Secondly, whenever discussing Plotinus's metaphysics, Emilsson claims that Plotinus holds to the "Principle of Prior Possession," meaning that "the principle evoked to explain something else has itself the feature it is intended to explain," such that the Platonic form of man "is a man of sorts." This is a mistaken interpretation, which would lead to the Third Man argument
Since Proclus replies at length to the Third Man Argument
in his Commentary on the Parmenides, we cannot supposc that his metaphysical system was entirely the product of this fallacy (p.
As Lewis reads him, the Aristotle of the Categories takes the moral of the Third Man Argument to be that relations of ontological dependence must be unmediated or "one step" relations.
As Lewis notes, neither his account of the role of the Third Man Argument nor the claim of one step dependence can be substantiated directly by any single text or series of texts.
Nor do I think that Lewis is right in claiming that by allowing ontological dependence to be mediated, Aristotle opens himself up to the Third Man Argument; for provided we have reason to suppose that the steps taking us from a given predicable back to its category and those taking us from the predicable down to the least general items of which it is said are both finite, the mediation of ontological dependence will not confront us with a vicious infinite regress.
Macdonald closes with a good discussion of how a Platonic account of universals might answer the notorious "Third Man Argument
Vlastos cites Protagoras 330c-d as containing "the star instance of Self-Predication in Plato" ("The Third Man Argument
in the Parmenides" [Philosophical Review 63 (1954): 319-49], p.
Vlastos's original article on the elenchus was a classic like his great article on the Third Man Argument
in the Parmenides (1954): both spawned scholarly cottage-industries, and both have been superseded in important respects.
This renders them vulnerable to the Third Man argument. Early-dialogue Forms, by contrast, exemplify themselves only when it is legitimate for them to do so, and are therefore exempted from the Third Man.
Each of the authors Malcolm discusses has tried, in his own way, to explain the central paradoxes that seem to make the theory of Forms succumb to the Third Man argument. Malcolm's views are on the whole simpler and less attractive philosophically than those he attacks.
What drives Malcolm to his conclusion is his conviction that the Third Man argument would have no purchase on the Forms if they were not universals, since he believes that if a Form were a paradigm without being a universal, there would be no sufficient reason for assuming the nonidentity of that Form with its instances (p.