The Object of Thought Argument: Forms and Thought

Gail Fine

in On Ideas

Published in print August 1995 | ISBN: 9780198235491
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597398 | DOI:
The Object of Thought Argument: Forms and Thought

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The Object of Thought Argument is that forms must exist to explain the possibility of thought; Aristotle's two objections are familiar— (1) if the argument works, it proves too many including the wrong sort, of forms, in this case, perishable and fictional entities; but (2) if the argument doesn’t work, it is invalid. Fine agrees that the argument is invalid, but after examining passages from a number of dialogues, in particular, the Theaetetus, Sophist, and Parmenides, she concludes that Plato is not committed to this argument. Indeed, the question of the possibility of thought only becomes an issue in the late, and not in the middle, dialogues. Fine argues that, while Plato does accept some of its claims, Plato is not committed to the Object of Thought Argument, nor does he not accept or rely upon a referential theory of meaning that such commitment may have entailed. Aristotle nevertheless does not misinterpret Plato, because, as Fine argues, Aristotle's strategy is to draw out implications that are available from certain passages in the dialogues in which Plato fails to the necessary distinctions—on this occasion, between different uses of ‘is’ and different sense of nous.

Keywords: fictional entities; nous; Parmenides; possibility of thought; referential theory of meaning; Sophist; Theaetetus

Chapter.  10819 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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