Non-being has played a central role in the history of Western philosophy from Parmenides to the present day. In the first of these two studies, Denis O'Brien presents a new interpretation of how three major philosophers of the ancient world, Parmenides, Plato and Plotinus, were led to form increasingly complex conceptions of 'what is not'. In particular, he seeks to demonstrate that the relation between the ideas of these three philosophers cannot adequately be accounted for within a traditional framework of the history of philosophy. The second study provides a detailed analysis of passages from Plato's Sophist, where a Stranger from Elea attempts to refute the cosmic monism which had been thought to follow from Parmenides' outright denial of non-being. O'Briens analysis of the successive stages in the Stranger's intricate argument requires a fresh understanding of how Plato conceived of negation and contrariety, of truth and falsity, of being and otherness. In the course of his analysis, O'Brien takes issue with many of the interpretations of Plato's dialogue which have had most influence in recent years. If O'Brien is right, then many presentations of the Sophist are wrong.
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