Trinity College, Dublin
Issue: ΣΧΟΛΗ 1.1 (2007) 7-24
Keywords: World crisis, Platonism, Ideal state
Abstract. John Dillon argues, that Plato, and the tradition deriving from him, has a number of important things to say to the modern world, to which the modern world would do well to listen. Of course, Plato had no conception of the nature or complexity of the issues with which modern civilisation is currently faced, but nonetheless there are many useful insights which we may derive both from his own works – in particular his last great work, The Laws – and from those of certain of his followers, in particular Plotinus. The topics on which the paper focuses are just three, but they seem to represent the great bulk of what is wrong with modern western society, and what is inexorably putting intelligent life on this planet under mortal threat. They are the following: 1) The problem of the destruction of the environment and of waste disposal; 2) The problem of religious conflict and mutual intolerance and 3) The problem of the legitimation of authority and the limits of personal freedom.
Trinity College, Dublin
Issue: ΣΧΟΛΗ 1.1 (2007) 25-37
Keywords: Old Academy, Speusippus, Xenocrates, dogmatism
Abstract. The author argues, that the exigencies of inter‐school rivalry, initially between the Academy and the Peripatos, but then between later Platonists and both Stoics and Aristotelians, demanded that Platonism become more formalized than it was left by Plato himself, and that it was primarily Xenocrates, in a vast array of treatises, both general and particular, who provided the bones of this organized corpus of doctrine. Not that the Platonists were ever subject to anything like a monolithic orthodoxy. Platonic doctrine was not anything handed down centrally, from above; it was rather a self‐regulating system, in which everyone knew what it meant, broadly, to be a Platonist (which could, in later times, embrace being a Pythagorean as well), and managed to stay within those parameters, while squabbling vigorously with each other, as well as with the other schools.
Issue: ΣΧΟΛΗ 1.1 (2007) 37-50
Keywords: monism, dualism, Old Academy, Middle Platonism
Abstract. The author argues that the Platonism that Plotinus inherits – setting aside Ammonius Saccas, of whom we know all too little – is by the later second century distinctly dualist in tendency, and is able, especially in the case of Plutarch, to quote Plato to its purpose. Plato himself, though, as the author maintains, is, despite appearances to the contrary, what one might term a ‘modified monist’. That is to say, he fully recognizes the degree of imperfection and evil in the world, and holds it to be ineradicable, but he does not in the last resort believe in a positive countervailing force to the Good or the One. What we have is simply a negative force, whether Indefinite Dyad, disorderly World-Soul, or Receptacle, which is an inevitable condition of their being a world at all, but which, as a side-effect of introducing diversity, generates various sorts of imperfection. It is this scenario that justifies his follower Hermodorus in declaring that Plato recognizes only a single first principle, and it to this sort of monism – if anything, in a more pronounced form – that Plotinus returns. The article is published in a Russian translation in Vol. II, issue 1 (cf. below).