Plato’s Theory of Forms | Resources

Readings & resources for MSCP Evening School, Sem II, 2021

Welcome

Thank you for enrolling in Plato’s Theory of Forms. This course provides a comprehensive introduction to Plato’s formal approach to science through a close reading of his dialogues. No prior knowledge of Plato is required but students are expected to engage with the Platonic approach through studying his writings and though related meditations on the nature of their experience and thought.

Access to Plato’s dialogues

As the course relies heavily on a close reading of Plato, it is Plato’s actual writings that are important rather than the secondary or tertiary literature. Therefore, students are encourage early to access a broad range of Plato’s dialogues in whatever format they find comfortable. No texts have been uploaded to the ‘Box folder’ but this document contain references to print version and links to online versions.

Translations & editions

Some translations are better than others. As a general rule, translation make in the last 110 years are better than those prior. There are some very good translations from last century now in the public domain that are easy to access online. Avoid any translation that does not have standard pagination (hint: look out for page numbering in the margins different from the actual numbering of the pages in the edition you are reading).

Collected works

The Collected Dialogues (Bollingen edition) has old but good translations of all the dialogues important for this course. Second hand print copies are often cheap. (pdf )

David Horan has made a good new translation that is almost complete and free on the internet.

Benjamin Jowett’s 19th century translation is rather dated but readily available through various publishers. It is also online through Guttenberg (no standard pagination!) & as read on LibriVox recordings.

Individual dialogues

Penguin and Oxford publish the more popular dialogues, including most that we will use. These are usually good recent translations with excellent notes and introductions. In most cases either translation will do. By arrangement, one or the other should be readily available through Reading bookshop.

Loeb Greek/English editions

Loeb editions with parallel Greek/English text are recommended for those keen for a close engagement with the original Greek. Some of the translations are out of copyright and readily available online.

A to Z by dialogue

Here is a quick index of dialogues and options for access.
(If you find other good options please let us know!)

Apology in Euthyphro, Apology, Phaedo, Phaedrus Loeb pdf | also in Penguin as Last Days of Socrates | Horan

Euthyphro, Apology, Phaedo, Phaedrus in Loeb pdf | also in Penguin as Last Days of Socrates | Horan

Ion This dialogue is difficult to obtain. It is in this Yale collection translated by Allen | pdf copyright?| See also in Penguin Classical literary criticism | Guttenberg online | Not yet published by Horan.

Meno in Loeb pdf | Also in Penguin | Horan |

Parmenides Horan | Loeb in print |

Phaedo in Euthyphro, Apology, Phaedo, Phaedrus Loeb pdf | also in Penguin in two versions with the same title, Last Days of Socrates. We recommend the Tarrant translation | Horan |

Phaedrus in Euthyphro, Apology, Phaedo, Phaedrus Loeb pdf | Horan’s translation | in Penguin

Republic Loeb Vol I, Bk 1-5 pdf | Vol II, Bk 6-10 pdf | also in two versions in Penguin. We recommend the Lee trans. | Horan |

Sophist in Theaetetus and Sophist Loeb pdf | Recommended is the old Cornford translation e.g., in CUP | or with running commentary as Plato’s theory of knowledge pdf | Horan |

Theaetetus and Sophist Loeb pdf | Recommended is the old Cornford translation e.g., in CUP or with running commentary as Plato’s theory of knowledge pdf | Horan

Preliminary Reading (other authors)

There is no set reading for the first class, however some reading around two topics would be helpful.

The problem of reference in epistemology
Classic presentation of this problem are:

  • Descartes, RenĂ© Meditations on First Philosophy | download pdf CUP | Meditations & Discourse on Method Penguin |
  • Russell, Bertrand The Problems of Philosophy dowload pdf | out of copyright so easy to obtain eg here.

The triumph of logicism over mathematical mysticism is the foundations of mathematics debate
For a flavour of this debate try:

  • Russell, Bertrand ‘Mysticism and Logic’ Chapter 1 in Mysticism and logic and other essays | download pdf |
  • PoincarĂ©, Henri ‘The last efforts of the logisticians’ Pt II, Ch V in Science and Method | download pdf

Weekly readings

Find weekly reading from Plato’s dialogues in the ‘Course outline’ available as a separate document and also at the bottom of the MSCP Semester II page.