Did Plato Have an Unwritten Doctrine?

Did Plato Have an Unwritten Doctrine?

Aristotle tells us that Plato had an unwritten doctrine or unwritten dogmas (agrapha dogmata). Commenting on Plato’s Timaeus, Aristotle recorded:

“It is true, indeed, that the account he gives there of the participant is different from what he says in his so-called unwritten teaching.”

- Aristotle, Physics 209b

This secret teaching conforms to something said by Plato in his Seventh Letter:

“Every serious man in dealing with really serious subjects carefully avoids writing” (344c).

So what is this secret “unwritten doctrine” of Plato? I can’t write it down. Come to class and find out…

About the Author

Taylor Marshall is the Adjunct Instructor in Philosophy at the University of Dallas.