In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

BOOK REVIEWS 99 wir ihn konfrontieren (S.95, 147). Auch wer mit Piepers Stellungnahmen nicht einverstanden ist, wird ihnen schwerlich seinen Respekt versagen k6nnen. PHILIP MERLAN Scripps College Platonismus und Christliche Philosophic. By Ernst Hoffmann. (Zurich and Stuttgart: Artemis-Verlag, 1960. Pp. 502.) Ernst Hoffmann (1880-1952), one of the leading German historians of philosophy of his generation, was best known for his studies on Plato and his influence, and as the chief editor of the critical edition of Nicolaus Cusanus' works which is still being published under the auspices of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences.1He taught for many years at the MommsenGymnasium in Berlin, and at the University of Heidelberg, and this reviewer is proud of having been one of his pupils at both institutions. Hoffmann's numerous publications are widely scattered and difficult of access, and the present volume, edited by W. Riiegg, in collaboration with H. G. Gadamer and P. Wilpert, will be most welcome to all scholars interested in the history of philosophy. It makes available a significant selection of Hoffmann's smaller studies that deal with a number of thinkers and problems from Plato to Kant and were published between 1923 and 1949 (including two papers not previously published). There is an epilogue by Riiegg (pp. 498-499), and a biography of Hoffmann, with a bibliography of his writings, by P. Wilpert (pp. 479-497).' Hoffmann's interpretation of Plato is represented in this volume by a paper entitled "Platon und der Platonismus" (pp. 42-64), and by a large section of his famous study, "Platonismus und Mittelalter" (pp. 230-311). His monograph on Plato was published separately in 1950. Hoffmann's view of Plato is characterized by a strong emphasis on the sharp dualism between the sense world and the Ideas (p. 230 ff.), on the role of mathematics and dialectic in the thought of Plato, and on the ethical message of the dialogues. His interpretation is fortified by a firm mastery of the entire text and animated by a strong personal and philosophical commitment to Plato's thought as he understands it. He shows little sympathy for the recent tendency to bridge the gap between Plato and Aristotle through a reconstruction of the late Plato and the early Aristotle, and does not hesitate to identify the demiurge of the Timaeus with the idea of the good in the Republic (p. 277), xIt is a pity that R. Klibansky in his bibliographical survey on Cusanus, which is essentially limited to books published between 1949 and 1955, found no occasion to mention Hoffmann's contributions to the subject (International Institute of Philosophy, Philosophy in the MidCentury , A Survey, ed. g. Klibansky, IV, Florence, 1959, pp. 88-94). 2To the bibliography, I should like to add Hoffmann's review of J. Burnet's Platonism (Berkeley, 1928), in: Gnomon, V (1929), 641-648. Another collection of Hoffmann's articles appeared in 1955 under the title: Piidagogischer Humanismus. 100 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY a point on which not all interpreters would agree? He expresses some respect for Aristotle, but considers Platonism and Aristotelianism as basic philosophical alternatives between which no real compromise is possible (p. 433). Since his own preference for Plato is obvious, he cannot help rejecting Aristotle and his school, or to include in this rejection also the ancient and later Neoplatonists who in Hoffmann's view were closer to Aristotle than to Plato, and hence should not be included among the Platonists . As a result, the history of Platonism does not include Plotinus or Ficino, but is limited to the occasional traces of "authentic" Platonism encountered in the later history of thought. This reviewer would prefer a broader conception of Platonism that would include its later transformations and even distortions, and of the history of Western thought that would include more than just two alternatives. Hoffmann himself approached a more adequate understanding of Neoplatonism in his important "Platonismus und Mystik im Altertum" (1935), a study which unfortunately could not be included in the present volume. It is also ironic to note that Hoffmann seems to associate the "philosophia perennis" with scholasticism (p. 337), whereas the concept and the term originated with two Renaissance Platonists (whom...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 99-102
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.