Plato's Doctrine of Ideas

Plato's Doctrine of Ideas

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Plato's Doctrine of Ideas

Plato's Doctrine of Ideas

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Excerpt

The question which this Essay is concerned to put and find some answer to is: What has present-day Psychology to tell us about the Variety of Experience which expresses itself in Plato's Doctrine of Ideas? The importance of this question has been gradually brought home to me by my perusal of various expositions of the Doctrine offered by Plato-scholars in recent times. These expositions, however informing and suggestive they may be in parts, in themselves, as expositions, seem to me to fall short of scientific sufficiency because not controlled from the basis of Psychology. The literary evidence contained in Plato's Dialogues and Aristotle's Criticisms is fully taken, but submitted to the judgement of no court. The cardinal question is not asked: What has present-day Psychology to tell us about the Variety of Experience which expresses itself in the Doctrine of Ideas? The Doctrine is treated as if it were a 'past event' in the 'History of Philosophy' for determining the true nature of which there is such and such documentary evidence which, if only marshalled in the right way, is in itself conclusive. It is as if a commentator on Thucydides should think it unnecessary to submit the literary record of the Plague at Athens to the judgement of present-day medical science in order to ascertain from that authority what precisely the disease is which his author is endeavouring to describe.

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