The widespread understanding of language in the West is that it represents the world. This view, however, has not always been commonplace. In fact, it is a theory of language conceived by Plato, culminating in The Sophist. In that dialogue Plato introduced the idea of statements as being either true or false, where the distinction between falsity and truth rests on a deeper discrepancy between appearance and reality, or seeming and being.
Robin Reames’s Seeming & Being in Plato’s Rhetorical Theory marks a shift in Plato scholarship. Reames argues that an appropriate understanding of rhetorical theory in Plato’s dialogues illuminates how he developed the technical vocabulary needed to construct the very distinctions between seeming and being that separate true from false speech. By engaging with three key movements of twentieth- and twenty-first-century Plato scholarship—the rise and subsequent marginalization of “orality and literacy theory,” Heidegger’s controversial critique of Platonist metaphysics, and the influence of literary or dramatic readings of the dialogues—Reames demonstrates how the development of Plato’s rhetorical theory across several of his dialogues (Gorgias, Phaedrus, Protagoras, Theaetetus, Cratylus, Republic, and Sophist) has been both neglected and misunderstood.
Originally appeared on Ancient Philosophy Society Read More