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Notes and Discussions A Note on Auta Ta Isa at Phaedo 74 One of the most perplexing features of the difficult "sticks and stones" argument at Phaedo 74 is the appearance of the phrase auta ta isa at 74c. There have been all sorts of speculations about what this phrase might mean, some going all the way back to ancient times, x Despite this bewildering number of interpretations of aura ta isa, they may be categorized into a few kinds. (x) Auta ta isa refers to the Form auto to ison. Thus, Geach ~ thinks that the plural form of the phrase indicates that the Form consists of two Equals which are perfectly equal to each other. Vlastoss thinks that auta ta isa is another name for the Equal, despite its plural. Owen4 thinks that auta ta isa has something of the force of "the referent of the word /sa." Thus Plato is trying to make the point that the predicate ison, whether singular or plural, always refers to the Form. (2) Auta ta isa are not the same as the Form, but are something else--thoughts or mental representations I am grateful to the anonymous referees who read and commented on earlier versions of this paper, to Professor Sandra Peterson for her comments and suggestions, and especially to my wife, Vicki, for her intelligent and gentle encouragement. Of course, all mistakes in this essay are mine alone. E.g., Olympiodorus, In Platonis Phaedonem Commentaria, ed. W. Norvin (Stuttgart, 1913), 159, thinks that auta ta isa are mental representations of the Equal. ' P. T. Geach, "The Third Man Again," Philosophical Review 65 (1956): 76. Gregory Vlastos, "Postscript to the Third Man: A Reply to Mr. Geach," PhilosophicalReview 65 (1956): 83-94. 4 G. E. L. Owen, "A Proof in the 'Peri Ideon'," Journal of Hellenic Studies (1957): lO3-1 a1. Other scholars who have equated auta ta isa with the Equal itself are R. D. Archer-Hind, The Phaedo of Plato (London, 1894), 37; R. Loriaux, L'Etre et la Forme selon Platon (Bruges, 1955), 93; D. Tarrant, "Plato, Phaedo 74 A-B,"Journal of HeUenicStudies 77 (x957): 125; K. W. Mills, "Plato's Phaedo, 74b7-c6, '' Phronesis 3 0958): 4o-58; W. J. Verdenius, "Notes on Plato's Phaedo," Mnemonsyne I l (t958): 21o; I. M. Crombie, An Examination of Plato's Doctrines, vol. 2 (London, 1963), 3o2-3o3; J. M. Rist, "Equals and Intermediates in Plato," Phronesis 9 (t964): 27-37; R. P. Haynes, "The Form Equality, As a Set of Equals: Phaedo 74 b-c," Phronesis 9 (1964): 17-26; K. Dorter, "Equality, Recollection, and Purification," Phronesis 17 (1972): 2o3; J. A. Brentlinger, "Particulars in Plato's Middle Dialogues," Archivfi~r Geschichte der Philosophie 54 (1972): 116-52; Hector-Neri Castafieda, "Plato's Relations, Not Essences, at Phaedo 1o2h2-d2," Canadian Journal of Philosophy 8 (1976): 52-53; Nicholas Smith, "The Various Equals at Plato's Phaedo 74b-c, '' Journal of the History of Philosophy 18 (198o): 1-7; Mark McPherran, "Matthen on Castafieda and Plato's Treatment of Relational Statements in the Phaedo," Phronesis 28 (1983): 3~ 1. For obvious reasons, Smith (1ft.), has termed this "the standard view." [127] 128 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 27:1 JANUARY X989 of the Form the Equal,5 perfect mathematicals, 6 immanent characters of equality.7 Finally, (3) auta ta isa are the class of perfectly equal things (including the Equal itself), s None of these interpretations is completely satisfactory. All of those belonging to (9) and (3) import into Plato's argument entities that he has not introduced into the discussion. Mathematicals, for instance, are nowhere else mentioned in the Phaedo, and their introduction at this point would be rather abrupt.9 The same can be said for the suggestion that auta ta isa are mental representations of the Equal.'~ One would expect Socrates to have provided his listeners with some appropriate explanation if this is what he had in mind. And just as unsatisfactory is the suggestion that auta ta isa are the immanent characters of equality that are in particular equals. H The idea of immanent characters is first clearly introduced at Phaedo lO9-1o...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 127-134
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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