The Riddle of the Academy

John Dillon

in The Heirs of Plato

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780198237662
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597336 | DOI:
 The Riddle of the Academy

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In this chapter, Dillon explores a number of questions regarding, firstly, the nature and structure of the Academy that Plato founded and bequeathed to his successors, and, secondly, the nature and doctrines he arrived at before his death. After examining the evidence, Dillon concludes that Plato purchased a private property, with its own garden, in the late 380s, located alongside a grove, or public park, which was outside the walls of Athens, and which was called the Academy after the hero for whom the park was named: Hekademos. Academic discussion in the last stage of Plato's career centres on the Theory of Forms as Form Numbers; in logic, the doctrine of diairesis or the logical divisions; and, in Ethics, the understanding of the virtues as means between extremes of ‘too much’ and ‘too little’; also important is the distinction made in the Laws between goods of the soul and external goods. Much of the physical or cosmological speculation of the Old Academy is focussed on the interpretation of the nest of problems presented by the Timaeus, which is not taken literally by Plato's successors; and on the attempt to reconcile this with Plato's oral teachings, i.e. the Unwritten doctrines.

Keywords: Academy; Athens; cosmology; Ethics; logic; physics; Plato; the One and the indefinite Dyad; Timaeus

Chapter.  11821 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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