Philosophical Platonism: Plato and the Problems of Philosophy
In this thesis, I seek to provide an account of the function of philosophical practice as it arose in Classical Greece with the work of Plato. In Chapter 1, I argue for the plausibility of engaging in metaphilosophical discourse as separate from philosophical discourse by establishing a distinction between various levels of philosophical problems. Chapter 2 focuses in greater depth on the nature of problems as normative grounds for philosophical practice. I demonstrate there that problems may serve as the centrepiece of a teleological explanation in virtue of the demands they make on systems, such as that in which philosophical practice is an item. From here, I need only identify which problems are germane to the genesis of philosophy and how these problems translate into norms that regulate philosophical practice. Chapter 3 concerns the former effort by examining the political context of Archaic and Classical period Greece and the responses to stasis that ultimately culminated in philosophy. In Chapter 4, I examine the latter effort, demonstrating through an interpretation of Plato's early dialogues, primarily the Apology, Crito, and Gorgias, that Plato was cognizant of the problems that I identified in Chapter 3. From there, I derive the central norms that Plato set out in response to those problems. This position is what I called Philosophical Platonism, but throughout the subsequent centuries, alternatives to Philosophical Platonism arose and ultimately overtook philosophical practice. I conclude in Chapter 5 with an examination of the process by which this occurred and an assessment of what we, far removed from these events, should take from it.