Forms, Matter, and Mind: Three Strands of Plato’s Metaphysics

The Hague, Boston, London: Distributors for the United States, Kluwer Boston (1982)
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Forms, Matter and Mind. Three Strands in Plato’s Metaphysics This book offers a new interpretation of Plato’s conception of man and of how it develops in the Corpus. Commonly, Plato’s anthropology is considered to be a version of naïve Orphism with the soul being a heavenly, but fallen, daemon. This is shown to be a misleading over-simplification. An examination of three basic and interrelated strands in Plato’s thought (Forms, Matter and Mind) demonstrates how Plato’s conception of man is an integrated part of his metaphysics and develops with it. Thus, a change can be seen from a fairly unreflecting Socratic beginning via a transcendent soul to a rather sophisticated ‘Aristotelianism’. What is at issue is a non-materialistic, or more precisely, a dualistic view of man that has been discredited in modern times by two preconceptions: a widespread opinion that dualism must mean or involve Cartesianism, which seems untenable, and an equally widespread and, until recently, unshaken belief that man can be exhaustively described in materialistic terms. Both assumptions are questioned today. The present work shows that Plato’s view of man is fundamentally different from Cartesianism and furthermore that he rejects the materialist view as well. Hence, the book shows Plato’s increasing relevance for the current debate on the nature and possibilities of man.

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Erik Ostenfeld
Aarhus University

Citations of this work

Plato on kinds of animals.David B. Kitts - 1987 - Biology and Philosophy 2 (3):315-328.
Fleshly love, platonic love in the Symposium.María Angélica Fierro - 2019 - Estudios de Filosofía (Universidad de Antioquia) 59.

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