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철학 - 지혜의 탐구

Platon and Platonism




1 Introduction

Plato was the second of the great trio of ancient Greeks-- Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle--who between them laid the philosophical foundations of Western culture. Building on the life and thought of Socrates, Plato developed a profound and wide-ranging system of philosophy. His thought has logical, epistemological, and metaphysical aspects; but its underlying motivation is ethical. It sometimes relies upon conjectures and myth, and it is occasionally mystical in tone; but fundamentally Plato is a rationalist, devoted to the proposition that reason must be followed wherever it leads. Thus the core of Plato's philosophy is a rationalistic ethics.

This article deals with the man, his works and influence, and the subsequent history of Platonism.

2 Plato and his thought


2.1 LIFE

Plato was born, the son of Ariston and Perictione, in Athens, or perhaps in Aegina, in about 428 BC, the year after the death of the great statesman Pericles. His family, on both sides, was among the most distinguished in Athens. Ariston is said to have claimed descent from the god Poseidon through Codrus, the last king of Athens; on the mother's side, the family was related to the early Greek lawmaker Solon. Nothing is known about Plato's father's death. It is assumed that he died when Plato was a boy. Perictione apparently married as her second husband her uncle Pyrilampes, a prominent supporter of Pericles; and Plato was probably brought up chiefly in his house. Critias and Charmides, leaders among the extremists of the oligarchic terror of 404, were, respectively, cousin and brother of Perictione; both were friends of Socrates, and through them Plato must have known the philosopher from boyhood.

His own early ambitions--like those of most young men of his class--were probably political. A conservative faction urged him to enter public life under its auspices, but he wisely held back. He was soon repelled by its members' violent acts. After the fall of the oligarchy, he hoped for better things from the restored democracy. Eventually, however, he became convinced that there was no place for a man of conscience in Athenian politics. In 399 BC the democracy condemned Socrates to death, and Plato and other Socratic men took temporary refuge at Megara with Eucleides, founder of the Megarian school of philosophy. The next few years are said to have been spent in extensive travels in Greece, in Egypt, and in Italy. Plato himself (if the Seventh Letter is his; see below General features of the dialogues ) states that he visited Italy and Sicily at the age of 40 and was disgusted by the gross sensuality of life there but found a kindred spirit in Dion, brother-in-law of Dionysius I, the ruler of Syracuse.

2.1.1 The Academy and Sicily.

In about 387 Plato founded the Academy as an institute for the systematic pursuit of philosophical and scientific teaching and research. He presided over it for the rest of his life. The Academy's interests were not limited to philosophy in a narrow sense but also extended to the sciences: there is evidence that Plato encouraged research in such diverse disciplines as mathematics and rhetoric. He himself lectured (on at least one occasion he gave a celebrated public lecture "On the Good"), and he set problems for his pupils to solve. The Academy was not the only such "school" in Athens--there are traces of tension between the Academy and the rival school of Isocrates. (see also Index: science, history of)

The one outstanding event in Plato's later life was his intervention in Syracusan politics. On the death of Dionysius I in 367, Dion conceived the idea of bringing Plato to Syracuse as tutor to his brother-in-law's successor, Dionysius II, whose education had been neglected. Plato was not optimistic about the results; but because both Dion and Archytas of Tarentum, a philosopher-statesman, thought the prospect promising, he felt bound to risk the adventure. The plan was to train Dionysius II in science and philosophy and so to fit him for the position of a constitutional king who might hold Carthaginian encroachment on Sicily at bay. The scheme was crushed by Dionysius' natural jealousy of the stronger Dion, whom he drove into virtual banishment. Plato later paid a second and longer visit to Syracuse in 361-360, still in the hope of effecting an accommodation; but he failed, not without some personal danger. Dion then captured Syracuse by a coup de main in 357, but he was murdered in 354. Plato himself died in 348/347.

Of Plato's character and personality little is known, and little can be inferred from his writings. But it is worth recording that Aristotle, his most able pupil, described Plato as a man "whom it is blasphemy in the base even to praise," meaning that Plato was so noble a character that bad men should not even speak about him.

To his readers through the ages Plato has been important primarily as one of the greatest of philosophical writers; but to himself the foundation and organization of the Academy must have appeared to be his chief work. The Seventh Letter contrasts the impact of written works with that of the contact of living minds as a vehicle of philosophy, and it passes a comparatively unfavourable verdict on written works. Plato puts a similar verdict into the mouth of Socrates in the Phaedrus. He perhaps intended his dialogues in the main to interest an educated outside world in the more serious and arduous labours of his school.

All of the most important mathematical work of the 4th century was done by friends or pupils of Plato. The first students of conic sections, and possibly Theaetetus, the creator of solid geometry, were members of the Academy. Eudoxus of Cnidus--author of the doctrine of proportion expounded in Euclid's Elements, inventor of the method of finding the areas and volumes of curvilinear figures by exhaustion, and propounder of the astronomical scheme of concentric spheres adopted and altered by Aristotle--removed his school from Cyzicus to Athens for the purpose of cooperating with Plato; and during one of Plato's absences he seems to have acted as the head of the Academy. Archytas, the inventor of mechanical science, was a friend and correspondent of Plato.

Nor were other sciences neglected. Speusippus, Plato's nephew and successor, was a voluminous writer on natural history; and Aristotle's biological works have been shown to belong largely to the early period in his career immediately after Plato's death. The comic poets found matter for mirth in the attention of the school to botanical classification. The Academy was particularly active in jurisprudence and practical legislation. As Plutarch testifies,

Plato sent Aristonymus to the Arcadians, Phormion to Elis, Menedemus to Pyrrha. Eudoxus and Aristotle wrote laws for Cnidus and Stagirus. Alexander asked Xenocrates for advice about kingship; the man who was sent to Alexander by the Asiatic Greeks and did most to incite him to his war on the barbarians was Delios of Ephesus, an associate of Plato.

The Academy survived Plato's death. Though its interest in science waned and its philosophical orientation changed, it remained for two and a half centuries a focus of intellectual life. Its creation as a permanent society for the prosecution of both humane and exact sciences has been regarded--with pardonable exaggeration--as the first establishment of a university.

2.1.2 Formative influences.

The most important formative influence to which the young Plato was exposed was Socrates. It does not appear, however, that Plato belonged as a "disciple" to the circle of Socrates' intimates. The Seventh Letter speaks of Socrates not as a "master" but as an older "friend," for whose character Plato had a profound respect; and he has recorded his own absence (through indisposition) from the death scene of the Phaedo. It may well be that his own vocation to philosophy dawned on him only afterward, as he reflected on the treatment of Socrates by the democratic leaders. Plato owed to Socrates his commitment to philosophy, his rational method, and his concern for ethical questions. Among other philosophical influences the most significant were those of Heracleitus and his followers, who disparaged the phenomenal world as an arena of constant change and flux, and of the Pythagoreans, with whose metaphysical and mystical notions Plato had great sympathy.

Plato had family connections with Pyrilampes, a Periclean politician, and with Critias, who became one of the most unscrupulous of the Thirty Tyrants who briefly ruled Athens after the collapse of the democracy.

Plato's early experiences covered the disastrous years of the Deceleian War, the shattering of the Athenian empire, and the fierce civil strife of oligarchs and democrats in the year of anarchy, 404-403. He was too young to have known anything by experience of the imperial democracy of Pericles and Cleon or of the tide of the Sophistic movement. It is certainly not from memory that he depicted Protagoras, the earliest avowed professional Sophist, or Alcibiades, a brilliant but unreliable Athenian politician and military commander. No doubt these early experiences helped to form the political views that were later expounded in the dialogues.


The canon and text of Plato was apparently fixed at about the turn of the Christian Era. By reckoning the Letters as one item, the list contained 36 works, arranged in nine tetralogies. None of Plato's works has been lost, and there is a general agreement among modern scholars that a number of small items--Alcibiades I, Alcibiades II, Theages, Erastae, Clitopho, Hipparchus, and Minos--are spurious. Most scholars also believe that the Epinomis, an appendix to the Laws, was written by the mathematician Philippus of Opus. The Hippias Major and the Menexenus are regarded as doubtful by some, though Aristotle seems to have regarded them as Platonic. Most of the 13 Letters are certainly later forgeries. About the authenticity of the Seventh Letter, which is by far the most important from the biographical and the philosophical points of view, there exists a long and unsettled controversy.

2.2.1 Order of composition.

Plato's literary career extended over the greater part of a long life. The Apology was probably written in the early 380s. The Laws, on the other hand, was the work of an old man, and the state of its text bears out the tradition that Plato never lived to give it its final revision. Since there is no evidence that Plato began his career with a fully developed system, and since there is every reason to believe that his thoughts changed, the order in which the various dialogues were written takes on importance. Only through it can the development of Plato's thought be adequately charted. Unfortunately, Plato himself has given few clues to the order: he linked the Sophist and the Statesman with the Theaetetus externally as continuations of the conversation reported in that dialogue. Similarly, he seems to have linked the Timaeus with the Republic. And Aristotle noted that the Laws was written after the Republic.

Modern scholars, by the use of stylistic criteria, have argued that the Sophist, Statesman, Philebus, Timaeus (with its fragmentary sequel Critias), and Laws form a distinct linguistic group, belonging to the later years of Plato's life. The whole group must be later than the Sophist, which professes to be a sequel to the Theaetetus. Since the Theaetetus commemorates the death of the eminent mathematician after whom it is named (probably in 369 BC), it may be ascribed to c. 368, the eve of Plato's departure for Syracuse.

The earlier group of dialogues is generally believed to have ended with the Theaetetus and the closely related Parmenides. Apart from this, perhaps all that can be said with certainty is that the great dialogues, Symposium, Phaedo, and Republic (and perhaps also Protagoras), in which Plato's dramatic power was at its highest, mark the culmination of this first period of literary activity. The later dialogues are often thought to lack the dramatic and literary merits of the earlier but to compensate for this by an increased subtlety and maturity of judgment.

2.2.2 Persons of the dialogues.

One difficulty that initially besets the modern student is that created by the dramatic form of Plato's writings. Since Plato never introduced himself into his own dialogues, he is not formally committed to anything asserted in them. The speakers who are formally bound by the utterances of the dialogues are their characters, of whom Socrates is usually the protagonist. Since all of these are real historical persons, it is reasonable to wonder whether Plato is reporting their opinions or putting his own views into their mouths, and, more generally, to ask what was his purpose in writing dialogues.

Some scholars have suggested that Plato allowed himself to develop freely in a dialogue any view that interested him for the moment without pledging himself to its truth. Thus Plato can make Socrates advocate hedonistic utilitarianism in the Protagoras and denounce it in the Gorgias. Others argue that some of Plato's characters, notably Socrates and Timaeus, are "mouthpieces" through whom he inculcates tenets of his own without concern for dramatic or historical propriety. Thus it has often been held that the theory of Ideas, the doctrine of recollection, and the notion of the tripartite soul were originated by Plato after the death of Socrates and consciously fathered on the older philosopher.

2.2.3 Thought of the earlier and later dialogues.

There are undeniable differences in thought between the dialogues that are later than the Theaetetus and those that are earlier. But there are no serious discrepancies of doctrine between individual dialogues of the same period. Plato perhaps announced his own personal convictions on certain doctrines in the second group of dialogues by a striking dramatic device. In the Sophist and Statesman the leading part is taken by a visitor from Elea and in the Laws by an Athenian. These are the only anonymous, indeed almost certainly the only imaginary, personages of any moment in the whole of Plato's writings. It seems likely, therefore, that these two characters were left anonymous so that the writer could be free to use them as mouthpieces for his own teaching. Plato thus took on himself the responsibility for the logic and epistemology of the Sophist and of the Statesman and for the ethics and the educational and political theory of the Statesman and of the Laws.

2.2.4 Doctrine of Forms.

There is a philosophical doctrine running through the earlier dialogues that has as its three main features the theory of knowledge as recollection, the conception of the tripartite soul, and, most importantly, the theory of Forms. The theory that knowledge is recollection rests on the belief that the soul is not only eternal but also preexistent. The conception of the tripartite soul holds that the soul consists of reason, appetite, and spirit (or will). Each part serves a purpose and has validity, but reason is the soul's noblest part; in order for man to achieve harmony, appetite and spirit must be subjected to the firm control of reason. The theory of Forms has as its foundation the assumption that beyond the world of physical things there is a higher, spiritual realm of Forms, or Ideas, such as the Form of Beauty or Justice. This realm of Forms, moreover, has a hierarchical order, the highest level being that of the Form of the Good. Whereas the physical world, perceived with the senses, is in constant flux and knowledge derived from it restricted and variable, the realm of Forms, apprehensible only by the mind, is eternal and changeless. Each Form is the pattern of a particular category of things in this world; thus there are Forms of man, stone, shape, colour, beauty, and justice. Yet the things of this world are only imperfect copies of these perfect Forms.

In the Phaedo Socrates is made to describe the theory of Ideas as something quite familiar that he has for years constantly canvassed with his friends. In the dialogues of the second period, however, these tenets are less prominent, and the most important of them all, the theory of Forms, is in the Parmenides subjected to a searching set of criticisms. The question thus arises as to whether Plato himself had two distinct philosophies, an earlier and a later, or whether the main object of the first group of dialogues was to preserve the memory of Socrates, the philosophy there expounded being, in the main, that of Socrates--coloured, no doubt, but not consciously distorted, in its passage through the mind of Plato. On the second view, Plato had no distinctive Platonic philosophy until a late period in his life.

2.2.5 Socrates and Plato.

It may be significant that the only dialogue later than the Theaetetus in which Socrates takes a leading part is the Philebus, the one work of the second group that deals primarily with the ethical problems on which the thought of Socrates had concentrated. This is usually explained by supposing that Plato was unwilling to make Socrates the exponent of doctrines that he knew to be his own property. It would, however, be hard to understand such misgivings if Plato had already been employing Socrates in that very capacity for years. It is notable, too, that Aristotle, who apparently knew nothing of an earlier and a later version of Platonism, attributed to Plato a doctrine that is quite unlike anything to be found in the first group of dialogues. It was also the view of Neoplatonic scholars that the theory of Ideas of the great earlier dialogues really originated with Socrates; and the fact that they did not find it necessary to argue the point may show that this had been the standing tradition of the Academy.

Few modern scholars, however, support this view. The differences between the early and late periods are not as great as they have sometimes been represented: although Plato's thought developed from the early to the late dialogues, it underwent no sudden dislocation. The ideas of the early period may have been inspired by Socrates, but they were Plato's own--for example, the theory of Forms could not have arisen with Socrates. Plato nevertheless attributed it to him because he saw it as the theoretical basis of what Socrates did teach.


In the Republic, the greatest of all the dialogues that precede the Theaetetus, there are three main strands of argument deftly combined into an artistic whole--the ethical and political, the aesthetic and mystical, and the metaphysical. Other major dialogues belonging to this period give special prominence to one of these three lines of thought: the Phaedo to the metaphysical theme; the Protagoras and the Gorgias to the ethical and political; the Symposium and the Phaedrus to the aesthetic. But it should be noted that Plato's dialogues are not philosophical essays, let alone philosophical treatises, and they do not restrict themselves to a single topic or subject.

2.3.1 Dialogues of search.

The shorter dialogues, dealing with more special problems, generally of an ethical character, mostly conform to a common type: a problem in moral philosophy, often that of the right definition of a virtue, is propounded, a number of tentative solutions are considered, and all are found to be vitiated by difficulties that cannot be dispelled. The reader is left, at the end of the conversation, aware of his ignorance of the very things that it is most imperative for a man to know. He has formally learned nothing but has been made alive to the confusions and fallacies in what he had hitherto been content to take as knowledge. The dialogues are "aporetic" and "elenctic": they pose puzzles (aporiai in Greek) without solving them, and Socrates' procedure consists in the successive refutation (elenchos) of the various views presented by his interlocutors.

The effect of these dialogues of search is thus to put the reader in tune with the spirit of Socrates, who had said that the one respect in which he was wiser than other men was in his keen appreciation of his own ignorance of the most important matters. The reader learns the meaning of Socrates' ruling principle that the supreme business of life is to "tend" the soul and his conviction that "goodness of soul" means knowledge of good and evil. The three dialogues directly concerned with the trial of Socrates have a further purpose. They are intended to explain to a puzzled public, as a debt of honour to his memory, why Socrates thought it a matter of conscience neither to withdraw from danger before his trial, nor to make a conciliatory defense, nor, after conviction, to avail himself of the opportunity of flight.

The Apology, or Defense, purports to give Socrates' speeches at his trial for impiety. In the Crito Socrates, in the condemned cell, explains why he will not try to escape paying the death penalty; the dialogue is a consideration of the source and nature of political obligation. The Euthyphro is represented as taking place just before Socrates' trial. Its subject is the virtue of "piety," or the proper attitude for men to take toward the gods. The Hippias Major propounds the question "What is the 'fine' (or 'beautiful')?" The Hippias Minor deals with the paradox that "wrongdoing is involuntary." The Ion discredits the poets, who create not "by science" but by a nonrational inspiration. The Menexenus, which professes to repeat a funeral oration learned from Aspasia, Pericles' mistress, is apparently meant as a satire on the patriotic distortion of history. The Charmides, Laches, and Lysis are typical dialogues of search. The question of the Charmides is what is meant by sophrosune, or "temperance," the virtue that is shown in self-command, in dutiful behaviour to parents and superiors, in balance, and in self-possession amid the turns of fortune. It seems that this virtue can be identified with the self-knowledge that Socrates had valued so highly. The Laches is concerned with courage, the soldier's virtue; and the Lysis examines in the same tentative way friendship, the relation in which self-forgetting devotion most conspicuously displays itself. (see also Index: sophrosyne)

The question of whether words have meaning by nature or by convention is considered in the Cratylus--whether there is some special appropriateness of the sounds or forms of words to the objects they signify, or whether meaning merely reflects the usage of the community. Plato argues that, since language is an instrument of thought, the test of its rightness is not mere social usage but its genuine capacity to express thought accurately. The dialogue Euthydemus satirizes the "eristics"--those who try to entangle a person in fallacies because of the ambiguity of language. Its more serious purpose, however, is to contrast this futile logic chopping with the "protreptic," or hortatory, efforts of Socrates, who urges that happiness is guaranteed not by the possession of things but by the right use of them--and particularly of the gifts of mind, body, and fortune.

2.3.2 Ethical and political dialogues.

The Gorgias, the Protagoras, and the Meno, like several of the lesser dialogues, give prominence to ethical and political themes. The Gorgias begins ostensibly as an inquiry into the nature and worth of rhetoric, the art of advocacy professed by Gorgias, and develops into a plea of sustained eloquence and logical power for morality--as against expediency--as the sovereign rule of life, both private and public. It ends with an imaginative picture of the eternal destinies of the righteous and of the unrighteous soul.

Gorgias holds that rhetoric is the queen of all "arts." If the statesman skilled in rhetoric is clever enough, he can, though a layman, carry the day even against the specialist. Socrates, on the other hand, declares that rhetoric is not an art but a mere "knack" of humouring the prejudices of an audience. There are two arts conducive to health of soul, those of the legislator and of the judge. The Sophist counterfeits the first, the orator the second, by taking the pleasant instead of the good as his standard. The orator is thus not the wise physician of the body politic but its toady. This severe judgment is disputed by Polus, an ardent admirer of Gorgias, on the ground that the successful orator is virtually the autocrat of the community, and to be such is the summit of human happiness because he can do whatever he likes.

Socrates rejects this view. He does so by developing one of the "Socratic paradoxes": to suffer a wrong is an evil, but to inflict one is much worse. Thus if rhetoric is of real service to men, it should be most of all serviceable to an offender, who would employ it to move the authorities to inflict the penalties for which the state of his soul calls. All of this is in turn denied by Callicles, who proceeds to develop the extreme position of an amoralist. It may be a convention of the herd that unscrupulous aggression is discreditable and wrong, but "nature's convention" is that the strong are justified in using their strength as they please, while the weak "go to the wall." To Socrates, however, the creators of the imperialistic Athenian democracy were no true statesmen; they were the domestic servants of the democracy for whose tastes they catered; they were not its physicians. That would be a condition like that of the Danaids of mythology, who are punished in Hades by being set to spend eternity in filling leaking pitchers. A happy life consists not in the constant gratification of boundless desires but rather in the measured satisfaction of wants that are tempered by justice and sophrosune. (see also Index: political power)

The Meno is nominally concerned with the question of what virtue is and whether it can be taught. But it is further interesting for two reasons: it states clearly the doctrine that knowledge is "recollection"; and it introduces as a character the democratic politician Anytus, the main author of the prosecution of Socrates.

Whether virtue can be taught depends on what virtue is. But the inquiry into virtue is difficult--indeed, the very possibility of inquiry is threatened by Meno's paradox concerning the quest for knowledge. If a person is ignorant about the subject of his inquiry, he could not recognize the unknown, even if he found it. If, on the other hand, the person already knows it, inquiry is futile because it is idle to inquire into what one already knows. But this difficulty would vanish if the soul were immortal and had long ago learned all truth, so that it needs now only to be reminded of truths that it once knew and has forgotten. To advance this argument, Socrates shows that a slave boy who has never studied geometry can be brought to recognize mathematical truths. He produces the right answer "out of himself." In general, knowledge is "recollection." Socrates next produces the hypothesis that virtue is knowledge and infers that it is teachable. But if virtue is knowledge, there must be professional teachers of it. Anytus insists that the Sophists, who claim to be such professionals, are mischievous impostors; and even the "best men" have been unable to teach it to their own sons. The Meno ends with a distinction between knowledge and true belief, and with the suggestion that virtue comes not by teaching but by divine gift. (see also Index: immortality)

The Protagoras gives the most complete presentation of the main principles of Socratic morality. In this dialogue Socrates meets the eminent Sophist Protagoras, who explains that his profession is the "teaching of goodness"--i.e., the art of making a success of one's life and of one's city. Socrates urges, however, that both common opinion and the failure of eminent men to teach "goodness" to their sons suggest that the conduct of life is not teachable. But the problem arises as to whether the various commonly recognized virtues are really different or all one. Protagoras is ultimately ready to identify all of the virtues except courage with wisdom or sound judgment. Socrates then attempts to show that, even in the case of courage, goodness consists in the fact that, by facing pain and danger, one escapes worse pain or danger. Thus all virtues can be reduced to the prudent computation of pleasures and of pains. Here, then, is a second "Socratic paradox": no one does wrong willingly--wrongdoing is a matter of miscalculation. It is a puzzling feature of this argument that Socrates appears to embrace a form of hedonism.

2.3.3 Metaphysical foundation of Plato's doctrine: "Phaedo."

In the works so far considered, the foundation of a Socratic moral and political doctrine is laid, which holds that the great concern of man is the development of a rational moral personality and that this development is the key to man's felicity. Success in this task, however, depends on rational insight into the true scale of good. The reason men forfeit felicity is that they mistake apparent good for real. If a man ever knew with assurance what the Good is, he would never pursue anything else; it is in this sense that "all virtue is knowledge." The philosophical moralist, who has achieved an assured insight into absolute Good, is thus the only true statesman, for he alone can tend to the national character. These moral convictions have a metaphysical foundation and justification. The principles of this metaphysics are expounded more explicitly in the following dialogues, in which a theory of knowledge and of scientific method is also discernible.

The object of the Phaedo is to justify belief in the immortality of the soul by showing that it follows from a fundamental metaphysical doctrine (the theory of Ideas, or the doctrine of Forms), which seems to afford a rational clue to the structure of the universe. Socrates' soul is identical with Socrates himself: the survival of his soul is the survival of Socrates--in a purified state. For his life has been spent in trying to liberate the soul from dependence on the body. In life, the body is always interfering with the soul's activity. Its appetites and passions interrupt the pursuit of wisdom and goodness.

There are four arguments for thinking that the soul survives death.

First, there is a belief that the soul has a succession of many lives. The processes of nature in general are cyclical; and it is reasonable to suppose that this cyclicity applies to the case of dying and coming to life. If this were not so, if the process of dying were not reversible, life would ultimately vanish from the universe.

Second, the doctrine that what men call "learning" is really "recollection" shows, or at least suggests, that the soul's life is independent of the body.

Third, the soul contemplates the Forms, which are eternal, changeless, and simple. The soul is like the Forms. Hence it is immortal.

The fourth argument is the most elaborate. Socrates begins by recalling his early interest in finding the causes of being and change and his dissatisfaction with the explanations then current. He offers instead the Forms as causes. First, and safely, he says that something becomes, say, hot simply by participating in Heat. Then, a little more daringly, he is prepared to say that it becomes hot by participating in Fire, which brings Heat with it. Now if Fire brings Heat, it cannot accept Cold, which is the opposite of Heat. All this is then applied to the soul. Human beings are alive by participating in Life--and, more particularly, by having souls that bring Life with them. Since the soul brings Life, it cannot accept Death, the opposite of Life. But in that case the soul cannot perish and is immortal. (For further discussion of the theory of Forms, see METAPHYSICS: Forms .)

2.3.4 Aesthetic and mystical dialogues.

Both the Symposium and the Phaedrus present the Forms in a special light, as objects of mystical contemplation and as stimuli of mystical emotion. (see also Index: mysticism)

The immediate object of the Symposium, which records several banquet eulogies of eros (erotic love), is to find the highest manifestation of the love that controls the world in the mystic aspiration after union with eternal and supercosmic beauty. It depicts Socrates as having reached the goal of union and puts the figure of Alcibiades, who has sold his spiritual birthright for the pleasures of the world, in sharp opposition to him.

The main argument may be summarized thus: Eros is a reaching out of the soul to a hoped-for good. The object is eternal beauty. In its crudest form, love for a beautiful person is really a passion to achieve immortality through offspring by that person. A more spiritual form is the aspiration to combine with a kindred soul to give birth to sound institutions and rules of life. Still more spiritual is the endeavour to enrich philosophy and science through noble dialogue. The insistent seeker may then suddenly descry a supreme beauty that is the cause and source of all of the beauties so far discerned. The philosopher's path thus culminates in a vision of the Form of the Good, the supreme Form that stands at the head of all others.

Though the immediate subject of the Phaedrus is to show how a truly scientific rhetoric might be built on the double foundation of logical method and scientific study of human passions, Plato contrives to unite with this topic a discussion of the psychology of love, which leads him to speak of the Forms as the objects of transcendent emotion and, indeed, of mystical contemplation. The soul, in its antenatal, disembodied state, could enjoy the direct contemplation of the Forms. But sense experience can suggest the Form of Beauty in an unusually startling way: through falling in love. The unreason and madness of the lover mean that the wings of his soul are beginning to grow again; it is the first step in the soul's return to its high estate.

2.3.5 The "Republic."

In the Republic the immediate problem is ethical. What is justice? Can it be shown that justice benefits the man who is just? Plato holds that it can. Justice consists in a harmony that emerges when the various parts of a unit perform the function proper to them and abstain from interfering with the functions of any other part. More specifically, justice occurs with regard to the individual, when the three component parts of his soul--reason, appetite, and spirit, or will--each perform their appropriate tasks; with regard to society, justice occurs when its component members each fulfill the demands of their allotted roles. Harmony is ensured in the individual when the rational part of his soul is in command; with regard to society, when philosophers are its rulers because philosophers--Platonic philosophers--have a clear understanding of justice, based on their vision of the Form of the Good. (see also Index: normative ethics)

In the ethical scheme of the Republic three roles, or "three lives," are distinguished: those of the philosopher, of the votary of enjoyment, and of the man of action. The end of the first is wisdom; of the second, the gratification of appetite; and of the third, practical distinction. These reflect the three elements, or active principles, within a man: rational judgment of good; a multitude of conflicting appetites for particular gratifications; and spirit, or will, manifested as resentment against infringements both by others and by the individual's own appetites.

This tripartite scheme is then applied to determine the structure of the just society. Plato develops his plan for a just society by dividing the general population into three classes that correspond to the three parts of man's soul as well as to the three lives. Thus there are: the statesmen; the general civilian population that provides for material needs; and the executive force (army and police). These three orders correspond respectively to the rational, appetitive, and spirited elements. They have as their corresponding virtues wisdom, the excellence of the thinking part; temperance, that of the appetitive part (acquiescence of the nonrational elements to the plan of life prescribed by judgment); and courage, that of the spirited part (loyalty to the rule of life laid down by judgment). The division of the population into these three classes would not be made on the basis of birth or wealth but on the basis of education provided for by the state. By a process of examination each individual would then be assigned to his appropriate rank in correspondence with the predominant part of his soul.

The state ordered in this manner is just because each of the elements vigorously executes its own function and, in loyal contentment, confines itself within its limits. Such a society is a true aristocracy, or rule of the best. Plato describes successive deviations from this ideal as timocracy (the benign military state), oligarchy (the state dominated by merchant princes, a plutocracy), and democracy (the state subjected to an irresponsible or criminal will).

The training of the philosophical rulers would continue through a long and rigorous education because the vision of the Good requires extensive preparation and intellectual discipline. It leads through study of the exact sciences to that of their metaphysical principles. The central books of the Republic thus present an outline of metaphysics and a philosophy of the sciences. The Forms appear in the double character of objects of all genuine science and formal causes of events and processes. Plato expressly denied that there can be knowledge, in the proper sense, of the temporal and mutable. In his scheme for the intellectual training of the philosophical rulers, the exact sciences--arithmetic, plane and solid geometry, astronomy, and harmonics--would first be studied for 10 years to familiarize the mind with relations that can only be apprehended by thought. Five years would then be given to the still severer study of "dialectic." Dialectic is, etymologically, the art of conversation, of question and answer; and according to Plato, dialectical skill is the ability to pose and answer questions about the essences of things. The dialectician replaces hypotheses with secure knowledge, and his aim is to ground all science, all knowledge, on some "unhypothetical first principle."

This principle is the Form of the Good, which, like the Sun in relation to visible things, is the source of the reality of all things, of the light by which they are apprehended, and also of their value. As in the Symposium, the Good is the supreme beauty that dawns suddenly upon the pilgrim of love as he draws near to his goal.

2.3.6 Dialogues of critical reconstruction.

The two works that probably anticipate the dialogues of Plato's old age, the Parmenides and Theaetetus, display a remarkable difference of tone, clearly the result of a period of fruitful reconstruction.

The theory expounded in the Phaedo and Republic does not allow enough reality to the sensible world. These dialogues suppose that an entity capable of being sensed is a complex that participates in a plurality of Forms: what else it may be they do not say. Clearly, however, the relation between a thing and a Form (e.g., beauty), which has been called participation, needs further elucidation. In these dialogues truths of fact, of the natural world, have not yet had their importance recognized.

Plato clearly had an external motive for the reexamination of his system as well. The Parmenides, the Theaetetus, and the Sophist all reveal a special interest in the Eleatic philosophy, of which Parmenides was the chief representative. The doctrine of his friend Eucleides of Megara, like that of Parmenides, was that phenomena which can be apprehended by the senses are illusions with no reality at all. Continued reflection on this problem led straight to the discussion of the meaning of the copula "is" and the significance of the denial "is not," which is the subject of the Sophist.

Formally the Parmenides leads to an impasse. In its first half the youthful Socrates expounds the doctrine of the participation of things in Forms as the solution of the problem of the "one and many." ("How can this, that, and the other cat all be one thing--e.g., black?" "Each distinct cat participates in the unique Form of Blackness.") Parmenides raises what appear to be insoluble objections and hints that the helplessness of Socrates under his criticism arises from insufficient training in logic.

In the second half Parmenides gives an example of the logical training that he recommends. He takes for examination his own thesis, "The one is," and constructs upon it as basis an elaborate set of contradictions.

The Eleatic objections to the doctrine of participation are, first, that it does not really reconcile unity with plurality since it leads to a perpetual regress. It says that the many things that have a common predicate, or characteristic, participate in, or imitate, a single Form. But the Form itself also admits of a common predicate, and therefore a second Form must exist, participated in alike by the sensible things and the first Form, and so on, endlessly. Second, a graver difficulty is that the relations between Forms must belong to the realm of Forms, and those between sensible things to the realm of things. Thus men, belonging to the second, can know nothing of the true realities, the Forms. Scholars disagree over the precise interpretation of these objections. They also disagree about how Plato should have reacted to them--and about how he did react. (see also Index: Eleaticism)

The Theaetetus is a discussion of the question of how knowledge should be defined. It is remarkable that the dialogue treats knowledge at length without making any reference to the Forms or to the mythology of recollection. It remains to this day one of the best introductions to the problem of knowledge. The main argument is as follows: (see also Index: recollection, doctrine of)

It seems plausible to say that knowledge is perception, which appears to imply that "What seems to me is so to me; what seems to you is so to you" (Protagoras). This relativistic doctrine is, rather oddly, claimed by Plato to be equivalent to the view held by the late 6th-century-BC Greek philosopher Heracleitus that "everything is always and in all ways in flux." But these views imply that there is no common perceived world and therefore nothing of certainty can be said or thought at all.

As for the thesis that knowledge is perception, one must first distinguish what the soul perceives through bodily organs from what it apprehends by itself without organs--such as number, sameness, likeness, being, and good. But because all knowledge involves truth and therefore being, perception, which cannot grasp being, is not identical with knowledge.

Is knowledge, then, true belief? The reference to true belief leads Plato into a discussion of false belief, for which he can discover no satisfactory analysis. False belief is belief in what is not, and what is not cannot be believed. But the example of verdicts in the law courts is enough to show that there can be true belief without knowledge.

Finally, is knowledge true belief together with an "account"? The concept of an account (logos) is not a simple one. No satisfactory definition of knowledge emerges, and the dialogue ends without a conclusion.

Because Plato's argument nowhere appeals to his favourite doctrine of Forms and because the dialogue ends so inconclusively, some scholars have suggested that Plato wanted to show that the problem of knowledge is insoluble without the Forms. (see also Index: epistemology)


Formally the important dialogues the Sophist and the Statesman are closely connected, both being ostensibly concerned with a problem of definition. The real purpose of the Sophist, however, is logical or metaphysical; it aims at explaining the true nature of negative predication, or denials that something is so. The object of the Statesman, on the other hand, is to consider the respective merits of two contrasting forms of government, personal rule and constitutionalism, and to recommend the second, particularly in the form of limited monarchy. The Sophist thus lays the foundations of all subsequent logic, the Statesman those of all constitutionalism. A second purpose in both dialogues is to illustrate the value of careful classification as a basis for scientific definition. (see also Index: negation)

The Sophist purports to investigate what a Sophist really is. The definitions all lead to such notions as falsity, illusion, nonbeing. But these notions are puzzling. How can there be such a thing as a false statement or a false impression? For the false means "what is not," and what is not is nothing at all and can neither be uttered nor thought. Plato argues that what is not in some sense also is, and that what is in some sense is not; and he refutes Parmenidean monism by drawing the distinction between absolute and relative nonbeing. A significant denial, A is not B, does not mean that A is nothing, but that A is other than B; every one of the "greatest kinds," or most general, features of reality--being, identity, difference, motion, and rest--is other than every other feature. Motion, say, is other than rest; and thus motion is not rest--but it does not follow that motion is not. The true business of dialectic is to treat the Forms themselves as an interrelated system, with relations of compatibility and incompatibility among themselves.

In the Statesman the conclusion is reached that government by a benevolent dictator is not suitable to the conditions of human life because his direction is not that of a god. The surrogate for direction by a god is the impersonal supremacy of inviolable law. Where there is such law, monarchy is the best and democracy the least satisfactory form of constitution; but where there is no law, this situation is inverted.

The Philebus contains Plato's ripest moral psychology. Its subject is strictly ethical--the question of whether the Good is to be identified with pleasure or with wisdom. Under the guidance of Socrates a mediating conclusion is reached: the best life contains both elements, but wisdom predominates. (see also Index: hedonism)

Philosophically most important is a classification adopted to determine the formal character of the two claimants to recognition as the Good. Everything real belongs to one of four classes: (1) the infinite or unbounded, (2) the limit, (3) the mixture (of infinite and limit), (4) the cause of the mixture. It emerges that all of the good things of life belong to the third class, that is, are produced by imposing a definite limit upon an indeterminate continuum.

The Timaeus is an exposition of cosmology, physics, and biology. Timaeus first draws the distinction between eternal being and temporal becoming and insists that it is only of the former that one can have exact and final knowledge. The visible, mutable world had a beginning; it is the work of God, who had its Forms before him as eternal models in terms of which he molded the world as an imitation. God first formed its soul out of three constituents: identity, difference, being. The world soul was placed in the circles of the heavenly bodies, and the circles were animated with movements. Subsequently the various subordinate gods and the immortal and rational element in the human soul were formed. The human body and the lower components of its soul were generated through the intermediacy of the "created gods" (i.e., the stars). (see also Index: idea)

The Timaeus combines the geometry of the Pythagoreans with the biology of Empedocles by a mathematical construction of the elements, in which four of the regular solids--cube, tetrahedron, octahedron, and icosahedron--are assumed to be the shapes of the corpuscles of earth, fire, air, and water. (The fifth, the dodecahedron, comprises the model for the whole universe.)

Among the important features of the dialogue are its introduction of God as the "demiurge"--the intelligent cause of all order and structure in the world of becoming--and the emphatic recognition of the essentially tentative character of natural science. It is also noteworthy that, though Plato presents a corpuscular physics, his metaphysical substrate is not matter but chora (space). The presence of space as a factor requires the recognition, over and above God or mind, of an element that he called ananke (necessity). The activity of the demiurge ensures that the universe is in general rational and well-ordered, but the brute force of material necessity sets limits to the scope and efficacy of reason. The details of Plato's cosmology, physiology, and psychophysics are of great importance for the history of science but metaphysically of secondary interest. (see also Index: efficient cause)

The Laws, Plato's longest and most intensely practical work, contains his ripest utterances on ethics, education, and jurisprudence, as well as his one entirely nonmythical exposition of theology. The immediate object is to provide a model of constitution making and legislation to assist in the actual founding of cities. The problem of the dialogue is thus not the construction of an ideal state as in the Republic but the framing of a constitution and code that might be successfully adopted by a society of average Greeks. Hence the demands made on average human nature, though exacting, are not pitched too high; and the communism of the Republic is dropped.

Purely speculative philosophy and science are excluded from the purview of the Laws, and the metaphysical interest is introduced only so far as to provide a basis for a moral theology. In compensation the dialogue is exceptionally rich in political and legal thought and appears, indirectly, to have left its mark on the great system of Roman jurisprudence. (see also Index: Roman law)

In the ethics of the Laws Plato is rigid and rigorous--for example, homosexuality shall be completely suppressed and monogamous marriage with strict chastity shall be the rule. (In the Republic the guardian class enters into temporary unions or "sacred marriages," with a community of wives and children, to foster a concern for the common good.) In politics, Plato favours a mixed constitution, one with elements of democratic freedom and autocratic authoritarianism, and he suggests a system for securing both genuine popular representation and the proper degree of attention to personal qualifications. The basis of society is to be agriculture, not commerce. What amounts to a tax of 100 percent is to be levied on incomes beyond the statutory limits. Education is regarded as the most important of all the functions of government. The distinction between the sexes is to be treated as irrelevant. (see also Index: education, philosophy of)

Careful attention is to be paid to the right utilization of the child's instinct for play and to the demand that the young shall be taught in institutions where expert instruction in all of the various subjects is coordinated. Members of the supreme council of the state shall be thoroughly trained in the supreme science, which "sees the one in the many and the many in the one"; i.e., in dialectic. In the Laws Plato instituted regulations which would ensure that trials for serious offenses would take place before a court of highly qualified magistrates and would proceed with due deliberation. Also, provision was made for appeals, and a foundation was laid for a distinction between civil and criminal law.

The Laws also creates a natural theology. There are three false beliefs, Plato holds, that are fatal to moral character: atheism, denial of the moral government of the world, and the belief that divine judgment can be bought off by offerings. Plato claims that he can disprove them all. His refutation of atheism turns on the identification of the soul with the "movement which can move itself." Thus all motion throughout the universe is ultimately initiated by souls. It is then inferred from the regular character of the great cosmic motions and their systematic unity that the souls which originate them form a hierarchy with a best soul, God, at their head. Since some motions are disorderly, there must be one soul that is not the best, and there may be more. (There is no suggestion, however, that there is a worst soul, a devil.) The other two heresies can be similarly disposed of. Plato thus becomes the originator of the view that there are certain theological truths that can be strictly demonstrated by reason; i.e., of philosophical theology. Plato goes on to enact that the denial of any of his three propositions shall be a grave crime.

The Laws strikes many readers as a dull and depressing work. Its prose lacks the sparkle of the early dialogues; and Socrates, the hero of those works, would not have been tolerated under a government of the repressively authoritarian style that the Laws recommends. (J.B. /Ed.)

3 Platonism after Plato

The term Platonism can be applied to any philosophy that derives its ultimate inspiration from Plato. Though there was in antiquity a tradition about Plato's "unwritten doctrines" (much discussed by German scholars since 1959), Platonism then and later was based primarily on a reading of the dialogues. But these can be read in many different ways, often very selectively, and it may be that all that the various kinds of Platonism can be said to have in common is an intense concern for the quality of human life--always ethical, often religious, and sometimes political, based on a belief in unchanging and eternal realities, independent of the changing things of the world perceived by the senses. Platonism sees these realities both as the causes of the existence of everything in the universe and as giving value and meaning to its contents in general and the life of its inhabitants in particular. It is this belief in absolute values rooted in an eternal world that distinguishes Platonism from the philosophies of Plato's immediate predecessors and successors and from later philosophies inspired by them--from the immanentist naturalism of most of the pre-Socratics (who interpreted the world monistically in terms of nature as such), from the relativism of the Sophists, and from the correction of Platonism in a this-worldly direction carried out by Plato's greatest pupil, Aristotle.


Since Plato refused to write his own metaphysics, knowledge of its final shape has to be derived from hints in the dialogues and statements by Aristotle and, to a far lesser extent, other ancient authorities. According to these, Plato's doctrine of Forms was, in its general character, highly mathematical, the Forms being somehow identified with, or explained in terms of, numbers. Here may be seen the influence of the Pythagoreans, though, as Aristotle says, the details of Plato's views on the mathematical constituents of being were not the same as theirs. In addition Aristotle states that Plato introduced a class of "mathematicals," or "intermediates," positioned between sensible objects and Forms. These differ from sensible objects in being immaterial (e.g., the geometer's triangles ABC and XYZ) and from the Forms in being plural, unlike the Triangle itself. (H.J.Bl. /Ed.)

Aristotle himself had little use for this sort of mathematical metaphysics and rejected Plato's doctrine of transcendent eternal Forms altogether. Something of Platonism, nonetheless, survived in Aristotle's system in his beliefs that the reality of anything lay in a changeless (though wholly immanent) form or essence comprehensible and definable by reason and that the highest realities were eternal, immaterial, changeless self-sufficient intellects which caused the ordered movement of the universe. It was the desire to give expression to their transcendent perfection that kept the heavenly spheres rotating. Man's intellect at its highest was akin to them. This Aristotelian doctrine of Intellect (nous) was easily recombined with Platonism in later antiquity.

Aristotle, however, was not reacting only against Plato but also against Plato's associates and immediate successors as head of the Academy, namely Plato's nephew Speusippus (c. 410-339 BC) and Xenocrates (396-314 BC). Speusippus, in particular, accented the mathematical tendencies of the late Plato and abolished Forms in favour of numbers. He also posited different principles for different sorts of entities and so was accused by Aristotle of breaking the connections in reality. Xenocrates identified Forms and numbers and began the long process of finding firm doctrines in Plato by laying down that Forms were only of those things that exist in nature. Xenocrates was also the first, as far as is known, to turn his attention to what continued to be a subject of controversy throughout the history of Platonism, namely whether the account of creation offered in the Timaeus was to be taken as chronological or merely expository. He took the latter view, which turned out to be the most favoured one in antiquity; Aristotle was on the other side. Whether Xenocrates' three successors as head of the Academy (Polemon, Crates, and Crantor) developed Platonism is uncertain. Crantor (c. 330-270 BC) was allegedly the first to write commentaries on Plato, particularly on the Timaeus. After Crantor the Academy was preoccupied for about two centuries with the serious questioning of man's claims to knowledge. This began with Arcesilaus (316/315-c. 241 BC), who is described as the founder of the Middle Academy. There was a genuine desire to recover the critical, questioning, and agnostic attitude of the Socrates of Plato's early dialogues as well as philosophical exasperation with the dogmatism of some of the contemporary Hellenistic philosophers, especially the Stoics. It is likely that Arcesilaus was influenced to some extent by Pyrrhon (c. 360-c. 272 BC), founder of the tradition to which the name Skeptic was applied in antiquity. The Skeptical Academics denied that certainty on any subject was possible and worked out a sophisticated theory of probability as a guide to practical decision making. Their critical dialectic and probability theory were best expounded by Carneades (214/213-129/128 BC). Though he wrote nothing, he was regarded as the founder of the New Academy. A return to dogmatic and positive philosophical teaching was effected by Philo of Larissa (died c. 79 BC) and his pupil Antiochus of Ascalon, who was head of the school in 79-78 BC. (see also Index: Stoicism, Skepticism)

The next important phase of Platonism, Middle Platonism or pre-Neoplatonism, was significant through the influence that it exerted in more than one direction. In the direction of Jewish culture (further described in a later section), it formed the Greek philosophical background of the efforts of Philo Judaeus (Philo of Alexandria) to create a philosophical system on the basis of the Old Testament heritage. Though the origins of Middle Platonism are obscure, its main direction became clear in the 1st century AD. It seems to have been linked from the beginning with the closely related revival of Pythagoreanism (a philosophy holding that reality is number, and sometimes showing, after the revival, a tendency to superstitious occultism). The somewhat Platonized Stoicism of Poseidonius (c. 135-c. 51 BC), whose dualism of matter and reason enhanced the roles of emotion and will, may have influenced its beginnings, as did the Stoicized Platonism of Antiochus; and Stoic influence, especially in the ethical field, remained important in its later developments. There was also a strong Aristotelian influence, though a minority of 2nd-century Platonists, notably Atticus and, to a lesser extent, Gaius Calvenus Taurus, objected to certain Aristotelian doctrines. Atticus was particularly offended by Aristotle's failure to provide for providence. The general characteristics of this revised Platonic philosophy (and the closely related Neo-Pythagoreanism) were the recognition of a hierarchy of divine principles with stress on the transcendence of the supreme principle, which was already occasionally called "the One"; the placing of the Platonic Forms in the divine mind; a strongly otherworldly attitude demanding a "flight from the body," an ascent of the mind to the divine and eternal; and a preoccupation with the problem of evil, attributed either to an evil world soul or to matter. The best known of the Middle Platonists is the biographer and essayist Plutarch of Chaeronea (c. AD 46-120). More important philosophically were other 2nd-century figures: Gaius and two men possibly influenced by him, Albinus and Apuleius (better known as author of the prose narrative The Golden Ass); Atticus; and Numenius of Apamea. It was from the thought of these and other Middle Platonists, combined with his own reading of Alexander and other Peripatetic commentators on Aristotle, that the foremost Neoplatonist, Plotinus, started constructing his own interpretation of Platonism, which was both profoundly original and firmly rooted in an established school tradition. (see also Index: Judaism)


Neoplatonism is the modern name given to the form of Platonism developed by Plotinus in the 3rd century AD and modified by his successors. It came to dominate the Greek philosophical schools and remained predominant until the teaching of philosophy by pagans ended in the second half of the 6th century AD. It represents the final form of pagan Greek philosophy. It was not a mere syncretism (or combination of diverse beliefs) but a genuine, if one-sided, development of ideas to be found in Plato and earlier Platonism--though it incorporated important Aristotelian and Stoic elements as well. There is no real evidence for Oriental influence. A certain Gnostic (relating to intuitive knowledge acquired by privileged individuals and immune to empirical verification) tone or colouring sometimes may be discerned in the thought of Plotinus. But he was consciously a passionate opponent of Gnosticism, and in any case there was often a large element of popular Platonism in the Gnostic systems then current. Moreover, the theosophical works of the late 2nd century AD known as the Chaldean Oracles, which were taken as inspired authorities by the later Neoplatonists, seem to have been a hodgepodge of popular Greek religious philosophy.

Neoplatonism began as a complex (and in some ways ambiguous) philosophy and grew vigorously in a variety of forms over a long period; it is therefore not easy to generalize about it. But the leading ideas in the thought of philosophers who can properly be described as Neoplatonists seem always to have included the following:

1. There is a plurality of levels of being, arranged in hierarchical descending order, the last and lowest comprising the physical universe, which exists in time and space and is perceptible to the senses.

2. Each level of being is derived from its superior, a derivation that is not a process in time or space.

3. Each derived being is established in its own reality by turning back toward its superior in a movement of contemplative desire, which is implicit in the original creative impulse of outgoing that it receives from its superior; thus the Neoplatonic universe is characterized by a double movement of outgoing and return.

4. Each level of being is an image or expression on a lower level of the one above it. The relation of archetype and image runs through all Neoplatonic schemes.

5. Degrees of being are also degrees of unity; as one goes down the scale of being there is greater multiplicity, more separateness, and increasing limitation--until the atomic individualization of the spatiotemporal world is reached.

6. The highest level of being, and through it all of what in any sense exists, derives from the ultimate principle, which is absolutely free from determinations and limitations and utterly transcends any conceivable reality, so that it may be said to be "beyond being." Because it has no limitations, it has no division, attributes, or qualifications; it cannot really be named, or even properly described as being, but may be called "the One" to designate its complete simplicity. It may also be called "the Good" as the source of all perfections and the ultimate goal of return, for the impulse of outgoing and return that constitutes the hierarchy of derived reality comes from and leads back to the Good.

7. Since this supreme principle is absolutely simple and undetermined (or devoid of specific traits), man's knowledge of it must be radically different from any other kind of knowledge. It is not an object (a separate, determined, limited thing) and no predicates can be applied to it; hence it can be known only if it raises the mind to an immediate union with itself, which cannot be imagined or described.

3.2.1 Plotinus and his philosophy.

As far as is known, the originator of this distinctive kind of Platonism was Plotinus (AD 205-270). He had been the pupil at Alexandria of a self-taught philosopher called Ammonius, who also taught the Christian Origen and the latter's pagan namesake, and whose influence on his pupils seems to have been deep and lasting. But Ammonius wrote nothing; there are few reports of his views, and these are unreliable so that nothing is actually known about his thought. A number of distinguished scholars have made attempts to reconstruct it, but their speculations go far beyond the evidence. Plotinus must thus be regarded as the first Neoplatonist, and his collected works, the Enneads (Greek enneas, "set of nine"--six sets of nine treatises each, arranged by his disciple Porphyry), are the first and greatest collection of Neoplatonic writings.

Plotinus, like most ancient philosophers from Socrates on, was a religious and moral teacher as well as a professional philosopher engaged in the critical interpretation of a long and complicated school tradition. He was an acute critic and arguer, with an exceptional degree of intellectual honesty for his, or any, period; philosophy for him was not only a matter of abstract speculation but also a way of life in which, through an exacting intellectual and moral self-discipline and purification, those who are capable of the ascent can return to the source from which they came. His written works explain how from the eternal creative act--at once spontaneous and necessary--of that transcendent source, the One, or Good, proceeds the world of living reality, constituted by repeated double movements of outgoing and return in contemplation; and this account, showing the way for the human self--which can experience and be active on every level of being--to return to the One, is at the same time an exhortation to follow that way. (see also Index: emanationism)

Plotinus always insisted that the One, or Good, is beyond the reach of thought or language; what he said about this supreme principle was intended only to point the mind along the way to it, not to describe or define it. But though no adequate concept or definition of the Good is possible, it was, nonetheless, for Plotinus a positive reality of superabundant excellence. Plotinus often spoke of it in extremely negative language, but his object in doing so was to stress the inadequacy of all of man's ways of thinking and speaking to express this supreme reality or to clarify the implications of the claim that the Good is absolutely one and undetermined, the source of all defined and limited realities.

The original creative or expressive act of the One is the first great derived reality, nous (which can be only rather inadequately translated as "Intellect" or "Spirit"); from this again comes Soul, which forms, orders, and maintains in being the material universe. It must be remembered that, to Plotinus, the whole process of generation is timeless; Nous and Soul are eternal, while time is the life of Soul as active in the physical world, and there never was a time when the material universe did not exist. The "levels of being," then, though distinct, are not separate but are all intimately present everywhere and in everyone. To ascend from Soul through Intellect to the One is not to travel in space but to awake to a new kind of awareness.

Intellect for Plotinus is at one and the same time thinker, thought, and object of thought; it is a mind that is perfectly one with its object. As object, it is the world of Forms, or Ideas, the totality of real being in the Platonic sense. These Forms, being one with Intellect and therefore with each other, are not merely objects but are living, thinking subjects, each not only itself but, in its contemplation, the whole. They are the archetypes and causes of the necessarily imperfect realities on lower levels, souls and the patterns or structures that make bodies what they are. Men at their highest are intellects, or souls perfectly conformed to Intellect; they become aware of their intellectual nature when, passing not only beyond sense perception but beyond the discursive reasoning characteristic of the life of Soul, they immediately grasp eternal realities.

Soul for Plotinus is very much what it was for Plato, the intermediary between the worlds of Intellect and Sense and the representative of the former in the latter. It is produced by Intellect, as Intellect is by the One, by a double movement of outgoing and return in contemplation, but the relationship between the two is more intimate and the frontier less clearly defined. For Plotinus, as for Plato, the characteristic of the life of the Soul is movement, which is the cause of all other movements. The life of the Soul in this movement is time, and on it all physical movement depends. Soul both forms and rules the material universe from above; and in its lower, immanent phase, which Plotinus often calls nature, it acts as an indwelling principle of life and growth and produces the lowest forms, those of bodies. Below these lies the darkness of matter, the final absence of being, the absolute limit at which the expansion of the universe--from the One through diminishing degrees of reality and increasing degrees of multiplicity--comes to an end. Because of its utter negativity, such matter is for Plotinus the principle of evil; and although he does not really believe it to be an independent principle forming, with the Good, a dualism, his language about it often has a strongly dualistic flavour. (see also Index: nature, philosophy of, good and evil)

He was not, however, really dualistic in his attitude toward the material universe. He strongly maintained its goodness and beauty as the best possible work of Soul. It is a living organic whole, and its wholeness is the best possible (though very imperfect) reflection on the space-time level of the living unity in diversity of the world of Forms in Intellect. It is held together in every part by a universal sympathy and harmony. In this harmony external evil and suffering take their place as necessary elements in the great pattern, the great dance of the universe. Evil and suffering can affect men's lower selves but can only exceptionally, in the thoroughly depraved, touch their true, higher selves and so cannot interfere with the real well-being of the philosopher.

As souls within bodies, men can exist on any level of the soul's experience and activity. (The descent of souls into bodies is for Plotinus--who had some difficulty in reconciling Plato's various statements on this point--both a fall and a necessary compliance with universal law.) Man can ascend through his own intellect to the level of universal Soul, become that whole that he already is potentially, and, in Soul, attain to Intellect itself; or he can isolate himself on the lower level, shutting himself up in the experiences, desires, and concerns of his lower nature. Philosophical conversion--the beginning of the ascent to the One--consists precisely in turning away, by a tremendous intellectual and moral effort, from the life of the body, dominating and rising above its desires, and "waking to another way of seeing, which everyone has but few use." This, Plotinus insisted, is possible while one is still in an earthly body and without neglecting the duties of one's embodied state. But the body and bodily life weight a man down and hamper him in his ascent. Plotinus' language when speaking of the body and the senses in this context is strongly dualistic and otherworldly. Platonists in general think much more dualistically about their own bodies than about the material universe as a whole. The physical world is seen positively as a noble image of the intelligible; the individual, earthly, animal body, on the contrary, tends to be regarded negatively as a hindrance to the intellectual and spiritual life. (see also Index: mind-body dualism)

When a man's philosophical conversion is complete and he has become Intellect, he can rise to that mystical union in which the One manifests his continual presence, carried on the surging current of the impulse of return to the source (in its strongest and final flow), the pure love of Intellect for the Good from which it immediately springs. There is no consciousness of duality in that union; the individual is not aware of himself; but neither is he destroyed or dissolved into the One--because even in the union he is still Intellect, though Intellect "out of itself," transcending its normal nature and activity. This mystical union for Plotinus was the focus of much of his effort and, for those of similar inclination, the source of the continuing power of his teaching. Philosophy for him was religion, the effort to actualize in oneself the great impulse of return to the Good, which constitutes reality on all its levels; and religion for him was philosophy. There was no room in his thought and practice for special revelation, grace, and repentance in the Christian sense, and little for external rites or ceremonies. For him the combination of moral purification and intellectual enlightenment, which only Platonic philosophy as he understood it could give, was the only way to union with the Good. (see also Index: religion, philosophy of)

3.2.2 The later Neoplatonists.

Porphyry (c. AD 234-c. 305), a devout disciple of Plotinus and a careful editor of his works, occupied a special position in the development of later Neoplatonism. In some ways his thought paralleled that of the later pagan Neoplatonists, but in others it quite opposed them. The most distinctive features of his thought seem to have been an extreme spiritualism, an insistence, even sharper than that of Plotinus, on the "flight from the body" and--more philosophically important--a greater sympathy with the less sharply defined vertical hierarchies of the Platonists who had preceded Plotinus. Porphyry did not always clearly distinguish the One from Intellect. On the other hand one may see in him the beginnings of the late Neoplatonic tendency to structure reality in both vertical and "horizontal" triads. Thus Being, Life, and Intellect are phases in the eternal self-determination of the ultimate reality. This triad became one of the most important elements in the complex metaphysical structures of the later Neoplatonists. But perhaps Porphyry's most important and influential contribution was the incorporation into Neoplatonism of Aristotle's logic, in particular the doctrine of the categories, with the characteristic Neoplatonic interpretation of them as terms signifying entities. Also of interest is his declaration of ideological war against the Christians, whose doctrines he attacked on both philosophical and exegetical grounds in a work of 15 books entitled Against the Christians.

Iamblichus (c. AD 250-c. 330) seems to have been the originator of the type of Neoplatonism that came to dominate the Platonic schools in the 5th and 6th centuries AD. This kind of Neoplatonism sharpened and multiplied the distinctions between the levels of being. The basic position underlying its elaborations is one of extreme philosophical Realism: it is assumed that the structure of reality corresponds so exactly to the way in which the mind works that there is a separate real entity corresponding to every distinction that it can make. In the fully developed late Neoplatonic system the first principle of reality, the ultimate One, was removed to an altogether ineffable transcendence, mitigated by two factors: the presence of the expressions or manifestations of its unifying power, the "henads"--identified with the gods of paganism--at every level of reality; and the possibility of return to absolute unification through the henad with which one is linked. Below the One a vast structure of triads, or trinities, reached down to the physical world; this was constructed by combining Plotinus' vertical succession of the levels of Being, Intellect, and Soul (much complicated by internal subdivision and the interposition at every stage of mediating hypostases, or underlying orders of nonmaterial reality) with another horizontal triadic structure, giving a timeless dynamic rhythm of outgoing and return, such as that already encountered in Porphyry. (see also Index: transcendentalism)

Nearly all of Iamblichus' works have been lost, and his thought must be recovered from other sources. At present the main authority for this type of Platonism, and also for some of the later Neoplatonists, is Proclus (AD 410-485). Proclus appears to have codified later Platonism, but it is often impossible to tell which parts of his thought are original and which derive from his teachers Plutarch and Syrianus on the one hand and Porphyry and Iamblichus, from whom he quotes copiously but not always identifiably, and other earlier Platonists on the other hand. A carefully argued summary of the basic metaphysics of this kind of Neoplatonism may be found in Proclus' Elements of Theology, which exhibits the causal relationships of the several hierarchies that constituted his intelligible universe.

This later Neoplatonism aspired to be not only a complete and coherent metaphysical system but also a complete pagan theology, which is perhaps best seen in Proclus' Platonic Theology. The maintenance and defense of the old religion in a world more and more intolerantly dominated by its triumphant rival, Christianity, was one of the main concerns of the Platonists after Plotinus. By the study and sometimes forced exegesis of Aristotle and then Plato, culminating in the Timaeus and Parmenides, of which they offered a variety of highly metaphysical interpretations totally unacceptable to Plato scholars, they believed it possible to arrive at a complete understanding of divine truth. This truth they held to be cryptically revealed by the gods themselves through the so-called theologians--the inspired authors of the Orphic poems and of the Chaldean Oracles, published in the second half of the 2nd century AD. Porphyry first gave some guarded and qualified recognition to them, but they were inspired scripture to Iamblichus, who wrote a work of at least 28 books on the subject, and his successors. Their view of the human soul was a humbler one than that of Plotinus. It was for them a spiritual being of lower rank, which had descended altogether into the material world, while for Plotinus a part remained above; they could not therefore aspire, like Plotinus, through philosophy alone, to that return to and unification with the divine that remained for them the goal of human life. Help from the gods was needed, and they believed that the gods in their love for men had provided it, giving to all things the power of return in prayer and implanting even in inanimate material things--herbs and stones and the like--sympathies and communications with the divine, which made possible the secret rites of theurgy, through which the divine gave the needed spiritual help by material means. Theurgy, though its procedures were generally those of late Greek magic, was thus not thought of merely as magic; in fact a higher and more intellectual theurgy was also practiced. The degree of attention paid to external rites varied considerably from philosopher to philosopher; there seem to have been men even in the last generation of pagan Neoplatonists who had little use for or interest in such things and followed a mystical way much like that of Plotinus.

The different schools of late Neoplatonism seem to have differed less from each other than has sometimes been supposed. The school of Pergamum, founded by Aedesius, a pupil of Iamblichus, made perhaps the least contribution to the philosophical development of Neoplatonism, but it was not entirely given over to theurgy. Its greatest convert was the emperor Julian, called by Christians the "Apostate"; in that capacity he achieved great notoriety, but philosophically he is of no importance. By the end of the 4th century AD the Platonic Academy at Athens had been reestablished and had become an institute for Neoplatonic teaching and research following the tradition of Iamblichus. It was particularly fervent and open in its paganism and attracted Christian hostility. Though maintaining itself for a surprisingly long time against this hostility, it eventually yielded to it and was probably closed by Justinian in AD 529. In the interim, however, it had produced the greatest and most influential systematic expositor of later Neoplatonism, Proclus (see above). The head of the school at the time of its closing, Damascius, was also a notable philosopher. Another centre of Neoplatonism flourished at Gaza during the 5th and early 6th centuries; it was already Christian in its inspiration, though some of its members studied with the pagan Ammonius (see below). The school of Alexandria in the 5th and 6th centuries does not seem to have differed very much from that of Athens, either in its fundamental philosophical outlook or in the main outline of its doctrines. In fact there was much interchange between the two. The Athenian Syrianus taught the Alexandrian Hermias, whose son Ammonius was taught by Proclus. Ammonius (died c. 520) was the most influential of the Alexandrian Platonists. His expositions of Aristotle were published mainly in the commentaries of the Christian heretic John Philoponus (late 5th to mid-6th century). Simplicius, the other great Aristotelian commentator, worked at Athens but, like Damascius, had studied with Ammonius. The Alexandrian concentration on Aristotle, which produced a vast body of learned but Neoplatonically coloured commentary on his treatises, has often been attributed to Christian pressure and attempts to compromise with the church; it may equally well have been due to the quality and extent of Proclus' published work on Plato. Though Philoponus' later philosophical work contains important Christian modifications, an openly pagan (and very inferior) philosopher, Olympiodorus, was still teaching at Alexandria well into the second half of the 6th century. Finally, in the 7th century, under Heraclius, after philosophical teaching had passed peacefully into Christian hands, the last known Alexandrian philosopher, the Christian Stephanus, was called to teach in the University of Constantinople. (see also Index: Pergamum school)



3.3.1 Early Jewish Platonism.

Well before the beginning of the Christian Era, Jews with some Greek education had begun to make casual use of popular Greek philosophy in expounding their revealed religion: there are traces of this in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament. In Paul's speech to the Areopagus in Acts 17, commonplaces of Stoic philosophy were employed for apologetic purposes. But, as far as is known, the first Jew who was really well-read in Greek philosophy and used it extensively in the exposition and defense of his traditional religion was Philo Judaeus (Philo of Alexandria [c. 15 BC-after AD 45]), an older contemporary of St. Paul. Philo expressed his philosophical religion in the form of lengthy allegorical commentaries on the Jewish Scriptures, especially on Genesis. In these he showed to his own satisfaction that the ancient revelation given to Moses accorded with the teaching of the best Greek philosophers, which, in his view, was later and derivative. The Greek philosophy that he preferred and found to be most in accordance with revelation was an early form of Middle Platonism. Philo was neither approved of nor read by later orthodox Jews, but his influence on Greek-speaking and Greek-educated Christians from the 2nd century AD was great; and in important ways he determined the tone of their religious speculation. (see also Index: Judaism)

3.3.2 Ancient and medieval Christian Platonism.

Like Philo, the Christian Platonists gave primacy to revelation and regarded Platonic philosophy as the best available instrument for understanding and defending the teachings of Scripture and church tradition. But, also like Philo, they did not believe that truth could conflict with truth and were confident that all that was rationally certain in Platonic speculation would prove to be in perfect accordance with the Christian revelation. Their unhistorical approach and unscholarly methods of exegesis of texts, both pagan and Christian, facilitated this confidence. The general attitude of Christian Platonists was one of relatively moderate and humane otherworldliness (the cruder sorts of Christian otherworldliness and hatred of the body seem to derive from non-Platonic and non-Greek sources). They stressed the transcendence of God though, by insisting that it is a transcendence that is also the deepest immanence, they acknowledged his intimate presence within the world as well. They took a dualistic view of soul and body (though accepting bodily resurrection) and emphasized the primacy of the spiritual, while insisting on the goodness of God's material creation. (see also Index: dualism, mind-body dualism) Patristic Platonism.

From the middle of the 2nd century AD Christians who had some training in Greek philosophy began to feel the need to express their faith in its terms, both for their own intellectual satisfaction and in order to convert educated pagans. The philosophy that suited them best was Platonism. Though Stoicism had exerted a considerable influence on Christian ethical thinking (which has persisted to modern times), Stoic corporealism--the belief that God and the soul are bodies of a subtle and peculiar kind--repelled most Christians, and Stoic pantheism was incompatible with Christianity. The Platonism that the first Christian thinkers knew was of course Middle Platonism, not yet Neoplatonism. Its relatively straightforward theism and high moral tone suited their purposes excellently; and the influence of this older form of Platonism persisted through the 4th century and beyond, even after the works of Plotinus and Porphyry began to be read by Christians. (see also Index: patristic literature)

The first Christian to use Greek philosophy in the service of the Christian faith was Justin Martyr (martyred c. 165), whose passionate rejection of Greek polytheism, combined with an open and positive acceptance of the essentials of Platonic religious philosophy and an unshakable confidence in its harmony with Christian teaching, was to remain characteristic of the Christian Platonist tradition. This was carried on in the Greek-speaking world by Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-c. 215), a persuasive Christian humanist, and by the greatest of the Alexandrian Christian teachers, Origen (c. 185-254). Although Origen was consciously more hostile to and critical of Platonic philosophy than either Justin or Clement, he was, nonetheless, more deeply affected by it. He produced a synthesis of Christianity and late Middle Platonism of remarkable originality and power, which is the first great Christian philosophical theology. In spite of subsequent condemnations of some of his alleged views, his influence on Christian thought was strong and lasting. The Greek philosophical theology that developed during the Trinitarian controversies over the relationships among the persons of the Godhead, which were settled at the ecumenical councils of Nicaea (325) and Constantinople (381), owed a great deal to Origen on both sides, orthodox and heretical. Its most important representatives on the orthodox side were the three Christian Platonist theologians of Cappadocia, Basil of Caesarea (c. 329-379), Gregory of Nazianzus (c. 330-c. 389), and Basil's brother Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335-c. 394). Of these three, Gregory of Nyssa was the most powerful and original thinker (as well as the closest to Origen). He was the first great theologian of mystical experience, at once Platonic and profoundly Christian, and he exerted a strong influence on later Greek Christian thought. (see also Index: Trinity)

At some time between the period of the Cappadocian Fathers and the early years of the 6th century, a new turn was given to Christian Platonism by the remarkable writer who chose to publish his works under the name of St. Paul's convert at Athens, Dionysius the Areopagite. The kind of Platonism that the Pseudo-Dionysius employed for his theological purposes was the 5th-century Neoplatonism that is best represented by Proclus (see above The later Neoplatonists ). Almost everything about this mysterious author is vigorously disputed by scholars. But there can be no doubt about the influence that his system of the hierarchic universe exerted upon later Christian thought; his vision of man's ascent through it--carried up by divine love, to pass beyond all hierarchy and all knowledge into the darkness of the mystical union with God--had its impact both in the East, where one of the greatest of Greek Christian Platonist thinkers, Maximus the Confessor (c. 580-662), was deeply influenced by the Dionysian writings and commented extensively upon them, and in the West, where they became known and were translated into Latin in the 9th century. In the Latin West there was more than one kind of Christian Platonism. An impressive and extremely difficult philosophical theology, employing ideas approximating Porphyry's version of Neoplatonism to explain and defend the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, was produced in the second half of the 4th century by the rhetorician and grammarian Marius Victorinus. A strong and simple Platonic theism and morality, which had a great influence in the Middle Ages, was nobly expressed in the final work of the last great philosopher-statesman of the ancient world, Boethius (c. 470-524). This was the Consolation of Philosophy, written in prison while its author was under sentence of death. Boethius was also influential in the medieval West through his translations of Aristotle's logical works, especially the Categories together with Porphyry's Isagoge ("Introduction"), on which he in turn produced two commentaries. But the Christian Platonism that had the widest, deepest, and most lasting influence in the West was that of St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430). Augustinian Platonism.

Each of the great Christian Platonists understood Platonism and applied it to the understanding of his faith in his own individual way, and of no one of them was this truer than of Augustine with his extremely strong personality and distinctive religious history. Augustine's thought was not merely a subspecies of Christian Platonism but something unique--Augustinianism. Nonetheless, the reading of Plotinus and Porphyry (in Latin translations) had a decisive influence on his religious and intellectual development, and he was more deeply and directly affected by Neoplatonism than any of his Western contemporaries and successors.

In his anthropology Augustine was firmly Platonist, insisting on the soul's superiority to and independence of the body. For him, as for Plotinus and Porphyry, it was axiomatic that body could not act on soul, for soul was superior in the hierarchy of reality, and the inferior cannot act on the superior. This affected both his ethical doctrine and his epistemology. On the other hand, he differed from the philosophers who influenced him in his insistence that not only man but higher spiritual beings as well are mutable and peccable, liable to sin and fall, and in his consequent stress on the necessity of divine grace. His crucial doctrine that man's destiny is determined by the right direction of love, though profoundly original, was a development rather than a contradiction of Platonism. His very original theology of history and his view of human society, however, owed little to Plotinus and Porphyry, whose interests lay elsewhere.

In his epistemology Augustine was Neoplatonic, especially in the subjectivity of his doctrine of illumination--in its insistence that in spite of the fact that God is exterior to man, men's minds are aware of him because of his direct action on them (expressed in terms of the shining of his light on the mind, or sometimes of teaching) and not as the result of reasoning from sense experience. For a Platonist, as has been said, body cannot act upon soul. Sense experience, therefore, though genuinely informative on its own level, cannot be a basis for metaphysical or religious thinking. This must be the result of the presence in the soul of higher realities and their action upon it. In Plotinus the illumination of the soul by Intellect and the One was the permanent cause of man's ability to know eternal reality; and Augustine was at this point very close to Plotinus, though for him there was a much sharper distinction between Creator and creature, and the personal relationship between God and the soul was much more strongly stressed. (see also Index: nous)

In his theology, insofar as Augustine's thought about God was Platonic, he conformed fairly closely to the general pattern of Christian Platonism; it was Middle Platonic rather than Neoplatonic in that God could not be the One beyond Intellect and Being but was the supreme reality in whose creative mind were the Platonic Forms, the eternal patterns or regulative principles of all creation. Perhaps the most distinctive influence of Plotinian Neoplatonism on Augustine's thinking about God was in his Trinitarian theology. He started with the unity of God and continually insisted upon it, unlike Greek Christian thinkers, who started with the Three Persons perfectly united; and because he thought that something like the Christian doctrine of the Trinity was to be found in Plotinus and Porphyry, he tended to regard it as a philosophical doctrine and tried to make philosophical sense of it to a greater extent than the Greek Fathers did. His last and most important and influential attempt to do so was in his treatise On the Trinity, with its discovery of analogies to the divine mystery in the self-directed, internal activities of the soul. Medieval Platonism.

With the gradual revival of philosophical thinking in the West that began in the Carolingian period (late 8th-9th centuries), the history of Platonism becomes extremely complex. Only a sketch distinguishing the main streams of a more or less Platonic tradition is given here. (see also Index: Middle Ages)

In the 4th century the Christian exegete Calcidius (Chalcidius) prepared a commentary on Plato's Timaeus, which exerted an important influence on the medieval interpretation of the Timaeus. A Christian Platonic theism of the type of which Boethius is the finest example thus arose; based on a reading of the Timaeus with Christian eyes, it continued to have a strong influence in the Middle Ages, especially in the earlier period. This kind of theism, issuing in a strongly positive view of God's creation and a nobly austere but humane view of man's duty and destiny, was particularly apparent in the Christian humanism of the School of Chartres (12th century).

The widest, deepest, and most persistent Christian Platonist influence in the Latin West was that of Augustine (see above Augustinian Platonism). Augustinianism in a variety of forms--often stiffened, exaggerated, or distorted--persisted throughout the Middle Ages and survived the "recovery of Aristotle" (see below). In the later Middle Ages Augustine's influence was particularly strong in the Franciscan school, though not confined to it. But the greatest and most influential of medieval thinkers deeply influenced by Augustine was Anselm of Canterbury (1033/34-1109), the originator (probably on the basis of suggestions in Augustine) of the still much discussed "ontological argument" for the existence of God (see PHILOSOPHIES OF THE BRANCHES OF KNOWLEDGE: Philosophy of religion ) and a philosopher whose humility, openness, and readiness to consider objections had a genuinely Socratic quality.

One of the boldest and most original thinkers of medieval Europe was John Scotus Erigena (810-c. 877), who introduced to the West the Greek Christian Platonist tradition (see above Patristic Platonism), as it had been developed by Gregory of Nyssa, the Pseudo-Dionysius, and Maximus the Confessor. His views were much disapproved of by the Western church; and his great philosophical work, the Periphyseon (usually known as De divisione naturae [On the Division of Nature]), was not much read and ceased to be copied after his condemnation in 1210. But a considerable part of the text circulated in the form of anonymous glosses to the Latin translations of the Pseudo-Dionysius (of which the first adequate translation was by Erigena himself); and in this way his thought influenced both the tradition of Western mysticism, which derived from the Pseudo-Dionysius, and 13th-century Scholasticism, for which St. Paul's supposed disciple was still a major authority.

There is no more superficial and misleading generalization in the history of philosophy than that which sharply opposes "Christian Platonism" and "Christian Aristotelianism." To be sure, the recovery of the authentic thought of Aristotle through Latin translations of his works in the 12th and 13th centuries was indeed a major event in the history of philosophy. But Platonism and Aristotelianism have never been tidily separated in the history of European thought. There was already a strong Aristotelian element in Middle Platonism and Neoplatonism. Byzantine theologians (in the East) from the 6th century AD onward were as Aristotelian as anybody in western Europe in the 13th century. Thirteenth-century "Aristotelian" Scholastics, though much preoccupied with the new translations of Aristotle and their philosophical and theological implications, were still deeply influenced by Augustine, Boethius, and the Pseudo-Dionysius (with glosses derived from Erigena). And the Islamic philosophy, to be mentioned below, with which they had to grapple, was as much Neoplatonist as it was Aristotelian. Further, they also were influenced by Latin translations of two pseudo-Aristotelian works in Arabic, based on Neoplatonic sources (see the section immediately below) as well as by those of some of the shorter works of Proclus (see above The later Neoplatonists ). It has been said that "Aquinas is closer to Plotinus than to the real Aristotle," and there is some truth in this judgment.

3.3.3 Islamic and medieval Jewish philosophy.

After the Muslim conquest of Syria and Egypt, there began a great work of translation of the texts that had been studied in the late Greek philosophical schools--including a number of dialogues of Plato and Neoplatonic treatises, as well as the works of Aristotle and a number of the Alexandrian Neoplatonist commentaries on them. The translations--partly from Greek, partly from Syriac versions of the Greek texts--were made between about 800 and 1000. On the basis of these translated texts an impressive development of Islamic theology and philosophy took place, strongly influenced by Neoplatonism, though Aristotelian influence also became increasingly important. An interesting feature of this Islamic philosophy, which distinguished it from the familiar Neoplatonism, was the reappearance in al-Farabi and Averroës of an interest in the political and social side of Plato's thought. The tradition may be seen in four great Muslim philosophers, the Arab al-Kindi (c. 800-870), the Turk al-Farabi (c. 878-c. 950), and two who deeply influenced the medieval West, Avicenna (Ibn Sina, 980-1037) from Persia and Averroës (Ibn Rushd, 1126-98) from Muslim Spain. Of these, Avicenna was perhaps the more Platonist, and Averroës, whose fame and influence rested primarily on his commentaries on Aristotle, was the more Aristotelian although the latter's commentaries were written on the basis of Greek ones, some of whose authors had used them as a vehicle for Neoplatonism. Medieval Jewish philosophy, which also developed within this Muslim intellectual tradition, reflected--at least in its earlier phases--strong Neoplatonic influence. This is especially true of the thought of the early figure Isaac Israeli (mid-9th-mid-10th century), whose Platonism was pervasive, though derivative and less than fully coherent, and the first great Jewish philosopher of Muslim Spain, Avicebron (Ibn Gabirol, c. 1022-c. 1058/70), whose Platonism may have been derived from Israeli's. Avicebron's Fons vitae (Fountain of Life) was also a major influence on scholastic philosophers. (see also Index: Judaism)


From the 15th century onward the dialogues of Plato and a large number of Middle Platonist and Neoplatonist works, above all the Enneads of Plotinus, became available in the original Greek in western Europe. As a result of this new acquaintance with the original texts, Platonic influences on Renaissance and post-Renaissance thought became even more complex and difficult to recognize than those on medieval thought. Older Neoplatonically influenced traditions (notably Augustinianism) persisted, and new ones developed from the direct reading of the Neoplatonic texts. And, at least from the time of Leibniz (1646-1716), European thinkers realized that the Neoplatonic interpretation of Plato was in some ways a distorted and one-sided one; hence they sometimes developed their own allegedly more authentic understandings of Plato on the basis of direct readings of such of his varied works as they found to be philosophically congenial. Only a few of the more interesting Platonic influences can be indicated here.

In spite of its deep influence on Greek Christian thinkers, Platonism was regarded with profound suspicion by the Byzantine Orthodox Church. The suspicion reflected its association in the Byzantine ecclesiastical mind with the militant paganism of the Athenian Neoplatonists (see above The later Neoplatonists ). Nonetheless, it survived in the Byzantine world--generally underground but with an overt revival in the 11th century, in which the most notable figures were the broadly erudite Michael Psellus, who did much to enhance the prestige of philosophy, and his rival, the syncretistic Aristotelian commentator John Italus. In the following century Eustratius, metropolitan of Nicaea, and Michael of Ephesus continued the tradition of writing Neoplatonic commentary on Aristotle, plugging some of the gaps left by the Alexandrian commentators. In the 15th century the last known Byzantine philosopher, George Gemistus Plethon, a passionate pagan Platonist in the manner of Proclus, traveled to Italy (1438-39) and persuaded Cosimo de' Medici to sponsor a Platonic Academy at Florence, of which the greatest figures to emerge were its founder, Marsilio Ficino (1433-99), who translated all of Plato and Plotinus into Latin, the first complete version of either in a Western language, and the humanist Pico della Mirandola (1463-94), author of the influential Oration on the Dignity of Man. Ficino's Platonic Theology: On the Immortality of Souls contains not only Platonic and Neoplatonic philosophy but also elements drawn from medieval Aristotelianism, Cicero, Augustine, and Italian humanist writers. In spite of the paganism of Plethon, the Platonism of the Florentine Academy was a Christian one of a humane and liberal kind. This was probably at least partly due to the influence in Italy of Nicholas of Cusa (1401-64), who worked out his own very original version of Christian Platonism, influenced by the Pseudo-Dionysius, Erigena, and the German mystical tradition (as in Meister Eckehart).

The influence of the Platonism of the Florentine Academy was quite extensive; it may be seen not only in the writings of later Italian philosophers but also in the iconography of Italian Renaissance painting and in 16th-century French literature and was particularly marked in England. Perhaps the most impressive development of this post-Renaissance movement lay in the works of the Cambridge Platonists (late 17th century). Since their time a tradition of liberal Christian Platonism has persisted in England. Moreover, there have been other notable traditions of Platonically influenced Christian thought in Europe. One that deserves to be better known is that of the outstanding French philosopher of "action" Maurice Blondel (1861-1949), who found a prominent place in his system for the formation of ideas--interpreted as an important species of action that faithfully reflects the eternal order of reality. Blondel's philosophy has had a widespread influence, mainly among Catholic philosophers dissatisfied with Neoscholasticism. Another French philosopher much influenced by Platonism, in its Plotinian form, was Henri Bergson (1859-1941), whose thought attracted much attention during and just after his lifetime but has been largely neglected since.

The rediscovery of Proclus by the great German Idealist G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831) had an important influence on his thought and so on the whole history of 19th-century Idealist philosophy. His contemporary F.W.J. von Schelling (1775-1854) was also strongly influenced by Neoplatonism, in his case that of Plotinus. Idealism, however, should not be interpreted as revived Neoplatonism, nor Neoplatonism as an anticipation of Idealism. But the historical influence of Neoplatonism on Idealist thought is indisputable. There was a strong reaction against Hegel's influence in some quarters, and this reaction led to a corresponding depreciation of Neoplatonism though the tradition of Idealism continued in the work of F.H. Bradley and John Ellis McTaggart in England and Josiah Royce in the United States. But 20th-century continental European philosophers and scholars were, until the 1960s, readier than English-speaking ones to take a serious interest in Neoplatonism. The latter, with some notable exceptions, maintained a hostile attitude toward that philosophy which they wrongly regarded not only as "decadent" but also as "mystical," and thus outside the true tradition of Greek philosophy.

The influence of the sort of Christian Platonism mentioned above on English literature, and especially on English poetry, has been wide and deep. But there has also been a strongly anti-Christian Neoplatonic influence, that of Thomas Taylor "the Platonist" (1758-1835), who published translations of Plato, Aristotle, and a large number of Neoplatonic works in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Taylor was as militant in his pagan Platonism as was Gemistus Plethon. His ideas had a strong influence on the English Romantics. In the poetry of William Blake, who eventually succeeded in reconciling Taylor's paganism with his own very original version of Christianity, much of the symbolism is Neoplatonic. The Platonism of the English Romantic poets Coleridge and Shelley also derives from Taylor, although both were able to read the original texts. Taylor also deeply influenced Emerson and his circle in America. Later, in the early 20th century, the influence of Taylor's writings was again apparent in the Irish poet and dramatist William Butler Yeats, who in his later poems made use of Stephen MacKenna's then new translation of Plotinus.

The foremost process philosopher (an adherent of a view emphasizing the elements of becoming, change, and novelty in experienced reality), Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947), perhaps because of his original and abiding concern with mathematical philosophy, was interested in Plato (though not, apparently, in the Neoplatonists); and his reading of the Timaeus in particular contributed something to the metaphysical system of his last period and especially to his concept of a God who does not timelessly transcend process but is in some way involved in it. Whitehead is an excellent example of a Platonically influenced thinker whose development of Plato's own thought proceeded along lines completely opposed to Neoplatonism.


The essential point at issue between Platonists and their opponents through the centuries has been the existence (in some sense) of a spiritual or intelligible reality that is independent of the world, and is the ultimate origin of both existence and values. This is a very rough generalization that does not apply to the Skeptical Academy (see above Greek Platonism from Aristotle through Middle Platonism ) or do full justice to the thought of the modern skeptical Platonist George Santayana. Platonists have understood this central doctrine in a great variety of ways and defended it with a great variety of arguments. But whenever it has been strongly held, it seems to have been by a faith depending on some sort of experience rather than simply on the conclusion of an argument. Its opponents have generally followed the lines of attack laid down by Aristotle (and to some extent anticipated by Plato in the first part of his Parmenides), that the doctrine involves the duplication of reality and the postulation of entities for the existence of which no sufficient evidence or arguments can be offered and the relationship of which to the world of sense experience cannot be intelligibly stated. The argument continues and will perhaps never finally be settled, but there can be no doubt about the central importance of Platonism in the history of European thought. (A.H.A. /H.J.Bl.)

플라톤 (Platon). (영)Plato. BC 428/427 그리스 아테네 (또는 아이기나)~BC 348/347 아테네. 고대 그리스의 철학자.


플라톤, 그리스의 원형을 보고 로마에서 다시 제작한 듯한 ...
서양문화의 철학적 기초를 마련한 고대 그리스의 위대한 철학자이다. 논리학·인식론·형이상학 등에 걸친 광범위하고 심오한 철학체계를 전개했으며, 특히 그의 모든 사상의 발전에는 윤리적 동기가 바탕을 이루고 있다. 또한 이성이 인도하는 것이면 무엇이든 따라야 한다는 이성주의적 입장을 고수했다. 따라서 플라톤 철학의 핵심은 이성주의적 윤리학이다.


플라톤은 BC 428년경 아테네의 귀족 가문에서 태어났다. 아버지 아리스톤은 아테네의 마지막 왕인 코드로스의 후손이며, 외가 쪽으로는 초기 그리스의 입법가인 솔론과 연결된다. 어머니 페릭티오네는 플라톤이 어렸을 때 남편과 사별한 뒤 페리클레스의 지지자였던 그녀의 삼촌 피릴람페스와 재혼했다. 플라톤은 이 페리클레스 시대의 정치가 집에서 성장했던 것으로 보인다. 그는 BC 404년의 과두정권을 이끌었던 외숙인 크리티아스와 카르미데스를 통해 어린시절부터 소크라테스를 알게 되었다. 귀족인 플라톤도 청년시절에 정치적 야망을 품고 있었으나, 공직에 들어오라는 보수파의 권유를 그들의 폭력적 행위 때문에 거부했다. 과두정권이 몰락한 뒤 플라톤은 새로 들어선 민주정권에 기대를 걸었지만, 아테네의 정치풍토에는 양식 있는 사람이 일할 자리가 없다는 사실을 깨달았다. BC 399년 민주정권이 소크라테스를 사형에 처하자, 플라톤과 소크라테스의 제자들은 메가라로 잠시 피신한 뒤 몇 년 동안 그리스·이집트·이탈리아를 여행했던 것으로 전해진다. 이때 플라톤은 시라쿠사의 통치자인 디오니시오스 1세의 처남 디온을 만나 그와의 정신적 교류를 시작했다.


아카데메이아와 시칠리아

BC 387년경 플라톤은 철학과 과학의 교육·연구를 위한 기관으로 아카데메이아를 창설했다. 아카데메이아는 좁은 의미의 철학에만 제한하지 않고, 수학이나 수사학과 같은 다양한 분야에 관해 광범위하게 탐구했다. 여기서 그는 제자들에게 풀어야 할 문제를 제시하고, 대중을 상대로 강연하면서 여생을 보냈다. 플라톤의 만년에 벌어진 사건은 시라쿠사의 정치에 관여한 것이었다. BC 367년 디오니시오스 1세가 죽자, 디온은 왕위를 계승한 디오니시오스 2세가 과학과 철학을 통해 입헌군주로서의 자질을 갖추게끔 플라톤을 초빙하려는 생각을 품었다. 그러나 이 계획은 정치적 강자인 디온에 대한 왕의 시기심 때문에 무산되었다. 플라톤은 뒷날 시라쿠사에 머물면서(BC 361~360) 두 사람을 화해시키고자 했으나 실패했다. 디온은 BC 354년 살해당했으며, 플라톤은 BC 348(또는 347)년에 죽었다. "천한 사람들의 입으로는 찬사를 보내는 것조차 그를 모욕하는" 것이라는 아리스토텔레스의 보고 하나만으로도 그의 고귀한 인품을 엿볼 수 있다.

원뿔곡선론에 관한 연구와 같은 BC 4세기의 중요한 수학적 작업들은 모두 아카데메이아에서 이루어졌다. 테아이테토스는 입체기하학을 창시했으며, 에우독소스는 비례론과 곡면체의 면적과 부피를 찾는 방법을 고안했다. 그는 플라톤 부재시에 아카데메이아의 교장 역할도 했던 것으로 보인다. 플라톤의 친구인 아르키타스는 역학을 창안했다. 플라톤의 조카로서 자연사에 관한 많은 저서를 남긴 스페우시포스와 생물학에 관한 아리스토텔레스의 초기 저술들처럼 수학 이외의 분야에서도 활발한 연구가 이루어졌다. 특히 법학과 실제 법률의 제정에도 관심을 기울였다. 아카데메이아는 플라톤이 죽은 뒤에도 2세기 반 동안 지적 삶의 중심지로 남아 있었다.

플라톤의 사상 형성에 끼친 영향들

청년 플라톤에게 가장 중요한 영향을 끼친 사람은 소크라테스였다. 그러나 〈7번째 편지 Seventh Letter〉에서 플라톤이 소크라테스를 가리켜 '스승'이 아니라, 존경하지 않을 수 없는 연상의 '친구'라고 했던 것으로 보아, 그의 '제자'는 아니었던 것 같다. 플라톤은 소크라테스의 재판과 죽음이 갖는 의미를 되새겨본 뒤 일생을 철학에 바치기로 결심했으며, 그의 합리적 방법과 윤리적 관심을 이어받았다. 그밖에 현상세계를 끊임없이 변화하는 대립 상태라고 본 헤라클레이토스와, 형이상학적이고 신비적인 피타고라스 학파로부터도 철학적 영향을 받았다. 플라톤은 어린시절에 데켈레이아 전쟁의 참혹함, 아테네 제국의 몰락, 그리고 과두파와 민주파 사이에 벌어진 BC 404~403년의 내란을 경험했다. 이 경험들이 뒷날 대화편 속에서 개진하고 있는 정치적 견해들을 형성하는 데 도움이 되었음이 틀림없다.

플라톤의 대화편들은 중세 그리스도교시대가 시작될 무렵의 〈편지들〉을 1편의 저서로 묶어 9개의 4부작, 합해서 36편으로 정리되었다. 그러나 오늘날에 와서 〈알키비아데스 Ⅰ Alkibiades Ⅰ〉·〈알키비아데스 Ⅱ Alkibiades Ⅱ〉·〈테아게스 Theages〉·〈에라스타이 Erastai〉·〈클리토폰 Clitophon〉·〈히파르코스 Hipparchos〉·〈미노스 Minos〉 등은 위작으로 드러났으며, 대부분의 학자들은 〈법률 Nomoi〉의 부록인 〈에피노미스 Epinomis〉는 오포스의 수학자인 필리포스가 쓴 것으로 믿고 있다. 어떤 학자들은 〈대(大)히피아스 Hippias Meizon〉·〈메넥세노스 Menexenos〉도 의심스러운 것으로 생각한다. 13개의 〈편지들〉 대부분은 위작임이 확실하지만, 플라톤의 생애와 철학적 관점에 관해 중요한 정보를 전하는 〈7번째 편지〉에 관한 논란은 아직도 분분하다.

저술의 순서

플라톤의 사상 발전을 정확히 이해하기 위해서는 대화편들이 씌어진 순서가 무엇보다 중요하다. 불행히도 플라톤 자신은 그 순서에 대해 거의 언급하지 않았으므로, 현대의 학자들은 문체상의 특징에 준거해서 〈소피스테스 Sophistes〉·〈정치가 Politikos〉·〈필레보스 Philebos〉·〈티마이오스 Timaios〉 (그것의 속편 격으로는 〈크리티아스 Critias〉), 그리고 〈법률〉 순으로 후기 대화편에 포함시킨다. 〈소피스테스〉를 후기 대화편의 처음으로 보는 이유는 그것이 〈테아이테토스 Theaitetos〉(BC 368경)의 속편이라고 플라톤이 말하고 있기 때문이다. 전기 대화편들의 마지막은 일반적으로 〈테아이테토스〉·〈파르메니데스 Parmenides〉라고 생각한다. 분명한 것은 플라톤의 극적인 열정이 최고로 나타나 있는 〈향연 Symposion〉·〈파이돈 Phaedon〉·〈국가 Politeia〉 등이 〈프로타고라스 Protagoras〉도 포함하여 전기 저술활동의 정점을 이루고 있다. 후기 대화편들은 문학적 가치는 떨어지지만 정교한 논증이 뛰어나다.

대화편의 등장인물들

플라톤 자신은 한 번도 대화편에 등장하지 않는다. 대화편의 인물들은 모두 역사적 실존인물이며, 대체로 소크라테스가 주인공으로 등장한다. 따라서 대화편 속에서 플라톤이 그들의 의견을 단지 보고하고 있는 것인지, 아니면 그들의 입을 통해 자신의 견해를 제기하는 것인지에 대해서는 의문이 있다. 이와 관련해서 전기 대화편과 후기 대화편 사이에 분명한 차이점이 하나 있다. 〈소피스테스〉·〈정치가〉에서는 엘레아 출신의 방문객이, 〈법률〉에서는 어떤 아테네 사람이 대화를 주도한다. 여기서 플라톤은 익명의(가상의) 인물을 내세워 자신의 고유한 학설을 대변했다. 따라서 〈소피스트〉와 〈정치가〉의 논리학과 인식론, 그리고 〈정치가〉와 〈법률〉의 윤리학과 정치론은 플라톤 자신의 사상이 틀림없다.


전기 대화편을 관통하는 철학적 학설의 핵심은 형상( 이데아)이론이다. 형상이론은 물리적 사물들 외에 아름다움과 올바름 같은 형상들이 존재하며, 최고의 단계로 선(the Good)의 형상이 존재한다는 가정을 기초로 하고 있다. 감각으로 지각되는 물리적 세계는 끊임없이 변화하기 때문에 감각적 지식들은 제한적일 수밖에 없지만, 지성으로 파악한 형상들의 영역은 영원하고 불변적이다. 따라서 개개의 형상은 이 세계 속에 있는 사물들을 특성짓는 범주로서의 본(paradeigma)이며, 사물들은 이 완전한 형상들의 불완전한 모사에 불과하다는 것이다. 〈파이돈〉에서 소크라테스는 자신이 형상 이론에 관해 수년 동안 논의해왔다고 말한다. 그러나 후기 대화편에서 이 이론은 별로 중요하게 취급되지 않으며, 〈파르메니데스〉에서는 형상이론마저 비판에 회부되고 있다. 따라서 플라톤 자신이 전기와 후기로 구별되는 2개의 철학을 가진 것인지, 아니면 전기 대화편들은 그가 채색한 소크라테스의 철학을 담고 있는 것인지의 문제가 제기된다.

소크라테스와 플라톤

윤리적 문제를 다루고 있는 〈필레보스〉를 제외하면 후기 대화편에서 소크라테스가 대화의 주도적 역할을 하는 부분은 없다. 신플라톤주의자들은 전기 대화편의 형상 이론을 소크라테스가 창시한 것이라고 생각했다. 그러나 오늘날 이 견해를 지지하는 학자는 거의 없다. 전기와 후기 사이에 사상적 단절은 없다. 전기 대화편의 사상들에 소크라테스가 영향을 끼쳤다고 말할 수는 있지만, 형상이론을 소크라테스가 창시했다고 말할 수는 없다. 그것들은 플라톤 자신의 사상이다. 그렇지만 플라톤은 형상이론이 실제로 소크라테스가 가르친 것들의 이론적 기초라고 생각했기 때문에 그 이론을 소크라테스의 덕으로 돌렸다.

전기 대화편들 중에서도 〈국가〉는 윤리적·정치적인 측면, 미학적·신비적인 측면, 그리고 형이상학적 측면을 따라 흐르는 3갈래의 주된 논의가 예술적으로 결합하여 하나의 전체를 이루고 있는 최고의 걸작이다. 반면에 이 시기의 다른 대화편들, 예를 들어 〈파이돈〉은 형이상학적 주제에, 〈프로타고라스〉·〈고르기아스 Gorgias〉 등은 윤리적·정치적 문제에, 〈향연〉·〈파이드로스 Phaidros〉 등은 미학적 주제에 관심을 기울인다. 그러나 주의할 점은 플라톤의 대화편들이 1가지 주제에만 국한되어 있지 않으며, 더구나 논문의 형식을 취한 글도 아니라는 사실이다.

방법에 관한 대화편들

특수한 윤리적 문제들을 다루는 '짧은' 대화편들이 갖고 있는 전형적인 공통점은 다음과 같다. 먼저 훌륭함( 덕, [arete])을 올바로 정의하는 것과 같은 도덕 철학의 문제가 제기된다. 실험적인 많은 해결책들이 검토되지만 결국 그 모든 것들에서 발견되는 제거할 수 없는 난점 때문에 그 해결책들은 모두 쓸모 없어지게 된다. 대화편을 읽는 사람은 마지막에 가서 인간이라면 반드시 알아야 할 바로 그러한 것들에 관한 자신의 무지를 깨닫기에 이른다. 그가 배운 것은 자신이 지금까지 지식이라고 믿고 있었던 것들이 혼란과 오류에 불과했었다는 사실 외에는 아무 것도 없다. 대화편들은 해결책 없는 '난문들'(aporiai)을 던져 사람들을 궁지로 몰아넣는다. 소크라테스 방법의 핵심은 상대편이 제시하는 다양한 견해들에 대한 끊임없는 '논박'(elenchos)에 있다. 따라서 방법에 관한 대화편들이 노리는 효과는 "내가 다른 사람들보다 현명하다면 그것은 가장 중요한 문제에 관한 나의 무지를 통렬하게 깨달았다는 점이다"라고 말한 소크라테스의 정신을 따르게 하는 것이다. 독자들은 삶의 가장 중요한 일이 혼(psyche)의 '보살핌'이며, '혼의 훌륭함'은 선과 악에 관한 지식이라는 면에서 소크라테스의 원리가 함축하는 의미를 배우게 된다.

〈변명 Apologia〉은 소크라테스가 자신의 불경죄에 대한 재판에서 행한 연설을 보여준다. 그가 왜 감옥에서 탈출하지 않고 사형을 감수하려는지를 설명하는 〈크리톤 Criton〉은 정치적 의무의 본질과 원천을 고찰하고 있다. 재판 직전의 상황을 묘사하고 있는 〈에우티프론 Euthyphron〉의 주제는 신들에 대한 인간의 적절한 태도인 '경건함'에 관해서이다. 플라톤은 이 3편의 대화편 속에서 왜 소크라테스가 재판을 회피하거나, 타협적인 자세로 변명하거나, 사형 선고 뒤에 도주하는 것들이 양심에 어긋나는 일이라고 생각했는지를 설명하려 했다. 〈대히피아스〉에서는 '아름다움이란 무엇인가?'라는 물음을 제기하며, 〈소(小)히피아스〉에서는 '나쁜 행위는 비자발적인 행위'라는 역설을 다루고 있다.

〈이온 Ion〉은 '과학적 지식'이 아니라 불합리한 영감에 의존해서 창작하는 시인들에 대한 불신을 보여주고 있다. 〈메넥세노스〉는 애국심을 빙자해서 역사를 왜곡하는 자들을 비웃고 있다. 방법적 탐구의 전형을 보여주는 대화편들인 〈카르미데스 Charmides〉는 '절제'를, 〈라케스 Laches〉는 '용기'를, 〈리시스 Lysis〉는 '우정'을 다루고 있다. 〈크라틸로스 Cratylos〉에서는 단어들이 지시하는 대상과의 관계에서 의미를 갖는가, 아니면 관습에 의해서 의미를 갖는가 하는 문제를 고찰하고 있다. 플라톤은 언어가 사고의 도구이기 때문에, 그것의 정당성은 단순히 사회에서 통용되는 방식에서가 아니라, 사고를 정확하게 표현하는 순수한 능력 면에서 검토되어야 한다고 주장했다. 〈에우티데모스 Euthydemos〉는 언어의 다의성을 악용해 사람들을 혼란에 빠뜨리는 '논쟁가'들을 비웃고 있다. 그러나 이 대화편의 참된 의도는 사물을 소유하는 것에 의해서가 아니라, 그것의 올바른 사용만이 행복을 약속한다는 소크라테스의 간절한 '권고'를 통해 무익한 논쟁들을 잘라버리려는 것이다.

윤리적· 정치적인 대화편들

〈고르기아스〉는 수사술의 가치와 본성에 관한 탐구에서 시작한다. 삶을 지배하는 최고의 도덕성을 위해 필요한 것이 웅변술인지 아니면 논리적 능력인의 논쟁으로 발전한 다음 올바른 혼의 소유자와 사악한 혼의 소유자가 갖는 영원한 운명을 그려 보이면서 끝을 맺는다. 고르기아스는 수사술이 '기술(techne)의 여왕'이라고 주장한다. 반면에 소크라테스는 기술이 아니라 청중들의 비위만 맞추는 한갓 '기교'일 뿐이라고 단언한다. 혼의 건강에 도움이 되는 기술로는 입법가의 기술과 재판관의 기술이 있다. 쾌락을 선의 기준으로 생각함으로써 소피스트는 입법가처럼, 웅변가는 재판관처럼 가장한다. 웅변가는 국가의 질병을 치료하는 의사가 아니라 아첨꾼일 뿐이다. 이 신랄한 비판에 대해 고르기아스를 지지하는 폴로스는, 성공한 웅변가는 실제로는 공동체의 독재자이며, 그런 사람만이 그가 좋아하는 모든 일을 할 수 있기 때문에 행복의 정점에 도달할 수 있다는 반론을 편다.

소크라테스는 이러한 반론을 "부당함을 감수하는 일도 나쁘지만, 고통을 가하는 일은 더욱 나쁘다"라는 역설로써 거부한다. 만일 수사술이 실제로 사람들에게 도움이 된다면, 범죄자에게도 도움이 될 것이다. 왜냐하면 그는 수사술을 이용해서 재판관의 마음을 돌리려 할 것이기 때문이다. 이번에는 극단적인 비도덕주의자인 칼리클레스가 이제까지의 주장을 모두 부정한다. 대중의 관습에서는 사람들을 해치는 것이 나쁜 일일지 모르나, '자연의 관습'에서는 힘센 자들이 그가 바라는 대로 힘을 사용하는 것은 정당하며 약한 자는 강한 자에게 굴복할 수밖에 없는 것이라고 주장한다. 그러나 소크라테스는 아테네의 제국주의적 민주주의를 만든 사람들이 참된 정치가, 즉 민주주의를 보살피는 의사가 아니라 그들의 입맛대로 민주주의를 요리하는 하인들일 뿐이라고 생각했다. 이들은 밑빠진 독에 물을 채우라는 영원한 벌을 받은 신화의 주인공들과 비슷한 처지에 놓여 있는 것이다. 그러나 행복한 삶은 욕구의 끊임없는 충족이 아니라, 정의와 절제로 조절된 욕구의 적정한 만족에 있는 것이다.

〈메논 Menon〉에서는 훌륭함이란 무엇이며, 그것은 가르쳐질 수 있는 것인가의 문제에 대해서 고찰하고 있다. "만일 어떤 사람이 그의 탐구의 주제에 관해 무지하다면, 그가 그것을 발견했다 하더라도 알아볼 수 없을 것이며, 반면에 그것이 이미 알고 있는 것이라면, 이미 알고 있는 것을 알려고 하는 것이므로 탐구 자체가 쓸데없는 일이 된다"라는 메논의 역설은 훌륭함에 관한 탐구의 가능성마저 위협한다.

그러나 만일 혼이 사멸하지 않는 것이며, 오래 전에 진리를 모두 배웠기 때문에 이제 진리들을 다시 기억해내는 일만 필요하다면, 메논의 역설로 인한 어려움은 사라질 것이다. 이것을 증명하기 위해 소크라테스는 기하학을 배운 적이 없는 노예 소년이 수학적 진리들을 인식하기에 이르는 과정을 보여준다. 노예 소년은 '그 자신으로부터' 정답을 이끌어낸다. 결국 지식은 ' 상기'(想起 anamnesis)이다. 그런 다음 소크라테스는 훌륭함이 지식(episteme)이라고 주장하고, 그것이 가르칠 수 있는 것임을 추론한다. 그러나 아니토스가 등장해서 "훌륭함을 가르치는 전문가라고 자칭한 소피스트들은 공동체를 해치는 사기꾼이며, 아무리 '훌륭한 사람'도 그 훌륭함을 자기 자식에게 가르칠 수는 없었다"라고 주장한다. 〈메논〉은 지식과 참된 믿음(alethes doxa)을 구별하고, 훌륭함은 교육에 의해서가 아니라 신의 선물로 이루어지는 것임을 암시하면서 끝난다.

〈프로타고라스〉에서는 유명한 소피스트인 프로타고라스가 등장하여 자신의 직업이 '훌륭함을 가르치는 일', 즉 개인의 삶과 국가를 성공으로 이끄는 기술을 가르친다고 말한다. 반면에 소크라테스는 사는 것을 가르칠 수는 없다고 주장한다. 이어서 일상적으로 알고 있는 여러 가지 훌륭함들은 실제로 서로 다른 것들인가 아니면 그 모두가 하나의 동일한 것인가 라는 문제가 제기된다. 프로타고라스는 훌륭함은 지혜와 동일시할 수 있지만 용기의 경우만은 그렇지 않다고 주장한다. 그러나 소크라테스는 용기있는 자의 훌륭함이란 고통과 위험에 직면해서 그것으로부터 벗어나려는 사실에 있으며, 따라서 모든 훌륭함이 쾌락과 고통의 신중한 헤아림으로 환원될 수 있다는 것을 보여주려 한다. 여기에 "아무도 나쁜 행위를 원해서 하지는 않는다"라는 소크라테스의 2번째 '역설'이 있다. 즉 나쁜 행위는 잘못 헤아린 결과이다. 소크라테스가 쾌락주의를 받아들이는 것처럼 보이는 것은 이 대화편의 방법적(독자들을 궁지로 몰아넣는) 특징 때문이다.

플라톤 이론의 형이상학적 기초 : 〈파이돈〉

소크라테스는 인간이 해야 할 가장 중요한 일은 합리적인 도덕적 인격을 발전시키는 것이며, 이러한 발전이 인간의 궁극적 행복을 달성하기 위한 열쇠라고 주장한다. 이것을 달성하기 위해서는 참된 선을 이성으로 통찰해야만 한다. 만일 어떤 사람이 선이 무엇인지를 확실히 알고 있다면, 그는 그것 이외의 어떤 것도 추구하지 않을 것이다. 이런 의미에서 "모든 훌륭함은 지식이다". 따라서 절대 선에 대한 확실한 통찰을 성취한 철학자만이 진정한 정치가이다. 이러한 도덕적 확신의 형이상학적 기초와 정당성을 제공하는 원리들은 〈파이돈〉에서 분명히 개진되고 있다.

〈파이돈〉에서는 영혼불멸에 대한 믿음이, 우주의 구조에 관한 합리적 실마리를 제공하는 형상이론에서 나온다는 것을 보여주고 있다. 〈파이돈〉은 죽은 뒤에도 영혼은 살아남는다는 생각을 정당화시키는 4개의 논증을 펼치고 있다. 첫째, 영혼은 끊임없는 삶들의 연속이다. 왜냐하면 자연의 과정은 순환적이며, 이 순환성은 삶과 죽음의 경우에도 적용된다고 생각해야 한다. 그렇지 않고 만일 죽어가는 과정이 되돌릴 수 없는 것이라면, 삶은 결국 우주로부터 사라져버릴 것이기 때문이다. 둘째, '배움은 상기다'라는 이론은 영혼의 삶이 육체로부터 독립해 있다는 것을 보여준다. 셋째, 영혼이 영원불변의 형상들을 관상한다면 영혼은 그것들과 같은 종류의 것임에 틀림없고, 따라서 영혼은 불멸한다. 넷째, 소크라테스는 형상을 존재와 변화의 원인으로 제시한다. 어떤 것이 뜨거워지는 것은 그것이 뜨거움(형상)에 관여할 때이다. 즉 그것에 뜨거움을 가져오는 불에 관여할 때이다. 불이 뜨거움을 가져온다면, 불은 뜨거움의 대립자인 차가움을 받아들일 수는 없다. 마찬가지로 인간은 삶에 관여할 때, 즉 인간에게 삶을 가져다주는 영혼을 가질 때 살아 있게 된다. 영혼이 삶을 가져오므로, 영혼은 삶의 대립자인 죽음을 받아들일 수 없고, 따라서 영혼은 불멸한다.

미학적·신비적인 대화편들

〈향연〉의 주목적은 영원한 대우주의 아름다움과의 합일을 추구하는, 신비적 영감에서 세계를 지배하는 가장 고귀한 사랑(ers)의 현시를 발견하려는 것이다. 사랑은 혼이 좋은 것(선)에 이르려는 욕구이며, 그 대상은 영원한 아름다움이다. 그것의 소박한 형태라 할 수 있는 아름다운 사람에 대한 사랑은 그 사람의 자식을 통해 불멸성을 획득하려는 열정이다. 정신적인 사랑은 동지애로 결합함으로써 건전한 삶을 위한 제도와 규칙들을 생산하려는 열망이다. 더욱 정신적으로 발전한 사랑은 지적인 대화를 통해 철학과 과학을 살찌우는 노력이다. 이러한 노력을 끊임없이 추구해나가면, 어느 순간 이제까지의 모든 아름다움들의 원인과 원천이 되는 최상의 아름다움을 발견할 수 있다. 철학자의 길은 최고의 형상, 즉 선의 형상을 통찰함으로써 정점에 이른다.

〈파이드로스〉의 주제는 어떻게 참된 수사술이 논리적인 방법과 인간의 열정에 대한 과학적 연구라는 이중의 기초 위에 세워질 수 있는가를 보여준다. 그러나 플라톤은 이 주제를 사랑에 관한 심리학적 논의에 결부시킨 다음, 형상들을 초월적 감정 또는 신비적 관상의 대상이라고 말한다. 육체에서 벗어난 상태의 영혼은 형상들을 직접 관상할 수 있지만, 감각 경험은 '사랑에 빠짐'이라는 경이로운 방식에 의해 아름다움의 형상을 암시할 수 있다. 사랑에 빠진 사람의 불합리하고 미친 듯한 상태는 영혼의 날개가 다시 자라기 시작했음을 뜻한다. 이것은 영혼이 자신의 지위를 되찾는 첫 단계이다.


〈국가〉에서 직접 다루는 것은 '올바름(正義 [dikaiosyne])이란 무엇인가?', '올바름은 올바른 사람을 이롭게 하는가?' 같은 윤리적 문제이다 (→ 색인 : 정의). 올바름은 전체를 구성하는 다양한 부분들이 자신의 고유한 기능을 수행하고 다른 부분의 기능에 간섭하지 않을 때 이루어지는 조화이다. 개인의 올바름은 그의 혼을 이루는 3부분, 즉 이성·욕구·기개(의지) 등이 저마다 제기능을 수행할 때 나타난다. 공동체의 올바름은 구성원들 모두가 자신에게 할당된 역할을 수행할 때 나타난다. 특히 개인에서는 이성이, 공동체에서는 선의 형상을 통찰한 철학자가 지배할 때 조화가 달성된다. 〈국가〉에서는 '3가지 삶의 방식(역할)', 즉 지혜를 추구하는 철학자, 욕구의 충족을 바라는 자, 현실적인 문제들을 처리하는 활동가의 삶을 구별하고 있다. 이 구별은 개인의 3가지 요소(또는 활동원리), 즉 선에 대한 이성적 판단, 특수한 만족을 추구하는 욕구들의 충돌, 타인이나 자신의 욕구에 대항하는 기개를 반영한다.

플라톤은 이러한 삼분법을 적용해 시민을 3계층, 즉 통치자·생산자·군인으로 나눔으로써 올바른 사회의 구조를 규정하려 한다. 이 질서는 이성적·욕구적·기개적 요소 등에 상응하며, 지혜·절제·용기 등은 그들에게서 각기 중요한 덕목이 된다. 이러한 계층의 구별은 출신이나 부에 근거하는 것이 아니라 국가가 제공한 교육에 의해서 이루어진다. 시험과정을 거치면서, 자신의 영혼에서 어느 부분이 더 우세한가에 따라 그가 속할 계층이 결정된다. 이러한 국가가 올바른 까닭은 각 구성원들이 제기능을 충실히 수행하고 자신의 한계 내에서 활동하기 때문이다. 이런 사회를 일컬어 최선자 정체(aristocracy)라 한다. 플라톤은 이 이상적 형태에서 타락한 것들로서 참주제·과두제·민주제 등을 들고 있다.

철인 통치자를 육성하기 위한 교육은 선의 형상을 통찰하기에 이를 때까지 장기간의 엄격한 훈련과정을 거친다. 그것은 정확한 과학에서부터 형이상학적 원리에 이르는 과정으로, 처음 10년 동안은 정확한 과학들(산수·평면기하학·입체기하학·천문학·화성학)을 학습함으로써 추론적 사고력을 기른다. 그다음 5년 동안 ' 변증술'(dialektike)을 수련한다. 변증술은 어원상 질문하고 대답하는 대화의 기술을 뜻한다. 플라톤에 따르면 변증술은 사물의 본질에 관해 질문하고 대답하는 능력이다. 변증술에 능한 사람은 가정(hypothesis)을 확실한 지식으로 대체한다. 플라톤의 목적은 '가정 없는 제1원리' 위에서 모든 학문, 즉 모든 지식의 기초를 마련하는 것이다. 이 원리는 선의 형상이다. 선의 형상은 태양이 가시적인 사물들에 관계하듯이, 모든 사물들의 실재성의 원천이자 그것들의 가치의 원천이다.

비판적 재구성의 대화편들

〈파이돈〉이나 〈국가〉에서는 아직 사실의 진리들, 즉 자연 세계에 관한 진리들이 중요하게 생각되지 않았다. 그러나 〈파르메니데스〉·〈테아이테토스〉에 이르러 플라톤은 사물과 형상 사이의 관계(관여[methexis])를 더 깊이 해명할 필요를 인식하고, 자신의 사상체계를 재구성하기 시작했다. 특히 이 대화편들은 엘레아 학파의 철학에 관심을 기울인다. 〈파르메니데스〉의 전반부에서 젊은 소크라테스는 '하나와 여럿'의 문제에 대한 해결책으로 관여설을 제안한다. 파르메니데스는 해결할 수 없는 것처럼 보이는 반론을 제기하고, 소크라테스가 궁지에 빠진 것은 논리의 불충분한 훈련 때문이라고 암시한다. 관여설에 대한 엘레아 학파의 반론은 다음과 같다. 첫째, 관여설은 무한소급의 오류에 빠지기 때문에 단일성과 다수성을 양립시키지 못한다. 관여설에 의하면 다수의 사물들이 하나의 술어를 갖는 것은 그것들이 하나의 형상에 관여하기 때문이라고 주장한다. 그러나 형상 자체도 하나의 술어를 갖기 때문에, 사물이 형상에 관여하듯이 형상은 또다른 형상에 관여할 수밖에 없으므로 무한소급에 빠진다. 둘째, 형상들 사이의 관계는 형상들의 영역에 속하고, 사물들 사이의 관계는 사물들의 영역에 속한다. 따라서 후자의 영역에 속하는 인간들은 형상들을 인식할 수 없다.

〈테아이테토스〉의 주제는 지식의 정의(definition)에 관한 문제이다. 먼저 프로타고라스와 헤라클레이토스의 견해를 끌어들여 '지식은 지각이다'라는 명제를 고찰한다. 이 명제는 모든 사람이 동일하게 지각하는 세계는 존재하지 않으므로, 확실성을 갖고 말할 수 있는 어떤 것도 없다는 주장을 함축한다. 이에 반하여 플라톤은 혼이 신체기관을 통해 지각한 것과, 혼 자체가 파악한 것(수·동일성·존재 등)의 사이를 구별한 다음, 지식은 진리와 존재를 함축하기 때문에, 존재를 파악할 수 없는 지각을 지식과 동일시할 수 없다고 주장한다. 이어서 플라톤은 '지식은 참된 믿음이다'라는 명제의 부적합성을 논박한 뒤, '지식은 로고스를 동반한 참된 믿음이다'라는 명제를 분석한다. 그러나 로고스 개념의 다의성 때문에 이러한 정의도 충분하지 못함을 보여주면서 결론 없이 끝난다. 이 대화편에서 주목할 만한 사실은 형상 이론이나 신화적인 상기설을 끌어들이지 않고 지식의 문제를 충분히 다루고 있다는 점이다. 후기 대화편들 〈소피스테스〉·〈정치가〉는 형식적으로는 정의의 문제를 다루고 있다. 그러나 〈소피스테스〉의 실제 의도는 논리적이고 형이상학적인 문제들을 설명함으로써, 논리학의 기초를 마련하고자 한 것이다. 반면에 〈정치가〉의 목적은 특정 개인(들)에 의한 통치와 법에 의한 통치의 장점들을 비교함으로써, 정치론의 기초를 마련하려는 것이다. 따라서 두 대화편의 목적은 과학적 정의의 기초로서 체계적인 분류의 중요성을 예시하는 것이다.

〈소피스테스〉에서 제기하는 부정 술어(is not)의 문제는 "거짓은 '없는 것'을 의미하며, 없는 것은 전적으로 존재하지 않는 것이므로 언급할 수도 사유할 수도 없다"는 것이다. 그러나 플라톤은 절대적 비존재와 상대적 비존재를 구별함으로써 파르메니데스의 일원론을 논박한다. 즉 'A는 B가 아니다'라는 것은 A가 존재하지 않는다는 것이 아니라 , A가 B와 다르다는 것을 의미한다. 실재성의 보편적 특성들인 운동과 정지라는 '유적 형상'에서 운동은 정지와 다른 종류의 것이지 운동이 존재하지 않는다고 생각할 수는 없다. 변증술의 참된 과제는 형상들 자체의 연관된 체계를 다루는 것이다. 〈필레보스〉에서는 선을 쾌락과 동일시할 수 있는가 아니면 지혜와 동일시할 수 있는가 하는 문제를 다룬다. 그리고 가장 좋은 삶은 두 요소를 모두 포함해야 하지만, 지혜가 더 중요하다고 결론짓는다. 이 대화편의 철학적 의의는 쾌락과 지혜의 형식적 성격을 규정하기 위해 사용하는 '분류' 방식에 있다. 플라톤은 실재하는 모든 것이 비한정자, 한도, 비한정자와 한도의 혼화, 혼화의 원인이라는 4가지 부류의 하나에 속하며, 삶에 있어서 가장 좋은 것들은 3번째 부류에 속한다고 주장한다.

〈티마이오스〉는 우주론에 관한 설명으로써 신이 영원한 형상을 본떠 이 세계를 만들어가는 과정을 기술하고 있다. 이 대화편의 특징은 첫째, 플라톤이 물질에 관해 구조적으로 설명한다는 점이다. 즉 피타고라스의 기하학을 도입하여 엠페도클레스의 4원소(흙·공기·불·물)의 구조를 정6면체·정4면체·정8면체·정20면체로 설명한다. 둘째, 신을 생성계의 모든 질서와 구조의 지성적 원인인 '장인'(匠人 demiourgos)으로 소개한다. 셋째, 자연과학이 갖는 가설적 성격을 강조한다. 넷째, 우주가 합리적 질서를 갖는다는 사실은 데미우르고스의 활동에 의해 보장되지만, 물질적 필연성(anank)의 힘이 이성의 범위와 효력을 제한한다고 생각했다. 〈법률〉은 가장 긴 대화편으로써 윤리·교육·법 그리고 신에 관한 플라톤의 완숙한 사상을 담고 있다. 이 대화편의 주목적은 〈국가〉에서처럼 이상적인 국가의 건립이 아니라, 현존하는 도시국가들이 채택할 수 있는 헌법 및 법률 제정의 틀을 마련하려는 것이다. 따라서 사변적 철학과 과학은 배제되며, 형이상학적 논의는 도덕적 신학의 기초를 제공하는 한에서만 거론된다. 반면에 정치와 법의 문제에 관해서는 이례적으로 풍부한 논의를 담고 있으며, 로마 법에 간접적으로 영향을 끼친 것으로 보인다. 그외에도 〈법률〉에서 행하는 무신론에 대한 반론은 이성에 의해서 엄격하게 논증될 수 있는 신학적 진리가 있다는 견해, 즉 철학적 신학 혹은 자연신학의 창시자로서 플라톤의 면모를 보여주고 있다.

4 Major Works


WORKS: Plato's works are here listed in their traditional order, certain spurious items being omitted: Euthyphron (Euthyphro); Apologia Sokratous (Apology); Criton (Crito); Phaedon (Phaedo); Cratylos (Cratylus); Theaetetos (Theaetetus); Sophistes (Sophist); Politikos (Statesman); Parmenides; Philebos (Philebus); Symposion (Symposium); Phaedros (Phaedrus); Alkibiades (Alcibiades); Hipparchos (Hipparchus); Erastai (Lovers); Charmides; Laches; Lysis; Euthydemos (Euthydemus); Protagoras; Gorgias; Menon (Meno); Hippias Meizon (Hippias Major); Hippias Elatton (Hippias Minor); Ion; Menexenos (Menexenus); Politeia (Republic); Timaeos (Timeaus); Critias; Nomoi (Laws); and Epinomis.

TEXTS: The standard Greek text is the edition by Ioannes (John) Burnet, Platonis Opera, 5 vol. (1900-07, reprinted 1973 from various printings). All of the major works were translated into English by Benjamin Jowett, and the latest revisions of the Jowett translations are still the best available English versions of Plato. The Loeb Classical Library also contains the whole of Plato (in Greek and English); and several of the dialogues are published in the Penguin Classics series, including Philebus, trans. by Robin A.H. Waterfield (1982); Protagoras and Meno, trans. by W.K.C. Guthrie (1956, reissued 1966); and Plato's Symposium, trans. by W. Hamilton (1956).

RECOMMENDED LATER EDITIONS: Numerous English translations are available, including David Gallop (trans.), Phaedo (1975, reprinted 1983); John McDowell (trans.), Theaetetus (1973); Francis Macdonald Cornford (trans.), Plato's Theory of Knowledge: The Theaetetus and the Sophist of Plato (1935, reprinted 1973); J.B. Skemp (trans.), Statesman (1957, reissued 1977); R.E. Allen (trans.), Plato's Parmenides (1983); J.C.B. Gosling (trans.), Philebus (1975); R. Hackforth (trans.), Phaedo (1955, reprinted 1972); C.C.W. Taylor (trans.), Protagoras (1976); Terence Irwin (trans.), Gorgias (1979); R.W. Sharples (ed. and trans.), Meno (1985); Paul Woodruff (trans.), Hippias Major (1982); and James Adam (ed.), The Republic, 2nd ed., 2 vol. (1963, reprinted 1969).


5 Bibliography



5.1 Plato.

Life and thought: There are several good brief introductions to Plato, including C.J. ROWE, Plato (1984); J.E. RAVEN, Plato's Thought in the Making: A Study of the Development of His Metaphysics (1965, reprinted 1985); G.M.A. GRUBE, Plato's Thought (1935, reprinted 1980); G.C. FIELD, The Philosophy of Plato, 2nd ed. (1969, reprinted 1978); and A.E. TAYLOR, Plato, the Man and His Work, 7th ed. (1960, reprinted 1969). On Plato's life, see also G.C. FIELD, Plato and His Contemporaries: A Study in Fourth-Century Life and Thought (1930, reprinted 1975); ALICE SWIFT RIGINOS, Platonica: The Anecdotes Concerning the Life and Writings of Plato (1976); and the old but still valuable work by GEORGE GROTE, Plato, and the Other Companions of Sokrates, new ed., 4 vol. (1888, reprinted 1974). On the history of the Academy, see HAROLD CHERNISS, The Riddle of the Early Academy (1945, reprinted 1980); and JOHN GLUCKER, Antiochus and the Late Academy (1978).

A full and scholarly account of Plato's philosophy can be found in W.K.C. GUTHRIE, A History of Greek Philosophy, vol. 4, Plato: The Man and His Dialogues: Earlier Period (1975), and vol. 5, The Later Plato and the Academy (1978), while vol. 3, The Fifth-Century Enlightenment (1969), contains a full account of what is known about Socrates. Other general accounts include PAUL FRIEDLÄNDER, Plato, 3 vol. (1958-69; originally published in German, 2nd ed., 1954-60); I.M. CROMBIE, An Examination of Plato's Doctrines, 2 vol. (1962-63; reissued 1979); and J.C.B. GOSLING, Plato (1973, reissued 1983). GILBERT RYLE, Plato's Progress (1966), is idiosyncratic. Much contemporary scholarly work has appeared in articles. GREGORY VLASTOS, Platonic Studies, 2nd ed. (1981), contains several classic papers. There are two useful anthologies: GREGORY VLASTOS (ed.), The Philosophy of Socrates (1971, reprinted 1980), and Plato, 2 vol. (1970-71, reprinted 1978).

On Plato's ethics, see in particular JOHN GOULD, The Development of Plato's Ethics (1955, reprinted 1972); PAMELA HUBY, Plato and Modern Morality (1972); and TERENCE IRWIN, Plato's Moral Theory: The Early and Middle Dialogues (1977, reissued 1979). On his political theory, see R.H.S. CROSSMAN, Plato Today, rev. 2nd ed. (1959, reissued 1971); K.R. POPPER, The Open Society and Its Enemies, vol. 1, The Spell of Plato, 5th ed. (1966, reprinted 1971); RONALD B. LEVINSON, In Defense of Plato (1953, reissued 1970); RENFORD BAMBROUGH (ed.), Plato, Popper and Politics: Some Contributions to a Modern Controversy (1967); and ROBERT W. HALL, Plato (1981). See also MARY MARGARET MACKENZIE, Plato on Punishment (1981); and RICHARD KRAUT, Socrates and the State (1984). For Plato's views on aesthetics, see IRIS MURDOCH, The Fire and the Sun: Why Plato Banished the Artists (1977); and JULIUS MORAVCSIK and PHILIP TEMKO (eds.), Plato on Beauty, Wisdom, and the Arts (1982).

For Plato's view of the soul, see T.M. ROBINSON, Plato's Psychology (1970). On the physical theory of the Timaeus, see GREGORY VLASTOS, Plato's Universe (1975); and on his attitude to science, see JOHN P. ANTON (ed.), Science and the Sciences in Plato (1980).

On epistemology, see W.F.R. HARDIE, A Study in Plato (1936); NORMAN GULLEY, Plato's Theory of Knowledge (1962, reprinted 1973); W.G. RUNCIMAN, Plato's Later Epistemology (1962); NICHOLAS P. WHITE, Plato on Knowledge and Reality (1976); and JON MOLINE, Plato's Theory of Understanding (1981). The standard study of Plato's ideas on logic and dialectic is RICHARD ROBINSON, Plato's Earlier Dialectic, 2nd ed. (1953, reprinted 1984). See also JULIUS STENZEL, Plato's Method of Dialectic (1940, reprinted 1973; originally published in German, 2nd ed., 1931); and KENNETH M. SAYRE, Plato's Analytic Method (1969).

On metaphysics and the theory of Forms there is a comprehensive survey by W.D. ROSS, Plato's Theory of Ideas (1951, reissued 1976); and a useful collection of essays, R.E. ALLEN (ed.), Studies in Plato's Metaphysics (1965, reprinted 1968). See also FRIEDRICH SOLMSEN, Plato's Theology (1942, reissued 1967); ANDERS WEDBERG, Plato's Philosophy of Mathematics (1955, reprinted 1977); RENFORD BAMBROUGH (ed.), New Essays on Plato and Aristotle (1965); J.N. FINDLAY, Plato: The Written and Unwritten Doctrines (1974); and WILLIAM J. PRIOR, Unity and Development in Plato's Metaphysics (1985).


5.2 Commentaries:

Among the more useful commentaries are R.E. ALLEN, Plato's Euthyphro and the Earlier Theory of Forms (1970), and Socrates and Legal Obligation (1980); A.D. WOOZLEY, Law and Obedience: The Law of Plato's Crito (1979); ROSAMUND KENT SPRAGUE, Plato's Use of Fallacy: A Study of the Euthydemus and Some Other Dialogues (1962); B.A.F. HUBBARD and E.S. KARNOFSKY, Plato's Protagoras: A Socratic Commentary (1982, reissued 1984); N.R. MURPHY, The Interpretation of Plato's Republic (1951, reprinted 1967); R.C. CROSS and A.D. WOOZLEY, Plato's Republic: A Philosophical Commentary (1964, reissued 1980); NICHOLAS P. WHITE, A Companion to Plato's Republic (1979); JULIA ANNAS, An Introduction to Plato's Republic (1981); and GLENN R. MORROW, Plato's Cretan City: A Historical Interpretation of the Laws (1960). (J.B.)


5.3 Platonism.

There are few modern English translations of the basic works of Neoplatonism, though more will appear as a result of a project sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. PLOTINUS, The Enneads, trans. by STEPHEN MACKENNA, 3rd ed. rev. by B.S. PAGE (1962), is not entirely satisfactory; it is being replaced by the Loeb Classical Library edition, A.H. ARMSTRONG (trans.), Plotinus (1966- ), 5 vol. having appeared to 1986. Other basic works include PROCLUS, The Elements of Theology, trans. by E.R. DODDS, 2nd ed. (1963), A Commentary on the First Book of Euclid's Elements, trans. by GLENN R. MORROW (1970), and Proclus: Alcibiades I, trans. by WILLIAM O'NEILL, 2nd ed. (1971). French translations of Proclus' commentaries have been made by A.J. FESTUGIÈRE, Commentaire sur le Timée, 2 vol. (1966-68), and Commentaire sur la République, 3 vol. (1970). See also PROCLUS, Théologie platonicienne, trans. by H.D. SAFFREY and L.G. WESTERINK (1968- ), 4 vol. having appeared to 1986; JULIANUS, Oracles chaldaïques, trans. by ÉDOUARD DES PLACES (1971); and IAMBLICHUS, Les Mystères d'Egypte, trans. by ÉDOUARD DES PLACES (1966). A good source of information on the Platonic and Neoplatonic philosophers up to and including Anselm is The Cambridge History of Later Greek and Early Medieval Philosophy, ed. by A.H. ARMSTRONG (1967; reprinted with revised bibliographies, 1970). The bibliographies of this work include a list of the editions of ancient and medieval sources (complete and fragmentary), with the more important translations and modern works. PAUL SHOREY, Platonism, Ancient and Modern (1938), remains an excellent introduction, but much of the important work on the period between Plato and Plotinus is still confined to technical articles; this is also true of later Neoplatonism. J.N. FINDLAY, Plato and Platonism: An Introduction (1978), argues that Plato developed a complete metaphysical system. JOHN DILLON, The Middle Platonists: 80 B.C. to A.D. 220 (U.K. title, The Middle Platonists: A Study of Platonism, 80 B.C. to A.D. 220, 1977), offers a clear and comprehensive account of its subject; it gives the background to the best general book on ancient Neoplatonism, R.T. WALLIS, Neo-Platonism (1972). Many of the important problems in Plotinus are discussed by J.M. RIST, Plotinus: The Road to Reality (1967, reprinted 1977). Certain key ideas are traced in RICHARD SORABJI, Time, Creation, and the Continuum: Theories in Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (1983). JAMES A. COULTER, The Literary Microcosm: Theories of Interpretation of the Later Neoplatonists (1976), is a study of Neoplatonic literary theory. A collection of articles on pagan and early Christian Neoplatonism may be found in H.J. BLUMENTHAL and R.A. MARKUS (eds.), Neoplatonism and Early Christian Thought (1981); a similar collection, extending to modern times, is DOMINIC J. O'MEARA (ed.), Neoplatonism and Christian Thought (1982). For the earlier Judeo-Christian tradition, see ERWIN R. GOODENOUGH, An Introduction to Philo Judaeus, 2nd ed. rev. (1963); and HARRY CHADWICK, Early Christian Thought and the Classical Tradition: Studies in Justin, Clement, and Origen (1966, reprinted 1984). An excellent short summary of the thought of St. Augustine, with due attention to the Platonist elements, is Chadwick's Augustine (1986), and his Boethius: The Consolations of Music, Logic, Theology, and Philosophy (1981), gives an account of the further development of Western Neoplatonism and includes a study of the development of Neoplatonic logic. For medieval Platonism, see FRIEDRICH UEBERWEG, Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie, vol. 2, Die patristische und scholastische Philosophie, ed. by BERNHARD GEYER, 12th ed. (1951); ÉTIENNE GILSON, History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages (1955, reissued 1980), with valuable bibliographical material; DAVID KNOWLES, The Evolution of Mediaeval Thought (1962); GORDON LEFF, Mediaeval Thought: St. Augustine to Ockham (1958, reprinted 1983); and WERNER BEIERWALTES (ed.), Platonismus in der Philosophie des Mittelalters (1969), a collection of important articles. All these works to some extent cover the later medieval period. On Islamic philosophy see the brief account in W. MONTGOMERY WATT, Islamic Philosophy and Theology: An Extended Survey, 2nd ed. (1985). There is no satisfactory longer treatment in English, but for Avicenna, see SOHEIL M. AFNAN, Avicenna: His Life and Works (1953, reprinted 1980). A sample of the Platonist contribution to Islamic thought may be seen in FRANZ ROSENTHAL, The Classical Heritage in Islam (1975; originally published in German, 1965). The best survey of Platonism in medieval Jewish philosophy is GEORGES VAJDA, "Le Néoplatonisme dans la pensée juive du moyen âge," in G.E. WEIL (ed.), Mélange Georges Vajda (1982), pp. 407-422. For Neoplatonic movements in Jewish Hellenistic and medieval philosophy, see JULIUS GUTTMANN, Philosophies of Judaism: The History of Jewish Philosophy from Biblical Times to Franz Rosenzweig, trans. from Hebrew (1964, reissued 1973). D.P. WALKER, The Ancient Theology: Studies in Christian Platonism from the Fifteenth to the Eighteenth Century (1972), reviews the Christian apologetic tradition of the Renaissance.

On Byzantine Platonism, see J.M. HUSSEY, Church & Learning in the Byzantine Empire, 867-1185 (1937, reissued 1963); and BASILE TATAKIS, La Philosophie byzantine, 2nd ed. (1959). A good short general account of Renaissance Platonism in English is that by FREDERICK C. COPLESTON, History of Philosophy, vol. 3, ch. 12 and 15 (1953); see also the essays in PAUL OSKAR KRISTELLER, Renaissance Thought: The Classic, Scholastic, and Humanistic Strains (1961, reprinted 1980). A good short introduction to Renaissance Platonism in England is ERNST CASSIRER, The Platonic Renaissance in England (1953, reissued 1970; originally published in German, 1932). GERALD R. CRAGG (ed.), The Cambridge Platonists (1968, reprinted 1985), is an excellent anthology, with good introductions and notes; see also C.A. PATRIDES (ed.), The Cambridge Platonists (1969, reissued 1980). On English Christian Platonism, see WILLIAM RALPH INGE, The Platonic Tradition in English Religious Thought (1926, reprinted 1977). On the influence of Thomas Taylor, see Thomas Taylor, the Platonist: Selected Writings, ed. by KATHLEEN RAINE and GEORGE MILLS HARPER (1969); and F.A.C. WILSON, W.B. Yeats and Tradition (1958). RICHARD D. McKIRAHAN, JR., Plato and Socrates: A Comprehensive Bibliography, 1958-1973 (1978), contains 4,600 unannotated entries. ( A.H.A./H.J.Bl.)

  • 저서
    • 플라톤전집 전6 : 플라톤, 최민홍 역, 성창출판사, 1986
    • 프로타고라스(범우문고 78) : 플라톤, 최현 역, 범우사, 1989
    • 고르기아스·소피스트·서간집 : 플라톤, 최문홍 역, 상서각, 1983
    • 법률 : 플라톤, 최문홍 역, 상서각, 1983
    • 대화론(세계사상전집 4) : 플라톤, 중앙도서 편집부 역, 중앙도서, 1982
  • 연구서
    • 플라톤의 이해 : R. M. 헤어 외, 강정인 외 편역, 문학과 지성사, 1991
    • 플라톤의 교육론 : R. L. 네틀쉽, 김안중 역, 서광사, 1989
    • 플라톤의 정치사상 : 라정원, 법문사, 1989
    • 플라톤과 우파니샤드 : G. 비트삭시스, 김석진 역, 문예출판사, 1989
    • 플라톤 - 메논·파이든·국가 : 박종현 편저, 서울대학교출판부, 1987
    • 플라톤(세계사상대전집 7) : 정명오 편, 양우당, 1986
    • 플라톤의 철학 : G. L. 필드, 양문흠 역, 서광사, 1986
    • 플라톤철학의 이해 : 박영식, 정음사, 1984
    • 열린사회와 그 적들 Ⅰ-플라톤과 유토피아 : K. R. 포퍼, 이한구 역, 민음사, 1982
    • 희랍철학입문 : K. C. 거드리, 박종현 역, 종로서적, 1981


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