Plato and the Foundations of Metaphysics

A Work on the Theory of the Principles and Unwritten Doctrines of Plato with a Collection of the Fundamental Documents

By Hans Joachim Kramer
Edited and translated by John R. Catan

Subjects: Metaphysics
Paperback : 9780791404348, 346 pages, October 1990
Hardcover : 9780791404331, 346 pages, October 1990

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Table of contents

Preface to the American Edition by Hans J. Kramer
Preface to the Italian Edition by Hans J. Kramer
Introduction: The "Italian Plato" of Hans Kramer
Note by the Translator of the American Edition

Part One: The Loss and Recovery of the Indirect Platonic Tradition: The Position of Schleiermacher and Its Consequences

1. The Arguments of Schleiermacher in the Introductions to the Translation of Plato


The Essential Relations between the Artistic Form and the Philosophical Content in Plato According to Schleiermacher
The Interpretation of the Phaedrus Proposed by Schleiermacher and Its Inadequacy
The Meaning of the Criticism of Writing in the Phaedrus According to Modern Followers of Schleiermacher and the Interpretation of the School of Tubingen
The Position of Schleiermacher in Relation to the Seventh Letter and the References in the Dialogues to the Unwritten Doctrines
The Position of Schleiermacher in Relation to the Unwritten Doctrines and the Indirect Tradition


2. Schleiermacher's Premises Inspired by the Idealistic Philosophy of Identity


The Historical and Theoretical Conditions of the Plato of Schleiermacher
The Genesis of the Hermeneutic Presupposition of the Autonomy of the Written Works in Schleiermacher
The Romantic Conception of the Unity of Art and Philosophy as a Fundamental Presupposition of the Interpretation of Plato by Schleiermacher
The Role of F. Schlegel in the Formation of Schleiermacher's Interpretation of Plato
The Affinities and Convergences of the Theoretical Positions of Schleiermacher and Schelling
Concluding Summary


3. The Ascent and Crisis of Schleiermacherianism


The First Dissenting Voices
E. Zeller
P. Shorey and H. Cherniss
The Reaction of the Twentieth Century (L. Robin, H. Gomperz, School of Tubingen, J. N. Findlay)
The School of Tubingen and the New Method of Research Introduced by It
The Convergence of the Researches of J. N. Findlay with the Acquisitions of the School of Tubingen


4. On the Methodology and the Standards of Argument of Modern Schleiermacherianism


The Problem of Authenticity
The Criterion of Contradiction
The Problem of the Doxographic Traditions
The Value of the Self-Testimonies of Plato
To Write on the Unwritten Doctrines
Method and Ideology


5. Conclusion: The Relation between the Direct and Indirect Platonic Tradition and the Significance of the Platonic Dialogues


The Structural Relations between the Direct and Indirect Tradition
The Significance of the Platonic Dialogue


Part Two: The Philosophical Structure of the Platonic Theory of the Principles, Its Content, and Its Historical Significance

6. The Unified Structure of Platonic Philosophy


The Theory of the Principles as the Ultimate Foundation that Goes Beyond the Theory of Ideas
The Original Bipolarity of the Principles (Unity and Multiplicity)
Being as a Mixture of Unity and Multiplicity
The Different Levels of the Constitution of Being
The Construction of Mathematical, Geometrical, and Stereometrical Realities
The Categorial Division and Its Significance
The Process of the Reduction to the Elements and the Process of Generalization (the Principles as Elements and Genera)
The Regressive and Derivative Procedures (ratio cognoscendi and ratio essendi)
The Four Levels of Reality, Their Relations, and Their Internal Structures
The Doctrine of the Principles as the Foundation of All the Spheres of Being and the Doctrine of a Universal Science
The Axiological Significance of the Theory of Principles and the FIrst Formulation of the Theory of the Transcendentals
The Operational Polyvalence of the Principles
The Dialectical Method
The Type of System and the Type of Theory that Belong to Platonic Philosophy
The Claim of Validity of the Platonic Systematic


7. The Relation of the Unwritten Doctrines to the Dialogues


The Problem of the Evolution of the Philosophy of Plato
The Republic
The Phaedo and the Symposium
The Parmenides
The Dialogues Later than the Parmenides: The Sophist, Timaeus, Philebus, Statesman, and the Laws
Allusions to Some Dialogues of the First Phase


8. The Place of the Theory of the Principles in the History of Ancient Philosophy


Relations with the Presocratics and Socrates
Relations with Aristotle
Relations with Hellenism and with Neoplatonism


Part Three: The Philosophical Implications of the Platonic Theory of the Principles and Viewpoints for Its Interpretation

9. The Theory of the Principles in the Light of Analytic Philosophy


Analysis of the Platonic Theory of the Principles from the Linguistic Viewpoint
analysis of the Platonic Theory of Principles from the Methodological-Logical Standpoint
The Third Man Argument in the Light of Recent Research
The Platonic Theory of the Principles as a Philosophical Axiomatic


10. The Theory of the Principles in the Light of Trancendental Philosophy


The Comparison between Platonism and Criticism Made by the School of Marburg
The Further Perspectives Opened by the School of Tubingen: the Role of the Tanscendental Foundation to the Platonic Principles
Starting Points Concerning the Theory of the Subject in Plato and Their Limits
The Problem of the Justification of the Validity of Knowledge in Transcendental Philosophy and Plato
The Theory of the Constitution of Reality in Kant and Plato
The Progressive Procedure and the Regressive Procedure in Kant and in Plato
The Conception of System in the Unwritten Doctrines of Plato and Its Relation with the Modern and Transcendental Conception
Conclusion: Historical Antecedents of Transcendental Philosophy in Platonic Ontology


11. The Theory of the Principles in the Light of Hegelianism


A Comparison between the Platonic Theory of the Principles and Hegel's Logic
Identity and Difference in Hegel and the Unwritten Doctrines of Plato
The Linear Progression and Nexuses of the System in Plato and Hegel
The Coherence Theory of Truth in Plato and in Hegel
Concluding Remarks with Special Regard to the Concept of Measure in Plato and Hegel


12. The Theory of the Principles in the Light of Phenomenology and the Philosophy of Heidegger


Contacts and Divergences between Platonism and Phenomenology
The Theory of the Principles in the Pre-phenomenological Phase of Husserl
The Theory of the Principles in the Phenomenological Writings of Husserl
The Platonic Theory of the Principles and Heideggerian Ontology


Part Four: Conclusions: Illusion of PLato or Agony of Schleiermacherianism?

13. On the Problem of the Theoretical Evaluation of the Unwritten Doctrines


The New Total Picture of Plato
The Relations between the New Total Picture of Plato and the Principal Currents of Contemporary Philosophy
The Systematic Evaluation of the Theory of the Principles of Plato



1. The "Self-Testimonies" of Plato


Plato, Phaedrus 274B6-278E3
Plaro, Epistle VII 340B1-345C3


2. The References of the Platonic Writings to Selected Unwritten Doctrines


Plato, Protagoras 356E8-357C1
Plato, Meno 76E3-77B1
Plato, Phaedo 107B4-10
Plato, Republic 506D2-507A2
Plato, Republic 509C1-11
Plato, Parmenides 136D4-E3
Plato, Sophist 254B7-D3
Plato, Statesman 284A1-E8
Plato, Timaeus 48C2-E1
Plato, Timaeus 53C4-D7
Plato, Laws 894A1-5


3. The Chief Reports of the Unwritten Doctrines (Testimonia Platonica)


(a) Testimonies on the Existence of the Unwritten Doctrines
(b) The Whole of the Doctrine with the Theory of the Dimensions and the Categories
(c) Axiology



Select Bibliography on the Problematic of the Unknown Doctrines if Plato
Names of the Ancient Authors Cited
Names of Modern Authors Cited
Index of Agreements between the Testimonia Platonica of Gaiser and Kramer


This is a book about the relationship of the two traditions of Platonic interpretation -- the indirect and the direct traditions, the written dialogues and the unwritten doctrines. Kramer, who is the foremost proponent of the Tubingen School of interpretation, presents the unwritten doctrines as the crown of Plato's system and the key revealing it.

Kramer unfolds the philosophical significance of the unwritten doctrines in their fullness. He demonstrates the hermeneutic fruitfulness of the unwritten doctrines when applied to the dialogues. He shows that the doctrines are a revival of the presocratic theory renovated and brought to a new plane through Socrates. In this way, Plato emerges as the creator of classical metaphysics.

In the Third Part, Kramer compares the structure of Platonism, as construed by the Tubingen School, with current philosophical structures such as analytic philosophy, Hegel, phenomenology, and Heidegger.

Of the five appendices, the most important presents English translations of the ancient testimonies on the unwritten doctrines. These include the "self-testimonies of Plato. " There is also a bibliography on the problem of the unwritten doctrines.

Hans Joachim Kramer is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Tubingen. Co-founder, with Conrad Gaiser, and Director of the Platon-Archiv of the Philological Institute of the University of Tubingen, he has been actively publishing in the field of Platonic research for over 30 years. John R. Catan is Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York, College at Brockport.