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Sophos -- Study of Philosophy and Thought Message Board › Comment by Marv Treiger on Form of Not Being

Comment by Marv Treiger on Form of Not Being

Rabbi Mordecai F.
user 13690183
Group Organizer
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 7
In re-reading Sophist I believe I've found the relevant text that demonstrates the necessity of a Form of Not-Being. Please read from 258 into 259c. In this section, the Visitor contradicts Parmenides his teacher who has asserted "Never shall it force itself on us, that that which is not may be;" Instead, the Visitor topples this by summing up: "But we've not only shown that those which are not are. We've also caused what turns out to be the form of that which is not to appear. And further in 259b, ...because it is different from that which is, it clearly can be what is not.

Creation would be unbearably confined and shriveled if it only admitted of Being and would itself be less than Encompassing. We cannot even postulate Being without postulating Not-Being if we but stop for a moment and ponder. This dialogue seems to have deepened the theory of Forms by exploding Parmenidian rigidity from yet another angle and this is not merely semantic wordplay but a deeply practical matter.

As the Visitor says 259c: "If anyone doesn't believe these contrarieties, he has to think about them himself and say something better than what we've said."

Great Group meeting as usual.
William J.
user 43274802
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 1
Many thanks for the response. A very short response before I leave.
Please carefully reread the passage that you cite. While you are absolutely correct in noting that the passage argues that to me on (that which is not) is among that which is (to on), I do not think that it quite supports the reading that you are going it. Those that are not (ta me onta) are among those that are (ta onta) derivatively. Hence they are not among those that are in the same way as those which are the same as or those which are different from are.
Please accept my apologies for the brevity of this reply. If you want, more on this when I have more time.
Bill Jacobs

William J.
user 43274802
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 2
(This comment is by Marvin. He had some difficulties posting his response so I am helping him out.)

Form as Not-Being

Thanks for the timely reply. I have lots to say on this question but I will be in Retreat for two weeks and must offer only this modest reply for now. Perhaps the question needs to be posed whether that which is "derivative" of something, while clearly not the same in one way, may yet qualify for status at the level of form. We have seen that some things may be both the same and different in certain ways. It does seem quite clear that the Visitor thinks so. He even says at 258c "...,in the same way that which is not also was and is not being, and is one form among the many that are? Do we, Theaetetus, still have any doubts about that?" While I do not think the matter of the theory of forms is near to being settled, wouldn't this reading be compatible with your felicitous phrase that forms do not subsist in "resplendent solitude"? And was that not part of the refutation of Parmenides? Does not the SOPHIST clear the ground for both being and not-being - a formulation which in turn will have to suffer its own challenges - but which deeply expands the terrain of forms?
William J.
user 43274802
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 3
(This is my response to Marvin's reply.)


Thank you for your response.

I do not think that eidos at Sophist 258C3 is best translated as "Form" (in the sense of middle period dialogues such as the Phaedo, the Republic, or the Phaedrus). In this context it means something more akin to "sort" or "kind." In his translation Nicholas White indicates as much by using the lower case "form" rather than "Form."

If you read on a little further I think that Plato indicates what he intends in Sophist 258C3 - 258C8. In the summary at Sophist 258D5 - 259B6 that which is not is explained as the result of those which are being different from one another. Saying that which is not is just an indirect way of saying that which is. Hence my point about its being derivative.

If you want, I will be happy to discuss it further with you.

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