History of Philosophy and Christian Thought - Lesson 10

Appraisal, Creation, Tensions

Evaluation of Plato's arguments and comparison of Plato's philosophy with biblical theology.

Ronald Nash
History of Philosophy and Christian Thought
Lesson 10
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Appraisal, Creation, Tensions

Platonic Philosophy

Part 5



VI. Christian Appraisal of Platonism



A. Plato's View of the Soul

1. Radical body/soul dualism

2. Inherent immortality of the soul

B. Biblically-based Objections

1. God did not create an immortal soul.

2. "Immortal" is used mainly of God.

3. Refers to humans only after resurrection (1 Corinthians 15).

4. Conscious state after death

5. Ultimate destiny of a Christian is a resurrected body.

C. Chapter 3 - The Gospel and the Greeks

1. Possible influence of Plato on New Testament writers?

2. No influence on Paul or other New Testament writers


VII. Plato's View of Creation


A. Four Eternal Things - Plato

1. Forms

2. Matter

3. Space-Time Receptacle

4. Demiurge/Craftsman

B. Allegory of the Kitchen - Nash

1. Ingredients (Matter)

2. Recipe (Forms)

3. Oven (STR)

4. Baker (Demiurge)

C. Influence on the Early Church

D. Augustine's Response

1. Do away with pre-existent matter.

2. Do away with the space-time receptacle.

3. Forms are eternal ideas in the mind of God.


VIII. Unresolved Tensions in Plato's Philosophy


A. View of God? Form of the Good or Demiurge?

B. Relationship between God and the Forms?

C. Gap between the two worlds?

D. How humans attain knowledge of the ideal world and God?

All Lessons
  • Thales and Anaximander were two philosophers in the sixth century BC that lived in Miletus.

  • Heraclitus and Pythagoras lived into the 5th century BC.

  • Any worldview addresses the subjects of God, ultimate reality, human knowledge, ethics and human persons.

  • Fundamental beliefs of a naturalistic worldview is that nothing exists outside the physical universe and that all things evolved.

  • Plato was a student of Socrates and lived into the fourth century BC. He opposed hedonism, empiricism, relativism, materialism, atheism and naturalism.

  • Plato described the universe as having three levels: the world of particulars, the world of forms, and the form of the good.

  • Plato's view of the universe was dualistic.

  • One of Plato's fundamental arguments is that the human soul is immortal.

  • Evaluation of Plato's arguments and comparison of Plato's philosophy with biblical theology.

  • Empiricism teaches that all human knowledge arises from sense experience. Rationalism teaches that some human knowledge does not arise from sense. experience

  • Aristotle was a student of Plato and lived in the fourth century BC.

  • Aristotle rejected Plato's doctrine of two worlds.

  • Discussion of Aristotelian philosophy as it relates to the incarnation.

  • Aristotle's philosophy as it relates to attributes of God and fundamental assumptions about psychology.

  • Aristotle made a distinction between passive intellect and active intellect.

  • Discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the law of non-contradiction.

  • Discussion of the nature and substance of matter.

  • Hellenistic philosophy was an approach that was popular from the fourth century BC to the fifth century AD.

  • Stoics were determinists who believed in living according to nature.

  • Hedonism emphasized pleasure as the greatest good. "Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we might be dead."

  • Philo's philosophy was based on a synthesis of Stoicism and Platonism.

  • Implicit "Logos" Christianity is an underlying theme in the book of Hebrews.

  • Plotinus lived in the third century AD and is considered the founder of Neoplatonism.

  • Augustine is a Latin church father, is considered by many to be one of the most important figures in the development of Western Christianity.

  • Augustine wrote Confessions as an autobiographical work to record his experience as a sinful youth and his experience becoming a follower of Christ.

  • Augustine wrote to refute some heresies of the day by focusing on the concepts of faith and reason.

  • Augustine writes about the problem of evil and describes evil as the absence of good.

  • Augustine writes to refute Pelagianism by focusing on the biblical teaching about sin.

  • Augustine writes to refute Donatism.

  • The fundamental idea of skepticism is that no one can know anything. Augustine this statement contradicts itself because the skeptic is claiming that you can know that you can't know anything.

  • When Augustine wrote "The City of God," he had a linear view of history.

  • In Augustine's theory of knowledge, he says that eternal reason and human reason are two different levels of reason.

  • Augustine was personally convinced of the importance of divine illumination.

  • The intellectual background of Thomas Aquinas was influenced by the discovery of ancient manuscripts, the rise of universities, the rise of religious brotherhoods and the rise of Muslim philosophy.

  • Aquinas describes faith as whatever a human can know through special revelation, and reason as whatever a human can know outside of special revelation.

  • Aquinas attempts to prove God's existence.

  • Aquinas describes four kinds of law as eternal, divine, natural and positive.

  • The rationalists and empiricists set the stage for Kant and other philosophers of the modern era.

  • Kant argued that moral requirements are based on a standard of rationality he dubbed the “Categorical Imperative."

  • Kants two worlds are the phenomenal world and the noumenal world.

  • Discussion of criticisms and questions about Kant's ideas.

  • Similarities between Kant's ideas and postmodernism.

  • The dialectic is a central idea in Hegel's philosophy.

  • Ideally, Marxism begins with class struggle, then revolution, dictatorship of the proletariat, withering away of the state, and a utopian classless society.

  • Discussion of four faces of Marxism.

  • Nietzsche proclaimed that, "God is dead." His cure was to live life knowing there is no ultimate meaning. Kierkegaard emphasized a worldview based on true faith.

These lectures were given at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida during the fall semester of 2001.