The Dialogues of Plato, Volume 4

The Dialogues of Plato, Volume 4: Plato’s Parmenides, Revised Edition

Translated with Comment by R. E. ALLEN
Copyright Date: 1997
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    The Dialogues of Plato, Volume 4
    Book Description:

    Among Plato's later dialogues, theParmenidesis one of the most significant. Not only a document of profound philosophical importance in its own right, it also contributes to the understanding of Platonic dialogues that followed it, and it exhibits the foundations of the physics and ontology that Aristotle offered in hisPhysicsandMetaphysicsVII.In this book, R.E. Allen provides a superb translation of theParmenidesalong with a structural analysis that procedes on the assumption that formal elements, logical and dramatic, are important to its interpretation and that the argument of theParmenidesis aporetic, a statement of metaphysical perplexities. Allen's original translation of and commentary on theParmenideswere published in 1983 to great acclaim and have now been revised by the author.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13803-0
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
      (pp. 1-66)

      When we arrived at Athens from our home in Clazomenae, we met Adeimantus and Glaucon in the Agora. Adeimantus took my hand and said, Welcome, Cephalus, and if you need anything here that we can provide, please say so.

      Why really, I replied, we’re here for that very reason: to ask something of you.

      You have only to state it, he said.

      What was the name, I said, of your half-brother on your mother’s side? I don’t remember. He was just a boy, the last time I came here from Clazomenae; but that was a long time ago now.


    • PARMENIDES:: Comment
        (pp. 67-72)

        TheParmenidesis narrated by Cephalus of Clazomenae, who has heard it from Plato’s half-brother, Antiphon, who heard it in turn from Pythodorus, a student of Zeno(AlcibiadesI 119a, cf. DK I 248,33), who was present at the original conversation. This narrative scheme is complex and unusual: theParmenidesis Plato’s only dialogue in which the narrator is three stages removed from the conversation he narrates. It is, indeed, the only dialogue, with the exception of theSymposium,in which the narrator was not present at the original conversation; the details of theSymposium,narrated to Apollodorus by Aristodemus,...

        (pp. 72-75)

        There are seven people present (129d I): Zeno and Parmenides from Elea, and Pythodorus, Socrates, and Aristoteles, all Athenians. The sixth and seventh members of the group are unnamed and play no part in the discussion-another mark of its remoteness. Presumably they are Athenians too.

        With great economy of means, Plato establishes the character of his speakers and dates the conversation. Socrates is perhaps between eighteen and twenty-one years old, an ephebe: he is addressed and treated as a man, but still “quite young” (127c, cf. 130e, 135d). His youth and relative inexperience will stand in contrast to the age...

      • Part I. Zeno’s Paradox and the Theory of Forms (127d-130a)
        (pp. 76-103)

        The dramatis personae of the first act of theParmenidesare Zeno and Socrates. Zeno has been reading aloud from a book that he has brought to Athens for the first time. When he is finished, Socrates fastens on one of his “hypotheses,” and uses the theory of Ideas to refute it.

        Zeno’s hypothesis is a paradox. If things which are, are many, it follows that the same things must be both like and unlike. This is impossible; like things cannot be unlike, nor unlike things, like. Therefore, there cannot be many things: plurality is impossible.

        In logical structure, this...

      • Part II: Parmenides’ Criticisms of the Theory of Forms (130a -135d)
        (pp. 104-206)

        When Socrates has finished his outline of the theory of Ideas, Parmenides, who has been listening quietly to the conversation with Zeno, turns to Socrates and raises a series of criticisms.

        Those criticisms are internal, meant to show that the theory of Ideas has inconsistent or impossible consequences. In outline, their structure is this: Parmenides begins by asking the extent of the realm of Ideas, and Socrates confesses that he cannot tell. Parmenides then presses the Dilemma of Participation, the Paradox of Divisibility, and the Largeness Regress, a series of connected objections to the possibility of participation in the Ideas....

      • Part III. The Hypotheses about Unity (135d-166c)
        (pp. 207-340)

        Parmenides has criticized Socrates’ theory of Ideas, and told him that the reason Socrates cannot answer the criticisms or successfully defend the theory is that, owing to his youth, he has undertaken to distinguish Ideas before being properly trained. Socrates had earlier limited the extent of Ideas because he still paid attention to what people think (130d). He is now called to undertake an exercise in what most people regard as useless and would condemn as idle talk (135d).

        The method of exercise is the one Zeno used, except for this: Socrates was right not to allow inquiry into the...

  6. INDEX
    (pp. 341-351)