Contact: Dr. Heinrich C. Kuhn
Document created: 2005-06-09
Last update: 2005-06-09
Jeck, Udo Reinhold
Aufdeckung einer philosophischen Tradition
Frankfurt a.M. [Vittorio Klostermann] 2004
687 p.,  f. ISBN: 3-465-03361-2
Price: EUR 98.00
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This title was reviewed by: Martin Mulsow of "Seminar für Geistesgeschichte und Philosophie der Renaissance"
Item arrived at GGREN on: 2005-05-13
Review was finished on: 2005-07-08
This book, a Habilitationsschrift at the University of Bochum, fills a real gap. Since long time (since Kerschensteiner’s "Platon und der Orient", 1945), there was no monograph on Plato and the oriental tradition, and nearly no overall survey existed on the history of "orientalizing" Platonism from Antiquity to modern times. Jeck handles this difficult task with great abilities and profound learning.
He first examines the state of the art in Plato exegesis concerning influences from the East and myths like Plato’s alleged travel to Egypt. Then he differentiates the diverse traditions of orientalizing Platonism in Aegyptiaca, Persica, Babylonica, Assyrica-Chaldaica, Phoenicia-Sidonica, Hebraica and even Indica. These are the branches of ancient Platonism (pp. 43-144), where philosophers like Iamblichos or Damaskios created pictures of a Plato who inherited traditions of ancient wisdom.
Jeck continues with a very valuable part on medieval philosophy – the core of his original field of research (pp. 145-264). We can read there fascinating pages about medieval Hermeticism mingled with Platonism, in erudites like Berthold von Moosburg or Albert the Great. The section on the Renaissance (pp. 265-426) deals with mainly with Ficino, Reuchlin, Agrippa and Patrizi. The book is not in all details familiar with the current secondary literature on these figures, but due to the profound ancient and medieval background it nevertheless sheds much light on the "Platonism" of this Renaissance current. It is instructive to compare Jeck’s book (especially in its Renaissance chapters) with the similar undertaking by Michael Stausberg (Faszination Zarathushtra. Zoroaster und die Europäische Religionsgeschichte der Frühen Neuzeit, 2 vols. Berlin: De Gruyter, 1998). Taken together, both books enable us to see the "prisca sapientia" of the Renaissance in its real "long durée". Both show, how much historical construction (due to misattributions, to false chronologies, to reception myths) is in this "prisca sapientia", but also how fascinating and complex the construction was.
A final chapter follows the "Platonica orientalia" into German Idealism and Romanticism, a time when this kind of orientalism had its last heyday (pp. 427-542). Schelling in particular, with all his historico-philological erudition and philosophical brightness, attempted a last synthesis of old Persian philosophy of time and modern transcendental idealism.
Six indexes (!) provide the reader with all possibilities to use Jeck’s work for their particular purposes.
This important and rich book deserves all attention of the scholarly community.
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Author1: Jeck, Udo Reinhold main Title: Platonica Orientalia subtitle: Aufdeckung einer philosophischen Tradition place of publ.: Frankfurt a.M. publisher: Vittorio Klostermann year: 2004 no of pages etc.: 687 p.,  f. ISBN: 3-465-03361-2 currency: EUR price: 98.00