On Being and What There Is: Classical Vaiaseosika and the History of Indian Ontology

On Being and What There Is: Classical Vaiaseosika and the History of Indian Ontology

On Being and What There Is: Classical Vaiaseosika and the History of Indian Ontology

On Being and What There Is: Classical Vaiaseosika and the History of Indian Ontology

Excerpt

Do we know what we mean when we speak about nonbeing or that which is not? Do we know what we mean when we speak about being or that which is? Is there a difference between being and what there is; that is, the entities which exist? The dialogue partners in Plato's Sophist, Theaetetus and the stranger from Elea, share their perplexity (aporía) about what once seemed to them most familiar and obvious, and they agree that those who still believe to know what they are saying should explain what they mean when they talk about being or that which is. According to the stranger from Elea, the unquestioned familiarity of the "is" and "is not" has been shattered once and for all by the bold and paradoxical statements of "father Parmenides"; that is, by his thesis that only being is, that nonbeing is not, and that there is no becoming and change. The most obvious has become most confusing and perplexing; and in such perplexity, philosophy itself has its origin and natural habitat. What is being? What is really real? Plato sees an intellectual "battle of giants" (gigantomachía) being fought over these questions.

In the following generation, Plato's greatest disciple and critic . . .

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