Méthexis 12:89–101 (1999)

Gregor Damschen
University of Oldenburg
The principle of performative contradiction. On the epistemological significance of the dialogue form in Plato's "Euthydemus". - In this study, an analysis of the section 285d-288a of Plato's "Euthydemus" shall show two things: (1) The sophistic model of a world in which there is no contradiction, in which every linguistic utterance is true and every action correct, has no semantic inconsistencies, but can only be rejected with the help of the principle of performative contradictions. (2) It is precisely these performative contradictions that make it necessary for Plato to philosophize not in treatises but in dialogues; in other words, that the philosophical relevance of the Platonic form of dialogue can be seen, among other things, in the fact that - in contrast to philosophical forms of representation such as the treatise, the essay, and a henology as reconstructed and represented by the Tübingen School - it permits the representation of performative reflections and performative contradictions.
Keywords Plato  Euthydemus  dialogue  literary form  performative contradiction  pragmatic contradiction  principle of non-contradiction  self-refutation  retorsion
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