PHIL 301 Plato Notes


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ARISTOTLE ON PLATO AND RELATION TO SOCRATES: Aristotle, Metaphysics I.6 (987a32-b7): After the systems we have named came the philosophy of Plato, which in most respects followed these thinkers [i.e., the Italian school] but had pecularities that distinguished it from the philosophy of the Italians. For, having in his youth first become familiar with Cratylus and with the Heraclitean doctrines (that all sensible things are ever in a state of flux and there is no knowledge about them), these views he held even in later years. Socrates, however, was busying himself about ethical matters and neglecting the world of nature as a whole but seeking the universal in these ethical matters, and fixed thought for the first time on definitions; Plato accepted his teaching, but held that the problem applied not to sensible things but to entities of another kind-for this reason, that the common definition could not be a definition of any sensible thing, as they were always changing. Things of this other sort, then, he called Ideas, and sensible things, he said, were all named after these, and in virtue of a relation to these; for the many existed by participation in the Ideas that have the same name as they. PLATO’S DIALOGUES: Early: Apology, Crito, Laches, Lysis, Charmides, Euthyphro, Hippias Minor and Major, Protagoras, Gorgias, Ion Middle: Meno, Phaedo, Republic, Symposium, Phraedus, Euthydemus, Menexenus, Cratylus Late: Parmenides, Theatetus, Sophist, Politicus, Timaeus, Critias, Philebus, Laws REFERENCES TO PLATO: The universally standard way to refer to Plato’s works is by ‘Stephanus numbers’. These refer to the page numbers of the first complete and critical edition of Plato’s works made in the Renaissance by the famed printer and humanist Henri Estienne (1528-1598) and published in 1578. (Stephanus is the Latinized form of ‘Estienne’, as all scholarly writing at the time was in Latin.) This complete edition of Plato's works was in three volumes, whose pages were continuously numbered from the beginning to the end of each volume. Each page has two columns, the right one providing the Greek text and the left one a Latin translation (by Jean de Serres). In between the two columns are printed letters from A to E dividing the column into five sections. Hence, 94B refers to page 94 section B in the Stephanus edition. All translations and subsequent editions carry these numbers in the margins. 1
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