Contradicting the long-held belief that Aristotle was the first to discuss individuation systematically, this study argues that Plato solved the problem in a radically different way. It explores the centrality of individuation to Plato's thinking, from the "Parmenides" to the "Politicos", illuminating Plato's later metaphysics. Tradition associates Plato with the contrast between the particulars of the sensible world and transcendent forms, and supposes that therein lies the centre of Plato's metaphysical universe. Instead, this work argues that Plato's thinking about individuals - which informs all his thought - comes to focus on the tension between "generous" or complex individuals and "austere" or simple individuals. In dialogues such as the "Theaetetus" and the "Timaeus", Plato repeatedly poses the question of individuation but cannot provide an answer. The author asserts that individuation may be absolute - and she questions philosophy's long-time reliance on Aristotle's solution.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
"McCabe's exposition and defense of Plato's henology is reason enough to praise the book and recommend it to scholars of ancient philosophy and philosophers of language."--George Rudebush, "Philosophy in Review"