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Related to Platonism: Neoplatonism


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
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Tracing these modern theoretical takes on Platonism, one may feel inclined to answer Paul de Man's call "to call the cat a cat and to document the contemporary version,"9 not in this case of the resistance to theory, but of the resistance the contemporary theory has shown towards Platonism.
But, since his idea of "dramatic Platonism" is likewise not idealist in spirit, but tries to maintain a "balancing act" between the matter from which it is made and the ideas it points to, Puchner thinks he has demonstrated that a not-purely materialist reading of Messingkauf is possible.
He raises the possibility that Ficino saw his "Platonic Academy" as embodying a similar combination of Christian Platonism with a monastic ideal, pointing to Paolo Orlandini as a case instance of such a linkage.
In other passages, Charles drops talk of Platonism, and contrasts Aristotle's views with Plato's (362-63).
After establishing the importance of the Ottonian Revival, Hiscock makes a comprehensive summary of the primary sources (in translation) for Platonic geometry, as well as its means of transmission and incorporation into Christian Platonism. Beginning with Pythagoras and Plato, Hiscock summarizes the contributions of such key figures in the story as Clement of Alex andria, Origen, Ambrose, Augustine, and Boethius.
The Dialectic of Love: Platonism in Schiller's Aesthetics.
Most often, the relationship is inimical, but it seems that there are resources for healing this rift within one species of Greek philosophy, namely Platonism. In 1961, after he had been studying Talmud for several years, Levinas defended Totality and Infinity as the thesis for his Doctorat from the University of Paris.
The theological significance of the Cambridge Platonists is quite striking; these thinkers reflect the Platonism of Colet and Spenser, and constitute the origin of the liberal or Broad Church movement in the Church of England: in their via media between the Puritan and Laudian camps in the mid-seventeenth century; in their interest in both the Church Fathers and modern science; in their appeal to tolerance, and their enthusiasm for natural theology.
The difficulties of distinguishing what is early from what is late in Pater's work are illustrated by a passage of some 370 words that appears both in the periodical version of chapter IV of Gaston de Latour and in chapter VII of Plato and Platonism. In both occurrences the passage represents Montaigne's skepticism as a phenomenon characteristic of the modern age, but in Plato and Platonism it is also associated with the skeptical tendencies of Plato's thought.
Seung runs through a range of other possible alternatives in a few pages and finds them all wanting, as all collapse into either relativism or Platonism. There are two significant problems with his discussion, which I will mention briefly.
This collection of 30 essays specially commissioned by the editors Anna Baldwin and Sarah Hutton (whose own essays are included) is an exploration of the inspirational effect of Platonism on English imaginative writers from King Alfred (not much Plato there) to Iris Murdoch.
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.