Mind of God, point of view of man, or spirit of the world? Platonism and organicism in the thought of Kant and Hegel
In his account of Plato’s ideas in the first book of the “Transcendental Dialectic”, “On the concepts of pure reason”, Kant, in describing how for Plato ideas were “archetypes of things themselves”, adds that these ideas “flowed from the highest reason, through which human reason partakes in them”.1 Later, in the section of the Transcendental Dialectic treating the “ideals of pure reason”, he again attributes to Plato the notion of a “divine mind” within which the “ideas” exist. An “ideal”, Kant says, “was to Plato, an idea in the divine understanding”.2 But as the editors of the Cambridge University Press translation of the Critique of Pure Reason point out, the idea of a divine mind as container of the ideas was not Plato’s and did not originate until the “syncretistic Platonism from the period of the Middle Academy”. From there it “was later adopted by Platonists as diverse as Philo of Alexandria, Plotinus and St Augustine, and became fundamental to later Christian interpretations of Platonism”.
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