not necessitate a "two worlds" hypothesis, is this "better"
argument. I will not follow Fine's methodology of simply ascertaining the
"best" argument. I want to understand the conditions for making a
conclusive judgement on this issue, if this is possible. I intend to argue that both the
existential and predicative readings are consistent with the text, given the ambiguity of
einai and the content of Plato's description of the objects of opinion: sensibles; and
also that, given this ambiguity, we are not justified in advancing any consistent reading
8This paper follows Vlastos' "A Metaphysical Paradox" Proceedings
39 (1966): 5-19. Rpt in Vlastos, G. Platonic Studies. New York: Princeton
University Press, 1973: 43-57; and "Degrees of Reality in Plato." New Essays
in Plato and Aristotle. Ed. R. Bambrough. (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1965)
9W. D. Ross, Plato's Theory of Ideas 37.
10F. M. Cornford, The
REPUBLIC of Plato, Cf. 181.
scholars would object to this characterization of Bk. V. Gail Fine refers to the
view that Plato "distinguishes knowledge and belief by reference to their
objects" as the two worlds theory (TW). She claims that "the best
arguments consistent with the text...fail to support TW." But she also admits
that the text can be read as supporting TW. Fine's position on TW follows from her
argument for the veridical interpretation of Republic V, which, she argues, is
"better." Whether it is or not is controversial. Suffice it to say
that I disagree with Fine's methodology of equating the "best possible argument"
with the "best reading." Given this, we will maintain the TW theory for
purposes of a discussion and exposition of the problem of the interpretation of Bk. V.
As Fine indicates, the literature favors the TW interpretation. Our
discussion will then center on questions of interpretation given the assumption of TW.
Plato's Theory of Knowledge 6. The phrase "degrees of reality" can be
found in many scholarly interpretations. Vlastos' "A Metaphysical Paradox"
and "Degrees of Reality in Plato." Cornford describes this as "a distinct
order of realities."
Metaphysical Paradox" 43-57.
X for another expression of the degrees of reality theory. We will be limiting ourselves
to a discussion of R. Bk. V.
Ross actually uses "Ideas" instead of "Forms," which we will use for
the sake of consistency.
20R. 479e: Knowledge is set over "the
things themselves that are always the same in every respect." Grube's
Translation. Plato notoriously claims that knowledge is only possible of fixed, 'perfect'
objects, i.e. Forms. The difficulties associated with this claim will not be
21R. 477a. Grube's Translation.
22N. P. White, "Plato's Metaphysical Epistemology," The
Cambridge Companion. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992) 227-310:
"[Plato's] views about what there is are largely controlled by ideas about how
knowledge can be accounted for, and his thinking about what knowledge is takes its
character from convictions about what there is that is knowable," 9.
F. Cherniss 1-12. "The essential characteristic of knowledge cannot be explained by
any theory which takes phenomena to be the objects of intellection." Then
later: "the theory of Ideas is a necessary hypothesis for the solution of the
problems of epistemology," 7.
6: "In the Republic the proof that knowledge and opinion are different
faculties is conclusive evidence for the fact that the objects with which they are
concerned must be different."
obviously not an attempt at formality. It merely shows the general progression of the
29R. 477a. Italics are my
30R. 478d. Italics are my
31R. 478e. Italics are my
38: "The sights and sounds which have already been identified with the objects of
opinion are therefore consigned to the status of semi-reality." Plato
explicitly states this conclusion at R. 479d.
Theory of Knowledge" 7.
34I do not
read Greek, so this analysis must follow Vlastos' "Degrees of Reality."
of Reality" 1.
Owen's analysis: "Aristotle on the Snares of Ontology," 69.
does not exhaust the usage. "Is" may be used as an identity sign, or may preface
a locative. Later we will see how these complications bear on the current analysis.
Vlastos, "A Metaphysical Paradox," Ryle, "Systematically Misleading
Expressions," and Carnap, "Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology."
40Used by Vlastos, "A
of Reality in Plato" 3.
Metaphysical Paradox" 45.
43The viewpoint elaborated
in the previous paragraph.