Volume 14, Issue 1, Fall 2009
The Divine Logos
Plato, Heraclitus, and Heidegger in the Sophist
In this paper, I address the way in which Plato’s Sophist rethinks his lifelong dialogue with Heraclitus. Plato uses a concept of logos in this dialogue that is much more Heraclitean than his earlier concept of the logos. I argue that he employs this concept in order to resolve those problems with his earlier theory of ideas that he had brought to light in the Parmenides. I argue that the concept of the dialectic that the Stranger develops rejects, rather than continues, the idea reached at the end of the Theatetus that knowledge has to be grounded in a nous aneu logou (a non-logical, divine intellect) even while the Stranger appropriates the concerns that lead to his conclusion. Ultimately, I suggest that my differentiation of the later Plato’s appropriation of the tradition from Aristotle’s appropriation of that tradition is closely related to the re-thinking of the full sense of logos in the later Heidegger on Heraclitus and on Parmenides. I end by suggesting that the question that Plato and Heraclitus pose to us is to ask what such a divine logos tells about human ways of knowing.