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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.
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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.
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A. F. LOSEV