The Evolution of Theology in the Greek Philosophers: The Gifford Lectures - Vol. 1

By Edward Caird | Go to book overview
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LECTURE FOURTH.

THE BEGINNINGS OF THE PLATONIC IDEALISM.

WE have seen that the Platonic philosophy in its most general aspect may be described as an extension to the universe of the principle which Socrates applied to the life of the individual man, and moreover that this extension was due mainly to the combination of Socratic ideas with ideas derived from the earlier philosophy of Greece. This general statement, however, true as it is, will not enable us to explain the distinctive character of Platonism, unless we follow out at least the main lines of development along which Plato's thought was carried as it absorbed these different elements. This mode of explanation has been made easier and more effective of late years since the order of the Platonic dialogues has been approximately determined by linguistic considerations irrespective even of the doctrines taught in them.

Following such indications we find that, as we might have expected, Plato is in the first instance

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