Sie sind auf Seite 1von 183

PLATOS CRATYLUS

Argument, Form,
and Structure

VIBS
Volume 168
Robert Ginsberg
Founding Editor
Peter A. Redpath
Executive Editor
Associate Editors
G. John M. Abbarno
Mary-Rose Barral
Gerhold K. Becker
Raymond Angelo Belliotti
Kenneth A. Bryson
C. Stephen Byrum
H. G. Callaway
Robert A. Delno
Rem B. Edwards
William Gay
Dane R. Gordon
J. Everet Green
Heta Aleksandra Gylling
Matti Hyry
Steven V. Hicks

Richard T. Hull
Laura Duhan Kaplan
Mark Letteri
Vincent L. Luizzi
Alan Milchman
George David Miller
Alan Rosenberg
Arleen L. F. Salles
John R. Shook
Eddy Souffrant
Tuija Takala
Oscar Vilarroya
Anne Waters
John R. Welch
Thomas F. Woods

a volume in
Studies in Studies in the History of Western Philosophy
SHWP
Robert A. Delno, Editor

PLATOS CRATYLUS
Argument, Form,
and Structure

Michael W. Riley

Amsterdam - New York, NY 2005

Cover Design: Studio Pollmann


The paper on which this book is printed meets the requirements of ISO
9706:1994, Information and documentation - Paper for documents Requirements for permanence.
ISBN: 90-420-1875-5
Editions Rodopi B.V., Amsterdam - New York, NY 2005
Printed in the Netherlands

To Karen, Julia, Johnny, and Deirdre

This page intentionally left blank

CONTENTS
List of Figures

ix

Foreword

xi

Preface

xiii

List of Abbreviations
Introduction
ONE

TWO

THREE

FOUR

FIVE

SIX

SEVEN

xv
1

The Argument in the Cratylus in the


Form of a Geometric Demonstration

13

Enunciation: Knowledge of Names, like Knowledge of


Beautiful Things in General, is Difficult 383a384c

27

I. Construction: Eikasia, Likeness-Making:


The Appearance of Reasoning 384c393b

31

II. Demonstration: Pistis, Belief: Heraclitean Dogmas,


Socratic Demands 393b408d

45

III. Demonstration: Dianoia, Systematic Reasoning:


An Axiomatic Heraclitean Logos: A Phenomenal
Philosophical Dictionary 408d421c

75

IV. Demonstration: Noesis, Knowing: Knowledge as


Identical with Perception 421d436b

113

Reduction, Recapitulation : 436c440c

129

Notes

135

Bibliography

139

Appendix

143

About the Author

145

Index

147

This page intentionally left blank

LIST OF FIGURES
Enunciation
I. Construction: Eikasia
II. Demonstration: Pistis. Name Groups 14
III. Demonstration: Dianoia. Name Groups 58
IV. Demonstration: Noesis
Reduction
Recapitulation
Name Group 1
Name Group 2
Name Group 3
Heraclitus Cycle of Elements
Platos Cycle of Gods as Elements
Name Group 4
Name Group 5
Name Group 6
Name Group 7
Name Group 8

22
22
23
24
25
26
26
49
53
61
66
66
73
84
91
102
111

This page intentionally left blank

FOREWORD
Michael Riley has ventured to do in this book what others have rarely attempted since the days of the Neoplatonists. That was when Proclus, one of
the last systematizers of the Greek philosophical tradition, in the fifth century
CE, organized his discussion of four of the hypotheses in Platos Parmenides
with his eye on the dimensions of the Divided Line in Book 6 of Platos Republic. Riley now proposes, without explicit reference to the Neoplatonists, to
throw light on another difficult Platonic dialogue, the Cratylus, by finding an
analogue for Platos procedure there in the same Divided Line. Unlike other
critics primarily interested in the language theories, or rather theories of naming, made to vie with each other in the Cratylus, Rileys concern is the structure of the work, especially the order in which Plato presents the principal
topic, the origin and meaning of names.
The Cratylus has troubled readers above all on two grounds. For one,
readers attempting to plot Platos works along the lines of a chronological
succession have often been doubtful about where to place the dialogue in the
presumed arc of his philosophical development. Stylometry usually puts it
among the earlier works, but it is by no means definite that a great writers
progress can always be read from the variable particulars of his creative prose
style. For another, the bulk of the Cratylus presents us with a seemingly disordered mass of etymology and phonology that has struck a number of scholars over the past few centuries as more of a joke, a Platonic paidia, than as a
serious inquiry into verbal roots and phonetic changes. Riley dares to brave
both of these obstacles head-on. For his argument, the chronological issue is
irrelevant; and his explanation of what Plato is doing in the etymological
segment of the dialogue rules out any overall presumption of paidia, though
he fully appreciates Socrates customary incidental flashes of wit.
The reliance on the Divided Line does not impose an interest in comparative dating, because Riley assumes that the advantages of the Line as a
geometric expedient of orientation were known before Plato availed himself
of its usefulness in the Republic. In that work, the subdivisions of the Line are
counted on to prefigure the proportionate relations among the four elements
of the epistemological scale, from imagining (eikasia) based on perception
(aesthesis) at the bottom, through belief (pistis) and thinking (dianoia), to
intelligence (noesis) at the apex of knowledge. Rileys remarkable claim is that
the etymological and phonological portion of the Cratylus, and indeed the
whole dialogue, is structured in conformity with the upward reach of the Line;
and that each part of the discussion, defined in this manner, and its constituents, are further subdivided in the same fourfold sequence. That is to say, the
progression of the colloquy, and along with it the natural subunits of the inquiry, are analyzable as a passage comprising other passages through the four

xii

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

stages of Platos epistemic ladder. The sampling of word derivations whose


order has in the past seemed fortuitous is on these grounds put into slots obeying a sequence significant in Platos thinking about the operations of the mind.
We should not really be surprised, now that Riley has shown the way, to
find Plato arguing by steps familiar from his teaching in other dialogues such
as the Republic and the Theaetetus. At the same time, the apparent indisputability with which Riley manages to drop each of the lexical riddles into its
preordained groove might well energize our skeptical antennae. It is hard,
after all, to expect that Plato should have succeeded in securely cementing
each building block of the new science, etymology, so its placement would
answer to the scalar demands of his general epistemology. A rigid conformity
to a pattern does not suit the superior limberness of Socrates investigative
manner. Especially in the areas of pistis and dianoia, closely allied as they are
in the Platonic corpus, one might anticipate some deviations from the proposed arrangement. Riley does find a procedural irregularity in at least one
case. But exceptions from a putative rule cannot be recognized unless the rule
has been advanced. Rileys scheme, expounded in brisk prose, is an eyeopener that allows the reader to recognize a plausible sequence in the wealth
of linguistic material examined in the Cratylus.
Riley further highlights the various stages of his argument by means of
tables and diagrams, with an extended Euclidean analysis furnishing a gallant
coda. Riley is fully familiar with the modern authorities on the dialogue, and
faces them respectfully in the presentation of his case. The faint shadow of
Neoplatonic authoritarianism that hovers behind his proposal does not diminish its novelty and freshness. Among the varied theories and approaches rivaling one another and enlivening Platonic scholarship today, Rileys entry must
be regarded as a significant event. Some, to their loss, will reject his offering
outright. Others, more fruitfully, will test its worth and appropriate its benefits. In the light of Rileys study, the Cratylus will gain added stature as evidence for the larger identity of Platonic thought.
Thomas G. Rosenmeyer
University of California, Berkeley

PREFACE
My interest in the Cratylus began when I read it as an undergraduate for a
course in the Integral Liberal Arts Program at Saint Marys College. Two of
my teachers from those halcyon days, who are now my colleagues in the
Classics Department and Integral Program at Saint Marys, Albert Dragstedt
and Joseph Lanigan, have both patiently heard and read the argument of this
book in many stages.
As a graduate student in the Classics Department at the University of
Washington, Seattle, I received help and encouragement for my work on the
Cratylus from many excellent teachers. These included Catherine Roth, who
led the seminar on How the Greeks thought about their language for which I
wrote the paper which has grown into this book, Pierre MacKay, who directed
my dissertation on the Cratylus, John McDiarmid, Larry Bliquez, and Cecilia
Luschnig, all of the Classics Department, and Marc Cohen of the Philosophy
Department. In subsequent years, Robert Renehan of the Classics Department
of the University of California at Santa Barbara, and Thomas G. Rosenmeyer
of the Classics and Comparative Literature Departments of the University of
California at Berkeley helped me with crucial parts of the manuscript.
I want to express great thanks to Saint Marys College for two sabbaticals needed to complete this work. For help in the labyrinthine preparation
of the manuscript I also thank Rodopis Series in the History of Western Philosophy editor, Robert Delfino, Belinda Cortright, Ann Thatcher, Elizabeth
Cortright, and Elizabeth Boepple.
Finally, my greatest thanks are for my wife Karen and children Julia,
Johnny, and Deirdre, who have been endlessly helpful and hopeful about this
book, which I now dedicate to them with love.

This page intentionally left blank

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
References to the Cratylus and other Platonic dialogues are by Stephanus
numbers from the edition of John Burnets Platonis Opera.
DK: References to Heraclitus and other presocratics are noted in the text by
the abbreviation DK followed by fragment number from Hermann Diels
and Walther Kranz, Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker (Berlin: Weidmannsche Buchhandlung, 6th ed., 1956).
The abbreviations for other classical authors and their works that appear in the
body of the text come from the Oxford Classical Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2nd edition, 1970) as follows:

Aris.Cat.:
Aris.Met.:
D.L.:
Pl.Gorg.:
Pl.Plt.:
Pl.Rep.:
Pl.Soph.:
Pl.Theaet.:
Plut.Quaest. Plat.:

Aristotle, Categories
Aristotle, Metaphysics
Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers
Plato, Gorgias
Plato, Politicus (Statesman)
Plato, Republic
Plato, Sophist
Plato, Theaetetus
Plutarch, Quaestiones Platonicae

This page intentionally left blank

INTRODUCTION
Alcibiades in Platos Symposium compares Socrates to a Silenus box. He
thinks that a superficially whimsical and grotesque exterior conceals Socrates
serious reality in the way small statues of flute-playing satyrs conceal images
of the gods within them. This figure of speech equally expresses the way in
which the ornate surfaces of Platos dialogues can frequently conceal their
true and more philosophic character. In simpler cases, such as the Meno and
the Charmides, initial topics such as virtue or courage occasion dialogues
whose deeper concerns turn out to be definition and knowledge. In the Cratylus, things are more complex, for within Platos outer framework of hidden
design, Socrates takes nearly two-thirds of the dialogue to build another sort
of Silenus box.
At first straightforward, Socrates conversation becomes unusually baffling in the Cratylus. Like his interlocutors, he initially appears interested in
determining whether names have meaning by convention or by nature. He has
entered their discussion in progress on how meaning is constituted in and for
language. But shortly after he begins this investigation about how names
mean, Socrates goes on a lengthy tangent that finally takes over and takes up
most of the dialogue. The set of some 140 etymologies for 108 names that
Socrates provides in this tangent consists of derivations almost entirely specious by modern standards. Louis Meridier lists only twenty successful or
partially successful etymologies, about a seventh of the total.1 The value of the
etymologies, though, does not have to depend only on their lexicographical
success-rate. Accordingly, the search continues for what Thomas G. Rosenmeyer calls some kind of positive program for the etymological section.2
No known ancient commentator doubted the seriousness of the etymologies, as David Sedley points out.3 Pertinently, Rachel Barney observes concerning the etymologies that whether [the etymologies] are good or plausible
by modern standards is clearly beside the point, but what standards are appropriate is not so easy to discover.4 Many of the derivations are fairly whimsical, some even fantastic or grotesque. The entire etymological section can
appear oddly sprawling and disproportionate. Still, as the case that follows
will illustrate in detail, Socrates carefully places each etymology, however
correct or strange it may happen to be on linguistic grounds, within a simple,
single, overarching design in the Cratylus. He follows this design strictly. By
sticking closely to it, he illuminates many details in the development of his
philosophical sense of the problem of knowing.
My main purpose here is to demonstrate the design of the dialogue and
the corresponding design of the etymological section within it. Once that
design emerges in detail, it becomes possible to consider the function of the
design in and for Socrates philosophical argument. Each of the etymologies

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

then takes its philosophic place within the scheme of Socrates argument. The
curious set of etymologies become together a sort of Silenus box that presents
the dazzling, distracting, elaborate, and ornate surface of that argument. The
argument follows a pattern of thought remarkably familiar, even fundamental,
in Socrates discussion elsewhere in the dialogues, the systematic progression
to knowledge along the four stages of the famous divided line analogy that
dramatically concludes Republic 6 (509d ff).
The divided line analogy directly follows and reexpresses the terms of
Platos more famous analogy of the sun to the idea of the good (508a ff.). The
most famous passage in all of Plato, the cave analogy (514a ff.), immediately
follows, and in many ways follows from, the divided line analogy. Among
other purposes for it, Plato uses the cave analogy to dramatize and develop a
persons progression toward knowledge along the four stages of the divided
line. To produce the divided line analogy, Socrates divides a line into two
unequal parts. One part corresponds to the intelligible class and realm of
things and the other to the visible, t mn nohto g{nouj te kai tpou t d'a
rato. He then divides each part in the same ratio in which he has split the
whole, and the two parts of each realm correspondingly vary in their relative
clarity and obscurity, safhnefv kai safefv prj llhla.
The progression of the divided line has a system. In what follows, I frequently use the word system and its derivatives, because I primarily intend
to show how the Cratylus as a whole and in detail works according to a system that Plato designs by means of the divided line. By system I mean the
plan or design for a set of parts that makes it usable as a whole, which parts
work together in correspondence. For instance, neither a wagon nor Hesiods
famous list of the parts of a wagon (Works and Days, 454 ff.) is, in isolation, a
system. Still, the wainwrights method for putting the parts together is, so is
Hesiods design and versification of the parts list, and so can be some, though
not necessarily every, rhapsodes way of recalling the list to recite it.
Plato plans and arranges for his use the four parts of the line, the pairs of
parts of the line, and the entire line. He makes them correspond with four
stages of thought, one by one, in their relations by pairs, and with thought as a
whole, even with results of thought, their relations by pairs, and their final
aim and goal of knowing the good. His plan in the Cratylus follows strictly
according to this set of correspondences. Readers already familiar with the
details of the divided line and the use Plato makes of it in the Republic can
pass over the next four paragraphs.
The line has four segments, a shortest, a longest, and two equal to each
other between the extremes (see Appendix). These four segments are analogous to four stages of mental development. The first involves sense perception more than the others, which progressively develop from their dependence
on the senses until the fourth does not require it at all, aesqht pantpasin
odeni. The first of the four parts of the line corresponds to eikasia, sensation

Introduction

within a realm of shadows, both visible shadows and metaphorical or conceptual ones. These are the shadows of knowledge merely, but taken for knowledge truly, which represent by observable likeness in the case of sense perception and figurative comparison in the case of imagination.
The second stage of the line represents pistis, belief and conviction resulting from natural corporeal things that make literal shadows and from
every sort of humanly contrived thing, t skeuastn lon g{noj, that make
literal or figurative ones. The next stage of the line represents dianoia, systematic reasoning and understanding, such as geometry. The final stage of the
line stands for noesis or episteme, knowledge independent of assumptions of
any kind, the domain of pure mind, nous.
The four stages of knowledge are in fact four different ways of looking
at or approaching the same reality. Exactly specific and different subject matters appropriate to each stage do not exist. While sense perception of likeness
is like a shadow of knowledge in the analogy, it does not thereby deal only
with shadows and reflections. While dianoia operates in the same way as
geometry, geometry is not its sole object and practice. We must proceed
through all four stages of knowledge to reach knowledge in any field of study.
Each scientific system will have a shadowing forth, at the first acquaintance
with its tenets; also, a particular scientific system will explain shadows and
reflections, for instance, optics.
Eikasia and pistis express what is apparently true. The first makes
guesses to represent reality, the second forms convictions and persuades by
the use of concrete examples for the truth of the convictions. The mathematical equality of the pistis and dianoia sections suggests that, like induction and
deduction, while in many ways different, they are in some other ways also
alike. Dianoia and nous express truths that are not obvious. Dianoia assumes
convictions about apparent reality as self-evident axioms and elaborates the
logical consequences that are in accord, mologoum{nwj (Pl.Rep. 510d), with
such assumptions. The final stage, nous, transcends sense perception and
assumption and, by means of the forms, apprehends what is fundamental and
not hypothetical.
The divided line models how a given conjecture passes through four
stages in the mind. A thinker first considers its superficial likelihood, then its
persuasiveness in particular cases. Next, he must consider how the hypothesis
and its consequences interconnect. These consequences must all hang together
and be in accord with one another in order to accord with any given conjecture. As in geometry, if consequences of the same assumption contradict one
another, they invalidate the assumption. In the fourth and final stage, the
thinker can verify the conjecture as a fact and contemplate its formal status.
Plato does not make it explicit how someone reaches this fourth stage. Still, he
does make it explicit from the requirements of dianoia as systematic reasoning,
that a conjecture that produces contradictory consequences is thereby self-

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

contradictory, and so cannot be true. What knowledge of reality or fact consists


in is not obvious from the divided line analogy. The analogy still makes it plain
that a conjecture that leads to self-contradiction cannot lead to knowledge.5
Nowhere in the dialogues does Socrates give direct evidence for complete knowledge. He says neither that he himself has such evidence nor that
he knows how it establishes knowledge. Everywhere, though, he insists that
thinkers abide by strict standards of evidence for claims about knowledge of
any kind. The highest of these standards of evidence for him are the ideas.
The divided line maps four ways to use four sorts of standards of evidence,
the last being ideas themselves. Socrates does not claim that ideas as such
standards ever can guarantee knowledge. Insofar as he has a theory of ideas,
and theory of ideas is not Socrates or Platos term to begin with, he has a
descriptive sort of theory. Socrates uses the ideas here on the divided line as
elsewhere in a description of the minds habits of thinking, not in a prescription for their success at knowing.
In the Cratylus, Socrates designs the etymological section by means of
the divided line. He also has a figurative use for this structure of thought. By
his design, Socrates sustains and arranges the many curious etymologies for
names so that they can figuratively contain and conceal something like images
of the gods, namely allusions to accounts of what is to him fundamental and
crucial. More obviously, these images are of his and others, especially Heraclitus, accounts of divine and human things as unchanging or changing in
their being and seeming. Less obviously, these images are of Socrates peculiar account or expression of the fundamental problem of knowing such things
at all, distinctly or in relation to other things.
Socrates develops the problem of knowing here, as elsewhere, only to
exclude as implausible some accounts of things. He suggests most directly
here only a dream as grounds for establishing other accounts as plausible. In
other dialogues, Socrates is more direct and substantive in expressing the
problem of knowing and in composing such accounts for its solution as he
considers plausible. Late in the Cratylus Socrates says only that he has a
dream that there exists the beautiful and the good and each individual thing in
itself (439cd). By the end of the dialogue, what Socrates has done with his
whimsical etymological antics in the Cratylus to make this famous dream
even a plausible assumption, is far from obvious. Still, how he methodically
checks and scrutinizes another plausible assumption turns out in the Cratylus
to be surprisingly and remarkably direct. From first to last in the dialogue, he
plots a simple and practical way to scrutinize assumptions for their reliability
within his or any other account of knowing anything in itself.
To modern readers simplicity and practicality are far from obvious qualities of the bulk of the dialogue, its notorious etymological section. Many
scholars approach or avoid the etymological section as a sort of strange and
vast puzzle. Several have remarked upon the alarming amount of heavy-

Introduction

handed Socratic irony at the surface of the etymological section. Few appear
genuinely entertained by much of this irony; some appear more irritated than
amused or enlightened by it. As uncharacteristic of him as is Friedrich
Schleiermachers reaction to the Cratylus, he probably most fully expresses the
frustration of many scholars with the etymological section, if not with the
entire dialogue. On the subject of the etymologies, Schleiermachers usual
expository method gives way:
A still more difficult task was it to defend the great man in the matter of
the utterly false derivations and explanations of the words, when, alas!,
among so many examples there is hardly one that can meet with toleration, to say nothing of support. For even though we may be disposed to
excuse, and regret that the admirable philosopher, from fault of the
times, was capable of producing so little instructive or sound upon so
important a subject, still this resource can never suffice, because in fact
the ignorance is too great, and even against our inclination something
like a feeling of contempt will always enter into the surprise we feel, that
one who laid so much stress upon the obligation we are under to know
the variety and extent of our ignorance, should have plunged into such
trifling and unmeaning play, upon a subject about which he manifestly
knew nothing.6
Schleiermacher tries to work from his first reaction to the Cratylus to an
unprejudiced reading of the dialogue. Still he can make no more of the etymological section than a topical satire against the grammarians of Platos day
such as Antisthenes, whose works are in their substance lost. Many have
followed Schleiermachers lead.7 Against them, Ronald Levinson makes the
case, that we lose more than is gained by introducing the many-valued term
Antisthenes into the equation of the Cratylus.8 A more general comment on
the possible fulfillment of a search for Platos personal targets in the Cratylus
comes from Gert Jan de Vries:
For the etymologizing part there are no parallels in Platos work, and the
doctrines that are attacked can hardly be identified. From a conversation
with V. M. E. Goldschmidt I learned that he shares these views.9
Victor Moritz E. Goldschmidt has provided an excellent account of recognizable sources in the etymological section.10
While none so disdainfully as Schleiermacher, many scholars have made
light of the Cratylus, primarily because of Platos apparently willful excesses
in the etymological section. A. E. Taylor says the dialogue is little more than
a picture of Socrates in one of his more whimsical moods.11 G. S. Kirk
calls it mainly jocular in intent.12 Paul Friedlnder calls it a medley of

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

merry pranks.13 To lengthen this list is easy. Making light of the Cratylus
and its etymologies, though, has also provoked counterirritation. Thomas
Taylor, the eighteenth-century Neoplatonist, says the etymologies mean to
mock the philologians of Platos day:
the truth of this account will be evident to every ingenuous mind, from
barely reading the dialogue with attention; but is not even suspected by the
verbal critic, who as usual decides on writings, which he is so far from
having studied, that he has not even read them like a rational being.14
The etymological section is by far the greatest problem for those who
argue for the philosophical worth of the Cratylus. One persistent tendency is
to minimize the sections importance and skirt the issue of its sprawling
length.15 By such accounts, when Socrates does return to the ostensible topic
of how and on what authority names are reliable, the point of origin of his
extensive etymological tangent, he does so only to discredit the etymological
section as entirely a digression. At the surface, then, the etymological section,
the bulk of the dialogue, has appeared to some to be chaotic, an utter waste of
time for philologists and philosophers.
The dialogues defenders have made cases for an order to the series of
etymologies. Goldschmidt holds that the etymologies are even an encyclopedia of theories theologiques, cosmologiques, et morales ayant trait a la conception de flux perpetuel.16 He divides the etymologies into three groups on
the basis of Diogenes Lartius division of the topics in Heraclitus book into
three logoi, on the universe ( n), on politics, and on the divine (D.L.
9.5). Robert Brumbaugh outlines an intriguing partial system of the etymologies and connects it to the order of the topics in the Timaeus and the account
of language in the Seventh Letter.17
Further, several writers have provided new, convincing solutions to different problems of detail with and in this curious Platonic anomaly, including
the problems of the purpose, tone, and value of some of Socrates etymological accounts. For instance, Sedley argues that many of the etymologies have
an exegetical, if not always a philosophical, value for Socrates and Plato. He
cites for comparison Platos purposeful etymologies in other dialogues such
as the Timaeus, Laws, Republic, and Phaedrus. The Cratylus etymologies for
Sedley are not just a catalogue of views on topics in literary, scientific, and
philosophical traditions of interest to Socrates, but are even in the orderly
arrangement of a preconceived philosophical curriculum.18
Other, fresh arguments accumulate in the tradition that the whole etymological section can have what Thomas Rosenmeyer says is still difficult to discern, a kind of positive program.19 Barney, for instance, recalls Friedrich
Nietzsches agonistic Socrates and sets up an account of the etymologies as a sort
of agon, a contest where Socrates is outperforming the etymology mongers at

Introduction

their own game. She elicits parallels for this agonistic display from the Protagoras, Menexenus, and Phaedo, and the doxa-fragments of Parmenides.20
Direct accounts of relations between the sense of the Cratylus and that
of the Theaetetus by Mary Margaret MacKenzie and Sedley might help suggest further applications of this agon analogy.21 In the Theaetetus, Socrates
becomes Protagoras and speaks for him against Socrates earlier arguments.
In the Sophist as well, the Eleatic Stranger puts on a virtuoso and arguably
agonistic display of dichotomous defining, only to illustrate its inadequacies
later. In this way, distinct analogies of style, structure, and purpose have
emerged already between the Cratylus and Platos early to middle dialogues,
and can also continue to emerge between it and the middle to later dialogues.
In this essay I argue primarily for Platos use of another sort of analogy,
his mathematically simple divided line proportion (see Appendix), because he
uses it from start to finish within an entire design of the Cratylus itself, including its enigmatic etymological section. I secondarily suggest how this
internal principle of analogy within the Cratylus can help strengthen and
clarify such analogous connections between the Cratylus and other Platonic
dialogues as those I have briefly mentioned.
My main purpose here is to open the design of the Cratylus and the Socratic Silenus box of its etymological section. First, I show in general, simple
terms how Socrates constructs it, and then in some detail I illustrate its intricacy and, I hope, its entertainment value. I also try to open it sufficiently for
the ongoing discussion of the Cratylus to include a sense of the details of the
design of the entire etymological section in any account of the dialogues true
philosophic character. While I am not more than provisionally and preliminarily providing such an account, the effort here may help make it plain what the
extensive etymological tangent in the Cratylus can have to do with dialogues
close to the center of Platos thought on knowledge and being, such as the
Theaetetus, Sophist, Statesman, Parmenides, Republic, and Timaeus.
For the first half of the Cratylus, scholia survive, though they are in part
by one of his students, under the name of Proclus, the eminent Neoplatonist of
the fifth century of the Common Era. These scholia interconnect the Cratylus
and the dialogues just mentioned, and others, within Proclus labyrinthine
account of Platos theology.22 The scholia do not provide a simple design or
plan for the dialogue and they break off midway through the etymologies.
Still, they make it plain that, and to some degree explain how, the Neoplatonists thought the Cratylus merited serious consideration. The text came
fourth in their canon of twelve dialogues after the Alcibiades 1, Gorgias, and
Phaedo, and before the Theaetetus, Sophist, Statesman, Phaedrus, Symposium, Philebus, Timaeus, and Parmenides. The first ten of these were to prepare their students for the last two dialogues, and most importantly the more
analytic, more serious, and more crucial Parmenides.23

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

The logical exercise in antinomy in the Parmenides that Zeno conducts


with the young future tyrant Aristoteles is strikingly similar in its abrupt entry
and departure from the dialogue, and in its intricate reticulation, to the etymological section of the Cratylus. According to Proclus in his commentary on
the Parmenides, the exercise even follows the divided line in its arrangement
of its second through fifth hypotheses.24 The form of the disciplined exercise
section of the Parmenides, like the exercise in definition by division in the
Sophist, while difficult to master, is still obviously a systematic exercise. Such
systematic patterning of the outwardly wildly undisciplined etymological
section is scarcely apparent. How much Plato ever intended it to be apparent
is worth asking. Still, the more this systematic patterning emerges, the more
diverting and the more available for discussion the dialogue becomes.
I go straight to the Cratylus to determine the structure of the etymological section and its close conformity with Platos design and structure of the
dialogue as a whole. Within this design and structure, Plato does not make
direct references to Heraclitus until a third of the dialogue has passed (401d).
Yet in light of those references, several earlier allusions in retrospect become
recognizable, so that it becomes comparatively easy to argue that Plato has
Heraclitus in mind throughout the dialogue. But Plato in the Cratylus never
directly refers to the famous analogy from Republic 6 for his dialectical
frame of reference, the four-stage divided line, of which I make extensive
use in what follows.25 Still, when the Cratylus is nearly half over (407ac), in
the etymological account for Athena, he alludes to all four stages of the line
at once. Etymologies following for Hephaestus and Ares then allude in
turn to Republic 7, the first to the cave analogy and the second to a distinct
character trait of the guardians.
Plato also systematically alludes in the etymologies for day, yoke,
binding, and harmful (418a419b) to his sun analogy for the idea of the
good. The divided line analogy immediately follows and reexpresses the sun
analogy in Republic 6. This crucial allusion to the sun analogy does not occur,
though, until the second third of the Cratylus has almost passed (418a419b).
Even then, the allusion is far from obvious. Arguably, only by these late and
cryptic allusions do any previous features of the design of the dialogue become definitely detectable. Still, I am proposing that Plato geometrically
engineers the whole structure of the dialogue from start to finish by means of
the divided line.
Platos interest in geometry is obvious in the Meno, the Republic, and
the Timaeus, so that he has an interest in it from the beginning to the end of
his work. The form of the Cratylus, too, in keeping with Platos interests,
emerges as a detailed development of a simple geometric pattern. Plato only
refers to geometry and geometric reductio ad absurdum demonstration near
the end of the dialogue (436ce); yet I am also proposing that he follows the
form of a reductio proof for the entirety of the dialogue.

Introduction

That the apparently disorderly Cratylus should emerge as completely


mathematically orderly is at first surprising. Once the general principles and
the particular means that order it emerge, namely geometry in general and the
divided line from Republic 6 in particular, the novelty should pass. First,
Socrates use of geometry here is entirely elementary. In general, I argue that
over the whole dialogue he superimposes the simple form of any geometric
proof, namely an enunciation of a proposition, a construction to test it, a demonstration to show it, and a recapitulation of what was to be demonstrated,
quod erat demonstrandum, to conclude. In particular, I argue that he uses the
four part divided-line analogy repeatedly as a kind of handy scaffolding to
frame up and design each stage and part of the dialogues general geometric
form. The line analogy is quite simple to employ in designing and in remembering arguments. Socrates, or perhaps Plato, employs it to frame the discussion and demonstration in the Cratylus.
Some problems exist here. First, to invoke a system in the Cratylus that
derives from the divided line raises the problem of whether we ought to date
the Cratylus before or after the Republic. Stylometric arguments, among others, favor the earlier dating, but arguments from the theory of ideas suggest
the later. Mackenzie, for instance, argues for a late dating because the problems or aporiai of the Cratylus have their counterparts in the Parmenides,
the Theaetetus, and the Sophist.26 Sedley even makes the case that the Cratylus does not in fact fit into any one place in the chronological scheme of the
dialogues. He cites textual variations to establish very good reason to assume
that the Cratylus which we have is a second or later edition, incorporating
changes made by Plato himself in later life so that the Cratylus is a possibly
unique hybrid, a product of more than one phase of Platos thought.27 I do
not propose to resolve the problem here. Still, I argue for a divided line pattern in the Cratylus and point up uses of language and imagery of the theory
of ideas as they appear in the Republic. I also elicit parallels for arguments
and expressions in the Cratylus from later dialogues such as the Statesman,
Theaetetus, Sophist, and Parmenides.
Especially in discussing Cratylus 418e421c in relation to Theaetetus
155d156e, I provide examples of Platos language usage that look as if they
furnish strong evidence for a later dating. Still, I am not sure such features of
design, thought, and expression in common with these later dialogues require
that late dating. On the one hand, to group the Cratylus with the late dialogues
appears quite plausible. Thrasyllus assumes the late dating in the standard
tetralogies of Platonic dialogues.
On the other hand, the evidence may suggest either that the theory of ideas
is earlier than many have supposed, or that the dialogue is later. What is most
striking about the parallels to the Cratylus in the later dialogues is that they
appear largely in figurative passages and especially in picturesque analogies.
Such figurative speech may well derive from modes of discourse that Socrates

10

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

employed which may be older still. The mathematics necessary to construct the
divided line is presocratic. The analogy of the divided line itself may have been
in such common use in Socrates and later in Platos spoken dialogue that
Platos contemporaries could have understood references to it long before he
wrote it down in the Republic. The same is true of the other analogies.
The next problem arises in characterizing the correlations between the
Cratylus and the other dialogues. We cannot know whether the Cratylus alludes or refers to other dialogues or the others allude or refer to it until the
matter of dating the dialogue is settled. This is not so much of an issue if the
dialogues early, middle, and late have something to refer or allude to besides
each other, a sort of oral tradition in philosophy as in poetry. To note how
recently Elroy L. Bundy has cleared Pindars odes of long-standing charges
similar to those made against the Cratylus of lack of linear unity, abrupt
transitions, excessive personal preoccupations, and irrelevancies of other
kinds is instructive. As he says, These myths have arisen from a failure to
understand the conventional aspects of choral communications. So too the
myth of the incoherence of the etymological section could arise from failure
to understand conventional aspects of philosophical dialogue.28 Such convention in Platos circle is certain, in Socrates likely, and considering the emphasis Pythagoreans such as Platos teacher, the mathematician Archytas, put on
memory, probably far earlier still. I attempt, though, to confine my use of the
terms reference and allusion to written works alone.
To be fair, I must warn the reader of two things. First, since Platos clues
to its detection come later in the dialogue, the structure of the Cratylus that I
describe may appear at its outset merely forcibly imposed, especially in what I
call the Enunciation and Construction. In part, this is because my argument
reverses the order in which I detected this structure. First, the allusion in
Athena halfway through the dialogue led me to look for the divided line
structure, but only within the etymological section, where a full sense of structure is still most needful and useful. Once the structure of the etymological
section (393b421d) was manifest, the phonological section and concluding
arguments (421d440c) readily appeared to follow out the divided line system.
It was only at the end that I saw how that system might also contain the prelude (383a393b) to the etymologies within the design of a single geometric
demonstration or proof. Readers should regard the divided-line structure as
something here proposed for demonstration, not as taken for granted.
The second warning is that at each stage of this account of the Cratylus,
I recapitulate details of Platos scheme of argument from the Republic. I
repeatedly synopsize and differentiate each of the steps and stages of argument in the Cratylus. In part, this is for the convenience of those readers who
will be using the commentary selectively. This amount of recapitulation may
strike readers of the whole work as complex and repetitious, but it should
firmly establish the at first apparently remarkable claim: that the Cratylus,

Introduction

11

while no less than before a joy-ride through a Heraclitean wonderland, is


also as orderly as a strict geometric proof.29
It will become apparent as the following sequential description unfolds
that I am pointing out what I think is Platos conscious design for the dialogue. Platos design is simple, but intricately elaborated; apprehending it
fully requires only the little geometry that the Appendix delineates. For that
matter, recognizing and viewing the design does not even require the strict
mathematics, which I nonetheless supply, of even so little geometry. The
Cratylus is by any account a labyrinthine work, one of Platos strangest dialogues. Before making use of this commentary, readers should first read or
reread the Cratylus to be aware of just how strange the dialogue appears at
first sight. I hope the case here for the dialogues geometrical clarity and
straightforwardness can then deepen instead of diminish that initial sense of
strangeness. These considerations of the argument, form, and structure of the
Cratylus can then assist readers in further considerations of the dialogues
content and purpose.
My purpose is to make the Cratylus less arcane even to beginning students of Plato. Accordingly, I have almost always translated and frequently
also transliterated the Greek that I quote in the text, so that even those who do
not read Greek can get a sense not only of the sounds, but also of the formants
and roots that Socrates is cleverly manipulating. This is most useful when
cognate or derivative English words share easily recognizable formants and
roots with Greek ones.
References to the Cratylus and other Platonic dialogues are by Stephanus
numbers from the edition of John Burnets Platonis Opera.30 References to
Heraclitus and other presocratics are noted in the text by the abbreviation DK
followed by fragment number from Hermann Diels and Walther Kranz, Die
Fragmente der Vorsokratiker.31 Abbreviations for other classical authors and
their works that appear in the body of the text come from the Oxford Classical
Dictionary.32

This page intentionally left blank

One
THE ARGUMENT IN THE CRATYLUS IN THE
FORM OF A GEOMETRIC DEMONSTRATION
The Cratylus is a riddle about logos on a large scale. The dialogue is also full
of riddles in and about logoi on a small scale, the notorious etymologies
among them. The sense of the large riddle is figurative of the great problem of
ambiguity in the logos or relation of becoming and being. As the dialogue
opens, Hermogenes asks Cratylus, Shall we discuss the logos in common
with Socrates, so the general problem of logos, what it means and is, is in the
dialogue from the first line on. The small riddles as figures of speech depict a
species of the general problem, namely, how names relate to things, for Hermogenes and Cratylus are seeking that logos or account. Socrates concerns
are typically on a grander scale than those of his interlocutors.
Socrates added sense of scale, large and small, in this dialogue is
quite literal. He uses a geometers and an artisans sense of scale, one that
takes logos in the sense of the geometers ratio and takes its compound,
analogia, as same-relatedness or proportion. Socrates, a stonecutters son,
knows the value of this sense of logos to all artisans. In the Cratylus, he will
not confine his senses of logos to those related to speech alone. Dramatically
the divine craftsman, Hephaestus, will stand in the dialogue as Socrates ally
in the fight against taking logoi too lightly or too simplistically. By the geometric sense of scale in general, and the sense of the divided lines proportions from Republic 6 in particular, Plato is designing the dialogue with its
wild etymologies, depictions of the genus and species of ambiguity in logos.
By repeating the proportions of the divided line, itself a repeated proportion,
Plato on small and large scales and by intermediate scales as well, modulates
a geometric design for the dialogue. He is following a geometric model to
figure out the dimensions of the problem of the logos.
Logos appears in the Cratylus to be a problem of which words alone
cannot make sense, for they emerge as too ambiguous by themselves. While
the content of meaning in speech appears, by figures of speech, chaotically
indefinite within the dialogue, the pattern of depicting what appears indefinite
is itself simple and definite. Later in this chapter, I provide an outline of the
whole dialogues argument and diagrams of the elements of its structure. By
means of them, it becomes possible virtually to plot the points of the Cratylus.
Understanding the implications of Platos argument and design is a larger
task, for it depends on interrelating the Cratylus with other Platonic dialogues,
especially with the Theaetetus. The first point here is to bring the whole Cratylus into a single focus. Relating the Cratylus by allusion and analogy to

14

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

Platos other dialogues then is possible in a new way. Once apparent, the
dialogues form readily illustrates analogies with other dialogues. The main
technique of relating form to form here will be modular design, which needs
some general sketch.
Modular design abounds in nature, art, and mathematics in common. A
tree may illustrate the same pattern of veins in a leaf, leaves on a twig, twigs on
a branch, and branches on a trunk. Musicians announce themes and develop
them. Architects use the same proportions for foundations, as for individual
rooms, as for windows. The application of proportions in painting has the result
of the illusion of perspective. At another level, the proportions of the parabola
appear in accord with a description of terrestrial gravitation. In physics, motions
of atoms, solar systems, and galaxies bear significant correspondences.
Modular design in general expresses sameness of proportions from small
to large scales within system. It gives a sense of order and harmony, of fitness
in the relation of part to whole. Throughout the dialogues, Plato uses and
describes this sort of design, especially in his Timaeus.1 In that dialogue the
main speaker, Timaeus, proposes an overarching system of proportions for all
sorts of systems. In Euclidean geometry, proportion is analogia, correspondence, the sameness of ratios, logoi. Euclids theory of proportion, Book 5 of
the Elements, derives largely from the work of Eudoxus, whose terms and
ideas Plato knew.
Plato indicates that each of the divided lines stages can develop modularly in smaller stages with the lines same proportions. In the cave analogy
immediately following the divided line he provides four microcosmic stages
within an image suiting the lines first stage of eikasia, reasoning from likenesses. Platos cave dweller moves through the four stages of the divided line
as he proceeds from beholding shadows on a wall to seeing puppets before a
fire to seeing real phenomena in daylight to beholding the sun as source of
light, itself a likeness of true being. After the cave analogy in Book 7 Socrates
speaks of the education of the guardians. They will have to know a little geometry, and Socrates says why:
[Geometers] speak quite ludicrously and necessarily so, for they make
all their logoi and direct their activity as if toward practical activity and
so speak of squaring and superimposing and adding, when in fact the
goal of the whole study is knowledge (527a).
Later Plato points out that they also have a dream of being, neirrtousi mn
peri t n (533b). Their real aim is knowledge, again, and their art is the
paradigm for systematic reasoning, such as those employ who engage in
dianoia in the lines third stage. Here in the Republic, by foolish images but
with a serious belief about being, geometers reason systematically to get
knowledge. They follow divided line stages within a single stage of the line.

The Argument in the Cratylus

15

The divided line as itself a repeated proportion easily lends itself to a modular
development and correspondence.
Plato in the Cratylus is trying to bring logoi into a kind of correspondence, as he tries to make definitions and etymologies of words correspond by
analogy with the perpetual flux of phenomena. Logoi in speech are not just
like relations in mathematics, nor are analogies in speech just like geometrical
analogiai. Obvious points perhaps, but for Plato reasoning geometrically is
the model of a kind of reasoning necessary to get to knowledge. By another
analogy may follow, then, that logoi in speech that do not allow for development according to analogy with geometric demonstration cannot lead to
knowledge. In any case, the parts of geometric demonstration are all present
by analogy and in order in the Cratylus.
While Socrates mood in the Cratylus is a playful and baffling one, his
model of reasoning is serious and direct. The coupling of jokes with seriousness and of form with formlessness is Platos way of expressing the difficult
issue of a logos for what being has to do with becoming, or the changeless
forms have to do with change. He means the reader to dwell on it. He juxtaposes languages figurative definitions with geometrys definite figures to
show the limits of reasoning by either language or geometry alone and to
show the need, if not the means, for bringing their senses into higher correspondence. While language appears ridiculous on a geometric scale in the
Cratylus, geometry itself appears ridiculous by the standards of linguistic
usage in the passage cited from the Republic (527a).
Socrates geometric play at his own expense in the Cratylus has been
difficult for modern readers to discern, while his wordplay at the expense of
Hermogenes and Cratylus, and through them Protagoras and Heraclitus,
among others, has been all too notorious. Accordingly, I make some preliminary observations about geometry here.
In his commentary on the first book of Euclids Elements Proclus gives
the four essential parts of a proposition in geometry as the enunciation, the
construction, the demonstration, and the recapitulation.2 A geometer announces what he wishes to prove or construct, builds his model, points out the
features needed to make the stated point, then recapitulates it. Proclus does
not mention diagrams as essential to geometric proofs or propositions.
Euclids proofs have this four-step form even though Proclus did not name the
steps until long after Euclid wrote. Plato, too, well knew the steps of geometric proof, and in his turn, before the time of Euclid. Platos is the first name
associated with a special kind of proof, the geometric technique of analysis,
though whether he invented it is doubtful. Proclus says Plato transmitted the
technique to Leodamus, of Thasos, who is the ostensible addressee of the
spurious Epistle 11. In analysis, Proclus says the thinker carries the thing
sought up to an acknowledged principle, rcn mologoum{nhn.3 Pappus,

16

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

another commentator on Euclid, of the fourth century of the Common Era,


explains more fully that in analysis:
we assume that which is sought as if it were already done, and we inquire what it is from which this results, and again what is the antecedent
cause of the latter, and so on, until by so retracing our steps we come
upon something already known or belonging to the class of principles.4
Geometric analysis is exactly what Plato has in mind when he describes
geometers at the third stage of the divided line in the Republic. He says there
that they proceed from axioms to conclusions in agreement with, mologoum{nwj, what they have set down as the starting point of their examination, (510cd). Proofs by way of the indirect method of reductio ad absurdum
are a variety of geometric analysis. In reductio proofs an inappropriate or
impossible design has implications that demonstrate that something is absurd,
topon, in order to establish its opposite. When, near the end of the Cratylus
(436ce), Socrates compares the consequences of assuming that knowing a
name is the same as knowing a thing to the absurd, oov, consequences of a
faulty geometric diagram, he is referring to a technique intentional in reductio
proof. Socrates comparison is also intentional, having ramifications for the
whole dialogue.
The Cratylus as a whole follows the design of a reductio proof: enunciation, construction, demonstration, and recapitulation. The enunciation, construction, and recapitulation are relatively straightforward. Its demonstration,
though, is intricate. It has three distinct and elaborate parts before it concludes
in a strikingly simple reductio argument. Proclus does not detach such a concluding reductio argument from demonstration as a separate essential part of a
proof. For one thing, not all proofs are reductio proofs. Still, the concluding
reductio in the Cratylus is so decisive that I have treated it separately. Besides
this dramatic concluding reductio reasoning, within the Cratylus as a largescale reductio proof are many smaller scale reductiones on a modular structuring principle. I first briefly describe how the module, Platos famous divided line, works within the dialogue as an example of a repeated proportion
(see Appendix). Then I turn to the particular steps in the dialogue that are
analogous to geometric enunciation, construction, demonstration, reductio,
and recapitulation.
Preliminarily I indicate only how the divided line works as a modulating
and patterning device within the general analogy of the stages of a geometric
proof in the Cratylus. The pattern is quite simple, although its description will
appear complex at first. The following outline of the argument of the Cratylus
tracks and represents the dialogues geometric order by the main section titles,
Enunciation, Construction, Demonstration Parts 1, 2, and 3, Reductio, and
Recapitulation. Each main section has four parts, 1 through 4, in the order of

The Argument in the Cratylus

17

the divided line. On the small scale, as if the line were squared, each of the
four parts of the Construction and the Demonstration sections itself has four
parts, A through D.
The divided lines order in the pattern even on the small scale in the
Cratylus is almost perfectly regular, for it varies only once, serving in the
Recapitulation to point dramatically to Socrates dream of being. In the Recapitulation when Socrates switches the dianoia and pistis segments of the line,
their provable mathematical equality in length alone allows him to make this
switch. Nothing compels him to make the switch. By choosing to make the
switch, he dramatically indicates that in other senses the two ways of thinking
laid out in the sections are equal. He is indicating among other things that
believing and reasoning on hypotheses are of equal importance or worth in
every investigation. For instance, in the ongoing discussion of names, his
belief in his dream can sustain his further investigations even when his systematic maintenance of Cratylus naturalistic Heraclitean hypothesis, by
which he has made tremendous progress, has reached an apparent impasse.
On the large scale the Construction (I) and three parts of the Demonstration (II, III, IV) themselves also correspond in order to the four stages of the
line. Together Construction and Demonstration comprise four sections of four
by four sections. A diagram, not necessary according to Proclus, is no harder
to imagine than a checkerboard.
The outline corresponds to the chapter and section titles of Chapters
Two through Seven of this commentary.
Argument in the Cratylus in the Form of a Geometric Demonstration
ENUNCIATION: Knowledge of names, like knowledge of beautiful things in
general, is difficult 383a384c
1. Eikasia: A natural rightness of names (Cratylus) 383ab
2. Pistis: The appeal to convention and usage (Hermogenes) 383b
3. Dianoia: A systematic account (Cratylus) 383b384a
4. Noesis: The problem of knowledge (Socrates) 384bc
I. CONSTRUCTION: Eikasia, Likeness-making: The appearance of reasoning 384c393b
1. Ethos and Nomos 384c386e
A. Nomos in naming 384c385a
B. Truth, falsity, and/or different opinions 385b386a
C. Systematic implications of a Protagorean nomos 386ad
D. Socrates alternative: fixed essence 386de
2. Ethos in actions 386e388c
A. Activities and their natures 386e387c
B. Activities and their tools 397d388a
C. Activities as systems 388bc

18

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

D. Activities and their need for toolmakers 388cd


3. Nomos in actions 388d391b
A. Observing nomos and perceiving a form to produce 388d389c
B. Nomos and manifesting an idea in a production 389c390a
C. Evaluating a production for its fitness 390bc
D. The need for knowing the form of fitness in names 390d391b
4. Standards for knowing the natural fitness of names 391b392e
A. A sophistic standard 391bc
B. A poetic standard 391de
C. A judicious standard 392ac
D. A limit to proportional reasoning 392c393b
II. DEMONSTRATION, Part 1: Pistis, Belief: Heraclitean dogmas, Socratic
demands 393b408d
1. Generations in relation to genus 393b394e
A. The principle of natural similarity and giving names 393be
B. How to apply the principle of similarity 393e394c
C. Applying the principle consistently 394cd
D. Why the principle is inadequate 394de
2. Genera in relation to logos 394e397a
A. Natural and unnatural aspects of individuals and families 394e395e
B. A logos for a family containing different genera 395e396b
C. Systematic demands on the Zeus-logos 396b
D. How knowledge could come from a logos 396b
3. Logoi in relation to analogy: Up and down the ways of analogy in
naming 397a400d
A. The pattern of reasoning about names 397ad
B. Middle terms in correlations of divine and human 397e398e
C. Combination and separation within analogies 398e399c
D. Analogy and the limits of expression 399d400d
4. Analogies in relation to ultimate being: naming and knowing the gods
400d408d
A. The divine flux of being 400d402d
B. The cycle of life and death 402d404e
C. The harmony of bow and lyre 404e406b
D. Socratic noesis and/or Heraclitean Logos: seriousness and/or
comedy 406b408d
III. DEMONSTRATION, Part 2: Dianoia, systematic reasoning: An axiomatic Heraclitean logos; a phenomenal philosophical dictionary 408d421c
1. The Logos in natural phenomena; Heraclitean natural science 408d410e
A. Heavenly motions in Heraclitean terms: sun; moon; month;
stars 408d409c
B. Inexplicable elements: fire; water 409de
C. Explicable elements: air; ether; earth 410ab

The Argument in the Cratylus

19

D. The natural cycles in accord with logos: seasons; year 410ce


2. The Logos in thought and behavior 411a413e
A. Intellectual states and aims in keeping with the Logos: names
relating knowledge to the good 411a412b
B. Swift justice consistent with the Zeus-Logos: justice 412ce
C. The just as sunlike and systematic of discord: the just 413ad
D. A counter-flux; the difference of the sexes: courage; male;
female 413d414a
3. The Logos for contrariety and opposition: axiomatic Heraclitean good
414a418d
A. Same and different arts of imitation: flourishing; craft 414ad
B. A mechanistic solution: device; cowardice; virtue; vice
414e415e
C. A flood of consequences of the hypothesis of flux: fair; foul:
advantageous; harmful 416a417e
D. An idea of the good excluded by the assumption of flux: day;
yoke; binding; harmful; 418a419b
4. The Logos as ultimate unity and axiomatic self-contradiction 418e421d
A. The range of the passions: pleasure; pain; desire 418e420b
B. The variety of opinion : opinion; thoughtlessness 420bc
C. Relation of free will and necessity: voluntary; necessary 420de
D. Linking the final to the fundamental: true; false; being;
not-being; essence; name 421ad
IV. DEMONSTRATION, Part 3: Noesis, knowing: knowledge as identical to
perception 421d436b
1. The imitation of essence 421d425a
A. An account of the good in doubt 421d422a
B. Belief in a single principle of correctness 422bd
C. Systematizing mimesis 422e424b
D. The need for classification of letters 424b425b
2. Sound as sense 425b428a
A. Providing an appearance of classification 425bc
B. The comic and tragic dependence on opinion 425d426b
C. A natural phonetic mimetic system 426c427d
D. The need to test theory 427e428a
3. Name as thing 428b433d
A. An epic task 428be
B. Denial of true and false names 428e430b
C. Possible systematic inconsistency 430c432a
D. Problems for name as identical copy 432b432d
4. Perception as knowledge 432d436c
A. Cratylus preference for representational names 432d433d
B. Conventional paradoxes for natural mimetic names 433d434e

20

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

C. Successful representation by like and unlike 434e435d


D. Denying inconsistency 435d436c
REDUCTION: The absurdity of flux as a model of logos 436c439a
1. Eikasia: Likeness to geometric absurdity 436cd
2. Pistis: Counter opinions to Cratylus 436d438a
3. Dianoia: System in names depends on knowledge of things 438ad
4. Noesis: Knowing things without names 438d439a
RECAPITULATION: the dream of being as necessary for Logos 439a440c
1. Eikasia: Names as likenesses 439ab
2. Dianoia: Systematically inconsistent names 439bc
3. Pistis: The dream-belief of form 439ce
4. Noesis: Necessity of idea for knowledge, knowers, knowns 439e440c
The four-stage developments of Enunciation, Reductio, and Recapitulation are not complex, but they frame a quite complex Construction and Demonstration. The Construction culminates in the image of the divine craftsman
Hephaestus in combat with the flux of the river Scamander, and is itself an
image or model of reasoning to gauge the progress made in the Demonstration
to follow. The Demonstration contains the outlandish etymological section,
which falls into two sections, and a phonological section, the attempt to make
sense of letters in themselves. The pistis division, II, the first part of the etymological section, contains four groups of names, each of which has four
stages, too. These names are almost entirely from epic, legend, and belief. As
Hephaestus battling the river emerges in the Construction, so he reemerges
with Athena as serious divinity set against the tricky Hermes and the ludicrous Pan of the way up and down in II.
The dianoia division, III, forms the second part of the etymological section and it, too, contains four groups of names, each of which has four stages.
These names are of the subject matters of different kinds of scientific and
systematic reasoning. This section culminates in inexplicable terms for binding, moving, and flowing, something like the Hephaestus versus Scamander
opposition again. Chapters Four and Five detail why and how the name groups
develop into and out of each other. In general, in both halves of the etymological section the names have explanations that portray and sometimes parody
Heraclitean notions. All of the etymologies together constitute a sort of Heraclitean philosophical dictionary. They show a full range of ambiguous and
riddling expressions, so the problem of ambiguity in logos can attain its dimensions. Socrates is showing how much the Logos of Heraclitus must express.
The noesis division, IV, is the phonological section of the Cratylus following the inexplicable names for binding, moving, and flowing. After almost effortlessly reeling off the other etymologies, Socrates says he cannot explain these
terms. He would have to invoke a barbaric origin for the words, and that would
not be in the spirit of the contest, which encourages, instead of discourages,

The Argument in the Cratylus

21

inquiry, For I say that barbaric origin is likely enough for some words . . ., but
the game, the agon, does not provide for evasions. Instead we must consider
these issues in earnest (421cd). Games are full of plays, as Socrates etymologies are full of wordplay, but to be interesting, games require skill and effort,
with rules to develop excellence.
In IV, the rules by which Socrates plays are the demands set up in his
Construction to test Heraclitean expressions against standards of the divided
line. He again proceeds in four stages, as follows: (1) the problem of imitation
of essence in speech; the need for division, diairesis, in accord with essence,
ousia, of letters into classes 421d425b; (2) a hypothetical system of the
classes, eide, of letters, his opinions on which Socrates would not be surprised
to discover in error 425b427e; (3) ways how the letter system can be systematically consistent but wrong, unless names and things are identical 428b
432b; (4) reasons why knowledge must be the same as perception if, as Cratylus insists, knowing a name is the same as knowing a thing 433e435d.
Again, the outline above indicates that each of the four stages in IV has four
stages, as do I, II and III. The Demonstration ends just before Socrates in his
Reductio invokes a comparison with faulty geometric diagrams.
The Reduction of Cratylus specious assertion that knowledge is perception of names is again in four simple steps. The Recapitulation is also in four
steps, but alters the order of the divided line everywhere else apparent in the
dialogue, putting the third stage before the second; for it first refers the problems with names to inconsistency in systematically reasoning namemakers,
then appeals to a dream-opinion of true being to preserve the possibility of
knowledge, knowers, and knowns. The concerns of the dialogue somehow,
not yet accountably, have become considerably more than nouns by this point.
The geometric and divided line progressions of the Cratylus and Socrates modular argumentation are complete. The dialogue next concludes with a
simultaneous hail and farewell. Socrates invites Cratylus to further serious
discussion of the problems of names and things, knowledge and perception,
and being and becoming. Cratylus asserts that he still holds to the views of
Heraclitus. In an envoi the resting, dream-believing, Socrates bids farewell to
the departing and quite unconvinced Cratylus.
The following charts indicate the dialogues plan and argument. They
include all the terms and topics that suffer Socrates etymologizing antics.
They include some terms from Platos text that indicate which of the divided
lines four stages of reasoning a given passage involves. They also crossreference passages from Platos other dialogues and Heraclitus philosophical
fragments that I discuss later. By making the parts of the dialogue easier to
perceive and interconnect, the charts show in another way the progression of
the dialogue found in the preceding outline. The charts should make the track
of argument, especially through the wilds of the etymological section, much
easier to recognize and to remember.

22

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

ENUNCIATION
1. EIKASIA 383a
Shall we try to
talk?
nakoinwsmeqa.
Names by nature
or by convention.

2. PISTIS 383b
Socrates Socrates; Cratylus
Cratylus; but
Hermogenes not
Hermogenes.

3. DIANOIA
384a
Is Cratylus
witholding
what he understands, dianoelsqai?

4. NOESIS 384b
To know, maqeln,
beautiful things like
names is hard: put
efforts together: eej
t koinn.

I. CONSTRUCTION: EIKASIA, LIKENESS-MAKING


1. EIKASIA

2. PISTIS

3. DIANOIA

4. NOESIS

A. 384c
Nomos by
convention
man = horse,
horse = man.

A. 387a
Actions like cutting, burning (DK
22 B 58), speech,
naming appear to
have natures,
fnhsan.

A. 388d
Nomos as natural
appears to be
origin of names.
Nomothete looking, bl{pwn.

A. 391b
Sophists as knowers,
vv,
but this is absurd,
Atopoj.

B. 385a
Belief
in truth and
falsity in a
statement and
its parts.

B. 387d
Different tasks
have proper tools.

B. 389c
As carpenter to a
form, , of a
shuttle, each
toolmaker looks to
idea, ed{a, of tool.

B. 391d
Yet poetic wisdom,
wondrously, qaumasfon, separates
divine and human
names.

C. 385e
Can anyone at
all measure all
things? No;
for true is not
false, good is
not bad, wise is
not foolish.

C. 388b
Trades distinguish,
diakrfnomen,
as weaving, naming, teaching.

C. 390b
Tool users judge
toolmakers, as
weaver, harper,
navigator.

C. 392a
Set of distinctions in
proportion.
divine : human::
Xanthus : Scamander. Craftsman god
battles flux.

D. 386d
Essence,
osfan, must be
fixed, or else we
are dragged up
and down, nw
kai ktw (DK
22 B 60).

D. 388c
For a loom a
weaver relies on a
carpenter; for
an awl a leatherworker on a smith;
a teacher on
whom for words
and names?

D. 390d
So a dialectician,
one who knows,
pistmenoj,
judges the
name-setter.
Who is one
who knows?

D. 392c
Wise : foolish::
men : women::
Astyanax : Scamandrios (!) False!
Iliad 6, 402, (DK 22
B 79) I dont know.
Do you?

23

The Argument in the Cratylus

II. DEMONSTRATION, PART 1: PISTIS, BELIEF


1. EIKASIA
2. PISTIS
3. DIANOIA
4. NOESIS
A. 393a
Astyanax
Hector
Archepolis

A. 394e
Orestes
Agamemnon
Atreus
Pelops; gguj
rn
Tantalus

A. 397a
gods
rntej . . . qeln

A. 400d
Hestia
pefkasma
Rhea
(Kronos, Zeus)
Tethys
Poseidon

B. 394c
Agis Polemarchos
Eupolemus
(generalship,
t peistikn,
Pl.Plt. 304c)

B. 395e
Zeus
2-in-1 Logos

B. 397e
daimons in
Hesiods poetic
account and as
damonej, knowing
(DK 22 B 25)

B. 402d
Pluto, Hades
Demeter
Hera
Persephone

C. 394c
Iatrocles
Acesimbrotos
(men of
science)

C. 396b
Kronos
Dianoia as a
means to the
achievement of
pure Nous

C. 398e
heroes: eros
(Cf. dianoetic eros;
Eryximachus,
Sym. 187)
Diphilos

C. 404e
Apollo
Muses
Leto
Artemis

D. 394d
Theophilos
Mnesitheos
(mind)

D. 396b
Uranus
looking up,
nw

D. 399d
humans
nalogfzetai

Problem at end of
1: generation of
similars
not guaranteed

Problem at end
of 2: mythology
incoherent or
inspiration
overpowering

D. 406b
Dionysus
Aphrodite
Pallas Athena
(Pl.Rep. 509d ff.)
Hephaestus
(Pl.Rep. 515e)
Ares (Pl.Rep.
535c)
Hermes<Iris>
(Theaet. 155d)
Pan (DK 22 B
60)

soul
(a) noeln
(b) diakosmosan
body
(a) tin{j fasin
(b) eekna

Problem at end of
3: divided line in
reverse

Problem at end of
4: deceptive, 2-in1, ludicrous logos:
true and false
confounded

24

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

III. DEMONSTRATION, PART 2: DIANOIA, SYSTEMATIC REASONING


1. EIKASIA

2. PISTIS

A. 408d
sun
(Pl.Rep. 528b ff.,
DK 22 B 100)
moon
month
stars
(DK A 14)
(Pl.Rep. 516ab)

A. 411a
Socrates as oracular, dok
manteesqai:
good sense
judgment , wit
self-control
knowledge
understanding
wisdom, good
(Gorg. 507c)

A. 414a
flourishing
peikzein tn
axhn
craft
mirror
sphinx
(Soph. 235d ff.,
265d ff.)

A. 419b
pleasure
(4 synonyms)
pain
(4 synonyms)
joy
(4 synonyms)

B. 409d
fire
water
dogs
(Pl.Rep. 389a ff.)

B. 412c
Justice
as some think,
gontai

B. 414e
device, vice
cowardice
virtue
bad, foul

B. 420b
opinion
(4 synonyms)
(DK 22 B 51)

C. 410a
air
aither
earth

C.413a
The Just;
System and discord;
Sun, fire, heat, nous
(Phaedo 96a ff.)

C. 416a
fair (4 synonyms)
foul
(4 synonyms)
advantage
disadvantage

C. 420d
free will
necessity

D. 410c
seasons
(DK 22 B 100)
t eekj eed{nai
year (DK 22 B
32)

D. 413d
courage
man; male
woman; female

D. 417e
day ed{a
yoke
binding
harmful
(Pl.Rep. 507e
ff..)

D. 421a
true, false
essence, name
be, not-be
(DK 22 B 8)
(Pl.Theaet. 155d)

Problem at end of
1: a logos like
Zeus

Problem at end of
2: the counterflux
within the flux

3. DIANOIA

Problem at end
of 3: an idea of
the good excluded by flux

4. NOESIS

Problem at end of
4: names for
motion, flux,
binding, account
of good in doubt

25

The Argument in the Cratylus

IV. DEMONSTRATION, PART 3: NOESIS


1. EIKASIA

2. PISTIS

3. DIANOIA

4. NOESIS

A. 421d
Greek names like
barbarian; earlier
sense of good
as admirable and
swift, gaqn as
gasto and
qoo, dubious

A. 425b
Do you think
(pisteeij) you
can divide
words? We
guess about opinions (...
eov).

A. 428b
Ajax : Socrates :
Achilles : Cratylus.
Socrates in doubt,
amazed, qaumzw
. . . pfstw. Look
fore and aft.

A. 433e
Name as likeness,
ehkwn, unlike
number, can be a
bit inexact, says
Socrates. Cratylus
still prefers exact,
perfect names.

B. 422b
Need for skepticism; accord of
belief in one
principle of correctness

B. 425d
Socrates finds his
views comical. It
is time to be like
the tragedian and
make a myth

B. 428e
Is crafting right
and wrong likenesses like making
mistaken opinions? Denial of
true and false
names

B. 434e
Naming like painting, wrong letter
like wrong color;
lambda and rho in
hardness paradoxical unless by
custom, qoj.

C. 422e
System of mimesis: up and down,
running, animal
calls, music,
graphics, naming

C. 426c
System of letters:
rho moving;
iota subtle;
sigma, phi, psi,
zeta shaking;
delta, tau binding.

C. 430c
Systematic uncertainty in painting,
naming, nomos. 5
uses of dianom,
dian{mein.

C. 435a
Custom, qoj,
expresses sense,
dianoomai, by
like or unlike
sounds; no likenesses for numbers. 4 uses of
dianoomai

D. 424b
Need for diairesis, , to
imitate thing in
accordance with
essence; need to
divide letters into
classes,
kat ehdh

D. 427e
Does it work?
Hermogenes wants
Cratylus to learn
from, mqVj,
Socrates or to
teach them. Socrates says that to
find himself wrong
would not amaze
him, ok n
qaumzoimi.

D. 432b
If names exactly
copy things, Cratylus name will
copy his soul,
mind, and body.
To conclude that
Cratylus name is
also a double of
Cratylus is laughable.

D. 435d
To know,
{pfstasqai, a
name is to know a
thing. Proof for
Cratylus of nomothetes rightness is
harmony of names,
smfwna.

26

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

REDUCTION
1. Eikasia 436c
Cratylus counterfoiled; as in geometric diagrams,
from consistency
the absurd may
follow. Compatibility is not proof of
correctness.

2. Pistis 437a
Another account:
knowing,
pistmh, as
fixity, gsthsij.
Use of arithmetic
to test for majority
opinion not an apt
guide to correctness of names.

3. Dianoia 438b
For a nomothete to
be consistent and
systematic, he
needs to know
things before
naming them. We
cannot distinguish,
diakrinomen, true
from false names
as Cratylus wants
to.

4. Noesis 438e
Things can be
known in themselves and so
without names.
Reality is better
than imitation.

RECAPITULATION
1. Eikasia 439a
Likely way to get
to know is by
things. Some
names are likenesses of things,
but likeness,
eekna, is not
dependable as a
basis for judgment.

2. Dianoia 439c
If name-setters
thought things
were in flux, they
fell into flux by
systematic reasoning, dianoqentej,
dianohqnai.

3. Pistis 439cd
Socrates dream of
the beautiful, the
good, and each
thing in itself with
its own
form, tj ato
ed{aj

4. Noesis 439e
If things have sameness, they cannot
change without loss
of form, at t
edoj, without which
there can be no
knowledge, knowns,
or knowers.

Readers and viewers of the foregoing sketch of the plan of the Cratylus
may, if not must, at first be unconvinced. Even those who remain unconvinced about the detailed geometric sense of the dialogue, may get much use
out of the simple patterning within it of the otherwise bafflingly complex
etymological section. After all, it remains by far the strangest realm of mystery in the dialogue, even one of the strangest in all the dialogues. That it has
a thorough, systematic continuity is a surprise. That we can read it closely in
systematic continuity with the straightforward arguments preceding and following is frosting on the cake.

Two
ENUNCIATION: KNOWLEDGE OF NAMES,
LIKE KNOWLEDGE OF BEAUTIFUL THINGS
IN GENERAL, IS DIFFICULT 383A384C
The dialogue opens as Hermogenes asks Cratylus if he would like to have
Socrates discuss the logos in common, nakoinwsmeqa tn lgon, with
them. Which logos? At this point Plato is purposely making logos general. In
the course of the dialogue, he will test several senses of logos, among them
argument, the Logos of Heraclitus, word, and speech, and he will seek
for their correspondences. Logos will not emerge into full definition in the
Cratylus, though many of the problems in talking about logos will come forward. This first use of logos, then, is ambiguous, even if Hermogenes links it
in a moment to definite arguments, because Plato is illustrating the problem of
ambiguity with the term.
In the dialogue Socrates will proceed to take up logos, along with a Protagorean account of how words mean things, and a Heraclitean logos, the
assumption that all is in flux and its consequences. He shows from their consequences how the Protagorean and Heraclitean accounts fall apart. He breaks
them down or analyzes them by putting together consequences from them that
lead to absurdity, a synthesis in the etymological sense of the term. His personal account of logos in speech is not obvious, but his view that logos in
speech is consonant with a geometers sense of logos is certain and plain from
the dialogue he frames to follow Hermogenes question. He applies the pattern of geometric proof to the discussion of the logos he picks up and puts
together in the Cratylus.
Hermogenes question may appear casual, but Socrates is about to consider it formally. When Cratylus accepts admitting Socrates to discuss the
logos in common, he is allowing Socrates to inspect his and Hermogenes
apparently contradictory accounts of the sense of logos. In the dialogue that
follows, Socrates will take their previous accounts apart. What for Hermogenes is a question, is a claim for Socrates. Shall we? becomes we
shall as Socrates transforms the previous discussion, making a new case for
how to discuss their logos in common and, more generally, for how to take
apart and put together logos. After he hears a summary of the claims being set
forth, Socrates implies his newly formulated views on how to discuss, put
together, and take apart logos.
The stages of the divided line show up in this initial presentation of
claims and views in the following arrangement, as I subsequently explain.

28

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE


1. Eikasia: A Natural Rightness of Names (Cratylus) 383ab

Hermogenes reports Cratylus logos: the rightness of a name has a natural


constitution. Its rightness does not depend on any consensus or synthesis,
xunq{menoi, about pronunciation, and in fact is natural in Greek and barbarian
tongues in spite of phonetic differences (383ab). Apparently, all names make
sense in the same way.
2. Pistis: The Appeal to Convention and Usage (Hermogenes) 383b
Cratylus reported view is that Cratylus name is Cratylus, Socrates Socrates, but Hermogenes name is not Hermogenes, even if everybody commonly calls him that (383b). Common usage and opinion is of no purpose in
judging names, to Hermogenes temporary dismay. Hermogenes will still take
great delight in a wide variety of opinions in the dialogue to follow, especially
in the etymological section.
3. Dianoia: A Systematic Account (Cratylus) 383b384a
Cratylus will not reveal to Hermogenes the sense of what he is saying. Instead
he toys with him ironically, ev, and, according to Hermogenes,
pretends to have a systematic account, dianoelsqai, for his knowledge (383b).
Later in the dialogue, Cratylus will listen to Socrates develop a version of this
system throughout the etymologies but will not thereafter accept his account
of its unreliability.
4. Noesis: The Problem of Knowledge (Socrates) 384bc
Beautiful things are difficult insofar as knowing them goes, says Socrates,
adapting an old adage to his interests. The Sophists offer knowledge of names
at a price that Socrates is unwilling to pay. Knowledge, maqeln, is difficult
though, and requires their common effort, eej t koinn kataq{ntaj. By combining their forces they can find whether Cratylus or Hermogenes is right.
Cratylus presents the image of an account, which provides for all names,
leads to confused opinion and belief, is in need of a systematic account
somewhere outside the reach of sophistic leveling, and poses a difficulty in
coming to know. Next Hermogenes presents another image of an account,
namely the account Cratylus rejects, a convention theory for names. The image of Socrates account comes from seeing the four stages of these introductory approaches to the logos as a single, fourfold progression like that of the
divided line. In Socrates approach the logos in and about names will be like
things that are fine and lofty, beautiful things.

Enunciation 383a384

29

Accordingly, he says that it also poses the problem of knowledge of


beautiful things in general, not just the particular problems at hand concerning
names. Here Plato, through Socrates, enunciates a general proposition that he
will elaborate systematically for the rest of the dialogue: knowledge of names
in particular, like knowledge of beautiful things in general, is difficult. The
difficulties of knowing in general and of knowing names in particular never
disappear in the Cratylus. Still, some ways in which and why names and naming are difficult become more apparent in the course of the dialogue.
While in the opening scene of the Cratylus Socrates enunciates the general difficulty of linking naming to knowing, Plato prepares readers for the
particular difficulties by introducing Hermogenes and Cratylus. From the outset,
Hermogenes relies on convention and opinion. As convention and opinion vary,
so he will vary in the dialogue. Later, in the etymological section, he will allow
all sorts of opinions about all sorts of names to impress him. He will thereby
illustrate some of the difficulties consequent upon constantly changing our
minds, upon being uncritical about opinions, not just names. Cratylus, on the
other hand, appears already to think unvaryingly. He will not change his mind
about the incorrectness of Hermogenes name. He will not vary in his view,
though he has not yet stated it within earshot of Socrates, that a particular nature
governs names and naming. Later he will illustrate difficulties consequent upon
not changing our minds, upon taking an unvarying systematic theory for an
infallible account of facts about nature and naming.
According to Aristotle, Cratylus greatly influenced Plato by acquainting
him with the teachings of Heraclitus even before Plato became Socrates pupil
(Aris.Met. A 6, 987a32 ff.). Many have argued that Plato accordingly portrays
Cratylus in the dialogue as he knew him, as an older Cratylus whose theory of
names in some way or another stems from and bears out an axiomatic Heraclitean flux. David Sedley, though, argues persuasively that the dialogue instead
presents Cratylus as he was before Plato knew him, as a younger Cratylus who
is just becoming interested in the flux thesis as a direct result of his interest in
naming. This argument obviates the need, often felt by interpreters, to explain
how Cratylus linguistic thesis was somehow the product of his Heracliteanism.
Plato makes it clear that in fact it was precisely the other way around.1
From the first page of the dialogue, the reader already has a vague sense
of Cratylus theory of naming, but gets no clue that it depends on or otherwise
relates to the theory of flux until more than three quarters of the dialogue pass
(428c). Even then, Sedley thinks that Cratylus arguably has this interest only
because Socrates himself by his etymologies has generated it. Cratylus manner
of argument alone, and so not the substance or origin of his argument about
names and flux, will be at issue in what follows. Whether Cratylus linguistic
thesis precedes or follows his Heracliteanism does not bear greatly on his manner of arguing. Borrowing a distinction from Aristotle (Aris.Cat. 8, 9a4 ff.), if

30

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

he is younger, Cratylus in the dialogue already has a marked disposition to


stubbornness, and if he is older, his stubbornness has become his habitual trait.
The systematizing Cratylus will eventually emerge in the dialogue as tenaciously holding on to what Rachel Barney calls probably the essential
thought to be extracted from the etymological declamation, that there is a
perfectly general and systemic way in which the names we use indicate that
things are in flux.2 Still, he will not be able to move beyond this thought to
see that it can not guarantee that all things in all ways are in fact in flux; for if
they were in flux, as Socrates argues at the end of the dialogue (in 439e
440b), there could be no knowing, no knowers, and no knowns at all, nothing
guaranteed. Socrates can see that names indicate in a deceptive way, as
Barney argues. For Socrates as for Plato the etymologies become a sort of
metaphor for this structural weakness of language, because in Platos view
language misleadingly indicates things to be in flux.3 The dialogue concludes
ironically, then, but not pointlessly, in an understanding more about how
names do not work than about how they do.
In many other dialogues, even if Socrates does not establish the truth
about a topic, he still makes some things plain about his standards for testing
claims of such truth. Likewise, here in the Cratylus, although he does not find
the truth about how names work, he still shows what standards he thinks that
claims about such truth will have to meet. The irony of the dialogues conclusion is present from what I am calling its Enunciation. Hermogenes senses
and says that Cratylus is being ironic as the dialogue begins. Socrates is also
at ironies here. He combines the commonplace adage, Beautiful things are
difficult, with the complex issue of knowledge. He is playing with meaning,
but he is playing by rules and with standards. For Socrates riddling speech,
sophistic doctrines, old sayings, the logos, or any logos, all bring up the difficult goal of knowledge, the fourth stage of his divided line. Each logos, then,
has a reference to this goal, the standard of knowledge.
Socrates turns to the construction of a model for reasoning to knowledge
of and by any logos. In his construction, he repeatedly invokes the standards
of artisans as his model for reckoning. Attempting to contain the conflict of
Hermogenes and Cratylus within his standards for reasoning, he modulates
their discussion with his artisans sense of proportion. The Construction section of the dialogue gives a model of how to apply an artisans sense of form
to ambiguous logos.

Three
I. CONSTRUCTION: EIKASIA, LIKENESSMAKING: THE APPEARANCE OF
REASONING 384C393B
This section of the dialogue corresponds to the first section of the divided
line, eikasia, or reasoning by likeness, at best an uncertain process. The Construction has four distinct stages, following the lines order. The first makes
convention, nomos, the source of rightness in names, and man the measure of
it, but problematically (384c386d). The second shows why the namemaker
must also be a usage-setter in Thomas Rosenmeyers coinage, a title that
carries the hint of setting into place, of firm establishment, which underscores the kinship of onoma and nomos, and avoids the translation namegiver, with its implication of the name or usage being handed over readily
(387a388c).1 In the third, Socrates takes nomos in names in a systematic way
to correspond with law and rule in art and science, and so generalizes the
problem of measurement (388d390d). The last stage shows at once the image of Hephaestus the craftsman wrestling with the river of change from the
Iliad and a detailed example of faulty use of proportion in measuring fitness
in names for Astyanax, the son of Hector (391b392c).
The four-stage progression is then from appearance as conventional usage,
to opinions, to system, and finally to a model for reasoning to knowledge. By
design, though, the model leads to error, as in geometrys reductio proofs. The
whole Construction shadows forth how Socrates will proceed into his flood of
etymologies and puns like an artist, like Hephaestus. His scale also will be epic
as he there contrives to confound the flux of judgment. His model of proportional reasoning at the end of the Construction is a sort of Trojan Horse.
Early in the Construction section of the Cratylus (385e ff.). Socrates
emphasizes the need for some polar oppositions to hold firm in speech and
thought. He gets Hermogenes to agree that oppositions between gods and
human beings, true and false, good and bad, and wisdom and folly are necessary. If these dichotomies break down because of Protagorean reasoning,
Hermogenes says that he cannot accept Protagoras notion that man is the
measure of all things. At the end of the Construction (391d393b) Socrates
again reasons from dichotomies; this time he uses dichotomy in a feigning
and deceptive argument, and at that, an argument whose deceptive quality,
even, requires for its detection a sense for the details of the Iliad. Why? To
answer this question I first look briefly at the way Socrates reasons from polar
opposites within its historical context.

32

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

The earliest Greek authors frequently distinguish polar opposites and


draw conclusions from their distinctions by an archaic logic, as Raymond
Adolph Prier calls it.2 Prier uses the term archaic in this context to mean
fundamental, instead of antiquated or primitive. This archaic logic
developed in the historical era during which Hesiod and the presocratics flourished. Hesiod sets up whole series of opposite pairs. His art goes beyond
style, approaching a philosophic method for plainly distinguishing good from
evil and truth from falsity. Some of the presocratics have ideas about the
nature of the balance between such opposites as Hesiod describes. Parmenides, for instance, distinguishes the way of truth from the way of seeming,
then correlates the distinction to one between fixed being and changing phenomena. Empedocles in turn describes a continual and reciprocal alternation
of control by the polar opposites love and strife correlative to motion and
stasis. For him, the balance between opposites is not simple, but the changing
product of tension and motion.
When Socrates reasons from dichotomies prior to talking about Astyanax, he creates an atmosphere of this archaic logic of opposites. He speaks
like Hesiod because he makes rigorous distinctions within the context of epic
poetry. By positing a realm of truth unreckonable by mortals, of divine names,
versus an inferior realm where no certainty exists, of human names, he suggests the way that Parmenides reasons. He can also be providing Empedoclean overtones by portraying a divine struggle between forces of flux and
forces of fixity. Primarily, though, Socrates chooses the river image to prepare
for his later introduction of Heraclitus, the most famous presocratic exponent
of the realm of flux. Why Socrates uses the river image does not become fully
explicit until he names Heraclitus and takes up several of his doctrines a little
later in the dialogue. Still, Socrates means this allusion to bear on the way he
will treat Heraclitus later.
Heraclitus, unlike the other archaics mentioned here, somehow links opposites instead of rigorously separating them.3 He puts dichotomies together
within a sort of proportion to emphasize their sameness instead of difference.
He unifies opposites by means of comparisons to standards so high that humanly observable distinctions become negligible in their light. When he reasons by such comparisons, he synthesizes opposites, because he treats them as
if they were the same. For example, when he compares it with divine wisdom,
he can say that human wisdom is tantamount to childish folly (DK 22 B 79).
To make such comparisons, though, can be extremely misleading, as Socrates
is pointing out in the fourth stage of the Construction when, just prior to the
etymologies, he compares the wise and the foolish Trojans.
Socrates separates the Trojans into two classes by means of comparative
adjectives. Even if he uses those comparatives absolutely and so without
strictly comparative force, they still suggest how Heraclitus tends to unify
opposites by means of comparison. Socrates brings about a special kind of

I. Construction: Eikasia, Likeness-Making 384c-393b

33

unity by his comparisons; namely, one of truth with falsehood, for he gets
Hermogenes to infer a false account of the names of Hectors son and accept
it as true.
Socrates particular comparisons are misleading in the Cratylus, to prepare for his later gibes at supposedly Heraclitean reasoning. His tone remains
playful. He is making more fun of the confusion of those who claim to be able
to understand and expound the sense of Heraclitus than of Heraclitus himself.
Similarly Theodorus, though not Socrates, summarily denounces Heracliteans
in the Theaetetus, but Theodorus Protagorean notions do not emerge as coherent either. For Socrates in the Cratylus the problem is subtler. It comes in
taking Heraclitus (or naming) too simplistically or too unambiguously. This is
negative advice that does not specify any alternative ways to interpret or understand Heraclitus (or naming)
.
1. Ethos and Nomos 384c386e: Synopsis
Socrates and Hermogenes discuss naming by convention as usage by ethos
and nomos. They deal in order with varying appearances, confusion in opinions, systematic limits, and the need for correspondence to certain essence.
Socrates excludes by reductio the specter of confusion of the way up and the
way down, and so suggests that the statements of Heraclitus, whom he does
not name, cannot make sense any more than those of Protagoras and Euthydemus, whom he does. Socrates introduces ethical concerns about good and
evil to effect this first small-scale reductio within his grander design. For him,
ethos, like nomos, has a particular reference to naming only in keeping with
the essence of ethics in general, even if at first sight ethics and naming may
not appear to have much to do with each other.
A. Nomos in Naming 384c385a
Hermogenes says that he can only think that names are right according to
convention and agreement. He claims that they can change with varying conventional usage, nmJ kai qei, of speakers, and do not have any intrinsic
natural correctness. Socrates paraphrases Hermogenes view. He might call a
man horse or a horse man, so one same thing could have two real names,
one by private convention and the other by public.
B. Truth, Falsity, and/or Different Opinions 385b386a
Hermogenes thinks speaking truth and speaking falsity exist, and so true and
false speech, lgoj, the true with true parts, the false with false parts. The
smallest part of logos is name, he agrees, so true names and false names exist.
Richard Robinson observes that this argument contains a fallacy of division.

34

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

He suspects Plato saw or at least felt that it is a bad argument and accordingly notes that in Sophist 263ab Plato said truth value is a character of
statements and that statements divide into names and predicates (nmata kai
mata, 262c), and he did not say names have a truth value.4 A dramatic
point, perhaps, shows Hermogenes, the proponent for the moment of Protagorean subjectivity, incapable of recognizing the fallacy.
As private and public names may differ and yet both be true, so, Socrates next says, different Greeks have different dialects, and Greek itself differs
from barbaric tongues. Socrates asks if such differences in names mean that
real things, t nta, have different essences for each person. Socrates quotes
Protagoras saying that man is the measure (m{tron) of all things and interprets it to mean that As things appear to me so they are to me, and as they
appear to you so they are to you. As an alternative to the confusion consequent from separate realities he asks Hermogenes what he thinks of things
having a fixed reality, tina bebainta tj osfaj.
C. Systematic Implications of a Protagorean nomos 386ad
Hermogenes is confused, but believes in real distinctions between good and
bad men and that the good are wise and the bad foolish. These distinctions
cannot be maintained based on Socrates interpretation of Protagoras, Hermogenes agrees, and much less so on the view of Euthydemus that all things
are alike simultaneously and eternally for everybody. On Euthydemus view,
no distinctions at all are possible.
D. Socrates Alternative: Fixed Essence 386de
If Euthydemus is wrong and Protagoras is wrong, then everything has some
fixed essence, osfan . . . b{baion. This essence does not vary for individual
persons, nor do they invent it. Things do not vary every which way dragged
up and down, nw kai ktw, by our fancies, but exist of themselves in relation
to essence, that unique character in virtue of which they have being. (386e)
2. Ethos in Actions 386e388c: Synopsis
Since names have to do with real things by reductio, so next the activity of
naming is put on the scale of real trades. Socrates takes the trades in four
stages to show their natures, their tools, their systematic similarities as ways
of sorting things out, and their mutual dependence on the knowledge of toolmakers. The common usage of trades as an analogy for naming shows the
need for a knowing namemaker, but cannot characterize him. As a group,
artisans have opinions derived from the knowledge of others.

I. Construction: Eikasia, Likeness-Making 384c-393b

35

A. Activities and Their Natures 386e387c


Activities, like the things themselves that they belong to, form a single class
of being, n ti edoj tn ntwn. They have an essence, so we perform them
according to their natures and not according to individual fancy. Cutting and
burning, for instance, cannot be performed according to just any view or opinion, but must be performed according to the right one. Likewise, activities
have appropriate instruments. Speaking is an activity with a relation to things.
It has its nature and tools, as does naming.
Socrates echoes Heraclitus, who says that doctors cut and burn their patients, and then demand fees they do not deserve, since their cures are no
better than diseases (DK 22 B 58). The allusion to Heraclitus is still remote;
as is the one just previously to the way up and down, but both allusions anticipate Socrates later references to Heraclitus by name.
B. Activities and Their Tools 387d388a
As actions appeared, fnhsan, to have essences, the activity of naming proceeds not just as we will it to, but in accord with the nature of things,
p{fuke t prgmata, if the account of naming is in agreement with the previous remarks, ooonon. Weaving uses a shuttle as a tool, and piercing
an awl. Socrates here moves from the realm of appearance to the realm of
opinion where agreement is vital.
C. Activities as Systems 388bc
With the shuttle, the weavers tool, the weaver sorts out what is put together,
diakrfnomen; with the awl likewise. With names also, We teach each other
something and we sort things out in accord with their natures, diakrfnomen.
A name is then a didactic and diacritical tool to sort out essence as a shuttle
sorts out threads. Socrates speaks about ways of taking apart things that are
put together. He is stretching his material, the logos, on the frame of the divided line in whose third stage, dianoia, people reason systematically. This
reasoning is for knowledge of essence; similarly, Socrates notion of the instructive name is systematic and diacritical in the Cratylus.
D. Activities and Their Need for Toolmakers 388cd
A weaver uses the shuttle well when he weaves well; a teacher uses names
well when he teaches well. The weaver requires a carpenter to make his shuttle and the hole-puncher a smith to make his awl. Whom does the teacher
require to make names? Hermogenes cannot answer. He needs the nomos
itself, says Socrates.

36

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

In this passage, when separating tools lead to proper combination, they


are well used. Taking apart and putting together are different and alike, different as phases or aspects but alike as within single arts. Socrates here is making
the art of naming like other arts, but he differentiates it from them, too. Where
the arts or trades require toolmakers as standard-setters, naming will take
nomos beyond Hermogenes sense of convention all the way to law and
rule of thought.
Such a sense of nomos, as Robinson observes, keeps it on the side of
nature, physis, to which Hermogenes and Cratylus earlier opposed it.5 That
nomos and nature are not antithetical is an idea found elsewhere in Platos
writings. As E. R. Dodds states: The antithesis is in his (Platos) view a
false one: nmoj is rooted in fsij; the social and the natural order are expressions of the same divine lawwhich reveals itself as law because it can
be stated in mathematical terms.6 Socrates defense of the practicability of
measures in his ideal state is even that social regulations were devised there
in accord with nature, kat fsin tfqemen tn nmon (Pl.Rep. 5, 456c).
Socrates uses nomos at this point in the Cratylus so that it cannot languish
into meaning simple convention and from there into an individual subjectivity that makes all conversation pointless by taking away any grounds for
evaluating opinion.
3. Nomos in Actions 388d391b: Synopsis
Socrates has not accounted for the introduction of nomos. He has reasoned in
four stages but reached a problem that demands a higher and more general
account. He proceeds to give a four-step account of nomos that leads again to
a problem which will similarly demand a yet higher account. The namemaker
is like the lawmaker, the nomothetes. Both rely on observation. Like other
artisans, both look to form, edoj, and an idea, ed{a, to make tools. Tool-users
in turn systematically evaluate these tools. Names require a dialectician to
evaluate them, for he is the someone who knows, pistmenoj, their uses. The
problem the third stage of Construction as a whole sets for the fourth is finding this someone who knows what the correct use of names is.
A. Observing nomos and Perceiving a Form to Produce 388d389c
Nomos gives names, dont you think? Socrates asks. By doing so, he suddenly employs a sense of nomos new to the dialogue, the prescriptive sense of
law. Nomos as conventional usage, Hermogenes sense of nomos, though
abandoned earlier as a source of meaning for names, remains quite useful for
a practical description of how names work. It becomes manifest that Socrates
and Hermogenes have earlier dismissed only a possibly Protagorean interpretation of nomos, but not nomos itself. Socrates uses nomos as the authoritative

I. Construction: Eikasia, Likeness-Making 384c-393b

37

principle for the immediately introduced nomothetes, usually lawgiver but


here in another new sense of authority, namemaker, or instead, namesetter, or usage-setter, as Rosenmeyers English coinages express this
curious use of nomothetes.7
Accordingly, the name-user, the teacher, uses the work of the nomothete, someone with the status of the lawgiver and the rarest of artisans. The
name-setter as lawgiver looks to a things form, as a carpenter looks to the
form of shuttle to fix a shuttle instead of looking at the broken shuttle. Then a
shuttle in itself, at stin kerkfj, has a form, t edoj, which supplies the
nature, tn fsin, which the artisan must embody in his production, t rgon.
Plato makes up a word for namemaker here, nomatourgo, to specify
his new sense of nomothetes with a rhetorical flourish. He is talking about a
philosophical sort of looking, bl{pwn, and has dropped a broad hint that Socrates provides the paradigm for such looking. Plato is being playfully indirect
in a dialogue relying on and playing off the model of indirect proof by way of
reductio ad absurdum.
When Socrates links the onomatourgos and the nomothete at the outset
of this dianoia stage of construction, he links nomos and the third stage of the
line. This linking appears also in divided line-like progressions in the Gorgias
and the Symposium. In Gorgias 464c Socrates constructs two fourfold paths
of being, one positive, the way of true bodily and spiritual health, the other
negative, of the false appearance of health. At the third stage of true health is
nomothetics or legislation, nomoqetik t{cnh, as opposed to sophistic. Similarly, Diotima in the Symposium, 2l0a, describes in four stages a dialectic of
desire according to its objects that culminates in knowledge of the beautiful.
The third stage of this development is the love of laws, nmoi. Interestingly,
the place of nomos in both these arrangements is strictly analogous to the
progression of the divided line. Nomos in both has the sense of law, and as the
subject of systematic thought, is a nomos which leads to justice and knowledge instead of confusion. Socrates has, in the Cratylus, called his name-setter
a nomothete and so given nomos the status of law instead of convention.
B. Nomos and Manifesting an Idea in a Production 389c390a
Artisans in general, like smiths in particular, look for the tool naturally suited
to each thing. So the name-setter as nomothete has to know how to put into
sounds and syllables the name appropriate by nature to every single thing. He
does this by looking to the essence of name. Not all name-setters use the same
syllables, but this should not disguise the name itself. Smiths use different
metals in different lands, but they still keep a same idea in mind, tn
e{, and their tools are for the same tasks. Evaluating a master name-setter,
Greek or barbarian, proceeds always the same way, by looking to how well he

38

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

gives the form, j, of the name which is appropriate to each thing in whatever syllables.
Nomos and nature, opposed by Hermogenes at the dialogues outset,
here in the work of the nomothete are together in producing a common sense
in varying expressions. To see their common sense, like that of all products of
and by nomos and nature, though, there must be an expert.
C. Evaluating a Production for its Fitness 390bc
The weaver judges the carpenter, the lyre player judges the lyre maker, and the
navigator judges the shipbuilder. The tool user in general knows whether the
tool has the appropriate form, n j. The tool user best superintends the toolmaker. In naming, the nomothetes evaluator is someone who
knows how to ask questions, . The same person also best
knows how to answer questionsthe dialectician. The trades as systems rely
on the knowledge of master artisans; naming taken systematically on the analogy of the trades requires the knowledge of the master dialectician.
D. The Need for Knowing the Form of Fitness in Names 390d391b
A carpenter has to follow the instruction of the pilot to make an excellent
rudder. The name-setter as a sort of lawgiver needs the dialectician to supervise his work. Socrates says that the task is serious and it appears that Cratylus is right in insisting on a natural fitness in names that correspond to the
forms of things. Hermogenes wants to hear about this natural fitness of names
from Socrates, who will offer only to help Hermogenes look for it.
Socrates has run out of ways to proceed on his analogy of common systematic workings of the trades. If Hermogenes wants to know, l
e{, he will have to seek out what kind of rightness the rightness of names is.
4. Standards for Knowing Natural Fitness of Names 391c392e: Synopsis
Socrates has been qualifying the nomos-account of names and, by reductio,
excluding a Protagorean nomos, while trying to bear out an artisans and
lawmakers nomos. Socrates proceeds to take up a series of standards for
evaluating names. First, he looks to the Sophists, but Hermogenes finds this
absurd. Next, he looks to the poets and gets a distinction between divine and
human names, namely as better and worse. Then he projects a comparison of
human names to bear out the same distinction by analogy or proportion. Finally, he provides an example of reasoning by proportion and uses it to lead
Hermogenes into error.
By misleading him, Socrates sets up a way to qualify any nature-account
of names supposedly alternative to Hermogenes account of names by con-

I. Construction: Eikasia, Likeness-Making 384c-393b

39

vention. By reductio Socrates is excluding a Heraclitean nature in flux, while


trying to bear out an ideal changeless nature. Up to this point he has in three
stages patterned his reasoning after the proportions of the divided line, but he
completes his pattern with an ironic and parodying example of another kind of
proportional reasoning, Heraclitus. Socrates will demonstrably put Heraclitus
to the test in the etymological and phonological parts of the dialogue. At the
end of those parts, there will be no way to tell Heraclitean sense from nonsense. As the etymologies begin, only a careful study of the model of misleading proportional reasoning shows the way to tell Socratic and ironic sense from
rigmarole. The consequences of employing the Heraclitean model are under
scrutiny, its consequences for logos in the general sense and for particular
logoi. Platos effects are intentionally comic on the large and the small scale.
A. A Sophistic Standard 391bc
Socrates says the best way to proceed is with the help of those who know,
{. The Sophists taught Hermogenes brother Callias for a price, and
if Hermogenes cannot afford it, Callias can teach him. But Hermogenes rejoins, if Protagoras book Truth is in general worthless, what particular value
could he find in it? Such a course of study of names would be absurd, .
This passage at once neatly introduces proportional thinking, the problem of appropriate scale, and absurd methods of reasoning at once. Socrates
asks why should not the proportion Sophists : Callias :: Callias : Hermogenes
obtain. The whole Protagorean measuring system is off, Hermogenes appears
to be answering, in general and so in particular. Sophistry leads to absurdity.
Sophistry is not all that leads to absurdity here.
B. A Poetic Standard 391de
Socrates says that he and Hermogenes should turn to Homer and the other
poets to find those who know about names. Homer divides the names men use
from those that the gods use for the same things. This Socrates considers a
great and wondrous thing, f. The gods use right names, names that
are natural, . Hermogenes agrees that if they use names, naturally they
use right ones. He wants examples. Socrates mentions the river at Troy, which
battled in single combat with Hephaestus. Homer says men call it Scamander,
but the gods call it Xanthos. (391de)
Wonder, , in the Theaetetus is the first principle of philosophy, its arche (155d). Here in the Cratylus a wondrous division of names
begins something more like mock-philosophy, for it soon leads to the etymologies, but the divinehuman opposition is serious for Socrates nonetheless. In view of that opposition, he is attacking the assumptions that lead to
the confusion in the etymologies. As Hephaestus battles the river in the Iliad,

40

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

so in the etymologies Socrates battles the assumption that all is in flux. When
he quotes the passage from the Theomachy of Iliad 20, Plato reminds the
reader of the massive array of divine force before the walls of Troy.
In the Theomachy, four pairs of gods engage in battle. In every pair, a god
of craft and intelligence fights against a god of elemental force and raw power.
Apollo fights the sea, Poseidon. Athena fights Ares Enyalios, the roaring battle
fury. The huntress Artemis fights Hera, perhaps originally an earth goddess,
though for Plato a sky goddess, but in any case a deity from the domain of elemental force.8 Hermes prepares to fight Leto, but decides not to. This pair would
otherwise be the apparent exception to the pattern, since Leto does not represent
elemental force, even though Hermes does represent craft. Finally, and most
importantly for the Cratylus, the blacksmith Hephaestus fights the river Scamander. The forces of flux are in conflict with craft and intelligence in this
passage. They combat with the god of medicine, prophecy, archery, and music,
and with the far less illustrious divine limping blacksmith. In the Cratylus only
Hephaestus, always the odd man out among the gods and the most mundane of
divine artisans, represents craft and intelligence against the flux.
Socrates allies himself with Hephaestus elsewhere in the dialogues
(Pl.Rep. 389a, Laws 920e). Socrates traces his ancestry to Daedalus in the
Euthyphro (11bc), and Daedalus, in turn, is an ancestor of Socrates and descendant of Hephaestus in the possibly spurious Alcibiades 1 (l2la). Here in the
Cratylus, Socrates artisans have all opposed randomness and worked from
ideas of unchanging essence. They cannot confuse the up with the down (386e).
Hephaestus becomes the divine model for the artisan as dialectician, Socrates,
in his battle with the flux and the unity of the way up and down and with their
confusing advocate, Heraclitus. From the views of poets, Socrates next moves
to the systematic application of Homers divinehuman distinction.
C. A Judicious Standard 392ac
Socrates provides two more cases of Homers analysis of divine and human
names, names for a bird, chalkis or kymindis, and names for a hill, Batieia or
Myrine. In all three pairs of divine and human names for the same things the
divine names better represents the nature of the things. Differing human
names for same things are more appropriate to human investigation,
{. Such names are also in Homer, as the names
Scamandrios and Astyanax for Hectors son. Hermogenes cannot see how
Homer evaluated the two names. He does concede, though, that the more
judicious, {, are more likely to give more correct, ,
names than the more foolish, {.
Socrates has moved from the divine scale to the human. He will not deal
with absolutes, thinking it more appropriate to deal with relative judgments.
His use of comparative adjectives in their grammatically absolute sense brings

I. Construction: Eikasia, Likeness-Making 384c-393b

41

out ambiguity and subtlety in this shift of scale. Does it mean that as gods are
to men so are the wise to the foolish? Socrates will make Hermogenes think
so. Built into this kind of proportion is a considerable problem. Here, for
instance, it might appear that even men who are wise are also foolish, as compared with the gods. Hermogenes, who will try to evaluate the names of Hectors son wisely, will be quite badly fooled. The logos or relation of divine
names to human names may be repeated in the relation of wise human names
to foolish, and the two logoi so form a single analogia or proportion, but stark
limits exist on using this proportion as a standard of reasoning.
Before turning to those limits, I will note how Socrates choice and
treatment of the three pairs of names, Xanthos and Scamandrios, Myrine and
Batieia, and chalkis and kymindis, point to another interesting dichotomy. The
better names are all Greek words; the worse are non-Greek, except for
Batieia. In Homer, the divine and human name division sets forth a Greek and
barbarian opposition in most cases.
This Greek and barbarian opposition may well be in Platos mind in the
Cratylus from the outset of the etymologies. Within the etymological section
Socrates considers it a shoddy device, a mechane (4l6a4, 425d5, 426a2), to
attribute barbaric origin to words with no traceable etymological source. The
later use of this fallback on the barbarians as a source suggests an indictment
of Heraclitean explanations for the way things are. Socrates says the words for
fire (4l0a), motion, flux, binding (421c), and bad (416a), are of barbaric origin: Heraclitus cosmic and physical principles, then, the principles of the
etymological system as a whole, and badness all have one origin.
Other words have foreign origin in the Cratylus, but they are only unusual, , as opposed to barbaric, : { (417c),
(419c), and f (426c). Even some native Greek words are
because of their unusual development: Hestia (401c), Leto (406a),
Athena (407b), and sophia (412b). Socrates is not objecting to a linguistic
principle of discerning foreign and otherwise unusual words in a language, but
to barbaric principles of thought, that the universe is fire and that all is in flux.
D. A limit to proportional reasoning 392c393b
Socrates proceeds to baffle and mislead Hermogenes:
Socrates: As a class, then, do the women in cities or the men appear
wiser to you?
Hermogenes: The men.
Socrates: Then, as you know that Homer says that the son of Hector was
called Astyanax by the Trojans, is it clear that the women called
him Scamandrios since the men called him Astyanax?
Hermogenes: So it appears.

42

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE


Socrates: Then Homer also thought the men of Troy wiser than their
wives?
Hermogenes: That is what I think.
Socrates: So he thought Astyanax a more appropriate name for the boy
than Scamandrios?
Hermogenes: It appears so. (386cd)

The name means city-ruler, astu-anax, appropriate to the son since


his father protected the city, says Socrates. Both Astyanax and Hector
mean about the same thing, Socrates explains, since the element anax, ruler,
and Hector, holder, both refer to kingly functions.
From the earlier comparison of gods and men and the wise and the foolish, Socrates moves here to compare a man and a child. He has by allusion
laid out his argument in the frame of Heraclitus proportional expression: A
man is foolish in comparison with divinity, just as a child is in comparison
with man (DK 22 B 79). In the Cratylus, the same comparisons of god to
man, wise to foolish, and man to child, are within a proportional frame of
reasoning. Socrates use of the frame of proportional reasoning is much different from Heraclitus; for Socrates uses the frame to show that it can collapse into ambiguity and nonsense.
If a thing truly is its opposite, if the ordered universe is as random as a
heap of unassorted particulars (DK 22 B 124), if expressions like day, night;
Winter, Summer; war, peace; plenty, famine (DK 22 B 67) are purely contingencies, speech and thought are powerless. Heraclitus is probably not
merely demeaning humanity in his proportional expressions. Instead, his point
appears to be to exalt logos and divinity and keep humanity in its place. To
use the proportional framework at all, though, can be extremely misleading,
as Socrates illustrates at several levels here.
First, in Iliad 6, 402, Homer says that Hector alone called his son Scamandrios while the others, d , called him Astyanax. Homers the
others can be men and women even though the article is masculine. When
Socrates says by the Trojans, the article is the same for men and women.
Plato here appears quite carefully to take any outright error of memory away
from Socrates and to distribute the blame for the mistaken conclusion about
the meaning of Homers text. While Hermogenes has been too ready and
uncritical in answering Socrates questions, at the same time Socrates has
framed those questions to mislead him. The variation in the Cratylus from
Homers authority on this point has dramatic significance in the dialogue.
Plato is making another gibe at the followers of Protagoras for their inattention to detail when he has Socrates get Hermogenes to grant that he thinks the
women used the name Scamandrios, since the men used the name Astyanax,
for the son of Hector.

I. Construction: Eikasia, Likeness-Making 384c-393b

43

Hermogenes has inferred not incorrectly, but in error nonetheless. His


conclusion follows correctly and directly from premises, but one of the premises, that just the men called the boy Astyanax, is itself incorrect. Socrates has
trapped Hermogenes. When Hermogenes concludes that those he assumes are
the more foolish, the women of Troy, called the son of Hector Scamandrios,
he has forgotten that those he considers the wiser also called him Astyanax.
Hectors use of the name Scamandrios apparently had nothing at all to do with
gender or relative intelligence.
Socrates uses the proportional frame to exalt Astyanax, the child, instead
of demeaning him. This is possibly at cross-purposes with the tendency of
Heraclitus, but patently, no standard way controls how to use his proportion.
It can be put in the service of any opinion. Finally, Astyanax was murdered in
childhood and never lived to bear out the comparison with his father, another
hint of the ambiguous nature of reasoning by analogy or proportion. The
people must fight for the nomos as for their city-wall (DK 22 B 44), says
Heraclitus, as Socrates perhaps recalls in his explanation of Astyanax. But
the explanation of the name will not provide an adequate principle of naming
in Socrates first group of names, and no more will a Heraclitean nomos or
logos make sense throughout the Demonstration to follow. Socrates is making
the case for another nomos here, one based on the ideas, as nomos in the
trades is (390a).
The allusions to Heraclitus throughout the Construction are unsettled.
The way up and down is opposed to fixed being (386e). Cutting and burning
has to be done properly (387a), though Heraclitus says cutting and burning are
no better that the diseases they are supposed to cure. Hephaestus battles a
river (391e), and so appears like the typical artisan with his eye on fixed being
instead of on the flux of Heraclitean phenomena. The proportion of gods to
men, wise to foolish, and a man to a boy (391d392d) looks something like
DK 22 B 79, but here it not only has a completely different tone but also leads
to a mistake. Socrates may be indicating that the struggle for a nomos for
naming is like fighting for a city-wall (392d); yet the nomos he employs, like
the city-wall Hector defended, is built only to fall. When Heraclitus emerges
by name from within the tumultuous etymological section and Socrates notes
that the names of the gods have a Heraclitean significance, Socrates will appear surprised to see him there (401e), but Plato has prepared the reader for
the arrival of Heraclitus.
As Socrates set the trap for Hermogenes in the argument immediately
preceding the etymologies and in a sense producing them, so Plato has set the
trap for Heraclitean thinking in the entire Construction section. The
small-scale mock-Heraclitean proportion is the last step in Platos larger scale
pattern of serious reasoning in the Construction. The model of thought in the
Construction offers four stages of reasoning, each of them again taken in four
stages. This is as a whole a first stage in another and larger scale four-stage

44

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

development. As a vague sort of Heraclitean reasoning has emerged at the end


of the first stage, the Construction, so it must be tested according to the divided line model, in the second, third, and fourth stages. It must move from a
tentative likeness of reasoning in the Construction to a firm set of beliefs,
thence to a coherent system, and finally to knowledge itself in the three stages
of the Demonstration.
If Socrates is going to accept it as the truth, Heraclitean logos will have
to meet the demands of Platos divided line just as the Construction has preliminarily set them forth. Socrates in the etymological and phonological sections of the Demonstration sets up an extraordinary gauntlet of problems for
the powers of Heraclitean thinking to run. Whether speech and logoi representing Heraclitean concepts can run that gauntlet remains in doubt for the
rest of the dialogue.
Hermogenes has agreed already that it would be absurd to accept parts
of Protagoras Truth while rejecting the whole. He dismisses the proportion:
As the Sophists are to Callias, so Callias can be to Hermogenes. Still, Socrates appears to have gotten him to accept a Heraclitean proportion: As
divine names are to human, so wise human names are to foolish human
names. In order to show how to reject the whole of this kind of truth, Socrates will show the absurdity of all its parts in the etymological section. The
etymological section takes as long as it does in order to exhaust the full range
of incorrectly reasoning from proportion.

Four
II. DEMONSTRATION: PISTIS, BELIEF:
HERACLITEAN DOGMAS,
SOCRATIC DEMANDS 393B408D
By analogy to a geometric proof, the Cratylus turns to its Demonstration. As
the Construction fits as a whole into eikasia, reasoning by likeness, the Demonstration follows the divided lines divisions, first into pistis, belief, then to
dianoia, systematic reasoning, and finally to noesis, knowledge itself.
The pistis division, II, is the first part of the etymological section. It contains four groups of names each of which has four stages, too, as the outline
and chart in Chapter One indicates. Slightly amplified charts for each stage
and name-group follow the individual accounts of these stages in this and the
following chapter. In four stages that correspond to the segments of the divided line, the four groups of names in II represent what a belief in the logos
of Heraclitus implies. The names and accounts of names in these groups come
mainly from epics, legends, and myths about heroes and gods. In this way,
Socrates chooses them to cover a wide range of the figures and concepts of
traditional Greek beliefs. The first group of names starts with the clue from
Homer, where Greek literature begins, and where tendencies to folk etymology are already in evidence. The second proceeds to names that Socrates has
taken from choral and tragic poetry, and some from Hesiod. In the third, he
moves in direct reference and almost as if along the line of literary history to
topics and notions of Anaxagoras, the Sophists, and the Orphics.
Socrates combines the literary allusions and references of these three
groups at the beginning of the fourth. There he names, quotes, and paraphrases Heraclitus as the chief source of the doctrine of perpetual flux. He
further says Homer, Hesiod, and Orpheus, authorities representing each of the
preceding groups of names, all point in the same direction as Heraclitus. This
reinforces the unity of all four groups. The second and third groups of names
contain allusions to Heraclitus and the first treats of topics of importance to
him as well.
1. Generations in Relation to Genus 393b394e: Synopsis
From his just previous treatment of Astyanax, Socrates begins by deriving a
principle of naming offspring like parents, and then applies it to all generated
things. In a first set of names, he speaks of how to use this principle properly
with names of rulers. In second and third sets he extends the principle to

46

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

names of generals and doctors. A fourth group, the sons of religious men are
his examples of how the principle can break down. Because his
like-begets-like principle is insufficient, Socrates will need some more general way to assign names.
A. The Principle of Natural Similarity and Giving Names (393be)
Socrates follows up the clue from Homer that Hector and Astyanax are fit
names, like father like son. So, to call the offspring of a lion a lion, of a horse
a horse is right, as long as the offspring has the nature of the parent. If, contrary to nature, , a horse begets a cow, we should call the offspring
by its own nature and not by either parents; likewise in the case of trees and
everything else. The particular arrangement of syllables and letters is not
crucial as long as the essence of the thing is plain, f. In the names for
the letters of the alphabet, the force of the letter must come across. The b in
beta is more crucial, but the additional letters, e, t, and a, are also necessary
for the name beta and do no harm as long as they do not obscure the letters
nature, n. Nature or essence, then, is the crucial thing for names to express. The demands on the identification of ousia will be typically Socratic, as
they were earlier, when essence had to be constant and not dragged up and
down at a whim (386d). The statement of principle at the outset of the demonstration refers to names and to letters as having natures. The etymological
section, II and III, will deal with the nature of names, the phonological section, IV, with the nature of letters. From the outset, Socrates indicates the
range that the demonstration sets out to cover. Socrates is following the clue
from Homer, he says, but he is leaving some clues, too.
B. How to Apply the Principle of Similarity 393c394c
The same reasoning, , applies to animals, trees, and people. The
son of a good man will be good, the son of a noble man, noble, except in the
case of prodigies. Since some orthographic variegation is possible in naming,
different names whose meaning is the same in nature will be likely still to
appear quite different in nature to the lay understanding, e .
Socrates explains that in the same way that physicians understand the same
medical remedies within differently colored and scented pharmaceutical compounds, though a lay person cannot, the person who knows about names,
pistmenoj, looks to their inner meaning, , not to the letters which
may conceal it. In the cases of Astyanax and Hector, the names have the
same meaning but only one letter in common. Further, Archepolis (Ruler
of the city) has no consonants in common with Astyanax and Hector, but
means the same thing.

II. Demonstration: Pistis, Belief 393b-408d

47

Socrates here has outlined the steps in the divided line in miniature. He
has moved from exact likeness to confusion in opinion, to the need for experts
on the analogy of doctors, to the man who knows about names. He has done
this to show the method he is using to cover the range of nature or essence he
has laid out in the previous discussion of generation of like by like. After he
has tipped his hand, he returns to the example of Astyanax and Hector, whose
names and nature emerged as similar just previously, but by a specious line of
reasoning. When Socrates said he was following a clue, the track of Homer
earlier, he left a hint of the importance of that specious reasoning for what
follows. When he returns here to the epic clue passage, he has again left his
tracks. He will examine the principle of natural similarity, and do so according to the stages of the divided line.
As the mark of Heraclitus appeared in the specious reasoning about the
names Astyanax and Scamandrios earlier, so in the discussion of experts
and laypersons Socrates appears to implicate him again. Heraclitus scorns the
multitude for pretending to a private understanding, ef
(DK 22 B2). Here things that are the same appear different to the
man of private understanding, e . While Heraclitus scorns
common humanity for its shortcomings, Socrates will proceed to try to show
how they can be remedied.
C. Applying the Principle Consistently 394cd
Socrates gives names for generals, Agis, Polemarchos, and Eupolemos
as illustrations of the principle of same meanings for same natures in different
letters. Socrates uses the name of a main speaker in the Republic, Lysias
brother Polemarchos, whom the notorious Thirty Tyrants assassinated in his
prime. Platos immediate Athenian audience was well aware of his violent
death. Like Astyanax, then, Polemarchos did not live to demonstrate the potential his name suggests. The link between a persons actual fate and the
potential suggested by the persons name is by implication a weak one, anticipating the impending explicit breakdown of the principle of naming at hand.
Next Socrates selects Iatrocles and Acesimbrotos as names for doctors. He says they and many more names illustrate the same principle. In
summary, he says, The same names should be given to those who are begotten in accord with nature, . Socrates has moved from likeness
within royal families and kingly figures to apply his principle of naming to
wider and wider social classes and professions. He is systematizing his account. By the time he gets to the doctors names he is treating of systematic
thinkers as well.
The intervening names for generals link the names suggesting eikasia,
(Hector, Astyanax, Archepolis) with the names suggesting dianoia, the
names for doctors, in this small-scale progression at the beginning of the

48

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

etymologies. Though his reasoning is not transparent, Plato is using the generals names to recall the stage of pistis on the divided line as well, in keeping
with his line module. How Plato links generalship with pistis or belief is explicit in the Statesman (304c ff). There he says the arts of generalship, of
persuasion or inducing belief, , and of passing legal judgments are
linked together under the authority of a kingly nomothete. The three are arts
and not sciences. As artisans required toolmakers, name-users needed nomothetes earlier in the Cratylus (388ce), and just so the activities at the second
stage of the divided line require systematic ordering at the third. The progression in the first group of names mirrors this necessary development by moving
from names for technicians to names for scientists, from generals to doctors.
D. Why the Principle Is Inadequate 394de
As if a horse begat a cow, some are born contrary to the nature of their parents, , says Socrates. A good and reverent man may have an irreverent son. Such offspring should bear the name of their class, {, and
not names like Theophilos or Mnesitheos, Dear to God or Mindful of
God. Generation, then, does not determine genus of character. Socrates could
have said this about any of the names he has used so far, including Astyanax.
He has waited instead to show the development of the principle of similarity,
like father like son, in four stages. Socrates has chosen names with ethical
implications to make his point about the limits of the first-tested naming principle here. Just so he earlier rejected Protagorean measure in namemaking
because it led to an ethical conflict, the confusion of true with false, good with
bad, and wise with foolish (386a).
Theophilos suits the fourth stage of the line. In Diotimas speech in
the Symposium (212c ff.), another four-step progression leads from the perception of beautiful bodies to fair practices or skills, to bodies of knowledge
like law codes, and finally to knowledge of the beautiful itself. At that fourth
stage, says Diotima, we can beget virtue and so become dear to the gods,
l (212a). Mnesitheos contains the element mnesi- which further
suggests the Platonic link of anamnesis with knowing, the lines fourth stage.
The first group of names has etymological meanings that are transparent
in Greek, like Goodman or Strongbow in English. The links here throughout
the first group of names to Heraclitus and the divided line both are again by
allusion, and not so readily apparent. The reductio method is in use here: if,
absurdly and unnaturally, horses beget cows, a principle of naming by the
nature of parents breaks down. The principle is developed until something
like this absurd event occurs, by Socrates comparison, when a religious man
has an irreligious son. Asterisked names in the following chart express potential for breakdown of the naming principle before Socrates specifies it.

49

II. Demonstration: Pistis, Belief 393b-408d

Name Group 1:
Names from family traits, like father, like son
Names and Types

Divided-Line Stage

Result

Astyanax*
Hector
Archepolis
rulers

Likenesses

Principle applies

Agis
Polemarchos*
Eupolemos
generals

Activity similar to
, Plt. 304c

Principle applies

Acesimbrotos
Iatrocles
doctors

Scientific reasoning and


practice

Principle applies

Theophilos
Mnesitheos
divines

Mind and divinity

Principle breaks down

2. Genera in Relation to logos 394e397a: Synopsis


Socrates posed the problem of naming what is unnatural in the first group of
names. In the second, he takes up names that compound that problem in several ways. Character as the ethical criterion for evaluating nature, and so
name, is not easy to determine or use from the outset of this second group,
which contains the names of Orestes and his forebears, human and divine. Its
first stage consists of names for humans who are in conflict with nature and
each other; for example, Orestes is at once a natural son to his father and an
unnatural one to his mother. The conflict within Orestes, according to Aeschylus, took an Athena to understand and resolve. Socrates will refer the
manifold conflicts in the names and natures of Orestes ancestors to the divine
level also, to a logos that combines two into one, and is Zeus. Socrates sets
standards for this Zeus-logos that compel him to replace Hesiods accounts of
Kronos and Ouranos. First, the Zeus-logos originates in dianoia by name, and
then, in turn, that dianoia comes from purification of nous, again explicitly.
Socrates in this second name group becomes oracular and prophetic,
according to Hermogenes, and is under the inspiration of Euthyphro, according to himself. But he also emerges from this section of the dialogue with a
simple model or pattern of reasoning. He will call it a typos at the beginning
of the third group of names. His typos is the same as the divided lines pattern
of reasoning. Implicitly Heraclitus is present in the second group of names

50

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

also, as the authority on the logos of Zeus, in spite of what Hesiod has to say
about Zeus and his ancestors.
A. Natural and Unnatural Aspects of Individuals and Families 394e395e
Orestes name rightly indicates his wild nature, , as a
sort of mountain-man, . Agamemnons name is also natural,
, for he is remarkable for his endurance, , in
completing his designs through his virtue. His father, Atreus, has a name that
makes his nature plain, if not to everybody, still to those who know about
names. He gets his name from his stubbornness, daring, and destructive violence, { . . . . . . . His deeds were destructive to his
virtue. Atreus father Pelops likewise has a fit name, {, and it indicates his short-sightedness, . . . {, for he could not see the damage
he was causing himself and his entire family-line to follow. He desired,
l, but he lacked foresight, l. Tantalus, Pelops father,
likewise has a naturally suited name, . The many disasters which
befell him in and after life make him aptly bear a name meaning most
wretched, , because of his personal misfortunes.
All the names here are natural and suitable, but the genera or natures of
their bearers are widely differing. Orestes has good fortune and according to
it, , or some poet, he has his name. Tantalus has the extreme of bad fortune. Agamemnon is virtuous, but Atreus destroyed virtue. Pelops is shortsighted and seeks what is bad as his personal good, while Agamemnon has the
quality of patient endurance. Some wider principle lies behind these names
than the one in use in the names from Hector to Theophilos. This principle is capable of rightly expressing opposition within an individuals character
and a familys. What is apparently nonsense at the human level, like Pelops
monstrous shortsightedness, can make sense only at the divine.
B. A logos for a Family Containing Different Genera 395e396b
Socrates refers the contradictions at the level of appearance among the Tantalids to a higher level, that of belief in an ordering logos:
The name of Zeus, who is called his (sc. Tantalus) father, appears excellently assigned as well. But this is not easy to discern. For the name
of Zeus is truly the sort of statement (logos) which people divide in two
parts. Some use one part and some use the other one, as some call him
Zena and some call him Dia, but the two put together into one make the
gods nature clear ({ e ), just what we were saying is fitting for a name to have power to do. For none other is more causal
(h) of life for us and for all that exists than the ruler () and

II. Demonstration: Pistis, Belief 393b-408d

51

king of all things. He is accordingly named properly, this god through


whom ( ), life () comes into being always and for all things. The
name, as I say, has been split into two. (395e396b)
Socrates closely details Zeus in this passage because he needs it for
his large-scale depiction of the logos in the Cratylus and not because his
small-scale logoi, the etymologies, at all demand this sort of elaboration. He
spun off the etymologies of the Tantalids with ease. This tendency of Socrates
is typical in the etymological section. When he reels off etymologies, he is
compiling examples of applications of a principle. When he dwells on an
etymology or appears to digress widely within one, that principle is under
scrutiny. The principles are progressively more and more obviously Heraclitean, the scrutiny more and more Platonic.
Zeus here is more than a name, as a logos, a synthesis of two into one,
e , and a cause, h. Zeus names a ruler, a king, a god who brings all
things into being and sustains them there, but must do all these things at once
to make any sense at all. Unless Socrates can come up with a fully explanatory case for the entirely contradictory course of nature within the Tantalid
line, he cannot make any real sense out of Orestes and his forebears.
Zeus is a two-in-one logos. His name is twofold as is his nature, both
originating and containing, i . . . , so that he resolves the
difference between constant nature and changing phenomena in himself as
constant source of change. This unity of Zeus as a logos accounts for the
unusual variation but unvarying naturalness of the names of Orestes and his
forebears. The dimensions of the wordplay here present Heraclitus, and they
may be parodying him, as Ferdinand Lassalle argues from the testimony of
Philoponus.1 Heraclitus says that both Zeus and the Logos unite contradictory
appearances: The one that is wisdom is willing and unwilling to be called by
the name Zeus. (DK 22 B 32) and After listening not to me but to the Logos, it is wise to agree that all is one (DK 22 B 50).
Since Heraclitus says that Zeus and the Logos alike unite distinctions,
when Socrates here links Zeus and logos, he can easily take aim at the Logos
of Heraclitus. To do so, though, he has to bring out a second sense of logos.
Socrates must do more than treat logos here as a statement of functions. It
must also be an account rationally explaining disorder on the most horrific
scale from Tantalus to Orestes. As an account, the logos is subject to Socrates systematic demands. It must stand the test of the upper reaches of the
divided line. When Socrates next says Zeus must be descended from a great
dianoia, itself from nous which is pure, he is placing the demands of dianoia
and noesis not only on a logos as the statement of Zeus power, but also on
the Logos of Heraclitus as an account of wisdom.

52

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE


C. Systematic Demands on the Zeus-logos 396b

It would appear rash, then, to call Zeus the son of Kronos, and well said,
, that he is the offspring of some great systematic understanding,
vo. Kronos as a son, koros, instead signifies purification of the mind,
koro- akin to katharo- and akerato-, and -nos to nous, Socrates claims. He is
here saying that the standard genealogical account of a violent and brutal
Kronos is rash. It might appear more rash to call Hesiods traditional account
into question. What makes it a rash account to Socrates is that it does not fit
his demands for a meaningful belief, the sort of thing that should persuade
people about reality. The better account, the one more suited to logos as Socrates sees it, has Zeus and the logos originate in reasonable explanation that
leads to and comes from pure intellect. A logos is better, then, if it can follow
the divided line to dianoia and noesis.
Kronos as dianoia in the Cratylus must be the same sort of god that he is in
the Laws 4, 714a. There Kronos has authority over the daimons, who provide
nomoi or laws for men. Nomos in the Laws is given the etymology ,
the apportionment of the mind itself. Again, nomos is the subject-matter of a dianoetic stage of reasoning in Symposium, 210a, Gorgias, 464c, and Cratylus 388d.
D. How Knowledge Could Come from a Logos 396b397a
Ouranos, the father of Kronos, signifies looking up, as in the activity of
astronomers, , who say that this practice produces a pure mind,
n. Socrates says that, if he could remember his Hesiod, he
would follow the divine genealogy back to even more remote forebears,
. He would not stop until he had completely tested this sophia at
hand, here cleverness instead of wisdom. If the sophia were genuine
wisdom, presumably it would not break down. The cleverness has befallen
him on a sudden, but at first he says he does not know from what source.
After Hermogenes praises Socrates for his oracular and enthusiastic pronouncements, Socrates says that the inspired sophia is Euthyphros.
The previous day, Socrates explains, he was all ears, l
, as Euthyphro filled him with divine cleverness, f f, and
even seized my soul, (). This day he thinks it good to use the cleverness and to consider the names systematically, {. He proposes for
the following day two things, first to ward evil away from the cleverness by
calling on Zeus, --, and then to purify it, if he can find
some holy man or sophist skilled in such purifying, l.
For Zeus to be considered a logos just previously, he had to have been
descended from dianoia and noesis. Cleverness in the etymologies for
Kronos and Ouranos suggest such descent. Since Socrates has disclaimed
knowledge of the source of the cleverness or wisdom at hand, he does not
credit even Euthyphro with possessing it. Socrates is parodying Euthyphro,

53

II. Demonstration: Pistis, Belief 393b-408d

the same character who appears in Platos Euthyphro.2 In the Cratylus, as


throughout Plato from the Ion to the Laws (681e682a), the oracular seers and
those who speak in an inspired and enthusiastic way, as Euthyphro is said to
do, are merely the mediums of the wisdom they utter.3
Kronos as dianoia and so as source of the Zeus-logos meant the purity of nous, in spite of Hesiods account. Ouranos as looking up illustrates a method for attaining pure nous. The Zeus-logos combined two into
one, two names; the Kronos-dianoia puts two into conflict, two accounts; the
Ouranos-nous separates two ways of looking, up from down. Socrates says he
would advance further up, , if he could remember Hesiod. Curiously,
the Zeus-logos compelled him to abandon Hesiods account in his previous
etymology. Also curiously, he will remember Hesiod well enough in the next
group of names. Socrates says that to follow Hesiod here from Ouranos to
examine the correctness of divine names, , would lead further along
the route of understanding. To abandon Hesiod, then, for the sake of a
Zeus-logos could have been a sign that the Zeus-logos itself was off the track.
Name Group 2:
Opposite characteristics from a common logos
Names for an odd lot

Divided-Line Stage

Result

Orestes;
Agamemnon;
Atreus; Pelops;
Tantalus

Likeness of names to
people themselves like
and unlike by the model
of generation

Unusual variety of unvaryingly natural names,


, for an unnatural family

Zeus

Logos of same and different

Expression of causal
unity of logos

Kronos

Dianoia, means to pure


nous

To accept Heraclitus is to
exclude Hesiod

Ouranos

Nous, separation of up
from down

Further progress in separating up from down


requires Hesiod

The track that Socrates follows in testing his sudden cleverness for its
wisdom and his Zeus-logos for its relations to dianoia and nous is plainly
along the divided line. From stage one to stage two of the line, Socrates has
proceeded from sense impressions on the previous day to a state of confused
opinion, for at first he cannot, then he can, remember the source of his cleverness. At this point in the Cratylus, he assumes the cleverness as wisdom for
the purposes of examination, so he will study it systematically, or take it up to
dianoia, the third stage of the line. After that, he will purify it or, correspond-

54

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

ingly, take it up to the realm of pure mind in the final stage of the line. When
Socrates says he will ward evil away from the wisdom by calling on Zeus, he
is as much as saying he will dismiss this Zeus, --, as a
logos and a candidate for wisdom. For the moment, though, the examination
proceeds along the model of the line. As in this second group of names, Socrates has appealed to different beliefs in divine order, so in the third he will
appeal to different systematic accounts based on such beliefs.
3. Logoi in Relation to Analogy: Up and Down the Ways of Analogy in
Naming 397a400d: Synopsis
Socrates is left at the end of the second group of names with the same problem he had at the end of the first: as he starts the third he says again that he
cannot tell how to assign names like Theophilos fittingly. But he also has a
pattern of reasoning, a typos, to use. Repeating the pattern produces a sort of
proportion. The pattern involves distinguishing and relating what is immortal,
i , and what is mortal. In the first group he contrasted generations of
families with genus of character. In the second section, he contrasted genera
of characters to a single originating logos. In the third, he will contrast several
logoi about the immortal and the mortal, but he will also interrelate them with
an analogia or proportion overarching them all, his divided line.
As Socrates proceeds in the order of being downward from gods to
daimons to heroes to men, he proceeds up the stages of the divided line
in explaining his etymologies. He then turns in pairs of alternative etymologies for soul and body backward through the same stages. His linking and
separating of a way up with a way down of reasoning in the third group of
names constitutes a complex parody of the Heraclitean unity of the way up
and down, but also shows the serious problems involved in relating sameness
and difference. In each section of this group, he illustrates difficult aspects of
this relation.
In the first section, Socrates contrasts what does not change with what
does. Names that express parents hopes or prayers like Theophilos can be
misleading about the natures of those so named, presumably because they are
in the human realm where things change. Explicitly, names for things in the
realm of the eternal are more likely to be correct. First, the name theoi, the
gods, can be reliable because of standing for something in the unchanging
realm of being. In the second, Socrates discusses Hesiods daimons along
with heroes either from eros or from oratory. In the third he explains
the spelling of Diphilos, synonymous with the hitherto unmanageable
Theophilos, in order to explain anthropos, the animal that alone reasons
by analogy, as he points out. Finally in the fourth he first contrasts authorities
for the naming of the soul, psyche, and then points to the variety of opinions
about the naming of the body, soma. Some authorities on psyche understand,

II. Demonstration: Pistis, Belief 393b-408d

55

noein, that the soul is a cause of life for the body, a view like Socrates in the
Phaedo, but Hermogenes prefers what he thinks is an Anaxagorean account of
soul. On the naming of soma opinions vary, but the Orphic version taking the
body as the likeness, ev, of a prison is the one that Socrates favors.
A. The Pattern of Reasoning about Names 397ad
Socrates asks where they should begin their systematic consideration,
, since they have happened upon a pattern to use, . Are
names merely random or do some have fitness? Names of heroes and men can
deceive. They may recall ancestors or express the hopes of the parents, as in
the names Eutychides (the Fortunate), Sosias (the Preserver), or Theophilos (Beloved of God). These are better left alone, he says.
Instead Socrates finds it fitting, e, to consider names of what is everlasting, i , since a perhaps more than human care went into the
design of these names. Theoi, gods, is the fitting place to begin, agrees
Hermogenes. Socrates says early Greeks and barbarians observed that the sun,
moon, earth, stars, and sky move always in a course and at a run, {.
They called them gods first and when they found out about other gods, they
used the same name. Hermogenes thinks this account likely, .
Socrates pattern of reasoning calls for a separation of reliable names
from unreliable ones. He has anticipated such a separation in each of the first
two groups of names and he uses it to consider the reliability of principles of
naming in the system of names he is about to develop. In the first group of
names, the process of generation could not be used for accurate naming because it could not determine a genus of character in the case of Theophilos.
In the second, dianoia and pure nous, there linked to the reasoning of astronomers, had to be the sources of Zeus as a logos adequate to the different
characters that Orestes and his ancestors exhibit. At the outset of the third,
Socrates refers directly to Theophilos and introduces the reasoning of astronomers in his first etymology. He begins anew. He is undertaking to reason
systematically, but has only provided an outline or shadow of what this process involves. Hermogenes responses, Ee , , remind the reader that
this beginning of system is itself in the relation of eikasia to a pure knowledge
of system.
Heroes, mens names, and Theophilos, Socrates does not deal with in
this third group, but hero itself, anthropos, and Diphilos he does. As
these names directly recall what Socrates here says that he cannot mention as
the name-group begins, so also do they keep in view the limits of the systematic reasoning that Socrates depicts throughout the third group as it proceeds.
He is relating logoi together within a scheme of system, analogy, or proportion, but such an arrangement by itself finally cannot guarantee the truth of the

56

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

logoi, any more than Socrates can initially assign human proper names properly at the outset of the third group.
The astronomers in the first etymology here, theoi from {, are
reasoning from appearances at the beginning of a divided line progression.
They are also reasoning from analogy to link the way up with the way down,
for they look up to apparent perpetual motion and name the gods accordingly,
then they look or reason down, -, and apply the correspondence they detect above to other gods below. Socrates in this passage alludes,
then, to two Heraclitean logoi, the perpetual flux, and the unity of the way up
and the way down.
B. Middle Terms in Correlations of Divine and Human 397e398e
Next, Socrates accepts Hesiods account of the first genus of men, the golden
race who died and then became daimons. The division in Hesiod of the gold
and iron races of men is of scientific worth as evidence, , for equating his and Hesiods views. He says the name daimon comes from the daimons power of being knowledgeable and wise, , that Hesiod and
other poets say a man can become a daimon after death, and that he himself
sets it down that every man who is good is daimon-like while he is alive and
after he dies, and is rightly called daimon (397e398c). At Republic 469a1,
Socrates treatment of the daimons is similar for he considers their condition
humanly attainable. Neither of his renderings of Hesiods account regards it
as dealing only with a mythical past. According to Richard Walzer, the account of daimon in the Cratylus recalls Heraclitus sense of fate, Greater
deaths gain greater destinies, (DK 22 B 25).4
Socrates next says hero originates from eros and that the heroes are
demigods, hemitheoi (398c). He explains this by saying that they come from a
love between divine and mortal, of a god for a woman or a goddess for a man.
In an alternative etymology, Socrates says that the heroes, as wise men, orators, virtuosi, and dialecticians, got their collective name from being able to
ask questions, , since h means {. Accordingly, the heroes
correspond, f, with orators and questioners, i, another
Platonic coinage in the dialogue, so that the class of the Sophists turns out to
be the heroic breed. Before proceeding to the next etymology, for anthropos, Socrates asks Hermogenes if he does not still have belief, , in
the inspiration of Euthyphro (399a).
Socrates does not take Hesiods ages of man story as literal. Still, it has
scientific worth to him as evidence, and he infers conclusions from it. It provides a reliable account of genus, if taken as an analogy. To Socrates, as gold
is to iron, so are the good to the bad, and the wise to the foolish. Hesiods
daimons become mean terms within Socrates larger analogy that attempts to
express the relation of divine to human, and immortal to mortal. As the gods

II. Demonstration: Pistis, Belief 393b-408d

57

to the daimons, so are the daimons to the good and wise. The daimons provide
a bridge from the temporal to the eternal that anyone can choose to cross.
Similarly, heroes are intermediate between the divine and human, as half
one and half the other, as demigods. Socrates linking of hero with eros,
if it is like the eros on Diotimas ladder of love, can also provide a means of
transition from human becoming to divine being, gods : heroes :: heroes :
men. If hero is from query or orate, or h, then another
analogy follows, gods : Sophists :: Sophists : men.
Socrates is interested in correspondences and analogies here in the second stage of the third group of names, but he has not found a way to resolve
the conflicts of opinions that his analogies represent. He personally shares
Hesiods view of humanity, but argues as well for a sophistic view. He is
depicting the realm of belief wherein opinions conflict, and where Hermogenes would be content to remain with his belief, n, in the inspiration of Euthyphro.
C. Combination and Separation within Analogies 398e399c
Hermogenes believing, , is appropriate, while Socrates is likely to
become all too clever, . He asks Hermogenes to watch closely,
. People often put in or take out letters or change accents in names, he
says. In the case of making the expression beloved of God, i f, into a
name, Diphilos, we remove one of the iotas from it and instead of an acute
accent, f, on the middle syllable we pronounce the grave, l. Oppositely in other cases we insert letters and pronounce the grave acute. (399b)
Anthropos underwent such alterations from phrase to name. The
phrase looking up at what he has seen, , turned into anthropos. The name indicates how humans alone of the animals consider,
l, use analogies, f, and look up, l. In the previous
etymology, analogies led to an inadequate distinction of the roles of daimonic
wisdom and sophistry. Here in the treatment of Diphilos, proper separation
and combination provide for useful distinctions between opposites, of the
acute from the grave.
Socrates may well be too clever here in passing from eros to Diphilos;
for this passage echoes and alludes to Eryximachus account of a double love,
, in the Symposium (186b ff). For the systematic Eryximachus,
a heavenly love as distinct from an earthly one presides over such crafts as
medicine, gymnastics, agriculture, and music. All these crafts need systematic
agreement or harmony. Something like this, he says, is what Heraclitus also
means to say when he speaks, however unclearly, ; for he says the
One differing in itself is in accord . . . as is the harmony of the bow and the
lyre (187a; see DK 22 B 51). Eryximachus points out that Heraclitus words

58

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

appear to be quite unreasonable, f, although also a possible sensible meaning to them exists,
that from the differences of the treble and the bass, { i
{j, there arises (Harmony) from their accord, , by
the musician's craft; for obviously no harmony exists while the treble
and the bass are in discord (186187b).
For Diphilos to recall Eryximachus use of diploos is nothing strange
in a work so playful and allusive as the Cratylus. Something like Eryximachus limits on linking things together in a system is in order, if wisdom and
sophistry are to be distinguishable, as they are not at the end of the accounts
of eros. The Greek words for the treble and the bass and the acute and
the grave are the same. The treble and the bass must be distinguishable for
the Heraclitean One to make sense to Eryximachus, as the acute and the grave
are so distinct here in the Cratylus only two pages before Heraclitus at last
emerges by name (401d) as the source for the view of nature throughout the
etymologies. Socrates alludes subtly to the kind of limits that he will attempt
to put on that view. The limits will be systematic like Eryximachus; they will
involve combining and separating the upper and lower, as Eryximachus does in
the double Eros, as astronomers did in the explanation of Ouranos, and as did
Socrates human being, alone of the animals, in the explanation of anthropos.
The etymology for anthropos, combines man with the other beasts,
, but he is separated from them, too. He is not merely debased, in a
primitive state by comparison with the gods. He has a distinct power of making analogies and using his reason, f. This ability allows him to
proceed beyond belief in some system or other, as in the account of daimons, to a system of beliefs that maintains distinctions and does not lapse
into confusion, in Diphilos. It allows him to move up to the third stage of
the divided line where geometers who practice dianoia make analogiai or
proportions. Socrates turns next in the third group of names to make a complete analogy that accords with the limits on analogy he has just set up.
D. Analogy and the Limits of Expression 399d400d
Hermogenes sees a crucial issue, , next in order, for I take it we call
soul and body both human, ( ). Accordingly, he suggests
they define these names in the manner of the preceding names. Socrates says
that he thinks that those who named the soul:
knew (l) that when it exists within the body the soul is the cause of
life for the body (h ), that it provides the power of
respiration and revivification (ov), and that upon the departure

II. Demonstration: Pistis, Belief 393b-408d

59

from the body of this revivification ( ) the body perishes. (399de)


Here Socrates asks Hermogenes if he thinks anything other than the soul
sustains the power of life and motion, {, for the body. Hermogenes
says no. Then he asks him if he does not trust in the saying of Anaxagoras that
mind or soul, i , is the ordering and maintaining principle of all
things, i . Hermogenes agrees that he does. Socrates
says that the name refers to the power of upholding and maintaining nature,
psyche as {. Hermogenes finds this name cleverer than Socrates first
derivation. While he consents that the name is cleverer, , Socrates says it appears truly laughable to him that the word was so named (400ab).
In this use of is another Platonic criticism of reasoning from
comparisons as if they were absolutes.
Socrates next proceeds to the treatment of body. This word has a varying meaning, o, according to Socrates, and if someone alters it ever so
slightly, , the variation is a great one, . Some say the body is the
tomb () of the soul, as if the soul were buried in present time. Again
some say that because the soul signifies to the body whatever it signifies, the
body is rightly called its signal (). (400bc)
Lastly, Socrates expresses another account of body:
I think the Orphics, though, especially imposed this name on the grounds
that the soul is punished for things it must requite, and the body, in likeness (e) of a prison constitutes an enclosure for the preservation of
the soul. The body is then the so-called preserver () of the soul
until it fulfills its obligations, and we have no need to change (v)
a single letter. (400bc)
Socrates has reached a fourth stage in his attempt to relate the divine and
mortal realms in the third group of names. His progress toward noesis hits a
problem. Relation must take into account sameness and difference. Body and
soul are alike, both human, but quite different, too. Socrates is bound by his
four-step model of reasoning to point out the limits of his expression. He has
been following an analogy to get to knowledge, and his analogy limits the
kind of knowledge he can get. Socrates reaches noesis only to return through
systematic reasoning to the realm of opinion and at length to the realm of
picture-thinking. He is then following the order of the divided line in reverse.
His analogy brings him around to where he must begin again.
Reversing the lines order, Socrates first speaks of those who understand,
l, the nature of the soul, those with whom he agrees. The soul, like Zeus
previously, is a cause of life, h . . . , a link between divine and
mortal. Next Socrates describes a systematic or dianoetic soul, ,

60

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

whose unity with nous results from faulty reasoning. Socrates identifies life
and motion, i {, gives soul as their cause, and then gets Hermogenes to accept that the soul is equivalent to Anaxagorean nous, an ordering principle for all things. Hermogenes has made another mistake.
Anaxagoras says that Mind is not within any kind of synthesis. It does,
rule all things large and small which possess soul (), it does, arrange
everything in order ( ), but still Anaxagoras states explicitly, nothing is completely separated or distinguished as one from another
except Mind (excerpts from DK 59 B 12). Hermogenes has here attributed to
Anaxagoras a synthesis foolish and laughable to Socrates, but persuasive to
the followers of Euthyphro. When on the next page of the text Socrates identifies being and motion (f as f from ), and calls this unity an
explicitly Heraclitean principle, he says that it, too, is laughable and most
persuasive. He has then laughably identified life and motion only to make
way for laughably identifying being and motion.
Socrates next speaks of a variety of opinions about the body. He has entered a realm of opinion where some say one thing, some another, and where
only inconclusive reasoning exists. Last, he considers the body as in some
ways a penalty for error, and a semblance, e, of a prison cell.
In the third group of names, Socrates has proceeded up the divided line
only to proceed back down. The whole group represents the limits of dianoia
in the same way as the divided line does. First, from a graphic model of the
two divided line progressions in the third group, one reversing the order of the
other, one main point about dianoia becomes readily apparent. Just where one
set of judgments connects the divine and mortal realms, the other set begins to
break the connection down and to portray the divine and mortal realms as
adversary. This shows the merely systematic way in which Socrates has patterned his reasoning.
When Socrates reasons about the topics in the third group, he bears out
consequences of particular assumptions, but when he has two contrary assumptions, he cannot tell which is true. He cannot tell whether science is any
different from sophistry in hero. By the requirements of systematic reasoning alone, he cannot tell whether soul is analyzed and abstract or is in synthesis with mind. The lines of reasoning from assumptions must hang together
to be true, but that they hang together does not in itself prove that they are
true. Hermogenes accepts the systematic reasoning about Anaxagoras as true
when the reasoning is only systematic. It contains a false premise, which
Socrates does not say that he himself admits, but Hermogenes does admit it.
Hermogenes would have to have read Anaxagoras more carefully himself to
discover that the premise is untrue. For Socrates, then, dianoetic system may
be necessary, but not sufficient, to determine the truth of statements.

II. Demonstration: Pistis, Belief 393b-408d

Names

61

Name Group 3:
Logoi in relation to analogy
Divided-Line Stage
Origin of Etymology

theos

Sense perception

Ancient astronomers

daimon

Evidence of belief

Hesiod and the poets

hero
Diphilos
man

Scientific reasoning or
merely systematic ?
Use of analogy,
f

Heraclitus or the Sophists


Eryximachus
Socrates

soul

Abstract intellect;
systematization;

Ancient nomothetes;
Anaxagoras (Heraclitus);

body

Opinions;
likeness-making

Different views;
Orphics

4. Analogies in Relation to Ultimate Being:


Naming and Knowing the Gods 400d408d: Synopsis
Socrates, in the third group of names, shows some limits on using analogy to
link the divine to the human realm. In the fourth group, he seeks for an appropriate analogy to the divine realm alone. When Hermogenes earnestly requests more etymologies like that of Zeus previous, Socrates stresses the
limits of such an account. If he and Hermogenes have nous, he says, they will
admit their ignorance and proceed according to a nomos in prayers, the custom of calling the gods by whatever names the gods please to allow men to
call them (400d401a). Nous is here not absolute, but instead a highest stage
of belief, one dependent for its truth on the will of the gods. Socrates nous is
not, then, knowledge of the things he is talking about, but only of the way in
which he is talking about those things.
Socrates sets limits on opinions and beliefs here as he has done throughout the first three groups of names. In this fourth reach of the activity of belief, f, Socrates suddenly comes to know that he is elaborating a Heraclitean belief that all is in flux. The reader knows it, too, because Socrates
quotes, paraphrases, and five times names Heraclitus on the opening page of
the fourth group. It would be a mistake to think that Socrates seriously maintains the ideas of Heraclitus here. Throughout the fourth group he is in fact
setting an analogy of fixed being against a Heraclitean logos of flux. He struc-

62

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

tures his elaboration of Heraclitean logos by means of the divided line analogy and in so doing comically causes the Heraclitean logos to make a paradoxical case against itself.
The fourth group of names is quite long but simple in plan.5 First, Socrates uses the account of Hestia to oppose essence, ousia, to the flux, f, in
rival etymologies, and suggests four other etymologies for gods of flux, explicitly rivers and the sea. Second, four gods present an unseen order of oppositions between life and death as within a cycle of the elements. These gods
produce fear in foolish minds, but regarded in the right way they are benign.
Third, he considers names of gods who are patrons of the arts and of the values of civilization. They are harmonious, reasonable, and skilled. In the fourth
stage of this group of names are seven (or eight) divinities. They represent
two different kinds of knowledge, one serious, genuine, and Platonic, the
other misleading, ridiculous, and by allusion Heraclitean. Throughout the
many etymologies in the four stages of the fourth group, Plato makes references and allusions to Heraclitus. They are more often playful and artistic
than logical, literal, or necessary.
A. The Divine Flux of Being 400d402d
Hestia appears first in the list of the gods as is fit according to custom,
nomos, . The makers of these early names were not triflers, but
astronomers and great talkers, says Socrates ambiguously, for adoleschai may
be those who are great at speaking, but also those who are merely chatterboxes. Three dialect variants for essence appear as etymologies for Hestia, but one of them Socrates explains spuriously in order to introduce the
Heraclitean identity of being and motion. As the root of Hestia Socrates
claims that we say i, others say f, and still others say f. He
shows how f and f are equivalent expressions of essence and how
such a name is appropriate, e, on the evidence of religious usages and
dialect variation. Socrates turns to those who say f.
These must have thought nearly in Heraclitean terms that all things are
in motion ( e{) and nothing is at rest. Accordingly their cause
and principle is pushing () and they are well able to name it f.
Let these words suffice here, spoken as they are by those who know
nothing. After Hestia we should consider Rhea and Kronos, though in
fact we have already spoken of Kronos name. Well, this may be nonsense. (401de)
What we say, ousia, suggests Platonic fixed essence here without a
doubt; Socrates opposes it to the Heraclitean flux of being. Socrates also has
just said that the first makers of names were astronomers. As in the explana-

II. Demonstration: Pistis, Belief 393b-408d

63

tion of Ouranos, those who look up and so seek the pure nous include analytic dialecticians such as himself. The shape of the argument to come in the
list of divine names is already apparent.
Socrates here tells Hermogenes he has found a sort of hive of wisdom
and Hermogenes asks him to characterize it:
Socrates: Well, this wisdom is quite laughable (l) and yet is quite
persuasive ().
Hermogenes: How persuasive?
Socrates: I seem to behold () Heraclitus relating ancient wisdom,
with especial regard to Kronos and Rhea, which Homer also relates.
Hermogenes: In what way do you mean this?
Socrates: Heraclitus says, I think (), that everything changes (l)
and nothing rests, and again likening () being to the
flow of a river, he says You cant step in the same river twice.
Hermogenes: Yes, that is right.
Socrates: What follows? Do you think that the person who named Rhea
and Kronos the forebears of all the other gods understood (l)
things in any different way than Heraclitus? Do you think it accidental that he gave both the names of watercourses? Likewise
Homer says Ocean the origin of the gods and mother Tethys. I
think Hesiod says the same, and Orpheus somewhere says Fairflowing Ocean first took a wife; he married Tethys his sister from
one mother. Note then that these things are in accord (l)
with each other and that all of them tend (f) toward the words
of Heraclitus. (402ac)
Socrates appears to be in a hurry. This may have something to do with
his summarizing instead of quoting Heraclitus exactly here (DK 22 B 12 and
49a). He begins his fourth group of names by summarily referring to the
course of all the etymologies so far. Hestia as essence and flux here draws
together Homer, Hesiod, and Orpheus, sources respectively in the first, second, and third groups, and enlists them as the philosophical allies of Heraclitus. Everything is converging in the argument, and appears to follow from the
identity of being and motion. Socrates finds the whole line of argument ridiculous perhaps because, while making all things agree with Heraclitus, it
suggests what would confuse or enrage Heraclitus. Heraclitus explicitly sets
himself at odds with Homer (DK 22 B 42, 56, 105) and Hesiod (DK 22 B 40,
57, 106). Heraclitus did not mean to produce a technique of reasoning which
lets him be set on equal terms with those he considers fools. Socrates ironically compromises Heraclitus most patently at this point where his etymologies are straightforwardly Heraclitean in their import.

64

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

Of the first deities whom Socrates lists, only Tethys gets an etymology
proper. That Rhea is related to flowing, l, is obvious but not stated.
That Kronos would remind Platos readers of spring, , is likely,
even though Socrates has already given an etymology for Kronos as purification of the mind. Socrates uses river imagery here, especially in the case
of Tethys, who is a river, a semblance, f, and a synthesis,
(402de). Briefly but significantly, Socrates remarks We have already spoken of Zeus to emphasize that the thought in this passage is akin to
the Zeus-logos earlier.
Last among the likenesses to the flux is Poseidon himself. His name has
three etymologies. The sea impressed the name-maker of Poseidon as a
chain of feet, f, since it kept him from walking further. Again,
the name may signify the sea gods great knowledge, e, or his
earth-shaking power, f (402d403a). The first etymology presents the
flux of change as a source of binding or fixity. Later in the etymologies, the
problem of harmonizing perpetual change with binding necessity becomes
crucial. Crucially, Socrates does not rate these etymologies or distinguish
them philosophically. Such grouping of differences may imply that one meaning is as good as the next, once being equals change. Apparently, we have no
grounds left for comparison.
B. The Cycle of Life and Death 402d404e
The gods in the second set of names have less apparent powers. These gods
represent death and air, which participate in hidden order. People understand
them in different ways, so that their names represent not only the realm of
opinion beyond the range of likeness-making, but also some different kinds of
belief or opinion. First among these less obvious deities is Pluto. His name
signifies wealth, , because wealth comes up from below,
f, the earth. Pluto connects the up and the down (compare DK 22 B 60);
people name him on the strength of a curious analogy. Still other people,
because they fear the name Pluto, call him Hades, the unseen, {
(403a).6 They fear Hades eternal presence, i l , with them after
death. Socrates, on the other hand, says that he thinks the principle or role of
the god and his name all tend toward the same thing ( f)
(403b). As Socrates explained in the just previous names from Rhea
through Kronos, the different poets also all tended, v, in the same direction, toward the thought of Heraclitus.
People do not want to leave Hades once he has them. Apparently he
knows how to speak some excellent words (), and on this assumption
(), is the ultimate sophist ({ ). He is a source of happiness to those below and those above, . . . l , as Socrates explains and recalls here, and in so doing also connects up with down in

II. Demonstration: Pistis, Belief 393b-408d

65

both of the gods names, Pluto and Hades. Finally, Hades does not
mean by this account the unseen at all, but knowing all good things (
e{). What was unapparent turns out to be complete
knowledge. The Heraclitean logos toward which all things have been tending
in the etymologies for the gods by this point entails knowing all things.
Socrates turns to Demeter and Hera, according to Hermogenes request.
Demeter and Hera are taken together, { . . . {. Demeter is an earth goddess
and Hera, as she appears in the next etymology, is the air, so that Socrates
takes the up and the down together here. The listing of these elemental deities
also suggest a pattern of the elements evocative of and fully in accord with
Heraclitus view that Fire lives earths death, air fires, water airs, earth
waters (DK 22 B 76).7 In Platos arrangement, Hades as death intervenes
between water gods and earth and air goddesses, while Persephone as rebirth is to intervene next between the earth and air goddesses and Apollo, who
was by Platos time (though not explicitly by Plato himself), a god linked to
the sun.
Socrates further alludes to Heraclitus in his account of Hera. Her first
etymology shows her to be a synthesis combining action and passion, as loved
and loving wife of Zeus. Her second etymology indicates:
perhaps again, the namemaker in his astrological considerations named
the air Hera by way of concealment ({vo), since he put
the beginning at the end ( i ). You can see this if
you say the name of Hera repeatedly (404c).
Heraclitus says Nature likes to hide () (DK 22 B 123), and that
the beginning and the end of a circle are in common, (DK 22 B 103).
Here the letters in the names H = form a sort of circle of sound.
Socrates next etymology dramatically varies from the order of Hermogenes request and introduces the goddess Persephone, or Pherephatta.
Socrates makes up the interesting new name Pherepapha for her, his etymology of which contains Platos term from the Theaetetus (186b) for the
sense of touch, . Persephones names show how fear can lead to error.
In her case, fear has produced differing spellings that disguise a single meaning. Persephone is, on this single account, a powerful unifying force to dispel
the confusion of phenomena, confusion which fear amplifies. She emerges as
wisdom, a touching and apprehending, , a being able, ,
to grasp and understand things within flux, {. As such, she links
apparently opposite things like sensation and knowing.
A single account combines her different names to dispel fear and present
the potential for knowledge in its stead. Socrates thus represents her power of
returning to the land of the living as a power of knowing, for him also a returning or reknowing, anamnesis. Finally, as mentioned, Persephone with her

66

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

consort, Hades, interconnects the four elements as life and death do according
to Heraclitus.
Heraclitus cycle of elements, DK 22 B 76
water

earth

life and death


cycle

air

fire

Platos cycle of Heraclitean elemental deities in the Cratylus


Hestia as f, Rhea, Tethys, Poseidon

Demeter

Hades and Persephone


up and down logos, flux

Hera

Apollo
C. The Harmony of Bow and Lyre 404e406b
Apollo concludes the Heraclitean system of the four elements and introduces
the third set of deities within the expansive fourth group of names. Apollo is a
god who connects several arts together in an orderly and exemplary fashion.
He and the goddesses associated with him represent the third of the four divided line stages:
No name could better express the single harmony ( ) that exists in the gods four powers so as to pertain to all of them and to show

II. Demonstration: Pistis, Belief 393b-408d

67

in such a way () each one distinctly, music, prophecy, medicine,


and archery (404e405a).
Socrates then explains how the name Apollo pertains to each of these four
powers, and so to show its well-fitted, harmonious, , character for
each of them. In accord with the view common to skilled musicians and astronomers that all things move together in harmony (fv i l
), Apollo presides over harmony in his moving of all things in concert
among gods and human beings. Still some people fear the name because they
associate it with destruction, but this is erroneous. It expresses instead the fourfold powers of the god. (405a406a). In the etymologies for Apollo Socrates
alludes to Heraclitus several times and most notably to Heraclitus account of
harmony: They do not understand how a thing differing within itself is in concert, its harmony a reciprocal tension as in the lyre or bow (DK 22 B 51).
In Socrates Apollo etymologies, human beings also do not understand, l, the gods fourfold character. He has different
powers in himself that he harmonizes, . Among these differences are
the arts of music and archery, respectively arts of the lyre and the bow, Heraclitus examples and symbols of harmony differing in itself. Similarly, Apollo
rules, l, divine and human harmony in this passage, just as the sun
rules the seasons for Heraclitus: (DK 22 B 100), so that
Apollo stands for the Heraclitean harmony here in the Cratylus.
Etymologies for Muses, Leto, and Artemis follow those for
Apollo. They are, so to speak, the rest of the Apollonian system, his familiars and relatives, the benefits of Apollonian dianoetic harmony. These three
etymologies do not make any case for Heraclitus and in fact presage a case
against him.
According to Socrates the names Muses and music come from seeking, , inquiry, and philosophy. By giving music a philosophical character, Socrates suggests a need for philosophic inquiry into the Heraclitean
harmony of which music is one aspect. Leto is a gentle goddess whose name
expresses her willingness, , to provide what is asked and her mild
disposition, l. The parent of the synthetic and harmonic Apollo is a gentle and generous source of being, most unlike the totality of all things begotten by strife and need (DK 22 B 80) according to Heraclitus. Besides the
fourfold harmonic Apollo, Leto has another offspring, the goddess Artemis.
Artemis, besides being complete, orderly, and intact ({) due to her
love of virginity, is a judge of virtue, and alternately despises some synthesis,
since she loathes the males plowing of women ( ).
Artemis represents another kind of order than that within the Apollonian system. She is totally separate, a proponent of distinction who knows virtue, the
goal of Socratic philosophy (406ab).

68

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE


D. Socratic noesis and/or Heraclitean Logos:
Seriousness and/or Comedy 406c408d

The names of the gods in the fourth stage of the fourth group of names make
actual what have only been possible problems for synthesis in the previous
three stages. At the level of likeness-making, Poseidon has problematically
combined fixity with flux; at the level of belief in what is unseen, Hades has
represented synthesis of all in one, but he is a sophist in his use of logos;
among the systematic deities, Apollo has represented Heraclitean harmony,
but the goddesses with whom he is allied appear to controvert it. In a fourth
stage, Socrates turns to divine counterparts of nous. In the event, only a nonsense logos that combines opposites as if they were the same can resolve the
problems that Socrates discovers.
When Hermogenes asks for explanations of Dionysus and Aphrodite,
to begin this last stage of the fourth group, Socrates says he can speak in earnest or in jest. He chooses to speak in jest because the gods have a sense of
humor, f. Dionysus, he says, is the wine-giver, f,
humorously so-called, and his gift leads many who have no sense, , to
think they have it, h, so is e. In the case of Aphrodite, we
can not differ ({) from Hesiod, but we must agree (l) that
Aphrodites name refers to her birth from sea-foam ()(406bd). Dionysus represents a false nous, apparent but unreal, which sots ludicrously confuse with its opposite, true nous. Aphrodite represents the need to rely on the
testimony of a poet whom Heraclitus disdained (DK 22 B 40, 57, 106).
Hermogenes asks for Athena, Hephaestus, and Ares. As a group, they
provide a triad of correspondences with three closely linked passages in the Republic. The account of Athena employs terms from and embodies the sense of
the divided line from the end of Book 6. Hephaestus evokes a connection with
the cave analogy from the outset of Book 7 and prepares for several such connections in the coming fifth group of names. Finally, Ares illustrates by a rare word
a character trait to foster in the education of the guardians later in Book 7.
The order of the names in the Cratylus is the same as the order of figurative passages in the Republic. Socrates explains first Athenas two names, one
for each side of her nature. As Pallas she represents the war dance wherein
opposite motions are combined, i i l i
l (406d407a). The opposed pairs of active and passive infinitives
serve no etymological purpose, but suggest a thematic one, since they describe opposite motions within harmony, the motions in the war dance.
Pallas thus can recall Heraclitus sense of harmony (DK 22 B 51) and war,
the common condition and cause of all things (DK 22 B 80). By use of the
name Athena, alternately:
The ancients appear (f) to have considered (f) Athena just
as Homeric scholars do today. For most of these express as their view

II. Demonstration: Pistis, Belief 393b-408d

69

() that Homer made Athena mean the mind () and understanding (vov). The maker of names also appears to have had
such a conception about her and calls her by yet a greater name, intellection of god ( ), as if he were saying that she is the divine
mind( ), and using the a- for the e- as a dialect variation and taking out the i- and the s- in noesis. Again, perhaps the name does not
have this sense, but he called her the divine mind because she knows
divine matters ( l ) better () than others. Nor
is there any reason not to suppose that the namemaker wanted to express
ethical wisdom ( ) in the person of this goddess, but
he himself or someone later, thinking it the finer name, called her
Athena instead of Ethonoe. (407ac)
When he explains Athena, Socrates moves from what is apparent to
him, f, to what the ancients thought, ovo, to Homers portrayal
of dianoia and nous, so he touches on all four stages of the divided line
(Pl.Rep. 509d ff.), although he does not tie them closely together in his argument. Crucially, he concentrates on what Athena has to do with nous, and this
is fitting here at the fourth stage of the fourth group of names. She represents
a wisdom that understands the divine in a unique way, . Athena
as nous stands for Platonic wisdom, which is pure and separate. Socrates
himself thought that knowledge had to lead to right conduct, and so Plato
portrays him equating abstract and divine knowledge with knowledge of ethics, Athena with Ethonoe. Athena as ethical knowledge contrasts directly
with Dionysus as illusory knowledge. As Socrates moves from Dionysus,
apparent nous, to Aphrodite, named reliably on poetic testimony, to
Pallas, opposite motions within the same system of a dance, and at last to
Athena, pure nous, he moves along the stages of the divided line.
On a greater scale, Socrates has gone through the same stages within the
whole of this fourth group of names, and on a yet grander scale done the same
from the first to the fourth group, a crescendo effect. At its apex in Athena,
Socrates brings in some correspondences from the cave analogy, which succeeds the line analogy when Republic 7 begins. After the inmate of the cave
ascends from its depths, he still will not go out into the light of the sun,
f , unless he is dragged out against his will, . . .
l. Only then does he complete his passage from ignorance to knowledge by moving upward (Pl.Rep. 515e516a). In his Cratylus etymology for
Hephaestus Socrates next portrays light and dragging. Hephaestus is the
knower of light ( g), and his name means the gleaming one,
Phaistos, dragging in () the additional syllable He (407c).
The name of Hephaestus, whom Plato elsewhere allies with Athena (Laws
920e), introduces an allusion to the cave analogy, and helps bring out the sense
in which the cave and line analogies parallel one another.

70

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

Once out of the cave and into the light, the man from the cave must first
consider reflections in water, and then he will look upwards to the sky at
night, there to behold the light of the stars, and the moon. Seeing these things
will be easier for him at night than during the day by the light of the sun.
Finally, he will behold the sun itself and conclude logically, f,
that it provides the seasons and the year (516ab). At this point, he will come
to consider his subterranean captivity and reluctantly reenter the cave to help
out the unenlightened who remain there.
After Hephaestus, the fourth group of names concludes with three
names and the slight evocation of the cave analogy might appear only associational, except that in the fifth group Plato will return to the context of the cave
analogy. The topics for the etymology to follow in the fifth group of names
include the exact topics that the man who gets out of the cave and into the
light first considers: the sun, the moon, water, the seasons, and the year. The
remaining topics in the fifth group are the month and the other four elements:
earth, air, fire, and ether. In the Republic, then, Socrates proceeds from the
divided line to the light outside the cave to consideration of time, planets, and
elements, and he exactly duplicates this order when he moves from Athena
to Hephaestus to the topics in the fifth group of names.
The etymology of Ares again reminds the reader of Republic 7. Ares is
brave and manly, A stalwart, harsh, immovable, and steady figure ()
(407d). Plato coins the term arraton either here or in Book 7 of the Republic.
One of the traits that Socrates wants in the guardian is that he be arraton (535c).
Ares represents the need to guard the argument at this point from regress in the
Cratylus. The struggle commences. Hermes and Pan next illustrate the
ridiculous alternative to the type of knowledge which Athena, Hephaestus,
and Ares as the line, cave, and guardians, represent.
After Ares Socrates pleads to have done with the names of the gods,
but Hermogenes will not let him. He asks to hear about the name Hermes.
This matters to him, because Cratylus said earlier that Hermogenes is not
Hermogenes, etymologically the offspring of Hermes. Hermogenes wants
to know what the name means in fact and according to knowledge or noetically, (l), so that he and Socrates can know if Cratylus is making any
sense at all, (e . . . e i {) (407e).
Well, Hermes appears to have a relation to speech (i ), as logos, and signifies interpretation, message-bearing, swindling, lying (
) and marketeering, all of which business is conducted
relative to the power of speech ( ). Also, as we were earlier
saying, speaking (h) is the use of logos ( f) and, as Homer
often says, it expresses contrivance () . . . the name-setter in a
way demanded our expression of this deity: Mortals, he who contrived

II. Demonstration: Pistis, Belief 393b-408d

71

speaking ( h ) you should fitly name Eiremes. But nowadays we, or so we think, prettify the name into Hermes. (407e408b)
Hermogenes asks a question that points up the still undecided nature of
nous in the fourth group of names. Socrates resists. He would prefer to establish divided-line nous by the dramatic Athena account, but Athena is a
symbol of nous, not an argument for its nature. Following out the assumption
that being is motion does not lead to anything like nous on the divided line.
Instead, he finds only a logos like Hermes, sometimes in the service of frauds.
Again, equating h with recalls the second etymology for hero,
whereby heroism is sophistry. Wisdom appears to be sophistry also, since that
logos which should lead to wisdom is at the service of sophistry. Doubtlessly,
with his logos of Hermes Socrates evokes the logos of Heraclitus. Heraclitus
has been in Socrates mind throughout the etymologies, so that the target of
Socrates uses of logos in Hermes is not far to seek in any case. When he
next compares this logos to Pan as a union of the up and the down, Socrates specifies its Heraclitean nature.
In a sometimes bracketed line between the elaborate accounts of Hermes and Pan, Socrates briefly notes that Iris also gets her name from
speech, p to h, because she is a messenger.8 If genuine, this passing
mention of Iris can be a reminder that Socrates thinks wonder, ,
is in fact the beginning of philosophy and that Iris herself is the offspring of
such wonder, , as he says in Theaetetus 155d. In the next etymology, for Pan, Socrates will speak of what is not wondrous, ,
namely that the logos itself is akin to Pan, its brother as offspring of Hermes.
Iris thus can suggest a genuine beginning of philosophy to contrast with the
immediately ensuing spurious one, a logos as doubletalk, as akin to Pan.
Socrates tells Hermogenes, who at last agrees with Cratylus that he is not
the offspring of Hermes, that the true son of Hermes is Pan, the double formed,
. Pan embodies contraries as if they were the same and is like the logos
since the logos signifies all things, moves circularly, is in perpetual motion, and
is twofold, , true and false together. Socrates says that this logos has a
divine element of truth above and among the gods, . . . l l, and a
goatish element of falsehood below and among the majority of mortals,
l l. The son of Hermes, Pan the goat-boy, then, is either this logos or
the brother of the logos. He signifies all things, , is in constant
motion, i , has a double form, , gentle above, , and rough
and goatish below, . That brother should appear like brother is no occasion for amazement, , says Socrates to conclude this comparison of the logos of up and down with Pan, the All (408bd).
Hermogenes has asked to hear an account of noesis according to Cratylus, what he fully apprehends, noei. Socrates gives him instead this metaphor
of Pan as the completely confusing Logos of Heraclitus by combining the up

72

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

and down within sameness. Logos as speech, then, whether genuinely Heraclitean Logos or not, here results in a ludicrous account of knowledge. Later
in the dialogue when Cratylus says that the knowledge of words is the same as
the knowledge of things (435d), he emerges as an advocate of this spurious
logos. Socrates further derides the philosophical worth of this logos by representing its kinship with Pan as nothing wonderful. Logos is duplicitous here,
so it represents a philosophical false start. Wonder itself is where Socrates
puts the true starting point of philosophy (Theaet. 155d), so this logos is not
philosophically useful.
The etymological section, on the other hand, did come from something
wonderful, the points where Homer divided divine and human names (391d).
If speech under the pretext of the Logos of Heraclitus synthesizes true and
false, it cannot serve philosophy. Socrates, by his Homeric analysis of names,
implies that speech is philosophically useful to those who know its limits. The
unity of being with motion at the outset of the fourth group of names has led
to a fraudulent logos and a synthesis of truth and falsity. Based on such a
logos, Socrates can no longer distinguish a muddle-headed and illusory nous
from nous as clear and distinct, ethical and divine. Socrates, then, ridicules
this fraudulent logos and advocates the nous of the divided line. The Heraclitean account of being as motion emerges as self-contradictory and ridiculous at this point in the argument. The synthesis of being with motion has set
up its breakdown or analysis because it leads to ludicrous results in four divided-line-like stages in the fourth group of names, where it provides a caricature of the Heraclitean Logos instead of Platonic nous.
To this point in the etymological section, in every group of names Socrates has considered a way to connect the mortal to the immortal, the changing
to the unchanging, the human to the divine. In each of the four groups of
names, he has considered topics from myth, legend, literature, and popular
belief. Socrates has then divided the etymologies to this point in the Cratylus
in order to provide four stages of an account for the topics of legend, myth,
and poetical understanding, following the order of the divided line. Belief,
stage two on the line, has four divided line stages. A belief, working from the
realm of the visible toward the invisible in an attempt to make sense of Heraclitus has not attained to unambiguous noetic realities. The god Pan is like and
unlike anything believable on the evidence of the senses. His parts taken separately are like things we can see, but nowhere in any one creature can all of
them be seen together. The goat-boy complicates belief on the evidence of
ordinary perception and cannot represent knowledge.
Neither seeing, nor believing based on what is seen, attains in this part of
the Cratylus to true knowledge. Socrates and Hermogenes need to look for
true knowledge elsewhere than among visible things and with some other
tools than the senses. Their effort to get beyond the visible by means of the

II. Demonstration: Pistis, Belief 393b-408d

73

visible has produced nonsense. They have taken belief from the seen toward
the unseen, but their efforts have broken down.
In the following chart names with a single asterisk suggest the potential
for the breakdown of Socrates Heraclitean reasoning, which becomes actual
in Hermes and Pan. Name Groups 1 through 4 together represent the
development of pistis as a single stage of the divided line in the Cratylus.
ame Group 4: Analogies in relation to ultimate being 400d408d
Names

Divided-Line Stage

Heraclitean Concepts

Hestia*
Rhea
(Kronos*,Zeus*)
Tethys
Poseidon*

Likeness-making,

Pluto
Hades
Demeter
Hera
Persephone

Opinion, belief

Unity of up and down,


unseen
Element cycle
Beginning = end
Constant motion

Apollo
Muses*; Leto*
Artemis*

System

Harmony, element cycle

Dionysus*
Aphrodite*
Pallas; Athena*
Hephaestus; Ares
Hermes
<Iris>
Pan

Noesis

Union of opposites

Flux, being as motion


Flux
Flux, combination
Flux, unity of contraries

Opposites, war
Combination, logos
Union of up and down

This page intentionally left blank

Five
III. DEMONSTRATION: DIANOIA,
SYSTEMATIC REASONING: AN
AXIOMATIC HERACLITEAN LOGOS;
A PHENOMENAL PHILOSOPHICAL
DICTIONARY 408D421C
While dianoia as systematic or axiomatic reasoning cannot alone establish
that an assumption is true, it can sometimes show that an assumption is false;
if an axioms consequences within a system are contradictory, then the axiom
also contradicts itself and cannot be true. Such a system is inconsistent. In the
next four name groups Socrates takes as an axiom that being is in flux and
methodically elaborates its consequences for different scientific systems.
Since Socrates means to lampoon the assumption of flux, and so indirectly to
advance the assumption of some kind of fixed being, in these name groups he
repeatedly draws ludicrous consequences from the assumption of flux.
Already in the Construction, I, and the first part of the Demonstration, II,
Socrates has used legend and myth to dramatize how the Heraclitean flux of
being can contradict itself. When next Hermogenes asks him to consider
names for natural phenomena, Socrates turns in III, the second part of the
Demonstration, to the natural sciences, in order to demonstrate this same
potential for self-contradiction. Each time he implies that the flux leads to
self-contradiction, Socrates alludes to the counter assumption, that being is
unchanging, by using the terms from the Republic for the sun analogy for the
idea of the good. When the hypothesis of flux leads to confusion, Socrates
makes a comical shift to explain away the confusion. Only to sustain the assumption of flux, Socrates explains etymologies for sun, yoke, necessity as an idea of the good, and the good in a way that flatly contradicts the
sense of the Republic sun analogy.
Even if Socrates Heraclitean system contradicts the Republic analogy
and its account of being, the Heraclitean system may still be valid. For a
Heraclitean axiom to be self-contradictory, though, is not acceptable. No valid
dianoia exists that can use a self-contradictory axiom. For Plato, then, his
Heraclitean system will not lead to pure reason or knowledge, noesis or episteme, as he has expressed it through the divided-line analogy from the Republic. In the fifth, sixth, and seventh name groups Socrates does not say that
Heraclitean reasoning cannot be completely systematic. He says, though, in
the third stage of the seventh, which is the third stage in an account of

76

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

dianoia, that the work dianoia and nous do is praiseworthy (416c). Dianoia
and nous can work together, but Socrates suggests and leaves open the possibility that they do not do so necessarily; for formal consistency is no guarantee of the truth of an opinion or argument. Some valid systems lead to knowledge, then, but not all must. It remains uncertain whether the Heraclitean
system is valid in the first place.
In the eighth and last group of names, Socrates implies an axiom that, if
accepted, would overrule the objection to self-contradiction within systematic
reasoning. He alludes to Heraclitus statement people do not understand how
that which disagrees with itself is in agreement (DK 22 B 51). It follows
from an axiom that disagreement is agreement that anything goes. In his phonological coda to the etymologies Socrates examines what would become of
knowledge if he were to accept his self-contradictory Heraclitean system as
though it were valid, or, more properly, as though there were no internal test
of validity, such as non-self-contradiction. In that case, knowledge has to be
the same as non-knowledge, which is absurd. Socrates ambitiously concludes
that knowledge is more likely to be of being which does not undergo constant
change, which was to be demonstrated, as far as a parody of demonstration
can demonstrate it.
1. The Logos in Natural Phenomena;
Heraclitean Natural Science 408d410e: Synopsis
The fifth group of names consists of names for heavenly bodies, the elements,
and periods of time. The topics in the fifth group are the topics that the man
who leaves the cave in the Republic first considers once he has reached the
light of day. The Republic passage names only one of the elements, while all
five show up in the fifth group of names. Socrates starts it with three etymologies for sun. Because Platonic sun imagery is so prominent in the fifth
through the eighth group of names, I will treat the etymologies for sun at
length before proceeding more summarily with the rest of the fifth group.
A. Heavenly Motions in Heraclitean Terms:
Sun; Moon; Month; Stars 408d409c
Like Hestia at the outset of the fourth group of names, the sun, helios, opposes fixity to flux:
It appears () that the name becomes clear in its Doric form halios.
Halios refers to the suns gathering the people together ( f e
) when he rises, or to his course around the earth in a constant
rolling motion ( . . . i el e), or indicates that (f) as he
moves he diversifies (f) the things coming into being (

III. Demonstration: Dianoia, Systematic Reasoning 408d-421c

77

) from the earth; the verbs diversify (f) and variegate (e) are the same (). (408e409a)
In Republic 6, Socrates says the sun is:
offspring of the good which the good begot as an analogue to itself: as
the good itself within the realm of intelligibility stands in relation to intellect and what is intelligible, so the sun in the realm of visibility stands
in relation to vision and what is visible. (508bc)
The sun as generated presides over the realm of generation, the visible
realm, though Socrates is careful to say also, the sun provides generation without being generation itself (509b). Socrates specifies in these etymologies for
sun that meaning is only apparently obvious, , f. In doing so, he is
suggesting that the sun is itself within the realm of likenesses and of becoming or
generation, just where he locates it as an offspring of the good in the Republic.
The sun is also a crucial symbol for Heraclitus who, according to Plutarch, calls it the ruler of the defining, f, of temporal changes and the
seasons () which provide all things (DK 22 B l00). As G. S. Kirk remarks, the limits of the quotation are not specifically marked, and the
fragment is extremely ambiguous in meaning. He considers that As the
seasons are dependent on the position of the sun it has been placed in this
group, but this is more or less arbitrary.1 In the context of Plutarchs quotation, though, the sun is doing the arbitration of seasonal process, f,
, and its function is so not likely to be an occasional reference.
Plutarchs detailed paraphrase may well retain more of Heraclitus sense than
can ever emerge from what are definitely Heraclitus own few words within
it. Socrates will connect seasons with definition, f, at the end of this
fifth group of names as well, again using terms that Plutarch connects in his
paraphrase of Heraclitus.
In its first etymology the sun unifies, in the second it moves constantly
in a circle. The etymologies suggest the constant flux and continuous circle
images that Heraclitus uses (DK 22 B 12, 103). In the first two etymologies,
Socrates cleverly plays on words that sound like helios. The third also has an
etymology that sounds like helios, e, but Socrates keeps e in the
background and instead concentrates in his explanation on a synonym for
e. His synonym for it is f, a word he elsewhere closely connects with dianoia. In the third etymology, Plato uses this figurative word to
point to the stage of his argument in the etymologies and to show that he is
arguing, however humorously, against Heraclitus.
Nearly every time Plato discusses astronomy he uses formations from
if, and he does so perhaps most notably in Republic 7 (528e530b).
There Socrates explains to Glaukon the role of astronomy in the education of

78

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

the guardians. This lengthy passage provides interesting parallels to the brief
passage from the Cratylus under consideration. First, the Republic passage
explicitly refers to the problem of the up and the down, arguably to the
thought of Heraclitus. Second, it employs four forms from if. Third,
it treats of paired opposites within symmetry, among them the month and the
year, topics that figure crucially in the fifth group of names in the Cratylus.
Fourth, it speaks of what logos and dianoia can apprehend. Fifth, it contrasts
being with becoming.
Glaukon thinks astronomy is worthwhile because it makes the soul look
up, . Socrates tells him that in this simple sense it appears more likely to
make people look down, ; for according to Glaukons loose interpretation
a person staring at the decorations, of, on a ceiling with his head
thrown back is gaining understanding, . . . o, notably
linking the up and the down. Socrates accordingly rejects learning from the
senses, whether employed in gawking upward or blearing downward, . . .
. He says that the visual aspects of astronomy cause the soul to look
not up but down in a metaphorical sense, . In the Republic passage the way up and the way down are first confused, then mistakenly
combined, then combined to no purpose, then at last distinguished (529cd).
Next, Socrates discusses the philosophical uses of astronomy. He considers the heavenly ornamentation, o of, since it
decorates the visible realm, oi, as the finest of visible
things; yet ornamentation is lacking in numerical and systematic truth available to scientific reasoning (J i ofv) but not to sight (529cd).
Socrates then says that the heavens by their variation, ov, supply
patterns, , but it would be ridiculous, olo, to consider these
patterns in earnest with the purpose of apprehending the nature of proportions,
, like equality and duality. The true astronomer will admire the
cosmic artistry, but when he regards its visible proportionings, as of day to
night, month to year, the different stars to them and to themselves, he will
consider it absurd to say that they are eternal, (530ab).
At the close of the third group of names, Socrates found reasoning as
persuasive to the followers of Euthyphro, Heraclitean reasoning, laughable,
olo. At the outset of the fourth, he considered Heraclitean thought as a
hive of wisdom again laughable. As the fifth begins, the sun appears as something perpetual in the realm of becoming, a thing Socrates straightforwardly
mocks with the parallel passage from the Republic and its specious reasoning
on the way up and the way down. The correspondences between the Cratylus
passage and Socrates account of astronomy in the Republic help to locate the
stage of the argument in the Cratylus with exactitude. In both dialogues, a
dianoia of true being opposes mere observation of outward show and celestial
variegation, o.

III. Demonstration: Dianoia, Systematic Reasoning 408d-421c

79

The first four groups of etymologies concluded with the image of Pan as
a logos making a case for and against Heraclitus in the realm of belief, and
appositely, the last four groups of etymologies commence with the image of
the sun similarly portraying the case for and against Heraclitus in the realm of
scientific inquiry. The next three etymologies, for moon, month, and
star, elaborate Heraclitean unities. Socrates uses fire images to illustrate the
range of a synthesis within the natural sciences. In the etymology for moon,
he employs a synthesis that goes beyond that of Anaxagoras by name. It amplifies the mistake in the third group of names of ascribing full synthesis of all
things to Anaxagoras. Anaxagoras will recur in the argument at the end of the
sixth group, there taken properly as an analytic reasoner. The arguments that
go beyond Anaxagoras in the fifth group of names express Heraclitean reasoning. Although Heraclitus goes unnamed here, his notions are pervasive.
Anaxagoras says, The sun supplies the moon its brightness (DK 59 B
18). Socrates refers to this conclusion when he says, the name of the moon
apparently makes old-fashioned what Anaxagoras said just recently, that the
moon has its light ( ) from the sun (409b). This is because moonlight,
, and light, , are the same, v. Further, the light around the
moon is perpetually old and new, o o i no e, on the Anaxagorean hypothesis, because as it constantly goes around in a circle, the moon
takes on new light while the old light of the previous month is still present
(409ab). In his coupling of new and old Socrates is pointing out a union of
opposites familiar to an Athenian audience. The new and old is the last day
of the month in an Athenian calendar, and since no is an unusual word, it
immediately recalls the original sense of the n i , a single day
that contained the end of one lunar cycle and the beginning of the next.
In his argumentative sleight of hand, Socrates reduces a useful scientific
observation to a useless tautology, that sunlight and moonlight are both light.
He does this by synthesis, namely, the equating of opposites, and on the assumption of constant change, or, in short, Heraclitean reasoning. Anaxagoras
new thought becomes old through synthesis of new and old. This specious
argument concludes in an extravagant etymology: because it has a light that is
always old and new, o i no , moon, selene, is a compounding of the sounds sela-eno-neo-aeia (409bc). The amused Hermogenes
says ironically that this etymology is a dithyrambic piece of work. He appears
at last to sense Socrates jocularity, though not necessarily its purpose.
Next, Socrates says month comes from diminution, o o, and
the stars from lightning, since lightning is turning up because it
turns the eyes upwards: . . . . . . n . . . n
(409c). These two etymologies are coupled, . . . , to represent the paired
opposites of decrease and increase, a motion down and a motion back up.
Perhaps Socrates is thinking about how the moon or months decrease results
in the increased visibility of the stars.

80

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

The presence of the lightning recalls that the Thunderbolt ()


governs all things (DK 22 B 64), as Heraclitus says. He means by thunderbolt
an eternal fire, according to the doxographer Hippolytus, who preserves the
fragment (Refutatio, 9, 10, 7). Fire is the next topic in the etymologies and
so lightning prepares for it. Heraclitus, directly associated lightning,
, with his fiery cosmic principle, according to the doxographer Atius,
who preserves Heraclitus remark about the origin of lightning, , and
its distinction respectively from the thunder, o, and the flash, ,
in the thunderbolt (DK 22 A 14). Heraclitus thunderbolt can contain these
three phenomena in itself, and it may be that Atius misleads us about Heraclitus genuine interests in celestial phenomena.2 Nonetheless, Heraclitus does
speak elsewhere of the flash, , as one of fires stages (DK 22 B 31).
Further, to associate lightning with his fiery cosmic principle would not be
unnatural, whether Heraclitus, Socrates, Plato, or Atius did it first.
Sun, , , moonlight, starlight, and lightning are sources of literal
and figurative illumination which themselves partake of a common source,
namely fire. The eternal cosmic fire of Heraclitus (DK 22 B 30) stands naturally to complete this luminous series in the fifth group of names. Hermogenes asks for its etymology along with that of its physical counterpart,
water, . . . .
B. Inexplicable Elements: Fire; Water 409c410a
For Heraclitus fire is the best of things, water the worst. He gives fire an exalted place in the cosmos (DK 22 B 30) and says the life of the soul depends
on its kinship with fire and its avoidance of water (DK 22 B 77, 36). For
Heraclitus the fiery must rule the watery. The two cannot be synthesized like
other pairs of opposites. The fiery thunderbolt steers all things (DK 22 B 64)
and so balances all oppositions but does not itself undergo synthesis with
anything. Here in the fifth group of names, though, Socrates proceeds to treat
the names for fire and water indistinguishably, as from a single language
source of barbaric origin. This suggests a unity fatal for Heraclitean thought, a
potential for a synthesis of differences that Heraclitus excludes. Socrates
generates just such self-contradiction within Heraclitean reasoning throughout
the second half of the etymological section of the Cratylus. When he here
connects fire and water he hints at the kind of synthesis to come, one that will
bring down the Heraclitean unity of opposites from within, on its own terms.
Socrates says he is at a loss to explain the name for fire, o.
His Euthyphronic muse has deserted him or the thing is just too difficult. Still,
he says he has a device, , to use whenever he is at such a loss. The
Greeks, especially those living near the barbarians, have borrowed many
words from them. Socrates warns against trying to etymologize a barbarian
word in Greek parlance as a native Greek word. Such a word is fire, a word

III. Demonstration: Dianoia, Systematic Reasoning 408d-421c

81

nearly the same as one the Phrygians employ, as are water and dogs and
many others. One must avoid forcing, o, an interpretation of the
words, since someone else may be able to explain them and so I dispense
(o) with fire and water (409d410b).
First, o is only wordplay. Socrates employs o to
suggest the kind of etymology he could contrive in order to bring out some
principle of Heraclitean philosophy within this central Heraclitean word.
o, as a bridge or means for avoiding water, would do. Next, he distinguishes his aporia from complete resourcelessness, since he still has a
mechane to resolve the difficulty. This points to the systematic character of
the aporia at hand, instead of some real difficulty Socrates has at this point.
When next Socrates says fire is the kind of word especially people living
near the barbarians borrow, he suggests that Heraclitus of Ephesus, with all
his contempt for barbarians, may in fact owe to them one of his main ideas.
Scholarship confirms that Heraclitus does owe much to those he would have
considered barbarians.3 Still, Socrates account of fire is merely suggestive
in indefinable ways of problems within what Heraclitus says.
When he next says that the Phrygians have a slightly different form of
the same word, as they do for water and dogs, Socrates makes these problems more definite. On the one hand, he provides a useful insight into linguistic borrowings and cognate words; on the other, he makes plain yet another
unity of opposites.
In the etymology for sun, Socrates introduced the Doric dialect to explain something. A page later at the end of a series from sun to fire, he
introduces the language of Phrygia to elucidate why he cannot explain something. Two tongues have opposite powers of synthesis within the argument at
hand in the fifth group of names. Both deal with opposites, but the Doric does
so by clarifying the suns drawing together all things, while the Phrygian does
so by relegating the opposition of fire and water to the realm of the unknown.
Elsewhere for Plato the Doric and Phrygian themselves represent opposite
musical modes. In Republic 3, 389a ff., Plato has Socrates accept of the musical modes or harmonies only the Doric and the Phrygian, the one to inspire
courage in forced activity, J v, the other moderation in the full
exercise of freedom, J n ov. At the conclusion of this politically useful musical censorship, Socrates swears by the dog at the
thought of a polis purged of vice by music (399e).
In the Cratylus Socrates says one must not force, o, these
Phrygian words, fire, water, and dogs, into Greek etymologies. The
Phrygian mode musically expresses the unforced activities of life. When he
wishes to avoid forcing an interpretation of Heraclitean fiery principle, it
makes sense that Socrates appeals to what is Phrygian. Here Socrates uses a
mechane to avoid mentioning fire and water. He couples them as Phrygian. Only by fiat can he avoid generating self-contradictions within his Hera-

82

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

clitean system. In a system that identifies opposites, nothing prevents the


combination of fire and water, even if Heraclitus insists on keeping them
apart. Socrates can only maintain the Heraclitean system in a nonscientific
manner by avoiding the issue and by leaving a great gap in his exposition. The
coupling of fire and water as Phrygian words still intimates the problem
at hand. Dogs also can serve to recall the same Republic passage, where
Socrates swears by the dog.
After sidestepping a crucial problem for the reckoning of Heraclitean
dianoia, Socrates says so I rid myself (o) of fire and water. In the
fourth group of names, motion, on in the Hestia etymology, is the principle of Heraclitean constant motion. If only playfully, Socrates has introduced
countermotion, o, within his Heraclitean dianoia. He has presented the
potential for self-contradiction in his Heraclitean system. From this central
crux, he proceeds with the same alacrity in derivation with which he proceeded
to it in the fifth group. Fire symbols led up to the insoluble fire and water
names, and water symbols lead away from them, in a balancing series.
C. Explicable Elements: Air; Ether; Earth 410ab
In the next etymologies, for air, ether, and earth, Socrates introduces
some Heraclitean images for the realm of becoming. He asks Hermogenes
what he thinks air signifies, whether raising things from the earth (h),
eternal flux (i l), or breath begotten of the flux ( o
oo), as the poets word for winds () also expresses. In the first
etymology Socrates explains air as something that separates and raises. In
the second and third etymologies air is synthetic and Heraclitean as it manifests the flux. Next, Socrates aligns ether with the perpetual flux, because
ether is always running in a flowing motion about the air (i l i n
). Since by this account ether runs, it also recalls the running
gods at the opening of the third group of names, who receive their name from
the analogy with the planetary motions. Earth in its turn is the begetter,
, as Homers language illustrates (4l0bc).
At the outset of the fourth group of names, the notions of Heraclitus appeared to Socrates quite consistent with those of Homer, Hesiod, Orpheus,
and the other poets. In the fifth group also, Socrates links Heraclitean doctrines to those of Homer and other unnamed poets. With these etymologies,
Socrates equates the realm of becoming with the realm of flux. So far, Heraclitus makes sense to Socrates. Socrates, though, again equates the views of
Heraclitus with those of the bards Heraclitus disdained. That far Socrates
would not make sense to Heraclitus.

III. Demonstration: Dianoia, Systematic Reasoning 408d-421c

83

D. The Natural Cycles in Accord with Logos: Seasons; Year 410ce


To complete the long list of names Hermogenes requested as this fifth group
of names began, Socrates must explain only seasons and year. Hermogenes makes a point of asking him for two different names for year, instead of the single one he proposed initially. Again, the seasons and the year
are what the man out of the cave in Republic 7 considers last, only after he has
considered most of the other subjects of the fifth group. He conceives them as
manifestations of the suns ordering in the realm of visibility, J
, before he leaves that realm (516c).
Socrates says that if one wants to know the probable truth, e
en, about the seasons, the old Attic spelling is crucial, , since the
seasons divide, , winter and summer, winds and fruits of the earth
(4l0c). Heraclitus speaks of the seasons which bring all things (DK 22 B
100). In the passage from which this fragment comes (Plut.Quaest. Plat. 8, 4,
1007d), Plutarch says that the sun rules and guards the defining, , of
temporal changes and the seasons which bring all things. Heraclitus himself, then, may well have meant to connect and , and so Plato may
be alluding to him again in the Cratylus.4 Although its provenance in the
writings of Heraclitus is uncertain, this etymology still shows what IIIA is
doing in the whole argument of the etymologies. Seasons plainly belongs
within the realm of becoming and opinion. In this realm, it provides an e
en, a likeness of knowledge. The first of the four stages of dianoia here is
itself like the first of the four stages of the divided line, e.
Socrates next turns to the two names for the year, o and n.
[These names] appear to be one thing (n ); for the year is that which
brings into the light things that grow and come into being each in its turn and
that which in itself examines the things ( n xon). This name
is divided, just as previously the name of Zeus was split in two, some saying Zena, others Dia. Some say nn because it exists in itself,
and others say o because it examines. The entire definition (o),
the thing examining within itself, is named as one thing in two ways, so
there exist two names from a single definition ( n o). (410de)
Both names for year derive from a logos for it, one thing in two ways.
The single logos is dual. This is like the Logos of Heraclitus that equates
contraries, and like his One which is wisdom that harmonizes differences,
willing and unwilling to be called by the name of Zeus (DK 22 B 32). Socrates refers to its dual logos and calls it a twofold one. By comparing year
to Zeus Socrates indicates that this two-part logos must have to make sense
in terms of dianoia and nous, in the same way he said Zeus ought to previously. Socrates has here suggested limits on any logos that unites distinctions.

84

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

Socrates has given his Heraclitean accounts of topics of elementary natural


science. In them, he has reached to a systematic likelihood or possibility, eikos;
the fifth group of names in four stages provides a first stage of systematic reasoning. In sun, moon, month, and stars, Socrates points to the vivid
appearances of flux in nature. In fire and water, he avoids contradicting
Heraclitus, who insisted that this one pair of elements with opposite qualities is
not a unity. Next, the assumption of flux results methodically in a sort of liquid
earth, ether, and air. Finally, Socrates points to the possibility of knowledge in seasons and a scientific equivalent of the Zeus-logos, year.
Socrates hints at an alternative system based on the assumption of fixity
instead of flux throughout the fifth group as well. Sun by reference to decoration, o, implies the unreliability and even unreality of phenomena
in the realm of flux. Fire and water intimate self-contradiction within
Heraclitean systems. Air, ether, and earth illustrate Heraclitus views in
accord with those of poets whom he disdained. Year as a logos must by
implication accord with dianoia and nous, so that it must not be selfcontradictory, even though twofold in name.

Names

Name Group 5:
The logos in natural phenomena 408d410e
Heraclitean Themes
Divided-Line Stages

Sun Cf. Pl.Rep. 528b


ff., DK 100

Appearances

Moon
Month and
Stars DK A 14

Constant flux,
cosmic ornamentation
ever old and new,
different lights the same
diminution, increase
lightning bolt

Fire, Water, Dogs


Cf. Pl.Rep. 389a ff.

barbaric unity? Selfcontradictory unity?

Beliefs which are not


examinable

Air

Separation or flux, becoming


constant flux
realm of becoming

Systematic consequences
of these beliefs

Definition, knowing
Possible unity a 2-in-1
Logos like previous faulty
Zeus synthesis

Self-referential abstraction n
x

Ether
Earth
Seasons DK 22 A 100
Year (2) DK 22 A 32
Cf. Pl.Rep. 516ab

2. The Logos in Thought and Behavior 411a413e: Synopsis


Hermogenes asks to hear about the names connected with virtue next. Socrates, says he has donned the lions skin, onn. In a passage of the Gorgias

III. Demonstration: Dianoia, Systematic Reasoning 408d-421c

85

(507c508c), Socrates mentions seven of ten of the topics that open the sixth
group of names. There may be an allusion to Gorgias of Leontini along with
one to Herakles in the use of the term onn. Socrates proceeds into this
next domain of science, saying that he thinks he divines, o v,
the state or condition of mind in which the ancient namemakers assigned
these names. They were, he says, caught up in the flux of their perceptions. In
this way they were just like contemporary philosophers who lose any sense of
what is unchanging, and so consider everything to be in flux, motion, and the
process of becoming, kn i i i
f (411ac).
Socrates is speaking from his opinion about the convictions of the
namemakers. He is relying, or pretending to rely, on prophetic insight. Since
he is entering a second divided line stage in his elaboration of dianoia, it
makes sense that Socrates discusses the systematic consequences of assuming
the flux not only as if they were opinions and convictions, but also as if his
understanding of them was itself an opinion. Socrates began to elaborate
dianoia by discussing natural science, which is about observable phenomena.
Next, he proceeds to ethical science, which is about belief or conviction.
A. Intellectual States and Objects in Keeping with the Logos:
Names Relating Knowledge to the Good 411a412b
Socrates starts out with eight quick etymologies to express consequences of assuming the flux. I have translated the etymologies directly here. A list of the rapid
series that opens the sixth group of names (at 411d412c) will speak for itself:
good sense

knowledge of flux and change;


benefit of motion

judgment

consideration of generation

intelligence

apprehension of newness

self-control
knowledge

understanding

wisdom

the preservation of phronesis


attendance of the soul worthy of the
logos on things in flux
a sort of syllogism derived from
the souls going along with things
touching of rapid movement

the good

a speed that is admirable

Socrates in these etymologies emphasizes sense perception. He refers to sight,


touch, and symbol: , {, {, n, (3 uses). He also
plays on combination or synthesis within the flux by employing six ncompounds. He uses distinctly Heraclitean language in the etymology of

86

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

episteme: on o, which recalls Heraclitus


account of logos in Fragment 2, l . . . o
.5
The reference to a Spartan named Sous in the etymology for wisdom is
puzzling. Victor Goldschmidt points out that sous is a Democritean term (DK
68 A 62. Also Arist., de Caelo, 313b5), that Democritus notion that all perception is a form of touch (DK 68 A 119) corresponds with Socrates explanation
of sophia, and that a shortly subsequent etymology, as , derives from
Democritus (DK 68 B 122a).6 Notoriously, Plato never mentions Democritus by
name in his writings. There may be an oblique reference to him here.
B. Swift Justice Consistent with the Zeus-logos: Justice 412c413a
Socrates turns from his etymologies that invoke sense perception to those
which appeal to a consensus of opinion. Justice () as understanding of the just ( ) is in line with the immediately
preceding etymologies, since it includes understanding (). Socrates
says, though, that the just itself, , is hard to understand,
because people agree, l, about it up to a point, but then have
doubts and disagree, l. Those who believe, ov, that all is
in flux say that what moves through everything is justice, is .
Through this justice all generated things come into existence,
. Justice moves so quickly that other things, by comparison, appear
at rest, . This justice also governs, , all things as it
passes through them. Socrates reports on his investigation of justice beyond
this point of general agreement. Through persistent questioning he has heard
that this causal justice is Zeus, , since that through which, , things
come to be is a cause. Socrates says he got this notion from secret teachings,
presumably in sacred mystery rites (412c413a).
While he does not say that he has anything more than an opinion about
justice, Socrates is blatantly setting up a straw-man argument. Justice here is a
moving force, , a cause in and for the world of becoming, v
, the domain of flux, because Socrates is constructing his etymologies to bear out the hypothesis of flux. He reports the disagreement about
justice because the hypothesis of flux confuses the discussion of justice. By
pointing out the confusion that follows from the hypothesis of flux, he suggests his preference for the alternative hypothesis, unchanging essence, which
provides for unchanging justice.
Socrates report of the view that justice is Zeus, as , directly recalls the earlier etymological treatment of Zeus, as (396b), where
Zeus as a logos stands for the Logos of Heraclitus. There for Zeus to be a
logos he explicitly had to descend from dianoia and nous, and so from Socrates and not Hesiods Kronos and Ouranos. By implication, the Logos of

III. Demonstration: Dianoia, Systematic Reasoning 408d-421c

87

Heraclitus, to be a genuine logos, also has to derive from or be consistent with


dianoia and nous as stages of Platos divided line analogy. Here, by implication, for there to be an account of a justice which is Zeus, it must also meet
the lines same strict requirements.
C. The Just as Sunlike and Systematic of Discord: the Just 413ad
Socrates reports that when he tries to examine justice further, he hears from
others that he is going too far and that they think he has heard enough. Beyond that, one tells him one thing, and another tells him another, so that they
confuse him by their lack of agreement, . Among those
who disagree, Socrates finds someone who thinks justice is the sun, someone
else who thinks justice is fire, , and someone else who thinks
justice is heat, . Finally he meets someone who laughs at these
three notions and thinks that justice is Anaxagorean Nous for justice is selfruling ( ), unmixed, and ordering all things while
passing through them. Socrates expresses his confusion at such disagreement
and Hermogenes remarks that Socrates does not appear to be speaking off the
cuff, (413bd). Hermogenes has noticed for the reader that
Socrates has not just made up his report of these different views on the spur of
the moment. Socrates references and allusions in this passage are in fact
extremely careful and deliberate.
Sun, fire, and heat in the fire as controlling forces are reminders of
Heraclitus, who says that the sun regulates the seasons (DK 22 A 100), that
fire constitutes the cosmos (DK 22 A 30), and that the best souls are dry (DK
22 B 118). Ironically, Heraclitus ordering principle is one source of disorder
and disagreement here. It tends toward an analysis or breakdown instead of a
synthesis of opinion. Also ironically, fire, which in the fifth group of names
Socrates could not explain without making dianoia based on flux impossible,
here in the sixth group explains things in a way that only results in confusion.
While gibing at Heraclitus, Socrates uses a particular kind of analysis. This is
abstraction of a thing in itself, , an essence separate from all things and
in a state of changelessness instead of constant change.
Socrates use of in this passage recalls how he uses it in the
Phaedo, and his account of his search for a causal justice here in the Cratylus
similarly suggests what he reports in the Phaedo. Goldschmidt notes the correspondences between causes in the Phaedo, 96ab, and in the Cratylus, 413a,
leading from fire to Anaxagorean nous, but does not remark on in the
two passages.7 Earlier in the Phaedo, when Socrates discusses how the soul
can be an abstract thing in itself, , he first asks if an abstract
justice exists, (64d). Justice in the Phaedo is the single most
obvious candidate for abstract being. Accordingly Platos term of abstract
existence, , permeates Socrates discussion of justice in the Cratylus.

88

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

In the Phaedo at an exactly similar point when he is examining cause


within nature, Socrates turns away from Heraclitean confusion to the Anaxagorean mind and there likewise fails to find out how to resolve his difficulties.
Socrates in the Phaedo (96a ff.) says that when he was young he desired to
know the causes on account of which each thing comes into being (
) passes away, and exists. While engaged in this consideration,
n, he often fell into turmoil, confusion of the up and down, ,
because he could not discern whether a combination of hot, , and cold
was the cause of nourishment; blood, air, or fire, , a cause of thought; or
the brain, , a cause of perception, memory, opinion, and knowledge.
He further sought cause when he pondered heavenly and earthly phenomena.
At this point, Socrates says, he heard that the causative nous of
Anaxagoras was an ordering principle, ; he looked to it as an account of cause and necessity that would explain not only why things happen
as they do, but also why they should. For this he was ready to abandon the
search for any other kind of cause, e o o. He wanted to learn
about the sun, moon, and stars in this way, as he says, as if to learn an astronomy establishing the primacy of the mind and the difference between the
better and the worse, but ultimately found Anaxagoras far from providing
what he was after (96a98c).
Socrates expresses cause in the Cratylus, (413a), in
nearly the same way that he does in the Phaedo, (96a). He
expresses confusion in the Phaedo in Heraclitean terms, n , likewise
the source of the confusion in the Cratylus. Socrates series of possible causes
in the Phaedo includes in varied order the types of the four causative meanings of justice in the Cratylus, temperature, elemental constitution, intellectual
perception, and celestial phenomena. Heat and fire, two of the available
causative senses of justice in the Cratylus, are both examples of cause in the
Phaedo. The other two, mind and sun, are also in the Phaedo passage. Socrates later compares the dangerous effects of such ruminations on cause to gazing too long at an eclipse of the sun (Phaedo 99d).
Socrates four accounts of justice lead to abstract nous and in so doing
they suggest a sort of divided-line system. Socrates does not invoke this system or abandon the Heraclitean hypothesis here, but he does hint at selfcontradiction within a Heraclitean system. Here where flux leads to confusion, the Anaxagorean laughs. Before, Socrates found an etymology laughable, which followed from a mistaken coupling of Anaxagorean nous with
soul (400ab). Here where nous is properly in isolation and Socrates cannot use
it to make a case for Heraclitean reasoning, Heraclitean justice appears ridiculous to the follower of Anaxagoras.

III. Demonstration: Dianoia, Systematic Reasoning 408d-421c

89

D. A Counter-flux: the Differences of the Sexes;


Courage; Male; Man; Woman; Female 413de
Socrates maintains the Heraclitean system in spite of the claims that his is a
rival system, but to do so, he must generate self-contradiction within the flux.
Justice, according to its Heraclitean etymology, is penetrating through,
. Its opposite, injustice, must then involve hindrance of passage,
says Socrates, and he speaks of it no further (413de). Nonetheless, he has
brought it in for some purpose. That injustice is hindrance is the consequence,
for ethics, of assuming the flux within the realm of belief just as in the realm
of observable natural phenomena. That injustice is a hindrance becomes a
criterion for the truth of succeeding etymologies. Next:
Courage, on the assumption that courage takes its name by reference to battle, indicates a battle within being ( n) because being is in flux, which
is nothing other than the counter-flux (n n o). If we remove the
delta from the name (l) for courage, the name itself ( )
signifies its activity, (-), the upward flux. Courage is plainly not a
counter-flux opposed to all flux, but only that flowing against justice; for
courage would not be praiseworthy otherwise. (413e414a)
These are quite strange things to derive from the statements of Heraclitus. Socrates counter-flux is at best an extension, if not an outright parody, of
Heraclitean reasoning. Here the flux becomes multiple and the way up is
different from the way down. Courage also recalls the etymology for
Ares in the fourth stage of the fourth group of names (407d). Ares takes his
name according to manhood and courage, . . . l, while he
is himself opposed to flux and steadfast, . The flux flows
against itself. So far from being within sameness, the up and the down are at
war within the flux in this etymology for courage.
Heraclitean language contradicts Heraclitean thought in the etymology
for courage, much as it did in the case of Pan, who showed the up and the
down of logos being separate within one thing. The etymology for courage
compounds the confusion by compounding the Heraclitean way up and the
way down with the imagery of the flux. Next Socrates in the etymologies for
male, man, woman, and female, suggests the philosophical character
of the battle in the realm of being that he has discovered. In these etymologies, Socrates bridges the sixth and seventh groups of names.
These etymologies exemplify the problem that the sixth group sets for
the seventh in the etymology of courage. Their topical unity with the rest of
the words in the sixth group resides solely in their etymological force. Male
and man are referred to the upward flux of courage, n o. Woman
expresses birth, , and female the nipple because of being nurtured
like a field, as (414a). Male and female are in an opposition

90

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

here which figures forth the opposition between the philosophy of fixity and
the philosophy of flux, a counter-flux versus the realm of becoming and wellwatered fields, .
Socrates at the end of the sixth group of names has shifted abruptly from
sublime to mundane topics for his etymologies. He introduces complications
from everyday life into his Heraclitean system. When Socrates moves from
justice in itself to man and woman, he follows a pattern of argument
that he also uses in the Parmenides. The seventh group will complete the
pattern from the Parmenides that begins in the sixth. In the sixth and seventh
groups Socrates addresses to Hermogenes and Cratylus the problem that Parmenides in the dialogue, and perhaps also in fact, set for him as a young man.8
Near the beginning of the Parmenides Socrates discusses the being of
abstract form, with Parmenides and Zeno (130c ff.) In
this passage, Socrates postulates the reality of the eidos in itself. Parmenides
asks him what things have this eidos he is talking about; first, whether justice,
beauty, and the good do; then whether man, fire, and water do; and finally,
whether hair, mud, and filth do. The young Socrates affirms the existence of
eide or forms for the first group, cannot make up his mind about it for the
second group, and denies it to the third. Parmenides attributes this last view to
Socrates youth and misplaced regard for the worlds opinion of him, and
goes on to suggest that Socrates will alter his opinion someday. Next, Parmenides makes Socrates explain how the forms, being entire in many things at
once, are not thereby separate from themselves. Socrates replies by a comparison to the day, one and the same, i , while in many
places at once. In turn, Parmenides makes light of this argument by comparing such formal participation to a sail covering many people at once, as individuals by parts of the sail, not as each person by all of the sail (131c).
The topics in the sixth and seventh groups of names proceed along the
same six steps observable in the Parmenides. Socrates begins the sixth group
with obviously Heraclitean senses in etymologies for names for the good, just,
and virtuous, and closely related subjects. Platos Parmenides asks Socrates
about the formal status of these same things first among those they consider
together. Socrates concludes the sixth group by considering humanity and water, and so renders the Heraclitean hypothesis of flux an ambiguous one. Just so,
Parmenides by his second inquiry, into the forms or eide of men, fire, water,
provides an aporia for Socrates. Next, the seventh group contains several mundane anomalies to correspond with Parmenides examples of baseness in his
third set of candidates for form. The first of these in the Cratylus, flourishing,
expresses youth, n . . . , the exact cause according to
Parmenides that Socrates denies participation in form to mundane matters.
Toward the end of the seventh group another apparent anomaly, day,
introduces, as I explain presently, the way in which Socrates counters the
theory of flux. It there represents an attempt at a defense of the theory of

III. Demonstration: Dianoia, Systematic Reasoning 408d-421c

91

forms just as it does in the Parmenides. Finally, just as Parmenides counters


Socrates Heraclitean daylight image with an image taken from a trade, the
sail, so Socrates in the Cratylus follows up day, itself alone not adequately
counter-Heraclitean, by referring to another common tool, the yoke; by means
of yoke, he establishes the principle discrediting the Heraclitean hypothesis
in the seventh group. The seventh group, then, while consisting of topics so
dissimilar as at first to appear random, in fact springs directly, according to
this pattern in common with the Parmenides, from the sixth group.

Name

Name Group 6:
Heraclitean Logos in thought and behavior, 411a413e
Etymology
Divided-Line Stage

Phronesis
Judgment
Intelligence
Self-control
Knowledge
Understanding
Wisdom
The good

motion
generation
constant change
preservation of phronesis
flux, DK 22 B 2
syllogism, going along
with flux
penetrating and admirable
motion

Heraclitean senses of
perceptions

Justice

understanding the just

Opinions in accord

The just
Cf. Phaedo, 96a98c
(Sun, fire, heat, mind;
Anaxagoras)

penetrating motion

Fourfold system or
disagreement?

Courage
Male; man
Female; woman

counterflux
counterflux
becoming, water (as
verb)

Separation of up from
downand of Socrates
from Heraclitus?

The seventh group of names will next complete the nearly formulaic series of topics and problems for the notions of the forms that Parmenides
thought set for the youthful Socrates. Socrates is setting the same series of
problems for Heraclitus thought in the etymological section. Plato employs
the series of problems consciously in the Cratylus and the Parmenides. Why
this correspondence? What do the two dialogues have otherwise to do with
each other? The two dialogues are in many respects utterly and dramatically
different, the first full of its easy-going puns and linguistic games, the second
full of its strict paralogisms and argumentative struggles. Perhaps just as sport

92

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

was preparation for combat for the Greeks, its opposite and its counterpart, so,
too, the playful Cratylus prepares readers for the arduous Parmenides.
The chart above shows the full pattern of the sixth group of names, and
the terms of an ethical and intellectual science as expressible according to an
assumed Heraclitean flux.
3. The logos for Contrariety and Opposition:
Axiomatic Heraclitean Good 414a418d: Synopsis
The sixth group of names concludes by opposing the flux to itself in courage,
by opposing fixity to flux in man and woman, and by opposing the exalted
and abstract to the ordinary by moving from justice in itself to man and
woman. In the seventh group, Socrates undertakes to account for such different kinds of oppositions without abandoning the hypothesis of flux. At the end
of the seventh group, Socrates has to abandon an idea agathou, a kind of good
thing, in order to sustain his system of flux. This kind of good thing is resistant to motion, as is the idea of the good in the Republic. Accordingly, to explain oppositions by way of the perpetual flux, Socrates must oppose the Platonic account of goodness. Otherwise, he would have to contradict his account
of goodness as motion in the sixth group. He would have to accept contradictory consequences within his axiomatic system. Socrates denies the potential
contradiction in order to preserve the axiom. Plainly, though, Socrates thinks
that the hypothesis of flux and the idea of the good are mutually exclusive.
A. Same and Different Arts of Imitation: Flourishing; Craft 414ad
In the first etymology in the seventh group of names, Socrates provides a
synthesis to accommodate the analysis concluding the sixth group, where men
represent separation within flux and women represent becoming and flux:
Flourishing itself (v) figures forth (v) the increase of
youth because of being (v) swift and sudden. This process is imitated () in the name, a compound (n) from running and springing. (4l4ab).
Here a harmony, , consistent with the etymology for goodness, a
speed that is admirable, appears in the realm of becoming, , at the stage
of philosophical likeness-making, , , on the divided line.
After flourishing, Socrates next resolves craft, , into habit of
mind, o, by taking away one letter and adding two others, a method
Hermogenes regards as slapdash. In his defense of this etymology Socrates
discusses how words gain and lose letters according to pronunciation change
in the examples mirror, ov, and sphinx. The first has, only for
ease in pronunciation, acquired a rho (), with the result that nobody can un-

III. Demonstration: Dianoia, Systematic Reasoning 408d-421c

93

derstand, ln, the names meaning. The second has new, and apparently
useless, letters, namely sigma () and nu (), added to the Greek word , a
Hesiodic form, as Socrates says, and the proper one.
What Socrates is saying about these words has philosophical purpose
here. The letter in , as Socrates will soon stress (426c), signifies
the motion of the flux. Sphinx by reference to Hesiods form signifies opposition to the flux, since Hesiod and Heraclitus are in opposition earlier in
the dialogue (396b). Further, though Socrates does not derive it from
sphingein, to tighten, the later form sphinx by its ready association with
that verb can also suggest the philosophic principle opposed to the flux of
Heraclitus, binding or fixity. Socrates is by intimation preparing to oppose the
axiom of flux by the use of these two examples.
When Socrates mentions mirror and sphinx along with craft, he
gives examples that correspond to the way the Eleatic Stranger divides likeness-making techniques, technai, in the Sophist (235d236c and 265d266d).
Representational likeness-making, e, there retains the dimensions of
what it copies, although it reverses the way we perceive them, , when
it reflects or shadows them; illusory or apparent likeness-making,
, distorts upper, , and lower, , proportions when it
depicts figures gigantically. Mirror can represent accurate likeness-making
and the flux at once, while sphinx can represent fantastical imitation and
fixity. What distorts the appearances of reality in the Sophist also separates up
from down. This may suggest that Socrates is distorting his counterHeraclitean position in the Cratylus. What does not distort, though, leads to
opposition in the Sophist, . This in turn may suggest that the Heraclitean account also leads to contradiction in the Cratylus. Both things are
true: Socrates distorts his view to sustain the Heraclitean account and he does
produce contradictions from that account here in the first stage of the seventh
group of names.
Before Socrates leaves this discussion of likenesses and likeness-making,
he points out that by letter-changes we can connect any name to any thing,
(414d). To add letters can confuse; in the case here, the letter rho, , the symbol
of flux, can confuse. Accordingly, Socrates warns Hermogenes to use this technique with restraint in order to preserve fitness or likelihood, e (414e),
that semblance of knowledge on the first stage of the divided line. Hermogenes
wants to preserve this likelihood, n, as does Socrates,
.
B. The Mechanistic Solution to Contradiction:
Device; Cowardice; Virtue; Vice 414e415e
In this stage, Socrates relies on agreement and opinion to argue for his etymologies. First Socrates derives device, mechane, from magnitude,

94

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

, and hasten, , which is the kind of motion he thinks that it indicates, ol (415a). Socrates has here connected device, mechane, with
motion, which so opposes his linking of craft with steadfastness earlier in
this group of names. After he considers cowardice, in the etymologies for
virtue and vice Socrates introduces a technique or craft to account for
virtue, but must resort to his mechane of barbaric origin from the fifth
group of names to explain vice. Socrates expresses his regard for techne,
and its philosophical importance for him. At the same time, he expresses his
disdain for mechane, and its spuriousness as a philosophical method. First,
though, Socrates gives an etymology for cowardice which bears out the
identification of badness with rest that the Heraclitean good implied in the
sixth group of names.
Since all things are in motion, says Socrates, badness consists in moving badly ( e). Cowardice, which he says should have been mentioned earlier, likewise makes this plain, since is . . . , a
bond of the soul. So, too, every difficulty, , consists in inability to
move. Virtue, contrariwise, , represents perpetual flux, ,
and is beaten or welded into shape, . An alternative, but sometimes bracketed, etymology for , d, introduces an element of control
as in the etymology of , , and so combines fixity and
flux within virtue. Socrates has set up the argument to turn Heraclitus against
himself in the progression from techne to mirror to sphinx to mechane. A discussion of virtue combining fixity and flux, especially since virtue is already
characteristically oppositional, (4l5c), is exactly appropriate here.
Socrates next says he can make no sense of the bad in badness or
vice, in . He claims that he must again resort to the device,
, of barbaric origin (415b416a). Just above even the supposedly
Heraclitean account of virtue involves craft, , and so suggests a link between virtue and rest which does not suit Socrates correlation
of good things to motion and bad things to rest. Instead of any Heraclitean
account of its opposite, vice, Socrates offers only a device. The etymology
of device embodied motion as opposed to craft embodying rest. No argument yet stands, but already a suggestion arises that vice, like virtue,
involves motion and, further, that the correlation of good things to motion and
bad things to rest is unreliable, even self-contradictory. The suggestion will
become more and more explicit as the dialogue proceeds.
C. A Flood of Consequences of the Hypothesis of Flux:
Fair; Foul; Advantageous; Harmful 416a417e
Next, Socrates takes up the paired opposition between fair and foul,
and e. Foul, on the assumption that flux is good, is the impediment of flux ( h ). It, too, is welded into its verbal shape,

III. Demonstration: Dianoia, Systematic Reasoning 408d-421c

95

, just like virtue above. Again, this appears to express the


power of craft to express opposites distinctly, unlike device, which instead
conceals oppositions without explaining them at all.
In this third stage of the seventh group, Socrates takes the argument to a
higher level of philosophical activity. Accordingly, with fair he introduces
more highly skilled crafts than welding to express the range of this philosophical activity. Fair () is more difficult to bring down to the level of
understanding (), according to Socrates, who explains it as signifying scientific understanding, dianoia. He pauses here to ask Hermogenes a
serious question for the first time since the beginning of the etymological
section. Interestingly enough, he is talking about just what he was talking
about prior to the etymologies, how crafts expresses the realities of the mind
and, by example, how namemaking does.
First Socrates says dianoia, divine, human, or both, is the cause,
hov (416c), of naming anything. Earlier in the dialogue, nomos provides
names, (388d). Socrates can link nomos and dianoia by combining these statements, and while not stipulating their equivalence, he compares
namemaking dianoia to different arts, as he did namemaking nomos earlier.
Socrates asks whether dianoia, one thing, as responsible for the naming of
things, , does not also name the beautiful, o. What dianoia
and nous do in combination is praiseworthy, Socrates says here (416c).
This last remark subtly reminds readers that dianoia can function independently of nous; for dianoetic reasoning, though fully in accord with assumptions, (Pl.Rep. 510d), may not lead to knowledge, and,
if it does not, is negligible. At the outset of the etymologies Hermogenes
reasoning that the Trojan women used the name Scamandrios for Astyanax
was of this sort, consistent with its assumptions but still wrong (386cd).
Socrates next proposes that as medicine does the work of medicine, and
carpentry the work of carpentry, so beautifying does the work of beauty
(416d). Carpentry, as represented by the carpenter with skill, . . .
, appeared early in the dialogue as analogous to namemaking
within the argument for nomos as the cause of names (388c389a). The carpenters art once more makes emphatic the necessary coupling of namemaking
with techne according to nomos. Socrates identifies dianoia with the beautiful,
, by saying that beautiful is an attributive name for mind, which
effects beautiful things, things we cherish by calling them beautiful (
) (416d). In combination with the discussion of name-making nomos prior to the etymologies, this discussion of namemaking dianoia as the beautiful links nomos, dianoia, beauty, and naming.
Socrates links beauty, dianoia, and naming, but the way he does so is,
intentionally flimsy and merely spurious, since it identifies cause with effect.9
Still, dianoia here is methodical like dianoia on the divided line and it can
work with nous. Socrates rapidly reels off some of the systematic conse-

96

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

quences of his Heraclitean dianoia in this third stage of the seventh group of
names, itself a third stage within a third stage, Part 3 of the Demonstration.
Socrates explains how several synonyms for the beautiful, , bear out
the assumption that goodness is motion. When he turns to the antonyms to
these names, the hypothesis of Heraclitean good still appears to work, but
only temporarily. Socrates list of synonyms includes first advantageous,
representing circular motion, profitable, representing moving, penetrating,
and mixing, gainful, an endless and unstoppable motion tantamount to the
good as an end or telos, and helpful, significant of increase (417ac). These
words do not conceal any deep riddles for the general argument at hand,
though perhaps the notion of what is unstoppable having a telos suggests the
arguments counter-Heraclitean purpose.
Socrates dispenses with the four opposites formed by the alpha-privative
to the terms he has just etymologized. Then he provides a complex derivation
for harmful, n from (blaberon from boulapteroun),
wanting to bind the flux. Socrates does not comment upon the phonetic
complexity of this derivation, though immediately, in the next etymology, he
will spend a page and a half discussing much simpler phonetic changes. The
only rationale for this etymology, says Socrates, is that one word for binding
() is the same as another (l) and always brings blame with it
(417e). With this assumption, he soon confutes the entire Heraclitean development of the seventh group of names.
Hermogenes regards these last few etymologies as artistically intricate,
o. He notices that Socrates appeared to use his mouth like a flute for
the flute music to the hymn to Athena when you pronounced boulapteroun.
The word for hymn is nomos again, an ancient sense of the word but new to
the dialogue. Plato has Hermogenes say these words to recall the general
importance of nomos in the dialogue in relation to naming and in relation to
dianoia, as just earlier in the etymology for fair or beautiful. These last
few etymologies do have an artistically intricate aspect, o, which for
Plato, in relation to the context of Republic 7 (528e530b), suggests their
mere superficiality, as did ornamentation, n, previously in the sun
etymologies (409a). The last few etymologies do convey a sense of dianoia,
but the implication is that dianoia, or systematic reasoning, can function independently of noesis; for we can be systematic and wrong. For instance, however systematic Socrates is in deriving Heraclitean significations for names,
he will soon admit that he cannot vouch for their veracity (440c).
By having Hermogenes mention the hymn to Athena, Plato also recalls
the extravagant etymologies for Athena earlier near the end of the fourth
group of names. The Athena etymologies have provided the most definite
and most concentrated allusions to the stages of the divided line in the entire
dialogue. Following the intricate account of harmful will next come etymologies that allude to the sun analogy out of which the divided line analogy

III. Demonstration: Dianoia, Systematic Reasoning 408d-421c

97

itself develops. These etymologies allude to the sun as the ruling source of
light and life for the stages of eikasia and pistis, and to the good as manifest in
the idea of the good, the corresponding source of truth and the power of
knowing for the stages of dianoia and noesis (Pl.Rep. 508d509b). These
allusions are more difficult to discern than those in Athena, but Hermogenes is right in one sense: Socrates has been preparing to return directly
to the context of those allusions.
D. An Idea of the Good Excluded by the Assumption of Flux:
Day; Yoke; Binding; Harmful 418a419b
Socrates moves into the fourth stage of the seventh group of names. He says
that those who add and subtract letters from words alter, , their
meanings, o, even making them mean the opposite, , of what
they mean spelt otherwise (418a). By the end of the seventh group, this discussion of alternate spellings and opposite meanings will lead him to consider a
wider sense of alternate dianoiai, namely alternate systematic reasonings and
their opposite assumptions. For the moment, he appears merely to digress to
explain what another word for harmful signifies etymologically, and what its
nous or meaning is, l. He is reminded of, , and calls to
mind, , some orthographical variations here. These plays on words
related to nous indicate the domain of knowledge at the fourth stage of the
divided line, that knowledge which for Plato is recollection.
Without bothering to explain the extravagant as
, Socrates turns to . He takes a page and a half to justify deriving the comparatively simple - in from , again
harmful from binding, in keeping with the hypothesis that good is motion.
I examine this passage at length to show how it contains the consequences of
the counter assumption to flux, and how, when it rejects those consequences,
it must also reject the idea of the good itself. While at first sight only a
lengthy and apparently needless digression, this passage is, in some respects,
the most crucial one in the entire etymological section.
Before he begins dealing directly with , Socrates calls to mind
the case of binding, . He says that the spelling of and
disguises the meaning ancient speakers expressed, as contemporary
women still do, by use of the iota and delta in place of the epsilon or eta and
the zeta. He illustrates the spelling changes in sequence in two other words,
day and yoke, before returning to binding. This word, he says, although a kind of good thing, appears to be a bound or hindrance of the flux of
change, ( e ), and so
unlike the names for good things previous, i . Socrates accordingly abandons his obvious and accurate derivation of from by way
of for a different etymology, , going through, in keeping with

98

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

the notion that change typifies what is good. In this way he claims to preserve
the original namemaker from self-contradiction, n .
Finally, when he derives , Socrates concludes his digression on spelling changes (418a419b).
Socrates rejects the first etymology for binding because it conveys a
sense for a kind of good thing contrary to the sense that he hypothesizes for
other good things. John Victor Luce translates e a kind of good
thing instead of an idea of the good and asks Is it credible that Plato would
use e in such a non-technical sense after writing the Republic?10 What makes it credible is that so many allusions to Republic 6 and 7
next occur that the reader cannot help but think of the technical sense by way
of contrast. Plato precisely contrasts the two senses of o e within his
more general contrast of synthetic and analytic reasoning in order to suggest
that his technical sense for the idea of the good is incompatible with Heraclitean reasoning. Though Luces correct translation reads more easily, one
might translate e as an idea of the good because the slight confusion in English more suddenly conveys the philosophical point Plato is making
by his intimation of the fully technical sense of o o e.
Socrates axioms, that good things are in flux and that good things are of
one kind, here fallaciously determine the fitness of an etymology. On the one
hand, by means of axiomatic reasoning in this passage, Socrates ignores accurate etymology altogether. On the other, such reasoning makes it possible for
Socrates to allude to his axiomatic account of the good and for his allusions to
make appropriate sense within the argument. Still, the Platonic Socrates account of the good as an unchanging idea is at first conspicuous only by its
absence in this passage: things conspicuous by their unnecessary presence in
this account of spelling changes are what point directly to the Platonic idea of
the good and its importance for a proper understanding of the passage.
The first clue is that in one sense the entire discussion of spelling
changes is gratuitous. Vastly greater changes, including those in the word just
previous, as , have occurred throughout the etymological section without notice. Next, the letters under discussion are out of
alphabetical order, and the first, iota, does not bear in the least on deriving
, the ostensible point to which Socrates is digressing. The letters,
notably, are themselves the root of the word idea, iota and delta, and this same
word appears for the first time in the etymological section within this same
passage. Plato has hardly chosen iota and delta by coincidence. When he next
has Socrates discuss day, yoke, and binding, he intentionally alludes to
the idea of the good.
Day, as Socrates says, expresses desire for light, , yoke,
, represents the binding of two into one, and binding is a kind of good
thing, e . He progresses from light to yoke to idea of good in
order to allude to the terms of the sun analogy for the idea of good from the

III. Demonstration: Dianoia, Systematic Reasoning 408d-421c

99

Republic. In Republic 6 Socrates discusses light, , as it binds together


what sees and what is seen: the perception of sight and the condition of visibility yoke together () by a conjunction () more honorable in no
minor sense than other conjunctive yokings () (508a).
The cause of this light is the sun. According to Socrates analogy, it
stands in relation to vision and the visible as the idea of the good,
e, stands in relation to the knower and the knowable (507e508e).
From this correspondence in the Republic, Socrates next derives the divided
line and cave analogies for progress toward the good. The light of the sun is a
yoke for Socrates and so like the idea of the good. Here in the Cratylus he
refers to a yoke after a discussion of light and before one of an idea of good.
Socrates moves from light to yoke to idea of the good in Cratylus
418c419b, introducing some principal terms from the sun analogy in the
Republic. The kind of good thing Socrates has in mind here in the first etymology of binding is a typical Platonic fixed and binding necessity. He alludes
to the idea of the good by reconstituting the terms of the sun analogy, reminding the reader that the idea itself is unchanging and stable for Plato, so the
reader sees that for Socrates to dismiss the first etymology is strange. For binding taken as fixed necessity, he introduces binding as motion, and so as
change. He does this only to preserve the working hypothesis that good things
are in flux. By recalling the terms for his fixed idea of good, Socrates intimates
that he does not genuinely accept the system of the good in a state of flux. He
is countering this account of goodness at the same time that he is elaborating it.
In the Cratylus the reader can see that Socrates must abandon an idea of
good, e, exactly when it has the characteristic fixity of the idea of
the good, e. Socrates must do this to preserve from contradiction the namemaker who bears out the theory of flux in his productions. By
abandoning a kind of good thing like the idea of the good for the sake of the
namemaker, Socrates has dramatized philosophical alternatives: preserve the
theory of flux, or preserve fixed necessity as a manifestation of the idea of the
good. He has more than suggested that an axiom of flux excludes an idea of
the good. The only way to salvage the theory of flux in Cratylus 418e is to
abandon a kind of good thing like the idea of good as Plato describes it in the
Republic and elsewhere.
When Socrates remembers binding, i
(418b), his anamnesis at once suggests the link of anamnesis
with nous and suggests a link between this passage and the cave analogy.
After the escapee from Platos cave in the Republic has at length learned to
comprehend the light of the sun, and so, too, figuratively, to understand the
idea of the good, then he also remembers binding. He recalls those in bondage
with him formerly when he was within the depths of the cave,
o . . . (516d). After he recalls the
condition of his captive companions, the freed philosopher returns to the

100

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

miserable conditions he has just left behind. His recollection or anamnesis is


like Socrates here in the Cratylus, because it, too, is concerned with binding.
In the Republic, the captives are bound to illusion. Exposure to the idea of the
good will free them. In the last stage of the seventh group of names in the
Cratylus, a false sense of binding illusorily sustains the view that goodness is
in motion or flux. Socrates recalls binding necessity, and by doing so, he
alludes to the idea of the good. This dispels the possibility that he himself
seriously entertains the hypothesis of flux.
The abandoned but accurate derivation of binding, o from ,
formally presages the dialogues conclusion. In that conclusion, Socrates
more generally refutes the flux of being and not just the simple flux of goodness at issue in binding. When he more generally refutes the flux of being,
he does so by a reduction to absurdity of its consequences. Here in the seventh
group there have already been some absurd results of assuming the flux as an
axiom, one of which is that the participle does not derive from the verb
. Socrates turns to his axiom that goodness is in flux, an assumption for
which he has had to sacrifice the idea of the good and elementary grammar
here. Still, as Socrates says, he has to preserve the namemaker from selfcontradiction. He explains binding as moving through, connects it with the
names for advantageous previously mentioned, claims that the ordering
principle of motion, i e, is praiseworthy, and at long last
makes the minute change from sd- or dz-( ) to d-() to show that blamable
means binding of motion (418e419b).
When Socrates concludes the seventh group of names by calling the
principle of motion an ordering principle, , he suggests nous
again; for he has earlier coupled Anaxagaoras nous which orders all things,
(DK 59 B 12), with soul as in the third
group of names (400a). Socrates is about to turn to nous, the fourth stage of
his elaboration of dianoia, the eighth group of names. There Socrates tries and
fails to account for the first principles of his Heraclitean system. For him no
dianoia or system can account in its own terms for its assumptions; all such
systems merely follow out consequences of their assumptions. So, too, his
Heraclitean system, however much in accord with its first principles, does not,
so far, guarantee that it leads to knowledge, nous, of those first principles.
Socrates throughout the seventh group of names has been attempting to
make motion explain everything. He has derived meanings for words, which
meanings equate opposites. Opposite kinds of likeness-making in mirror
and sphinx, opposite kinds of method in craft and device, make systematic sense to Socrates. Socrates still cannot make the same sense of binding from opposite assumptions about the nature of goodness. If Socrates
assumes all is in flux, the good must be in flux. If he concludes from this
assumption that binding, a good thing like the idea of the good, is unchanging, then he contradicts his assumption. By allusion to the sun analogy Socra-

III. Demonstration: Dianoia, Systematic Reasoning 408d-421c

101

tes suggests a counter assumption from which it can follow that binding is
unchanging, namely that the idea of the good is also unchanging. He implies
that two contradictory assumptions and two contradictory sets of consequences can both be valid, and so to this point he can maintain two contradictory systems simultaneously. The flux, which unifies opposites, appears to
allow for this. The flux can, so far, somehow contradict itself systematically,
and do so in keeping with dianoia.
When at the outset of the last stage of the seventh group of names Socrates first says those who alter letters, , alter meanings,
(418ab), he turns to follow out the pattern of the sun analogy. At the end of
the seventh group when he preserves the Heraclitean good from contradiction,
he concludes that binding cannot be an obstacle of flux, . One kind of
change, then, f, alteration, allows for contradictory dianoias, perhaps only meanings but suggestive in this context of the more general sense
of systematic reasonings (418a). Another kind of change, , namely
local motion (418e), does not allow for the contradictory or counter meanings or dianoiai, and so perhaps systems as well.
Within the unifying principle of change, Socrates has noted different
kinds of change: alteration and local motion, and ; the same
distinction he makes at Theaetetus 156a and Parmenides 138c.11 One motion
leads to contradiction of the hypothesis of flux; the other does not. Socrates can
derive contradictory systems from the hypothesis of flux by taking flux or
change in two different senses. Still, for Socrates any systematic dianoia
derivable from flux will contradict itself if its conclusions contradict its axioms. For Heraclitus, though, some, do not understand how that which is differing in itself ( ) is in agreement, a reciprocal harmony
like the bows or the lyres (DK 22 B 51). Only by accepting its contradictions
can Socrates appear for a while yet to sustain his Heraclitean system of names.
While he preserves the namemaker from contradicting himself,
, at the conclusion of the seventh group of names
(419a), Socrates can also be alluding to Heraclitus harmonic self-contradiction.
He can then be suggesting as an axiom that self-contradiction is agreement and
so not necessary to avoid. Only on such an assumption can he appear to make
his Heraclitean system make systematic or dianoetic sense from this point on.
Socrates wants to show that such sense is no different from nonsense.

102

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

Name Group 7:
Names in keeping with an axiomatic Heraclitean good
Etymological Force
Names
Motion as good
Rest as evil
Divided-Line stage
Flourishing
Craft
Mirror
Sphinx Cf. Soph.
236, 266

Teeming youth

Device
Vice
Cowardice
Virtue
Bad; onnon

Progress
limit to motion
bond of soul
ever-flowing
Device of barbaric origin

Craft in namemaking;
impeding flux

Opinion,
l
4 uses

Fair
Advantageous
Profitable
Gainful
Helpful
(Alpha-privatives)
Blamable

By definition
Flux
Mixture
Unending
Increase

Craft in motion

Dianoetic system,
5 uses

Day
Yoke
Binding

Change
Moving
Moving through

Harmful

Maintenance
rho
Binding

by definitionimpeding flux
(Alteration,
Flux)
Binding
Idea of Good
(Pl.Rep. 507508)
impeding flux

Image
,
h,
e,
,

Nous
ol, ,
, e,
n

On the above chart for the seventh group of names, under the heading
Etymological Force, I have provided two columns to indicate whether a
given word indicates motion and goodness or rest and badness. Some words
in the seventh group point to the confusion of these respective couplings, so
are characterized in both columns. Where the confusion is only potential, I
have indicated its likely cause within parentheses. In this way, readers can
more easily see how the systematic capability for self-contradiction emerges
from the seventh group.

III. Demonstration: Dianoia, Systematic Reasoning 408d-421c

103

4. The logos as Ultimate Unity:


Axiomatic Self-contradiction 418e421d: Synopsis
Everything appears in flux throughout the fifth to the seventh groups of
names. The natural sciences, which deal with phenomena, indicate flux in the
fifth; the ethical sciences accordingly base themselves on the axiom of flux
and become confused in the sixth; in the seventh, the axiom of flux leads to
contradictory meanings, dianoiai, for binding (418a). The axiom of flux
appears self-contradictory, but Socrates designs a means to preserve momentarily his Heraclitean namemakers from self-contradiction. In the eighth
group, Socrates overrules the objection of self-contradiction. On the one hand,
he accepts the axiom of absolute flux as self-contradictory, but on the other,
he assumes as well that in fact self-contradiction is a kind of agreement.
Although he does mean to disallow it, Socrates does not merely ask if the
second axiom can be true; instead, he works out the effects of self-contradiction
as agreement. He acts as if he could systematize the axiom, as if its system
could have valid consequences. Socrates treats the system as if its internal incoherence were not alone enough to discredit it, as if it were a serious system that
could lead to knowledge and intelligence, the last stage of the divided line.
On the divided line, dianoia or scientific system depends on nous to determine its power of expressing truth. By dianoia the soul cannot rise above its
assumptions, o v o (Pl.Rep.
511a), but is bound by them. Nous determines how those assumptions or hypotheses correspond to what requires no assumptions and is the starting point of
everything, i e (Pl.Rep.511ab).
At the outset of the eighth group of names Socrates rapidly explains contrary, or contraposed, pairings of pleasure and pain, passion and reason,
free will and necessity, true and false, essence and name, and
being and not-being. Each pair features straightforward contraries except
that of essence and name. By coupling essence with name within a
series of contraposed pairs of names, Socrates indicates the point to which he
thinks his labyrinthine argument has led so far in the Cratylus. His point is that,
because the particular names in the etymological section have failed to express
the essence of the things that they name, names in general are likely to fail as
well. The eighth group and the etymological section end when Socrates cannot
explain motion, flux, and binding. He emphasizes by the conclusion that
he can neither know the flux by assuming that binding necessity is self-evident,
nor know binding necessity by assuming it to be in flux. Socrates has to move
outside of the assumptions he has made, if he is ever to know whether they
accord with the facts. As they stand at the end of the eighth group of names,
his assumptions of flux and its binding necessity still contradict one another.
In the last stage of the eighth group of names, being, essence and
truth parallel not-being, falsehood, and name. Knowing, at the fourth

104

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

level of the divided line, cannot exist for Socrates if being is the same as notbeing, if truth is the same as falsehood, or, according to the parallelism, if
essence is the same as name. In one sense, this is imposing a parallel instead
of arguing for it. Still, if such couplings of opposites were not only apparent
but also real, they would make knowledge impossible. Socrates explains all
the other apparent self-contradictions in the seventh and eighth groups of
names and so sustains the system of flux. Here are two, and perhaps three,
possible paired opposites that Socrates in any other dialogue will preserve at
any cost from self-contradictory unity. While they may appear to be selfcontradictory unities in a Heraclitean system, they must not really be so, or
the system cannot express true being. If the assumptions of the Heraclitean
system are genuinely self-contradictory, then apparent self-contradictions
among their consequences are likewise genuine.
Whether such self-contradiction of assumptions is still a sort of harmony,
as Heraclitus may allow, depends, according to the way Socrates explains his
etymologies in the eighth group of names, upon whether knowledge itself is
the same as sense perception. For him, if what appears to be true is true, being
itself must always be in flux, just as it appears to be on the evidence of the
senses. Knowledge of being then will accord with sense perception of flux or
becoming. If knowledge is perception, it will appear to contradict itself. When
perceptions change, for instance, knowledge will have to change, too, and so
not stay the same as it was. Knowledge will appear to be self-contradictory,
then, and only as such would it agree with the way other things appear.
Throughout the eighth group Socrates suggests the opening arguments of
the Theaetetus wherein Theaetetus and he follow out some implications of
identifying knowledge with perception. The Theaetetus passage (155d ff.)
where Socrates says that philosophy begins in wonder contains a great number of resonances with the eighth group of names. So many and such detailed
correspondences in expression exist between the two passages that they make
another case that Plato composed the Theaetetus and this part of the Cratylus
in close proximity to one another, and so later in the sequence of dialogues.
The expressions, though, may also stem from an oral tradition not strictly
determining the sequence of Platos composition, but allowing for the earlier
date of composition for the Cratylus preferred by the stylometrists. This part
of the Theaetetus, in any case, helps to show the sense of this passage of the
Cratylus and likewise points to where Socrates will go next in the Cratylus.
Early in the dialogue bearing his name, Theaetetus hazards the identification of knowledge with perception (151d ff.). Socrates links this view with
the thought of Protagoras, and then identifies Protagorean thought with that of
Heraclitus.12 Socrates proceeds to unfold some of the consequences of a
Heraclitean identification of opposites as he leads Theaetetus to confusion and
amazement, whereupon Socrates commends Theaetetus reaction. He says
wonder, v, is the beginning of philosophy, and commends the

III. Demonstration: Dianoia, Systematic Reasoning 408d-421c

105

genealogy deriving Iris from Thaumas.13 Next, Socrates asks Theaetetus if he


would like him to aid in the search, , for the hidden truth,
, of the understanding, , of famous men,
. Theaetetus assents. Those who deny a share in essence, , to
invisible process do not heed him, says Socrates. They are hard cases,
o, replies Theaetetus. Another group, according to Socrates, says
that all is in motion, , and all things are active or passive as
they are perceptions or percepts.
Among the perceptions which Socrates lists are pleasures, pains, desires,
and fears, i o i i . What this tale signifies,
o, for their discussion, Socrates says he hopes he can explain conclusively, o. He says next that all is in motion of different speeds so
that new things come into being when the senses come into contact with the
sensible. For instance, when sight comes into contact with the visible, color
comes into being (155d156e ff.) This astounding theory of perception as
knowledge dominates the entire first half of the Theaetetus When Socrates at
length formally rejects it, he does so, as Francis MacDonald Cornford says,
on the basis of the theory that all things are in changethe extreme Heraclitean positionbut only on that basis.14
The Theaetetus is here concerned with Heraclitean dianoia, as is the
Cratylus in the eighth group of names. Theaetetus and Socrates seek dianoia
and give an account of vision, whereas in all four stages in the eighth group,
Socrates stresses visible similarity, especially by uses of the verb .
In both these passages, pleasure, pain, and desire represent Heraclitean realities, o i i Cratylus 419b; i o i
i , Theaetetus 156b. Both passages refer to searching, ,
Cratylus 421d; , Theaetetus 155d. In both passages the end
of the search is hidden, l, Cratylus 421b; o,
Theaetetus 155e. Both passages deal with names and fame, v, Cratylus 421a, Theaetetus 155d.
Further, each passage contains the fulfillment of a discussion, ,
Cratylus 420d; , Theaetetus 156c. Both passages deal with resistance and difficulty, , , Cratylus 420d; ,
Theaetetus 155e. Finally and most importantly, both passages introduce the
topic of wonder, , Cratylus 421d; , vo,
Theaetetus 155d. In short, in the eighth group of names the Cratylus provides
many of the terms of the opening arguments of the Theaetetus and suggests
the way in which those arguments turn counter to Heraclitean reasoning.
Theaetetus is amazed at how things appear to change yet stay the same,
and so appear to embody a contradiction. For instance, Socrates stays the same
size while Theaetetus grows. Socrates, who was larger, becomes smaller than
Theaetetus. Socrates then is what he was not before, but he himself has not
changed. Theaetetus is amazed, , that the same thing can

106

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

appear to become its opposite without changing itself. In the Theaetetus Socrates shows that what amazes Theaetetus does not mean that a thing can in fact be
the same as its opposite. In the Cratylus, conversely, when different tongues,
Greek and barbarian, appear to be no different, Socrates himself is not amazed.
He knows that he has argued to an absurd conclusion. He has done so purposely. He wants to derive self-contradiction from his Heraclitean assumptions.
Then he can discredit the assumptions that provide that a thing cannot only
appear, but also be, its own opposite. Socrates is leading the argument here to
the same end that he has in view in the Theaetetus.
When the eighth group concludes, Socrates in the phonological section,
the third part of the Demonstration, IV, directly takes up the problem of identifying knowledge with perception that the eighth group implies in its four
divided-line stages.
A. The Range of the Passions: Pleasure; Pain; Desire 418e420b
Hermogenes asks to hear explanations for pleasure, pain, desire, and such
name. Socrates replies readily with a few names in each category and opens
the eighth group of names with etymologies in this arrangement (4l9b420b):
(a)
(b)

Pleasure
pain
distress
grief
wretchedness
annoyance

embodiment of flux
impediments of flux

(a)

joy
delight
pleasure
cheer
desire
eagerness
longing
passion
love

embodiments of flux

(c)

embodiments of flux

Terms suggesting the first stage of the divided line abound in this opening part of the eighth group of names: (two uses), (two
uses), (three uses), (four uses), and especially .
This burst of etymologies has more dramatic than dialectical significance. It
appears as if the last obstacles to a Heraclitean system have given way in the
seventh group, and the eighth group shows it in full flood. Pleasure and
pain set up the pairing of contraries that patterns the eighth group.

III. Demonstration: Dianoia, Systematic Reasoning 408d-421c

107

By this pattern, desire belongs with the words to follow for opinion,but, because the synonyms for desire emphasize the use of the senses
and because their etymologies form part of an uninterrupted series with those
for pleasure and pain, they also belong in the first stage of the eighth
group. Earlier in the dialogue at 403c, desire as appeared as a bond
stronger than necessity and sufficient to keep people in Hades where they
once feared to go. It there linked opposites, hope and fear, but it was binding;
yet here desire is flowing. As such, desire sets up the problem of accounting for binding and flux which will conclude the eighth group of names.
B. The Variety of Opinion: Opinion; Thoughtlessness 420bc
Socrates considers words for opinion. Opinion, , according to Socrates,
derives from pursuit of knowledge, , or more likely from the shot of
a bow . Thinking, h, from motion, , is
consistent with this meaning, l. So also is counsel, , signifying casting or shooting, v v, while intending, , signifies
aiming, , as does considering, :
All these words appear in line with opinion as likenesses ()
of shooting ( ), as also oppositely () senselessness
(o) appears to mean mistaking in the sense of missing the mark one
throws toward, intends, designs on, or aims for (420c).
When Socrates uses the image of the bow here in the second part of the
eighth group of names, he can be suggesting Heraclitus image of the bow,
, which represents apparent self-contradiction as a kind of harmony (DK
22 B 51). This is the same image that Eryximachus examines in the Symposium when he is trying to make sense of Heraclitus. This image represents the
same reasoning, which alone can explain self-contradiction as sameness (such
as in desire, above as binding and flowing), and so sustain Socrates
etymologies. Socrates identifies opinion as a sort of likeness by his use of
. Socrates uses derivations from in all four stages of
the eighth group of names and so prepares for his identification of knowledge
with sense perception of likeness, which follows the etymological section in
the dialogues concluding arguments.
C. Relating Free Will and Necessity: Voluntary; Necessary 420de
In the third stage of the eighth group of names, Socrates claims to be at the
culmination, the telos of his argument (420d). He deals with necessity and
free will. Free will derives from yielding, , and lack of opposition to
motion, , and is in accord with desire, ;

108

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

necessity opposes, is contrary to desire, . . . ,


and is related to error and ignorance, i . . . . i .
Socrates does not express what necessity opposes, though it presumably opposes motion, since what free will did not oppose was motion in the contrasted instance. Mysteriously, he also does not say what relation necessity
has to error and ignorance. The name itself represents, , passage
through mountain clefts, v, an epic description,
, of harsh, rugged, and difficult terrain. Socrates again points to the figurative element, , in this account of necessity before turning to the
next range of discussion (420de).
Although it corresponds to dianoia, the third stage of the eighth group
couples systematic consequences of assumptions with elementary likenesses,
, . A possible pun, on as hn, in the account of
free may also suggest that Socrates thinks that this argument is illusory.
At the end of the seventh group of names, a manifestly correct account
of binding as from was unacceptable when it suggested that
binding restricted motion and so contradicted the axiom of a Heraclitean
good. In the eighth group, though, Socrates allows an account of necessity,
another sort of binding, to oppose motion. By doing so, he implies that, contradictory, mutually exclusive consequences can and must follow from Heraclitean assumptions. Here may be a clue to the mysterious relation of the account of necessity to error and ignorance: to accept this account of necessity along with the previous account of binding is to accept contradictory
consequences of the same assumptions as equally valid, not as grounds for
discrediting the assumptions. To accept these two mutually exclusive accounts
of binding and of necessity is then to guarantee error and ignorance.
Socrates has just decried necessity on Heraclitean grounds in the
eighth group and so contradicted his previous account of binding from the
seventh. He makes it systematically possible here for consequences to contradict each other without explanation. Soon Heraclitean assumptions also will
contradict one another, and without explanation.
D. Linking the Final to the Fundamental;
Name; True; False; Being; Essence; Not-being 421ad
Hermogenes asks for etymologies for the greatest and most beauteous
names, for truth, falsity, being, and the subject of our discourse ( ),
name. Though Hermogenes lists it last, Socrates starts with name, .
Name is hammered together from the occasion of inquiry,
, and this account is even more obvious in notable, , also
an occasion of inquiry, . Truth likewise appears, ,
to be a compound signifying the divine wandering, . . . . Falsehood is the opposite of flux, , a forced idleness, ,

III. Demonstration: Dianoia, Systematic Reasoning 408d-421c

109

resembling sleep, : is from by the addition of psi, ,


which serves to conceal, , the names meaning. Being and essence agree with, l, truth by the loss of an iota, since being equals
moving, is e. Similarly, not-being is the same as not-moving,
is e. Finally, Hermogenes asks for the crucial meaning of motion,
flux, and binding, i e i i .
Socrates in this fourth stage of the eighth group considers the highest objects of inquiry. His conclusions here agree with one another, l, and
such agreement suits dianoia at the third stage of the divided line. There
dianoia is reasoning in agreement with assumptions, . Socrates
says it should be no wonder, , if their origin was foreign,
n, and so avoids explaining them (421cd). Still Socrates has not yet
achieved knowledge; he has instead an account of the objects of knowledge.
The account would be true if his assumptions were true. He has something
like knowledge, but as the terms for semblance indicate, o, , he
does not regard it highly.
To conclude the eighth group, it next appears that the system of names
representing the assumption of flux and the unity of opposites does not provide any account for its assumptions, flux and binding. Binding by this
point conveys the full force of necessity. In keeping with the divided lines
representation, no dianoia can rise beyond its own hypotheses in order to
evaluate them. Only outside a system can we test its hypotheses for their
relation to truth, being, and essence. Near the end of the eighth group, when
Socrates aligns falsehood and not-being with naming, he suggests that the
system of names will not lead to knowledge because the apparent selfcontradictions within it will turn out to be real ones. While Socrates has so far
overruled the charges of self-contradiction and has not brought them to bear
on the flux within system, the systems accord with its axioms does not guarantee its truth. Grant it self-contradictory axioms, Socrates line of argument
implies, but do not think it provides or can produce an account of true being.
When Hermogenes next asks for the explanations of motion, flux,
and binding, Socrates perhaps rhetorically recalls the Heraclitean One (DK
22 B 32). He says he might resort to one thing, , namely the claim of barbaric origin again, which may well be the explanation, h h. The
original names may also be undiscoverable, , because of their antiquity: Because names have undergone every sort of alteration, it would be no
wonder ( ) if the ancient dialect in comparison with current
speech differed in no apparent way from the speech of barbarians (421cd).
Socrates uses the doctrine of barbaric origin to preserve Heraclitean reasoning
from convicting itself of nonsense, just as he did to sidestep the potential
synthesis of fire and water, and the problem of defining evil (409d, 416a).
On the other hand, barbaric origin may only be apparent at the end of the
eighth group of names and of the etymologies in general. Original dialects can

110

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

appear barbaric in comparison with their descendant tongues, according to


Socrates; if so, it should come as no surprise, , ending the
eighth group where the fourth did, in a confusion of the powers of expression.
In the fourth group, Pan resolves the conflict between the gods of flux
and gods of fixity. Since Pan embodies confusion of up and down, god and
goat, and true and false, Socrates finds it to be no wonder, ,
that Pans brother, the logos, is like him. Here at the end of the eighth group
Socrates Heraclitean system leads to a systematic confusion. Socrates
equates opposites until he cannot tell whether a thing is also its opposite.
Greek and barbaric languages can admit of confusion at the end of the eighth
group; Greek can appear not-Greek. Socrates, here at the telos (420d) of his
etymological system, returns to the problem of the arche of the philosophical
progress in the etymological section. A wondrous, , division of
divine and human names commenced the etymologies. In the Theaetetus
wonder is the sign of philosophys beginning; in the Cratylus something wonderful has led instead to its opposite, nothing wonderful, odn , at
the end of the etymologies.
Socrates has elaborately parodied Heraclitean usage throughout the etymological section, II and III. He has proceeded from mere likenesses of Heraclitean unities to the threshold of knowledge, a Heraclitean unity. The four
groups of names in II represent activities and topics appropriate to the second
stage of the divided line from the Republic, and the four groups in III suit the
third stage. Because Socrates has devised a fourfold elaboration of pistis and
dianoia, we can expect him similarly to elaborate knowledge, noesis, in four
stages. Socrates will in the same way elaborate noesis, but as one with eikasia,
in four stages each of four stages. He is assuming, for the sake of argument,
that noesis and eikasia are the same so he can map them out coextensively.
From this point the rest of the dialogue makes plain why Socrates has alluded to the argument also found in the Theaetetus that knowledge is perception. He wishes to suggest how he can use Heraclitean axioms to confuse the
opposite ends of the divided line. Socrates dianoia, resting as it does on
Heraclitean axioms, leads to knowledge only if knowledge is perception.
Following the eight groups of etymologies of II and III, Socrates derives the
consequences of this view for language, namely that simple perception of
word sounds provides direct knowledge of things. In IV, his phonological
coda to the etymological section, Socrates considers what sense sounds make
in and of themselves, their independent noetic values.
Here follows a chart of the eighth group of names, the section of the dialogue in which Socrates has in Herclitean terms linked the fundamentally greatest and most beauteous things, truth and being, to the initial topic of the dialogue, names. The powers of Heraclitean terms are far reaching in this section,
but to end the etymological section the terms themselves cannot supply him an
account of even the names of their principles, motion, flux, and binding.

III. Demonstration: Dianoia, Systematic Reasoning 408d-421c

Name Group 8:
Names as likenesses from a Heraclitean Logos, which is an ultimate unity
and/or an axiomatic self-contradiction
Names
(a) pleasure
(b) pain; distress; grief;
wretchedness; annoyance
(a) joy; delight; pleasure; cheer
(c) desire; eagerness; longing;
passion; love

Divided-Line Stage
Likeness
(two uses)
(four uses)
(three uses)
, ,

opinion DK 22 B 51
thought; counsel; intention
taking counsel; lack of sense

free will
necessity, necessary

name = fame and infamy


truth as divine wandering
falsity as forced opposition to flux
essence = truth
being as moving, DK 22 B 8
not-being as not moving
motion; flux; binding
all inexplicable

Beliefs as likenesses

Systems as likenesses
Knowledge as likeness

Knowledge is perception
(Cf. Theaet. 155d ff.)

111

This page intentionally left blank

Six
IV. DEMONSTRATION: NOESIS, KNOWING:
KNOWLEDGE AS IDENTICAL WITH
PERCEPTION 421D436B
The opening section of the dialogue, the part before the etymologies, is not
bafflingly subtle, and after the etymologies, the phonological section makes
quite straightforward reading. In it, Socrates and Hermogenes discuss whether
letters in themselves mean anything. They conclude that they do. When Socrates and Cratylus next test this conclusion Socrates argues against innate
meanings in letters. He never persuades Cratylus. In the phonological section,
Cratylus persistently refuses to admit that what he thinks about letters and
things in general is self-contradictory. Because Cratylus denies contradiction,
scholars since Friedrich Schleiermacher have discerned the views of Antisthenes within Cratylus remarks.1
Accounts of the dialogues general sense concentrate on how, mercifully, the phonological section picks up where the part of the dialogue prior to
the etymologies left off, and on what the phonological section has to do with
the other Platonic dialogues, concepts, and problems. Why does the straightforward phonological section, here IV, follow not only after but also because
of, the many strange etymologies and complications in the etymological section, here II and III? What exactly might be the positive program2 of the
etymologies? I hope to shed light on these questions by detailing how IV
works out the pattern of reasoning from II and III.
In the eighth group of names, Socrates has set himself some obvious
tasks derived not only from what he has said in the etymological section, but
from how he has said it as well. Primarily and substantively, Socrates has yet
to look for a principle of language, and this in two senses. First, to avoid an
infinite regress, he must determine if word elements exist more fundamental
than words, some irreducible parts of meaning, atoms of language. Second, he
has not yet decided whether the principle or arche of language as a whole is
nature or convention, the problem that began the dialogue.
Secondarily and structurally, but not so obviously, because he has always used the divided line to model his argument within the etymologies,
Socrates still must elaborate in four stages the consequences for knowledge,
noesis, which follow from his Heraclitean account of being. Just so, he has
elaborated belief, pistis, and systematic reasoning, dianoia, as founded on
Heraclitean axioms. According to the divided-line analogy in the Republic the

114

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

goal of knowledge is the good. To follow out that analogy Socrates must yet
derive a knowable good from his Heraclitean assumptions.
Each of these demands is systematic and technical, compositionally and
philosophically necessary to the argument. Socrates must also show that
knowledge based on Heraclitean axioms is self-contradictory, and this in
order to complete his reductio ad absurdum demonstration of the ideal nature
of being. When he ends the dialogue by showing that he can disallow all of
his fully Heraclitean etymologies, Socrates is making no gesture of futility.
Instead, he makes the formal recapitulation of what the geometer was to demonstrate, namely that there must be an idea of unchanging being for knowledge, knowers, and knowns to exist.
At the end of the eighth group of names, Socrates argues that, if things
are in fact in flux, we have no way to tell Greek from barbarian words. His
argument also finds no way at all to know the terms for the Heraclitean principle of a flux as necessary, a flux including the quality of binding. These
terms are e, , and (421c).In the seventh group of names Socrates
casually introduced the last term, , as o (418a) and only problematically accommodated it to Heraclitean terms as (419a). In the eighth group
helps present a principal difficulty in examining any terms at all.
Socrates makes the etymologies in the eighth group of names bear out
an apparent natural realism, although the topics in the eighth group are not
physical objects. If truth, being, and the rest of the topics in the eighth group
are in flux because all physical phenomena are in flux, then knowledge of
truth and being must also be in flux. If knowledge is changing along with
other phenomena, Socrates says later that it must be changing from itself, so
changing into ignorance. Given the assumption of flux, then, we cannot tell
knowledge from ignorance. Socrates argues this directly at the end of the
dialogue (439c ff.). In the eighth group, he is arguing it indirectly. He does
not yet conclude that knowledge based on flux is indistinguishable from ignorance. Instead, he says that he cannot know the terms for the binding flux in
itself, e, , and , and he cannot tell Greek from barbarian words.
Socrates example is a perfect illustration of the problem of equating a
Heraclitean kind of knowledge with sense perception or natural realism. He
has linked the apparently wise with the apparently foolish. Whether or not
Socrates thought the barbarians ignorant, Heraclitus did (DK 22 B 107); yet
Socrates Heraclitean assumption confounds Greek and barbarian together.
Socrates uses the example at a dramatic point in the dialogue, at the end of the
etymologies and the end of his elaborating a systematic reasoning or dianoia
for Heraclitean assumptions. He is about to elaborate noesis as it would have
to be for it to work on Heraclitean assumptions.
In the eighth group Socrates uses several expressions found also in the
passage in the Theaetetus where Theaetetus identifies knowledge with sense
perception (Cratylus 419b421d; Theaetetus 155d156c). Plato has Socrates

IV. Demonstration: Noesis, Knowing 421d-436b

115

allude to the argument from the Theaetetus and to pose a problem for it in the
eighth group. The two passages have several expressions in common. The
problem, for Heraclitus, is that of identifying knowledge with the way things
appear in flux to the senses. So far in the Cratylus Socrates has neither explicitly equated knowledge with perception, nor explicitly named Heraclitus as
the source of such an identification. Later he gets Cratylus to identify knowing names with knowing things (435d) and he himself finally links Heraclitus
to Cratylus arguments (440c). When Socrates draws these other correspondences, we see why he uses the same expressions in the eighth group and the
opening arguments from the Theaetetus. He is dealing with the same problem
of equating knowledge with sense perception. He does not deal with it so
explicitly as he does in the Theaetetus because the Cratylus dramatizes what
the Theaetetus argues.
The claim that knowledge is perception, the elements of which appear in
the eighth group of names, must also proceed through four stages in the phonological section, IV. Socrates uniformly opposes and Cratylus uniformly
maintains what follows from this claim. In the first stage, names are like the
things that they name. In the second particular letter sounds make particular
sense. In the third names have the nature of the things they name. Finally, in
the fourth the perception of a name produces knowledge of a thing. Socrates
refutes each of these consequences individually while he is deriving them
from the hypothesis of natural names that is agreeable to Cratylus. When
Socrates confutes Cratylus arguments, Cratylus never defends himself skillfully. He merely repeats his position four times. In part, this is because Plato
has set up the compounded divided line pattern and he has had to follow it in
its four steps merely to be consistent.
In the opening of the first stage of the phonological section, Socrates
says that he must play the game, . Hermogenes has been playing along
but not exactly competing, while Cratylus has not yet made a move, and will
show little skill when he finally does. In one sense, then, the game is already
over, but still the period of play is not. The movement of the argument from
this point to the end of the dialogue is simple. Its accord with the divided-line
patterning of the rest of the dialogue is easy to show, much easier than the
etymological sections corresponding accord. From this point, my argument
proceeds much more summarily.
1. The Imitation of Essence 421d425a: Synopsis
Immediately following the etymological section, then, Socrates, by the example of the good, (1) introduces the likelihood of simple and direct meaning,
(2) gains Hermogenes assent to his opinion of the purpose of naming, (3) sets
linguistic imitation within a system of mimetic arts, and (4) proclaims definition by division necessary for knowledge of accurate likeness-making. He

116

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

presents in terms of the four stages of the divided line a first stage of the
fourth stage of the line, an eikon of his concluding argumentative purposes.
While there may be anti-Heraclitean points in this first set of epistemological
consequences of the etymological section of the Cratylus, Socrates does not
argue them. Socrates notes that deafmutes use mime to distinguish the up
from the down, and shows that faultily synthetic names may lead to nonsensical meanings, ' , but, while essence has emerged as the object and
standard of naming, essence itself still goes without a determinate character.
The hypothesis that all is in flux is still intact.
A. An Account of the Good in Doubt 421d422b
Socrates says he has difficulty distinguishing between old and new or Greek
and barbarian words that are elemental to other words, namely e, , and
. Such considerations are part of the game, , so require investigation. Notably, these considerations are also elemental to Heraclitean philosophy. Next Socrates proposes a possible infinite regress of elements of elements of words. For an example Socrates chooses the good, , as
previously resolved into admirable, o, and swift, , whose
parts themselves may have parts. To avoid the infinite regress, Socrates says
there must be a way to determine what in a given name is not itself a compound from other names, l, is thereby elemental, , and so
does not admit of further analysis, (421d422b). Accordingly
Socrates says he and Hermogenes must determine word components in some
other way than they have been doing up to this point. Hermogenes concurs
that what Socrates is saying is likely, e , and Socrates enthusiastically
agrees, e . Finally, Socrates says all that has come before had led up
to this conclusion (422bc).
Socrates, in trying to etymologize the principles of Heraclitean thought,
has argued for the probable need for a new way of proceeding in the discussion. Only when he considers the good does he fix on this probability,
though he could have brought it up on linguistic grounds at any point within
the etymological section. By his new method, he will aim at what is primary
to word-synthesis and itself beyond analysis, a partless part of a word, an
atom of language. Although in one sense, this step in the argument supersedes
everything in the etymologies, Socrates stresses its continuity with what has
gone before. What appears discontinuous is in reality continuous because of
the arguments correspondence to the divided line. Socrates considers together the good and the completely analyzed unit of meaning, because
together they allude to the analytic sense of the good, the goal of the divided
lines four stages.
Socrates moves through the second and third stages of the line in the
preceding eight sets of etymologies by regular stages, at last to consider a

IV. Demonstration: Noesis, Knowing 421d-436b

117

simple and direct knowledge of the good. So far, he has considered only the
probability of such knowledge. This likelihood of knowledge, too, will have a
fourfold divided-line order, as did the preceding three stages of the line, and
similarly each of its four stages itself will appear in four stages.
Although Socrates appears to be arguing discontinuously, just at this
point in the Cratylus where he moves from the third to the fourth stage of the
divided line, he is in fact proceeding according to the sense of the line. The
first three parts of the line represent synthetic or relational activities of the
mind, while the fourth represents direct and analytic intelligence. Socrates
emphasizes that the section of the dialogue, which follows the eight sets of
etymologies, directly follows from them along the model of the divided lines
reasoning when, in spite of his apparently fundamentally different method
here, he can say that all that has preceded his abandonment of etymology has
led directly to it.
B. Belief in a Single Principle of Correctness 422bd
After stating that there may be a purely analytic means to belay an infinite
regress when defining the good, for example, Socrates states what he believes to be a condition of this analysis. He says that the fitness of primary
names, irreducible components of language, cannot differ from the fitness of
derivative names. For primary and for derivative names this fitness consists in
making manifest () what sort of thing each existing thing is (422cd).
Hermogenes has been quite agreeable to all of Socrates suggestions throughout the Cratylus. At this stage of the argument Socrates unnecessarily and for
the first time makes a great deal of securing Hermogenes agreement to his
opinion about what the fitness of names is. He uses many terms involving
opinion to secure this agreement. Terms involving opinion occur in so
many contexts in the Cratylus that they are difficult to characterize as remarkable or tellingly conspicuous. Still, along with the ordinary terms l,
and the slightly less ordinary l, occurs in the dialogue
for the first time.
Because, as Socrates thinks, o l, defining etymologically poses
an infinite regress, he asks Hermogenes to help him consider the fitness itself,
. Again, when Socrates says that primary and derivative names
are fitting in the same way, he expresses an opinion, and calls for assent to it
as an opinion, i i l. Socrates has moved from likelihood to
opinion, from the first to the second stage of the divided-line pattern within
the first stage of a four-stage argument. Socrates method, which he insists
that he has (422b), next yields its third stage, a systematic description of elementary analytic meaning.

118

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE


C. Systematizing Mimesis 422e424b

Socrates has stated that names should clarify particulars. He asks Hermogenes
how people could clarify without words, if, for instance, they had neither
vocal cords nor tongues. He himself suggests that mime or sign language can
also express with clarity. Someone can directly designate what is aloft,
, by pointing up to the sky, what is below, , by pointing earthward. To imitate a running horse is quite a bit harder, he says, and to do so
requires gestures that are more elaborate and movements of the body. In its
turn, Socrates considers vocal imitation. An onomatopoetic name is a vocal
imitation, but not all vocal imitations are names. The mimicking of animal
calls falls into the same class, as do some musical imitations. Representational
imitating, that which deals with what is perceivable, for example, sound,
shape, and color, falls largely outside the realm of naming and within the
realms of music and the graphic arts respectively.
What is left for names to imitate? Socrates says that names imitate not a
things external qualities but its essential nature, its ousia. Names imitate with
letters and syllables, so Socrates returns to the problematic primary names,
flux, motion, and fixity, to determine how these names imitate essence
in their letters and syllables. Socrates has substituted for , e for
e, and for . The meanings and philosophical problems remain
the same (422e424b).
Here at the most elementary level of clarifying meaning Socrates requires distinctions between the up and the down, and says that to express
continuous motion is complex, if not downright ridiculous. He is playing the
adversary of Heraclitus. When he claims that names imitate essence, Socrates
defines by division. He separates kinds of imitation and provides in the process a loose system of the mimetic arts. This systematic account (wherein naming also fits) is not crucial to the shift in the argument from word roots to
letters in themselves, but it usefully introduces Socrates philosophical technique, definition by division, or diairesis. By locating his account of names
within an account of essence, Socrates establishes his more general philosophic purposes. He also makes his method for attaining those purposes, diairesis, apply to the topic of names. Again, Socrates reckons namemaking ontologically, by its relation to essence.
D. The Need for Classification of Letters 424b425b
Socrates asks what sort of definition by division, , he who imitates
essence in letters and syllables uses. The imitator must divide, , his
materials in the same way that musicians sort out their rhythms. Socrates himself proposes to divide letters according to the classifications, h, of
grammarians, who are skilled in these matters. Socrates lists four classifications:
mutes, consonants, vowels, and semi-vowels. He says that these classifications

IV. Demonstration: Noesis, Knowing 421d-436b

119

likewise admit of further subdivision and the divisions receive names until at a
reach of analysis compositors can know, el, the classifications in the same
way as the letters they classify. At this stage skillful compositors know how,
, to make names like things, to choose and combine letters as a
painter employs his colors. As a likeness, e, demands some coloration
from a painter, so, too, it demands some consonance from the namemaker.
In this way, namemaking attains to the status of a skill or craft, .
Ancient namemakers put names together. To gain technical knowledge, h
, about namemaking, Socrates says he and his interlocutors must have names taken apart, , broken down by a process
of diairesis. Then they must see if the ancient names are properly put together;
for, if not, ancient names are faulty and off course, (424b425b).
At one level Socrates has set requirements for namemaking; at another
he has put limits on reasoning in general. Failure to analyze leads to inadequate name-synthesis, synthesis off course, . While synthesis is
rife in this passage (thirteen v-compounds), what connects this account of
namemaking to previous Heraclitean themes in the Cratylus becomes most
definite in this reference to a road. The course, , obviously recalls
Heraclitus way up and down (DK 22 B 60).
2. Sound as Sense 425b428a: Synopsis
Socrates proceeds in four steps through making likenesses of opinions (1),
demystifying his opinion (2), and systematizing sounds as manifestations of
Heraclitean sense (3), to seek along with Hermogenes to ground his opinion in
knowledge such as Cratylus may possess (4). Socrates concludes this second
stage of IV, the phonological section, with lack of wonder, and he points back
to how the etymologies befitting pistis or belief in and on Heraclitean terms
concluded with lack of wonder in the figure of Pan in II. It was no wonder,
either, when the indistinguishability of Greek and barbaric names followed
with lack of wonder from dianoia developing Heraclitean assumptions in III.
The Pan-logos in II would have surprised and perhaps even have appalled
Heraclitus, though, as would the confounding of distinctions between Greek
and barbarian in III. Socrates lack of wonder in IV, then, is also ironic.
A. Providing an Appearance of Classification 425bc
Socrates classifies letters so that they bear out the flux of being. He marks
where the argument stands on the divided line, at the stage of belief, pistis,
when he asks Hermogenes at just this point if he believes himself capable of
performing the necessary diairesis or division into classes of letters:
' (425b). What follows
are four stages of the opinion or belief in the literal sense of Heraclitus. When

120

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

considering the imitation of essence, Socrates suggests that letters may have
meaning in and of themselves. He tries to find exact meanings for letters. The
meanings are Heraclitean, to back up the etymologies that have already expressed the assumption of flux.
First qualifying his remarks by saying he has no certain knowledge of
what he is about, Socrates suggests to Hermogenes that they make accurate
representations of human conjectures, . . . . . . e, on the
classification of letters, l. It was with just such a preamble, as Socrates recalls, that he introduced his etymologies of the names of the gods.
Their names were the fourth stage within the etymologies developing pistis in
IID. As he commenced that stage of reasoning in the etymologies, Socrates
found it laughable and persuasive that the gods symbolize a Heraclitean account of reality.
Accordingly, when Socrates says next that he thinks the idea that letters
and syllables should accurately represent reality is ridiculous, ol v
o, he shows how his previous argument bears on this discussion of letter
elements. As in the previous etymologies for divine names, where the Heraclitean hypothesis resulted in ludicrous and self-contradictory consequences
in the figure of Pan, so, too, will Socrates derive self-contradiction from
Heraclitean assumptions. Socrates here, at the outset of his four stages of an
analyzable Heraclitean belief or pistis, is making likenesses, e, and
comparisons that indicate his counter-Heraclitean purposes in argument.
B. The Comic and Tragic Dependence on Opinion 425d426b
While Socrates finds the opinions he has to deal with laughable, he also says
those opinions are unavoidable. Since he does not understand the primary
names, he can do one of two things. He can either invoke divine origin as
tragedians invoke the deus ex machina, , to get out of difficulty in a
plot, or, as previously, he can invoke barbaric origin. Neither of these explanations satisfies Socrates; for neither provides a means to determine the correctness of primary names or leads to pure analytic demonstrable knowledge,
. . . l, and linguistic skill, . Therefore, says
Socrates, even while perceiving his opinions rash and foolish, . . .
l, he must assume them for the purpose of the argument (425d426b).
At the first stage of this pistis in and on Heraclitean terms Socrates said
he would engage in likeness-making. In this second stage, he first dismisses
mystifying opinions that previously prohibited further analysis, and then assumes responsibility for his opinions, foolish as they may be, in order to advance from mere opinion to sound analytic knowledge. He enters the third
stage in an opinion necessary to lead to knowledge that all is in flux.

IV. Demonstration: Noesis, Knowing 421d-436b

121

C. A Natural Phonetic Mimetic System 426c427d


Socrates system of sounds commences with the letter rho, , an instrument of
motion, . He says that motion itself is tantamount to going, e, in
spite of the orthographical variations in the two words. As opposed to the principle of motion in rho, he here mentions the noun stasis. Next he lists several
words containing rho wherein motion is fundamental to the meaning, among
them l, , J, and l. Likewise iota expresses subtle motion, as
in e and g, while phi, psi, sigma, and zeta all express windy or shaking motions, as in v and . Oppositely, the dentals tau and delta
represent compression and fixity, as in and . Lambda is
smooth and slippery, as in l and , but gamma restrains the sliding
lambda to produce in combination with it the sense of stickiness, as in
and . Nu, n, expresses the interior of the voice, as in and . Of
the vowels, alpha and eta appear respectively in greatness and breadth,
J and , because of their magnitude, while omicron appears in
round, , because omicron is round. In this way, the nomothete has
attached syllables and letters as signs and names of things and is able to make
more names with them by synthetic process, (426c427d).
Quite suddenly, Socrates forms this system of letters that largely signify
the realm of flux. Socrates rapid delivery strikingly contrasts with his lengthy
and diffident introduction to these obviously profuse remarks on letters.
Again, Socrates has rushed forward in a Heraclitean stage of his exposition.
At the end of this systematic account of how the nomothete has worked with
sounds to produce a correct representation, Socrates says he has finished with
what he has to say on the matter, unless Cratylus wants to help him add anything to it.
D. The Need to Test Theory 427e428a
Hermogenes demands that Cratylus respond in some way to Socrates system of
an ostensibly Heraclitean opinion. Hermogenes especially wants to emerge from
the confusion into which Cratylus has cast him, and he wishes to learn something. He has not been able to tell whether Cratylus intentionally made nothing
plain to him about the rightness of names. He commands Cratylus to agree with
or to contradict Socrates, . . . e, so he, Cratylus, may learn from
Socrates, g V, or teach Socrates and Hermogenes the way things are in
reality. To this demand for knowledge to complement or displace Socrates
preliminary opinion, Cratylus replies that knowledge, l, is a difficult thing.
Hermogenes further importunes. He reminds Cratylus that Hesiod recommends adding little to little. Finally, he says that justice binds Cratylus to
contribute to the discussion. Here even Socrates, on the grounds of his uncertainty, appeals to Cratylus; for, as he says, it would be no wonder,

122

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

, if Cratylus had a better account than he does, since Cratylus


appears to have made a study of the matter, l . . . . Socrates
is even willing to enlist as one of his students, (427d428b).
Cratylus says that he may have to disagree with Socrates words when
he says he fears, on the contrary, . . . , that he is more
likely to become Socrates student than Socrates his. He acknowledges Socrates progress by quoting from Iliad 9 Achilles words to Ajax, You appear to
have expressed, (), my thoughts exactly, and by saying himself
that Socrates has spoken oracularly in a reasonable way, , (428bc).
In what follows from this point to the dialogues conclusion, contradiction
becomes the dominant problem in the argument and Cratylus attempts to
avoid the problems of contradiction by denying them existence.
This polite prelude to their argument contains the elements of Cratylus
and Socrates forthcoming disagreements. Socrates accepts the possible contradiction before Cratylus speaks, while Cratylus fears ambivalence. Cratylus
chooses an epic figure, Achilles, as he breaks his silence, to express his opinion. His choice has dramatic worth in this context in view of his preceding
silence (and ensuing stubbornness), while the choice of Ajax for Socrates has
philosophical purpose as well. Ajax has spoken, , just as Socrates
has uttered oracles in IVB4, at the conclusion of a mythic and oracular stage
of the argument analogous to the second stage of the divided line.
3. Name as Thing 428b433d: Synopsis
If names cannot be better or worse, then there will be no way to tell the real
from the imitation, the model from the copy. In four stages, then, Socrates
moves from looking in two directions to avoid self-contradiction (1), through
Cratylus opinion that falsehood and self-contradiction are impossible in
speech (2), to a system distinguishing true from false and better from worse
(3), and finally to its alternative, a world where even ones name and oneself
are indistinguishable (4). Socrates sets strict limits on systematic reasoning
here. In order successively, he excludes deception, confusion, selfcontradiction, and delusion from a possible system of names. In the arguments next stage, the last reach of the hypothesis of flux, the same limits will
apply epistemologically to the Heraclitean account of being.
A. An Epic Task 428de
Suddenly Socrates expresses wonder and disbelief over what he has been
saying, . . . . To avoid self-deception he says, also quoting
Homer (A 343), he should look fore and aft, . Socrates previously said
he would not wonder if he were wrong in his belief; here, conversely, he
wonders while disbelieving himself. The realm of wonder and lack of pistis

IV. Demonstration: Noesis, Knowing 421d-436b

123

has replaced the realm of pistis and lack of wonder. Socrates, at the crux of
this shift in intellectual outlook, looks both ways. He does so to contain opposites within a single view, and to resolve potential contradictions instead of
avoiding them. This first advance from pistis to a systematic understanding of
opposites, fore and aft, involves sense perception, v.
B. Denial of True and False Names 428e430b
Socrates gets Cratylus to agree that naming is an art, that its artists are nomothetes, and that painters or builders vary from each other as better or worse
correspondingly as their products are better or worse. Cratylus will not admit
that nomothetes or their products vary from one another as better or worse.
According to him, a name is correct or is not a name, so that Hermogenes
name does not belong to him. He is not a son of Hermes, but of someone else.
If someone calls him Hermogenes, he is not lying, since to say a thing, which
is not apparent, is sound without sense. A falsehood is nothing but meaningless
noise, no more capable of expressing anything than beaten brass (428e430a).
In this curious and frustrating argument, Cratylus makes extensive use of
the language of opinion. Five of his ten main verbs are ol. Socrates opinion allows for and relies on distinctions outside of namemaking. Cratylus by
his opinion can only deny contradiction and falsehood. He has to become deaf
to argument. Socrates next attempts to test the opinion of Cratylus for its
coherence by the standard of dianoia. Accordingly he asks why naming, itself
within the classification of art, does not vary in quality as do the other arts.
C. Possible Systematic Inconsistency 430b432a
When Socrates suggests that he and Cratylus find common terms for reconciliation, he again shows that he is willing to change his mind. This time he
argues first that a name is different from what it names. He reasons that names
imitate things, and, in another way, so do pictures. Next, he says that we can
assign, l, an imitation to a thing to be imitated. In the case of pictures, we can also do the opposite, , and mistakenly or erroneously
assign an imitation. He concludes that of these assignings, f, only the
first kind is correct, the one that assigns imitations like the things imitated.
When Socrates attempts to claim that names, like pictures, similarly
assign imitations, the recalcitrant Cratylus insists that names do not so assign
. Cratylus at length abandons his absurd claim when Socrates gives
him an example of a name mistakenly imitating a thing. Socrates claims that
there can be right and wrong assigning of imitation, . The first expresses truth, the second falsehood. Further, if names can assign imitations
falsely, , then so can verbs, and so can the whole statements, ,
which are unions of nouns and verbs, . As pictures may be well or ill

124

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

made, so too, may names vary in quality and composition, their makers varying accordingly in skill (430a431e).
In this stage of the argument, Socrates appears to have completely reversed Cratylus claims just previous. Cratylus has tried to deny difference
and falsehood, but he appears to have given way without a struggle. The assigning, , of name to thing instead of simply the imitation of thing by
name, is the activity producing truth or falsehood. In this way, Socrates can
systematically distinguish between true and false or better and worse names
and namemakers. When he so frequently uses and in this
third and dianoetic stage of argument, Socrates points again to the correspondence between dianoia and nomos, systematic reasoning and systematic
arrangement. Synthesis by name, , here admits of falsehood and
requires analytic arrangement, , in order to express truth. Still, Cratylus attempts again to ascribe infallibility to names without having to allow for
their users varying abilities to allot them to objects.
D. Problems for Names as Identical Copies 432b432d
At this point in the argument, Cratylus says that a namemaker can only do a
good job, since a word altered in spelling is no word at all. Without insisting
on a difference between the inventors and the spellers of words, Socrates
makes short work of this case. Perhaps in the case of numbers, he points out,
the change of an individual unit changes a thing, the number, from itself.
Where a general instead of an exact impression suffices, such slight unit-letter
changes only negligibly affect the quality of the likeness, e. If likenesses had to be exact, a likeness would have to be identical to the thing itself.
A copy of Cratylus, possessing his soul and mind, , would in fact be
a second Cratylus, as Cratylus has to agree. The effect on names would be
ridiculous, l; for names would become the doubles of the things they
named. Everything would itself become twofold; no one could distinguish
names from things.
4. Perception as Knowledge 432d436c: Synopsis
Socrates proceeds in four stages. He moves first from reliance on type or
eikon in order to avoid self-contradiction. Next, he entertains a belief in the
meaning of letters as conventionally preserved from self-contradiction. Then
he considers systematic and mathematical checks on inconsistency. Finally he
determines what must be true for Cratylus view to lead to knowledge, namely
that knowledge and sense perception be the same.

IV. Demonstration: Noesis, Knowing 421d-436b

125

A. Cratylus Preference for Representational Names 432d433d


To avoid the confusing of models and copies that follows from insisting that a
name perfectly imitate a thing, Socrates outlines another account of how
names imitate. Since names cannot exclude falsehood in and of themselves, a
name should instead more or less accurately show a things basic outline,
o. To ask for more than this from a name is like wandering around the
streets of Aigina at night, . Cratylus, then, must
seek some other account of the natural fitness of names; for if he insists that
names are naturally fit in meaning, but that a namemaker can give them incorrectly, Cratylus cannot agree with himself, c V l .
The question remains whether to be a worthwhile likeness, ekn, a name
must have letters in some way like the thing it names. If so, says Socrates,
names, while imperfect, can still be better or worse, since the crafting of form
in letters can be better or worse. Cratylus is by no means convinced.
Here Socrates sets up an opposition between reasoning from a rough outline, or e, and reasoning from exact correspondences. Reasoning
from type or eikon, Platonic divided-line reasoning, is here alternative to selfcontradiction, the indistinguishability of opposites, and wandering around in a
road in the dark, suggestive here of the Heraclitean way up and down. Socrates
has again argued in general for an artistry of namemaking to replace the need
for naturally perfect names. Again, Cratylus rejects his conclusion after agreeing with his premises; for he does not think, o, he need contend with Socrates, since he does not accept a misplaced name as a name at all. Socrates
attempts to redefine the rift between his and Cratylus positions and so to expose even more plainly the self-contradictory nature of Cratylus point of view.
B. Conventional Paradoxes for Natural Mimetic Names 433d434e
Cratylus agrees a name represents, , a thing, that some names are primary and some compound. Either the best representation, as Socrates says, is
the most exact, so that names vary as do other likenesses, or Cratylus must
accept Hermogenes notion that names are conventionally formed by those
who know what they mean and agree with each other on signs for it. One convention can counter another, , such as one wherein we call great
small and small great. Such a convention, though, does not differ,
v, in principle as a convention. Cratylus insists representation by similarity still differs greatly from representation by arbitrary symbol. On this
view, Socrates says letters as components must be like elements of the thing
they represent, as an artists paints are the colors of the thing he has to paint.
Previously the letter rho represented motion and change and, Socrates
here adds, hardness (), while lambda represented yielding. In
Eretria, though, is , so that sigma and rho either mean

126

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

the same thing to both sets of speakers or one or the other of the letters means
nothing to one of the sets. Cratylus says both must mean the same for both.
Socrates points out a further problem with this word. In both dialect variations
the lambda appears. Lambda is a letter whose character, yielding, is opposite,
, to the whole word. This may be a case of shoddy compounding such
as Socrates and Hermogenes previously discussed in a way that Cratylus thinks
correct, . Cratylus thinks the spelling may be improved,
but Socrates says they have no need for improvement since both already understand the word, o. When Cratylus attributes this phenomenon to
habit and custom, o, Socrates equates custom with convention (433d434e).
In this part of the argument, Socrates reviews Cratylus opinion of name
formation and refers to his own previous opinion about the significance of
different individual letters. Socrates did not in fact refer to hardness as a
characteristic of the rho previously. Of words characterizing the sense of rho
as flowing that he there lists, , for instance, could also imply hardness.
Socrates at this point in the dialogue is more interested in introducing selfcontradiction to the flux, and so rho, than in harmonizing his second account
with his first. Cratylus still thinks that name formation is natural in that it
shows the nature of things named, but this opinion turns out to be the conventional hypothesis again. To call small great and great small, an apparent identification of opposites does not alter the difference in size. Further, the same
letters can mean different things in different words. Cratylus opinion in this
way yields to its contradiction, while Socrates opinion still allows for the
possibility of knowledge.
C. Successful Representation by Like and Unlike 434e435d
Socrates becomes systematic. He expresses himself in terms of dianoia. When
in communicating by custom and habit Socrates understands, , what
he says, Cratylus can know that Socrates understands it, l
. Further, Socrates can communicate systematically, voovo,
in sounds like or unlike things. Custom, then, can distinguish opposites and
make consistent sense by means either of sameness or difference in sound.
Communication by custom takes place even without sound, as Socrates notes
when he infers from Cratylus silence that Cratylus agrees that custom can
communicate by like or unlike sounds. Custom, then, allows speakers to express
what they systematically understand, . Finally, Socrates admits that if we could find the natural correspondences between all names
and all things, we could get the best names. Without any such correspondences,
conversely, names would be at their worst, h . In any case
we cannot avoid some recourse to convention in naming.
In this third stage of argument four forms of appear. Mathematics, as the most dianoetic reasoning, checks Cratylus indiscriminate view.

IV. Demonstration: Noesis, Knowing 421d-436b

127

Socrates next derives the epistemological consequences of the view, which


Cratylus will not relinquish.
D. Denying Inconsistency 435d436c
When Socrates asks him what function names can perform, Cratylus answers
what would be true if his account of names were not yet inconsistent, or perhaps as if he can merely disallow the charges of inconsistency. According to
Cratylus the function of names is to instruct, a function they perform so well
that whoever knows names also knows things named,
, i . Such a conclusion assumes that
names are like things, on, according to Socrates. If so, they fall within a
single craft of similars, as Cratylus must say if he is in fact saying that someone who knows names also knows things, e h i
. Socrates asks that they consider, h, what kind of instruction names provide and whether such instruction is the best.
Cratylus insists no other means exists of teaching, discovering, or learning, , than by means of names. Socrates again counsels Cratylus to
consider, , l, whether, if he relies entirely on names, he
does not risk extreme confusion, especially since the namemakers themselves
may have had an incorrect sense of things they named. Cratylus proclaims
that a namemaker had to know, e, what he was doing for the name he
gave to be a name, as the agreement, , of names and things demonstrates. This he says Socrates must also have comprehended, ol, in
previous observation (435d436c).
Here Cratylus holds that knowledge of things is knowledge of likenesses, and that perception of likeness is knowledge of fact. The language of
knowledge and certainty abounds in this passage (one use of , two
of , three of l, and six of el). Cratylus appeals to consistency, , despite Socrates previous case of the inconsistencies in the
form and content of .

This page intentionally left blank

Seven
REDUCTION, RECAPITULATION: 436C440C
1. The Absurdity of Flux as a Model of Logos; 436c439a
In the phonological section, IV, Socrates has followed out the suggestion from
the eighth group of names that names are like the things that they name.
Things are in flux, and so to be natural and realistic, names must represent
and even embody flux. This suggestion leads Cratylus to assert that to know a
name is to know a thing. This suggests that knowledge is perception, as did
the allusions to the Theaetetus in the eighth group. In four steps, Socrates
reduces to absurdity the hypothesis of flux and, as far as he suggests it, the
concomitant thesis that perception is knowledge.
A. Eikasia: Likeness to Geometric Absurdity 436cd
Socrates begins the reductio by noticing that, if the namemaker had initially
erred in assigning names and then forced other names to agree with his initial
mistake, there would be nothing strange or absurd, , about it. He points
out that something like this happens in geometrical diagrams where an initial
error leads to subsequent ones. He says we must construct diagrams,
v, correctly in order not to falsify a whole chain of reasoning in
geometry; by analogy in other forms of argument, we must carefully select
first principles and assumptions, . (436cd). Plato, and probably
Socrates, too, knew that diagrams which are incorrectly or impossibly constructed are intentional in those geometric proofs which invalidate hypotheses
by the technique of reductio ad absurdum.
Socrates is fully aware, while Cratylus is not at all aware, that analogies
in speech do not work just like mathematical analogiai. The first are always
approximate, however elegant, but the second are always exact and fully
mathematically manipulable, so that they can be multiplied and divided exactly, for instance. By employing analogies in speech, like the diagram analogy
here, Socrates only intends to express probabilities about language and Heraclitus meaning. By first suggesting a comparison with geometrical diagrams,
and then imitating a mathematical pattern of reasoning here in the Cratylus, he
is not doing, or even trying to do, anything exactly mathematically provable.

130

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE


B. Pistis: Counter Opinions to Cratylus 436d438a

In reductio proofs, inconsistent consequences invalidate the assumptions from


which they are derived. With this model in mind Socrates next says he would
be surprised, , if names could even be consistent
with themselves, given the first principle that all is in flux, motion, and alteration. He proceeds to derive meanings from names in order to portray the flux
as self-contradictory, since on this principle he finds letters for what is worst
in names for what is best. For instance, knowledge signifies fixity,
signifies g, unless Socrates changes its orthography to bear
out the principle of flux; even further, certainty, account, trusting
(), and memory directly contradict the principle. According to the
principle, on the other hand, error and mishap correspond in etymological
signification to understanding and knowledge, while stupidity and
license mean godlike progress and realism.
In short, Socrates thinks, , anybody can find names that indicate,
e, that the original name-setter contradicted the hypothesis of flux in
different ways, and on occasion accepted the hypothesis of fixity in its stead.
Here Cratylus momentarily appeals to the argument that more names indicate
the flux. Socrates rejoins again with a reference to mathematical reasoning.
He asks Cratylus if they should count, , names like ballots,
and reckon the truth by majority rule. Cratylus admits that this resort would
provide him with no case (436d437d).
Because there can be counter opinions about the word knowledge,
counter opinions about knowledge itself can co-exist. Further, opinion as such
cannot decide on the truth of opinion, since not even majority opinion constitutes an epistemological principle. Geometric reasoning and analysis have
argued against Cratylus in Part A of the Reductio and arithmetic does not
begin to argue for him here in Part B, where Socrates allows for the possibility of believing that reality is not in flux, and that the early name-setters may
so have believed.
C. Dianoia: Consistency in Devising Names Depends on
Knowledge of Things 438ad
In the third stage of his reductio, Socrates makes use of the legislative and
name-setting science in arguing that perception is not knowledge. First, he
accepts the requirement that Cratylus has set up, that name-setters knew,
e, the things that they named. It follows, then, that they knew, ev,
things before they named them, contrary to the assumption that a knowledge
of names is sufficient and necessary for knowledge of the things that they
name. Cratylus falls back on the appeal to a divine origin of names. He still
wants to establish their natural rightness and natural realism, which would

Reduction, Recapitulation 436c-440c

131

allow for the identity of knowledge with sense perception. Still, as Socrates
says, names will be no more consistent, and this in the same way which has
already revealed that the hypothesis of flux is self-contradictory. The inconsistency becomes divine instead of human.
Doggedly Cratylus denies divine origin to names that contradict him and
his hypothesis. Unfortunately, he must then admit that he cannot tell which
names are divine, those expressing fixity or those expressing flux. In names
themselves no scientific standard, no means of distinction,
, provides for the way in which Cratylus wants to distinguish
real from apparent names. The hypothesis of flux does not exclude its own
contradiction; instead, a systematic self-contradiction follows from assuming
constant change within a science or system of name setting.
D. Noesis: Knowing Things without Names 438e439a
In the fourth and summary stage of Socrates reductio, names are no longer
the basis of knowledge of things. Knowledge, l, must first exist apart
from names. Knowledge of things does not depend on what names make
manifest but on what manifests, l without names and makes truth
manifest (438de). When Socrates began his brief reduction to absurdity of the
case for knowledge of things as the perception of names, he appealed to the
analogy of geometric and analytic reasoning. The choice of geometric reasoning emerges as doubly significant. Geometry can provide a sort of manifest
knowledge without names. Still using the model of geometric demonstration,
Socrates concludes the dialogue with a formal recapitulation in four stages of
the alternative to the hypothesis of flux.
2. The Dream of Being as Necessary for Logos 439a440c
We have seen the assumption of the flux to be systematically selfcontradictory. Apparent change is no proof of real change. Socrates has argued as if he were performing a geometric reductio proof. He has argued for
fixed essence by showing the absurdity of a flux of being. While his argument
is like a geometric proof, he does not intend it as a serious proof. It persuades
by maintaining the reductio form, but it cannot convince Cratylus. At the end
of the dialogue Socrates tries to persuade Cratylus directly about the fixity of
essence. That fixity is in any way complete does not follow from the absurdity
of complete flux. The reductio form dramatically poses the problem of finding in what way some things, even if only some of the time, are unchanging.
The reductio does not resolve the problem. The reductio suggests, without
concluding, that the fixity of being can be established. Plato is careful not to
overrate the worth of his parody of a reductio proof. He is using a rhetorical
foil not to delude, but to persuade.

132

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

Plato follows a reductio model from geometry, which he has introduced


by way of analogy. When Socrates recapitulates what follows from the flux,
he again proceeds through the four stages of the divided line, but he interchanges the order of its two middle terms, pistis and dianoia. Plato emphasizes that he is persuading and not pretending to be scientific. Since pistis and
dianoia are equal in quantity on the divided line, there may be a hint here that
Plato thinks their philosophic value is also in some way equal. Picturethinking can compare to systematic science and belief can compare to knowledge, but in a different way than picture-thinking compares to belief and systematic science compares to knowledge.
A. Eikasia: Names as Likenesses 439ab
Names have not led to knowledge. Socrates says that the likely way, , to
get to knowledge is by considering things in themselves. Some names are
likenesses, , of the things that they name; still, we should know first
what a thing is, so that we can judge the quality of the likeness, and not depend on likeness, , as our basis for judging what is true. Names as
likenesses are likely to lead to confusion instead of knowledge. Socrates suggests that perception of likeness does not lead to knowledge of fact.
B. Dianoia: Systematically Inconsistent Names 439bc
The original name-setters may have systematically thought, ,
that all is in flux. Socrates believes that they did so think, , but
mainly because they were swept into a maelstrom into which they continue to
drag Socrates and his fellow speakers. These name-setters need not have
possessed wisdom. What the name-setters perceived, the flux of becoming,
fooled them, and although they reasoned systematically, this does not mean
that they knew what they were talking about.
C. Pistis: The Dream-Belief of Form 439ce
As an alternative to the Heraclitean whirlpool of becoming, Socrates recounts
to Cratylus, whom he calls wondrous, , his view based on a dream,
. He has envisioned that a good and beautiful exists in itself and
that everything that exists has its peculiar being. Cratylus agrees. Socrates
says next that the reality of a thing is not itself perceivable within the flux of
particular impressions, but exists without change. For a thing to exist in reality, it cannot change form, e, its character as an idea. Socrates
perhaps calls Cratylus wondrous here in order to point out exactly where
Cratylus and he should commence ensuing philosophical investigations.

Reduction, Recapitulation 436c-440c

133

Philosophy famously begins for Socrates in wonder or


(Pl.Theaet. 155d) and he has used derivations from it at especially crucial
turning points in the Cratylus ( 391d, 408d, 421d).
Socrates philosophical investigation proceeds next from another crucial
point, a belief like his dream of things in themselves within the form of unchanging ideas. In the Republic (533b), geometers dream about being in itself,
i . The model of geometric reasoning dominating the closing remarks of the Cratylus makes it likely that dream has the
same philosophical force in both dialogues.1
D. Noesis: Necessity of Idea for Knowledge, Knowers, Knowns 439e440d
Finally, Socrates says that without formal and unchanging being there can be
no knowledge, . If all things change, knowledge will change, too, and
not just superficially but in its intrinsic character or nature, .
While changing from one nature to another, , knowledge will have
no nature, character, or even existence. There will be no knowers or knowns.
But if knowers, knowns, and knowledge itself exist, Socrates cannot think that
the hypothesis of flux is likely, . Still, he does not say the
hypothesis of flux cannot be true. Whether the theory of flux or the theory of
fixed ideas is correct, Socrates thinks it unreasonable for someone who has
intelligence, , to put any trust, , in names and name-setters.
Socrates here exhorts Cratylus to a belief in the form or idea of a thing in
itself. Cratylus in his turn assures Socrates that he will reconsider the problem, even though he is predisposed to the view of Heraclitus.
Plato concludes the dialogue by dramatically contrasting Cratylus and
Socrates and their two points of view, namely the theory of flux and the theory of fixed ideas. Cratylus, proponent of constant motion, is ready to move
back to the countryside. Socrates, believer in the dream of changeless being,
is staying where he is. In thinking about the rightness of names and the flux of
being, Cratylus is changeless, while Socrates appears quite willing to change
his mind. In his last words, Socrates says that Cratylus will return to teach
him some other time. Cratylus agrees to do so and urges Socrates to try in the
meantime to figure these matters out, l . Cratylus
apparently thinks that he already has done the figuring (439d440d).
With only the slightest modifications Cratylus account of natural names
could become not only compatible with how names indicate, but also most
useful for the further investigation of language. Cratylus is holding on to what
Rachel Barney calls probably the essential thought to be extracted from the
etymological declamation, there is a perfectly general and systemic way in
which the names we use indicate that things are in flux.2 He is hanging on to
it so intently, though, that he sees neither its limits nor its usefulness. He does

134

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

not see that, while names do indicate that things are in flux, they can do so
misleadingly, which is Platos view.
While Socrates has invalidated the whole chain of the etymologies and
his reasoning on the hypothesis of flux, he has done so because he has taken
that hypothesis as strictly as Cratylus wants to take it. He has drawn an analogy from geometry to show that it would not be absurd in namemaking if the
namemaker had initially erred in assigning names and then forced other
names to agree with his initial mistake. Cratylus is the one who has continued
relentlessly to insist on the still correct judgment of the original namemaker
and the exactness of an analogy between names and things. He is a sort of
idealogue, a strict and uncompromising literalist. Although he thinks he understands naming and the flux, he cannot budge in the least in his notion of
what the flux has to do with how names express things. For him the flux is an
ide fixe, not a working hypothesis. It stops him from thinking instead of
helping him think.
In the dialogues concluding two pages, Socrates has again followed the
divided line. He has interchanged the two middle sections and so exhorted
Cratylus to a belief or even a dream that can lead to knowledge of what does
not change. Socrates does not act as if he has proven anything. He does not
put his conclusion into scientific language. Systematic reasoning from the
etymological section does not lead in the phonological section of the dialogue
to knowledge. Socrates suggests that a pre-scientific vision may do so instead.
When he concludes the argumentative portion of the dialogue by making an
appeal to pistis, Socrates makes the final point by implication that the dialogue itself is only a likeness of a proof. While Socrates has argued along the
lines of geometric demonstration, he has in fact provided only the complex
first stage in some yet more complex account of knowledge. He has suggested
what is likely, and said that it perhaps is true, perhaps not (440d). He has not
tried to show that it is certain.

NOTES
Preface
1. Louis Meridier, Preface, in Cratyle (Paris: Bud, 1950), p. 20.
2. Thomas G. Rosenmeyer, Name-Setting and Name-Using: Elements of
Foundationalism in Platos Cratylus, Ancient Philosophy, 18 (Spring 1998), p. 44.
3. David Sedley, The Etymologies in Platos Cratylus, Journal of Hellenic
Studies, 118 (1998), p. 142n11; and Platos Cratylus (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge
University Press, 2003), pp. 3741.
4. Rachel Barney, Socrates Agonistes: The Case of the Cratylus Etymologies, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, 16 (1998), pp. 6398. Cf. Names and
Nature in Platos Cratylus (New York: Routledge, 2001), pp.4951.
5. See also Richard Lewis Nettleship, Lectures on the Republic of Plato, 2nd
ed. (New York: St. Martins Press, 1901), pp. 238258.
6. Friedrich Schleiermacher, Introduction, in Kratylos: Platons Werke (Berlin: G. Reiner, 1810), trans. W. Dobson (Cambridge: J. Smith, 1836), pp. 228229.
7. See Josef Derbolav, Der Dialog Kratylos im Rahmen der Platonischen
Sprach und Erkenntnis-philosophie (Saarbrucken: West-Ost-Verlag, 1953), pp. 2426;
and Platons Sprachphilosophie im Kratylos und in den Spteren Schriften (Darmstadt,
Germany: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1973), pp. 2930, Bibliography.
8. Ronald Levinson, Language and the Cratylus: Four Questions, Review of
Metaphysics, 11 (1957), pp. 3133.
9. Gert Jan de Vries, Notes on Some Passages of the Cratylus, Mnemosyne,
4:8 (1955), p. 290.
10. Victor Moritz E. Goldschmidt, Essai sur le Cratyle, Contribution l'Histoire de la Pense de Platon (Paris: H. Champion, 1940).
11. A. E. Taylor, Plato, the Man and his Work (New York: Dial Press, 1936), p. 78.
12. G. S. Kirk, The Problem of Cratylus, American Journal of Philology, 72
(1951), p. 226.
13. Paul Friedlnder, Platon: Seinswahrheit und Lebenswirklichkeit, 2nd ed.
(Berlin: W. DeGruyter, 1954); in English as Plato . . . An Introduction, vol. 1, trans.
Hans Meyerhoff (New York: Pantheon, 1958), p. 32.
14. Thomas Taylor, Introduction, in Cratylus, Phaedo, Parmenides, and Timaeus of Plato, Translated, with Notes on the Cratylus and an Explanatory Introduction to Each Dialogue (London: Benjamin and John White, 1792), p. xvi.
15. See Rudolph H. Weingartner, Making Sense of the Cratylus, Phronesis,
15 (1970), p. 8; and Levinson, Language and the Cratylus, p. 28.
16. Goldschmidt, Essai sur le Cratyle, p. 93.
17. Robert Brumbaugh, Platos Cratylus: The Order of Etymologies, Review
of Metaphysics, 11 (1958), pp. 503504.
18. Sedley, The Etymologies in Platos Cratylus, p. 141; and Platos Cratylus,
chap.2, esp. pp. 2841, chap. 7, pp. 156158.
19. Rosenmeyer, Name-Setting and Name Using, p. 44.
20. Barney, Socrates Agonistes, p. 66, also citing Goldschmidt on Nietzsche,
p. 79n35. Cf. Names and Nature in Platos Cratylus, pp.6069.
21. M. M. Mackenzie, Putting the Cratylus in its Place, Classical Quarterly, 36:1

136

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

(1986), pp. 124150. (Also publishes under M. M. McCabe and MM Mackenzie.); and
Sedley, The Etymologies in Platos Cratylus, p. 151n38.
22. Proclus Diadochus, In Platonis Cratylum Commentaria: Edidit Georgius
Pasquali, ed. Georgio Pasquali (Leipzig: Teubner 1908), Index, pp. 115117.
23. Leendert Gerrit Westerink, Anonymous Prolegomena to Platonic Philosophy: Introduction, Text, Translation, and Indices (Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing Company, 1962), pp. xxxviixl.
24. Proclus Diadochus, Procli Commentarius in Platonis Parmenidem, ed. Victor
Cousin (Hildesheim, Germany: Georg Olms, 1961, repr. of Paris, 1864 ed.), p. 1060.
25. Brumbaugh, Platos Cratylus, p. 503.
26. Mackenzie, Putting the Cratylus in its Place, p. 124. Cf. John Victor Luce,
The Date of the Cratylus, American Journal of Philology, 85 (1964), pp. 136154;
and Rosenmeyer, Name-Setting and Name-Using, p. 46n22.
27. Sedley, Platos Cratylus, chap. 1, p. 616.
28. Elroy L. Bundy, Studia Pindarica (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California
Press, 1986), p. 2; repr. of vol. 18, University of California Publications in Classical
Philology (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1962).
29. Rosenmeyer, Name-Setting and Name-Using, p. 46.
30. John Burnet, Platonis Opera (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976 repr.
of 1900 ed.).
31. Hermann Diels and Walther Kranz, Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, 6th
ed. (Berlin: Weidmannsche Buchhandlung, 1956).
32. Nicholas Hammond, Geoffrey Lemprire, and Howard Hayes Scullard, eds.,
Oxford Classical Dictionary, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970).

Chapter One
1. See Eva Brann, The Music of the Republic, Agon, 1:1 (1967), pp.1117.
2. See Sir Thomas Little Heath, ed., The Thirteen Books of Euclids Elements,
vol. 1, ed. and trans. Johan Ludvig Heiberg (New York: Dover, 1956, repr. of Cambridge University Press ed., 1908), pp. 129130, citing Proclus, In Primum Euclidis
Elementorum, ed. Gottfried Friedlein (Leipzig, Germany: Teubner, 1873), p. 221, 711.
3. Proclus, In Primum Euclidis Elementorum, pp. 211.18212.1; and Sir Thomas Little Heath, A History of Greek Mathematics: vol. 1, From Thales to Euclid
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960, repr. of Oxford University Press ed., 1921), p. 291.
4. Pappus, of Alexandria, Collectionis quae Supersunt, 7, ed. Fridericus
Hultsch (Weidemann: Berlin, 18761877), p. 634; and Heath, Thirteen Books of
Euclids Elements, vol. 1, p.138.

Chapter Two
1. David Sedley, Platos Cratylus (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge Univ. Press,
2003.), pp. 1621.

Notes

137

2. Rachel Barney, Socrates Agonistes: The Case of the Cratylus Etymologies,


Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, 16 (1998), p. 97.
3. Ibid.

Chapter Three
1. Thomas G. Rosenmeyer, Name-Setting and Name-Using: Elements of
Foundationalism in Platos Cratylus, Ancient Philosophy, 18 (Spring 1998), p. 48.
2. See Raymond Adolph Prier, Archaic Logic: Symbol and Structure in Heraclitus, Parmenides, and Empedocles (Hague-Paris: Mouton, 1976).
3. Herman Frnkel, A Thought Pattern in Heraclitus, American Journal of
Philology, 59 (1938), pp. 309337.
4. Richard Robinson, A Criticism of Platos Cratylus, Philosophical Review,
65 (1956), p. 328.
5. Richard Robinson, The Theory of Names in Platos Cratylus, Revue Internationale de Philosophie, 9 (1955), p. 232.
6. E. R. Dodds, Gorgias: A Revised Text with Introduction and Commentary
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1959), p. 337.
7. Rosenmeyer, Name-Setting and Name-Using, p. 48.
8. Robert Renehan, Hera as Earth Goddess: A New Piece of Evidence,
Rheinisches Museum fr Philologie, 117 (1974), pp. 193201.

Chapter Four
1. Ferdinand Lassalle, Die Philosophie Herakleitos des Dunklen von Ephesos,
vol. 2 (Berlin: Franz Dunker, 1858), pp. 420, 421n2.
2. Adalbert Steiner, Die Etymologien in Platons Kratylos, Archiv fr
Geschichte der Philosophie, 22:2 (1916), p. 126.
3. Rachel Barney, Socrates Agonistes: The Case of the Cratylus Etymologies, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, 16 (1998), pp.7175.
4. Richard Walzer, Eraclito, Raccolta dei Frammenti (Hildesheim: Georg
Olms, 1964, repr. of 1939 ed.), p. 64.
5. Cf. Robert Brumbaugh, Platos Cratylus: The Order of Etymologies, Review of Metaphysics, 11 (1958), p. 509.
6. Cf. Phaedo, 8lc; and Victor Moritz E. Goldschmidt, Essai sur le Cratyle,
Contribution l'Histoire de Lapense de Platon (Paris: H. Champion, 1940), p. 123n3.
7. Cf. Raymond Adolph Prier, Archaic Logic: Symbol and Structure in Heraclitus, Parmenides, and Empedocles (Hague-Paris: Mouton, 1976), p. 66.
8. Cf. Francis Macdonald Cornford, Theaetetus (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill,
1959), p. 43n68.

Chapter Five
1. G. S. Kirk, Heraclitus: The Cosmic Fragments (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1962), pp. 294295.
2. Ibid., p. 275.
3. See Martin West, Early Greek Philosophy, in Oxford History of the Classical World (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), chap. 5, pp. 117

138

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

119.
4. See Ferdinand Lassalle, Die Philosophie Herakleitos des Dunklen von Ephesos, vol. 2 (Berlin: Franz Dunker, 1858), p.113; and Victor Moritz E. Goldschmidt,
Essai sur le Cratyle, Contribution L'Histoire de laPense de Platon (Paris: H.
Champion, 1940), p. 132.
5. Lassalle, ibid., vol.2, p. 338; and Goldschmidt, ibid., p.135.
6. Goldschmidt, ibid., p. 135.
7. Ibid., pp. 137138.
8. Martin West, Early Greek Philosophy and the Orient (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971), p. 220n3.
9. Paul Friedlnder, Platon: Seinswahrheit und Lebenswirklichkeit (Berlin: W.
DeGruyter, 1954); in English as Hans Meyerhoff, trans., Plato . . . An Introduction,
vol. 2 (New York: Pantheon, 1958), p. 344.
10. See John Victor Luce, The Date of the Cratylus, American Journal of Philology, 85:2 (1964), p. 152.
11. See Francis Macdonald Cornford, Theaetetus (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill,
1959), pp. 4850.
12. Ibid.
13. Ibid., p. 43.
14. Ibid., p. 101.

Chapter Six
1. Friedrich Schleiermacher, Introduction, in Kratylos: Platons Werke (Berlin: G. Reiner, 1810), trans. W. Dobson (Cambridge: J. Smith, 1836), p. 230.
2. Thomas G. Rosenmeyer, Name-Setting and Name-Using: Elements of
Foundationalism in Platos Cratylus, Ancient Philosophy, 18 (Spring 1998), p. 44.

Chapter Seven
1. Cf., John Victor Luce, The Theory of Ideas in the Cratylus, Phronesis,
10:1 (1965), pp. 2527.
2. Rachel Barney, Socrates Agonistes: The Case of the Cratylus Etymologies, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, 16 (1998), p. 97.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Barney, Rachel. Names and Nature in Platos Cratylus. New York: Routledge, 2001.
. Socrates Agonistes: The Case of the Cratylus Etymologies, Oxford Studies
in Ancient Philosophy, 16 (1998), pp. 6398.
Brann, Eva. The Music of the Republic, Agon, 1:1 (1967), pp. 1117.
Brumbaugh, Robert. Platos Cratylus: The Order of Etymologies, Review of Metaphysics, 11:2 (1958), pp. 502510.
Bundy, Elroy L. Studia Pindarica. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press,
1986, repr. of University of California Publications in Classical Philology, vol.
18. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1962.
Burnet, John, ed. Platonis Opera. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976, repr. of
1900 ed.
Cornford, Francis Macdonald. Theaetetus. Indianapolis, Ind.: Bobbs-Merrill, 1959.
Derbolav, Josef. Der Dialog Kratylos im Rahmen der Platonischen Sprach-und Erkenntnisphilosophie. Saarbrucken, Germany: West-Ost Verlag, 1953.
. Platons Sprachphilosophie im Kratylos und im den Spteren Schriften. Darmstadt, Germany: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1973. Contains nearly complete critical bibliography for scholarship on the Cratylus from 18041972.
De Vries, Gert Jan. Notes on Some Passages of the Cratylus, Mnemosyne, 4:8
(1955), pp. 290297.
Diels, Hermann, and Walther Kranz. Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker. 6th ed. Berlin:
Weidmannsche Buchhandlung, 1956.
Dodds, E. R., Gorgias: A Revised Text with Introduction and Commentary. Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1959.
Frnkel, Herman. A Thought Pattern in Heraclitus, American Journal of Philology,
59 (1938), pp. 309337.
Friedlnder, Paul, Platon: Seinswahrheit und Lebenswirklichkeit. 2nd ed. Berlin: W.
DeGruyter, 1954. In English as Plato . . . An Introduction. Translated by Hans
Meyerhoff. New York: Pantheon, 1958.
Goldschmidt, Victor Moritz E. Essai sur le Cratyle: Contribution a l'Histoire de la
Ense de Platon. Paris: H. Champion, 1940.
Hammond, Nicholas, Geoffrey Lemprire, and Howard Hayes Scullard, eds. Oxford
Classical Dictionary, 2nd ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970.
Heath, Sir Thomas Little. A History of Greek Mathematics: vol. 1. From Thales to
Euclid. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960, repr. of Oxford University Press ed.,
1921.
. The Thirteen Books of Euclids Elements. New York: Dover, 1956, repr. of
Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press ed., 1908.
Kirk, G. S.. Heraclitus: The Cosmic Fragments. Cambridge, England: Cambridge
University Press, 1954.

140

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

. The Problem of Cratylus, American Journal of Philology, 72 (1951), pp.


225253.
Lassalle, Ferdinand. Die Philosophie Herakleitos des Dunklen von Ephesos. Berlin:
Franz Dunker, 1858.
Levinson, Ronald. B., Language and the Cratylus: Four Questions, Review of Metaphysics, 11:1 (1957), pp. 2841.
Luce, John Victor. The Date of the Cratylus, American Journal of Philology, 85:2
(1964), pp. 136154.
. The Theory of Ideas in the Cratylus, Phronesis, 10:1 (1965), pp. 2136.
Mackenzie, M. M., Putting the Cratylus in Its Place, Classical Quarterly, 36:1
(1986), pp. 124150.
Meridier, Louis. Cratyle. Paris: Bud, 1950, repr. of 1931 ed.
Nettleship, Richard Lewis. Lectures on the Republic of Plato. 2nd ed. New York: St.
Martins Press, 1901.
Pappus of Alexandria. Collectionis quae Supersunt. 7. Edited by Fridericus Hultsch.
Berlin: Weidemann, 18761877.
Prier, Raymond Adolph. Archaic Logic: Symbol and Structure in Heraclitus, Parmenides, and Empedocles, Hague-Paris: Mouton, 1976.
Proclus Diadochus. In Platonis Cratylum Commentaria: Edidit Georgius Pasquali.
Edited by Georgio Pasquali. Leipzig, Germany: Teubner, 1908.
. In Primum Euclidis Elementorum. Edited by Gottfried Friedlein. Leipzig,
Germany: Teubner, 1873.
. Procli Commentarius in Platonis Parmenidem, Edited by Victor Cousin.
Hildesheim, Germany: Georg Olms, 1961, repr. of Paris, 1864, ed.
Renehan, Robert, Hera as Earth Goddess: A New Piece of Evidence, Rheinisches
Museum fr Philologie, 117 (1974), pp. 193201.
Robinson, Richard. A Criticism of Platos Cratylus, Philosophical Review, 65 (1956),
pp. 324334.
. The Theory of Names in Platos Cratylus, Revue Internationale de Philosophie, 9 (1955), pp. 221236.
Rosenmeyer, Thomas G., Name-Setting and Name-Using: Elements of Foundationalism in Platos Cratylus, Ancient Philosophy, 18 (Spring 1998), pp. 4160.
Schleiermacher, Friedrich Ernst. Einleitung zur bersetzung des Kratylos, Platons
Werke, Berlin: G. Reiner, 1810. Translated by W. Dobson, Cambridge: J. Smith,
1836.
Sedley, David. The Etymologies in Platos Cratylus, Journal of Hellenic Studies,
118 (1998), pp. 140154.
, Platos Cratylus. Cambridge, U. K.: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
Steiner, Adalbert. Die Etymologien in Platons Kratylos, Archiv fr Geschichte der
Philosophie, 22:2 (1915), pp. 109132.
Taylor, A. E.. Plato: the Man and his Work. New York: Dial Press, 1936.

Bibliography

141

Taylor, Thomas. The Cratylus, Phaedo, Parmenides, and Timaeus of Plato, Translated, with Notes on the Cratylus and an Explanatory Introduction to Each Dialogue. London: Benjamin and John White, 1792.
Walzer, Richard Eraclito, Raccolta dei Frammenti, reproduction of 1939 ed. Hildesheim, Germany: Georg Olms, 1964.
Weingartner, Rudolph H. Making Sense of the Cratylus, Phronesis, 15 (1970), pp. 525.
West, Martin. Early Greek Philosophy, in Oxford History of the Classical World.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986.
. Early Greek Philosophy and the Orient. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971.
Westerink, Leendert Gerrit. Anonymous Prolegomena to Platonic Philosophy, Introduction, Text, Translation, and Indices. Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing
Company, 1962.

This page intentionally left blank

APPENDIX
No one needs a full understanding of the mathematics of the divided line to
follow the preceding argument about the Cratylus or to think of the diagram
that almost perfectly suits that argument, namely a checkerboard. On the other
hand, the geometry of the line is quite simple to work through. Geometric
proof provides a paradigm for the consecutive thinking that Socrates employs
in the practice of dialogue, Plato employs in the recording of it, and that readers can employ in the recollection of it.
In Book 6 of the Republic Socrates divides a line into unequal parts and
then divides the parts in the same ratio in which he has split the whole. Plato
does not provide a diagram, but here are two, and two simple proofs to show
the equality of the second and third parts of the line, a fact of some interest in
evaluating the Cratylus as a grand-scale metaphor of ambiguity. I give the
algebraic proof first because modern readers appear to be more comfortable
with algebra than geometry. The points in the algebraic proof are labeled to
correspond with the geometric proof that follows.
Divided Line, Republic 6
Algebraic Proof
a

A_____________________________________B
L
C
M
Cut AB into unequal parts at any point C.
Cut AC and CB in the same proportion as AC/CB, at L and M.
Label lengths a, b, c, d.
To show b = c:
a/b = c/d = a + b / c + d (assumption)
ad = bc; ac + ad = ba + bb (product of means = product of extremes)
ac + bc = ba + bb (substitution)
c(a + b) = b(a + b); b = c (distribution)
The algebraic proof of the equality of the middle sections is deceptively
simple. In fact it only assumes the proportion and does not devise it. The
following lengthier geometric proof based on Euclids Elements shows just
how simple it would have been to construct the cuts in the divided line. Already in Socrates day it would have been manifest to students of elementary
geometry that such cuts produce the equality of the middle sections.

144

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE


Geometric Proof

Enunciation
To cut AC and CB in proportion as AC is to CB and to show that the shorter
part of the larger line, CM of CB, is equal to the longer part of the shorter
line, LC of AC, so cut.
Construction
Cut AB into unequal parts at C.
Construct any angle ABD.
Connect AD. Draw FC parallel to DB
and FE parallel to AB (Euc. 1, prop. 31).
Set off DG = FC (Euc. 1, prop. 2).
Set off HG parallel to AB (Euc. 1, prop.
31). Connect DC. Set off LC = KG,
CM = FJ (Euc. 1, prop. 2).
IsayAL:LC::CM:MB::AC:BCandLC = CM.
Demonstration
FC = DG (construction).
Angle CAF = angle GHD (Euc. 1, prop.
29). (alternate interior angles)
FC is parallel to DB (Euc. 1, prop. 34).
(construction)
Angle DGH = angle FCA (Euc. 1, prop. 29); hence triangle DGH = triangle
FCA and so AC = HG (Euc. 1, prop. 26). (angle-angle-side)
Angle FJC = angle GKD (Euc. 1, prop. 29). (alternate exterior angles)
FC is parallel to DB, FE to CB and to HG (Euc. 1, prop. 29); Hence FE =
CB (Euc. 1, prop. 34).
Angle CFJ=Angle GEF=AngleDGK(Euc. 1, prop. 29),FC = DG (construction);
hence triangle CFJ = triangle DGK. Therefore FJ = KG (Euc. 1, prop. 26).
By construction LC = KG, CM = FJ; hence LC = CM. (common notion 1)
Hence also JE = MB, and AL = HK. (common notion 3)
HK is to KG as triangle HKD is to triangle KGD (Euc. 6, prop. 1).
FJ is to JE as triangle FJD is to triangle JED (Euc. 6, prop. 1).
AC is to CB as triangle ACD is to triangle CBD (Euc. 6, prop. 1). Triangles
HKD, FJD, and ACD are similar; triangles KGD, JED, CBD are similar
(Euc. 6, Def. 1);
hence triangle DHK : triangle DKG :: triangle FJD : triangle JED :: triangle ACD : triangle CBD, as alternate pairs of similar triangles under
same heights.
so HK:KG::FJ:JE::AC:CB (Euc. 6, prop. 4),
but HK = AL, KG = LC, FJ = CM, JE = MB, (common notion 1)
Recapitulation
Hence AL:LC::CM:MB::AC:BC and LC=CM, Q.E.D.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Michael Riley is Professor of Classics and Tutor, formerly Director, of the
Integral Liberal Arts Program at Saint Mary's College in Moraga, California.
A graduate of Saint Mary's College, he earned both his M.A. and Ph. D. degrees from the Classics Department of the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. He has also taught at Solano College in Fairfield, California,
and Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. He has lectured publicly on
Homer, Hesiod, and Plato. His other interests include Herman Melville and
Mark Twain.

This page intentionally left blank

INDEX
* Terms for which etymologies are discussed in the text are listed in boldface.
absurdity, reduction to, 20, 27, 39, 44,
100, 129, 131
Acesimbrotos, 23, 47, 49
Archepolis, 23, 46, 47, 49
Achilles, 25, 122
advantageous, 19, 94, 96, 100, 102
Atius, 80
Agamemnon, 23, 50, 53
Agis, 23, 47, 49
agon (game), 6, 7, 136n1
air, 18, 24, 64, 65, 70, 82, 84, 88
aither, 24
Alcibiades, 1
Alcibiades 1 (Plato), 7, 40
analogia (analogy), 41, 54
analogy(ies) (analogia), 24, 710, 13
16, 18, 34, 38, 43, 45, 47, 5459,
61, 62, 64, 6870, 73, 75, 82, 87,
96, 98, 99, 101, 113, 114, 129,
131, 132, 134
anamnesis (recollection), 48, 65, 99, 100
anthropos, 5458
Antisthenes, 5, 113
Aphrodite, 23, 68, 69, 73
Apollo, 23, 40, 6568, 73
Archytas, 10
Ares Enyalios, 40
Aristotle, xv, 29
Artemis, 23, 40, 67, 73
artisan(s), 13, 30, 34, 3638, 40, 43, 48
Astyanax, 22, 23, 31, 32, 4042, 43, 45
49, 95
Athena, 8, 10, 20, 23, 40, 41, 49, 6871,
73, 96, 97
Atreus, 23, 50, 53
Barney, Rachel, 1, 6, 30, 133, 135nn4 20,
137nn2 3 (chap. 2), 3 (chap. 4),
138n2 (chap. 7)
Batieia, 40, 41
binding, 8, 19, 20, 24, 25, 41, 64, 93,
96103, 107111, 114
blamable, 100, 102

body (soma), 23, 25, 54, 55, 5861, 118


Brumbaugh,Robert,6,135n17,136n25, 137n5
Bundy, Elroy L., 10, 136n28
Burnet, John, xv, 11, 136n30
cause(s), 16, 51, 55, 5860, 62, 68, 78,
8688, 90, 95, 99, 102
cave analogy, 2, 8, 14, 6870, 99
chalkis, 40, 41
change (as unifying principle), 101
Charmides (Plato), 1
cheer, 106, 111
class(es) (eide), 2, 16, 21, 25, 32, 35,
41, 47, 48, 56, 118, 119
classification of letters, 19, 118120
convention (nomos), 1, 10, 17, 22, 28,
29, 31, 33, 36, 37, 113, 125, 126
convention theory (of names), 28
courage, 1, 19, 24, 81, 89, 91, 92
cowardice, 19, 24, 93, 94, 102
craft, 19, 24, 40, 57, 58, 9295, 100,
102, 119, 127
Cratylus (Plato), 1138 passim
dating, xi, 9, 10, 104
Daedalus, 40
daimon(s), 23, 52, 54, 5658, 61
day, 8, 19, 24, 42, 70, 78, 79, 90, 91, 97,
98, 102
delight, 106, 111
Demeter, 23, 65, 66, 73
desire, 19, 37, 50, 98, 105108, 111
de Vries, Gert Jan, 5, 135n9
diagram(s), 13, 1517, 21, 26, 129, 143
dianoia(i) (systematic reasoning), vii,
ix, xi, xii, 3, 14, 17, 18, 20, 22
26, 28, 35, 37, 45, 47, 49, 5153,
55, 58, 60, 69, 7578, 8287, 95
97, 100, 101, 103, 105, 108110,
113, 114, 119, 123, 124, 126,
130, 132
alternate d., 97
dichotomies, 31, 32

148

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

Diels, Hermann (DK), xv, 11, 136n31


Diogenes Lartius, 6
Dionysus, 23, 68, 69, 73,
Diphilos 23, 54, 55, 57, 58, 61. See also
Theophilos
divided line analogy, 2, 4, 8, 62, 87, 96.
See also analogy(ies)
divided line system, 10
Doric/Phrygian opposition, 81, 82
earth, 18, 24, 55, 64, 65, 66, 70, 76, 77,
8284
eide(os) (class(es)), 21, 90. See also
class(es)
eikasia (reasoning by likeness), vii, ix,
xi, 2, 3, 14, 17, 20, 2226, 28,
31, 45, 47, 55, 97, 110, 129, 132
Elements (Euclid), 14, 15, 136nn2 4
(chap. 1), 143
Empedocles, 32, 137nn2 (chap. 3) 7 (chap. 4)
episteme (knowledge) 3, 75, 86. See also
noesis
Epistle 11 (Plato), 15
eros, 23, 54, 56, 57, 58
error, 21, 31, 38, 42, 43, 60, 65, 108, 129, 130
Eryximachus, 23, 57, 58, 61, 107
Euclid, 1416
Eupolemus, 23
Euthyphro, 40, 49, 52, 53, 56, 57, 60, 78, 80
female, 19, 24, 89, 91
fire, 14, 18, 24, 41, 65, 66, 70, 7982,
84, 87, 88, 90, 91, 109
fixity, 26, 32, 64, 68, 76, 84, 90, 9294,
99, 110, 118, 121, 130, 131. See
also flux
flourishing, 19, 24, 90, 92, 102
flux, 6, 15, 1820, 22, 24, 26, 27, 2932,
3941, 43, 45, 56, 6165, 68, 73,
7577, 82, 8494, 96111, 114
116, 118122, 126, 129134
form(s), vii, 3, 8, 9, 11, 1315, 17, 18, 20,
22, 26, 30, 3638, 71, 76, 78, 81,
86, 90, 91, 93, 125127, 131,
132, 133
free will, 19, 24, 103, 107, 108, 111
Friedlnder, Paul, 5, 135n13, 138n9

geometry, 3, 8, 9, 11, 14, 15, 31, 129,


131, 132, 134, 143
Goldschmidt, Victor Moritz E., 5, 6, 86,
87, 135nn10 16 20, 137nn6
(chap. 4), 4 5 6 (chap. 5)
Gorgias (Plato), xv, 7, 37, 52, 84, 85,
137n6 (chap. 3)
Hades, 23, 6466, 68, 73, 107. See also Pluto
Hector, 23, 31, 33, 4043, 46, 47, 49, 50
helios (sun), 76, 77
hemitheoi, 56
Hephaestus, 8, 13, 20, 23, 31, 39, 40,
43, 6870, 73
Hera, 23, 40, 65, 66, 73, 137n8 (chap. 3)
Heraclitus, ix, xv, 6, 8, 11, 15, 20, 21, 27,
29, 32, 33, 35, 3943, 45, 4749,
51, 53, 5658, 6168, 71, 72,
7684, 86, 87, 89, 91, 93, 94,
101, 104, 107, 114, 115, 118,
119, 129, 133, 137nn2 3 (chap.
3) 7 (chap. 4), 137n1 (chap. 5)
Hermes, 20, 23, 40, 70, 71, 73, 123
hero(es), 23, 45, 5457, 60, 61, 71
Hesiod, 2, 23, 32, 45, 49, 50, 5254, 56,
57, 61, 63, 68, 82, 86, 93, 121
Hestia, 23, 41, 62, 63, 66, 73, 76, 82
Hippolytus, 80
Homer, 3942, 4547, 63, 69, 70, 72, 82, 122
Iatrocles, 23, 47, 49
idea(s), 2, 4, 8, 1820, 22, 24, 36, 37, 40,
43, 75, 92, 97102, 114, 132,
133, 138n1 (chap. 7)
theory of, 9
joy, 24, 106, 111
justice (the just), 19, 24, 37, 8692, 121
Kirk, Geoffrey Stephen, 5, 77, 135n12,
137nn1 2 (chap. 5)
knowing, vii, 1, 2, 4, 16, 1821, 23, 26,
2830, 34, 38, 48, 61, 65, 84, 97,
103, 113, 115, 131

Index
knowledge (noesis), vii, xi, 14, 7, 14,
15, 1721, 24, 2631, 34, 35, 37,
38, 44, 45, 48, 52, 55, 59, 61, 62,
64, 65, 69, 70, 72, 75, 76, 8385,
88, 91, 93, 95, 97, 100, 103107,
109111, 113115, 117, 119
121, 124, 126, 127, 129134
Kranz, Walther (DK), xv, 11, 136n31
Kronos, 23, 49, 52, 53, 6264, 73, 86
kymindis, 40, 41
Lassalle, Ferdinand, 51, 137nn1 (chap. 4)
4 5 (chap. 5)
letter system, 21
Levinson, Ronald, 5, 135nn8 15
lightning, 79, 80, 84
logos (i), vii, 13, 15, 1820, 23, 24, 27,
28, 30, 33, 35, 39, 4145, 4955,
61, 62, 64, 65, 68, 7073, 75, 76,
78, 79, 8387, 89, 91, 92, 103,
110, 111, 119, 129, 131
love, 32, 37, 5557, 65, 67, 106, 111
mechane (device), 41, 81, 93, 94
Menexenus (Plato), 7
Meno (Plato), 1, 8
Meridier, Louis, 135n1
mimesis, 19, 25, 118
Mind (Anaxagoras' concept), 49, 60
Mnesitheos, 23, 48, 49
month, 18, 24, 70, 76, 78, 79, 84
moon (selene), 18, 24, 55, 70, 76, 79,
80, 84, 88
Muse(s), 23, 67, 73, 80
Myrine, 40, 41
namemaker (name-maker, name-setter,
usage-setter, name-giver) See
also nomothetes (nomothete), 21,
22, 26, 31, 34, 3638, 48, 64, 65,
69, 70, 85, 98101, 103, 119,
124, 125, 127, 129, 130, 132, 133
Neoplatonist(s), xi, 6, 7
Nietzsche, Friedrich, 6, 135n20
noein (understand), 55

149

noesis (knowledge), vii, ix, xi, 3, 17


20, 2226, 28, 45, 51, 52, 59, 68,
69, 71, 73, 75, 96, 97, 110, 113,
114, 131, 133
nomos (convention), 17, 18, 22, 25, 31,
3338, 43, 52, 61, 62, 95, 96,
124. See also convention
nomothetes (nomothete) (lawgiver or
name-setter), 36, 37, 48, 61,
123
nous (domain of pure mind), 3, 23, 24,
49, 5153, 55, 60, 61, 63, 68, 69,
71, 72, 76, 80, 83, 84, 8688, 95,
97, 99, 100, 102, 103
Anaxagorean Nous, 60, 87
Orestes, 23, 4951, 53, 55
Orpheus, 45, 63, 82
Ouranos, 49, 52, 53, 58, 63, 86
ousia (essence or essential nature),
21, 46, 62, 118
Pallas Athena, 23
Pan, 20, 23, 7073, 79, 89, 110, 119, 120
Parmenides, 7, 32, 90, 91
Parmenides (Plato), xi, 79, 9092, 101,
135n14, 137nn2 (chap. 3) 7 (chap.
4)
Pelops, 23, 50, 53
Persephone, 23, 65, 66, 73
Phaedo (Plato), 7, 24, 55, 87, 88, 91,
135n14, 137n6 (chap. 4)
Phaedrus (Plato), 6, 7
Philebus (Plato), 7
Philoponus, 51
physis, 36
Pindar, 10
pistis (belief), vii, ix, xi, xii, 3, 17, 18,
20, 2226, 28, 45, 48, 73, 97,
110, 113, 119, 120, 122, 123,
130, 132, 134
Plato, ix, xi, xii, xv, 1134 passim, 135nn2
3 4 5 6 7 11 13 14 17 18 20 21 24
25, 136nn27 (intro.) 1 (chap. 2) 1 4

150

PLATOS CRATYLUS: ARGUMENT, FORM, AND STRUCTURE

5 (chap. 3) 2 5 6 (chap. 4) 4 9
(chap. 5), 138n1 (chap. 6)
Alcibiades 1, 7, 40
Charmides, 1
Cratylus, 1138 passim
Epistle 11, 15
Gorgias,xv, 7, 37,52, 84, 85,137n6(chap. 3)
Menexenus, 7
Meno, 1, 8
Parmenides,xi, 79, 9092, 101, 135n14,
137nn2 (chap. 3)7 (chap. 4)
Phaedo, 7, 24, 55, 87, 88, 91, 135n14,
137n6 (chap. 4)
Phaedrus, 6, 7
Philebus, 7
Republic, xi, xii, xv, 2, 6, 10, 1316,
47, 56, 6870, 7578, 8183, 92,
96, 98100, 110, 113, 133,
135n5, 136n7 (chap. 1), 143
Seventh Letter, 6
Sophist, xv, 79, 34, 93
Statesman, xv, 7, 9, 48
Symposium, 1, 7, 37, 48, 52, 57, 107
Theaetetus, xii, xv, 7, 9, 13, 33, 39, 65, 71,
101, 104106, 110, 114, 115, 129,
137n8 (chap. 4), 138nn11 12 13 14
(chap. 5)
Timaeus, 68, 14, 135n14
Pluto (wealth)23,64, 65,73. See also Hades
Polemarchos, 23, 47, 49
Poseidon, 23, 40, 64, 66, 68, 73
Prier, Raymond Adolph, 32, 137nn2
(chap. 3) 7 (chap. 4)
Proclus, xi, 7, 8, 1517, 136nn22 24
(intro.) 2 3 (chap. 1)
proof(s), 811, 15, 16, 2527, 31, 37, 45,
129, 130, 131, 134, 143, 144
Euclidean p., 15
geometric, 9, 11, 15, 27, 45, 129, 131,
143, 144
reductio p., 8, 16, 31, 130
proportion, 7, 1316, 22, 3032, 38, 39,
41, 43, 44, 54, 55, 143
proportional reasoning, 18, 38, 39, 41, 42
Protagoras, 7, 15, 31, 33, 34, 39, 42, 44, 104

psyche (soul), 54, 59


Pythagoreans, 10
reasoning, proportional, 18, 31, 39, 41, 42
ratio, 2, 13, 143
Republic (Plato), xi, xii, xv, 2, 610, 13
16, 47, 56, 6870, 7578, 8183,
92, 96, 98100, 110, 113, 133,
135n5, 136nn1 (chap. 1), 143
Rhea, 23, 6264, 66, 73
Rosenmeyer, Thomas G., xii, xiii, 1, 6, 31,
37, 135nn2 19 26 29 (intro.),
137nn1 7 (chap. 3), 138n2 (chap. 6)
Scamander River, 20, 22, 39, 40
Scamandrios, 22, 4043, 47, 95
Schleiermacher, Frederich, 5, 113,
135n6, 138n1 (chap. 6)
seasons, 19, 24, 67, 70, 77, 83, 84, 87
Sedley, David, 1, 6, 7, 9, 29, 135nn3 18,
136nn21 27 (intro.) 1 (chap. 2)
selene (moon), 79
self-contradiction, 4, 19, 75, 76, 8082,
84, 88, 89, 98, 100104, 106,
107, 109, 111, 120, 122, 124
126, 131
Seventh Letter (Plato), 6
Silenus box,1, 2, 7
Socrates, xi, xii, 1134 passim, 135nn4
20, 137nn2 (chap. 2) 3 (chap. 4),
138n2 (chap. 7)
soma (body), 55. See also body
sophia (cleverness or wisdom), 41,
52, 86
Sophist (Plato), xv, 79, 34, 93
Sophists, 22, 28, 38, 39, 44, 45, 56, 57, 61
soul (psyche), 23, 25, 52, 54, 55, 58
61, 78, 80, 85, 87, 88, 94, 100,
102, 103, 124. See also psyche.
sphinx, 24, 9294, 100, 102
star(s), 18, 24, 55, 70, 7679, 84
Statesman (Plato), xv, 7, 9, 48
sun (helios), 2, 14, 18, 24, 55, 65, 67,
69, 70, 7581, 83, 84, 87, 88, 91,
96, 97, 99. See also helios

Index

151

sun analogy, 8, 75, 96, 98101. See also


analogy(ies) (analogia)
Symposium (Plato), 1, 7, 37, 48, 52, 57, 107

usage-setter, 31, 37. See also namemaker


(name-setter, usage-setter, namegiver) (nomothetes)

Tantalus, 23, 50, 51, 53


Taylor, A. E., 5, 135n11
Taylor, Thomas, 6, 135n14
Theaetetus, 104106, 114
Theaetetus (Plato), xii, xv, 7, 9, 13, 33, 39,
65, 71, 101, 104106, 110, 114, 115,
129, 137n8 (chap. 4), 138nn11 12 13
14 (chap. 5)
theoi (the gods), 5456
Theophilos, 23, 4850, 54, 55
thunderbolt, 80
Timaeus (Plato), 68, 14, 135n14
typos (image or model), 49, 54

Walzer, Richard, 56, 137n4 (chap. 4)


wonder, 39, 71, 72, 104, 105, 109, 110,
119, 121123, 133
Xanthos (Scamander River), 39, 41
year, 19, 24, 70, 78, 83, 84
yoke, 8, 19, 24, 75, 91, 9799, 102
Zeno, 8, 90
Zeus, 23, 24, 4954, 59, 61, 64, 65, 73,
83, 84, 86, 87
Zeus-Logos, 18, 19, 49, 5153, 55, 64,
84, 86

This page intentionally left blank

VIBS
The Value Inquiry Book Series is co-sponsored by:
Adler School of Professional Psychology
American Indian Philosophy Association
American Maritain Association
American Society for Value Inquiry
Association for Process Philosophy of Education
Canadian Society for Philosophical Practice
Center for Bioethics, University of Turku
Center for Professional and Applied Ethics, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Central European Pragmatist Forum
Centre for Applied Ethics, Hong Kong Baptist University
Centre for Cultural Research, Aarhus University
Centre for Professional Ethics, University of Central Lancashire
Centre for the Study of Philosophy and Religion, University College of Cape Breton
Centro de Estudos em Filosoa Americana, Brazil
College of Education and Allied Professions, Bowling Green State University
College of Liberal Arts, Rochester Institute of Technology
Concerned Philosophers for Peace
Conference of Philosophical Societies
Department of Moral and Social Philosophy, University of Helsinki
Gannon University
Gilson Society
Haitian Studies Association
Ikeda University
Institute of Philosophy of the High Council of Scientic Research, Spain
International Academy of Philosophy of the Principality of Liechtenstein
International Association of Bioethics
International Center for the Arts, Humanities, and Value Inquiry
International Society for Universal Dialogue
Natural Law Society
Philosophical Society of Finland
Philosophy Born of Struggle Association
Philosophy Seminar, University of Mainz
Pragmatism Archive at The Oklahoma State University
R.S. Hartman Institute for Formal and Applied Axiology
Research Institute, Lakeridge Health Corporation
Russian Philosophical Society
Society for Iberian and Latin-American Thought
Society for the Philosophic Study of Genocide and the Holocaust
Unit for Research in Cognitive Neuroscience, Autonomous University of Barcelona
Yves R. Simon Institute

Titles Published
1.

Noel Balzer, The Human Being as a Logical Thinker

2.

Archie J. Bahm, Axiology: The Science of Values

3.

H. P. P. (Hennie) Ltter, Justice for an Unjust Society

4. H. G. Callaway, Context for Meaning and Analysis: A Critical Study in


the Philosophy of Language
5.

Benjamin S. Llamzon, A Humane Case for Moral Intuition

6. James R. Watson, Between Auschwitz and Tradition: Postmodern


Reections on the Task of Thinking. A volume in Holocaust and
Genocide Studies
7. Robert S. Hartman, Freedom to Live: The Robert Hartman Story,
Edited by Arthur R. Ellis. A volume in Hartman Institute Axiology
Studies
8.

Archie J. Bahm, Ethics: The Science of Oughtness

9. George David Miller, An Idiosyncratic Ethics; Or, the Lauramachean


Ethics
10.

Joseph P. DeMarco, A Coherence Theory in Ethics

11. Frank G. Forrest, Valuemetrics: The Science of Personal and


Professional Ethics. A volume in Hartman Institute Axiology Studies
12. William Gerber, The Meaning of Life: Insights of the Worlds Great
Thinkers
13. Richard T. Hull, Editor, A Quarter Century of Value Inquiry: Presidential
Addresses of the American Society for Value Inquiry. A volume in Histories
and Addresses of Philosophical Societies
14. William Gerber, Nuggets of Wisdom from Great Jewish Thinkers: From
Biblical Times to the Present

15.

Sidney Axinn, The Logic of Hope: Extensions of Kants View of Religion

16.

Messay Kebede, Meaning and Development

17. Amihud Gilead, The Platonic Odyssey: A Philosophical-Literary Inquiry


into the Phaedo
18. Necip Fikri Alican, Mills Principle of Utility: A Defense of John Stuart
Mills Notorious Proof. A volume in Universal Justice
19.

Michael H. Mitias, Editor, Philosophy and Architecture.

20. Roger T. Simonds, Rational Individualism: The Perennial Philosophy of


Legal Interpretation. A volume in Natural Law Studies
21.

William Pencak, The Conict of Law and Justice in the Icelandic Sagas

22. Samuel M. Natale and Brian M. Rothschild, Editors, Values, Work,


Education: The Meanings of Work
23. N. Georgopoulos and Michael Heim, Editors, Being Human in the
Ultimate: Studies in the Thought of John M. Anderson
24. Robert Wesson and Patricia A. Williams, Editors, Evolution and Human
Values
25. Wim J. van der Steen, Facts, Values, and Methodology: A New Approach
to Ethics
26.

Avi Sagi and Daniel Statman, Religion and Morality

27. Albert William Levi, The High Road of Humanity: The Seven Ethical
Ages of Western Man, Edited by Donald Phillip Verene and Molly Black Verene
28. Samuel M. Natale and Brian M. Rothschild, Editors, Work Values:
Education, Organization, and Religious Concerns
29. Laurence F. Bove and Laura Duhan Kaplan, Editors, From the Eye of the
Storm: Regional Conicts and the Philosophy of Peace. A volume in
Philosophy of Peace
30.

Robin Atteld, Value, Obligation, and Meta-Ethics

31. William Gerber, The Deepest Questions You Can Ask About God: As
Answered by the Worlds Great Thinkers
32.

Daniel Statman, Moral Dilemmas

33. Rem B. Edwards, Editor, Formal Axiology and Its Critics. A volume in
Hartman Institute Axiology Studies
34. George David Miller and Conrad P. Pritscher, On Education and Values:
In Praise of Pariahs and Nomads. A volume in Philosophy of Education
35.

Paul S. Penner, Altruistic Behavior: An Inquiry into Motivation

36.

Corbin Fowler, Morality for Moderns

37. Giambattista Vico, The Art of Rhetoric (Institutiones Oratoriae, 1711


1741), from the denitive Latin text and notes, Italian commentary and
introduction byGiuliano Crif.Translated and Edited by Giorgio A. Pinton and
Arthur W. Shippee. A volume in Values in Italian Philosophy
38. W. H. Werkmeister, Martin Heidegger on the Way. Edited by Richard T.
Hull. A volume in Werkmeister Studies
39.

Phillip Stambovsky, Myth and the Limits of Reason

40. Samantha Brennan, Tracy Isaacs, and Michael Milde, Editors, A Question
of Values: New Canadian Perspectives in Ethics and Political Philosophy
41. Peter A. Redpath, Cartesian Nightmare: An Introduction to
Transcendental Sophistry. A volume in Studies in the History of Western
Philosophy
42. Clark Butler, History as the Story of Freedom: Philosophy in
InterculturalContext, with responses by sixteen scholars
43.

Dennis Rohatyn, Philosophy History Sophistry

44. Leon Shaskolsky Sheleff, Social Cohesion and Legal Coercion: A


Critique of Weber, Durkheim, and Marx. Afterword by Virginia Black

45.
Alan Soble, Editor, Sex, Love, and Friendship: Studies of the Society for
the Philosophy of Sex and Love, 19771992. A volume in Histories and
Addresses of Philosophical Societies
46. Peter A. Redpath, Wisdoms Odyssey: From Philosophy to
Transcendental Sophistry. A volume in Studies in the History of Western
Philosophy
47. Albert A. Anderson, Universal Justice: A Dialectical Approach.
A volume in Universal Justice
48. Pio Colonnello, The Philosophy of Jos Gaos. Translated from Italian
by Peter Cocozzella. Edited by Myra Moss. Introduction by Giovanni Gullace.
A volume in Values in Italian Philosophy
49. Laura Duhan Kaplan and Laurence F. Bove, Editors, Philosophical
Perspectives on Power and Domination: Theories and Practices.
A volume in Philosophy of Peace
50.

Gregory F. Mellema, Collective Responsibility

51. Josef Seifert, What Is Life? The Originality, Irreducibility, and Value of
Life. A volume in Central-European Value Studies
52.

William Gerber, Anatomy of What We Value Most

53. Armando Molina, Our Ways: Values and Character, Edited by Rem B.
Edwards. A volume in Hartman Institute Axiology Studies
54. Kathleen J. Wininger, Nietzsches Reclamation of Philosophy.
A volume in Central-European Value Studies
55.

Thomas Magnell, Editor, Explorations of Value

56. HPP (Hennie) Ltter, Injustice, Violence, and Peace: The Case of
South Africa. A volume in Philosophy of Peace
57. Lennart Nordenfelt, Talking About Health: A Philosophical Dialogue.
A volume in Nordic Value Studies
58. Jon Mills and Janusz A. Polanowski, The Ontology of Prejudice.
A volume in Philosophy and Psychology

59.

Leena Vilkka, The Intrinsic Value of Nature

60. Palmer Talbutt, Jr., Rough Dialectics: Sorokins Philosophy of Value,


with contributions by Lawrence T. Nichols and Pitirim A. Sorokin
61.

C. L. Sheng, A Utilitarian General Theory of Value

62. George David Miller, Negotiating Toward Truth: The Extinction of


Teachers and Students. Epilogue by Mark Roelof Eleveld. A volume in
Philosophy of Education
63. William Gerber, Love, Poetry, and Immortality: Luminous Insights of the
Worlds Great Thinkers
64. Dane R. Gordon, Editor, Philosophy in Post-Communist Europe.
A volume in Post-Communist European Thought
65. Dane R. Gordon and Jzef Niznik, Editors, Criticism and Defense of
Rationality in Contemporary Philosophy. A volume in Post-Communist
European Thought
66. John R. Shook, Pragmatism: An Annotated Bibliography, 1898-1940.
With contributions by E. Paul Colella, Lesley Friedman, Frank X. Ryan, and
Ignas K. Skrupskelis
67.

Lansana Keita, The Human Project and the Temptations of Science

68. Michael M. Kazanjian, Phenomenology and Education: Cosmology, CoBeing, and Core Curriculum. A volume in Philosophy of Education
69. James W. Vice, The Reopening of the American Mind: On Skepticism and
Constitutionalism
70. Sarah Bishop Merrill, Dening Personhood: Toward the Ethics of Quality
in Clinical Care
71.

Dane R. Gordon, Philosophy and Vision

72. Alan Milchman and Alan Rosenberg, Editors, Postmodernism and the
Holocaust. A volume in Holocaust and Genocide Studies

73. Peter A. Redpath, Masquerade of the Dream Walkers: Prophetic


Theology from the Cartesians to Hegel. A volume in Studies in the History of
Western Philosophy
74. Malcolm D. Evans, Whitehead and Philosophy of Education: The
Seamless Coat of Learning. A volume in Philosophy of Education
75. Warren E. Steinkraus, Taking Religious Claims Seriously: A Philosophy
of Religion, Edited by Michael H. Mitias. A volume in Universal Justice
76.

Thomas Magnell, Editor, Values and Education

77. Kenneth A. Bryson, Persons and Immortality. A volume in Natural


Law Studies
78. Steven V. Hicks, International Law and the Possibility of a Just World
Order: An Essay on Hegels Universalism. A volume in Universal Justice
79. E. F. Kaelin, Texts on Texts and Textuality: A Phenomenology of
Literary Art, Edited by Ellen J. Burns
80. Amihud Gilead, Saving Possibilities: A Study in Philosophical
Psychology. A volume in Philosophy and Psychology
81. Andr Mineau, The Making of the Holocaust: Ideology and Ethics in the
Systems Perspective. A volume in Holocaust and Genocide Studies
82. Howard P. Kainz, Politically Incorrect Dialogues: Topics Not Discussed
in Polite Circles
83. Veikko Launis, Juhani Pietarinen, and Juha Rikk, Editors, Genes and
Morality: New Essays. A volume in Nordic Value Studies
84. Steven Schroeder, The Metaphysics of Cooperation: A Study of F. D.
Maurice
85. Caroline Joan (Kay) S. Picart, Thomas Mann and Friedrich Nietzsche:
Eroticism, Death, Music, and Laughter. A volume in Central-European
Value Studies

86. G. John M. Abbarno, Editor, The Ethics of Homelessness: Philosophical


Perspectives
87. James Giles, Editor, French Existentialism: Consciousness, Ethics, and
Relations with Others. A volume in Nordic Value Studies
88. Deane Curtin and Robert Litke, Editors, Institutional Violence.
A volume in Philosophy of Peace
89.

Yuval Lurie, Cultural Beings: Reading the Philosophers of Genesis

90. Sandra A. Wawrytko, Editor, The Problem of Evil: An Intercultural


Exploration. A volume in Philosophy and Psychology
91. Gary J. Acquaviva, Values, Violence, and Our Future. A volume in
Hartman Institute Axiology Studies
92.

Michael R. Rhodes, Coercion: A Nonevaluative Approach

93. Jacques Kriel, Matter, Mind, and Medicine: Transforming the Clinical
Method
94. Haim Gordon, Dwelling Poetically: Educational Challenges in
Heideggers Thinking on Poetry. A volume in Philosophy of Education
95. Ludwig Grnberg, The Mystery of Values: Studies in Axiology, Edited
by Cornelia Grnberg and Laura Grnberg
96. Gerhold K. Becker, Editor, The Moral Status of Persons: Perspectives on
Bioethics. A volume in Studies in Applied Ethics
97. Roxanne Claire Farrar, Sartrean Dialectics: A Method for Critical
Discourse on Aesthetic Experience
98. Ugo Spirito, Memoirs of the Twentieth Century. Translated from Italian
and Edited by Anthony G. Costantini. A volume in Values in Italian
Philosophy
99. Steven Schroeder, Between Freedom and Necessity: An Essay on the
Place of Value

100. Foster N. Walker, Enjoyment and the Activity of Mind: Dialogues on


Whitehead and Education. A volume in Philosophy of Education
101. Avi Sagi, Kierkegaard, Religion, and Existence: The Voyage of the Self.
Translated from Hebrew by Batya Stein
102. Bennie R. Crockett, Jr., Editor, Addresses of the Mississippi
Philosophical Association. A volume in Histories and Addresses of
Philosophical Societies
103. Paul van Dijk, Anthropology in the Age of Technology: The
Philosophical Contribution of Gnther Anders
104. Giambattista Vico, Universal Right. Translated from Latin and edited
by Giorgio Pinton and Margaret Diehl. A volume in Values in Italian
Philosophy
105. Judith Presler and Sally J. Scholz, Editors, Peacemaking: Lessons from
the Past, Visions for the Future. A volume in Philosophy of Peace
106. Dennis Bonnette, Origin of the Human Species. A volume in Studies
in the History of Western Philosophy
107. Phyllis Chiasson, Peirces Pragmatism: The Design for Thinking.
A volume in Studies in Pragmatism and Values
108. Dan Stone, Editor, Theoretical Interpretations of the Holocaust.
A volume in Holocaust and Genocide Studies
109. Raymond Angelo Belliotti, What Is the Meaning of Human Life?
110. Lennart Nordenfelt, Health, Science, and Ordinary Language, with
Contributions by George Khushf and K. W. M. Fulford
111. Daryl Koehn, Local Insights, Global Ethics for Business. A volume
in Studies in Applied Ethics
112. Matti Hyry and Tuija Takala, Editors, The Future of Value Inquiry.
A volume in Nordic Value Studies

113.

Conrad P. Pritscher, Quantum Learning: Beyond Duality

114. Thomas M. Dicken and Rem B. Edwards, Dialogues on Values and


Centers of Value: Old Friends, New Thoughts. A volume in Hartman Institute
Axiology Studies
115. Rem B. Edwards, What Caused the Big Bang? A volume in Philosophy
and Religion
116. Jon Mills, Editor, A Pedagogy of Becoming. A volume in Philosophy
of Education
117. Robert T. Radford, Cicero: A Study in the Origins of Republican
Philosophy. A volume in Studies in the History of Western Philosophy
118. Arleen L. F. Salles and Mara Julia Bertomeu, Editors, Bioethics: Latin
American Perspectives. A volume in Philosophy in Latin America
119. Nicola Abbagnano, The Human Project: The Year 2000, with an Interview
by Guiseppe Grieco. Translated from Italian by Bruno Martini and Nino
Langiulli. Edited with an introduction by Nino Langiulli. A volume in Studies
in the History of Western Philosophy
120. Daniel M. Haybron, Editor, Earths Abominations: Philosophical Studies
of Evil. A volume in Personalist Studies
121. Anna T. Challenger, Philosophy and Art in Gurdjieffs Beelzebub:
A Modern Su Odyssey
122. George David Miller, Peace, Value, and Wisdom: The Educational
Philosophy of Daisaku Ikeda. A volume in Daisaku Ikeda Studies
123. Haim Gordon and Rivca Gordon, Sophistry and Twentieth-Century Art
124. Thomas O. Buford and Harold H. Oliver, Editors Personalism Revisited:
Its Proponents and Critics. A volume in Histories and Addresses of
Philosophical Societies
125. Avi Sagi, Albert Camus and the Philosophy of the Absurd. Translated
from Hebrew by Batya Stein
126. Robert S. Hartman, The Knowledge of Good: Critique of Axiological
Reason. Expanded translation from the Spanish by Robert S. Hartman. Edited
by Arthur R. Ellis and Rem B. Edwards.A volume in Hartman Institute
Axiology Studies

127. Alison Bailey and Paula J. Smithka, Editors. Community, Diversity,


and Difference: Implications for Peace. A volume in Philosophy of Peace
128. Oscar Vilarroya, The Dissolution of Mind: A Fable of How Experience
Gives Rise to Cognition. A volume in Cognitive Science
129. Paul Custodio Bube and Jeffery Geller, Editors, Conversations with
Pragmatism: A Multi-Disciplinary Study. A volume in Studies in Pragmatism
and Values
130. Richard Rumana, Richard Rorty: An Annotated Bibliography of Secondary
Literature. A volume in Studies in Pragmatism and Values
131. Stephen Schneck, Editor, Max Schelers Acting Persons: New Perspectives
A volume in Personalist Studies
132. Michael Kazanjian, Learning Values Lifelong: From Inert Ideas to Wholes.
A volume in Philosophy of Education
133. Rudolph Alexander Ko Cain, Alain Leroy Locke: Race, Culture, and
the Education of African American Adults. A volume in African American
Philosophy
134. Werner Krieglstein, Compassion: A New Philosophy of the Other
135. Robert N. Fisher, Daniel T. Primozic, Peter A. Day, and Joel A.
Thompson, Editors, Suffering, Death, and Identity. A volume in Personalist
Studies
136. Steven Schroeder, Touching Philosophy, Sounding Religion, Placing
Education. A volume in Philosophy of Education
137. Guy DeBrock, Process Pragmatism: Essays on a Quiet Philosophical
Revolution. A volume in Studies in Pragmatism and Values
138. Lennart Nordenfelt and Per-Erik Liss, Editors, Dimensions of Health
and Health Promotion
139. Amihud Gilead, Singularity and Other Possibilities: Panenmentalist
Novelties

140. Samantha Mei-che Pang, Nursing Ethics in Modern China: Conicting


Values and Competing Role Requirements. A volume in Studies in Applied
Ethics
141. Christine M. Koggel, Allannah Furlong, and Charles Levin, Editors,
Condential Relationships: Psychoanalytic, Ethical, and Legal Contexts.
A volume in Philosophy and Psychology
142. Peter A. Redpath, Editor, A Thomistic Tapestry: Essays in Memory of
tienne Gilson. A volume in Gilson Studies
143. Deane-Peter Baker and Patrick Maxwell, Editors, Explorations in
Contemporary Continental Philosophy of Religion. A volume in Philosophy
and Religion
144. Matti Hyry and Tuija Takala, Editors, Scratching the Surface of
Bioethics. A volume in Values in Bioethics
145. Leonidas Donskis, Forms of Hatred: The Troubled Imagination in
Modern Philosophy and Literature
146. Andreea Deciu Ritivoi, Editor, Interpretation and Its Objects: Studies in
the Philosophy of Michael Krausz
147. Herman Stark, A Fierce Little Tragedy: Thought, Passion, and SelfFormation in the Philosophy Classroom. A volume in Philosophy of Education
148. William Gay and Tatiana Alekseeva, Editors, Democracy and the Quest
for Justice: Russian and American Perspectives. A volume in Contemporary
Russian Philosophy
149. Xunwu Chen, Being and Authenticity
150. Hugh P. McDonald, Radical Axiology: A First Philosophy of Values
151. Dane R. Gordon and David C. Durst, Editors, Civil Society in
Southeast Europe. A volume in Post-Communist European Thought
152. John Ryder and Emil Viovsk, Editors, Pragmatism and Values: The
Central European Pragmatist Forum, Volume One. A volume in Studies in
Pragmatism and Values

153. Messay Kebede, Africas Quest for a Philosophy of Decolonization


154. Steven M. Rosen, Dimensions of Apeiron: A Topological Phenomenology
of Space, Time, and Individuation. A volume in Philosophy and Psychology
155. Albert A. Anderson, Steven V. Hicks, and Lech Witkowski, Editors,
Mythos and Logos: How to Regain the Love of Wisdom. A volume in Universal
Justice
156. John Ryder and Krystyna Wilkoszewska, Editors, Deconstruction and
Reconstruction: The Central European Pragmatist Forum, Volume Two. A
volume in Studies in Pragmatism and Values
157. Javier Muguerza, Ethics and Perplexity: Toward a Critique of Dialogical
Reason. Translated from the Spanish by Jody L. Doran. Edited by John R.
Welch. A volume in Philosophy in Spain
158. Gregory F. Mellema, The Expectations of Morality
159. Robert Ginsberg, The Aesthetics of Ruins
160. Stan van Hooft, Life, Death, and Subjectivity: Moral Sources in Bioethics
A volume in Values in Bioethics
161. Andr Mineau, Operation Barbarossa: Ideology and Ethics Against
Human Dignity
162. Arthur Efron, Expriencing Tess of the DUrbervilles: A Deweyan Account.
A volume in Studies in Pragmatism and Values
163. Reyes Mate, Memory of the West: The Contemporaneity of Forgotten
Jewish Thinkers. Translated from the Spanish by Anne Day Dewey. Edited by
John R. Welch. A volume in Philosophy in Spain
164. Nancy Nyquist Potter, Editor, Putting Peace into Practice: Evaluating
Policy on Local and Global Levels. A volume in Philosophy of Peace
165. Matti Hyry, Tuija Takala, and Peter Herissone-Kelly, Editors, Bioethics
and Social Reality. A volume in Values in Bioethics
166. Maureen Sie, Justifying Blame: Why Free Will Matters and Why it Does
Not. A volume in Studies in Applied Ethics

167. Leszek Koczanowicz and Beth J. Singer, Editors, Democracy and the
Post-Totalitarian Experience. A volume in Studies in Pragmatism and Values
168. Michael W. Riley, Platos Cratylus: Argument, Form, and Structure. A
volume in Studies in the History of Western Philosophy