|Graduate Seminar: Plato’s Parmenides
A close reading of Plato’s Parmenides. The dialogue is traditionally divided into two parts. In the first, a young Socrates presents a theory of forms reminiscent of the theory found in the Phaedo and Republic. This theory is then subjected to criticism at the hands of Parmenides, who raises a series of problems for Socrates’ attempts to explain how these forms relate to perceptible things. In the second part, Parmenides leads another young interlocutor (‘Aristotle’) through a labyrinthine dialectical exercise, generating what has been described as ‘perhaps the best collection of antinomies ever made’. In this seminar we will pay special attention to the question of the dialogue’s overall unity, as well as considering the significance of the frame and Plato’s characterizations of the dramatis personae. Philosophical themes to be discussed include the metaphysics of universals and particulars, unity and plurality, parts and wholes, place and time. We will read the dialogue in the English translation by Gill and Ryan, alongside a selection of modern secondary literature.