Separation and its language in Plato

Renato Matoso


In this paper I present an original interpretation of the concept of separation in Plato. First, I argue that despite the fact that the ancient Greek word for “separation” almost never appears in the metaphysical discussions of Plato’s dialogues, the key role of the concept of separation in Plato’s metaphysics can be attested by the importance the platonic tradition gives to it. Therefore, understanding separation in Plato seems to be a problem we must face, but we do not have a clear strategy to solve it. My strategy will be to tackle this problem by looking at a specific passage (Phd. 74 b7-c5) in which Plato distinguishes the ontological status of Forms and sensible things. Through the analysis of this passage and its relations to another metaphysical argument in Plato (Smp. 211a2-5), I hope to show that Plato’s careful choice of words and syntactical structure of sentences aims to distinguish two ontologically different types of entities: the unrelational, separate Forms, and the relational sensible things.

Keywords: Plato, separation, ontology.

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