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On Plato's 'Sophist.'

ONCE THE STRANGER TAKES OVER THE DISCUSSION at the beginning of the Sophist,(1) and agrees to discuss the sophist, the statesman, and the philosopher, it is hard to remember that Socrates had arranged to meet with Theodorus, Theaetetus, and young Socrates once more, even after he had left Theaetetus completely barren, at least temporarily, and had encountered a resistance on Theodorus's part to his further participation in any argument which the interval of a single day could not, it seems, have overcome (Theaetetus 169c6-7; 183c5-d5). The Stranger's intrusion thus makes us fail to notice that the only possible interest Socrates could have had in the same group would have been in young Socrates, about whom he knows only that he developed with Theaetetus a way of classifying two kinds of number: those with integral square or cube roots and those without. If Socrates had engaged young Socrates in a discussion, and informed Euclides about it in the same way as he had reported his discussion with Theodorus and Theaetetus, we know that Euclides could not have transposed Socrates' report into direct discourse and omitted Socrates' "I said" and "He said." A transposition of the kind Euclides practiced in the Theaetetus would have led to the indiscernability of the two Socrateses, since each would have addressed the other as Socrates, and there is no reason to believe that the wiser answers would have consistently belonged to only one of them.

The dialogue between the two Socrateses, which does not occur at dawn on the day after Socrates' appearance before the kingarchon, would not perhaps be of any interest if it did not call attention to the characterization of thinking on which Socrates and the Stranger both agree: thinking is the silent conversation of the soul with itself (Theaetetus 189e4-190a7; Sophist 263e3-264a3). A double negation is assigned to thinking. Thinking is dependent in its presentation on the denial of two things that are indispensable for conversation: it must be before another, and it must be spoken. On the one hand, to strip speaking of its vocalic character is to assign it consonants by themselves and thus to deny it the possibility of any combination of elements, even though the combination of consonants with vowels is that which alone makes it possible to overcome the problem of nonbeing and falsehood (253a4-6). On the other hand, to strip speaking of a second participant in the conversation is to transform the single speaker into a double thinker, who retains in his doubleness the singular identity of the speaker, and who is going by the same name cannot control the split he needs in himself. Whatever thought one self gives birth to, the other self cannot test it "objectively" and must succumb, as fathers do, to favoring his own thoughts because they are his own.

The Stranger's intrusion thus looks like a godsend for both Socrates and Plato. It is a godsend for Plato, since a philosopher of the same caliber as Socrates can continue the discussion in a form that Plato has no trouble transcribing. It is a godsend for Socrates, since he is not forced to face the true difficulty his own revision of Protagoras raises, namely, How is thinking possible if the thinker in becoming a double agent becomes thereby a double patient, and if whatever he thinks experiences a multiplicative effect that is in no time completely out of his control? Socrates proposes at the beginning of the Statesman to examine young Socrates as a means for his own self-knowledge (257d1-258a6). Whether or not he could have succeeded in such a task, we know that Plato could not have shown him in either his success or his failure had Plato continued to preserve the nonnarrated form of the Sophist and the Statesman. The missing dialogue Philosopher, which would have been the truth of which the Sophist and Statesman are two phantom images, could never have been written without Plato's reversion to Socrates' or Theodorus's narration of it. If it is hard to conceive of Theodorus as narrator, we are back with a Socratically narrated dialogue, in which the representation of young Socrates through and by Socrates would have effectively concealed the true difficulty. This difficulty has two aspects: the impossibility of Plato's presenting non-imagistically the reality of the philosopher, and the paradox for Socrates that his own thinking necessarily takes an imagistic form as soon as he begins to think about it. Socrates can think in a genuine way as long as he does not think about thinking. Socrates, then, cannot have self-knowledge. Socrates, therefore, cannot be a philosopher, and the missing Philosopher represents not an impossibility for Plato the poet but an impossibility simply. The death of Socrates thus looks like the suicide of philosophy itself.

Plato has so arranged his story that through two divergent paths it ends in silence. One path of silence is that not taken: the conversation between Socrates and young Socrates immediately after Theodorus's return with the two mathematicians. The other path of silence is taken, but only partway. The Stranger proposes three discourses, but he delivers only two of them. The third would have been either a speech by himself, in which he would have presented the Eleatic version of the philosopher and concealed his own view; or it would have been speech about the philosopher without being the direct presentation of the philosopher, since his discourse would be before others and as audible as any other speech. As an image of thinking (cf. Theaetetus 206d1-6), it would have been incapable of getting around itself. It seems, then, that something happens during the Sophist that makes the Stranger abondon his original plan and that allows Socrates to take over from him and complete his intention of the day before to talk with young Socrates. The Stranger succeeds in clearing the way for the silent return of Socrates by getting rid of the two phantom images of Socrates, the logic-chopper and the moralist, to which he assigns the names "sophist" and "statesman." The Sophist and the Statesman are two portraits of the Socrates we know, a Socrates who harnesses the quibble in the service of morality. That we do not at once recognize Socrates in his split form testifies to the persuasiveness of Plato, who does not let the seams show. Once, however, Socrates is split, it seems impossible to put him together again, for there is nothing real beyond his double image. As Socrates himself inadvertently reveals in his portrait of himself as midwife, he has the art to assist the young in aborting or giving birth to their thoughts, and he has the art to test the truth of their progeny; but these two arts cannot be one, since no woman gives birth to phantom offspring. The singular Socrates is refuted by his own image. It is only natural, therefore, for Socrates to suggest at the beginning of the Sophist that the Stranger has come as a god to punish him. He is finished.

This gloomy reading of the setting of the Sophist matches the mood of Theaetetus, who is only saved from despair by looking into the Stranger's face and seeing, according to the Stranger, his own destiny (265d1-e2). Theaetetus reads his own nature in the Stranger's face, and thus accepts without argument what he will come to maintain. His reading thus reproduces the problem of thinking, for in his unthinking acceptance of the Stranger as another while the Stranger is in fact nothing but his future self, Theaetetus reproduces in time the problem of thinking. As the Stranger presents it, the problem is particularly acute, since it is immediately after he opposes irrational nature to rational creation that the Stranger asserts that Theaetetus's nature will on its own accept the creativity of mind. This irrational path to reason seems to be the climax of the unreasonable procedure of the Stranger, who is going to lead Theaetetus without experience to a rational account of nonbeing (234e5-6). Theaetetus is supposed to come to an understanding of the sophist without ever having seen a sophist (239e1). The sophist is going to be deduced by reason. The sophist, we can only guess, is going to deduced out of reason, and the nonbeing he represents is to be reason's own.

In the first half of the Sophist, the Stranger presents himself as a hunter of the hunter sophist; and if the Stranger has an art of hunting, it too must belong to the class of acquisitive arts. Once, however, the sophist is reassigned to the art of making, which the Stranger had originally opposed to that of acquisition, it would seem that the Stranger is the original of which the sophist is the copy (265a4-10). The sophist duplicates in the mode of nonbeing the real acquisitor, the Stranger. Far from being a copycat of the acquisitive ways of the sophist, the Stranger is himself the model for the sophist. This turnaround, however, is not exact. The Stranger's way seems to diverge from the sophist's at the division between the hunting of lifeless things and the hunting of animals (219e4-7). Hunting in itself is the hidden hunting of the hidden or elusive beings, and applies across the board to what the philosopher as ontologist does; but the hunting by the sophist of rich young men has nothing to do with what the Stranger does and everything to do with what Socrates does. The divergence of the Stranger and the sophist at this point conceals the divergence of the Stranger and Socrates: Socrates is the hidden quarry of the Stranger's pursuit. If, however, Socrates is a philosopher, the Stranger is in pursuit of one of his own kind, who not only does not imitate the Stranger's way but practices the Strager's hunting of the beings in the hunting of men. Socrates seems to have a double name for this twofold pursuit. The first he calls dialectic, the second erotic. Socrates often leads us to believe that they are mysteriously the same; but if they are the same for Socrates, they are not the same for the Stranger. Socrates flits from genus to genus in the four or five varieties of acquisition, but the Stranger does not accompany him. He is not seeking himself in his double search for Socrates and sophist. There would thus be a split in philosophy itself--a split represented by the Stranger and Socrates. The Parmenidean Stranger catches Socrates and sets him before the royal speech (235b10-c2). Socrates is to be disposed of by a more comprehensive and less idiosyncratic art.

The way of the Stranger seems to lead to two conclusions. On the one hand, it is not a way so certain as not to mistake the apparitional manifold of the sophist's art for the sophist's art, and as not to get the sophist's art right only on the second try, and even then at the high price of bewilderment before the problem of nonbeing, which the Stranger had not recognized when he noticed the resemblance of the sophist to the angler. On the other hand, the Stranger's way leaves Socrates behind in fragments, since if he cannot be unified through the notion of production, the philosopher shows up in a genuine manifold within the art of acquisition. This unsatisfactory conclusion would seem to require a critique of the Stranger's way which the Stranger cannot give. His initial success at catching Socrates is worse than his initial failure to catch the sophist. The nonbeing that lurked in his failure coincides with the being that showed up his success. The Stranger is not prepared for either.

The fifth or sixth division, which sits uneasily between the Stranger's original insight into the sophist as acquisitor and his second view of the sophist as maker, has no standing in his almost ([unkeyable]) perfect division of the arts in two (219a8). In the sixth division he finds Socrates in the last cut, but he puts himself in the first cut. The sixth division thus has at the top the Stranger as the separator [unkeyable], and at the bottom Socrates as the purifier. The divider of the beings discovers at the end the cleanser of souls. A diacritical ontology subsumes under itself a psychology. This distinction cannot but remind us of the Sophist and Statesman respectively: the Stranger is the philosopher and Socrates the statesman. There is, then, no need for the third dialogue, since as the Stranger remarks to Theatetus, he and Theaetetus have already fallen into philosophy in the course of their examination of the sophist (253a6-9). Such an interpretation would entail the demotion of Socrates and the elevation of the Stranger: the Stranger adopts Aristotle's view of Socrates (Metaphysics 987b1-4) before the fact.

The Stranger's subordination of Socrates to himself, along with the implicit claim that his diacritical ontology is the unity of acquisition and production, makes one wonder whether the alternative does not lie in the thwarted conversation between Socrates and young Socrates. In that conversation Socrates could have found in his namesake his true successor, who despite his reality would have eluded any representation. The triumph of the Stranger would not be a true triumph, but only the triumph which is compatible with writing and institutions. Socrates would live over against the Academy. This possibility suggests that the Stranger has not got Socrates dead to rights, but that Socrates slipped away from the final trap. The Stranger admits to Theatetus that insofar as Theaetetus cannot tell Socrates apart from a sophist, the Stranger's sixth division vindicates Socrates' view (231a4-b2) that the sophist; is a phantom image of the true philosopher, and that Theaetetus, mistake is necessary. Indeed, if at any point the Stranger can isolate the sophist from the philosopher for the nonphilosopher Theaetetus, then and only then is Socrates refuted. It looks, then, as if the confinement of the sophist to the mode of production must give way to the establishment of the being of nonbeing, that is, to the necessity of the intertwining of being with nonbeing.

Since Theaetetus has never seen a sophist and nevertheless believes that the description of soul-cathartics resembles the sophistic art, Theaetetus must take Socrates for a sophist; for not only does Socrates' maieutics correspond fairly closely to soul-cathartics, but Theaetetus's own experience of his ignorance through Socrates agrees with the Stranger's account, particularly since Theaetetus's attribution of the highest state of moderation [unkeyable] to one so purified echoes Socrates' claim about Theaetetus's moderate condition at the end of the Theaetetus (Sophist 230d5; Theaetetus 210c3). The Theaetetus, then, parallels to some extent the Sophist, and if the philosopher would have been discussed by Socrates and young Socrates, then the Stranger's third discourse in its absence is the same as Socrates' second conversation in its absence. The situation, then, is this:

If this scheme is right, the Stranger must have split, through his diacritical ontology, the (maieutic-erotic) unity of the Socratic dialectic of the Theaetetus. The Sophist and Statesman are the two phantasmata of the Theaetetus. What, then, is the Theaetetus? Why isn't it the missing Philosopher all by itself? If it is not the Philosopher, but as much as image of it as Theaetetus is of Socrates, how does it differ as an image from its twofold image, the Sophist and Statesman? If Socrates is sitting for his portrait in the Sophist and Statesman, what is missing from the portrait in the Theaetetus? If Euclides had preserved Socrates' original narrative, the Theaetetus would have been something like a self-portrait. Do the Sophist and Statesman make up for Euclides' decision to get rid of Socrates' perspective? If they do, why do "I said" and "he said" undergo the transformation into different dialogues with two different interlocutors? If the Sophist is to the Statesman as rationalism is to empiricism--in the sense that the sophist is to be deduced in the former without the intervention of experiences, particularly experiences of sight--and the statesman is to be induced in the latter from young Socrates' endurance of political practice, there is obviously a way in which Theaetetus's experience of false births in the context of the discovery of logos as that which sets apart knowledge from true opinion reproduces the duality of the Statesman and the Sophist.

If the philosopher cannot thematize himself but must be thematized by another, the Stranger seems initially to disagree with Socrates as to how this can be done. Socrates says that his own thematization must show up in two separated apparitions; the Stranger says that the school of Parmenides holds that a separate account of the philosopher is possible. The evidence Plato left us tells us that the Stranger is mistaken. If he realized his mistake, he must have done so during the discussion of either the sophist or the statesman. On the basis of his admission that he is about to commit philosophical patricide (241d3-8), he realizes his mistake at the point where Theaetetus cannot tell Socrates apart from the sophist, and therefore nonbeing must be if Theaetetus's error is to be grounded in something more than an accidental inadvertence. It is hard to believe, however, that the Stranger has not foreseen this crisis from the start, since he declares that he had long broken with the Parmenidean doctrine of his youth (239b1-3; 242a7-8). The Stranger, then, deliberately sets out on a path of illusion; he knows that his diairesis will not give a logos of the sophist. The Stranger proceeds deliberately into error. He makes error an indispensable part of the way of truth. This way of truth consists in the apparent borrowing of the thematized term "hunting," so that it necessarily appears as parasitic while it is in fact the original host. As apparently parasitic it cannot be thematized; as apparently nonparasitic it can. Is this, however, a special case of the inversion of priority, or do such inversions hold everywhere? If they do, then the Stranger's schematism--simple paradigm and complex copy--must be the paradigm for any philosophical procedure: the paradigm must break down, and only after it has broken down does "true" philosophy begin. "True" must be bracketed because if such a procedure is necessary, the "false" paradigmatic beginning is part of philosophy. The Sophist, then, if it approaches as closely as possible to the thematization of philosophy, must do so very late in its examination. The true beginning of philosophy is precisely at that point where the Stranger ends his discussion of Presocratic philosophers and begins again with the problem of logos (251e7). It is at that point where the Stranger and Socrates merge and proceed forward thence in step until the end of the Statesman.

The actual conditions for the conversation between the two Socrateses precludes its being written up, but the alternative--that Theodorus did not bring the Stranger with him--seems to allow for a Socratically narrated dialogue in which philosophy would be the subject. If we should then ask what occasion would have led to such a topic, it would seem at first that we cannot dictate whatever Plato would have found most appropriate. On reflection, however, the germ from which Socrates could most plainly start would be a discussion of Theaetetus's errors in the Theaetetus, of which the two most conspicuous were his failure to see how to generalize his first answer--that knowledge is knowledge of whatever is measurable and numerable--and his failure to see that "through speeches" is the answer to the question Socrates raised, Through what does the soul handle being and nonbeing? (185c9-e2). Theaetetus's first failure blinded him to the issue that lay behind Socrates' description of soul-maieutics: How can knowledge of number and measure be put together with knowledge of soul? His second failure blinded him to the manner in which the discussion of speech omitted the kind of speech Socrates and Theaetetus were employing in the discussion. A conversation, then, between Socrates and young Socrates, if it began with the failure of the Theaetetus, would thematize philosophy. This thematization had in fact already occurred, since Socrates, in narrating the dialogue he had with Theodorus and Theaetetus, would have thematized philosophy, inasmuch as his representation of Theaetetus through Socrates himself had put Theaetetus in the proper perspective. Euclides had wiped out that perspective as soon as he wiped away all traces of perspective: Euclides cut himself out of the picture and thus claimed for himself a position outside of space and time from which he could survey everyone else and cast no shadow on his own. If this argument is found plausible, then the missing dialogue Philosopher is as latent in the Theaetetus as it is in all other dialogues. This latency cannot be developed in the light directly; it must undergo a split along the lines of the Sophist and Statesman, which are in turn present at least in every other dialogue. Whether they are present in each other is another question.

Perhaps the most perplexing omission in the Sophist occurs at the point where the Stranger, after giving an account of the painter's art--by means of which all things are imitated, and in being exhibited to the foolish young at a distance deceive them into the belief that the paintings are the beings and the painter competent to make the beings themselves--gets Theaetetus to agree that there could be a parallel art in speech, so that the sophist in showing spoken phantoms ([unkeyable]) to the young, who are still at a distance from the truth of things ([unkeyable]), would be believed to be speaking the truth and be the wisest in everything (234c2-e4). Even apart from the puzzle of the inversion in the parallel--such that the distance of the young from the paintings becomes the distance of the young from the truth of things and Theaetetus has to agree to his being the believer in the sophist's phantom speeches before he has been disillusioned by direct contact with the beings--the Stranger gets Theaetetus to agree on a possible art of imitation through speeches without ever giving a single example of a spoken phantom. When, moreover, the Stranger proceeds to divide the art of image-making into eikastics and phantastics, he does so again on the basis of painting and does not stop, before he plunges into the problem of being and nonbeing, to illustrate the difference between an eikastic and phantastic speech. We seem to be left on our own to devise a sense for [unkeyable] that would ground the Stranger's argument. Our task is in a sense made easy by the existence of the Sophist. The Sophist is obviously a case of phantom speech, but we have no way of knowing whether it was produced by eikastics or phantastics unless we can determine what we mean by calling it an imitation. If, however, Plato emerges as the master sophist, and if the philosopher Plato shows up apparitionally as the nonphilosopher and the philosopher Stranger as his finest product, how is the whole argument of the sophist not undermined? In looking outside the dialogue we detect the [unkeyable] Plato; in looking into the dialogue, we find the philosopher pure and simple. Once, however, we incorporate the perspective we gained from the outside into the inside, the Stranger is a phantom philosopher or sophist, who catches the pseudo-sophist, that is, the sophist who is not an apparition of the philosopher. Theaetetus at any rate declares the sophist to be the impersonator of the wise (268b10), and whoever the wise is, whether god the maker or the wise simply, he is not the philosopher.

The difficult position in which Plato put the Stranger seems to be a proof that philosophy cannot be thematized without undergoing a transformation into an apparition of itself. Plato thereby vindicates Socrates' view of the relation between the philosopher and the sophist and denies any validity to the Parmenidean view which the Stranger was asked to expound. Before, however, we claim to find the truth about the sophist solely in the form of the Sophist, Plato has not left the Stranger without his own way of exemplifying the problem of spoken phantoms, even if Theaetetus is put in the funny position of following an argument he cannot follow except in the image of spoken phantoms--images in deed. Up to the point where the Stranger turns to the analysis of image-making, hunting and pursuit dominate his language and align what he is doing with what the sophist does. Words with -[unkeyable]- are found forty-seven times in the Sophist before 235a11 and twice afterward. Of the latter two instances, the first occurs when the Stranger recalls his remark that the sophist was hard to catch ([unkeyable]), and the second when he summarizes the kinds of acquisitive arts he and Theaetetus first assigned to the sophist (261a5; 265a7). What happens then in the course of the Sophist is a reflection on its starting point in the doubling of the image of hunting in the action of the sophist and the Stranger. The Stranger's controlling paradigm is thus subject to a double critique: What grounds his discovery of the kinship between angler and sophist, and what grounds his understanding of what he is doing in the same terms? Theaetetus is at first reluctant to admit that there is a hunting of men (222b6), but he does not notice that while the sophist hunts men, he and the Stranger hunt the beast sophist. The image of hunting is more literal on the level of the Stranger's method than on the sophist's. The Stranger thus denies what Theaetetus had accepted--that men are tame and there is a hunting of them--by making the sophist a wild animal which they are to turn over to the royal speech.

If, then, an example of a spoken phantom is that of the sophist and the Stranger as hunters, the Stranger is asking, in generalizing the issue of his own language, whether images in speech necessarily involve deception, or the nonbeing of spoken images entails false-hood, and whether it is not possible to proceed in one's understanding without having any recourse to images. When the Stranger began by saying that the sophist was not the easiest to grasp ([unkeyable]), that he believed the genus of the sophist was hard to hunt down ([unkeyable]), and that he knew of no easier way ([unkeyable]) than to practice the sophist's pursuit ([unkeyable]) on an easier subject (218c6; 218d3; 218d6-7), there was no reason for Theaetetus to galvanize his language back into life and anticipate the Stranger's exploitation of expressions that he could have as easily let fade away in the course of the discussion. Phantom images in speech thus seem to be a difficulty of the Stranger's own creation, so that whereas he has to face the problem of image-making in speech, the sophist does not, since the sophist after all does not have to accept the Stranger's picture of himself. The sophist can go about his business without ever entangling himself in an image. He would thus argue that his own spuriousness arises from the invention of the Stranger, and the Stranger has to account for himself without a shred of evidence that the sophist ever resorts to images in speech. How easy it would have been to dispense with the Stranger's language can be seen if one reflects on the structure of his first example, the art of angling. The division falls into three sections, with three items in each. The first section establishes the manner of the art: it is a kind of hunting. The second establishes the object of the art--fish--and the third establishes the means employed to catch the fish--hook and line. The Stranger's example, then, could have been generalized at once, and the sophist's art determined by its manner, object, and means, and there would have been no need to bring hunting to bear on either the sophist's or the Stranger's activity. The paradigm of the angler allowed for the scaffolding on which the Stranger's image-making is based to be dismantled without either any loss to the inquiry or any distraction from it.

If, then, the sophist had been confronted straight-on with this threefold question--how, what, and by what means--the sophist could have been said to lure young men by means of speeches. The sophist, to be sure, could not have been distinguished thereby from Socrates, but that, according to Socrates, is as it should be. Why, then, does the Stranger get himself involved in a series of definitions which, he claims, cannot be unified except through the notion of phantom speeches? A possible explanation can be found in the observation that Theaetetus has never seen a sophist and has no experience of the disillusionment that comes from experience after living in the world of phantom speeches. Through the Stranger's literalization of language, he represents to Theaetetus a world of phantom speeches, which Theaetetus recognizes as such when he realizes the impossibility of discovering the sophist's unity in the manifold of his different arts. Within the dialogue and through experience in speech alone, the Stranger gives Theaetetus an image in speech of what is entailed in the experience of things. The disillusionment reality occasions is presented in an image. The Stranger thus implies that the fundamental experience of the beings, which most men undergo after their initial distance from them, is the discovery of this principle: Everything is just what it is and nothing else. This principle is enshrined in the formula: a being is that which does not stand in need of another. The ones of phantom speech are shown to be phantoms as soon as they submit to analysis. This atomism, whether material or ideal, has as its corollary that to be is to be countable. It thus links up, at least in part, with the implicit definition of knowledge which Theaetetus first offered Socrates. The starting point of the Stranger thus reaches back to the beginning of the Theaetetus and goes forward to his examination of the philosophers who count the beings. The problem of nonbeing, which comes to light through a manifold that can be shown to be one only if nonbeing is, leads to the problem of being, in which it turns out that there can be no stable counting of the beings, regardless of whether there is to be only one or more. Initially, every manifold that was designated by a single name betrayed the presence of appearance and the failure to get at what something is; and the impossibility of keeping to the original count in the case of the beings entailed that it was not appearance that multiplied unity, but being itself was infected with the same multiplicative virus. The Stranger's solution to this ontological crisis is to incorporate nonbeing into being as the other. The other is designed to cure three things simultaneously: being is no longer countable, or nothing is just what it is and nothing else; appearances are a reflection of nonunitary being; and false speech still consists in saying what is not, even though it is always speaking of that which is. Whether in fact the other does solve all three problems, it puts the Stranger's artificial phantom image of the sophist in speech in a new light. The discovery of the manifold beneath the illusory one of the sophistic art, where each art is just what it is, is the inverse of the truth. The sophist, in his being always the other, is the mark of what is. The Stranger had prepared us for this inversion by speaking of the truth of things ([unkeyable]) and not the truth of the beings ([unkeyable]) as that from which the young stand far removed (234c4). To grasp the beings in all their vividness through experiences is not necessarily to grasp the truth of the beings.

If the sophist is the sign of being as the other, and if therefore it is not inappropriate for the Stranger to be the philosopher in being his hunter, he still is not the only other in the Sophist. The threefold question Socrates raises happens to coincide not only with three discourses the Stranger can recite off the top of his head, but also with the question Theodorus, Theaetetus, and young Socrates asked the Stranger sometime between the end of the Theaetetus and their meeting with Socrates (217b4-8). Whatever we may think of this coincidence--Theodorus's distress at the going over he received from Socrates (Theaetetus 169a6-c6), reinforced as it was by Theaetetus's futile answers, might well have prompted him to question an authority about Socrates--we know that neither the Stranger nor Theodorus came to the question in the same way as Socrates did. Socrates' way into the question begins with his tweaking Theodorus for his possible failture to recognize the Stranger as a god in disguise. In reply, Theodorus distinguishes between "godlike" ([unkeyable]) and "god," or between philosopher and god (216b9-c1). Philosopher and god are not two of a kind. Socrates replies that the philosopher too has his apparitions, or that "philosopher-like" applies no less to sophist than to statesman. Since, however, Socrates continues to employ his Homeric citations even after Theodorus's denial, he implies that "philosopher" and "god" are the same, or, to follow Socrates more exactly, that the philosopher belongs to the genus to which god belongs.(2) Socrates was led to this possibility by Theodorus's introduction of a philosopher as a nameless stranger. He turns a typical piece of indifference to the human-all-too-human on Theodorus's part into a general question--Who could possibly be of necessity forever nameless and a stranger?--and gives the answer, "a god." Gods can never become our acquaintances ([unkeyable]); they must always remain outside whatever group, large or small, we belong to. "God," then, is the other as such. As the other, he is not merely something else ([unkeyable]), but he is attached to that of which he is the other because he is the other. As the other, god is not subject to a wholly negative theology; man too is the other, for he is the other of that other. The indeterminate pair which god and man constitute makes one wonder whether the Sophist and the Statesman are not the same pair in its apparitional form. The Statesman cannot determine the politician without separating him from god the ruler and from man the political animal, and the Sophist puts the sophist in his place only through the notion of god the rational maker. Mind as efficient cause thus emerges as the apparaition of god as the other. God sets the structure of making but is divorced from the structure of acquisition, at the head of which would be the knowing ignorance of the philosopher. God, then, is as apparitional as the sophist, and he is other than the philosopher when he appears as maker. Socrates had opposed the Stranger as a punishing god to himself. The Stranger asserts in the myth of a punishing god to himself. The Stranger asserts in the myth of the Statesman that there cannot be a punishing god; indeed, he denies that Zeus is a name for god, since the age of Zeus stands for the time when the god has let go of the universe and it is on its own. Zeus is a concealed negation; it means not-god or without god. God with a name designates not-god. He is the other of the other.

The Stranger and the sophist compete for the title of the other, one as god, one as beast. Both are outside the circle of man, and yet they are not apart from man. Indeed, if man as such is not a third between beast and god, then the Stranger and the sophist cover all that man is. Man, then, would emerge as the other [unkeyable] [unkeyable], and the primary piece of evidence for the denial that there is anything which is just what it is. Man becomes exemplary of being once the highest being is a defective being, and, as the Stranger later says, there is no part of nonbeing that is any less than any being (258a7-b3). That man is an issue, and perhaps even the issue, behind Socrates' question is already foreshadowed in the Theaetetus. Socrates there tried to get at the question of philosophy through the question, What is knowledge? The necessity for philosophy emerges if it can be shown that knowledge or wisdom is impossible (Theaetetus 145e5); and it can be shown to be impossible if there is an obstacle to wisdom for man as man. This obstacle must take the following form: knowledge consists of two or more kinds which cannot be understood as an apparitional manifold. Each is just what it is even though each is knowledge. Protagoras's "Man the measure" is not an answer to the question of knowledge but its enigmatic representation. Socrates with his knowledge and Theaetetus with his are together the same enigma; but they cannot be together because there is no "vocalic" bond between them. When Socrates first formulates a version of the Protagorean thesis, he asks two questions about its meaning: "Does it state that whatever sort things severally appear to me, that's the sort they are for me, and whatever sort to you, they're of that sort to you, and you and I [are] man?" Theaetetus answers the first question and does not notice the second (152a6-9). In particular, Theaetetus does not notice that in Socrates' second question, a plural subject has a singular predicate, and there is no copula. Socrates and Theaetetus are severally man, but they are not anything together. The determination of man as the vocalic bond between beast and god can be said to be the theme of the Sophist and the Statesman.

In the course of his setting out his model for definition, the Stranger consistently presents the undivided class as suffixed with [unkeyable] but never with [unkeyable], with which [unkeyable] is either expressed or implied. The [unkeyable] suffix occurs only after a class has been divided. The Stranger's language thus duplicates the historical development of the suffix from being an ethnic to a skill, which we know occurred very rapidly toward the end of the fifth century.(3) The Stranger indicates thereby that there is no art for the undivided species but only for the atomic class. There is no art of hooking ([unkeyable]), but only of its two species, [unkeyable] and [unkeyable]. Art implies specialization, and until one gets to the smallest division of labor there is an element of inexpertness that lurks in any general action. The Stranger's starting-point, "art," is misleading, for if one looks to the man who could possibly do all the things the manifold of arts do, one would not find the artisan but the jack-of-all-trades. "Sophist," or "Mr. Know-it-all" necessarily looks spurious once the arts have developed in the way that Socrates assumes they have in the Republic, where the original housebuilder soon gives way to the lumberman, the carpenter, the blacksmith, and so forth. The Stranger, in implying, for example, that there is an art of striking ([unkeyable]), from which the arts of spearing and angling split off, is going against the truth of the arts and laying himself open to the charge of making phantoms of the real. Long before the Stranger sets the sophist in the class of image-making, then, he has been employing the art of image-making in order to establish the kinship among the various arts to which we give the same label, sophistic. The way of discovery is productive in the class of acquisition, and the Stranger in being the hunter of the hunter-sophist uses as his nets those made up by the poetic art. The Stranger, then, practises versions of the sophist's two ways, but in neither version does he duplicate exactly the sophist. For the Stranger, hunting is a way of understanding; it assumes that the beings are not out in the open, and the way to bring them out is to illuminate them in a series of images. The ranger's art of the image seems to be eikastics, for he is not setting things out to show them as beautiful: lice-hunting, he says, serves as well as generalship for hunting (227a9-b6). The Stranger's art of hunting, however, does seem to be due to phantastics, for it seems to be adjusted to Theaetetus, who is to pass for manly and brave in following the track of the sophist. Eikastics, then, is to phantastics as ontology is to psychology. If philosophy in general takes after the Stranger's double way, philosophy in its ontological aspect is not guided by anything. Its images are of its own devising and not grounded in the nature of things. In its psychology, however, there is the nature of Theaetetus, which in its moderation calls on its own for its proper corrective, just as young Socrates' boldness demands domestication through the womanly art of weaving.

Between his catching Socrates and the sophist together and his isolating the sophist in the class of making, the Stranger inserts a classification of arts that puts him and Socrates together and excludes the sophist. He begins this classification with a set of verbs which belong to the actions of several arts (226b5-c9). In labeling their common action dividing, he shows us what he himself has been doing all along, collecting and dividing; but it is typical of the Sophist that the diacritical function is stressed, and it is not until the Statesman that its syncritical counterpart is mentioned (282b7). However that may be, the Stranger applies the single name of the diacritical art to what is done is sifting flour or carding wool. No specialist art, however, practices diacritics in itself; only the Stranger does so whenever he proceeds to cut any class in two. The Stranger comes partly into the light in these first two steps. [unkeyable] and [unkeyable] are the first verbs which in being comprehensive refer at the same time to particular actions. The undivided species is no longer an image of the arts in its subsets but an art in its own right. The collapse of the ethnic suffix [unkeyable] into the art suffix [unkeyable] is comparable, and perhaps ultimately identical, with Socrates' persistence in refusing to separate [unkeyable] from [unkeyble]. It is therefore surprising that the Stranger can discover a version of Socratic dialectics in a genealogical descent from [unkeyable] with which it does not link up in any obvious way.

At the conclusion of his dividings the Stranger opposes soul-cathartics to the art of admonition that fathers practice on their sons. Since, however, those who discovered soul-cathartics started from a premise that the admonitory art rejected--that every kind of folly was involuntary--and the admonitory art had long been in place before the discovery of soul-cathartics, education ([unkeyable]) cannot be split between an artless and an artful form. If, however, soul-cathartics moves up a level and becomes identical with education, Theaetetus must be mistaken in labeling a Socratic insight an Athenian practice (229d2). Theaetetus calls education that art which gets rid of the belief on the part of one who does not know that he knows; but the fact that [unkeyable] is the peculiar obstacle to learning belongs to soul-cathartics and has nothing but language in common with a father's rebuke to his son, "You think you're so smart." If now, however, Socrates' way takes over as the true form of education, it is not obvious that the art of instruction ([unkeyable]) treats two different kinds of ignorance ([unkeyable]), since the premise of the psychic counterpart to gymanstics is that every soul is involuntarily ignorant of everything (228c7-9). Theaetetus's distinction between education and demiurgic instruction cannot be maintained if the basis of the latter is mathematics, for the distinction seems to be equally at home with education in either the ordinary or Socratic sense. If, then, soul-cathartics now treats the ugliness of soul per se, it cannot be kept out of the treatment of the illness of soul, since the Stranger ascribes to the conflict of opinions in the soul a source of its illness and assigns to soul-cathartics the task of bringing to light the conflict of opinions in the soul (228b1-4; 230b5-8). Soul-cathartics, then, takes over as the entire treatment of soul, for the Stranger's divisions have been in accordance with opinion and therefore incoherent. Soul-cathartics, however, cannot be pegged at this point either, for in order to get to the soul the Stranger has to separate the soul from the body, regardless of whether or not the body is ensouled; but such a separation of the soul from the body is nothing other than the practice of dying and being dead, which is another name for philosophy. Even if we grant the Stranger's cut between soul and body as nothing more than a "theoretical" division, he cannot go on to split the vices of soul on the basis of a split in the vices of body without granting the body, in its apartness from soul, a theoretical determination of this structure of soul. The Stranger, moreover, identifies the soul in its separation from body as thought ([unkeyable; 227c4); and thought cannot be subject to a distinction between moral and intellectual virtue, upon which the Stranger's counterparts to medicine and gymnastics depend.(4) There is the further difficulty that though the soul is supposed to have an impulse toward truth, there is no argument that the soul has either a natural strength to attain truth or the capacity to accept the steroids of art. Indeed, soul-cathartics is described wholly in terms of medicine and not as capable of instilling beauty and strength of soul. Theaetetus indeed said that it produced the most moderate of states, but according to Theaetetus moderation should be the contrary of intemperance [unkeyable] and therefore subject to the punishing art of [unkeyable] (228e1-229a7). If, then, the Stranger's separation of soul and body cannot stand as he phrased it, soul-cathartics is now threatening the division in the arts of purification, for soul-cathartics must now have a diacritical function if it is to understand soul by itself before it treats it. The Stranger's first division in the diacritical art had been between an unnamed art of separating like from like and the purificatory art of separating better from worse (226d1-5). This unnamed art is nothing but the Stranger's own procedure and identical with what soul-cathartics must also practice. It thus turns out that Socrates, rather than being a subordinate of the Stranger, usurps the Stranger's role and corrects the Stranger's divisions in light of his own resolution of the contradictory opinions at the heart of the Stranger's diacritical ontology. It now turns out that the example of spoken phantoms is that division of the Stranger's where he and Socrates both are. Its plausibility to Theaetetus is a sign of its phantom character. It is Theaetetus, after all, who insists that the Stranger's fear of confusing the sophist and the philosopher be set aside and that Socrates be condemned for sophistry through a semblance [unkeyable]; 231a4-5).

Perhaps the most curious consequence of the Stranger's analysis is that Socrates' way is correctly characterized but falsely categorized. The truth is hit upon in and through a false structure. This structure is the Stranger's way, which produced the philosopher in a setting that gave him the appearance of the sophist. It is, then, the Stranger's way which fully exemplifies [unkeyable]. Previously we had thought that the Stranger's way was eikastic, since the classes he had found were the products of his own image-making; but now, in involving himself in his own classification of an art--[unkeyable]--he adopts simultaneously the perspective of Theaetetus and betrays Socrates. The Stranger's [unkeyable] corresponds rather exactly to the one he ascribes to painting, for in that case the painter makes the image ugly in order for it to appear beautiful, and here Socrates appears as completely successful, with everyone angry only at themselves and tame toward everyone else (230b8-9). The Stranger's beautification of Socrates seems to be self-defeating; it does not keep Socrates from being identified as a sophist but rather convinces Theaetetus that Socrates is a sophist. Theaetetus cannot tell the elusive sophist from the beautiful Socrates. The eikastics of the Stranger's first divisions are in agreement with the phantastics of his last: the Socrates who lurks in the rejected species of acquisition--he shows up finally as the money-losing chatterbox (225d7-10)--comes into the light of opinion as the same as his own apparition. As long as Socrates is hidden in the rejected species of the Stranger's way, he is safe from being misidentified; but as soon as the Stranger sets out to stalk him alone--Socrates is like the retailer who stays at home and sells what he himself contrives (224d4-e4)--he cannot show him as he really is. It is through a set of un-Socratic distinctions that Socrates become as pretty as a picture.


At the very moment that the Stranger will abandon the image of hunting--he has just established the sophist as imitator--he becomes particularly exuberant in the exploitation of the image of hunting: "It is our job from this point forward no longer to let up on the beast ([unkeyable]), for we have pretty nearly encompassed ([unkeyable]) him in a certain kind of net ([unkeyable]) that is instrumental in speeches for things of this kind" (235a10-b2). It seems, then, that we are being given a spoken phantom just before the Stranger confronts the problem of image, but it cannot be overstressed that we and not Theaetetus are given it: Theaetetus plunges into a discussion of [unkeyable] without having any clue as to what they are. They are there in the Stranger's language, no less than they are in Theaetetus's, but they are never brought up to the level of the argument. The one exception to this blanket concealment proves that it is not an exception. The Stranger remarks that the sophist is really ([unkeyable]) amazing and very difficult to be caught sight of, and Theaetetus replies, "It seems" ([unkeyable]; 236d4). The Stranger pounces on this [unkeyable] without ever saying that that is what makes him suspect that Theaetetus is just going along with him and does not really recognize the problem. The Stranger is saying that unless words are taken literally their use betrays a failure to understand. Are we then to understand the Stranger's "encompassed" [(unkeyable]) literally? If we do, the Stranger agrees with the body-people who deny that anything is which they cannot get both their hands on ([unkeyable]; 246a8; cf. 265a10). When the Stranger remarks that it was truly said that the sophist-beast was complex and not, as the saying goes, to be seized with one hand, Theaetetus's reply, "Then we have to with both" (226a8), must again be literal, and their hunting down of Socrates is not just a manner of speaking but truly means his arrest and execution. It is possible, then, to read the Sophist as the execution in deed of Sacrates' premonition that the Stranger has come to punish him for the poorness of his speeches, and it is no less possible to read the problem of spoken phantoms as implicitly claiming a privileged position to the identity of being with body, which is preserved as a relic in any language but which is still capable of being recovered through the pruning away of all the idealistic excrescences that a language assumes over time. Socrates, therefore, would be the appropriate target, since his "philosophy" stands or falls by the priority or nonpriority of soul to body.

An immediate advantage to reading the Sophist in this way would be the explanation it would offer for the Stranger's silence about the meaning of [unkeyable. [Unkeyable] would be language itself, which would be constantly expanding away from its literal roots and adding thereby images of bodies to the language of bodies. The sophist, then, would be each and every nonmaterialist philosopher, from Parmenides to the friends of the ideas--anyone, in short who claims either that virtue is something other than ingrained habits of the body or that numbers exist. To give to the Stranger's use of hunting a significant role would be pointless: almost any speech would betray its own corporeal basis. The Stranger's elaboration of image-making in the painting done by eikastics and phantastics would thus represent the real part of imitation; all the rest would be derivative from it and as such a sign of its spuriousness. Indeed, the Stranger could not get at soul-cathartics without returning to the difference between the health and beauty of the body, and he only confused the issue by interpolating the [unkeyable] of the city as a way of accounting for what he meant by illness (228a4-9).

The reductionist program that this reading of the Sophist suggests cannot, I think, stand up to scrutiny; but it does reinforce the peculiarity of the dialogue, where the Stranger's failure to explicate the difference between eikastic and phantastic speech entices us to a reading of everything he says in light of the body. The body is the background against which we understand what he is saying. It is therefore of the highest importance that the Stranger at the end confines the sophist to being an impersonator in his body of what he seems to know. The sophist is the sophist precisely because the noncorporeal is made corporeal and passed off as noncorporeal. The sophist embodies what in its truth cannot be embodied. He is merely a higher version of vulgar or political virtue, which mistakes images of the body for traits of the soul (cf. Republic 518d9-e2). The Stranger, then, must ultimately give an argument for turning language upside down, so that the nonliteral language of soul can stand independently of its literal meaning. The argument must ground the phantastics of speech in something other than the being of body. If the argument can do so, we can then say that the Stranger fails to exemplify his meaning, not because it is plain in everything he says but because it is truly hidden in everything he says. The Sophist is a vindication of this remark in the Statesman: "The bodiless things, being most beautiful and greatest, are shown plainly only in speeches and in nothing else" (286a5-7).

In order to solve the specific problem--the distinction between eikastic and phantastic speech--the Stranger has recourse to well-known philosophic issues: appearance, false opinion, and nonbeing (236e1-237a1). The specific problem seems to get lost in the Stranger's review of various answers to the philosophic issues. His experience of the perplexity of being and nonbeing takes over from Theaetetus's innocence, and from his unawareness that it was his failure to detect the difference between Socrates and the sophist that confirmed the existence of [unkeyable] in speech and supplied the evidence of its power. A series of divisions in speech was made by way of images that led to the impossibility of telling apart beast from nonbeast (nonbeast covers both god and man); but their indiscernability is nothing but an exemplification of the sophist's art of [unkeyable]. The Stranger claims he knows that the being his argument detected was the philosopher, but he cannot convince Theaetetus that he is any different from the previous series of atomic species. The very parallel between painting in deed and painting in speech seems to imply that experience, which diminishes the distance the young stand from the beings, cannot be duplicated in speech. If speech could in fact overcome the distance of innocence, one could speak of speeches in deed: "the hard facts of life" would have their equivalent in speech. We know that tragedy does have this effect with regard to the passions; we do not know, however, whether there is a rational counterpart. If the Platonic dialogues were such a counterpart, it would be necessary that through their speeches one would experience a turnaround of their several arguments. The Platonic dialogues would be governed by a [unkeyable] by means of which we would get nearer to the beings without ever abandoning the level of speech. For the Stranger, the Parmenidean speech, and ultimately all the speeches of philosophers up to now, are [unkeyable] in speech at a distance from the beings in speech. He proposes to narrow the distance Theaetetus stands from the beings by leading him from on high to where the Stranger himself is, but all within the element of speech. This movement is the Stranger's version of Socrates' second sailing, which consists in the realization that the beings are plainer to us in speeches than in deeds. The autobiography of the Stranger records for being what Socrates' does for becoming or causality; despite this difference, however, they are the same experientially.

In order to get at the problem of nonbeing, the Stranger establishes the arithmetical character of being and of any speech about being. The characteristic prefix of his argument is [unkeyable] "in addition." Being is countable; nonbeing is not. It turns out, however, that the arithmetical structure of [unkeyable] forbids the use of [unkeyable] to show the nonsense of nonbeing, since [unkeyable] cannot treat nonbeing if it does not give nonbeing an arithmetical structure which it then shows being cannot have. The sophist, then, if he is who he is through nonbeing, is always immune from attack. Why, however, must the sophist be assumed to have recourse to nonbeing? The sophist's claim is that he has a single science of everything. Theaetetus believes that the issue is the sophist's claim to know everything (233a3-4); his denial of that claim is not backed up by any argument. If there were an argument, it would have to take the form of a proof that the parts of knowledge of which we are aware are two or more, with two or more essentially different sets of principles; and that the sophist is involved in nonbeing and image-making by his assimilation of every other part of knowledge to one part with its unique set of principles, or by the comprehension of all the parts of knowledge to some unknown knowledge with an unknown set of principles. The ways of assimilation and comprehension both involve image-making. Theaetetus is asked what an image is; he speaks of images in mirrors, paintings, and statues. The Stranger asks him to imagine that the sophist is blind and that he wants a characteristic of image that does not appeal to sight. Theaetetus has no trouble in satisfying the blind sophist: whatever is another such [(unkeyable]) likened to the true is an image (240a7-8). Theaetetus makes up a spoken phantom. His criterion for an image in sight is an image in speech. [Unkeyable] entails, as he says, a weaving together of being and nonbeing (240c1). Through this "weaving together" ([unkeyable]) he anticipates the rest of the Sophist and the finale of the Statesman. Not only does [unkeyable] itself crop up in the Stranger's two characterizations of [unkeyable], but the prefix [unkeyable]- is destined to take over from the Stranger's [unkeyable]-. [Unkeyable]- is not subject to an arithmetical account.(5)

If [unkeyable] is the characteristic of any eikastic speech, and Theaetetus has no trouble in supplying it, it might seem odd that the Stranger does not follow it up with a comparable demand for the characteristic of a phantastic speech. Instead, he turns to false opinion, whose characteristic, Theaetetus agrees, involves the impossible conjunction of being and nonbeing (241a3-b3). This replacement, however, of phantastic speech by false speech and opinion does not occur; rather, false opinion is nothing but phantastic speech, for false opinion is an experience of the soul that is due to an eikastic speech.(6) There are not two kinds of speech, but there is only one speech and how that one speech appears, or there is the experience of falsity, which seems to make for two speeches. The experience of falsity is thus to be explained by the being of nonbeing in the image. False opinion consists in the belief that the images of beings are the beings, and that--this is something new--the beings are the images of nonbeings. Nonbeings are, however, images of beings. False opinion holds that the images of the images of the beings are the beings; but [unkeyable] was precisely that art that produced images of images of the beings so adjusted to the perspective of the observer that he would take them for the beings. Accordingly, the Stranger has merely enlarged the problem with which he started and has not altered it. The Stranger's final division, in which he caught Socrates, was in itself an eikastic speech; it became a phantastic speech at the very moment Theaetetus believed it described the sophist. It was geared for that mistake as well as for its own dismantling, which we accomplished by tracing back the descent of Socrates to his origin in the Stranger. His projection of himself in another (Socrates) appeared to Theaetetus as another such of the sophist; but Socrates was the same as the Stranger and not his image.

The impasse that nonbeing makes for anyone who attempts to deny that it is suggests to the Stranger that the fault lies with an understanding of being, shared by all the philosophers, which has generated a contrary to being out of a fundamental lack of clarity about itself. The Stranger gives an arithmetical character to this misunderstanding, whereby he shows that those who say being is any number, two or more, are forced to reduce their manifold to one, and Parmenides' one in turn cannot be meaningful unless there are at least two. The precise people are opposed to the comprehensives (245e6-246a2), who do not count the beings but characterize them. The Stranger shows, however, that the comprehensives must compromise their principles in order to find room for their own understanding, and once they do compromise--either in the direction of nonbody or in the direction of soul--they must declare that being is two, and fall into the trap he had already sprung for the precise people. This argument bears directly on the sophistic claim in the following way: it supplies the proof that there is not a single science of everything, for if there were, there would have to be a coherent set of principles which would determine the number of beings. If the number of beings jumps about between one and two, there is something in being that is recalcitrant to the unity of the science of being. The simplest example, perhaps, of the impossibility of keeping the count of the beings down to the number one starts with is to be found in atomism. Its principle is, to be is to be body. Body, however, does not allow for motion unless there is space. Space is absolutely nonbeing if the atomists hold to their principle. They therefore have to weaken their principle if they are to obtain any kind of structure. This difficulty is not confined to atomism. It shows up no less in the Republic, where the principle one man-one art cannot establish the class structure of the city, than in Newtonian mechanics, where the first law of motion assumes inertial frames--that is, there are bodies which are not subject to acceleration, which the principle of gravity denies.(7)

If this is the general strategy of the Stranger--to strengthen the case of the sophist by ruining the case of the philosophers--it still does not tie in directly with the doublet eikastic-phantastic speech, for the explication of which the discussion of being is presumably an indispensable digression. The Stranger says that the philosophers tell stories (242c8-243b1). A typical story combines a count of the beings with an image of becoming in which the philosopher who tells the story is not part of the story. The Stranger does not criticize this type of philosopher either for talking in images or for leaving himself out, but in the case of the comprehensives he tells the story which puts them into one story and makes their being the issue. It thus looks as if the precise ontologists are to the comprehensives as countable being is to epistemology or psychology, for the formula "to be is to be body" really means "to be is to be touchable," and "to be is to be an idea" really means "to be is to be intelligible." The philosophers, then, are presented in such a way that eikastic speech is opposed to phantastic speech, and the Stranger's presentation of phantastic speech is itself eikastic. We can then say that the diacritical ontology of the Stranger, which discovered Socratic psychology, reappears in the opposition between number and soul. This opposition is at first resolved through the Stranger's proposal that rest and motion both are; but he immediately concludes that this pair both must be one and cannot be one. The Stranger ends up by counting the beings; his counting, however, does not take into account what he is counting. It assumes that the two are not parts, for if they were parts of one whole they would not necessarily be together what they are apart. The body-people are body-people by themselves; when the Stranger puts them into a story they become giants. Likewise, the friends of the ideas cease to be nameless once they too are parts of the same story: they become gods. We therefore do not know what happens to motion and rest when they are together; we do know, however, that the being of the nonbeing of motion must have a cause that is not the being of rest. The absence of any causality in the Stranger's juxtaposition of rest and motion tells us that the Stranger, if he is to go on, must find a way around causality. A recourse to speeches turns out to be the Socratic way out for the Stranger.

The Stranger groups all of philosophical thought under myth, either by accusing the precise people of storytelling or by telling a story himself about gods and giants. He leaves myth behind when he turns to [unkeyable], which is to be discussed in light of its apparently contradictory way of postulating a one as subject which the manifold of its predicates denies (251a5-6). It is not immediately obvious that the Stranger's example--man and his predicates--is significant; we cannot but wonder, however, whether there is not a connection between the recourse to speeches and the citation of man, especially since they appear together after his own gigantomachy. Man had first shown up in the separation the friends of the ideas had made between body as that by means of which we partake in becoming through perception, and soul as that by means of which we are in some partnership with being through calculation (248a10-13). Man had then shown up as a possible rival to god when the Stranger elicited Theaetetus's assent to the proposition that the being which perfectly and completely is must have mind and life in soul (248e6-249b1); but the Stranger had not gone on to ask whether soul entailed body. Man, then, is at least in the background of the discussion of [unkeyable]. The [unkeyable] is man's [unkeyable]. His speech is prior to the letters which make up his speech. The consonants of his speech are not in his speech what they are in the alphabet: "body" is the consonant of the alphabet, "ensouled body" is the consonant prior to the alphabet of the friends of the ideas. The Stranger's own alphabet accordingly is very misleading if it is not accompanied by a procedure which informs us how to translate its letters into sounds: its [unkeyable] into [unkeyable]. The key to this procedure is provided by the observation that only one of the letters of his alphabet is explained. Being, motion, rest, and the same are manipulated, but nothing is further revealed about them through their manipulations. Only the other emerges with a trait it did not have as an element of the alphabet. The other thus turns out to be not a letter at all but the operator which is designed to transform all the other letters into sounds. Nonbeing as the other makes for the possibility of [unkeyable].

In his autobiography in the Phaedo, Socrates compared the looking at the sun during an eclipse with the looking of his predecessors at the beings directly, and the looking at the image of the eclipsed sun in water with his looking at the beings in speeches (99d5-100a3). If the Stranger, in his turn from myth to [unkeyable], is going over the Socratic revolution, the region he is now looking at must be the region of nonbeing, for nonbeing belongs of necessity to [unkeyable]. Any something looks as if it is taken up into speech without alteration: [unkeyable] has a referent that seems to be outside discourse, but unkeyable] has already submitted to an operation of [unkeyable] before it enters any [unkeyable]. When Odysseus tells Polyphemus--he of many names--that his name is [unkeyable], he has prepared the way for its being understood in the Cyclops' speech [unkeyable], as "None kills me."(8) The syntax of [unkeyable] strips [unkeyable] of a referent. Speech makes the neighbors of Polyphemus as blind as Odysseus made him.(9) Negation, then, bears the mark of man's presence in discourse. The Stranger, however, extends this to all speech regardless of whether it has a negative or not. He does this by denying that any letter of his original alphabet is what it is by itself. Motion is not the same as itself on account of its own nature but on account of its participation in the same (256b1). The participation of any element in anything denies the identity of the element with whatever it partakes in. But the principle of participation or of partial sharing is the other, for nothing is other than any other on account of its own nature but on account of its partaking in the idea of the other (255e3-6). The other, however, or the principle of participation, makes it possible for something to be said of something, for otherwise, as the eristical say, man would be only man and good only good. The other therefore de-idealizes every being and makes it not just itself but puts it in relation with other things. The other is that which adds the vocalic element to the silent consonants of being. The Sophist began with Socrates' suggestion that god was the philosopher. The philosopher, he implied in the argument of the Stranger, was the consonantal being with its vocalic glide already attached. The true philosopher is the only being that enters speech as just what he is. He therefore cannot but not appear as he is, for he cannot avoid being taken to be like every other being, a being in itself. The philosopher thus bears an uncanny resemblance to the lover, who despite his being equally defective comes to light as perfect and complete.(10) It is not surprising, therefore, that Theaetetus ends up by saying that the sophist impersonates the wise (268c1).

It is now possible to link the other with two prior stages of the argument. One stage is due to Theaetetus, the other to the Stranger. The image as [unkeyable]--or, as Theaetetus said, the weaving together of being and nonbeing--is no longer a marginal class among the things which are; rather, the image is that class of things acknowledged by everyone--the ease with which Theaetetus discovered the proper formula testifies to it--as not being just what it is. They are the counterparts outside of speech of what "philosopher" is within speech. Within speech, the image is necessarily double: "that is so-and-so" and "that is not so-and-so." The image creates non-contradictory doubletalk. It is thus the way into the other itself. The second step on that way is the Stranger's contribution; it comes from his attempt, easier in speech than in deed, to tame the giants. "To be is to be an agent or a patient power" was not acceptable to the friends of the ideas, who tried to restrict it to becoming. The paradox that knowing could not be either an agent or patient power was not resolved, however, and seemed to leave the friends of the ideas without ideas, or at least without ideas that can be known (248d4-e5). It is true that the definition of being as power, once it is split between agency and patiency, suffers from the same defect as any counting of the beings; but the definition does state that being is relational, since a power cannot be an agent unless something else is a patient. The definition thus sets the stage for the final emergence of the other. The other is the logical equivalent to the dynamical pair of being. It too makes every being relational insofar as it is in speech; but it overcomes the difficulty of power by getting rid of the contrary and including within itself a two. The not big is the equal and the small, the not beautiful the ugly and the just, the not Greek barbarian and barbaric. In the last case, the other, in cutting barbarian away from barbaric, brings "Greek" over to "not Greek" and does not exempt it from savagery. The designation "stranger" likewise bears on this designation ("barbarian"), not only because the Spartans call barbarians strangers,(11) but because "not stranger" includes the acquaintance and the savage. The Stranger says, at any rate, that not to comply with the company's request appears to him [unkeyable] (217e6). The Stranger will not be a stranger while remaining the Stranger. The Stranger's double status prepares the way for what shocks even young Socrates. "To be lawless [unkeyable]" is to be outside the law and above the law. It is to be either tyrant or philosopher (Statesman 301b10-c4).

The Stranger distinguishes between two kinds of weaving together. One is the weaving together of species, the other of nouns and verbs (259e5-6; 262c5-7). It is on account of the first kind of weaving that we have [unkeyable], but it is the second kind that constitutes the structure of [unkeyable]. The first establishes the possibility of [unkeyable]; it allows for things to enter [unkeyable]. The second, however, distinguishes between the agent and the action of a [unkeyable]. This distinction makes us realize that the Stranger's own divisions were primarily sets of discriminations among verbs of action, and the agent, whether angler, Socrates, or sophist, was defined by a predicate or predicates to which he could be attached. The verbs were so determinative of the agents that whoever could be plausibly said to do some action was ipso facto that agent. Accordingly, Socrates took on the guise of the sophist, for there was nothing in the verb that could declare whether the agent was spurious or not. Indeed, from this perspective, the Stranger's initial assertion that he and Theaetetus had only a name in common meant that they had an agent-noun which had to be hooked up to an action (218c1-5). The deed "unkeyable[ he there spoke of was of an action [unkeyable]. To move from word to deed was simply to discover the verb. In dissolving the subject into the verb, the verb was put in the third person, in which form was concealed a he or she that suited anyone who performed the action. Whatever this action was, knowledge had nothing to do with its character. Although the split between an artless and artful form of contradiction was strictly impossible (225b12-c9), there was nothing in "to haggle" that denied it was not fully informed by art, any more than there was in its counter-part any trace of knowledge except the label. The emergence of the agent is something we are not prepared for, since if truth or falsity is now to be found in the compound of agent and action, the Stranger is admitting that Socrates and the sophist do not do different things, and no division by itself can mark off their difference. Socrates might be as much a maker as the sophist.

After his characterization of [unkeyable] and his illustration of a false speech, the Stranger quickly dispatches thought, opinion, and phantasia (263d6-264b8). He asserts that thought and [unkeyable] are the same, except that thought is the [unkeyable] within the soul before itself without sound. If, then, thought and speech are the same, speech is dialogue. Speech, however, had not been dialogue but what the Stranger now calls opinion, the assertion or denial of a thought. The Stranger had indeed anticipated this revision, for he had interpolated in his example of a false speech a dialogic remark, "Theaetetus, with whom I am now conversing, flies" (263a8). What he had called speech involved two agents, the first and second persons of dialogue; if Theaetetus flies" but by the Stranger, however, the [unkeyable] is not "Theaetetus flies" but "you fly," which in Greek has the agent built into the verb, [unkeyable], or if contracted, [unkeyable]. Once speech becomes dialogue, the minimal speech is the verb with its proper ending. If, however, the Stranger is addressing Theaetetus, he is asking a question and expects that Theaetetus will answer it. Theaetetus is called upon to decide about his own state. Whether he is right or not depends on whether the Stranger speaks an image or not for, according to Socrates, if it is an image it is an image of those whom Theodorus calls philosophers; and we would not expect that if Theaetetus were one of them his answer to the question would be true (Theaetetus 173e5; 175e2). However this may be, speech as dialogue alters the issue of predication. "I" and "you" seem to be resistant to their elimination through verbal action, for at first glance there seems to be no verb which specifies what we do in the way that "hunts" or "sifts" does, let alone an art or science that rationalizes the human. On reflection, however, the verb which is predicated of man as such is [unkeyable] and its scientific form is [unkeyable].(12) The Stranger's characterization of [unkeyable], then, points to a structure of [unkeyable] in which the explicit agent--his two examples are "man" and "Theaetetus"--contains another, "you" if the explicit agent is "I," or "I" if the explicit agent is "you." These agents are present in any dialogue regardless of whether they are part of any [unkeyable]. They are the object of Socrates' soul-cathartics in the double form of self-knowledge.

The Stranger concludes his account with [unkeyable]. It is a mixture of opinion and perception. [unkeyable], however, if it is to stay within the dialogic structure of speech and thought, has to be understood as the formulation of an opinion in answer to a question in light of the interlocutor's perception of the questioner. Such an answer is soon to be given by Theaetetus. The Stranger will ask him whether everything is the handicraft of a god or of thoughtless nature, and Theaetetus will say: "I, perhaps on account of my age, often have opinions on both sides; now, however, in looking at you and supposing you believe things are made in conformity with a god, I too hold in this way" (265d1-4). The most revealing thing in Theaetetus's remark is the absence of the word [unkeyable], for its absence is what makes his remark the example of a [unkeyable]. Before our eyes Theaetetus banishes doubt and replaces it with a conviction which he builds out of a reading of the Stranger's face. This reading is a spoken phantom. Regardless of whether this is a correct reading of the Stranger's face, Theaetetus is now something else than a verbal action. His conclusion has no weight unless Socratic cathartics is possible and can test whether this time Theaetetus is not pregnant with a wind-egg. The soul, after all, is something.

We do not know whether we are to ascribe Theaetetus's apparition that the things are of divine making to the Stranger's exercise of [unkeyable]; but we do know that Theaetetus's apparition precedes the Stranger's reattachment of eikastics and phantastics to image-making. As the Stranger sets up the distinction between divine and human making, there is no artful kind of divine image-making, for though he alludes to dreams, his examples of the god's [unkeyable] are either shadows or mirror-images (266b9-c4). There is no suggestion that they are anything but automatic consequences of the bodies the god makes directly. Indeed, the bodies that the Stranger allows to be the god's work are all on or in the earth (265c1-5); there is neither heaven nor stars, let alone an ordered cosmos (cf. 233e5-234a4). There are animals and soulless things, but there is no mention of soul; neither [unkeyable] nor [unkeyable] reappears once the Stranger returns to [unkeyable] ([unkeyable] appears last at 264a9). We are left in the dark, then, as to whether the god practices phantastics either in deed or in speech; and if Socrates was right that the Stranger is a god, we are in the dark as to whether Theaetetus's [unkeyable] was due to the Stranger's art. If, as it seems, the [unkeyable] was Theaetetus's own offspring, there would be no divine phantastics in deed; but if it was after all a product of the Stranger's skill, as if it were the product of a god, there would still be no divine phantastics in speech. The Stranger's impersonation of a divine craftsman would not require more than a question to come across as an answer; it would not entail an elaborate account of divine revelation, either in the form of laws or of Socrates' [unkeyable]. The function of divine making, then, is to put the stress on the body. That the body is paramount is shown by the double use of [unkeyable], first as the comprehensive art of [unkeyable], and then as the art of using one's own body or voice to represent someone else's (265a10; 267a7). At this point the Stranger's divisions break down, for he separates impersonators into knowers and nonknowers, even though he was dealing with kinds of productive art (267b7-8). Though nothing is said explicitly to this effect, it does seem that knowledgeable impersonators (Theaetetus, for example) are those who imitate those they know and ignorant impersonators those who imitate justice and the rest of virtue. The impersonators of virtue try to make appear in themselves the opinion they and almost everyone else have about virtue. They embody virtue. This kind of embodiment occurred long before men became aware of the difference between opinion and knowledge (267d4-8). What the Stranger now calls [unkeyable] is known to its sincere practitioners as [unkeyable]. It is based on the belief that virtue can appear: Theaetetus represents that belief when he reads the Stranger's face as betraying his conviction about divine production. Does the Stranger then look up?

It seems at first as if the Stranger's analysis of [unkeyable] into agent and action is designed solely for finding truth or falsity in the correct or incorrect attachment of an action to a known agent; by his restriction of imitation to impersonation, however, the agent becomes significant in himself and independent of what he does.(13) The sophist embodies virtue as it is understood in opinion, despite his suspicion that he does not know what his [unkeyable] declares he knows. Gorgias exemplifies this perfectly, but what he does is to contradict and refute the opinions about virtue the interlocutor himself maintains and believes he sees represented in the sophist. The sophist impersonates the opinions he refutes. What, then, of Socrates? He is not an impersonator. Theodorus at any rate found him poker-faced, and could not figure out what Socrates believed from his totally convincing presentation of a Protagorean position (Theaetetus 161a6). Socrates, however, is ironical. Does his claim to ignorance come across as knowledge in light of his capacity to show up the ignorance of others? More particularly, does the incoherence in opinion about a virtue, once Socrates has exposed it, induce the impression that Socrates himself possesses that virtue? It would seem impossible that Socrates could display popular virtue without its inconsistencies while bringing to light its inconsistencies, but Socrates the logic-chopping moralist seems to be doing exactly that. [unkeyable] as dialogue thus comes to light as the problem of Socrates the agent in his action. We can say that the Sophist ends at that point where the problem has been uncovered, and the Statesman is designed to treat Socratic agency. Socrates the agent, however, cannot show up in himself; instead, he shows up in the patient, young Socrates.

(1) All references are to John Burnet, Platonis Opera, vols. 1,2,4 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1900-1902); the translations are my own.

(2) [unkeyable] (Sophist 216c4-5) is an odd expression unless Socrates implies that beings other than god belong to the same genus; Cobet's correction [unkeyable] is certainly what one would have expected.

(3) Cf. Pierre Chantraine, La formation des noms en grec ancien (Paris: Librairie Champion, 1993), 385-93.

(4) Note that [unkeyable] (222b4) is used of the Stranger's and Theaetetus's "knowledge" of the conflicts in moral vice, and [unkeyable] (228c7) of their knowledge of the soul's involuntary ignorance.

(5) II [unkeyable] occurs at 238c1 and 239b9; [unkeyable] at 252b1, 252 262e12, and 268d3; and [unkeyable] comes in at 252b6 and occurs four more times (cf. 264b2).

(6) The Stranger's phrasing of the problem of false opinion points to this: [unkeyable] [unkeyable] (240d1-3).

(7) Cf. Derek J. Raine and Michael Heller, The Science of Space-Time (Tucson: Pachart Publishing House, 1981), 26: "The force-free motions, the existence of which is asserted by the Law of Inertia, play a fundamental role in the theory [of Newton]. It is by means of these privieged trajectories that we map out the structure of space-time. Newton certainly did not take this next step with much success. For, in constructing a space-time arena for his dynamics, he reverts to the idea of a kinematical description of inertial motions. In doing so, ... he arrives at a space-time structure which is not strictly consistent with his Law of Inertia."

(8) Homer, Odyssey 9.408.

(9) It is striking that the absence of a referent for [unkeyable] makes the neighbors speak at once of Zeus, whose afflictions it is impossible to avoid; Odyssey 9.409.

(10) This is the gist of the argument between Agathon and Socrates in the Symposium.

(11) Herodotus, Histories 9.11.2.

(12) Perhaps it is just an accident, but the Stranger's examples of verbs that do not in succession constitute a [unkeyable] are all in the active voice [unkeyable], and the two that illustrate true and false speech are both in the middle [unkeyable]. The middle voice is strictly used for those actions which occur within the sphere of the subject; cf. Pierre Chantraine, Grammaire homerique, vol. 2 (Paris: Librairie Klincksieck, 1953), 174-6.

(13) In the summary the Stranger gives of the sophist's genealogy (268c8-d4), all but one of his lines of descent can be rephrased as a verb: the difference between divine and human imitation resists such a rephrasing.
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Author:Benardete, Seth
Publication:The Review of Metaphysics
Date:Jun 1, 1993
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