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» » Plato and Platonism
Plato and Platonism


Walter Horatio Pater


Plato and Platonism


Politics & Social Sciences

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1594 kb

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1101 kb

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1137 kb

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Echo Library (July 17, 2006)







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Plato and Platonism by Walter Horatio Pater

His devotion to the austere and abstract philosophy of Parmenides, its passivity or indifference, could not repress the opulent genius of Plato, or transform him into a cynic. Another ancient philosopher, Pythagoras, set the frozen waves in motion again, brought back to Plato's recognition all that multiplicity in men's experience to which Heraclitus had borne such emphatic witness; but as rhythm or melody now--in movement truly, but moving as disciplined sound and with the reasonable soul of music in it.
One gets the impression from the description that Bloom "edited" this text; so I bought it in the hope that there would be an interpretive essay on the place of these lectures in Pater's intellectual development, and some annotations on contemporary or ancient references that are a little obscure now. But in fact Bloom is the *general editor* of the series "Prophets of Sensibility," of which this is a part. All he contributes to the volume is a 2 1/2 page preface, on these "Precursors of Modern Cultural Thought" (19th-century English critics and philosophers who Bloom thinks have been overshadowed by Nietzsche as harbingers of modernity); Pater is his prime "prophet," but the preface focuses exclusively on Pater's *Renaissance*, and does not even so much as mention his *Plato and Platonism*! For all I know, this same preface was stuck onto the beginning of every book in the series.

The text itself is nothing more than a photocopied reproduction of the 1901 edition of the lectures (which I already own, so a bit of a waste of money all round!), completely unmodified, no modern footnotes or anything like that.
It is FREE! How can free be bad!!!!! THANK YOU!
The ranking of 3 stars might be a little harsh, but this book is good depending on your interests. If one would want to read this book for an explanation of Plato and Socrates, then I would highly recommend it. If one wanted a book on strictly philosophy, then I might suggest another book. But all in all, it was okay.
This book was first published in 1910, the printed edition has 229 pages. The author Walter Pater studied Classics at Oxford University, and was interested in philosophy and ancient history and culture. Pater died in 1894, so this book was published posthumusly.

I find this book not easy to read; there are easier introductions to the philosophy of Plato available. To see what I mean by 'not easy' see the 2 samples I have copied below. I can only recommend this book if you're really very interested in Plato, and don't have too many difficulties reading Plato and the author of this book, Pater.

The contents of this book is:

1. Plato and the Doctrine of Motion
2. Plato and the Doctrine of Rest
3. Plato and the Doctrine of Number
4. Plato and Socrates
5. Plato and the Sophists
6. The Genius of Plato
7. The Doctrine of Plato
I. The Theory of Ideas
II. Dialectic
8. Lacedaemon
9. The Republic
10. Plato's Aesthetics

As sammples of this book and the way it is written I have copied the first few lines of the first chapter and the first few lines of the second chapter:

From the first chapter:
WITH the world of intellectual production, as with that of organic
generation, nature makes no sudden starts. Natura nihil facit per
saltum; and in the history of philosophy there are no absolute
beginnings. Fix where we may the origin of this or that doctrine or
idea, the doctrine of "reminiscence," for instance, or of "the
perpetual flux," the theory of "induction," or the philosophic view of
things generally, the specialist will still be able to find us some
earlier anticipation of that doctrine, that mental tendency. The most
elementary act of mental analysis takes time to do; the most
rudimentary sort of speculative knowledge, abstractions so simple that
we can hardly conceive the human mind without them, must grow, and with

From the second chapter:
OVER against that world of flux,
Where nothing is, but all things seem,
it is the vocation of Plato to set up a standard of unchangeable
reality, which in its highest theoretic development becomes the world
of "eternal and immutable ideas," indefectible outlines of thought, yet
also the veritable things of experience: the perfect Justice, for
instance, which if even the gods mistake it for perfect Injustice is
not moved out of its place; the Beauty which is the same, yesterday,
to-day and for ever. In such ideas or ideals, "eternal" as
participating in the essential character of the facts they represent to
us, we come in contact, as he supposes, with the insoluble, immovable
granite beneath and amid the wasting torrent of mere phenomena.

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