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Forms, dialectics and the healthy community: the British idealists' receptions of Plato

Tyler, Colin



© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH. All rights reserved. This article counters the dominant misinterpretations of the British idealists' readings of Plato, thereby fundamentally undermining the current historiography of Plato's modern reception in the English-speaking world. Section one introduces the topic, before section two explores the British idealists' celebration of Plato. Section three argues against the fundamental assumption of the current historiography: that the British idealists were dogmatic Neo-Platonic Hegelians. Rather, while the British idealists recognised Plato's sometimes dogmatic formulations of the forms, they saw greater philosophical value in his "searching" texts. They appreciated the provisional, inchoate character of human conceptualisations of the forms and emphasised our responsibility to test them. Section four highlights the British idealists' recognition of Plato's literary turn. Section five demonstrates that, contrary to the received view of Plato scholars, the British idealists themselves were egalitarians who prioritised personal virtue, decentralised debate and local self-determination. I conclude that the British idealists interpreted Plato in ways that differed significantly from Jowett and the current historiography.


Tyler, C. (2018). Forms, dialectics and the healthy community: the British idealists' receptions of Plato. Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie, 100(1), 76-105.

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Oct 21, 2015
Online Publication Date Mar 21, 2018
Publication Date Mar 7, 2018
Deposit Date Nov 26, 2015
Publicly Available Date Mar 8, 2019
Journal Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie
Print ISSN 0003-9101
Electronic ISSN 1613-0650
Publisher De Gruyter
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 100
Issue 1
Pages 76-105
Keywords Plato
Public URL
Publisher URL


Article (1.6 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.

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