Between Platonism and Pragmatism: An alternative reading of Plato’s Theaetetus
Johnson (Paul F.)
Source: Sorites 17, December 2006
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

    In a letter to his friend Drury, Wittgenstein claims to have been working on the same problems that Plato was working on in the Theaetetus. In this paper I try to say what that problem might have been. In the alternative reading of the dialogue that I construct here, attention is drawn to Socrates’ frequent appeal in the course of discussion to the ordinary ways of speaking that he, and Theaetetus, and everyone else in Athens at the time engaged in. The more abstruse theories of Heraclitus and Protagoras which Socrates and Theaetetus are discussing are found to do violence to these ordinary ways of talking, and found seriously wanting as a result. A case is made that the conventions and presuppositions of ordinary conversational speech are inherently normative, and constitute a valid standard against which philosophical theories may be measured. Lines of affinity are drawn between these claims advanced by Plato and the recent work of contemporary neo-pragmatists, and Robert Brandom’s work in particular.


Filed electronically with the full edition of Sorites 17

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