DCHindley wrote: ↑Sun Jan 22, 2023 11:38 am
ABuddhist wrote: ↑Sun Jan 22, 2023 11:06 am
DCHindley wrote: ↑Sun Jan 22, 2023 7:25 am
I was aware of a fairly extensive collection of Platonic letters, which I have seen described in some tertiary sources (textbooks) but have also never read (in translation, of course).
It does seem to be a truism that "the more one finds out, the more one realizes what has not yet been found."
From what I am aware, all of the Platonic letters are suspected by at least some credibile scholarship of being forgeries by later authors, so that scholars of P[l]ato who try to use any of the letters to reconstruct his thought try to use other sources in order to support their claims (the dialogues) lest people think that the letters cannot be trusted.
How different an attitude from that involving the Christians' scriptures, I think.
My understanding is that there is a consensus of those who believe that certain ones are more likely authentic than not (they don't conflict much with subjects discussed in the Dialogues), several are marked off as certainly spurious (anachronisms to the teachings developed by middle Platonic philosophers or are just plain inept), and the remainder are of mixed reception. Plato it seems was believed to have held a set of "unwritten" teachings, and supposedly these letters contain snippets of these teachings. These may have existed at some point in Plato's mind, but the snippets recovered by scholars are somewhat arbitrary, or at least that was the impression I came away with.
Yes, this is similar to scholarship on the letters of Paul in the NT. Platonic scholarship should identify the weird reasoning used in NT Paul circles to classify Pauline letters as Undisputed, Disputed, and Spurious. As outsiders, they should be able to identify short-circuits in their reasoning processes when they separated them into these categories. Interpolation theories are restricted to specific sentences or clauses in this or that book, but no grand strategy emerges. I'd be interested to know how these issues are handled by Platonic scholars.
I dare to quote Wikipedia as a summary, which you may consider - including its sources - about Plato's letters: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistles_ ... thenticity
The two letters that are most commonly claimed to have actually been written by Plato are the Seventh and the Eighth, on the supposition that these were open letters and therefore less likely to be the result of invention or forgery. This is not so much because of a presumption in favor of an open letter's authenticity as because of a presumption against that of a private letter: the preservation of the former is unsurprising, while the preservation, dissemination, and eventual publication of the latter requires some sort of explanation. Nevertheless, even the Seventh Letter has recently been argued to be spurious by prominent scholars, such as Malcolm Schofield, Myles Burnyeat, and Julia Annas. George Boas argues that all of the Epistles, including the Seventh, are spurious, a conclusion accepted also, and more recently, by Terence Irwin. On the other hand, George Grote, Anton Ræder, Novotny, Harward, and Bluck reject only the First; and Bentley accepted all of them.
The other letters enjoy varying levels of acceptance among scholars. The Sixth, Third, and Eleventh have the greatest support of the remaining letters, followed by the Fourth, Tenth, Thirteenth, and Second Letter; fewer scholars consider the Fifth, Ninth, and Twelfth to be genuine, while almost none dispute that the First is spurious.