A sophist states, to the effect that, falsehood is that which is not, and because that which is not does not exist, falsehood doesn’t exist. Socrates refutes that argument in this fascinating exercise in ontology, a discourse on the definition of being, not being, same, other, rest, motion, truth and falsehood.
What it highlights for me is the circularity or futility, for lack of a better word, of using language to define abstract concepts. Socrates had to to resort to “motion” and “rest”, two not well-defined, but seemingly mutually exclusive concrete concepts, to help define abstract ones, such as, “being”, “not being”, “same”, and “other”. In the end, each concept can be understood not in terms of its own nature, but only in relation to other concepts. “Each of them is other than the rest, not by reason of its own nature, but because it partakes of the idea of the other.”
Vice and Ignorance
There are two kinds of evil in the soul, vice and ignorance. The one may be compared to disease in the body, the other to deformity. One is caused by discord, the other by lack of proportion or symmetry. “What is ignorance but the aberration of a mind which is bent on truth, and in which the process of understanding is perverted? ” (What is developmental disorder?)
“His art may be traced as a branch of the appropriative, acquisitive family–which hunts animals,–living–land–tame animals; which hunts man,–privately–for hire,–taking money in exchange–having the semblance of education; and this is termed Sophistry, and is a hunt after young men of wealth and rank.”
“And may there not be supposed to be an imitative art of reasoning? Is it not possible to enchant the hearts of young men by words poured through their ears, when they are still at a distance from the truth of facts, by exhibiting to them fictitious arguments, and making them think that they are true, and that the speaker is the wisest of men in all things?”
Being or Becoming?
“Anything which possesses any sort of power to affect another, or to be affected by another, if only for a single moment, however trifling the cause and however slight the effect, has real existence; and I hold that the definition of being is simply power.”