Platonism


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Related to Platonism: Neoplatonism

Platonism

1. the teachings of the Greek philosopher Plato (?427--?347 bc) and his followers, esp the philosophical theory that the meanings of general words are real existing abstract entities (Forms) and that particular objects have properties in common by virtue of their relationship with these Forms
2. the realist doctrine that mathematical entities have real existence and that mathematical truth is independent of human thought

Platonism

 

an idealist current in philosophy that originated with Plato’s teachings. The basic content of Platonism is the theory of ideas. In Platonism, “idea” is understood as a vitally functioning logical concept, brought to the limit of generalization, containing the principle and method of comprehending each thing, possessing an artistic structure, and existing as a specific substance. Matter is the reflection and outflow of an idea.

For a long time after Plato’s death, his Academy continued to develop his teachings. In the first century B.C., Posidonius called for the strict systematization of Platonic philosophy, based primarily on the commentary to Plato’s Timaeus. The Stoic interpretation, a long-lived version of Platonism, found support in the theology of Philo of Alexandria and in gnosticism, Herme-tism, the writings of the early church fathers, and the works of Numenius (second and third centuries A.D.), who was the teacher of Plotinus and Origen.

By the third century A.D., the mythology of Stoic Platonism had been vanquished by the dialectic and speculative thought of a philosophical school that gravitated toward Aristotle. Antio-chus of Ascalon, a member of Plato’s Academy, had already successfully challenged Stoic ethics. Later, Ammonius Saccas, following the Platonic and Aristotelian tradition, developed a theory about the ideal world and liberated the doctrine of the soul from the methods of Stoic naturalism. Thus, in the first century B.C. the Platonists, resorting to Aristotelianism and Py-thagoreanism, launched a resolute struggle against the elements of naturalism in Plato’s works—elements that had been strengthened in the Hellenistic period by the Stoics, the Epicureans, and the Skeptics. Neoplatonism, and outgrowth of this centuries-long struggle, emerged in the third century A.D.

Through Neoplatonism, the philosophy of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance was influenced by Platonism (Augustine, Dionysius the Areopagite, Johannes Scotus Erigena, Averroës [Ibn Rushd], Ibn Gabirol, the Chartres school, J. Eckhart, Nicholas of Cusa, G. Pletho, M. Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, and G. Bruno). All of modern European idealist philosophy has been directly or indirectly influenced by Platonism.

REFERENCES

Istoriia filosofii, vol. 1. [Moscow] 1940. Pages 249–58.
Taylor, A. E. Platonism and Its Influence. New York, 1924.
Burnet, J. Platonism. Berkeley, Calif., 1928.
Shorey, P. Platonism Ancient and Modern. Berkeley, Calif., 1938.
Gilson, E. Platonisme, aristotélisme, christianisme. Paris, 1945.
Klibansky, R. The Continuity of the Platonic Tradition During the Middle Ages, 3rd ed. London, 1951.
Merlan, P. From Platonism to Neoplatonism, 2nd ed. The Hague, 1960.
Hoffman, E. Platonismus und christliche Philosophie. Zürich-Stuttgart, 1960.
Stein, H. von. Sieben Bücher zur Geschichte des Platonismus, new ed., parts 1–3. 1965.

A. F. LOSEV

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From Plato to Platonism does little by way of analyzing the dialogues themselves.
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In other passages, Charles drops talk of Platonism, and contrasts Aristotle's views with Plato's (362-63).
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Robert Crocker's essay on `The Role of Illuminism in the Thought of Henry More' provides an account of the more characteristically `mystical' aspect of Henry More, not just derived from the Florentine Platonism of the Humanists but that tradition of medieval mysticism which he knew through the Theologia Germanica and the Greek patristic notion of `deification'.
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Benson argues that the Socratic elenchus in the early dialogues is intended to establish only that a position is incompatible with the premises from which it starts, not that it is false; William Charlton finds Quine's definition of Platonism inadequate in relation to the later dialogues; Robert Heinaman claims that Aristotle's distinction between change and activity is not purely (or even primarily) linguistic; David Bostock discusses the relationship between Aristotle's prime matter and the four elements; Martha Nussbaum puts the Stoic view of eros into its cultural context and argues that their insistence on self-sufficiency commits them to a view of eros which is impoverished compared to that of Plato's Socrates; and Christopher Shields reviews Gale Fine's On Ideas.
His ultimate claim to platonism is his willingness to allow postulate based systems to be grouped according to what those systems apparently refer to and to count their theorems as true.
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