published on December 21, 2017
The Science of Philosophy
Discourse and Deception in Plato’s Sophist
At 252e1 to 253c9 in Plato’s Sophist, the Eleatic Visitor explains why philosophy is a science. Like the art of grammar, philosophical knowledge corresponds to a generic structure of discrete kinds and is acquired by systematic analysis of how these kinds intermingle. In the literature, the Visitor’s science is either understood as an expression of a mature and authentic platonic metaphysics, or as a sophisticated illusion staged to illustrate the seductive lure of sophistic deception. By showing how the Visitor’s account of the science of philosophy is just as comprehensive, phantasmatic and self-concealing as the art of sophistry identified at the dialogue’s outset, this paper argues in favor of the latter view.