Dialectical Methods and the Stoicheia Paradigm in Plato’s Trilogy and Philebus

  • Colin C. Smith
Keywords: method, metaphysics, epistemology, ontology


Plato’s Theaetetus, Sophist, and Statesman exhibit several related dialectical methods relevant to Platonic education: maieutic in Theaetetus, bifurcatory division in Sophist and Statesman, and non-bifurcatory division in Statesman, related to the ‘god-given’ method in Philebus.  I consider the nature of each method through the letter or element (στοιχεῖον) paradigm, used to reflect on each method.  At issue are the element’s appearances in given contexts, its fitness for communing with other elements like it in kind, and its own nature defined through its relations to others.  These represent stages of inquiry for the Platonic student inquiring into the sources of knowledge.


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