Plato believed God to be an infinitely wise, just, and powerful Spirit; and also that he formed the visible universe out of preexistent amorphous matter, according to perfect patterns of ideas eternally existent in his own mind. Philosophy he considered as being a knowledge of the true nature of things, as discoverable in those eternal ideas after which all things were fashioned. In other words, it is the knowledge of what is eternal, exists necessarily, and is unchangeable; not of the temporary, the dependent, and changeable; and of course it is not obtained through the senses; neither is it the product of the understanding, which concerns itself only with the variable and transitory; nor is it the result of experience and observation; but it is the product of our reason, which, as partaking of the divine nature, has innate ideas resembling the eternal ideas of God. By contemplating these innate ideas, reasoning about them, and comparing them with their copies in the visible universe, reason can attain that true knowledge of things which is called philosophy. Plato's professed followers, the Academics, and the new Platonists, differed considerably from him, yet are called Platonists.
Origin: Cf. F. Platonisme.
(01 Mar 1998)
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