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Title:The Protean Essence of Logos: Problematization of Language and Indefinability of Knowlege as Perception in Plato's "Theaetetus
Author(s):Giannopoulou, Zacharitsa
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Browne, G.M.
Department / Program:Classical Philology
Discipline:Classical Philology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:The argument that underlies the thesis is that sophistic logos , both as abstract conceptualization and as concrete verbal expression, is problematic and ineffectual. The Theaetetus, with its central focus on the notion of episteme as aisthesis, provides the ideal context in which the sophistic approach to knowledge through the medium of logos can be exposed and renounced. My interpretation aims at the following goals: (i) it attempts to show that the sophistic definition of episteme as aisthesis is problematic on account of its exclusive reliance on the senses, which are often faulty; (ii) it demonstrates the superiority of oral, dialectic logos, which can be articulated and defended by its 'author', to the written logos, which can be sophistically abused and manipulated; and (iii) it obfuscates the distinction between philosopher and sophist by depicting Socrates as an experienced controversialist---one of the accusations levelled against him in the Apology---and Protagoras as a philosopher. At the same time, however, I argue that, by adopting the dramatic persona of a sophist, Socrates rejects sophistic conceptualizations of knowledge and crafts his own apologia a few days prior to his indictment. In the first chapter, I demonstrate that Socrates' dialectical linking of Theaetetus' equation of episteme with aisthesis, Protagoras' man-as-measure doctrine, and Heraclitus' ontology of flux, though apparently cogent, is ultimately vitiated by the fact that all these logoi are internally inconsistent with one another. In the next chapter, I look at the reception of these interconnected theories by the interlocutors; I here argue that Socrates' sophistic manipulation of the Protagorean homo-mensura doctrine precipitates the 'resurrection' of the sophist Protagoras who, in a brilliant reversal of dramatic personas, argues like a philosopher and advocates the importance of Socratic elenchos. In the last chapter, I show that the methodology which Socrates employs in the refutation of the theories verifies their lack of interrelation; Socrates demolishes the three theses individually by means of conceptual categories and arguments which call attention to the need for ontological and nominal stability as necessary corollaries for attaining knowledge.
Issue Date:2002
Description:226 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2002.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3070309
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2002

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