Plato: An Introduction

Plato: An Introduction

PAUL FRIEDLÄNDER
TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN BY HANS MEYERHOFF
Series: Plato
Copyright Date: 1969
Pages: 466
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13x1001
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  • Book Info
    Plato: An Introduction
    Book Description:

    Contents: I. Eidos. II. Demon and Eros. III. Beyond Being. IV. The Academy. V. The Written Work. VI. Socrates in Plato. VII. Irony. VIII. Dialogue. IX. Myth. X. Intuition and Construction. XI. Alethcia. XII. Dialogue and Existence. XIII. Plato's Letters. XIV. Plato as Physicist. XV. Plato as Geographer. XVI. Plato as Jurist. XVII. Plato as City Planner. XVIII. Socrates Enters Rome. Index.

    Originally published in 1973.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6878-0
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. PREFACES
    (pp. vii-viii)
    P.F.
  3. Translator’s Note
    (pp. viii-viii)
    H.M.
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xxii)
  5. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  6. PART I

    • CHAPTER ONE Eidos
      (pp. 3-31)

      WHEN I was young,” Plato writes in his mid-seventies in the manifestoTo the Friends and Associates of Dion, “my experience was the same as that of many others. I thought that as soon as I became my own master I would immediately enter into public life. But it so happened that fateful changes occurred in the political situation.

      “In the government then existing, hated as it was by many, a revolution took place. The revolution was headed by fifty-one leaders, of whom … thirty formed the highest political authority with unlimited powers. Of these some were relatives and acquaintances...

    • CHAPTER TWO Demon and Eros
      (pp. 32-58)

      THE PLATONISTS of antiquity assign to demonology a definite place in the structure of the master’s thought.¹ Modern interpreters are too enlightened to take Plato’s statements on this subject very seriously. But how are we justified in regarding as mere play what is said about the demons if we consider the physical and physiological “doctrines” of theTimaeus, or the “philosophy of language” of theCratylus, as integral parts of Plato’s system? By the mere fact that we have a contemporary science of nature and language, but none of demons? TheCratylusis much more like a medley of merry...

    • CHAPTER THREE Beyond Being
      (pp. 59-84)

      EROSis a great demon, mediator between God and man. He lifts the human soul from the world of becoming to the sphere above the heavens, home of the gods and the eternal forms. In these mythical realms, Plato, as a philosopher-poet, saw the nature of the world. One is reluctant to express his vision in purely conceptual terms; yet one may attempt to follow him to the threshold of the highest sphere.

      Nothing is known about how Plato became conscious of this mystery; but we do know that he met Socrates. Despite all his peculiarities, Socrates shared the life...

    • CHAPTER FOUR The Academy
      (pp. 85-107)

      WHETHER or not to found a school was not exactly a free decision on Plato’s part. In Socrates he had met a personal force whose life combined thinking and teaching in so inseparable a unity that it would be meaningless to speak of a Socratic philosophy apart from the teaching of Socrates. Plato is a theoretical thinker quite different from his teacher. Instead of moments of deep absorption, the mysterious phenomenon in the life of Socrates, as Plato presents it, Plato himself must have experienced long periods of lonely thinking, research, contemplation, and writing. Yet he also absorbed the basic...

    • CHAPTER FIVE The Written Work
      (pp. 108-125)

      CERTAIN peoples lose themselves in their thoughts; but for us Greeks all things are forms. We retain only their relations; and enclosed as it were in the limpid day, Orpheuslike we build, by means of the word, temples of wisdom and science that may suffice for all reasonable creatures. This great art requires of us an admirably exact language. The very word that signifies language is also the name, with us, for reason and calculation; a single word says these three things.” These are the words of Socrates in the dialogueEupalinos,or The Architect, by Paul Valéry.¹

      After the...

    • CHAPTER SIX Socrates in Plato
      (pp. 126-136)

      HESIOD OF ASKRA is the first person in the history of the Western mind to appear as an individual—all the more audaciously inasmuch as he puts his own self side by side with the self of the highest deity. “Judge, O Zeus, according to unbending law; I, for my part, will tell Perses the truth.” The traditional epic form makes it still more apparent that the integument, behind which the self of the poet had previously hidden, is here broken through, and suggests something of the strong inner tension resulting from the collision of one’s own sense of justice,...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Irony
      (pp. 137-153)

      HE WHO would explain to us when men like Plato spoke in earnest, when in jest or half-jest, what they wrote from conviction and what merely for the sake of the argument, would certainly render us an extraordinary service and contribute greatly to our education.”¹ These words of Goethe do not seem to have been taken with sufficient seriousness even as an ideal postulate. It is quite certain, however, that one cannot approach Plato without taking into account what irony is and what it means in his work.

      If irony were nothing but “a mere swapping of a Yes for...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Dialogue
      (pp. 154-170)

      JUST as there are no adequate equivalents in any modern language for concepts likeLogosandEidos, so such words as “inwardness” (Innerlichkeit) or “landscape” could not be translated into Greek. Even when a Greek flees from the world, his loneliness is accident or necessity, not happiness or a path toward human perfection. And if the loneliness of the tragic hero in the works of Sophocles is indispensable to his fulfilling himself, it is also responsible for his destruction. For the nature of a Greek man is inseparable from the community. To be seen and to be heard is an...

    • CHAPTER NINE Myth
      (pp. 171-210)

      IN THE history of the Greek myth, running like a fateful thread through the life of the Greek people, the fifth century is the decisive age. Myth reaches its climax in tragedy at a time when it has also been exposed, for several generations, to critical forces preparing its disintegration. Plato’s youth coincides with the last decades of Euripides, who—both creator and destroyer of myth—extended the processes of dissolution to its very roots. It is well to remember that Kritias was Plato’s uncle and admired example, and that it was the same Kritias who, following Euripides, showed on...

  7. PART II

    • CHAPTER TEN Intuition and Construction A PATH TO BERGSON AND SCHOPENHAUER
      (pp. 213-220)

      THE TENSION between intuition and construction,theoriaand theory, mania and dialectic, in Plato exists as a creative tension from the beginning and runs through all of his work. Perhaps it is a stronger and possibly more conscious element in him than in most other philosophers. But the central intuition toward which all conceptual thinking is directed in preparation and exploration, and from which, in turn, all conceptual thinking emanates, is present in every great philosophy. In the case of Plato, this has been shown in the preceding chapters, primarily in the first three. Was my interpretation, from the start,...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Aleiheia A DISCUSSION WITH MARTIN HEIDEGGER
      (pp. 221-229)

      INSEIN UND ZEIT(1927), Heidegger dealt with the concepts oflogosandaletheia(pp. 52ff., 219ff.) and thereby influenced the thinking of a whole generation. He explained explicitly why he went back to an etymological analysis: it is the business of philosophy “to protect the power of the most fundamental words in which reality [Dasein] finds expression against the tendency of common sense [ordinary thinking] to level them to incomprehensibility.” In his bookPlatons Lehre von der Wahrheit(1947), Heidegger then gave, on this basis, an interpretation of Plato’s allegory of the cave. As a philosopher he tries to...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE Dialogue and Existence A QUESTION ADDRESSED TO KARL JASPERS
      (pp. 230-235)

      EXISTENCE is a concept characteristic of a great deal of contemporary philosophy, though inevitably also a fashionable catchword. In Jaspers’ three-volumePhilosophie(1932), the volume calledExistenzerhellungis the central and largest part of the entire work, placed betweenPhilosophische WeltorientierungandMetaphysik. The title is not “Existence” but “Clarification of existence,” for Jaspers undertakes a description and analysis of existence by nonexistential means. The philosopher speaks of “shipwreck,” but we do not become aware of the course of his boat. He writes about historicity by progressing, in general statements, to the limits of individual, particular experience, and then leaving...

    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN Plato’s Letters
      (pp. 236-245)

      DURING the nineteenth century, Plato’s letters were generally dismissed as forgery or fiction, despite the efforts of George Grote, the political historian. In the past fifty years, they have again become the object of lively interest and research. Eduard Meyer, the historian of classical antiquity, considered them “documents of inestimable value,” thinking primarily of political history. Wilamowitz-Moellendorff caused quite a stir by unexpectedly and passionately defending the authenticity of theSeventhandEighth Letters, after he had already declared that theSixth Lettermight be genuine. Recently, Richard S. Bluck has provided us with a gratifying survey of the results...

    • CHAPTER FOURTEEN Plato as Physicist STRUCTURE AND DESTRUCTION OF THE ATOM ACCORDING TO PLATO’S TIMAEUS
      (pp. 246-260)

      TO BRIDGE the menacing gap between the natural sciences and the humanities, the “widening cleavage between nature and man” (Riezler), “the chasm which is cutting our culture asunder and threatening to destroy it” (Sarton)—to help reconcile those fundamental human qualities which Pascal called“l’esprit de géométrie”and“l’esprit de finesse”—is one of the urgent tasks of today, in which scientists and humanists are bound to take part.² We humanists, in our ignorance of the natural sciences, must provoke the pity of the scientists as often as we resent their simplicity in things historical when we turn to their...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
    • CHAPTER FIFTEEN Plato as Geographer THE BEGINNINGS OF SPHERICAL GEOGRAPHY
      (pp. 261-285)

      THE MYTH of the fate of the human soul, a comprehensive and intricate construction, comes at the conclusion of thePhaedo. It is composed of two lines of thought: one cosmological, physical, geographical; the other mythico-eschatological. No doubt that the eschatology is the ultimate goal, while the physical theory, however much it may have meant to Plato’s scientific interests, is only of subsidiary significance. Let us compare the myths of the beyond in theGorgiasand theRepublic. In theGorgias, the cosmos appears as the prototype of the just, i.e., well-ordered, life; ² but the myth itself still stands...

    • CHAPTER SIXTEEN Plato as Jurist BY HUNTINGTON CAIRNS
      (pp. 286-313)

      PLATO took the widest possible view of law. He held that it was a product of reason and he identified it with Nature itself. Law was a subject which he kept constantly before him, and there is scarcely a dialogue in which some aspect of it is not treated explicitly. His theory of law is a fundamental part of his general philosophy, and it illumines and is illumined by the entire Platonic corpus. Like the law of the Greeks, his legal thought was never systematized as we have become accustomed to regard system in law since the last century of...

    • CHAPTER SEVENTEEN Plato as City Planner THE IDEAL CITY OF ATLANTIS
      (pp. 314-322)

      WIDTH 3,000 stadia, depth in the inland direction 2,000 stadia (Critias118a). Surrounded by the large irrigation canal (τάφρος), 1 plethron in depth, 1 stadium wide, 10,000 stadia long, i.e., 2 × 3000 + 2 × 2000. This canal meets the city on both sides (ἔνθεν καἰ ἔνθεν) and goes into the sea (118d).

      “On both sides” may be interpreted to mean that the town wall touches the main canal; if this were the case, provision would have had to be made for channeling into the ocean, and since a large connecting channel leads from the ocean into the interior...

    • CHAPTER EIGHTEEN Socrates Enters Rome
      (pp. 323-332)

      IT IS our great fortune, and certainly no mere accident, that Polybios’ famous pages on the education and character of the young Roman who later became Scipio Africanus Minor are preserved among the excerpts, made at the command of Konstantinos Porphyrogennetos, in the volumeOn Virtues and Vices.² If they were lost we should still possess a shadowy reflection of them in Diodoros (XXXI 26et seq.) and perhaps a still more shadowy and distorted one in Pausanias (VII 30 9). We should have found reflections in Plutarch’s biography of Scipio and in Livy’s and Cassius Dio’s relevant chapters, had...

  8. NOTES AND ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. 333-406)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 407-432)
  10. BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THE WRITINGS OF PAUL FRIEDLÄNDER
    (pp. 433-440)
  11. PAUL FRIEDLÄNDER A NOTE ON HIS LIFE AND WORK
    (pp. 441-443)