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Language and understanding in Plato

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This thesis explores and links some of Plato's ideas on both language and understanding. There are close readings of the whole of the Cratylus and the Phaedrus from 257b7 to the end which conclude that: no knowledge can be found from etymology; Greek as a language is not perfect; and we must search for a knowledge outside language. Using various other texts, but particularly the Statesman, there are comments on the difference between the physical world we inhabit and the ideal world of abstracts that we must try to understand through using paradigms, a category in which I include myths. There is a broad conclusion that, despite language being imperfect and problematic, we must use it since it is our only tool with which we can create an approximation of the ideal in order to progress towards understanding.

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