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The Platonic Forms As Gesetze: Could Paul Natorp Have Been Right?

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Chapter Summary

This chapter attempts to reopen the possibility, largely dismissed by Plato scholars since the demise of Neo-Kantianism in the 1920s, that the Platonic Forms need not after all be regarded as 'things'-purely independent, immutable and eternal objects of knowledge, and may be seen rather as something more like 'laws', structuring principles of knowledge, still immutable and eternal, and possessing objective reality, but nonetheless only acquiring their full realization through the activity of the human mind. For Paul Natorp, the object is really something to be assembled, "delimited," by consciousness, according to the "laws of procedure" that constitute knowledge. The idea that the human mind must impose determination on "the indeterminate but infinitely determinable" is given interesting confirmation by contemporary discoveries in the area of the mechanism of vision.

Keywords: neo-kantianism; Paul Natorp; Plato scholars; platonic forms

10.1163/ej.9789004158412.i-279.52
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