A Plato Primer by J.D.G. Evans

A Plato PrimerA Plato Primer by J.D.G. Evans

A good introduction. Walks one through the various dialogues topically, and argues for a Plato that had a core of beliefs, but who remained principally committed to rational enquiry rather than a theoretical position. Has recommendations for translations and commentary and is relatively recent.

At the end he talks a bit about the legacy of Plato, concluding: “Four different Platos: the transcendent metaphysician and psychologist of the Neoplatonists; the rationalistic scientific mathematics of the Renaissance; the promoter of human and cosmic value of the Cambridge Platonists; and the argument-weaver of the Oxford analysts. They are all the real Plato; he brought them together in fruitful tension. All must be studied and fully grasped if we are to know the true Plato.”

__________________

Further Exempla:

1          “Plato was more than a philosopher; he was a master of literary composition who frequently wrote in colorful style. His works are not treatises; instead they range with nimble wit over many topics, only some of which are in any sense philosophical. But at the heart of his work there is material that is as definitely philosophical as anything in the most technical academic products in the twenty-four centuries that have followed his pioneering labors.”

15        “Wisdom is the proper functioning of the reason, bravery of the spirit, and moderation of the appetites. Justice then, analogously with the justice found in the whole society, is the state of proper relations between these three elements in the individual.”

45        “Platonism is virtually another name for realism; and is generally applied to those thinkers who maintain, with regard to some philosophically disputed class of things, that they really exist.”

51        “The theory of forms . . . is a heuristic device to help us better reach the truth about reality, knowledge and value.”

82        “What counted was that we follow the constraints of rational enquiry, not of some preconceived theoretical position. Plato always remained true to this insight in his philosophy. He developed positive methods for addressing the issue constructively[.]”

86        “Indeed, if there is any form of moral philosophy that most directly confronts Plato’s, it is Hume’s, with his insistence on the primacy of the emotions as drivers of action.”

82        A problem prevalent in all Plato’s philosophy: “When Plato appeals  to the hedonic equation to rule out the idea that knowledge of the good can be overcome by pleasure, there is an ambiguity in the use of pleasure (353). Either he means what is in fact pleasant or he means what is taken by the agent to be pleasant.”

101      “It turns out that the natural world, when we properly understand its workings, is a product of intelligent contrivance.”

“That Form was claimed to supply the key to the reality and intelligibility of everything else.” The form of the Good. “It is no piece of eccentricity that induces Plato to posit value as the supreme principle.”

134      “Again the message is that care of the soul throughout this life should be our dominant occupation.”

143      “Four different Platos: the transcendent metaphysician and psychologist of the Neoplatonists; the rationalistic scientific mathematics of the Renaissance; the promoter of human and cosmic value of the Cambridge Platonists; and the argument-weaver of the Oxford analysts. They are all the real Plato; he brought them together in fruitful tension. All must be studied and fully grasped if we are to know the true Plato.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s