Elenchos in Plato’s Sophist

In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis
I-Kai Jeng Department of Philosophy, College of Liberal Arts, National Taiwan University Taipei Taiwan

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This paper examines the terms ‘elenchos’ and ‘elenchō’ as they occur in the Sophist in order to reveal a refined view of elenchos as a philosophical method. The explicit discussion of elenchos as a method in 226a6–231b8 must be read together with other passages described by these terms. Once this is done, it shall be seen that there are two types of elenchus employed in several ways. The first type, which I identify with the familiar Socratic elenchus, is used to purge false opinions or to arrive at plausible answers to philosophical difficulties. The second type, which appears to be the Stranger’s own method, is used to positively disclose relations between Forms. On this reading, elenchos is not merely destructive or preparatory for dialectic; it also forms a part of it.

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