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Chapter 2 - From Plato to Augustine

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 February 2018

Erik Kenyon
Affiliation:
Rollins College, Florida
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Summary

Augustine claims to be following a “Platonic” method. While he had little direct knowledge of Plato’s works, his method of Aporetic debate, Reflection on rational activity and Plausible conclusions (ARP) bears striking resemblance to Plato’s Meno with its paradox of inquiry, theory of recollection and geometry lesson. Meno combines two methods: the elenchus of Plato’s “Socratic” dialogues and the hypothetical method his from “middle” works, e.g. Republic and Symposium. These strands separate as Cicero’s skeptical dialogues present a formalized version of Socratic elenchus, while Plotinus’ Enneads, e.g. 1.6 “On Beauty,” give a distilled version of hypothetical method. I suggest that Augustine recombines these strands to create ARP. Aporetic debate is taken from Cicero; reflection on rational activity from Plotinus; plausible conclusions have roots in both. Augustine claims his Platonic pedigree in Contra Academicos’ “secret history” which suggests that Academic skeptics such as Cicero shared the same doctrinal and methodological commitments as Plotinus and Plato himself. Whatever the historical validity of this thesis, it shows Augustine using his predecessors to think with.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2018

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  • From Plato to Augustine
  • Erik Kenyon, Rollins College, Florida
  • Book: Augustine and the Dialogue
  • Online publication: 16 February 2018
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108525558.003
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  • From Plato to Augustine
  • Erik Kenyon, Rollins College, Florida
  • Book: Augustine and the Dialogue
  • Online publication: 16 February 2018
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108525558.003
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

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 Google Drive.

  • From Plato to Augustine
  • Erik Kenyon, Rollins College, Florida
  • Book: Augustine and the Dialogue
  • Online publication: 16 February 2018
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108525558.003
Available formats
×