Plato's Theaetetus [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 43 (2):385-386 (1989)
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This book is a tour de force in the Oxford tradition of philosophical commentaries. Bostok's interest is not primarily the drama, characters, or setting of the Theaetetus, but the interpretation and evaluation of the arguments presented therein. Consequently, the dialogue receives a rather different treatment than the one to be found in Seth Benardete's The Being of the Beautiful, which is not mentioned by Bostok. Bostok's analysis of the Theaetetus is set against a background of ancient, modern, and contemporary epistemology. For historical context Bostok draws mostly on the other works of Plato, though he also discusses the views of Protagoras and Heraclitus concerning perception and flux, respectively. The tradition in epistemology against which the Theaetetus is subsequently measured begins with the British empiricists Locke, Berkeley, and Hume, and includes twentieth-century analytic philosophers like Russell, Quine, and Kripke. Bostok's style is remarkably clear and engaging, and his account of the significance of the Theaetetus, while restricted in scope, is penetrating and masterly. The book contains a very brief preface, an ample introductory chapter on the place of the Theaetetus in Plato's philosophy, two main sections--appropriately titled "Knowledge and Perception" and "Knowledge and Belief"--and a modest bibliography and index.



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