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Plato's great attempt to define the nature of the sophist -- the false image of the philosopher -- has perplexed readers from classical times to the present. The dialogue has been central in the ongoing debate about the theory of forms, and it remains a crucial text for Plato scholars in both the analytical and the phenomenological traditions.
Stanley Rosen's book is the first full-length study of the Sophist in English and one of the most complete in any language. He follows the stages of the dialogue in sequence and offers an exhaustive analysis of the philosophical questions that come to light as Theaetetus and the Eleatic Stranger pursue the sophist through philosophical debate.
Rosen finds the central problem of the dialogue in the relation between original and image; he shows how this distinction underlies all subsequent technical themes and analyzes in detail such problems as non-being or negation and false statement. Arguing that the dialogue must be treated as a dramatic unity, he pays careful attention throughout to the setting, the events, the language used, and the relations between the natures of the speakers and the topics under discussion.
Rosen's new approach to the technical issues in the dialogue will be of interest to Plato scholars of all schools, and his analysis of the sophistical dimension of the world will engage all who have puzzled over what it means to be a philosopher.
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