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or doctrine of archetypal ideas, according to which their originality does
not reside in any phenomenal reality, such as in a particular object or
man, but in the universal idea of the object or man. The phenomena of any
particular thing equals the instantaneous, perishable semblance of the indestructible
essential form or idea. These indestructible ideas are outside of the time-space
continuum, and therefore are infinite. They compose the object or whole
of all knowledge and aspiration which form the one and absolute real Being,
the Platonic supreme idea of the Good.
It is upon this idea of Good that Plato's teachings of the good life for
the individual and state were based. This formed the Platonic value system.
Closely associated with this theory of ideas was the doctrine of reminiscence
or recollection as a theory of knowledge; that is, the soul absorbed ideas
from a previous existence. It is from this previous existence that the idea
of perfection of all things is derived; the remembrance of such perfection
exists with the soul; therefore, all worldly things are recognized as imperfect
replicas of its perfect form. For example, when one writes or prints letter
such as an a, b, or c, he realizes his letters are not perfect but knows
such perfect letters do exist in the ultimate Good.
It cannot be estimated the amount of influence that Platonism exerted on
Aristotle, and the Greek and Roman philosophers known as the Stoics, Marcus,
and especially the Neoplatonists who more keenly developed the theory of
ideas as well as the more mystical aspects of Platonic thought.
Platonism also greatly influenced the Greek and Roman Churchmen. They eagerly
used Plato's theory of ideas, and his one and absolute real Being was God.
Added to this was the impact of Platonic philosophy on the scholastics of
the Middle Ages and Renaissance. There was a Platonic revival in the 19th
century, and the study of his writings continues to this day. A.G.H.