Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Plato's Theaetetus and Maritain's Le Philosophie Bergsonienne


Philosophy Department


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Social and Behavioral Sciences


This paper draws attention to striking parallels between Socratic arguments against the Protagorean and Heraclitean views of Theaetetus and Theodorus in a long section of Platos Theaetetus, on the one hand, and Maritains arguments against Bergson in chapters 7-9 of his Le Philosophie Bergsonienne on the other. The very epistemological and metaphysical criticisms that Socrates makes of the Protagorean-Heraclitean theories held by Theaetetus and Theodorus--that knowledge consists in perceptual intuition only and that concepts and essential natures constitute a distorting arresting of a vital flux--are analogous to the criticisms Maritain makes of the analogous errors of Bergson. Furthermore, in the Theaetetus Socrates extracts from Theodorus an admission that the errors in intuitionism, in anti-intellectualism, and in the metaphysics of flux bring with them errors in theology. Maritain likewise (especially on pp. 38-42 of the 1947 Preface to the Second Edition of the English translation, Bergsonian Philosophy and Thomism) shows the way in which Bergsons errors in epistemology and metaphysics align him with certain disordered theological tendencies of Oriental-Indian thought.

Conference Name

37th Annual International Meeting of the American Maritain Association

Conference Location

Providence, Rhode Island

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