Platonisms and Ideas

Free Seminar March 7 and UniMelb

The Melbourne School of Continental Philosophy is proud to present the following free seminar day on Platonisms and Ideas. Free registration is essential - please sign up below.

For Plato thinking always proceeds and is made possible through what he calls Ideas. Yet what Plato takes as constituting the ideas, their objective and subjective status, as well as the role that they play in his philosophy, shifts and changes over the course of the dialogues, precisely as he attempts to deal with how the universality of something like an idea can exist in the world. There is consequently in his work a variety of conceptions of ideas: ideas as models, ideas as unchanging unities, ideas as structures of relations, and of course the higher ideas, particularly the idea of the good, that are to govern all others. It is evident that what an idea was remained always a central and live question for Plato. This problem, and the various modalities of what constitutes an idea, also persists through certain lineages in the history of philosophy, up until today.  Think of German idealism, phenomenology, as well as in the philosophies of Gilles Deleuze and Alain Badiou, to name only a few. Within this history, the different modalities of the ideas give rise to a variety of conceptions of what Platonism was, is, or should be. For example, for Heidegger, via Nietzsche, the fundamental conception of ideas is that of models in relation to copies, which is the origin of the sickness of the western world. For Kant, the ideas are a necessary part of reason that unifies our knowledge, but whose use can, and should be restricted, while for others, such as Albert Lautman, a certain received image of Platonism is to be rejected in favour of a reinterpretation of the ideas in the later dialogues. The objective of this seminar day is to interrogate these various theories of ideas, and hence also the possible forms of Platonism. In doing so, we hope to gain some clarity about what ideas can be today.


  • Jon Roffe, Two Experimental Platonisms: Ruyer and Deleuze on ideal structure and material formation.
  • Luara Karlson-Carp, Irigaray's Other Plato: Hylomorphism and Difference in the Myth of the Cave.
  • John Cleary: Ideas and the Dialectic of Structure: Albert Lautman's Mathematical Platonism.
  • AJ. Bartlett, Without Ideas, We have Nothing.

Date: Saturday, March 7 from 10am - 5pm.

NB: The Venue has been shifted to this bigger room shown below.

Venue: University of Melbourne, Arts West, North Wing-153 (Forum Theatre)