Plato's Cratylus is a brilliant but enigmatic dialogue. It bears on a topic, the relation of language to knowledge, which has never ceased to be of central philosophical importance, but tackles it in ways which at times look alien to us. In this reappraisal of the dialogue, Professor Sedley argues that the etymologies which take up well over half of it are not an embarrassing lapse or semi-private joke on Plato's part. On the contrary, if taken seriously as they should be, they are the key to understanding both the dialogue itself and Plato's linguistic philosophy more broadly. The book's main argument is so formulated as to be intelligible to readers with no knowledge of Greek, and will have a significant impact both on the study of Plato and on the history of linguistic thought.
David Sedley is Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy in the University of Cambridge. He is the author, with A. A. Long, of The Hellenistic Philosophers (1987; Vol. 1: HB 0521 255619; PB 0521 275563; Vol. 2 SBN: HB 0521 255627; PB 0521 275571), author of Lucretius and the Transformation of Greek Wisdom (1998: 0521 570328) and editor of The Cambridge Companion to Greek and Roman Philosophy (2003; HB 0521 772850; PB 0521 775035).