The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Newsletter

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Although it is relatively uncontroversial to characterize all Platonists as metaphysical idealists or immaterialists, the ascription to some of them of explicit arguments for epistemological idealism is controversial and problematic. It will be necessary to consider Neoplatonic attitudes toward perception of an external material world, but also the direct intellectual "perception" of the Forms.


John Bussanich presented “Were the Neoplatonists Idealists or Realists?” to the Society at its meeting with the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association in Portland, Oregon, March 27, 1992. A revised version was published in 1994 as “Realism and Idealism in Plotinus.” Hermathena 157: Neoplatonica, Studies in the Neoplatonic Tradition, 21-42. That version is available on his website,, also the source of information about the author.