Third Man Combinationjpfasr

  1. Third Man Syndrome
  2. Third Man Factor
  3. Third Man Argument
  4. Third Man Music
  5. Third Man Film
  • The Third Man on the radio: the 1951 “A Ticket to Tangiers” episode of The Lives of Harry Lime series, written and performed by Orson Welles; and the 1951 Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of The Third Man; Illustrated production history with rare behind-the-scenes photos, original UK press book, and U.S.
  • Characters: List a brief description of each character. Chapter Questions: Answer the following questions as we read chapters I - IX of Greene's The Third Man.All the Active reading notices are for you to think about and not have a written answer for, unless you want to write one.

Characters: List a brief description of each character.

In 1949, an American writer of westerns, Holly Martins, arrives in post-war Vienna to visit his old friend Harry Lime. On arrival, he learns that his friend.

Rollo Martins

Harry Lime

Mr. Dexter




Anna Schmidt



Dr. Winkler


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Chapter Questions:Answer the following questions as we read chapters I - IX of Greene's The Third Man. All the Active reading notices are for you to think about and not have a written answer for, unless you want to write one. These are all in bold italics.

IWhatare your expectations as a reader after reading the first line?

Who isthe narrator?

Notice the description of post-warVienna. The complexity of the city’s various zones. The various factions vyingfor power and control. This was the beginning of the Cold War. The tension ofthe story is reinforced by Greene’s choice of location.

II Whydoes Martins come to Austria?

Whatdoes Martins do for a living?

Whatodd incident happens in Frankfurt?

Howdoes the landlord say Lime died?

Wheredid Martins meet Harry Lime?

Notice the similarities betweenMartins relationship with Lime and Sinclair’s relationship with Demian. BothLime and Demian were older, tried to “put <the younger boys> wise tothings,” and didn’t think as the teachers wanted them to.

Notice,too, that Lime “qualified” as a doctor, but never “practiced.” This willbeimportant later.
Third Man Combinationjpfasr

Why wasHarry Lime’s death “the best thing that ever happened to him” according toCalloway?

How does Martin react to Calloway’saccusations toward Lime? And why would he react this way?

IIIWhy doesMartins think it’s okay to say he is Mr. Dexter?

Notice how Martins sees himself asa character in his own novels.Thisfantasy helps support his reasons for impersonating Mr. Dexter. His “revenge”on Calloway, whom he calls Callaghan, justifies his immoral act and thievery.

Whatdoes Martins dream of? Interpret it. What do you think it means?

Note that as Martins interacts withmore people in Vienna he receives a variety of points of view about Lime. Healso receives contradictory information which leads him to believe something iswrong. His role, then, is to discover the truth and we, as readers discover itwith him. Finding the truth often means sorting through contradictoryinformation.

IVWhy doesMartin distrust Kurtz?

Notice how Greene manipulates timein this story. The events told at the start of the chapter are from Calloway’spoint of view, and in the first person. The point of view changes to Martins onpage 45 when Greene gives us his personal account of events. The transition isseamless, but tells us that what we are about to read has already happened.Nothing can change it. Martins may be acting as a detective, but he eventuallyfinds himself in Calloway’s office explaining his exploits.

Howdoes Kurtz say Harry died?

Whatdoes Calloway say about “the hands of the guilty”?

Third Man Syndrome

Notice how each characterrepresents a different nationality. Greene does this to put emphasis on theconcept (parts which make a whole) presented by the setting in chapter two.

From which nationality are thefollowing characters?







VTo what Shakespearean play doesGreene allude to in paragraph one, and how is this comparison an apt one?

Notice Anna’s face is described as“honest.” Martins trusts her, but only because she is a woman. Greene gives uslots of references to Martins prior relationships with woman, all of themending poorly. Why then would he trust her so quickly? And more importantly, doyou trust her?

Do you agree with the statement: “There are some people whom one recognizes instantaneously as friends. You canbe at ease with them because you know that never, never will you be in danger.”

What does Martins find odd aboutthe scene surrounding Harry’s death?

VIWhatthree benefits does Calloway say Rollo Martins has over professional investigators?

Third Man Factor

VIIWhere doesRollo go after leaving Dr. Winkler’s house?

Whydoes he later regret going there?

Notice Herr Koch’s testimonypresents new evidence to the “crime.” He does not present this evidence to thepolice because he is Austrian. Currently in Vienna there are four powers incharge and none of them would be sympathetic to him.So he keeps his information to himself.Perhaps he tells Martins because as a friend of Harry’s he will rent theapartment and therefore Koch can make some money off the space.

Prediction/ Close reading : Who doyou think is “the third man” at the scene?

Third man book

Whotook all of Lime’s papers?

VIIIHow doesCooler know Anna Schmidt?

Notice Cooler’s telephoneconversation. A writer does not waste words. Think about what Cooler may havebeen talking about. Notice too, he is very concerned with duty; doing his, andothers doing theirs.

IXNoticethat Rollo is good with maps and directions. He doesn’t get lost easily.

DescribeMartins’ view of Anna Schmidt.

Why isthere a crowd outside Koch’s flat?

What isthe title of Martins’ new novel?

Whatlie catches up with Rollo when he returns to Sachers?

What isironic about Martins’ saying, “I lost my way” at the end of this chapter?

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The third man argument (commonly referred to as TMA; Greek: τρίτος ἄνθρωπος), first appears in Plato's dialogue Parmenides (132a–b).

Parmenides (speaking to Socrates) uses the example of μέγεθος (mégethos; 'greatness') in a philosophical criticism of the theory of forms. The theory of forms is formulated based on the speeches of characters across various dialogues by Plato, although it is often attributed to Plato himself.

The argument was furthered by Aristotle (Metaphysics 990b17–1079a13, 1039a2; Sophistic Refutations 178b36 ff.) who, rather than using the example of 'greatness' (μέγεθος), used the example of a man (hence the name of the argument) to explain this objection to the theory, which he attributes to Plato; Aristotle posits that if a man is a man because he partakes in the form of man, then a third form would be required to explain how man and the form of man are both man, and so on, ad infinitum.

Third Man Argument

Principles of Plato's theory of Forms[edit]

Plato's theory of Forms, as it is presented in such dialogues as the Phaedo, Republic and the first part of the Parmenides, seems committed to the following principles:

'F' stands for any Form ('appearance, property')—forma is a Boethian translation for εἶδος (eidos), which is the word that Plato used. Plato, in the Parmenides, uses the example 'greatness' (μέγεθος) for 'F-ness'; Aristotle uses the example 'man'.[1]

  • One-over-many: For any plurality of F things, there is a form of F-ness by virtue of partaking of which each member of that plurality is F.
  • Self-predication: Every form of F-ness is itself F.
  • Non-self-partaking: No form partakes of itself.
  • Uniqueness: For any property F, there is exactly one form of F-ness.
  • Purity: No form can have contrary properties.
  • One/many: The property of being one and the property of being many are contraries.
  • Oneness: Every form is one.

The argument[edit]

However, the TMA shows that these principles are mutually contradictory, as long as there is a plurality of things that are F:

(In what follows, μέγας [megas; 'great'] is used as an example; however, the argumentation holds for any F.)

Begin, then, with the assumption that there is a plurality of great things, say (A, B, C). By one-over-many, there is a form of greatness (say, G1) by virtue of partaking of which A, B, and C are great. By self-predication, G1 is great.

But then we can add G1 to (A, B, C) to form a new plurality of great things: (A, B, C, G1). By one-over-many, there is a form of greatness (say, G2) by virtue of partaking of which A, B, C, and G1 are great. But in that case G1 partakes of G2, and by Non-Self-Partaking, G1 is not identical to G2. So there are at least two forms of greatness, G1 and G2. This already contradicts Uniqueness, according to which there is exactly one (and hence no more than one) form of greatness.

But it gets worse for the theory of Forms. For by Self-Predication, G2 is great, and hence G2 can be added to (A, B, C, G1) to form a new plurality of great things: (A, B, C, G1, G2). By One-Over-Many, there is a form of greatness (say, G3) by virtue of partaking of which A, B, C, G1, and G2 are great. But in that case G1 and G2 both partake of G3, and by Non-Self-Partaking, neither of G1 and G2 is identical to G3. So there must be at least three forms of greatness, G1, G2, and G3.

Repetition of this reasoning shows that there is an infinite hierarchy of forms of greatness, with each form partaking of the infinite number of forms above it in the hierarchy. According to Plato, anything that partakes of many things must itself be many. So each form in the infinite hierarchy of forms of greatness is many. But then, given Purity and One/Many, it follows that each form in the infinite hierarchy of forms of greatness is not one. This contradicts Oneness.


Third man syndrome

Some scholars (including Gregory Vlastos) believe that the TMA is a 'record of honest perplexity'. Other scholars think that Plato means us to reject one of the premises that produces the infinite regress (namely, One-Over-Many, Self-Predication, or Non-Self-Partaking). But it is also possible to avoid the contradictions produced by the TMA by rejecting Uniqueness and Purity (while accepting One-Over-Many, Self-Predication, and Non-Self-Partaking).

See also[edit]

  • Harold F. Cherniss, Plato scholar, defended Plato against the TMA


  1. ^'No proper exposition of Plato’s Third Great Paradox appears in the surviving texts of Aristotle. There are only scattered references in the text to an argument that Aristotle calls the 'Third Man' (Metaphysics 84.23-85.3, 93.1-7, 990b 17=1079a 13, 1039a 2, 1059b 8; Sophistic Refutations 178b 36), which is commonly considered essentially the same argument', [1][permanent dead link], retrieved 2008-01-18

Further reading[edit]

  • Cohen, S. M., 'The Logic of the Third Man,' Philosophical Review 80 (1971), 448–475.
  • Gazziero, L., 'Kai hoti esti tis tritos anthrôpos,' Rhizai 7 (2010), 181–220.
  • Kung, J., 'Aristotle on Thises, Suches and the Third Man Argument,' Phronesis 26 (1981), 207–247
  • Lascio, E. di, 'Third Men: The Logic of the Sophism at Arist. SE 22, 178b36–179a10,' Topoi 23 (2004), 33–59.
  • Matía Cubillo, G. Ó., 'Suggestions on How to Combine the Platonic Forms to Overcome the Interpretative Difficulties of Parmenides Dialogue', Éndoxa 43 (2019), 41–66. https://doi.org/10.5944/endoxa.43.2019.22385.
  • Owen, G. E. L., 'The Place of the Timaeus in Plato's Dialogues,' Classical Quarterly n.s. 3 (1953), 79–95; also in Studies in Plato's Metaphysics, ed. by R. E. Allen (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1965), 313–338.
  • Pelletier, F. J. and E. N. Zalta, 'How to Say Goodbye to the Third Man', Noûs34(2) (2000): 165–202.
  • Peterson, S., 'A Reasonable Self-Predication Premise for the Third Man Argument,' Philosophical Review 82 (1973), 451–470.
  • Sellars, W., 'Vlastos and the Third Man,' Philosophical Review 64 (1955), 405–437.
  • Smith D., Nicholas (ed.), Plato: Critical Assessments, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, New York, 1998, 51–68.
  • Strang, C., 'Plato and the Third Man,' Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Suppl. vol. 37 (1963), 147–164.
  • Vlastos, G., 'The Third Man Argument in the Parmenides,' Philosophical Review 63 (1954), 319–349; also in Studies in Plato's Metaphysics, ed. by R. E. Allen (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1965), 231–263.
  • Vlastos, G., ed. Plato: A Collection of Critical Essays, vol. 1 (New York: Anchor, 1971), 184–200.

Third Man Music

Third man recordsThird Man Combinationjpfasr

External links[edit]

Third Man Film

  • 'Plato's Parmenides' <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/plato-parmenides/>
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