Plato’s Theory of Being and Becoming

Being and Becoming

Plato's theory of Being and Becoming, and its relations to the forms, is rooted in the dichotomy between being and not-being. Prior to Socrates the Sophists, from Parminedes to Gorgias, had argued that because it was impossible by definition for Nothing to exist, it was impossible to describe or vocalize a negative state, and therefore also impossible to utter falsehood. "And now arises the greatest difficulty of all. If Not-being is inconceivable, how can Not-being be refuted? (Plato, Sophist) All that could be said must be somehow true, as false speech would not be speech and therefore could not be uttered. Being was arranged across the divide from an ...

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that the truth or reality of a thing is determined by the degree to which its professed or apparent nature lines up with what is otherwise the objective standard (be that metaphysical or experiential). This idea of a standard by which Being could be judged, apart from interaction with Not-Being, leads naturally to the idea that there are abstracted complex "forms" which are the sets of ideals or defining characteristics. The forms, by which the truth of other things can be judged, are abstract, complete, and relatively static. Actual reality, however, is concrete and incomplete, (the "falseness" of "not-being" fully ideal runs through all reality, corrupting it from the form) and therefore in a state of flux -- because of that, it is not actually Being at all, but Becoming. This clarification also is based on the Being/Not-Being debate, because that debate had suggested that Being was static and that falsehood and Not-Being were impossible partly because contradictory things ...

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other philosophers and schools of thought, the most notable of which would be the Sophists, (who were scribes and philosophers for hire) whom he vilified and also suggested were responsible for theories that there were no possibility for the existence of truths or falsehoods.
So Plato and Socrates had from these forerunners a heritage of thought which may have distorted their own vision to some degree. As the introduction to the Project Gutenberg edition of Plato's Sophist suggests, the idea that "no Being or reality can be ascribed to Not-being, and therefore not to falsehood, which is the image or expression of Not-being. Falsehood is wholly false; and to speak of true ...

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Added: 2/14/2017 08:08:42 AM
Category: Philosophy
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