Problem of Plato's Cratylus

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This works seeks to force classical scholars to think further and differently about the Cratylus and its importance in Plato’s corpus, as well as to open the eyes of scholars working on Wittgenstein, Barthes and Derrida regarding the debt they owe to that dialogue. The study begins by assessing Plato’s role in the developing consciousness, among Greek thinkers, of “language” as an entity for study, while also exploring the more specific issue of Plato’s part in developing formal grammatical awareness and terminology. Further, the work considers Plato’s concern as exemplified by the Cratylus for the reliability of language as an instrument of philosophy. Since philosophy in Plato’s mind is centered on seeking Truth and pursuing an ethical life the Cratylus focuses on how effective words are for seeking truth and defining ethics.


“This book, in my view, is a major contribution to the literature in the field, first, because of its generous and thorough treatment of a neglected dialogue, and, second, because - in what I think is an unprecedented way - Dr. Soltes has made a bold, risky, but in the end justifiable jump from the Cratylus to the modern search for ontological and intellectual foundations on which to base belief, knowledge, and interpretation. ... Soltes possesses an extraordinarily gifted mind and has a lucidity of expression that allows him in this work not only to move fluidly from a dialogue of Plato to modern language philosophy but also to deal in particular with the relation between ethics and theology. He has great skill in interweaving disparate disciplines such as these, and deserves praise for taking one of Plato’s neglected dialogues and drawing out of it a fascinating and (as I believe) correct conclusion.” - Ross Mackenzie, Historian Emeritus, Chautauqua Institution

“This synthesis of the historical study of language, ethics, and theology provides a wellspring of information for scholars in a range of disciplines and will no doubt be a catalyst for further debate.” - Dr. Adrienne E. Pierce, Head of Classics, Hackley School

“This original study offers a double thesis of great significance for the study of Plato and for the philosophy of language. ... Soltes’ arguments are cogent and powerful. ... Readers from many disciplines will long be in his debt.” - Bruce Payne, Executive Director, The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation

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