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Статья

Elenchus and Diairesis in Plato’s Sophist

Hermathena. 2013. Vol. 189. P. 71-91.

The well-known sixth definition of the sophist in the homonymous dialogue contains a discussion of the elenchus (230b4-e3) which is often referred to as a manifestation of the late Plato’s attitude towards this method of argumentation. It is generally assumed that the definition of the sophist ‘of noble lineage’ given here should be attributed to Socrates as represented in earlier Plato’s dialogues.  Since the elenchus is associated mainly with Socrates, little, if any, attention has been paid to the elenchus in the Sophist itself. This is only partly due to the fact that Socrates is not a leading character in the dialogue; more significantly, ever since Robinson the elenchus has been believed to be an essential preliminary — but a preliminary only — to the constructive search of knowledge.  The Sophist, on the contrary, pursues a rather positive task of defining the sophist and, moreover, seems to complete this task successfully — not by means of the elenchus, but by means of the diairesis.
The scope of this paper is to demonstrate that the mention of the elenchus at 230b4-e3 is not merely retrospective, and to draw attention to the elenctic dimension of the whole dialogue.