Analysis Of Correctness Of Names In Plato's 'Cratylus'

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134776 PH134 – Philosophy of Language Cratylus Plato’s Cratylus is a dialogue about the ‘correctness of names’, or the method of assigning or appropriating names to things. In the exchange, three interlocutors participate and contribute to the discussion at hand. Hermogenes defends the idea that the correctness of names is establishing linguistic conventions. He points out the randomness with which names are imposed and facile way of changing them as evidence that there is nothing more than simply ‘convention and agreement’; the name is only justified by agreement. On the other hand, Cratylus argues that names cannot be arbitrarily chosen in the way that conventionalism asserts or advocates because specific names belong naturally to specific things. Names, then, are correct insofar as they reveal something about the nature of what is named when vocalised. With the two arguments presented, Socrates joins the conversation, taking on the responsibility of defending basal principles of naturalism with…show more content…
Hence, a name given by a mighty god is better than a name given by a normal man. Because it is an impossibility to ask or know the gods themselves, Socrates and Hermogenes tackle the philological argument by surveying the works of Homer. It becomes known that words used by the wise ancestors – whether indicating gods, heroes, or places – have been derived from abstract or common nouns that give reference to the features of the owner, even these common nouns, such as natural elements, come from abstract nouns in the same manner. Although it is possible that one name may be assigned to the same thing, Socrates claims that the name-makers ultimately were describing the nature of something through naming. Language, whether bodily or verbal, is unique in the sense that it should imitate the essence of the
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