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Book Reviews Wolfgang Wieland. Platon und die Formen des Wissens. G6ttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1982. Pp. 339- 72 DM, cloth; 59 DM, paper. Wieland's Platon und die Formen des Wissens is make up of three roughly equivalent chapters: the first is an overview of Plato's written work; the second, a discussion of the Platonic ideas and their function; and the third, a treatment of the subject indicated by the title of the book itself, the forms of knowing. In each of these chapters we are treated to a variety of subjects. In the first chapter, for example, the author offers a commentary on Plato's criticism of writing as a means of conveying understanding, as this criticism is found in the Phaedrus and in the Seventh Letter. He then discusses the different theories about Plato's written and unwritten doctrines. He continues the chapter with a section on the dialogue as a medium for philosophical thought, another on the different types of Platonic dialogues, and a final one on the question of Plato's development and the fictive chronology of the dialogues, as found in the dialogues themselves. The same pattern is repeated in the second chapter (the problem of the theory of ideas, the critique of the idea theory, ideas without the idea theory, etc.) Presumably all this will be tied together, one guesses, in the final chapter, and one anticipates an intellectual tour de force. My expectations, at least, were not totally unfulfilled. The author makes use of many of the key concepts introduced in the earlier chapters to elucidate his discussion of propositional and nonpropositional knowing, of knowing and the knower, of technical and practical knowing, of deviant will and the teleology of behavior, of knowing and opinion, and of the reflexive structure of knowing and behaving. Characteristic of his treatment of subjects is his consideration of nonpropositional knowing. While no theory of this form of knowing can be found in Plato's writings, such a theory can be developed from them, i.e., a theory centered on the essential criterion of nonpropositional knowing as the sort that cannot be negated. A student of Plato, armed with an understanding of this theory, can better grasp what is said (and what is not said) in the dialogues. A reader is likely to finish the book with the feeling that he has had a fresh look at a large number of knowledge-related concepts ferreted out of various places in the Platonic dialogues. The look is often fresh, utilizing as it does the language and and concepts of a number of contemporary writers, such as Ryle and Polanyi. To find material supporting a point he favors, the author moves back and forth between Parmenides, Meno, Republic, Phaedrus, Charmides, Phaedo, Sophist, etc. In all this the author sees himself as a good "Platonic interpreter." By this expression he understands someone who formulates statements about Plato's work, and who draws the- [115] ll6 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 22:1 JAN 1984 ories from that work, even if the theories (e.g., the theory of ideas) are not to be found as such in Plato. Nonetheless, he comes to the end of his study convinced that such interpretations can never leave the realm of shadows described in Republic I. One of my concerns with the work is the use of citations from contemporary writers. The literature on Plato is vast, and no one person could be expected to treat all of it. Wieland demonstrates his familiarity with a good deal of the work that has been done in English; indeed, there are twice as many references to English language works as there are to those in all other languages combined, including the author's own, German. But in any discussion of knowledge and the forms in the Sophist, a writer who ignores G. E. L. Owen's paper, "Plato on Not-being," does so at the price of the loss of some uniquely rewarding insights. Likewise, any discussion of the timing of the Timaeus and its significance should refer to the classic exchange between Owen and Harold Cherniss. The way Wieland presents his views is another matter of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 115-116
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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