What is platonism?

Journal of the History of Philosophy 43 (3):253-276 (2005)
The question posed in the title of this paper is an historical one. I am not, for example, primarily interested in the term 'Platonism' as used by modern philosophers to stand for a particular theory under discussion – a theory, which it is typically acknowledged, no one may have actually held.1 I am rather concerned to understand and articulate on an historical basis the core position of that 'school' of thought prominent in antiquity from the time of the 'founder' up until at least the middle of the 6th century C.E.2 Platonism was unquestionably the dominant philosophical position in the ancient world over a period of more than 800 years. Epicureanism is perhaps the sole major exception to the rule that in the ancient world all philosophers took Platonism as the starting-point for speculation, including those who thought their first task was to refute Platonism. Basically, Platonism sent the ancient philosophical agenda. Given this fact, understanding with some precision the nature of Platonism is obviously a desirable thing for the historian of ancient philosophy
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DOI 10.1353/hph.2005.0136
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