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BOOK REVIEWS 475 of telling in what order the Dialogues, or sub-groups of the Dialogues, had been written. For this composite and literal approach, the theory of ideas (expounded in the Republic and antinomized in the Parmenides) is central--is, indeed, what is called Platonism. Plato's political, educational and aesthetic concerns are taken to be marginal; and the dialogue-form which Plato took the trouble to develop and took care never to abandon is treated as having no significance or purpose, and as an impediment to systematic philosophizing. In this approach, the literary and dramatic unity of each dialogue is not only not noticed, but regularly violated by the later assumption that the myths are to be taken less seriously than the arguments in these dramatic conversations. The systematizing approach, finally, while perceiving bits of humor and irony scattered throughout the Dialogues, has never been responsive to the structural ironies which underlie each and every one of these intellectual and aesthetic constructions. It is indeed ironic that Levi, whose own philosophy he himself characterized as skeptical, was not at all skeptical about the large assumptions of the tradition of Platointerpretation within which he placed himself and of which he made only internal criticisms. V. TEJERA SUNY at Stony Brook Posidonio nei placita di Platone secondo Diogene Laerzio IH. By Mario Untersteiner. (Brescia: Paideia Editrice, 1970. Pp. 125) Modern scholarship was first rather slow to recognize Posidonius as the towering giant of Hellenistic philosophy and science. Almost throughout the 19th century-from 1810 (when an insufficient collection of Posidonian fragments was published) until the eighteen-eighties virtually no attention was paid to this Stoic forerunner of Neoplatonism and the tremendous influence on subsequent antiquity of his all-comprehensive work. Such neglect was possible because of all his numerous writings nothing but fragments scattered over post-Posidonian literature had survived. Since the eighties, however, systematic critical examinations of those fragments in their various textual settings have yielded an awe-inspiring picture of this man who now, with regard to his stupendous universality, has justly been compared with Democritus and Aristotle. Enthusiasm about the rediscovery of this amazing genius has even lured one of his foremost champions into ascribing to him the "invention" of the old (actually pre-Democritean) Weltanschauung of Panzoism. It is only natural that detecting some larger, coherent piece of original Posidonian text would mean an exciting satisfaction for any philological ambition. Exactly this is what the well-known author of this little book is convinced he has accomplished. In Diogenes Laertius, Book III, there are two summarizing presentations of the philosophy of Plato: w167 67-80a and w167 80b-109a. The two are clearly compiled from different sources. And the author claims to have found out that the presentation as given in w167 67-80a is nothing but a genuine, original, verbatim Posidonian text. This would be quite an achievement indeed. Well, after a meticulous examination of the thoroughly--line by line and doctrine by doctrine--substantiated argumentation , one has to admit that, to all appearances, the author's conviction is justified. The exposition, according to the author, by Posidonius, of Plato's tenets is almost exclusively based on their final form as given in the Tirnaeus, the work that was to have such paramount impact on all subsequent philosophical development. Posidonius 476 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY --no matter whether or not those fourteen paragraphs were part of a regular, running commentary--was no doubt a penetrating and admiring interpreter of Plato. And, as every reader knows, particularly this dialogue poses quite a few puzzling problems. Yet, it is almost embarrassing to see that Posidonius (and also the later commentators , for that matter) obviously felt no urge to clear up some of the most bewildering riddles of Timaeus interpretation. To mention only two examples: (1) Plato's contention that earth cannot be changed into any of the three other "elements," and vice versa, because its ultimate particles have the shape of cubes, whereas fire, air and water do change into each other; and (2) the question of how Plato came to the (not very elegant) assumption that two different kinds of triangles were the primary constituents. Neither Posidonius...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 475-476
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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