Plato's Sophist [390-391]

like that at all? Can it be made intelligible by means of the natural self-interpretation of τέχνη? For if there is such a τέχνη, then, within its connection to other people, it must have a certain intelligibility, and all the more so because its very sense relates it to others. And so once again explicit reference is made to the fact that the sophists actually have a following, that they are paid for their ἀντιλέγειν, and that this shows they actually πάντα ἄρα σοφοὶ τοῖς μαθηταῖς φαίνονται. (233c6). "In the eyes of their disciples they do look like that and are in fact accepted as πάντα σοφοί, as possessing know-how in regard to everything," οὐκ ὄντες γε (c8), "although this is not so." Hence this ἐπιστήμη is δοξαστική (cf. c10), "one which in itself has the possibility of posing as something it is not."

Thus arises the task of inquiring into this peculiar phenomenon—something posing as what it is not—and of attempting to track down once and for all the place within this τέχνη where the phenomenon of semblance and mere appearance resides. Plato does not clarify this character of semblance and mere appearance, δόξαστικόν, directly in terms of the τέχνη σοφιστική and the ἀντιλέγειν. Instead, he says: λάβωμεν τοίνυν σαφέστερόν τι παράδειγμα περὶ τούτων (233d3f.). "Let us therefore take an example" and by its means clarify where something like the δοξαστικόν can reside within a τέχνη and what that means. It is no accident that Plato here resorts to a παράδειγμα, does not make the ἀντιλογική the direct theme of the analysis, and hence shows the character of semblance in terms of this παράδειγμα and not in λέγειν itself. Indeed later, on the basis of an elucidated concept of non-being, he comes to speak once more of λόγος and of the phenomenon of ψεῦδος, which here lies at the foundation. But nowhere, even in other dialogues, does Plato successfully disclose, within the structure of λόγος itself, the peculiar constitution of ψεῦδος and its possibility in λέγειν. This derives from the fact that he did not yet see λόγος in its main structures, and consequently his concepts of φαντασία and of δόξα remain uncertain. And yet we have here already a remarkable indication for the interpretation of the τέχνη ἀντιλογική. Earlier, λέγειν was indeed determined as χειροῦσθαι, as an appropriation of beings in their ἀληθές. If we understand λέγειν in this way, as appropriation, as taking possession of beings as uncovered, and if we clarify the claim residing in the ἀντιλογική, then the result is that the ἀντιλογική is impossible in its pretense to be able to possess all beings in their uncoveredness.

β) Τέχνη μιμητική as ποιεῖν δοκεῖν. Τέχνη σοφιστική as ποιεῖν δοκεῖν λέγεσθαι.

To what extent can the δοξαστικόν and consequently this ontological impossibility of thε τέχνη ἀντιλογική be understood in themselves? Plato's method here is peculiar: he shows that the existence of this impossibility,