Plato's 'Third Man' Arguments

Mind 90 (358):263-269 (1981)
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Plato presents us with two versions of the "third man" argument in the "parmenides": they occur in a tightly-knit passage of reasoning containing four arguments against the theory of forms (130e-133a). The orthodox interpretation is that both versions are attempts to show that certain basic tenets of the theory, including a one-over-many principle, form an inconsistent set. The author argues that this interpretation cannot be correct, since it renders incoherent the train of thought in the wider passage and is unable to explain the occurrence of certain perceptual expressions within the first version of the "third man" argument. The author proposes an alternative reading of this version which avoids these difficulties



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