Platonism and Forms of Intelligence

Project Director dr. sc. Marie-Élise Zovko

The project explores questions and problems of intelligence as considered in Plato’s philosophy and the philosophical tradition of Platonism, comparing these with results of contemporary research in psychology, neurophysiology, educational theory, neural and cognitive science. Taking as point of departure the unique literary and philosophical monuments known as Plato’s dialogues, we follow the development of theories of human intelligence in Platonist philosophy from the its origins in the fragments of the Presocratics to modern representatives of rationalist and idealist philosophy belonging to or influenced by the Platonist tradition. Their differentiation of levels and forms of intelligence, and a corresponding diversity in the quality and content of experience, i.e. specific aspects of reality accessed in a specific way by distinct aspects (levels, forms) of intelligence, is compared with complex structures and functioning of human intelligence revealed anew by empirical results regarding intelligence in the sciences, arts, and education. We explore the origins of rational investigation, logic, and scientific method in Plato and Platonist philosophy and their rootedness in the structures of human intelligence. The method of philosophical inquiry engendered by the Platonic dialogues and developed thematically by the Platonist tradition of philosophy permit us furthermore to advance a rational approach to the discovery and specification of “boundary conditions” of intelligence and of our experience of reality, as well as of the conditions of transcendence of those boundaries, that is: of the self-transcendent nature of intelligence itself.
Philosophical inquiry by project members concerning forms of intelligence and questions of human values and existence, as well as metaphysical and epistemological themes, theories of mind and educational theory, form the basis for pedagogical, social, ecological, and cultural initiatives aimed at improving the lives of individuals and society today, by helping them attain the skills and insights needed in order to find and implement effective, long-term solutions for urgent economic, social, political, and ecological issues. Among the intitiatives founded by the project are Project Stohrenschule, founded 2006, a project on philosophizing with children youth and adults, promoting individual creativity, innovativeness, self-confidence and self-esteem, mutual respect, tolerance, solidarity, responsibility, diversity, intercultural dialogue and participatory democracy, by the cultivation of a a permanent attitude of questioning and wonder, and a dialogical culture of learning; University of Zagreb Writing Project, a cross-disciplinary initiative offering seminars and resources to students and members of the academic community, as well as secondary school teachers and professionals, for the advancement of good writing practice, improved problem-solving and critical, creative and constructive thinking; and the Zagreb New School of Philosophical Discourse, a reading, discussion and philosophical practice group devoted to shared investigation and research of philosophical topics (human values, metaphysics, theory of knowledge and language, existential, and social questions), intended as the basis for a future Center for Philosophy, Culture and Humanity, modelled on humanities’ centers at internationally renowned universities, and fostering inter- and crossdisciplinary study in philosophy, the humanities, and their fruitful interrelationships with the sciences, arts, education, society and culture.

Project assistants:
Laura Blažetić Faller
Andrea Mađor Božinović
Jure Zovko
Marie-Elise Zovko

Croatian scientific bibliography