reading of Plato’s Cratylus’, submitted to the Princeton University Department of Philosophy (Ph.D. 1996). It has been extensively (but not sufficiently) revised, especially the Introduction and Chapters iii and vi.

The Bibliography at the end does not intend to be a complete guide to work on the Cratylus: for further references, readers should also consult the bibliographies in the works of Derbolav and Palmer, as well as the up-to-date general listings of recent work on Plato, edited by Luc Brisson, now easily accessible at http://callimac.vjf.cnrs.fr/BiblPlat/BPFrontEngl.html. Relevant publications subsequent to my work on the thesis are marked with an asterisk in the Bibliography; I have not made any general attempt to take account of these in making revisions. I have published two papers derived from the thesis: ‘Plato on Conventionalism’ (Phronesis 42 (1997), pp. 143-62), which combines the central claims of Chapter I with an overview of my reading; and ‘Socrates Agonistes: the Case of the Cratylus Etymologies’ (Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 16 (1998), pp. 63-98), which is almost identical to Chapter ii.

I am endebted to a number of people for help in writing the thesis: first among them is my advisor, John Cooper. in addition, Sarah Broadie and Alexander Nehamas read all of the thesis and offered very helpful comments; others who helped with the work in progress were Michael Frede, André Laks, James Lesher, and Stephen Menn. For discussion on particular points I am endebted to Charles Brittain, Myles Burnyeat, Panos Dimas, David Furley, Raymond Klibansky, Annette Loeffler, Dirk Obbink, John Palmer and Jenny Saul. in addition to the excellent facilities of the Princeton Classical Philosophy Programme and the Princeton Philosophy Department, I was grateful as a visitor to the McGill University Department of Philosophy and the Centre de Recherche Philologique at the Université de Lille iii (Charles de Gaulle). Versions of Chapter ii were presented at a workshop in Princeton and a seminar in Lille; I would like to thank the members of both groups for useful discussions. in revising the thesis for publication I was helped by comments from John Cooper, Stephen Menn, and Jenny Saul. I would also like to thank Nicholas Hladek for his assistance in preparing the text, and the University Center for Human Values at Princeton for its support. the indicies were prepared by Les Harris and Matthew Schwartz; I am grateful to them, and to the University of Chicago Division of the Humanities for funding their work.

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