Troubling Play

Meaning and Entity in Plato's Parmenides

By Kelsey Wood

Subjects: Philosophy, Continental Philosophy, Ancient Greek Philosophy, History Of Philosophy, Metaphysics
Paperback : 9780791465202, 214 pages, June 2006
Hardcover : 9780791465196, 214 pages, October 2005

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Table of contents


1. Troubling Play

2. Logos and Existence in the Parmenides

3. The Game Begins

4. From Irony to Comedy

5. If the All Is a Many, Change Is Impossible

6. The Fourth and Fifth Beginnings: The Many

7. Denouement: If the One Is Not


This new interpretation of Plato's Parmenides emphasizes its treatment of time and language—insights especially relevant for those working in the Continental tradition.


Troubling Play is a new and illuminating interpretation of Plato's Parmenides—notoriously the most difficult of the dialogues. Showing that the Parmenides is an inquiry into time and the forms of language, author Kelsey Wood notes that the dialogue's suggestion of sophistry is intended to provoke the silently observant Socrates. The young Socrates believes that knowing is prior to existence, but Parmenides ultimately shows him that the meaning of intelligible discourse is derived from existence in time. Although we cannot think apart from intelligible forms, nevertheless, any number of modes of intelligibility are possible. This relation of ideals of intelligibility—the forms of logos—to temporal being is a crucial topic of special relevance to philosophers today.

Wood's detailed methodological analysis ties the Parmenides to other later dialogues such as the Sophist, Theatetus, and Philebus, and also to earlier works such as the Republic and the poem of Parmenides.

Kelsey Wood is Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the College of the Holy Cross.