Friday, July 4, 2008

H.A. Wolfson on the History of the Platonic Ideas

I just finished reading some background material for the dissertation, an essay by Harry Wolfson on the interpretation of the Platonic ideas from Philo to Christianity and Islam. He concluded with an amusing (or so I thought) summary modelled on the Biblical geneologies which he said had the best manner of showing historical processes. This is from "Extradeical and Intradeical Interpretations of Platonic Ideas", reprinted in Religious Philosophy: A Group of Essays by Harry Austryn Wolfson, 67.

"Now these are the generations of the Platonic ideas.
And Plato lived forty years and begat the ideas.
And the ideas of Plato lived three hundred years and begat the Logos of Philo.
And the Logos of Philo lived seventy years and begat the Logos of John.
And the Logos of John lived six hundred years and begat the attributes of Islam.
And the attributes of Islam lived five hundred and fifty years and begat the attributes of the Schoolmen.
And the attributes of the Schoolmen lived four hundred years and begat the attributes of Descartes and Spinoza.
And the attributes of Spinoza lived two hundred years and begat among their interpreters sons and daughters who knew not their father.

1 comment:

Michael said...

That last line really sells it. Hilarious.