Volume 18, 1993
A Change in Plato’s Conception of the Good
One of the most interesting passages in the Republic is the comparison of the Form of the Good with the Sun. Although this depiction of the Good was never repeated, many hold that the Good retained its privileged place in Plato’s metaphysics.
I shall argue that there are good reasons for thinking that Plato, when writing the Sophist, no longer held his earlier view of the Good. Specifically, I shall contend that he ceased to believe that as the Sun makes its objects visible, so the Good makes the Forms knowable. This being the case, it cannot also be said to iIluminate either the Forms or the order they exhibit.
My procedure will be first to consider briefly how, in the Republic, the Good can be said to iIluminate the Forms. I shall then determine the extent to which, in the Sophist, this function can still be credited to the Good.