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Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Being a foreigner to what there is

I always suspect there is too much between the lines of Plato's Sophist. Severino, for example, sees there the origin of Western Nihilism as the Stranger ends up spousing the idea that being can be other (in fact, non-being) and that it changes (turns into something else, other than what it is). The existence of movement appears as the existence of an other to what there is and therefore as a proof that what there is can be other. If it can be other, it has to be able to not-be (what it is). This is the parricide thesis: it is possible to predicate of an S that is not P that it is P. It is possible to say, of (this yellow) banana, that it is blue. Parmenides claim, on the other hand, appears elusive. The claim seems to entail some sort of necessitism (in the Williamson's sense: whatever exists, exists with necessity). But what does it mean that we cannot say or think (supposedly because it cannot be) that the non-being is? Maybe that appearances are meaningless - to say the false is meaningless. Is it about predication or about existence? If it is about existence, it might seem more harmless: falsity is basically just like fiction (just like pretense, in Kripke's approach). The only thing that exists is a banana that is not blue, to say that the banana is blue is not to talk about a banana, it's to talk about nothing. It can be taken as form of extreme descritivism: to talk about Adam is to talk about a sinner (a non-sinner Adam is not Adam, the discernible are not identical). Or can a Parmenidean be less descriptivist?

But Plato's (the Stranger) option for privileging the vocabulary of the same and the other. A way out all together is to avoid all talk about negation (or opposition) in favor of mere differences. Deleuze himself (in D&R) doesn't go that far as to replace all opposition by difference. This shows how hard it is to think beyond the Sophist options. To think of difference as basic would require exorcizing completely the thoughts based on the Same and the Other.

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