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Studia Phaenomenologica

Volume 20, 2020

Phenomenology and the History of Platonism

Filip Karfík
Pages 223-238

Critique et appropriation
Les platonismes dans les ecrits de Jan Pato·ka de l’apres-guerre

The paper deals with a series of writings on Plato and Platonism issued by Jan Patočka (1907–1977) in the immediate post-war period. In Eternity and Historicity (1947), he contrasts Platonism as metaphysics of being with Socratism as questioning the meaning of human existence, and criticizes modern forms of Platonism of ethical values interpreted as objectively valid norms. In lectures on Plato (1947–1948), he explains Plato’s theory of Forms in terms of Husserl’s theory of horizontal intentionality and Heidegger’s theory of ontological difference. Similarly, in Negative Platonism (1952) he interprets Plato’s theory of Forms in terms of a distinction he makes between between the eidetic contents (the intelligible Form) and the transcendental character (chōrismos) of the Platonic Idea. The latter is the necessary condition of the former but it does not constitute an intelligible object of its own. Patočka suggests retaining the Platonic notion of transcendence while dissociating it from the metaphysics of intelligible Forms. The paper puts these post-war writings on Plato and Platonism into the context of Patočka’s search for his own position as a phenomenologist.