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The Heirs of Plato

John Dillon

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780198237662
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597336 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198237669.001.0001

Series: Oxford Philosophical Monographs

The Heirs of Plato

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In this book, John Dillon investigates the development of the Academy in the 70 years after Plato's death in 347 b.c. He discusses the careers of the Academy's chief figures, in particular, Speusippus, Xenocrates, and Polemo, the three successive heads in the period generally known as ‘The Old Academy’. Dillon's main thesis is that these philosophers set the agenda for the major intellectual traditions that were to follow: Speusippus stimulated developments in what became known as ‘Neopythagoreanism’, which itself was to prove fruitful for ‘Neoplatonism’; Xenocrates initiated much of what we call ‘Middle Platonism’; while Polemo anticipated the chief ethical doctrines of the Stoics. Dillon proposes to argue that the basis of all later Platonism, and to some extent Stoicism as well, is laid down during the period in question by a series of innovations in, and consolidations of, Plato's teachings; furthermore, Dillon considers how, and how much, of the philosophy of Aristotle was absorbed into Platonism. Ch. 1 discusses the physical and organizational structure of the Academy under Plato, focussing on problems to do with the actual location of the Academy and on the methods, goals, and themes of its research. Special attention is paid to the relationship between Plato's written and unwritten doctrines. Ch. 2, 3, and 4 are devoted to individual studies of lives and doctrines of the three heads of the Academy after Plato: Speusippus, Xenocrates, and Polemo respectively. Ch. 5 discusses the contributions of four minor figures connected with the Academy: Philippus of Opus, Hermodorus of Syracuse, Heraclides of Pontus, and Crantor of Soli. In the Epilogue, Dillon discusses the relations of the Academy with both Peripatos and the Stoa.

Keywords: Academy; ancient philosophy; Aristotle; history of philosophy; Middle Platonism; Neoplatonism; Old Academy; Plato; Platonism; Polemo; Speusippus; Stoicism; Xenocrates

Book.  262 pages. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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Table of Contents

The Riddle of the Academy in The Heirs of Plato

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Minor Figures in The Heirs of Plato

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