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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



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.


References in periodicals archive ?
In his discussion of the Cambridge Platonists Gill explains their Calvinist upbringing and ultimate rejection of a basic tenet of Calvinism, the claim that human beings possess a deeply depraved nature.
6) and our soul (as the Platonists hold) is a self-moving substance (Plato, Phaedrus, 245c).
Granted, Hudson considers it a mistake on a principled level to rate Cusanus as either a Platonist or a Neoplatonist (76).
Hedley analyzes the seventeenth-century Cambridge Platonist R.
Part of the challenge for anyone purporting to tell the story--any story, really--of Platonism before the dominance of the schools of Plotinus and Syrianus is that the Platonists of the Hellenistic era by all accounts were a heterogeneous lot.
If one widens the discussion a bit, one sees that among later Platonists in general, especially after Iamblichus, philosophy itself is seen to have different sorts of soteriological resonances.
Most Platonists of the Renaissance were interested in questions of metaphysics and cosmology.
With Plotinus and against some Middle Platonists like Atticus and Plutarch, Proclus rejected the possibility of the existence of two independent principles of good and evil, since there can be only one first principle, namely the One.
The fact that humanist references to Zoroaster stress his ties with Platonists would, further, suggest his association with Plato's rather than Aristotle's side of the painting; so also do humanist writings fail to explain Zoroaster's close proximity to Euclid.
Augustine's second conversion followed his contact with the books of the Platonists and led to his baptism at the Easter vigil of 387.
Anne Conway's intellect developed in the seventeenth-century milieu of Henry More and England's Cambridge Platonists, but she departed radically from those roots.
An inventory is presented of the few direct medieval citations of Plato's texts, along with references to Platonists derived from doxographical traditions that coexisted with specific textual references to Plotinus and Porphyry, especially as illustrated in major works of Augustine.