This moving being: The role of change in Plato's middle dialogues
MetadataShow full item record
It is well known that Plato harbors a deep hostility toward change. Yet both the precise nature of this hostility and its role in the development of the theory of Forms have been bitterly disputed in recent years. In this work I hope to clear up the dispute by providing the first book-length study on the subject. I focus on two related questions concerning change in Plato's middle dialogues. First of all, what kind or degree of change does Plato attribute to sensible objects and properties? And secondly, what role does his view of change play in the development of the theory of Forms? On the interpretation I defend, Plato holds only a moderate sort of Heracliteanism with respect to the sensible world. While he denies that anything in the sensible world is perpetually stable in any respect, he does allow for a certain degree of stability in this world, both in the case of sensible objects and in the case of their sensible properties. However, he also recognizes that some objects and properties are more stable than others: that some objects are, for instance, less susceptible to destruction than others, and some properties less prone to alteration. It is reflection upon the differing degrees of stability in sensible that leads him to the view that the best thing or class of things is that which is least susceptible to any kind of change. And this view in turn entails the conclusion that there are completely stable Forms. The advantage of this interpretation is that it provides Plato with a view of change that is strong enough to account for his separation of Forms from the sensible world, but not so strong that many would find it incomprehensible.