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The Third Man Argument - perform an infinite number of such...

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The Third Man Argument (TMA) 1. An infinite regress argument: “no longer will each of your forms be one, but unlimited in multitude.” (132b2) 2. The regress is epistemologically vicious. The Theory of Forms is a theory of judgment (by “judgment” I mean the mental state that is common to both knowledge and belief). Judging involves consulting Forms: to judge that x is F is to consult the Form F -ness and to see x as being sufficiently like F -ness to qualify for the predicate F . Alan Code suggests that the TMA raises an objection to this theory of judgment: The TMA is designed to reduce to absurdity the claim that it is the consultation of forms which enables us to make judgments. It does this by showing that if that were the case, we would have to
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Unformatted text preview: perform an infinite number of such consultations to make just one judgment. 3. Since the Theory of Forms tries to explain predication, the TMA is also a challenge to it as a theory of predication. (Recall our examination of the Phaedo : the Form, the F Itself, is the aitia , or explanation . of something’s being F . “Participating in a Form” is supposed to explain predication. And the upshot of the TMA is that there is something defective about this explanation: Trying to explain predication in terms of the notion of participating in a (paradigmatic) Form leads to an infinite regress, and hence is no explanation at all....
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