The Importance of Being Erroneous

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This is a commentary on MM McCabe's "First Chop your logos... Socrates and the sophists on language, logic, and development". In her paper MM analyses Plato's Euthydemos, in which Plato tackles the problem of falsity in a way that takes into account the speaker and complements the Sophist's discussion of what is said. The dialogue looks as if it is merely a demonstration of the silly consequences of eristic combat. And so it is. But a main point of MM's paper is that there is serious philosophy in the Euthydemos, too. MM argues that to counter the sophist brothers Euthydemos and Dionysodoros, Socrates points out that that there are different aspects to the verb 'to say' that run in parallel to the different aspects of the very 'to learn'. So just as there is continuity rather than ambiguity between 'to learn' and 'to understand', so there is continuity between the different aspects of saying. Thus Socrates puts forward a teleological account of both learning and meaning. Following up on some of MM's thoughts, I argue that the sophists subscribe, despite appearance, to a theory of meaning that respects serious and widely accepted philosophical theses on meaning. Forthcoming in the Australasian Philosophical Review. The curator of the volume is Fiona Leigh, and the committee also has Hugh Benson and Tim Clarke. You can find MM's paper as well as the commentaries by Nicholas Denyer and Russell E. Jones and Ravi Sharma (and myself) by registering.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-166
JournalAustralasian Philosophical Review
Issue number3
Early online date22 Jan 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Jan 2021


  • Plato
  • Euthydemos
  • Falsity
  • Negation
  • Logic
  • Meaning


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