The aim of this article is to demonstrate how the Romantic thinkers F. Schlegel and F. Schleiermacher, in their interpretation of Plato, were tributaries of their philosophical a priori — premises that led them to elaborate their theory of the dialogic form, a theory that involves engaging the very definition of philosophy, and which prevails even today in Platonic studies. But even though Schlegel and Schleiermacher, the first with his theory of dialogic form and the second with his proleptic reading of the dialogues, marked the path to a wholly new method of interpreting Platonism, the exegetes of the twentieth century — including Léon Robin, the School of Tübingen, Hans Krämer, Konrad Gaiser and Thomas Szlezák — deemed it necessary nonetheless to go beyond the reading of Plato as practiced by the two Romantic thinkers. For only an interpretation that takes account simultaneously of the more fundamental discourse located in the background of the dialogues and of the testimonies deriving from the indirect tradition can really claim to apprehend the arcane elements of the philosophy of Plato. What emerges from this critical engagement with Plato over the years is a distinctive hermeneutic method that requires us to read beneath the surface of Plato’s texts, with the assistance of the testimonies from the indirect tradition, a strand of critical reception that has yet to be fully acknowledged by or incorporated into Platonic studies.
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Marie-Dominique Richard is Senior Researcher at the Center for the Study of Religions of the Book (CERL) at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), Paris. Her book, Enseignement oral de Platon: Une nouvelle interprétation du platonisme (Cerf, 1986), with a preface by Pierre Hadot, is forthcoming in English translation. In French, she has published extensively on the topics of the Romantic reception of Plato, orality in Plato, and Edith Stein.
Marie-Dominique Richard, “Plato and the German Romantic Thinkers: Friedrich Schlegel and Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher,” trans. Gary Handwerk, Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 36:1 (2015), pp. 91–124.