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BOOK REVIEWS 311 In short, there are difficulties aplenty in this book. But The Fragility of Goodness is excellent and worthy of careful scrutiny. Even those of us who disagree with many of its central claims will benefit from confronting it. DAVID ROOCHNIK Iowa State University C.J. De Vogel. Rethinking Plato and Platonism. Mnemosyne. Bibliotheca Classica Batava. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1986. Pp. + 253. Paper, Guilders 85. On April 7, 1986, after more than fifty-five years of active participation in scholarly discussions of Plato and Platonism, Plotinus and Neoplatonism, ancient Greek philosophy and Christianity both ancient and modern, Cornelia J. de Vogel died while she was correcting the proofs of Rethinking Plato and Platonism. For this reason and because of its contents the volume seems to be the recapitulation and summation of that long and productive career. The essays collected here, for the most part already published between 1978 and x983, revolve around the question, "Who was Plato, the philosopher ?" (viii), and taken collectively they tell from Mme. de Vogel's point of view the story of Plato studies in the twentieth century, a story in which she herself is a character . The story turns on one central issue, that of the "unwritten doctrines," and therefore around the "Tiibingen-Heidelberg Plato" (viii) in general and H.J. Kr~imer in particular. For de Vogel, as for these German scholars, the question is not whether such doctrines existed, about which she has no doubts, but what exactly they were. Once comprehended, these will serve at once to characterize "Plato, the philosopher," to define Platonism, to enable us to see where and how Plotinus or other Neoplatonists diverged from or misunderstood true Platonism, and, finally, to decide whether there really is, as some have contended, a conflict between Platonism and Christianity. Part one, "Critical Reflections," consists mostly of long, detailed, and closely argued reviews of the principal books published and positions taken on these interwoven issues in our century. The first chapter reviews the literature from 193o to 198o, including prominently Burnet, Taylor, Natorp, Ross, Gomperz, Kr~imer, Gaiser, de Vries, and Solmsen. Chapter two is devoted to Findlay's Plato. The Written and Unwruten Doctrines, chapter three to Guthrie's two volumes in the Cambridge History of Greek Philosophy, and chapter four to some "Italian Reactions to Kr~imer's Plato." In dealing with each of these authors Mme. de Vogel finds much to agree with as well as much to disagree with; no one is simply "right" or "wrong." In general, though, she thinks that Kr~imer and those who follow him correctly argue for the existence of unwritten doctrines, but that they have misunderstood, or have understood too rigidly, their content. Chapter five addresses two problems for Platonists and Neoplatonists today, and argues, as against the eminent English Neoplatonist and translator of Plotinus, A. H. Armstrong, that there is no conflict between Neoplatonism and Christianity, for the 'cosmic dualism' on which Armstrong bases his view is to be found in neither Plato nor Plotinus, properly understood. The three previously published essays of Part two reiterate and make explicit what 312 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 26:2 APRIL 1988 Mme. de Vogel takes to be "The Doctrines"--that is to say, the "unwritten doctrines"-that are Plato's and that constitute Platonism: the metaphysical principles of the One (or First or Good) and the Dyad (or Being), the third hypostasis, noun, the account of human nature that follows from this, and its implications for the human moral situation . The volume concludes with an "Analytical Contents" which gives some guidance to the arguments of the individual essays, but there is neither the Index nor the Bibliography of works cited that would make this volume more useful to those who are not immersed in these discussions already. One might complain about the (perhaps) excessive positivity of some of Mme. de Vogel's judgments; especially on the crucial issue of whether, as against Cherniss and certain others, there were any unwritten doctrines. She notes his contrary opinion, but virtually ignores the arguments in support of it. And that is the general tenor of the various essays; her 'rethinking' leads...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 311-312
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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