ἐπιλήθομαι (epilelesthai) and λήθη (lethe) On Plato’s philosophy of forgetting

Main Article Content

Tang Man-to https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3884-2310

Abstract

Scholars H. N. Fowler, R. Waterfield, J. McDowell, D. Davidson and J. M. Cooper translate both ἐπιλήθομαι (epilelesthai) and λήθη (lethe) into “forgetting”. Yet it is problematic, as they designate two different meanings of forgetting Only J. C. B. Gosling, in his translation of Philebus, translates λήθηinto “oblivion” and ἐπιλήθομαι into forgetting respectively. However, he does not explain why the difference matters. This paper aims at explaining the ambiguous meaning of forgetting in Meno, Phaedo, Theaetetus and Philebus. The one hand, ἐπιλήθομαι (epilelesthai) means the loss of memory in our ordinary life. On the other hand, λήθη (lethe) means the loss of memory before-life or before we are born. I conclude by drawing attention to Paul Ricoeur’s critical examination of Plato’s philosophy of forgetting that he fails to provide an effective resolution to the ordinary forgetting as an attack on the reliability of memory.


DOI: 10.5958/2347-6869.2017.00021.8

Article Details

How to Cite
Man-to, T. (2018). ἐπιλήθομαι (epilelesthai) and λήθη (lethe). S O C R A T E S, 5(3 and 4), 40-57. Retrieved from https://socratesjournal.com/index.php/SOCRATES/article/view/301
Section
Philosophy
Author Biography

Tang Man-to, PhD candidate in the Department of Philosophy, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

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