To send content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about sending content to .
To send content items to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about sending to your Kindle.
Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
From Plato’s generation onwards it became the practice among leading philosophers to set up a school within one’s own lifetime, and upon one’s own death either to bequeath its headship to one’s own chosen successor, or to entrust to the school’s members the task of electing the next head. It was only with that succession, when the school’s intellectual legacy needed to be defined and secured, that the founder’s authoritative status was likely to come to the fore. The process is nowhere better illustrated than in the Early Academy.
In the preceding chapter I traced the basis on which Xenocrates, Plato’s second successor as head of the Academy, created the original textual canon for building a Platonic system. It emerged that his authoritative Platonic texts were two myths – the creation myth of the Timaeus, and the Phaedrus’ mythical travelogue about the destiny of eternal souls. The latter passage, I argued, was so canonical as to determine, on occasion, how even the former should be interpreted.
Natural teleology, associated above all with Aristotle, and dealt with in a separate chapter of this volume, seeks to establish and elucidate the explanatory role of purposive structures and processes in the natural world, especially biological. Acorns exist for the sake of producing oak trees, eyelids for protecting the eyes. Natural teleology may or may not go on from there to seek the explanatory role of larger cosmic features, such as the shape and position of the earth. Much less does it need to ask – although it is not debarred from asking – the even bigger question, of how those structures and purposes came to be present in the first place. Thus it comes with no unavoidable theological implications.
This lecture was designed as an introduction to Plato's theory of Forms. Reference is made to key passages of Plato's dialogues, but no guidance on further reading is offered, and numerous controversies about the theory's interpretation are left in the background. An initial sketch of the theory's origins in the inquiries of Plato's teacher Socrates is followed by an explanation of the Forms’ primary characteristic, Plato's metaphysical separation of them from the sensible world. Other aspects discussed include the Forms’ metaphysical relation to sensible particulars, their ‘self-predication’, and the range of items that have Forms. Finally, the envisaged structure of the world of Forms is illustrated by a look at Plato's famous Cave simile.