The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Newsletter

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Plato imagines someone moulding figures of all kinds in a lump of gold, and continually remoulding each and all into all the others. If someone points to one of these shaped pieces of gold and asks "what is it?" Three possible replies: by far the safest, "it is gold." 2, But never "triangle." 3. Unless they are willing to accept "such", that has some safety.

The most complete previous interpretation of this passage is by Harold Cherniss, AJP 75 (1954) 113-130. This paper discusses the difficulties in Cherniss' interpretation and offers alternatives.


Edward N. Lee presented "On the Gold Example" to the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy at its meeting with the American Philological Association in Providence, RI, in 1965. A revised version was published in J. P. Anton & G. Kustas, eds. Essays in Ancient Greek Philosophy vol. 1, State University of New York Press 1971, 219-235.

Edward N. Lee is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of California, San Diego.