It will be useful to connect the following survey with Giovanni Reale’s important book on Plato, because it reflects forcefully and lucidly the current state of Platonic scholarship. According to Reale, the three historical models of Plato—the Neoplatonic, the Romantic and the currently emerging one—are all paradigms or “disciplinary matrices” in the sense of Thomas Kuhn’s work on scientific theories. This view is fundamentally correct. Reale has adduced sufficient evidence to support it, and Kuhn himself is said to regard favorably the application of his theory to Plato. In the succession of the three paradigms, we may further see a development in which the new view of Plato, which I shall sketch here, assumes the role of a synthesis of the Neoplatonic thesis and its Romantic antithesis in the work of Schleiermacher and Schlegel. Avoiding equally the extremes of too much and too little, the new view neither succumbs to the unhistorical adaptation and systematic transformation of Plato, as does Neoplatonism, nor does it abbreviate his philosophy to the extant literary corpus, as do the Romantics. It takes instead a mediate, historically scrupulous and balanced position between the allegorical interpretation, which prevailed into the eighteenth century, and the subsequently dominant literary interpretation by combining the doxographic tradition, which has its origin in Plato’s oral teaching, with the dialogues and the epistles. This view is careful to include and preserve all the tenable elements of the Romantic paradigm, as, for instance, the correct elements of Schleiermacher’s theory of the dialogue-form. The relation of the new paradigm to the older ones may thus be seen as the correction of the latter and their integration as partial theorems into a more comprehensive general theory.
Keywords Contemporary Philosophy  Continental Philosophy  History of Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 0093-4240
DOI 10.5840/gfpj199619113
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