Introduction to the Philosophy and Writings of Plato

Introduction to the Philosophy and Writings of Plato

by Thomas Taylor
     
 

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Introduction to the Philosophy and Writings
of Plato, by Thomas Taylor

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net


Title: Introduction to the Philosophy and Writings of Plato

Author: Thomas Taylor

Release Date: November 22, 2003 [EBook #10214]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO Latin-1

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INTRODUCTION TO THE PHILOSOPHY AND WRITINGS OF PLATO

By

THOMAS TAYLOR




"Philosophy," says Hierocles, "is the purification and perfection of human
life. It is the purification, indeed, from material irrationality, and the
mortal body; but the perfection, in consequence of being the resumption of
our proper felicity, and a reascent to the divine likeness. To effect these
two is the province of Virtue and Truth; the former exterminating the
immoderation of the passions; and the latter introducing the divine form to
those who are naturally adapted to its reception."

Of philosophy thus defined, which may be compared to a luminous pyramid,
terminating in Deity, and having for its basis the rational soul of man
and its spontaneous unperverted conceptions,--of this philosophy, August,
magnificent, and divine, Plato may be justly called the primary leader
and hierophant, through whom, like the mystic light in the inmost
recesses of some sacred temple, it first shone forth with occult and
venerable splendour.[1] It may indeed be truly said of the whole of this
philosophy, that it is the greatest good which man can participate: for
if it purifies us from the defilements of the passions and assimilates us
to Divinity, it confers on us the proper felicity of our nature. Hence it
is easy to collect its pre-eminence to all other philosophies; to show
that where they oppose it, they are erroneous; that so far as they
contain any thing scientific they are allied to it; and that at best they
are but rivulets derived from this vast ocean of truth.

------------------
[1] In the mysteries a light of this kind shone forth from the adytum of
the temple in which they were exhibited.
------------------

To evince that the philosophy of Plato possesses this preeminence; that
its dignity and sublimity are unrivaled; that it is the parent of all
that ennobles man; and, that it is founded on principles, which neither
time can obliterate, nor sophistry subvert, is the principal design of
this Introduction.

To effect this design, I shall in the first place present the reader with
the outlines of the principal dogmas of Plato's philosophy. The undertaking
is indeed no less novel than arduous, since the author of it has to tread
in paths which have been untrodden for upwards of a thousand years, and
to bring to light truths which for that extended period have been
concealed in Greek. Let not the reader, therefore, be surprised at the
solitariness of the paths through which I shall attempt to conduct him,
or at the novelty of the objects which will present themselves in the
journey: for perhaps he may fortunately recollect that he has traveled
the same road before, that the scenes were once familiar to him, and that
the country through which he is passing is his native land. At, least, if
his sight should be dim, and his memory oblivious, (for the objects which
he will meet with can only be seen by the most piercing eyes,) and his
absence from them has been lamentably long, let him implore the power
of wisdom,

From mortal mists to purify his eyes,
That God and man he may distinctly see.

Let us also, imploring the assistance of the same illuminating power, begin
the solitary journey.

Of all the dogmas of Plato, that concerning the first principle of things
as far transcends in sublimity the doctrine of other philosophers of a
different sect, on this subject, as this supreme cause of all transcends
other causes. For, according to Plato, the highest God, whom in the
Republic he calls the good, and in the Parmenides the one, is not only
above soul and intellect, but is even superior to being itself. Hence,
since every thing which can in any respect be known, or of which any
thing can be asserted, must be connected with the universality of things,
but the first cause is above all things, it is very properly said by
Plato to be perfectly ineffable.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940016116471
Publisher:
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Publication date:
12/19/2012
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