131 The "Eternity" of the Platonic Forms JOHN WHITTAKER Are the Platonic Forms eternal in the sense that they endure ever- lastingly, or is their eternity such that it transcends duration? The latter alternative is defended by H. Chernissl and is in fact the traditional interpretation of Plato's doctrine, whereas the former view was held by F. M. Cornford2. My present purpose is to show that the traditional interpretation rests upon an insecure basis. In fact, Professor Cherniss' case, and with it the traditional view- point, depends on an interpretation of the word as used by Plato with regard to the being of the Forms. Cherniss3 supposes that is used by Plato in two senses - one referring to time and involving in consequence duration, and the other referring to eternity which transcends duration - and quotes Proclus in support of this contention: (In Tim. 73C-D (I. 239. 2-6 Diehl).) As Cherniss is well aware, the opinion of Proclus in a matter of this nature is worthless unless it receives corroboration from the written word of Plato. As a good Neoplatonist Proclus no doubt believed that here as elsewhere he was interpreting Plato rather than formulating a new
Phronesis – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1968
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