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250 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY between 8 ~oxtx~.[vBand x~.[v-quvd (597 C), the latter of which Cherniss argues is intended explicitly to reject self-predication ("The Relation of the Timaeus to Plato's Later Dialogues ," Am. J. Philol., LXXVIII [1957], 225-266). Surely such evidence does not rule out the possibility that Plato is criticizing, not his own views, as Weingartner assumes, but rather misconstruals of his assertions (cf. Crombie, An Examination o/Plato's Doctrines, II [London, 1963], 54, 334). The subsequent interpretation of Parmenides' critique relies heavily upon Vlastos' much-discussed analysis (Phil. Rev., LXIII [1954], 319-349). What Weingartner adds is the claim that the Third Man is a reductio ad absurdum of the self-predication premise and consequently a rejection of the "metaphysical conception" of the forms (164-170). Unfortunately, this presupposes an unsympathetic interpretation of the forms, misses some dramatic cues in the dialogue, and is false. The weakness of the empirical evidence for Plato's having believed in super-particulars has been noted. That the forms cannot be non-self-predicational ideal standards is argued largely via a critique of Allen's "Participation and Predication in Plato's Middle Dialogues" (Phil. Rev., LXIX [1969], 147-164). The criticism seems obtuse to the idea that the forms' ontological difference could determine the mode of their relation to their embodiments. The Cratylus thought experiment of perfectly duplicating an individual (432B-D) is cited as counterevidence. Its point, that perfect imitation is an absurdity (imitating is not duplicating), is incorrectly taken to be that perfect imitation requires sharing identical, and hence indistinguishable, characteristics . Such sharing is unwarrantably taken as paradigmatic for the relation of forms to things. Surely it is dramatically relevant that Parmenides both acknowledges the indispensability of the forms and characterizes his arguments, which disperse the unity of a form into multiplicity, as answerable by cultivating the argumentative style whereby Zeno shows the impossibility of multiple existences (135B-E, 127E). Plato seems to have thought the task was to defend the uniqueness of each form, not to reject their paradigmaticality (cf. Laws 966,4,). Finally, Plato simply does not cease to use forms as paradigms after the Parmenides. Even Professor Weingartner recognizes them in the Timaeus, which he wishes to redate, or, failing that, to see as a symptom of "a relapse" (200) in Plato's old age. He also suggests "the more attractive tale" (!) that Plato postulated two different kinds of forms, one for dialectic and one for cosmology--a suggestion which surely would have transformed Parmenides' solicitude into ire. In any event, there are other unacknowledged, and unquestionably late, uses of forms as paradigms, such as Laws 668, 965C ft., Pol. 285E-286A, Soph., 265, and Ep., VII 342B-D. Remarkably, the post-Parmenides forms are said to be "criteria" and "form-standards," which are not "subject to the problems of self-predication" (197). Although this concept is not explicated sufficiently to be sure, could it be fairly close to what Plato had in mind all along? The book ends abruptly, without summary or conclusion and without bibliography or an Index Locorum. While it falls short of establishing a general thesis about unity in these dialogues, Weingartner's commentary is quite readable and within the capacity of the interested undergraduate student. Northern Illinois University JAMES KINGand J^M~s WAYNEDYE The Formative Period o/Islamic Thought. By W. Montgomery Watt. (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1973. Pp. xxii + 424. s Professor Watt's impressive book offers a detailed picture of the development of Islamic thought up to about 950 ^.D. Some of the material covered in this book appeared in 1949 as Free Will and Predestination in Early Islam. BOOK REVIEWS 251 The emphasis during the period under discussion is not, according to Professor Watt, confined to theology--as the term "Islamic Thought" might lead someone into believing-but rather to the significance of religious doctrines in the Islamic community, as well as the development and the intellectual lines of thought which led to the maturation of Islam in all its facets. In his attempt to achieve such a difficult objective, Professor Watt offered a radical "critique of the main heresiographical tradition" (p...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 250-251
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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