By E.N. Tigerstedt
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Aristotle, nice Greek thinker, researcher, reasoner, and author, born at Stagirus in 384 BCE, used to be the son of Nicomachus, a doctor, and Phaestis. He studied lower than Plato at Athens and taught there (367–47); as a result he spent 3 years on the courtroom of a former scholar, Hermeias, in Asia Minor and at the present married Pythias, certainly one of Hermeias’s family members.
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We are here confronted with a new proof of his inconsistent view of Plato. If we confine ourselves to asking what, according to Wilamowitz, the outcome of Plato's lifelong quest for truth was, we are left in the dark. ^®® In both cases, Plato’s “last word” remains enigmatic. After all, this is not to be over-much regretted. For although Plato, at any rate in his last work, wanted to be a teacher and a prophet, his own works testify against him. ^®^ To the question: what is Platonic philosophy, Wilamowitz boldly answers: Plato.
Neither the reader who asks for Plato’s life nor he who asks for Plato’s philosophy gets his due. If any systematic account of the latter is impossible— as many scholars have thought and still think^^®— then we have more use for a sober account of the content of each Platonic work, such as A. E. Taylor’s P l a t o This is not to deny that Friedländer’s big book is very useful. The author’s mastery of all matters platonic and of Platonic scholarship, which the copious bibliographies and the conscien tious references to earlier scholars evince, makes the book an indispensa ble work o f reference.
The first consists of several parallel and partly overlapping analyses of central aspects of Plato and Platonism, the second in a series of detailed analyses of all the works in a chronological order. In this way, Friedländer tries to escape from his philosophic-philological dilemma. H e does not, like Wilamowitz follow Plato from the cradle to the grave, using his works as biographical documents. But neither does Friedländer give any com prehensive account of Plato’s philosophy. What he says about it in the first part is wholly inadequate.