Chapter

The Refutation Of The Theory

David Bostock

in Plato’s Theaetetus

Published in print February 1991 | ISBN: 9780198239307
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191679889 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198239307.003.0003

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks

The Refutation Of The Theory

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Having brought Theaetetus' first child to birth, Socrates now sets about testing it, and in fact he brings three separate objections. In the first he refutes Protagoras' general claim that ‘man is the measure of all things’, but — as he himself makes clear — this refutation leaves the heart of our theory untouched. In the second he refutes the Heraclitean claim that everything is perpetually changing, but it is not altogether obvious what effect upon our theory this refutation is intended to have, and this question should be considered. In the third he turns directly to Theaetetus' claim that perception is knowledge and offers a refutation of it which hardly depends at all upon the details of the theory that has been worked out to support it. This chapter argues that Plato's claim is that perception never reaches truth, and therefore cannot be said to be knowledge of any kind. His ground for this claim is that perception cannot provide the concepts that are required to formulate any judgement at all.

Keywords: Socrates; Theaetetus; Protagoras; Heraclitus; Thaetetus; perception; common things

Chapter.  27929 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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