The Platonic Academy ( ancient Greek Άκαδήμεια Akadḗmeia or Άκαδημία Akadēmía , Latinized Academia ) was the ancient philosophy school founded by Plato in Athens , the oldest and longest-lived institution of its kind in Greece. At the grove of the Attic hero Akademos in the north-west of Athens, outside the city wall, called Akademeia , Plato bought - probably 387 BC. BC - a piece of land on which he set up a cult area for the muses and began to give philosophical and scientific lessons. Over time, the name was transferred from the grove to the school, and the term academician ( Ἀκαδημεικός Akadēmeikós ) became common for the school members .
The lessons took place partly on Plato's property, partly on public property in the nearby gymnasium . Advanced students took on teaching and research tasks. The question of whether and to what extent the transfer of knowledge was formally organized and in what forms it took place is controversial, especially with regard to the role of the teaching lecture. Lessons were usually free of charge and the principle of equal rights for learners, which was unusual for the time, applied, so there was no social ranking based on descent and origin. There is a range of evidence for women at the academy; two pupils of Plato and his successor Speusippus , Axiothea of Phleius and Lastheneia of Mantineia , are known by name. The school members saw themselves as a community, which was expressed in common meals, symposia and celebrations. In this and in the strong emphasis on mathematics as a basic science, Pythagorean influence was probably evident ; Plato had got to know the Pythagorean concept of a study and living community in southern Italy . New for Greece - and probably inspired by the example of the Pythagorean school system in Italy - was the idea that the school did not depend on the presence of the founder, but continued after his death. Research and teaching were - as far as we could see - in principle free , whereby the fact that Plato rejected a dogmatic fixation of his teaching played a role. Individual doctrines that were contrary to those of Plato could be represented in the academy. The teachers and students, however, shared Plato's basic convictions; when that was no longer the case (as with Aristotle ), the student left the academy. The school head was the successor of Plato, the Scholarch ( head of the school ); he was elected by the students for life. Even during Plato's lifetime, the school enjoyed a high level of public respect, and capable personalities joined it.
The assertion handed down by authors of late antiquity that there was an inscription in Plato's Academy that forbade anyone unfamiliar with geometry from entering is certainly not true.
The “older” or “old” academy is the name given to the first phase from the founding to the death of the scholar Krates (268/264 BC). As long as Plato's contemporaries were still alive, one orientated oneself on the memory of his oral lessons. Then the written fixation of the subject matter and the commentary on Plato's dialogues began . The Scholchen wrote numerous (now mostly lost) writings, the traditional titles of which give an impression of their universal education and the variety of subjects. They dealt with metaphysics , ontology , epistemology , philosophy of science , dialectics , ethics , constitutional theory , mathematics and geometry , astronomy , cosmology , physics , theory of the soul , linguistics , philosophical theology and demon theory. Questions were taken up which Plato had raised but not brought to a solution; the ambiguity of his dialogues offered diverse starting points for further thinking. A characteristic of the academy was the deep, almost religious devotion to Plato and the celebration of his birthday on the seventh day of the month of Thargelion (May / June), the mythical birthday of the god Apollo .
The Scholarchen of the Older Academy after Plato's death (348/347 BC) were Speusippos (348 / 347–339), Xenocrates of Chalcedon (339–314), Polemon of Athens (314–270 / 269) and Krates of Athens (270 / 269-268 / 264). Other important scholars who worked in the Older Academy were Eudoxus of Knidos , Herakleides Ponticus , Philip of Opus , Crane and - until he left - Aristotle .
Younger (“skeptical”) academy
The inauguration of the scholar Arkesilaos between 268 and 264 BC marked a momentous turning point in the history of the Academy . A new era began with him, which is called "younger" or "middle" academy, depending on the classification scheme. Within the Younger Academy, some historians of philosophy differentiate between a “middle one” and a “new one” beginning with the scholar Karneades of Cyrene .
Arkesilaos himself was by no means of the opinion that he was breaking tradition. He only wanted to focus on one particular aspect of the tradition, namely Socrates' profound skepticism towards hasty decisions and insufficiently substantiated dogmatic claims, as described in Plato's dialogues . Methodical doubts came into play, which led to the abandonment of the previous school-based teaching of material. This skepticism , which later scholarchen - especially the very influential Carneades - expanded, actually took up an important concern of Socrates. However, by denying the possibility of a certain knowledge of reality and replacing it with graduated probability assumptions, the aim of the disputation changed. If the pursuit of finding the truth, of reliable knowledge, was ultimately considered to be in vain, there was a risk that the rhetorical victory over the opponent in the debate, the mere refutation of other people's claims, would come to the fore as the goal and ultimately become an end in itself. In a sense, that would be a late victory for sophistry over Socrates and Plato. The skeptical teachers did not want that, but their fundamental renunciation of their own judgments could ultimately lead to a self-abolition of philosophy. Consequently, Carnead's skepticism did not stop at skepticism itself.
The most important scholarchen of the Younger Academy were Arkesilaos (268 / 264–241 / 240 BC), Lakydes (241 / 240–224 / 223 BC), Carneades of Cyrene (before 155-137 / 136 BC) .), Kleitomachus (127 / 126–110 / 109 BC) and Philon of Larisa (110 / 109–88 BC). Philo fled to Rome in 88 because of political turmoil in Athens. In the course of the First Mithridatic War , the Roman general Sulla conquered Athens in March 86, the grounds of the academy grove were devastated. At this time at the latest, teaching on the academy's premises definitely ended.
Re-establishment of Antiochus
Even before the violent demise of the Younger Academy, Antiochus of Askalon , a student of Philo, had separated from him and founded his own school, which he programmatically called the “Old Academy”. He wanted to tie in with the original school of Plato. This was a deliberate departure from the Skepticism of the Younger Academy, which Antiochus believed to be unplatonic. He was so influenced by stoic teachings that he could be considered a downright stoic; in his view, these teachings originally came from the academy. His successor was his brother Aristus . Prominent students were the Romans Varro , Cicero and Brutus . After Caesar's death (44 BC) there was no longer an academy in Athens as a place of organized training, only individual Platonists who gave lessons.
In the 3rd century, Longinos again founded a short-lived Platonic school in Athens. But it was not until the 5th century that there was a lasting revival of the tradition of Platonic studies in an institutional setting. A wealthy Neoplatonist , Plutarch of Athens , succeeded in opening lessons around 410 in a house that he had built for this purpose. This school relied emphatically on the tradition of Plato's academy. This late bloom reached its climax with Proclus , the most famous of these Neoplatonists. However, Christianity had long since gained power in the Roman state and had been the state religion since the late 4th century, and so the fall of this late ancient Platonic school was only a matter of time. Although the Athenian Neoplatonists clearly rejected Christianity and their school was a center of intellectual resistance against the ruling religion, they remained undisturbed for a surprisingly long time. It was not until 529 that Emperor Justinian I prohibited teaching; a little later he repeated and tightened the ban. It is disputed in the research whether there was - as the chronicler Johannes Malalas claims - a special imperial decree that ordered an end to philosophy lessons in Athens, or whether it was only about the implementation of a general teaching ban for people who opposed baptism, also went to Athens. In fact, the state measures led to the school being closed.
Perhaps as early as 531, or 532 at the latest, seven of the last Athenian neo-Platonists - including Damascius , the last scholarch, and his pupil Simplikios - moved to the court of the Persian king Chosrau I , where they could count on tolerance. But before the end of 532 they returned to the Eastern Roman Empire, after Chosrau had negotiated a guarantee for their security in the peace treaty with Justinian.
The Neoplatonic school of the 5th and 6th centuries is often called the academy in research literature because it was based in Athens and, according to its own understanding, was the school of Plato and eagerly endeavored to comment on his works, also out of loyalty to his teaching refused substantive compromises with Christianity. The justification of this designation is questionable, however, as it is not attested in the sources. The former site of the academy was owned by the school, but was no longer used as a teaching facility and was leased.
Reception in the Renaissance
Already at the beginning of the 15th century there were discussion groups in Florence devoted to the study of ancient literature and linked to the academy idea. After the middle of the century, terms like New Academy or Florentine Academy appeared. These were loose groups of humanists without a permanent organization or membership. The group around the Florentine humanist Marsilio Ficino also formed such a discussion group . Ficino enjoyed the favor of Cosimo de 'Medici , who gave him a country house in Careggi near Florence in April 1463. The previously generally held view that there was an institution in Careggi called the “Platonic Academy”, a center of intellectual life and a meeting place for a community of important Florentine humanists, has been proven incorrect by James Hankins. The term Platonic Academy was not used by Ficino and his contemporaries, but is an invention of the 17th century. Despite Ficino's enthusiasm for Plato, such a designation would have been inappropriate, because many of those involved (Ficino's interlocutors, friends and students) were not Platonists and most of them were more poets and writers than philosophers. There were no scientific projects by Ficino's academy, only undertakings by individual humanists. Ficino's main concern was a synthesis of ancient Neoplatonism and Catholic Christianity. With great diligence he devoted himself to translating (into Latin) and commenting on the works of Plato and the ancient Platonists.
During the same period, academies were established in Rome (from 1464 Accademia Romana under Julius Pomponius Laetus ) and Naples (initially as a discussion group under Antonio Beccadelli († 1471); the actual founder was Giovanni Pontano , after whom it was named Accademia Pontaniana ). Aldo Manuzio founded a Neoacademia in Venice , in which the humanists discussed exclusively in ancient Greek. In the 16th century, scholars and educated citizens established hundreds of academies (some of them short-lived) across Italy. These institutions, which sprang from private initiative, were in principle autonomous. The focus was on typical humanistic concerns, predominantly literary and philological as well as other ancient studies.
Overview representations in manuals
- Marie-Françoise Billot: Académie (topography et archeology). In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques. Volume 1, CNRS, Paris 1989, ISBN 2-222-04042-6 , pp. 693-789
- Woldemar Görler : Older Pyrrhonism, Younger Academy, Antiochus from Askalon . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy . The philosophy of antiquity , volume 4: The Hellenistic philosophy , 2nd half volume, Schwabe, Basel 1994, ISBN 3-7965-0930-4 , pp. 717–989
- Hans Krämer : The older academy . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , Volume 3: Older Academy - Aristoteles - Peripatos , 2nd, reviewed and expanded edition, Schwabe, Basel 2004, ISBN 3-7965-1998-9 , pp. 1–165
Studies on philosophy and school operations
- Matthias Baltes : Plato's School, the Academy . In: Matthias Baltes: Dianoemata. Small writings on Plato and Platonism . Teubner, Stuttgart / Leipzig 1999, ISBN 3-519-07672-1 , pp. 249-273
- John M. Dillon : The Heirs of Plato. A Study of the Old Academy (347-274 BC) . Oxford University Press, Oxford 2003, ISBN 0-19-823766-9
Studies on archeology
- Ada Caruso: Academia. Archeologia di una scuola filosofica ad Atene da Platone a Proclo (387 aC - 485 dC) (= Studi di Archeologia e di Topografia di Atene e dell'Attica , 6). Edizioni Pandemos, Athens / Paestum 2013, ISBN 978-8-887-74449-1 ( review by Robert Lamberton )
Late antique reception (Neoplatonic school)
- Edward Watts: Justinian, Malalas, and the End of Athenian Philosophical Teaching in AD 529 . In: The Journal of Roman Studies 94, 2004, pp. 168-182
- Edward Watts: City and School in Late Antique Athens and Alexandria. University of California Press, Berkeley 2006, ISBN 978-0-520-25816-7
- James Hankins: The Myth of the Platonic Academy of Florence . In: Renaissance Quarterly 44, 1991, pp. 429-475 (with a general discussion of the term academy in the 15th century)
- Stefan Rebenich : Academy . In: Der Neue Pauly (DNP), Volume 13, Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 1999, ISBN 3-476-01483-5 , Sp. 40–56 (on the reception of the academy concept since the Renaissance)
- Roman Eisele: Cicero and the New Academy , Tübingen 2004 (PDF; 91 kB)
- Egon Gottwein: Plato and his school
- An older form of the name that was used in the 6th century BC. Apparently still predominant was Hekademos , accordingly Hekademeia ; see Marie-Françoise Billot: Académie (topographie et archeologie) . In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques , Vol. 1, Paris 1989, pp. 693–789, here: 697f.
- For the topography and the excavations, see the overview by Marie-Françoise Billot: Académie (topographie et archeologie) . In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques , Vol. 1, Paris 1989, pp. 693-789.
- Also Ἀκαδημαϊκός Akadēmaïkós , Ἀκαδημικός Akadēmikós and other forms, see Henry George Liddell , Robert Scott : A Greek-English Lexicon , 9th edition, Oxford 1940, p. 46 ( online ).
- John Patrick Lynch: Aristotle's School , Berkeley 1972, pp. 75f .; Hans Krämer: The older academy . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , Volume 3: Older Academy - Aristoteles - Peripatos , 2nd edition, Basel 2004, pp. 1–165, here: 4; Matthias Baltes: Plato's School, the Academy . In: Matthias Baltes: Dianoemata. Small writings on Plato and Platonism , Stuttgart and Leipzig 1999, pp. 249–273, here: 252f.
- Frederick AC Beck: Greek Education 450-350 BC , London 1964, pp. 227-239; Hans Krämer: The older academy . In: Hellmut Flashar (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of antiquity , Volume 3: Older Academy - Aristoteles - Peripatos , 2nd edition, Basel 2004, pp. 1–165, here: 5f.
- Detlef Thiel: The Philosophy of Xenokrates in the Context of the Old Academy , Munich 2006, p. 40; Matthias Baltes: Plato's School, the Academy . In: Matthias Baltes: Dianoemata. Small writings on Plato and Platonism , Stuttgart and Leipzig 1999, pp. 249–273, here: 256.
- Diogenes Laertios 3.46 and 4.2. See also Tiziano Dorandi: Assiotea e Lastia. Due donne all'Academia . In: Atti e Memorie dell'Accademia Toscana di Scienze e Lettere “La Colombaria” 54, 1989, pp. 53-66.
- Detlef Thiel: The Philosophy of Xenokrates in the Context of the Old Academy , Munich 2006, p. 41f.
- See Detlef Thiel: The Philosophy of Xenokrates in the Context of the Old Academy , Munich 2006, pp. 48–51.
- Matthias Baltes: Plato's School, the Academy . In: Matthias Baltes: Dianoemata. Small writings on Plato and Platonism , Stuttgart and Leipzig 1999, pp. 249–273, here: 253.
- Henri Dominique Saffrey examines the story of this legend: ΑΓΕΩΜΕΤΡΗΤΟΣ ΜΗΔΕΙΣ ΕΙΣΙΤΩ. Une inscription légendaire. In: Revue des Études grecques , Vol. 81, 1968, pp. 67–87.
- Johannes Malalas, Chronicle 18:47; on text transmission, see Edward Watts: Justinian, Malalas, and the End of Athenian Philosophical Teaching in AD 529 . In: The Journal of Roman Studies 94, 2004, pp. 168–182, here: 171f .; on dating and background James Allan Stewart Evans: The Age of Justinian , London 1996, pp. 67-71.
- See Edward Watts: Justinian, Malalas, and the End of Athenian Philosophical Teaching in AD 529 . In: The Journal of Roman Studies 94, 2004, pp. 168–182, here: 172f .; Rainer Thiel : Simplikios and the end of the Neoplatonic school in Athens , Stuttgart 1999, p. 16f .; Udo Hartmann : Spirit in Exile. Roman philosophers at the court of the Sasanids. In: Monika Schuol et al. (Ed.): Border crossing. Forms of contact between Orient and Occident in antiquity , Stuttgart 2002, pp. 123–160, here: p. 135 and note 38.
- Agathias 2:30, 3–4.
- For the dating and details see Udo Hartmann: Geist im Exil. Roman philosophers at the court of the Sasanids. In: Monika Schuol et al. (Ed.): Border crossing. Forms of contact between Orient and Occident in antiquity , Stuttgart 2002, pp. 123–160, here: 135ff .; Edward Watts: Where to Live the Philosophical Life in the Sixth Century? Damascius, Simplicius, and the Return from Persia . In: Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 45, 2005, pp. 285-315 ( online ); Ilsetraut Hadot: Dans quel lieu le neoplatonicien Simplicius at-il fondé son école de mathématiques, et où a pu avoir lieu son entretien avec un manichéen? In: The International Journal of the Platonic Tradition 1, 2007, pp. 42-107, here: 44-49.
- Heinrich Dörrie : The Platonism in antike , Volume 1, Stuttgart 1987, pp. 550f.
- James Hankins: The Myth of the Platonic Academy . In: James Hankins: Humanism and Platonism in the Italian Renaissance , Volume 2, Rome 2004, pp. 185–395.