Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Fw: BMCR 2008.08.43, Kevin Corrigan, Platonisms: Ancient, Modern,and Postmodern (fwd)

Expand Messages
  • Edward Moore
    Message 1 of 11 , Aug 25 12:13 PM
    • 0 Attachment
      >
      > Kevin Corrigan, John D. Turner (ed.), Platonisms: Ancient, Modern, and
      > Postmodern. Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2007. Pp. xi, 278. ISBN
      > 9789004158412. EUR 119.00, $167.00.
      >
      > Reviewed by Lloyd P. Gerson, University of Toronto
      > (lloyd.gerson@...)
      > Word count: 2602 words
      > -------------------------------
      > To read a print-formatted version of this review, see
      > http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/2008/2008-08-43.html
      > To comment on this review, see
      > http://www.bmcreview.org/2008/08/20080843.html
      > -------------------------------
      >
      > This collection of essays arises from a conference held at Emory
      > University in 2003 focused on the Platonic tradition from classical
      > antiquity through the postmodern world. The essays and authors
      > included are: Thomas Szleza/k, "Platonic Dialectic: The Path and the
      > Goal"; Luc Brisson, "What is a God According to Plato"; John D. Turner,
      > "Victorinus, Parmenides Commentaries and the Platonizing Sethian
      > Treatises"; Steven Strange, "Proclus and the Ancients"; Gretchen
      > Reydams-Schils, "Virtue, Marriage, and Parenthood in Simplicius'
      > Commentary on Epictetus' 'Encheiridion'"; Gerald Bechtle, "How to Apply
      > the Modern Concepts of Mathesis Universalis and Scientia Universalis to
      > Ancient Philosophy. Aristotle, Platonisms, Gilbert of Poitiers, and
      > Descartes"; Douglas Hedley, "Real Atheism and Cambridge Platonism: Men
      > of Latitude, Polemics, and the Great Dead Philosophers"; Robert
      > Berchman, "The Language of Metaphysics Ancient and Modern"; John
      > Dillon, "The Platonic Forms as Gesetze: Could Paul Natorp Have Been
      > Right?"; Anthony Cuda, "Crying in Plato's Teeth--W.B. Yeats and
      > Platonic Inspiration"; Kevin Corrigan, "The Face of the Other: A
      > Comparison Between the Thought of Emmanuel Levinas, Plato, and
      > Plotinus"; Stephen Gersh, "Derrida Reads (Neo-) Platonism".
      >
      > The "Platonisms" of the title of this book is evidently used as
      > equivalent to "varieties of Platonism" or "versions of Platonism,"
      > where the "variety" or "version" indicates an interpretation of Plato's
      > dialogues or of the implications of the claims made therein. Usually,
      > though, a variety of Platonism is attributable to a philosopher who is
      > defending that position. Thus, we speak of the Platonism of Speusippus
      > or of Numenius or of Proclus and designate their different doctrines as
      > varieties of Platonism. We usually do not speak of the Platonism of
      > philosophers who are not self-proclaimed followers of Plato in some
      > sense; thus, we do not normally refer to Descartes' Platonism or
      > Levinas' Platonism, even though their engagement with Plato is certain
      > to be an engagement with some variety of Platonism. Nor do we
      > typically designate as a variety of Platonism a philosophical position
      > that either agrees with a variety of Platonism at some very general
      > level or with some relatively remote consequence of a Platonic
      > position. So, philosophers who argue for the existence of a first
      > principle of all or even for the importance of critical reflection in
      > human life are not said thereby to embrace a variety of Platonism. The
      > same is true for philosophers who, for example, argue for a purely
      > remedial theory of punishment. In the present volume, "Platonisms" is
      > a term used with maximal scope, thus justifying the immense range of
      > topics covered as well as methodologies employed. There is no harm in
      > this; indeed, it is a positive step in demonstrating the extraordinary
      > fecundity of Plato's thought. Still, I would be surprised if many
      > individuals would have sufficient interest in enough of the areas
      > covered to want to pay the very considerable price for this book.
      >
      > The first section of the book is labeled "Platonisms of Classical
      > Antiquity" and it contains the papers by Szleza/k and Brisson.
      > Szleza/k sketches the case for the existence of Plato's "unwritten
      > teaching" and then proceeds to focus on the nature of dialectic as that
      > is introduced in the dialogues. He argues that Plato's scant but
      > allusive treatment of dialectic there supports the hypothesis that
      > dialectic is a central part of the unwritten teaching. He shows in
      > some detail how the scattered references to dialectic cohere with the
      > ancient testimony regarding the doctrine of first principles contained
      > in the unwritten teaching. It used to be said against the so-called
      > Tuebingen School that even if there were an unwritten teaching of
      > Plato, we could not know what that is and that even if we could, it
      > would be irrelevant to the doctrines contained in the dialogues.
      > Szleza/k shows clearly--as he has in far greater detail in many other
      > works--the weakness in this position. Brisson's addresses what he
      > terms "Plato's revolutionary account of god." The tradition that Plato
      > inherited made the fundamental contrast between the divine and the
      > human turn on the immortality of the former. Plato, with his arguments
      > for the immortality of the human person, undermines this contrast. His
      > historically momentous exhortation to "assimilate oneself to god" is
      > both a radical idea for philosophy and a distinct puzzle. If we are
      > immortal souls, are we not gods already? If we are not gods, how then
      > are we to assimilate ourselves to them? The solution to the puzzle is
      > to separate an immortal part of the soul from the mortal embodied parts
      > and to identify that part with intellect. Thereby a divine being or
      > god need not be embodied. It is the status of disembodied
      > intellects--"personal" in their cognitive dimension though "impersonal"
      > in their lack of idiosyncratic characteristics rooted in the body--that
      > was to consume the exegetical and speculative efforts of later
      > Platonists, especially those who tried to meld Platonism with Biblical
      > religion. Plato himself seemed to resist making his first principle of
      > all, the Idea of the Good, a god, though even relatively early
      > followers of Plato did not.
      >
      > The second section of the book is labeled "Platonisms of Late
      > Antiquity" and it contains the papers of Turner, Strange, and
      > Reydams-Schils. Turner's paper is a detailed treatment of four little
      > known so-called Sethian Gnostic treatises that reveal clear Platonic
      > features. These treatises, perhaps written between 150 and 250 C.E.,
      > represent a non-Christian version of a sort of mythological Platonism
      > arising out of the Jewish tradition, thereby distinguishing it from the
      > "Middle" Platonism of philosophers like Alcinous and Numenius.
      > According to Turner, Plotinus had these Gnostics, among others, in mind
      > when he wrote his treatise "Against the Gnostics." Turner locates the
      > Sethian Gnostics treatises "at the cusp of the shift from Middle
      > Platonism to Neoplatonism." At issue among both Gnostics and Middle
      > Platonists was the status of Plato's Timaeus and Parmenides, the two
      > dialogues that later came to be recognized together by Platonists as
      > containing the culmination of philosophical wisdom. In the former
      > dialogue, the supreme principle of all seems to be the Demiurge, a
      > being sufficiently personal to have (or be) an intellect with a will;
      > in the latter, assuming that the second part of the dialogue contains
      > positive doctrine, the supreme principle seems to be an impersonal and
      > unknowable One. Much of the speculation and mythological writing in
      > this period focuses on the reconciliation or systematization of these
      > seemingly divergent views. As Turner shows, one path of reconciliation
      > is in effect to make the Parmenides a theological treatise, expressive
      > of what later came to be known as negative theology, that is, the claim
      > that, though we cannot know what the first principle of all is, we can
      > know what it is not. Making the first principle of all indirectly
      > knowable in this way seems at least compatible with its being something
      > like an inscrutable person as opposed to, say, a principle of number.
      > Strange's paper provides a nice complement to Turner's, surveying
      > Proclus' references to earlier Platonic exegetes of Plato's Parmenides
      > in his own commentary on that work. By the time of Proclus' first
      > teacher, Plutarch of Athens, the theological or metaphysical
      > interpretation of the second part of the Parmenides was well
      > established, and it was this interpretation that Proclus wanted to
      > defend. But he was aware of many other interpretations, including
      > those that held that there was no substantive content in the second
      > part of that dialogue. He was also aware that some of "the ancients"
      > up to Iamblichus "theologized" that dialogue. Strange briefly
      > addresses the puzzle about the Anonymous Commentary on the Parmenides,
      > a theological reading of the text that may, according to the recent
      > arguments of some, be situated within the period of Middle Platonism.
      > The wealth of evidence provided by Turner seems to increase the
      > probability of this view.
      >
      > Reydams-Schils' paper has a quite different orientation, focusing on
      > late Platonic use of material from the Roman Stoa, in particular,
      > Simplicius' commentary on Epictetus' Enchiridion. As is well known,
      > Platonists from Antiochus of Ascalon to Plotinus thought that of all
      > the competing positions, Stoic ethics was closest to the Platonic
      > model. Strikingly, Simplicius wrote an extensive commentary on
      > Epictetus' little work, evidently because that work was thought to be a
      > worthy introduction to the study of the Platonic philosophical way of
      > life. This Platonic "curriculum", after passing through the works of
      > Aristotle, culminated in the Timaeus and the Parmenides.
      > Reydams-Schils gives a thoughtful account of how Simplicius'
      > appreciation for but distance from Epictetus' Stoic ethics flows from
      > their varying metaphysical assumptions. According to her, their
      > differing valuations of personal, especially familial, relations is
      > explained by the Stoic identification of being with material nature and
      > the Platonists' identification of being with the immaterial or
      > "supernatural." In this regard, Reydams-Schils is probably correct to
      > point out that Simplicius conceived himself to be fighting to preserve
      > traditional Greek philosophical wisdom against the by then dominant
      > Christian incursion. His casting of the Platonic position in a way
      > that would make it a palatable alternative to Christianity is not a
      > necessary consequence of his metaphysics.
      >
      > The third and longest section, labeled "Platonisms of the Renaissance
      > and the Modern World" is the most far reaching, both in the number of
      > thinkers it covers and in the various genres it examines. It includes
      > the papers by Bechtle, Hedley, Berchman, Dillon, and Cuda.
      >
      > Bechtle investigates the Renaissance and early modern conceptions of
      > mathesis universalis and scientia universalis, the former being the
      > general science of quantity, and the latter being a postulated primary
      > science of everything. He is particularly interested in applying this
      > important distinction to the Platonism of antiquity. After a
      > wide-ranging discussion, he concludes that Plato's division between the
      > intelligible/metaphysical and the dianoetic/mathematical levels of
      > analysis is normative for the later tradition. That is, philosophers
      > from Aristotle, Speusippus and onwards are reacting to Plato's
      > fundamental distinction either, in the former case, endorsing it by
      > distinguishing mathematics from the universal science of being or, in
      > the latter case, by conflating the mathematical with the universal. It
      > is this debate that Bechtle sees as being reflected well into the
      > modern period. Hedley's paper is very much in line with the earlier
      > papers that focus on the question of whether or not the first principle
      > of all is in any sense a person. In particular, the Cambridge
      > Platonist Ralph Cudworth railed at length against the "atheism" of
      > ancient philosophers like Epicurus. Cudworth knew perfectly well that
      > Epicurus explicitly mentions the gods in his writings. For Cudworth,
      > his atheism consisted precisely in his rejection of divine benevolence.
      > Cudworth, searching for an account of divine benevolence more
      > congenial than that which he found in Calvinism, embraced the Platonism
      > of both Plotinus and of early Christian theologians like Clement of
      > Alexandria and John Scotus Eriugena. For Cudworth and other Cambridge
      > Platonists, the challenge was to "personify" the first principle of all
      > in the appropriate measure, that is, in a way that avoided both Stoic
      > or Spinozistic pantheism and Cartesian voluntarism. What Cudworth,
      > especially, seems to be doing is relying on a humanist version of the
      > argument for the superiority of the spiritual to the material and for
      > its essential goodness. For him, the justification for characterizing
      > God as benevolent follows from his argument that God is the cause of
      > the existence of this spiritual goodness.
      >
      > Berchman, too, indirectly addresses the issue of how the personal is to
      > be interjected into the ontological, by presenting a survey of
      > fundamentally differing concepts of metaphysics in the history of
      > philosophy. In particular, Berchman argues that the term "intellect"
      > in ancient philosophy is used in a way fundamentally different from
      > modern conceptions, according to which the element of consciousness or
      > self-consciousness is present. For Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus, the
      > argument for the existence of immortal or separate intellect is not an
      > argument for something that is conscious or that is capable of
      > representing the world in consciousness. By contrast, modern accounts
      > of intellect from Descartes to Husserl assume a representational
      > element in mind following from the conflation of intellect with
      > consciousness. He argues that the underlying assumption of idealism
      > implicit in the modern language is incommensurable with the ancient.
      > Berchman thus sheds light on modern philosophical efforts to personify
      > the first principle and how profoundly different these are from the
      > ancient Platonic tradition.
      >
      > Dillon's article serves as a nice continuation of Berchman's
      > discussion, reviving for discussion the idealistic interpretation of
      > Plato's theory of Ideas produced by the scholar and philosopher Paul
      > Natorp (1854-1924). Natorp's Neo-Kantian interpretation of Plato
      > maintained that the Ideas or Forms are stable features of the world
      > realized in an intellect contemplating them. They are something like
      > norms or laws for structuring reality, actualized by consciousness.
      > Dillon finds this interpretation implicit in the Stoicizing Platonism
      > of, among others, Antiochus of Ascalon. He thereby implicitly
      > challenges Berchman on the origin of idealism. The latter would no
      > doubt reply that Natorp's Neo-Kantian interpretation of Plato, not
      > surprisingly, owes more to Kant than to Plato. On a quite different
      > path, Cuda explores W.B. Yeats' reflections on Platonism in his
      > struggle to understand the nature of artistic inspiration. Yeats found
      > in Platonism, distilled through the groundbreaking English translation
      > of Plotinus by Stephen MacKenna, a vocabulary for thinking about what
      > sort of knowledge, if any, is transmitted in poetry. What Yeats
      > discovered in Plotinus, and which he transmuted into his concept of the
      > daemonic, is the "metaconsciousness" of the first principle. Poetic
      > inspiration, like a mystical experience, is an experience of an
      > unknowable source of all that is knowable.
      > The fourth section, containing the papers of Corrigan and Gersh, is
      > devoted to Platonisms of the Modern World. Corrigan engages in a
      > detailed discussion of Emmanuel Levinas' encounter with early
      > Platonism. Corrigan treats Levinas' concept of the Other and tries to
      > show that in his account of how the Other and the divine are
      > simultaneously disclosed Levinas is forging an alternative to the
      > ontological tradition that focuses on sameness, which, in the Platonic
      > tradition, leads to the source of all samenesses, the first principle
      > of all. As such, it is the ultimate Other. The irreducible
      > transcendence of the Other, that is, of the person, is thus made
      > inseparable from the otherness of the divine. Levinas' criticism of
      > traditional philosophy in its focus on limited being or substance is at
      > the same time a rethinking of Platonic negative theology. Gersh,
      > offering an analysis of Jacques Derrida's thoughts on Platonism, wants
      > to show that Derrida's reading of Platonic texts is neither
      > inconsequential nor unjustified. Derrida is especially on firm
      > grounds in returning again and again to the fundamental oppositions in
      > Platonic metaphysics--intelligible/sensible, good/evil,
      > stability/change, etc.--and to the way that Platonic discourse itself
      > "overcomes" these oppositions. According to Gersh, Derrida sees in
      > Plotinus' articulation of Platonism both an assertion of the
      > traditional oppositions and an attempt to overcome them both in
      > postulating a first principle beyond being which is at the same time
      > the source of all being, and in acknowledging the impossibility of the
      > written word to convey the opposition and its overcoming. What Gersh
      > calls a "disruption of oppositions" is present both in Platonism,
      > especially in the Plotinian concept of emanation, and in Derrida's
      > deconstruction of it.
      >
      > My initial reaction to this collection was that, like most collections
      > of conference papers, it was a hodge-podge of essays more or less of
      > value to the student of Platonism. In thinking through them again for
      > this review, it struck me that there is a broad unity of theme that I
      > was not initially aware of. I have tried to emphasize that unity here,
      > a unity that manifests the astonishing vitality of Platonism.
      > Anti-Platonism, so to say, is the position that virtually every
      > philosophical claim made in this volume is false. That itself is a
      > very large claim, indeed.
      >
      >
      > -------------------------------
      > The BMCR website (http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/) contains a complete
      > and searchable archive of BMCR reviews since our first issue in 1990.
      >
      > Please do not reply to this email as this is an unmonitored mailbox.
      > You can contact us by sending e-mail to classrev@.... To
      > subscribe to or unsubscribe from this list, visit
      > http://newmailman.brynmawr.edu/mailman/listinfo/bmcr-l. To unsubscribe,
      > you may also send a blank e-mail to bmcr-l-request@... with
      > the word Unsubscribe in the subject line.
      >
      >
      > _______________________________________________
      > BMR-L mailing list
      > BMR-L@...
      > http://newmailman.brynmawr.edu/mailman/listinfo/bmr-l
    • vaeringjar
      ... as that ... in ... the ... contained ... called ... it ... Good heavens, why this argument? Plato clearly and unequivocally states in the 7th letter that
      Message 2 of 11 , Aug 28 12:36 PM
      • 0 Attachment
        > > The first section of the book is labeled "Platonisms of Classical
        > > Antiquity" and it contains the papers by Szleza/k and Brisson.
        > > Szleza/k sketches the case for the existence of Plato's "unwritten
        > > teaching" and then proceeds to focus on the nature of dialectic
        as that
        > > is introduced in the dialogues. He argues that Plato's scant but
        > > allusive treatment of dialectic there supports the hypothesis that
        > > dialectic is a central part of the unwritten teaching. He shows
        in
        > > some detail how the scattered references to dialectic cohere with
        the
        > > ancient testimony regarding the doctrine of first principles
        contained
        > > in the unwritten teaching. It used to be said against the so-
        called
        > > Tuebingen School that even if there were an unwritten teaching of
        > > Plato, we could not know what that is and that even if we could,
        it
        > > would be irrelevant to the doctrines contained in the dialogues.

        Good heavens, why this argument? Plato clearly and unequivocally
        states in the 7th letter that we cannot gain an understanding of his
        principles merely by reading a text, that dialectic is ESSENTIAL to
        that learning process. He says therefore unequivocally as a result he
        will not write those principles down, so that it directly follows
        that the dialogues are based on that dialectic as a method to reach
        that knowledge but do not overtly reveal its exact content. So no,
        you wouldn't likely find exact correspondences in the dialogues, per
        the master's own stated prescription, but why should you expect to
        given that clear pronouncement of method in the letter??

        I would be very interested to read Szlezak's essay.

        Dennis Clark
      • Goya
        ... M.C. Well, for starters, not everyone is convinced that the 7th letter is authentic. Plato clearly and unequivocally ... M.C. : The word *dialektikê* does
        Message 3 of 11 , Aug 29 11:06 AM
        • 0 Attachment
          >
          >> > The first section of the book is labeled "Platonisms of Classical
          >> > Antiquity" and it contains the papers by Szleza/k and Brisson.
          >> > Szleza/k sketches the case for the existence of Plato's "unwritten
          >> > teaching" and then proceeds to focus on the nature of dialectic
          > as that
          >> > is introduced in the dialogues. He argues that Plato's scant but
          >> > allusive treatment of dialectic there supports the hypothesis that
          >> > dialectic is a central part of the unwritten teaching. He shows
          > in
          >> > some detail how the scattered references to dialectic cohere with
          > the
          >> > ancient testimony regarding the doctrine of first principles
          > contained
          >> > in the unwritten teaching. It used to be said against the so-
          > called
          >> > Tuebingen School that even if there were an unwritten teaching of
          >> > Plato, we could not know what that is and that even if we could,
          > it
          >> > would be irrelevant to the doctrines contained in the dialogues.
          >
          > Good heavens, why this argument?

          M.C. Well, for starters, not everyone is convinced that the 7th letter is
          authentic.


          Plato clearly and unequivocally
          > states in the 7th letter that we cannot gain an understanding of his
          > principles merely by reading a text, that dialectic is ESSENTIAL to
          > that learning process.

          M.C. : The word *dialektikê* does not occur in the 7th Letter. What "clear
          and unequivocal" statements are you referring to?

          He says therefore unequivocally as a result he
          > will not write those principles down, so that it directly follows
          > that the dialogues are based on that dialectic as a method to reach
          > that knowledge but do not overtly reveal its exact content.

          M.C. Im by no means clear on how this "directly follows". Assuming that
          the 7th Letter is genuine, it could equally be interpreted as saying that
          the dialogues don't contain anything truly serious: they are mere
          appetizers to get readers interested in philosophy. But if students want
          to learn the *really* serious philosophy - the doctrine of the One, the
          Indefinite Dyad and the generation of the Ideal Numbers, for instance -
          then they'll have to enroll in the Academy.


          Michael Chase
          CNRS UPR 76
          Paris-Villejuif
          France
        • vaeringjar
          could, ... dialogues. ... letter is ... I was under the impression - perhaps incorrect - that the 7th letter was accepted as geniune, unlike so many of the
          Message 4 of 11 , Aug 30 6:24 PM
          • 0 Attachment
            could,
            > > it
            > >> > would be irrelevant to the doctrines contained in the
            dialogues.
            > >
            > > Good heavens, why this argument?
            >
            > M.C. Well, for starters, not everyone is convinced that the 7th
            letter is
            > authentic.

            I was under the impression - perhaps incorrect - that the 7th letter
            was accepted as geniune, unlike so many of the others. If that is not
            the case then it's hardly worth my continuing, but I will a little
            nonetheless, at the risk of looking more foolish than I already am,
            if it's not genuine at all.


            >
            >
            > Plato clearly and unequivocally
            > > states in the 7th letter that we cannot gain an understanding of
            his
            > > principles merely by reading a text, that dialectic is ESSENTIAL
            to
            > > that learning process.
            >

            > M.C. : The word *dialektikê* does not occur in the 7th Letter.
            What "clear
            > and unequivocal" statements are you referring to?

            No, it doesn't, but I think it's fair to assume from Plato's strong
            statement in the letter against writing down his principles in any
            formal treatise (occasioned in part by his anger at Dionysius' claim
            to have done just that) that, since he certainly and nonetheless
            advocated the learning of such principles, he must have had some
            method in mind, and the dialectic of the dialogues, the Socratic
            method (not that I hope I need to cite much here, but Republic 531d
            ff is a good passage I think), is obviously paramount to him and must
            fit somehow into his scheme, else why would he have spent so much
            time and energy on them?

            While he doesn't use the term dialektike explicitly in the letter,
            when he is summing up his little - admittedly preteritional -
            discourse on the five things requisite for knowledge in the letter,
            at 344B, he does however refer directly to "kindly" elenchoi and
            the "aneu phthonon erotesesi kai apokrisesi" from which "exelampse
            phronesis". W.K.C. Guthrie in his History in Vol. IV on the later
            Plato, pp.416-17, sums up this passage I believe with the same point
            of view: "The lesson of the dialogues accords with the Seventh Letter
            (343e and 344b-c)...when one has agreed on the names, defined by
            collection and division, and organized one's findings into a
            science...only then, and only if one's mind is akin to the Fifth, the
            real, the godlike (Phdr.249c6-d1), and if in addition one has had the
            opportunity for friction between one's own ideas and those of like-
            minded companions, will the flame burst forth." If I could here I
            would bold from "opportunity" onward.


            >
            > He says therefore unequivocally as a result he
            > > will not write those principles down, so that it directly follows
            > > that the dialogues are based on that dialectic as a method to
            reach
            > > that knowledge but do not overtly reveal its exact content.
            >
            > M.C. Im by no means clear on how this "directly follows". Assuming
            that
            > the 7th Letter is genuine, it could equally be interpreted as
            saying that
            > the dialogues don't contain anything truly serious: they are mere
            > appetizers to get readers interested in philosophy.

            See above - I think dialectic is essential and the dialogues ought
            not to be interpreted chiefly as appetizers, but are in a sense as
            described above preparatory. Not to say they aren't frequently
            peppered with irony and humor, as we all well know.

            That's all the defense I can muster - again, sorry if I fell into
            error here on the Letter.

            Dennis Clark
          • vaeringjar
            ... Assuming ... Let me if I may add something - I don t presume to know exactly why Plato wrote the dialogues, and meant rather above that the sort of
            Message 5 of 11 , Aug 30 8:55 PM
            • 0 Attachment
              > > M.C. Im by no means clear on how this "directly follows".
              Assuming
              > that
              > > the 7th Letter is genuine, it could equally be interpreted as
              > saying that
              > > the dialogues don't contain anything truly serious: they are mere
              > > appetizers to get readers interested in philosophy.
              >
              > See above - I think dialectic is essential and the dialogues ought
              > not to be interpreted chiefly as appetizers, but are in a sense as
              > described above preparatory. Not to say they aren't frequently
              > peppered with irony and humor, as we all well know.
              >
              > That's all the defense I can muster - again, sorry if I fell into
              > error here on the Letter.
              >
              > Dennis Clark
              >

              Let me if I may add something - I don't presume to know exactly why
              Plato wrote the dialogues, and meant rather above that the sort of
              Socratic method and dialectic displayed in them is the important
              preparatory above.

              I could only say if pressed that I think that we was much affected by
              Socrates' execution and that it made him very chary of expressing
              himself too openly, maybe not so much in the directly fearful sense
              as much as taking it as an example of what can happen when you "cast
              your pearls before swine", to use a wildly anachronistic metaphor. I
              wouldn't say it was his main motivation, but I think it may be in the
              mix. And like in the 7th letter - again if genuine - he says he won't
              get into written specifics, but then does nevertheless give us that
              little discourse. So in spite of himself he feels the urge to share,
              as it were, and perhaps the dialogues, assumeably also recording
              experiences of Socrates he considered important enough to preserve,
              were as much of an outlet that he would allow himself. And they are
              after all only dialogues, however much fictionalized - and his
              obvious talent as a writer would out also somehow, I believe - not
              focused prose treatises.

              Dennis Clark
            • John Uebersax
              Here is a question that follows up on the last thread. Two noteworthy attributes of Archetypes in Jungian psychology is that they are (1) autonomous, in the
              Message 6 of 11 , Sep 2, 2008
              • 0 Attachment
                Here is a question that follows up on the last thread.

                Two noteworthy attributes of Archetypes in Jungian psychology is that they are (1) autonomous, in the sense that they possess something like a will, and (2) dynamic, in the sense that they act, they do things.

                This appears somewhat different from how we generally think of Platonic Forms.  Forms seem more static, and more, well, like ideas, not autonomous entities possessed of their wills (the latter point might be more debatable).

                In short, Jungian Archetypes are, at least as presented by some later writers, more like or analogous to 'gods' than to Forms.

                This suggests a potentially interesting question:  did Neoplatonists consider the issue of whether there are Forms associated with gods?  For example, if there is a god, Ares -- is there also a Form of Ares, of which Ares is an instance or manifestation?

                John Uebersax






                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • epb223@gmail.com
                My understanding is that Jungian archetypes are merely instinctual behavior patterns, and that therefore they are not volitional agents in the manner you
                Message 7 of 11 , Sep 3, 2008
                • 0 Attachment
                  My understanding is that Jungian archetypes are merely instinctual behavior
                  patterns, and that therefore they are not volitional agents in the manner
                  you suggest, although they are certainly causes (formal causes, I would say)
                  of human behavior. I know that Jungians, when they are speaking strictly,
                  will distinguish between archetypes simpliciter and archetypal images, which
                  are the images produced within various cultures as expressions, so to speak,
                  of the archetype. These images may help to enact the behavior pattern itself
                  by the effect they have upon the psyche.

                  The question of the relationship of Forms to Gods among Platonists is a
                  wholly distinct issue. Proclus makes it quite clear that the Gods (henads)
                  are prior to the Forms, and so there are not Forms of Gods. Each God is for
                  him sui generis. Plato says in the Philebus (30d) that the different Gods
                  have the perfections (kala) from which their proper (philon) epithets are
                  derived "through the power of the cause" (dia tên tês aitias dunamin). In
                  this way, for example, "in the nature [en têi phusei]" of Zeus "there comes
                  to be [eggignesthai] a royal soul and a royal mind." Since the Gods are not
                  artifacts, nor thinkable without their distinctive perfections, I think that
                  the causality in question here is meant to be inseparable from each one, and
                  not some external cause; that is, rather than being forms, I think that
                  these perfections express the mode of causality of each deity.

                  Edward Butler
                • Bruce MacLennan
                  Hi Edward, ... I disagree with your interpretation with Jungian psychology. Jung stressed that archetypes and complexes can behave as autonomous
                  Message 8 of 11 , Sep 4, 2008
                  • 0 Attachment
                    Hi Edward,

                    On Sep 3, 2008, at 3:31 PM, epb223@... wrote:

                    > My understanding is that Jungian archetypes are merely instinctual
                    > behavior
                    > patterns, and that therefore they are not volitional agents in the
                    > manner
                    > you suggest, although they are certainly causes (formal causes, I
                    > would say)
                    > of human behavior. ...
                    >

                    I disagree with your interpretation with Jungian psychology. Jung
                    stressed that archetypes and complexes can behave as autonomous
                    personalities, which is why, for example, Jungians can speak quite
                    literally of being "possessed" by an archetype or complex (see, e.g.,
                    von Franz, Projection and Re-collection in Jungian Psychology).
                    Complexes in particular have been explicitly identified with
                    Neoplatonic daimones by Jung as well as by the Jungians. The
                    archetypes are the unconscious psychodynamical structures
                    corresponding to phylogenetic (species-wide) adaptations (i.e.,
                    instincts); the complexes are ontogenetic (individually acquired)
                    "offspring" of these archetypes, which mediate (unconsciously)
                    between the universal archetype and the individual. (Complexes may
                    also be shared within groups, including entire cultures.)

                    Some of the archetypes are impersonal (such as the archetypal
                    numbers: monad, dyad, etc.), but many of them regulate
                    phylogenetically-rooted interactions among people (love, sex,
                    parenting, care-giving, cooperation, dominance, defense, etc.) and so
                    they are naturally personified with such archetypal figures as the
                    Sky Father, the Great Mother, the Wise Old Man/Woman, the Nymph, the
                    Trickster, the Warrior, the Hero/-ine, etc. etc. These correspond
                    more or less (subject to cultural modification) to the gods of
                    various pantheons. (An interpersonal archetype is a schema with
                    roles for two or more people, and so when such an archetype is
                    activated in a person, they may be "possessed" by one role, and
                    "project" the other role onto another person. In interpersonal
                    schemata the roles are, naturally, personified.)

                    I would offer that the archetypes may be viewed as both formal,
                    final, and efficient causes. They are formal structures in that they
                    dynamically shape perception, motivation, and behavior. They are
                    final causes in that this shaping is for a "purpose" (or, in the
                    language of evolutionary psychology, they are "adaptive"). They are
                    efficient causes in that they directly instigate behavior. (If
                    someone challenges you and "gets in your face," and you have the urge
                    to punch them, formal, final, and efficient causes are all in
                    operation!)

                    I have discussed some of these issues in: MacLennan, B. J. (2006).
                    "Evolutionary Jungian Psychology." Psychological Perspectives 49, 1
                    (Spring 2006), pp. 9-28.

                    > The question of the relationship of Forms to Gods among Platonists
                    > is a
                    > wholly distinct issue. ...
                    >

                    Well, distinct but not, I think, wholly distinct. I would argue that
                    the Middle Platonists, Neoplatonists, etc. were engaged in a
                    phenomenological + intellectual exploration and interpretation of the
                    psyche (in the modern sense), and therefore that they discovered
                    similar archetypal structures to those explicated by Jungian
                    psychologists. They were studying the same phenomena by similar
                    means. Some of the details of the similarities are amazingly
                    specific, as I've suggested in:

                    MacLennan, B. J. (2005). "Evolution, Jung, and Theurgy: Their Role in
                    Modern Neoplatonism." In _History of Platonism: Plato Redivivus_,
                    John F. Finamore & Robert Berchman (eds.), University Press of the
                    South, pp. 305-22.

                    Both of these papers are available at my website:

                    <http://www.cs.utk.edu/~mclennan/other-res.html#neurotheol>.

                    Bruce




                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • jensav55
                    I will defer to you on the matter of Jungian psychology, as it has been a long time since I was hands-on with the primary texts in that field. I do recall,
                    Message 9 of 11 , Sep 5, 2008
                    • 0 Attachment
                      I will defer to you on the matter of Jungian psychology, as it has
                      been a long time since I was hands-on with the primary texts in that
                      field. I do recall, however, from my studies at that time that there
                      was a good deal of debate within Jungian circles over the 'whatness'
                      of the archetypes.

                      Regarding the identification of deities with Jungian archetypes, it is
                      to me simply another form of reductionist reading. This is not to say
                      that others might not find it interesting. I do not agree, however,
                      that the Platonists were doing a phenomenology of the psyche; they
                      understood themselves to be doing theology, which they would have
                      understood as belonging to a higher pay grade. Their method of doing
                      theology involved primarily the hermeneutics of mythic texts and
                      living religious traditions in conjunction with ontology.

                      Edward


                      --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, Bruce MacLennan <mclennan@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > Hi Edward,
                      >
                      > On Sep 3, 2008, at 3:31 PM, epb223@... wrote:
                      >
                      > > My understanding is that Jungian archetypes are merely instinctual
                      > > behavior
                      > > patterns, and that therefore they are not volitional agents in the
                      > > manner
                      > > you suggest, although they are certainly causes (formal causes, I
                      > > would say)
                      > > of human behavior. ...
                      > >
                      >
                      > I disagree with your interpretation with Jungian psychology. Jung
                      > stressed that archetypes and complexes can behave as autonomous
                      > personalities, which is why, for example, Jungians can speak quite
                      > literally of being "possessed" by an archetype or complex (see, e.g.,
                      > von Franz, Projection and Re-collection in Jungian Psychology).
                      > Complexes in particular have been explicitly identified with
                      > Neoplatonic daimones by Jung as well as by the Jungians. The
                      > archetypes are the unconscious psychodynamical structures
                      > corresponding to phylogenetic (species-wide) adaptations (i.e.,
                      > instincts); the complexes are ontogenetic (individually acquired)
                      > "offspring" of these archetypes, which mediate (unconsciously)
                      > between the universal archetype and the individual. (Complexes may
                      > also be shared within groups, including entire cultures.)
                      >
                      > Some of the archetypes are impersonal (such as the archetypal
                      > numbers: monad, dyad, etc.), but many of them regulate
                      > phylogenetically-rooted interactions among people (love, sex,
                      > parenting, care-giving, cooperation, dominance, defense, etc.) and so
                      > they are naturally personified with such archetypal figures as the
                      > Sky Father, the Great Mother, the Wise Old Man/Woman, the Nymph, the
                      > Trickster, the Warrior, the Hero/-ine, etc. etc. These correspond
                      > more or less (subject to cultural modification) to the gods of
                      > various pantheons. (An interpersonal archetype is a schema with
                      > roles for two or more people, and so when such an archetype is
                      > activated in a person, they may be "possessed" by one role, and
                      > "project" the other role onto another person. In interpersonal
                      > schemata the roles are, naturally, personified.)
                      >
                      > I would offer that the archetypes may be viewed as both formal,
                      > final, and efficient causes. They are formal structures in that they
                      > dynamically shape perception, motivation, and behavior. They are
                      > final causes in that this shaping is for a "purpose" (or, in the
                      > language of evolutionary psychology, they are "adaptive"). They are
                      > efficient causes in that they directly instigate behavior. (If
                      > someone challenges you and "gets in your face," and you have the urge
                      > to punch them, formal, final, and efficient causes are all in
                      > operation!)
                      >
                      > I have discussed some of these issues in: MacLennan, B. J. (2006).
                      > "Evolutionary Jungian Psychology." Psychological Perspectives 49, 1
                      > (Spring 2006), pp. 9-28.
                      >
                      > > The question of the relationship of Forms to Gods among Platonists
                      > > is a
                      > > wholly distinct issue. ...
                      > >
                      >
                      > Well, distinct but not, I think, wholly distinct. I would argue that
                      > the Middle Platonists, Neoplatonists, etc. were engaged in a
                      > phenomenological + intellectual exploration and interpretation of the
                      > psyche (in the modern sense), and therefore that they discovered
                      > similar archetypal structures to those explicated by Jungian
                      > psychologists. They were studying the same phenomena by similar
                      > means. Some of the details of the similarities are amazingly
                      > specific, as I've suggested in:
                      >
                      > MacLennan, B. J. (2005). "Evolution, Jung, and Theurgy: Their Role in
                      > Modern Neoplatonism." In _History of Platonism: Plato Redivivus_,
                      > John F. Finamore & Robert Berchman (eds.), University Press of the
                      > South, pp. 305-22.
                      >
                      > Both of these papers are available at my website:
                      >
                      > <http://www.cs.utk.edu/~mclennan/other-res.html#neurotheol>.
                      >
                      > Bruce
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      >
                    • Bruce MacLennan
                      Hi Edward, ... True, and I admit to taking a particular position on the archetypes (rooted in Jung, but cultivated by Anthony Stevens, Meredith Sabini, and
                      Message 10 of 11 , Sep 6, 2008
                      • 0 Attachment
                        Hi Edward,

                        On Sep 5, 2008, at 1:44 PM, jensav55 wrote:

                        > I do recall, however, from my studies at that time that there
                        > was a good deal of debate within Jungian circles over the 'whatness'
                        > of the archetypes.

                        True, and I admit to taking a particular position on the archetypes
                        (rooted in Jung, but cultivated by Anthony Stevens, Meredith Sabini,
                        and others).

                        > Regarding the identification of deities with Jungian archetypes, it is
                        > to me simply another form of reductionist reading. This is not to say
                        > that others might not find it interesting. I do not agree, however,
                        > that the Platonists were doing a phenomenology of the psyche; they
                        > understood themselves to be doing theology, which they would have
                        > understood as belonging to a higher pay grade. Their method of doing
                        > theology involved primarily the hermeneutics of mythic texts and
                        > living religious traditions in conjunction with ontology.

                        Describing it as a "phenomenology of the psyche" was a misleading way
                        for me to put it. I meant the term "psyche" to include both the
                        individual conscious and unconscious minds as well as what Jungians
                        call the "objective psyche," that is, those unconscious psychical
                        structures that are universal (shared among all humans). From this
                        perspective, a phenomenology of this universal ("collective")
                        unconscious provides the phenomenological data for theology
                        (amplified, of course, by a hermeneutics of texts and traditions).

                        Certainly, the Neoplatonists understood their project differently
                        from the Jungians' understanding of theirs. However, I think that
                        Jungian psychology may provide the best explanation (so far) of what
                        the Neoplatonists discovered, establishing in the process the
                        essential validity of Neoplatonism.

                        Is it a form of reductionist reading? Perhaps, if the phenomena of
                        the mind are taken to be "merely psychological" and ultimately just
                        material (or physical). However, Jung argued that the psychical and
                        the material are two equally essential, mutually irreducible aspects
                        of a single underlying reality. Therefore, (phenomenological and
                        dialectical) investigation of the structure of the objective psyche
                        is a part of ontology. Certainly, from this perspective the forms
                        (and the gods) are not separated from the material world, but are
                        immanent in it: an unplatonic idea. However, because of their
                        irreducible psychical aspect, they are not "merely physical."

                        Personally, I am of two minds about these matters. On the one hand,
                        the ancient Platonists do not seem to have understood that form can
                        emerge in unformed matter through physical self-organization; thus
                        form does not have to be postulated as a cause. On the other hand,
                        the laws of self-organization are mathematical, and Platonism (with
                        its hypostatized forms) remains a viable philosophy of mathematics,
                        so perhaps at least mathematical objects have a separate existence.

                        Best,
                        Bruce

                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • jensav55
                        ... After I d responded it did occur to me that the term psyche is uncommonly broad for Jungians. Even so, of course, it isn t much broader than it is for
                        Message 11 of 11 , Sep 7, 2008
                        • 0 Attachment
                          --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, Bruce MacLennan <mclennan@...> wrote:
                          >
                          > Describing it as a "phenomenology of the psyche" was a misleading way
                          > for me to put it. I meant the term "psyche" to include both the
                          > individual conscious and unconscious minds as well as what Jungians
                          > call the "objective psyche," that is, those unconscious psychical
                          > structures that are universal (shared among all humans). From this
                          > perspective, a phenomenology of this universal ("collective")
                          > unconscious provides the phenomenological data for theology
                          > (amplified, of course, by a hermeneutics of texts and traditions).

                          After I'd responded it did occur to me that the term "psyche" is
                          uncommonly broad for Jungians. Even so, of course, it isn't much
                          broader than it is for Neoplatonists, for whom the entire cosmos is
                          ensouled. Nevertheless, for Neoplatonists there is Intellect beyond
                          Soul, and Being beyond Intellect, and the domain beyond Being, which
                          is "where" the Gods are, at least for Proclus and his ilk (perhaps it
                          would be more accurate to say "how" they are).

                          > Certainly, the Neoplatonists understood their project differently
                          > from the Jungians' understanding of theirs. However, I think that
                          > Jungian psychology may provide the best explanation (so far) of what
                          > the Neoplatonists discovered, establishing in the process the
                          > essential validity of Neoplatonism.

                          The question is whether an explanation in this fashion explains away
                          the object(s) of theology. I am wary of any hermeneutical strategy
                          that one feels free to practice upon traditions supposedly "dead", but
                          would not undertake on traditions with a, shall we say, noisier
                          constituency.

                          > Is it a form of reductionist reading? Perhaps, if the phenomena of
                          > the mind are taken to be "merely psychological" and ultimately just
                          > material (or physical). However, Jung argued that the psychical and
                          > the material are two equally essential, mutually irreducible aspects
                          > of a single underlying reality. Therefore, (phenomenological and
                          > dialectical) investigation of the structure of the objective psyche
                          > is a part of ontology. Certainly, from this perspective the forms
                          > (and the gods) are not separated from the material world, but are
                          > immanent in it: an unplatonic idea. However, because of their
                          > irreducible psychical aspect, they are not "merely physical."

                          The point is not whether it reduces the Gods to material entities, but
                          that it reduces them to psychical entities, however broadly "psyche"
                          is construed, whereas the Platonists thought of them as having a more
                          than psychical, indeed, a more than intellectual mode of existence.
                          I'm not sure that any ontology which only comprises the "psychical"
                          and the "material" can ever do justice to Neoplatonism, whether in its
                          theological or any of its systematic aspects.


                          Edward
                        Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.