Talk:Platonic idealism

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(Early conversation)[edit]

I've been dealing with Platonism in math for 50 years becaause of the implication that mathematicians are elitist shamans. I started college only after serving 1941-45 in Military Service and after marriage. A woman working with my wife told her I was negelcting my wife and marriage by studying math, physics, history, German, French, etc., because I should remember these and other subjects from my origin in Heaven. She said she could remember all of Calculus if she tried, but she didn't have time for this. She said I was lazy or stubborn to study such subjects instead of trying to remember them, implying that this was heretical. I don't know if he was aware of it, but platonism is one reason for that dire warning of the late Carl Sagan which I quote in Is any one else concerned about this?jonhays 01:32, 25 Sep 2003 (UTC)

No, not really. The first thing you should have remembered was that anamnesis is not an important part of Plato's philosophy--MWAK 15:15, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

--- this copy was contributed then "kidnapped". whatever administrative purpose that might serve, kidnapped knowledge invites liberation, and indeed the kidnapper's page encouraged visitors to redeem this. there is another article on the platonism page, but this text might have something to contribute, for those familiar with the topic and able to sort any relevant contribution not already in the article.

the self-reference to wikipedia in the now-draft text below goes against a widely accepted convention, but the reference to platonic relationships, and more importantly, to the basic platonic tension between real and ideal might enhance what is on the main page. the redeemed copy also includes reference to some specific proponents or antagonists of platonism, which if accurate is of general reader interest.

the former text:

Plato's influence on Western culture was so profound that several different concepts are linked by being called "platonic" or Platonist, for accepting some assumptions of Platonism, but which do not imply acceptance of that philosophy as a whole:

By far the most common use of the word is among mathematicians, where a Platonist is one who believes that mathematics is not created by man but discovered in some undescribed realm. This leads to some serious confusion:

The absence in this thesis of clear distinction between mathematical and nonmathematical "creation" leaves open the inference that it applies to allegedly creative endeavors in art, music, and literature, including articles in Wikipedia, itself. In other words, Wikipedia articles approach some kind of truth that they cannot, in the end, fully express.

In the philosophy of mathematics proper, a Platonist is one who accepts mathematical concepts as real and discovered, period. The "other realm" is rarely discussed. But yet a Platonist must accept an ontology resembling Plato's ontology in order to deal with the tension between real and ideal objects. That is, he (and almost all mathematicians are male) must accept that there is, first and foremost, a "real" and "ideal" realm, and some means to peer between them.

There are theories of realism in mathematics which carefully earmark the assumptions they make to deal with this tension, e.g. the cognitive science of mathematics. Most Platonists do not and are thus accepting Plato's ontology by default as a foundation ontology. A lucid statement of this is found in the autobiography of British mathematician G. H. Hardy.

Hilary Putnam rejected the label Platonist because of this implication, but was otherwise a "realist" in the sense of believing mathematics to be discovered. He proposed that quasi-empirical methods and quasi-empiricism in mathematics were a more useful way to explore the ontology of proofs, via mathematical practice. Today other realist theories explore Where Mathematics Comes From, some of whose ontology is founded on empirical methods. All of this moves towards a single "discovered" realm - away from Platonism.

Plato Neoplatonism ????[edit]

Neo Platonism is not based on Plato. Its based on Platonius. The founder of Philosophical Gnosticism. (Nous, Gnosis, and all that jazz) And he is not related to plato. Some people try to rationalize that he was influenced by Plato. I think thats mainly because they acidently attributed it to plato and then try to rationalize it after the fact though. --Jaynus _Izanagi 01:46, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Neoplatonism is distinct, but derived from platonism. The misunderstanding here may be due to Jaynus misspelling of Plotinus. --Blainster 10:16, 9 September 2005 (UTC)
Let's hope so: it might be based on Harriet Dallas's book :o).--MWAK 15:49, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

Move requested[edit]

Platonic currently redirects here. I think it would make more sense for Platonic to be a dab page between this page and Platonic love, and for extra differentiation, move this page to Platonic idealism — which is how it currently reads anyway— and make Platonism a redirect to Platonic idealism. "Platonism" gets more Google hits than "Platonic idealism," but I think that's just because it's easier to type. The latter seems more useful as a description of the philosophy to me. Are the two terms completely interchangeable? If not, does it still make sense to move the article? Discuss.

  • I vote Move, naturally. --Quuxplusone 9 July 2005 02:11 (UTC)
  • Support. – AxSkov (T) 11:36, 10 July 2005 (UTC)
I've done this and created a (really) basic disambig page at Platonic - you might want to expand it a little! Talrias (t | e | c) 20:10, 12 July 2005 (UTC)

Shouldn't this page also give some representation to the idea that the dialogues are not expressing any 'system' at all? It seems to be a common enough view among those I know that have studied them for years. One could point to the first half of the "Parmenides" and the problems it raises with forms or the criticism of written philosophy in the 'Phaedrus' as evidence that Plato had no 'ism' that can be attributed to him but rather raised philosophical questions and sought to provoke questions in the reader. This view seems to be taken by Allen Bloom in the introduction to his influential Republic translation. But then, in the interest of full disclosure, I go to St. John's College, U. S. which is institutionally sceptical of 'isms.'

Most scepticists like Plato's writings. They then rationalise this by making him one of them. Some even deny they are scepticist by claiming to denounce any "ism" ;o)
Plato's thought evidently developed over the years. As the temporal order of his works is unknown to us, we can only speculate which direction it took. It's good to be sceptical of any attempt to derive some definite system. On the other hand it is quite plausible that he had much more coherent views than his dialogues at first blush would suggest and that the latter are in fact very clever manipulations to indoctrinate the reader with them. It might even be that he really had "secret" writings that are now lost to us. You never know. But of course you would agree with me on that... --MWAK 15:49, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

Another related issue[edit]

It seems that this article is either duplicating or competing with Platonic realism, in which article the intro says, "Platonic realism is also called Platonic idealism, Plato's theory of universals, Platonism, or just 'realism' for short." There is a whole family of articles related to Plato where there is much repetition and as well, contradiction. There should probably be a Platonism template and an effort to consolidate some of the articles. --HK 14:38, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

Good questions! This is how I would answer them:

  1. Although Platonic Realism is indeed sometimes called Platonic Idealism, the concepts are not congruent. Many would deny that Plato's idealism entailed a realist stance. And Platonic Realism is a more general philosophical position, while "Platonic Idealism" is typically reserved for the views of Plato himself. It's therefore best to keep two articles.
  2. Some repetition is inevitable and often a lot of repetition is quite functional.
  3. If there are any perceived contradictions, try to solve them. But be wary. Sometimes they are merely perceived :o).
  4. A Platonism template would be very nice of course.
  5. Wikipedia should be in a permanent state of improvement. Try to fight the understandable but ultimately disastrous tendency to "consolidate". Articles are not ideals :o).Or was it a euphemism for "merge"?

--MWAK 15:13, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

This article is too vague[edit]

and poorly sourced. It keeps talking about "some commentators" or "these commentators" and "some contemporary linguists" but it never cites, quotes, or names anyone! (TheDecanome (talk) 03:55, 19 February 2009 (UTC))

This article needs to be translated into English[edit]

Please spare us the postmodern-deconstruction-speak. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:51, 22 August 2009 (UTC)


If there are no objections (and I don't see why there should be), I'm going to merge/ redirect this page to the article on the Theory of Forms. T of Locri (talk) 14:58, 29 December 2009 (UTC)

Agree. This unreffd article POV-splits with Idealism and other related articles, and duplicates Theory of Forms in scope. Redheylin (talk) 22:55, 30 July 2011 (UTC)
Disagree. This page is linked 1291 times, Theory of Forms is linked 63. Platonic idealism is clearly a popular term and I'd expect the Theory of Forms article to be more technical. They most certainly do differ in scope: Theory of Forms could not be merged to Platonic idealism. For example, in terms of Aristotle, one might link "form" to Theory of Forms (with additional explanation and links) but one wouldn't link "form" to Platonic idealism except in the broadest possible sense, (a non-philosophical context).
I've removed your tags Redheylin. It has references, of course, it could use more... (I've included a tag that they should be inlined). Although this article could clarify that modern Idealism is ill-fitting in the context of ancient philosophy, it is not a POV-split with Idealism?!? The POV problems you mentioned, Redheylin, on Talk:Idealism#Current changes have no bearing whatsoever.
I'll note that merge tag has been here since 2009… Machine Elf 1735 21:01, 31 July 2011 (UTC)
The effort to impose upon wikipedia the personal view that Platonic idealism is unrelated to philosophical Idealism is both incoherent and unsupported by consensus of reliable authorities. The differences between the two texts in speaking of idealism in philosophy constitute a POV split. The views expressed above are purely your own, not based on any scholarship. Redheylin (talk) 19:32, 7 August 2011 (UTC)
Here's what you've added to the Idealism article:
[[Plato]]'s [[Theory of Forms|theory of forms]] or "ideas" describes ideal forms (for example the [[platonic solids]] in geometry or abstracts like Goodness and Justice), as [[problem of universals|universals]] existing independently of any particular instance.<ref>{{cite web |url= |title=Plato's Idealism |author=J.D.McNair |date= |work=Students' notes |publisher=MIAMI-DADE COMMUNITY COLLEGE |accessdate=7 August 2011}}</ref> Arne Grøn calls this doctrine "the classic example of a metaphysical idealism as a transcendent idealism",<ref><code>{{cite web |url= |title= Idealism|author= </code>Arne Grøn<code>|date= |work=</code> [ Encyclopedia of Science and Religion]<code> |publisher=eNotes |accessdate=7 August 2011}}</code></ref> while Simone Klein calls Plato "the earliest representative of metaphysical objective idealism". Nevertheless Plato holds that matter is real, though transitory and imperfect, and is perceived by our body and its senses and given existence by the eternal ideas that are perceived directly by our rational soul. Plato was therefore a metaphysical and epistemological [[dualist]], an outlook that modern idealism has striven to avoid:<ref>{{cite web |url= |title= What is objective idealism?|author= Simone Klein|date= |work=Philosophy Questions |publisher=Philosophos |accessdate=7 August 2011}}</ref> Plato's thought cannot therefore be counted as idealist in the modern sense.
Apparently, you don't understand the subject or what you paste. You can easily find references that Plato's forms are not merely in the mind… which is implicit in the above. The assertion that Plato believed matter was real and therefore, was a dualist, is controversial. At any rate, Plato believed that matter was less real than forms.
By the "two texts", you presumably you mean the two contexts? See anachronism. Idealism is not a label the ancients applied to each other, thus the qualification. Perhaps you could clarify what POV-fork you're imagining? Also, as I've inquired already, tagging it as primary text without indicating what text(s) you're referring to, is not at all helpful. As it was you who recently refactored the sources, I wonder why you wouldn't have fixed it yourself and why you won't say exactly which source(s) you mean?
Do not attempt to characterize what views I've expressed, and how scholarly they are, if you're incapable of doing so.—Machine Elf 1735 08:11, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
As I said previously, this article does not qualify the anachronism. How exactly, does this, the Platonic idealism article, represent “The effort to impose upon wikipedia the personal view that Platonic idealism is unrelated to philosophical Idealism…” You have shifted your alleged POV-fork to an accusation against me specifically. Is that not, in fact, what you've done? I'll take the remainder for an inverted confession on your part: incoherent, unsupported, POV, unscholarly…—Machine Elf 1735 09:33, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
You can easily find references that Plato's forms are not merely in the mind which is implicit in the above. Please do add them. Secondary sources. They are needed, and that is why the tag is needed. The aseertion that Plato was a dualist is in another article. Just now there's a POV split with this one. I am indeed pointing out to you that your blocking of edits is maintaining that OR driven POV split. As far as I am aware you have made no contructive edits to either article. I did not flag primary sources here - there are no references at all here, just editorial theory. Redheylin (talk) 23:49, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
Read your tags. You said it has no sources. You didn't answer any of my questions. By way of explanation, you repeat what I've said, that the article could use more sources and that the quote was added to another article, Idealism (you play the same mind game at Talk:Idealism). You have explained nothing whatsoever about this "POV split" you've accused me of. You have placed no citation needed tags for the supposed OR. The entire article is not OR. You've add no inline tags at all.
Don't you dare blame me for your alleged OR and "POV split". As you point out, I haven't previously edited this article. Neither have you! Plastering a billboard of four inappropriate tags that you can't even begin to explain is not an improvement to the article. The only POV pushing going on here is being done by you. Stop attacking me personally with lies and innuendo. I won't stand for it. You are perfectly well aware that I've edited the Idealism article.
Finally, I'll point out that you've just recently joined WikiProject Philosophy, referring to yourself as a Neoplatonist. Stop projecting your POV push onto me.—Machine Elf 1735 21:42, 9 August 2011 (UTC)
Machine Elf - confine your remarks to improvement of the given text. Refrain from incivility and disruption and do not discuss other pages than the present one. Thanks. Redheylin (talk) 23:20, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
False accusations of incivility are prohibited and, of course, you're the one who brought up other pages in the first place.—Machine Elf 1735 01:54, 25 November 2011 (UTC)

Opposed: As I've said above, at Talk:Theory of Forms and at Talk:Platonic realism with regard to the new suggestion.—Machine Elf 1735 01:54, 25 November 2011 (UTC)

    • You write: "in terms of Aristotle, one might link "form" to Theory of Forms (with additional explanation and links)". But if "form" is ambiguous and can refer to different doctrines of different philosophers, that is a powerful argument for turning Theory of Forms into a redirect or disambiguation page. Regardless, Theory of Forms is currently treated explicitly and exhaustively as the Platonic theory of forms, i.e., Theory of Forms as it stands is only about Platonic idealism (or 'Platonic realism', as it's also called). Aristotelian forms are instead covered at Hylomorphism and Four causes. Heck, the very first sentence of Theory of Forms begins: "Plato's theory of Forms or theory of Ideas asserts that...." So I don't see what the argument is for how the subject matter of "Theory of Forms" is clearly delineated from the subject matter of "Platonic idealism".
    • P.S. Your argument that Plato was an idealist are quite solid, though we must be careful with how we define 'idealist'. Strictly speaking, Plato is most often called an 'idealist' because he based his metaphysics on the Ideas (or the "Forms," as they were later called in Latin translations). In a modern sense, Plato can also be called an 'idealist', but only in the weak sense in which Leibniz is an idealist because he views abstract entities as fundamental to the real. Plato is not an idealist in the Kantian sense, nor in the Berkeleyan sense. In modern terms, he is closer to objective idealism. It's also important to keep in mind that idealism is compatible with certain forms of dualism: Kant and Schopenhauer espoused transcendental idealism and yet affirmed a phenomena-noumena dualism quite like the traditional mind-matter one, for instance. All of which is to say that we don't need to come to a firm conclusion about how 'real' Plato thought the sensible world was (roughly speaking, the answer is: "not very!") in order to classify Plato as an idealist, in at least two independent senses. -Silence (talk) 02:35, 25 November 2011 (UTC)
      • There's a section on Aristotle's criticism and I've already responded at that talk page, including hylomorphism. That's not what I said, and it's not even a weak argument for turning Theory of Forms into a dab or redirect. I certainly wouldn't say "exhaustive", and it's quite simply not about Platonic idealism, whatever that is. I think the Platonic realism article makes a nice start of treating the intervening millenia and this article might have conceivably done so as well from an alternative perspective, although it hasn't panned out. However, Platonic realism implies a more radical Platonism than the garden variety (and much more authentic than "P-idealism" too, but that's not what you're saying). You could merge this article into Platonism if you wish.
Except for the wanton misrepresentation of what I was arguing <grin> the rest might have been interesting under better circumstances… the prior discussion with senator McCarthy, however, was thoroughly obnoxious. So, let's stick with Talk:Theory of Forms then, shall we? Thanks.—Machine Elf 1735 05:38, 25 November 2011 (UTC)
        • Sure, I won't add more here, aside from direct quick responses to what you just said. I only replied here in the first place because it was in response to the earlier discussion you had here. I must say I'm a bit perplexed by the statement "it's quite simply not Platonic idealism, whatever that is." If you don't know what Platonic idealism is, how can you know that Platonic idealism isn't the Theory of Forms? The articles Platonic idealism and Platonic realism themselves certainly equate themselves with Plato's Theory of Forms. Note that it is explicitly against Wikipedia policies to have multiple articles covering the same topics from different perspectives or interpretive points of view, so if the difference is only one of "alternative perspective", the argument for merge is airtight. As a factual matter, Platonic realism is not more radical than Platonic idealism or Platonism; 'realism' in this context means 'realism about universals' (i.e., it's a term in the context of the problem of universals, not in the context of the mind-body debate or anything relevant to idealism as contrasted with realism) i.e., 'realism about universals qua forms,' i.e., 'realism about forms.' Realism about forms = belief in Plato's doctrine of Forms, as described in Theory of Forms and Platonic idealism. The articles are substantively isomorphic. -Silence (talk) 05:49, 25 November 2011 (UTC)
          • You're missing the point, that "Platonic idealism" is just Platonism, if anything. "Theory of Forms" is not an ism. No one but Plato held to that theory, unaltered. How funny because that's not even close to what I meant by "alternative perspective", but ok: no more philosophical twaddle, no matter what I say, I just can't help supplying airtight arguments that you're right.—Machine Elf 1735 06:51, 25 November 2011 (UTC)
            • 1. If Platonic idealism is just Platonism, then Theory of Forms is just Platonism, since Platonic idealism is defined (both in the article and in the academic community) as Plato's Theory of Forms.
            • 2. But idealism / the Theory of Forms isn't "just Platonism", because Plato (and Plato's followers) had more ideas than just the doctrine of Ideas/Forms. Platonic Idealism/Formalism is a very important aspect of Platonism. It isn't the whole thing.
            • 3. You can claim that things can't be "-isms" when talking about a single person's thought, but that naming constraint is original research; Plato experts themselves are perfectly happy using '-isms' to characterize specific individuals' doctrines, as proven by the very fact that the terms "Platonic realism" and "Platonic idealism" exist. Your personal views about what things deserve to be '-isms' aren't immediately relevant. George Berkeley's specific view is called "immaterialism"; Kant's specific view is called "transcendental idealism" or just "Kantianism"; Descartes' specific view is called "Cartesian dualism" or "substance dualism" or "interactionism"; Lewis' specific view is called "modal realism"; Gentile's specific view is called "absolute idealism"; Spinoza's specific view is called Spinozism; Blackburn's specific view is called quasi-realism; Krieglstein's specific view is called transcendental perspectivism; Peirce's specific view is called tychism; Schaffer's specific view is called contrastivism; Cratylus' specific view is called Cratylism; and in all of these cases (as in Platonism) there have been very few (if any) people other than the originators to espouse the exact sorts of views that can be found or inferred in the original author. It may be inelegant to multiply "-isms" in cases where we're only talking about a specific person's view, but them's the breaks. Common usage is common usage. -Silence (talk) 07:25, 25 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Here's my response from Talk:Theory of Forms regarding the so-called WP:OR. I'm not going to have the same discussion with you in two different places, but I will note that a user at Talk:Platonic realism said the same thing I did… though calling your claims “wildly optimistic!” was clearly an understatement.
Platonic idealism is dwarfed by Theory of Forms: Oct visits: 16%, wikitext size: 15%, total edits: 25%, avg.edits/month: 16%, total users: 39%, non-template links: 55% (from Philosophy articles btw, not Will & Grace). What's not flying is asserting your opinion as if that makes it a fact, while insistently dismissing my opinion (as WP:OR ??), when you offer no verifiable evidence whatsoever! You also dismiss the presumptive consensus evident from that sizable difference—supposedly because editor's activities are “stochastic” (what?) then complain you can't see my point… not that it stops you from rubbishing it.
However, thank you for clarifying that you're only interested in changing the article's title to "Platonic idealism" (or "idealism" rather, for lack of another candidate). My advice was offered in good faith: the burden is yours to achieve consensus for your proposals, not mine to thwart a renaming, (in the guise of enforcing unrelated policy). Rather than maintaining your proposal to merge the article into a stub, I suggest you consider reversing it so that it actually would be plausible. If that goes through, then make a proper proposal to rename Theory of Forms "Platonic idealism".
I have never claimed "Theory of Forms" is ambiguous and certainly not for lack of "Plato" & "Ideas"… LOL—Machine Elf 1735 16:30, 25 November 2011 (UTC)

Please, someone justify the term Platonic idealism[edit]

Plato's metaphysical theory—the theory of Forms—was not idealist, since Plato did not interpret that the Forms were either contingent on mind or unknowable. The Forms exist outside space and time and include perfect Ideas, yet are the true reality and are at least approximately knowable, and so Plato was realist, not idealist. I have never seen the term Platonic idealism till now. It seems a severe misunderstanding of Plato's theory of Forms, which was realist—thus the term Platonic realism. (talk) 17:51, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

I stand corrected insofar, at least, as the term Platonic idealism is in scholarly use [1,2]. Still, I suggest that this Wikipedia article be merged under Platonic realism. It was some 2 000 years after Plato's time before the conception emerged that Plato's viewpoint was an idealism [2], and its metaphysical commitment is realist [2]. Platonic idealism is notably unlike any other idealism [3], and is otherwise termed Platonic realism [2].

According to Rockmore, Platonic idealism is synonym with Platonism, "the approach to knowledge based on the theory of ideas, which is routinely but perhaps incorrectly attributed to Plato. Platonism is distinguished by two main doctrinal commitments: an acceptance of metaphysical realism and a rejection of representationalism" [4]. By metaphysical realism, "under appropriate conditions, it is possible to reliably claim to know mind-independent objects as they in fact are and indeed the mind-independent world, not only as it appears, but as it is" [4].

(Representationalism is "based on the claimed relation between ideas in the mind and metaphysical reality. Representationalism in all its forms is a leading way to make a claim to know, where 'to know' means to grasp the way the mind-independent world really is beyond mere appearance. The difference is that, unlike Platonism, which claims to gasp reality directly, a representational theory of knowledge claims to do so indirectly through one or more representations" [4].)

Yet it is unclear and controversial which aspects of the theory of Ideas—although there is no single theory of Ideas—were committed to by Plato [2]. In the Republic, Plato suggests that the mind can attain direct knowledge of the universals—Ideas or Forms—but elsewhere Plato poses other approaches, and it is unclear which approach, if any, Plato ultimately favored [2]. In the time of Gottfried Leibniz, however, Platonism became known as an idealism [2]. Around then, the approach to knowledge—in other words epistemology—embraced representationalism, posing knowledge as achieved indirectly through ideas that are merely representative of reality [2]. Yet for its commitment to metaphysical realism, Platonism is otherwise Platonic realism [2].

1) Claire Ortiz Hill, pp 82–83, in Tymieniecka AT, ed, Phenomenology World-Wide: Foundations, Expanding Dynamics, Life-Engagements: A Guide for Research and Study (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002)
2) Tom Rockmore, Kant and Idealism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007), pp 24–29
3) Tom Rockmore, Hegel, Idealism, And Analytic Philosophy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), p 16
4) Tom Rockmore, Kant and Idealism (Yale U P, 2007), pp 7–8 (talk) 19:13, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

  • I think this should simply be redirected Platonic realism (nothing to merge). Vice versa's fine too, but all the content's in the other article.—Machine Elf 1735 21:31, 28 December 2012 (UTC)