Cratylus

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This article is about the Athenian philosopher. For Plato's dialogue, see Cratylus (dialogue).

Cratylus (/krəˈtləs/; Ancient Greek: Κρατύλος, Kratylos) was an ancient Athenian philosopher from the mid-late 5th century BCE, known mostly through his portrayal in Plato's dialogue Cratylus. He was a radical proponent of Heraclitean philosophy and influenced the young Plato.

Life[edit]

Little is known of Cratylus beyond his status as a disciple of Heraclitus of Ephesus, Asia Minor. Modern biographers have not reached consensus on his approximate date of birth, arguing alternately for an age comparable either to Plato or Socrates.[1] Cratylus is mentioned in Aristotle's Metaphysics in a passage which seems to imply that he was an established and active philosopher in Athens during the mid-late 5th century,[1] and that Plato was briefly interested in his teachings prior to aligning with Socrates.

Philosophy[edit]

In Cratylus' eponymous Platonic dialogue, the character of Socrates states Heraclitus' claim that one cannot step twice into the same stream.[2] According to Aristotle, Cratylus went a step beyond his master's doctrine and proclaimed that it cannot even be done once.[3]

Cratylism[edit]

The contemporary philosophy Cratylism is based on a reconstructed version of Cratylus' theories of flux and language as they appear in Plato's dialogue. It has been influential to Eastern thinkers, including Buddhist semioticians.[4] The Australian poet, academic, and literary critic Professor A. D. Hope published in 1979 a book of essays on poetry titled The New Cratylus..[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Debra Nails. The People of Plato: A prosopography of Plato and other Socratics. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2002, pp. 105
  2. ^ Plato, Cratylus, 402a
  3. ^ Aristotle, Metaphysics, 4.5 1010a10-15
  4. ^ Fabio Rambelli. A Buddhist Theory of Semiotics. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013, pp. 179
  5. ^ The New Cratylus: Notes on the Craft of Poetry, Melbourne, Oxford University Press, 1979