Cratylus


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Cratylus

 

Greek philosopher of the late fifth century B.C. Cratylus was a student of Heraclitus and drew extreme relativist conclusions from his master's teachings on the universal flux of things. In particular, he denied that phenomena have any qualitative fixity; hence, either one can say nothing about ongoing phenomena or one can say anything at all. Heraclitus taught that one cannot step into the same river twice; Cratylus, that one cannot step into it even once. He believed that one can only point things out, not make assertions about them.

WORKS

Fragments in Russian translation:
In A. Makovel'skii, Dosokratiki, part 3. Kazan, 1919. Pages 188–89.

REFERENCE

Istoriia filosofii, vol. 1 [Moscow] 1940. (See subject index.)

A. F. LOSEV

Mentioned in ?
References in classic literature ?
In the Cratylus they dawn upon him with the freshness of a newly-discovered thought.
Not even Plato's Cratylus could avoid trying to make sense via signals or such.
It was Plato, in the Cratylus, who pointed out that sometimes sounds seem to carry meaning.
Among those who took this turn in their thinking we find several ancient Greek thinkers, the most famous being Heraclites and Cratylus.
See, for instance, Apology 35a, 40c-e; Crito 43b; Phaedo 77d-e; Cratylus 404b; Republic 386a-b, 486b; Laws 727d, 828d.
A related connection is also made in the Cratylus, however serious we take Socrates' etymological play, when he explains the origin of "knowing" (daemon) in the word for "spirit" (daimon, 398b).
That distribution of the topics of ancient philology enables him to speak of various philosophical positions on language--most notably that of Plato's Cratylus with its depiction of language as both naturally expressive and altered by convention.
The Sophist philosophy of Protagoras, Hippias, Cratylus, and others was to create much controversy and opposition later.
Rather than celebrating the power of the absolute text, these references to the Cratylus, the rose, and the Nile demonstrate the poetic voice's scrutiny of a possible word-to-object link.
The meaning and etymology of the concepts of gods, demons and heroes is described in Plato's Cratylus (397c-398e).
The Romans ascribed the comment first to Heraclitus, who did indeed assert--along with statements such as "you cannot step into the same river twice"--that all things change (navra pel, panta rhei: after Plato, Cratylus 401d).