Download PDF by Geoffrey Bagwell: A study of Plato's ''Cratylus''.
By Geoffrey Bagwell
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Additional resources for A study of Plato's ''Cratylus''.
It is possible to try to burn things that are not combustible. Actions must have their own nature if it is possible to perform an action on an inappropriate or unreceptive object. 48 Socrates has several reasons for selecting cutting and burning as examples to make this point. One is because they are analogous to naming. Names distinguish things (388b10). When I shout ―Lucy‖ into a crowd of people, it distinguishes people named ―Lucy‖ from the rest of the crowd. Cutting and burning separates things.
The claim that coining a name determines its use may work for names, but it cannot work for beings. When a person coins a name, it determines the way a person can use the name. Likewise, according to Protagoras, appearance determines the way something is for a person. Because Hermogenes denies that appearance determines being (386a6), he cannot maintain that coining a name determines its use and that appearance determines being, if he is willing to consider names and beings analogous. Hermogenes could simply deny that his conventionalism is comparable to Protagorean relativism.
Socrates elevates λόκνη from convention to rules, set down for regulating practice. In doing so, he brings λόκνη closer to nature, and invites Hermogenes to accept naturalism. Chen, however, does not inquire into the reasons behind Hermogenes‘ acceptance of this equivocation. Hermogenes has prepared himself to accept this stronger form of λόκνη through his admission that an expert is needed justify the present use of words. Thus coining a word justifies it subsequent use. Not just anyone can be a lawmaker.
A study of Plato's ''Cratylus''. by Geoffrey Bagwell