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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


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


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


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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References in classic literature ?
In the Cratylus they dawn upon him with the freshness of a newly-discovered thought.
(91) The most conspicuous are of course the Protagoras and Theaetetus, as well as the Cratylus. But I also include the Parmenides, for reasons given above; the Republic, where the goal of the education is the turning around of souls away from perception and toward the forms; and the Minos, where an anonymous comrade espouses a naive version of Protagorean conventionalism.
Cratylus. Translated by Harold North Fowler, Harvard UP, 1926.
Knowledge and Language: the Theaetetus and the Cratylus. In: SCHOFIELD, M.; NUSSBAUM, M.
(66.) Socrates, puns on eros/erotan at Cratylus 398d.
It is found in other religions such as Islam, and was also present in the Classical tradition, for example in Plato's dialogue Cratylus. Indeed, phenomenologists and philosophers of religion (Eliade; Ricoeur 49-61) have implied that performativity, meaning the ritualistic repetition of archetypes to summon the sacred reality into existence, is a defining characteristic of "archaic" ontology, while the understanding of meaning as representational, and therefore translatable, is a decidedly modern development.
It is a revival of the ancient Greek skepticism of Cratylus, who, Aristotle tells us, was so rigorous in rejecting the validity of any assertion of truth that he "finally did not think it right to say anything but only moved his finger, and criticized Heraclitus for saying that it is impossible to step twice into the same river; for he thought one could not do it even once." (5)
According to the opinion of most linguists the earliest living linguistic treatise dealing with the origin and nature of language is considered to be Plato's Cratylus. There are some opposite evidence though, language has been proposed to be imitative, or "echoic" in the twentieth century.
(Not even Plato's Cratylus could avoid trying to make sense via signals or such.)
that dates back to at least Plato's Cratylus. (49) In the Notes and
It was Plato, in the Cratylus, who pointed out that sometimes sounds seem to carry meaning.