Editor's note: After blind peer review, this paper was selected for reading at the University of Dayton's 10th annual Philosophy Colloquium, held Feb. 27-28, 1981.

Plato's Theaetetus, having episteme (knowledge or science) as its principal topic, attracts considerable interest. Two lines of interpretation dominate the literature. Each provides a way for explaining the two most prominent features of the dialogue — that it fails to define knowledge and that Socrates refrains from introducing the forms to help himself out. The majority of commentators, adhering to the standard view of Plato — that he has a doctrine of forms which he retains throughout his career, or once discovering never forsakes — think that the Theaetetus, since it does not appeal to the forms as the necessary objects of knowledge, shows their very necessity by its consequent failure to define knowledge. The Theaetetus, for them, offers an indirect proof that without the forms, Plato cannot give any account of what knowledge is. What this view sometimes assumes is that in other dialogues into which the forms enter, such as Republic or Sophist, there is a complete account. The Theaetetus, then, confirms the earlier treatments of knowledge, say in the Republic, or prepares for the answer coming in the Sophist.



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