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Henry Jackson's Interpretation of Plato LEO SWEENEY, S.J. HENRY JACKSON, Regius Professor of Greek at Cambridge University, published a series of articles entitled "Plato's Later Theory of Ideas" in the lournal o] Philology from 1882 to 1886. 2 Many scholars took notice of them in the decades immediately subsequent to their publication. R. D. Archer-Hind, who had read them in manuscript, spoke in 1883 of the "entirely new light concerning the development of Plato's thought thrown by Mr. Jackson. ''3 In 1888 he acknowledged a manifest "obligation to Dr. Jackson's essays on the ideal theory .... I am as fully as ever convinced of the high importance of his contribution to the interpretation of Plato. ''4 A. B. Cook affirmed that "Dr. Jackson's papers in lournal of Philology have, to my thinking, established beyond reasonable doubt the chronology of the more important dialogues. ''5 H. F. CarliU contrasted Jackson with Schleiermacher and Zeller in his book, The Theaetetus and Philebus of Plato. e From the I This article is in part excerpted from a book I am writing, Infinity in Plato's 'Thilebus," which is itself a sequel to Infinity in the Presocratics: A Bibliographical and Philosophical Study (l-he Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1972). 2 Here are the subtitles and publishing data of the series: "The Philebus and Aristotle's Metaphysics I 6," Journal of Philology [hereafter abbreviated as JPh], X (1882), 253-298; "The Parmenides," JPh, XI (1882), 287-331; "The Timaeus," JPh, XIII (1885), 1-40; "The Theaetetus ," JPh, XIII, 242-272; "The Sophist," JPh, XIV (1885), 173-230; "The Pofiticus," JPh, XV (1886), 280-305. There is also a seventh article in the series: "The Supposed Priority of the Philebus to the Republic," JPh, XXV (1894), 65-82, in which Jackson reasserted his dating of the Philebus after the Republic in answer to critics. His first paper on Plato is also important: "On Plato's Republic VI 509D sqq.," JPh, X (1882), 132-150. References in subsequent paragraphs to "Plato's Later Theory of Ideas" will be to journal, volume and page. The Phaedo of Plato with Introduction, Notes and Append&es (London: Macmillan and Co., 1883), p. 33. 4 The Timaeus of Plato Edited with Introduction and Notes (London: Macmillan and Co., 1888), p. vii. 5 The Metaphysical Basis of Plato's Ethics (Cambridge: Deighton Bell and Co., 1895), p. xiv. London: Swan Sonnensehein and Co., 1906. Friedrich Schleiermacher (I 768-1834) exercised influence upon Platonic studies by the German translation he made of Plato and by the introductions he wrote for the dialogues translated. These introductions were translated into English by William Dobson, Schleiermacher's Introductions to the Dialogues of Plato (Cambridge: J. and J.J. Deighton; London: John William Parker, 1836). The German text Dobson translated was F. Schleiermacher, Platons Werke, 2rid ed. (Berlin: Realschulbuchhandlung und G. Reimer, 1817 sq.). Schleiermacher proposed what can be described as the "preconceived system" theory: Plato at the beginning of his intellectual career had elaborated the essentials of a philosophic system, which he then expressed in his dialogues, each of which is related to the others, the earlier ones preparing for the later ones, which in turn complete them. In time this proposal was set aside for the "genetic" theory (see below, note 28), buttressed by stylometrics. Eduard Zeller (1814-1908) began pubfishing on Plato in 1839 with Platonischen Studien [189] 190 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY time of Schleiermacher "down to the closing years of the nineteenth century, there existed a definite traditional interpretation of Platonism, which it was orthodox to accept and heterodox to reject" and which "is best represented by ZeUer's volume on Plato.''T This "traditional Platonism is a wholly unphilosophical medley of myth, mysticism, false science, false psychology, and sentimental morality.''8 Then Henry Jackson came upon the scene and definitely broke "with this tradition, by seeking to distinguish two separate and clearly marked stages in the progress of Plato's thought. And this, however one may quarrel with the details of the reconstruction, is in itself a notable advance; for practically all the errors which vitiate the traditional interpretation may be traced back to the false perspective in which...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 189-204
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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