The unity of oneness and manyness in Plato's Theaetetus
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The guiding question in the Theaetetus is “what is knowledge?”, and as in most of Platoʼs dialogues no satisfactory answer to the guiding question is found. My dissertation will offer a reading of the Theaetetus that shows how the charactersʼ failure to give an acceptable account (i.e. a logos) of knowledge really constitutes a success. In brief, the failure to give a logos of knowledge is confirmation of the dialogueʼs implicit proof that there is neither a logos of knowledge nor knowledge of logos. The proof of the incompatibility of knowledge and logos rests on the recognition that knowledge is always of what is, and hence is always of what is one, while logos is inherently multiply. Thus any attempt to give a logos of what is known amounts to turning what is one into something multiple. The incompatibility of knowledge and logos amounts to far more than merely an epistemic claim. The dialogue shows us (implicitly) that the relation between knowledge and logos is grounded in the relation between being (or oneness) and manyness. Being, oneness and knowledge are all intertwined (if not identified) in Plato. This means that manyness fundamentally is not and is inherently unintelligible. Yet the denial of the existence of manyness amounts to a denial of the possibility of false opinion, whichSocrates shows to be a self-refuting position. The denial of manyness also leaves us unable to explain how there can possibly be many distinct beings? Thus we find ourselves stuck in what seems to be a contradiction: manyness both is and is not. The necessity of the combination of being and non-being leads to the recognition of the need for levels of being; each higher level relating to the lower by supplying it with its principle of unity, and hence supplying it with its being. It is in these levels of being, both in their sameness and difference, that the meat of Platoʼs rich account is to be found.