• Paine
    2.2k
    I don't know if it's true, but it seems consistent with a lot of what is being said here, what with 'modernity being our cave'.Wayfarer

    You seem to advance a view but take no responsibility for claiming it. How does likening a criticism of Strauss relate to a particular quote by a specific member of the discussion group?

    Is that a charge of guilt by association? I don't like Strauss for many reasons. But you are using a set of arguments you refer to but don't defend. You simply leave the field of battle.
  • Wayfarer
    21.4k
    You too can 'read between the lines'. :wink:
  • Paine
    2.2k

    All of my other words left like deer hit on the side of the road.

    I withdraw from the field.
  • Wayfarer
    21.4k
    All of my other words left like deer hit on the side of the road.Paine

    Look, I didn't intend it that way. I will try and elaborate. I've been a particpant in many discussions about interpretation of Plato's texts on this forum, one in particular being Phaedo, a few years ago, and I've learned from them. That became quite vituperative in places - there was a participant, Apollodorus, who doesn't seem to be around any more. Overall I didn't much care for his verbal aggression, but I also didn't think his criticisms entirely mistaken, either. I find @Fooloso4 interpretations invariably deflationary - they seem, as @Leontiskos says, to equate Socrates' 'wise ignorance', to ignorance, tout courte. We've discussed, for example, the allegory of the Cave, which I had rather thought contained at least a hint of something like 'spiritual illumination'. But no, apparently, it's also an edifying myth, and Plato is, along with all of us, a prisoner, for whom there is no liberation. Or something like that.

    I'm still interested in Plato, but I have inclinations towards 'the spiritual Plato' (not that 'spiritual' is a very satisfactory word, but what are the alternatives in our impoverished modern lexicon?) But why I respond to Gerson, is that he seems to confirm my belief that modern philosophy, overall, is antagonistic to, or incompatible with, the Platonic tradition, construed broadly.
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    - Good post, but I don't see any of that as controversial, and I have no reason to believe that Burnyeat would demur. For example, the paragraphs I gave where Burnyeat speaks about the centrality of persuasion in the Republic presupposes that Socrates is saying different things to different people.
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    I find Fooloso4 interpretations invariably deflationary - they seem, as @Leontiskos says, to equate Socrates' 'wise ignorance', to ignorance, tout courte. We've discussed, for example, the allegory of the Cave, which I had rather thought contained at least a hint of something like 'spiritual illumination'. But no, apparently, it's also an edifying myth, and Plato is, along with all of us, a prisoner, for whom there is no liberation. Or something like that.Wayfarer

    I think Fooloso's approach discourages people from reading Plato, and that's unfortunate.* The "showmanship" I spoke of is a kind of contrarian polemicism, where one uses an infinite stock of ammo to gainsay any interpretation which draws substance and sustenance from Plato's works.

    @Paine seems to me a sound and admirable philosopher. When he speaks I learn and when he speaks about Plato I end up learning about Plato and being edified. When I speak to Fooloso, on the other hand, after one or two posts I quickly begin to wonder what he even takes himself to be doing (and then in turn what I take myself to be doing in engaging him). Again:

    The technique is as follows. You paraphrase the text in tedious detail – or so it appears to the uninitiated reader. Occasionally you remark that a certain statement is not clear; you note that the text is silent about a certain matter; you wonder whether such and such can really be the case. With a series of scarcely perceptible nudges you gradually insinuate that the text is insinuating something quite different from what the words say.Myles Burnyeat, Sphinx without a Secret

    More generally, this kind of inflation and deflation in order to warp a text (or a post) and wring out of it whatever one wishes is an advanced form of sophistry that is in many ways beyond me to refute. But when I see someone raising questions about the Emperor's clothes I am certainly willing to assent and applaud. Paine's challenge is just and I can make my attempt, but there are certain forms of sophistry that are beyond me to refute. I think it is significant in itself that many of us see these interpretations as warped and questionable, even if we cannot match the time or the ammo needed to engage point for point.

    When I say that Plato (or Socrates) is a pedagogue part of what I mean is that his words echo truths in multiple registers, as do his dialogues. There is food for the novice and the advanced pupil alike. This is different from gnosticism, which involves dissimulation and falsity for the sake of some higher and secret/concealed truth. It is very easy for a deft hand to warp the pedagogy and diffusity of Plato into a form of dissimulation or skepticism, in much the same way that a conspiracy theorist can cast doubt on everyday realities and replace them with some grand secret. I do not deny for a minute that there are secrets and cues and nuance in Plato, but I fully reject the "replacement" mentality a la gnosticism. Let the novice have his bread. It too is wholesome, and need not be gainsaid.

    * This is part of Burnyeat's complaint:

    According to Strauss, these old books ‘owe their existence to the love of the mature philosopher for the puppies of his race, by whom he wants to be loved in turn’.5 And one can understand that today’s puppies need assistance if they are to respond with love to Strauss’s manner of commenting on these classic texts; for he deliberately makes the hard ones harder and the easier ones (e.g., Plato and Xenophon) the most difficult of all.Myles Burnyeat, Sphinx without a Secret
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.8k
    I think Fooloso's approach discourages people from reading Plato, and that's unfortunate.Leontiskos

    I tend to agree with this. Fooloso4 has a very hardened way of looking at Plato. It appears like an opinion of Plato as useless. But to make that argument, there is a tendency to portray Plato as misleading. There's a very big difference between these two. Useless is simply non-productive, having no effect, and that is basically to say that there is no substance there at all. To say that Plato is misleading, is to acknowledge philosophical substance, and claim that it is wrong, pointing us in the wrong direction. Fooloso4 tends to argue both about Plato, without distinguishing one from the other, and without revealing what is truly believed.
  • Paine
    2.2k

    The point of my post was to counter the charge against Strauss that he was an oracular figure who mystified what was there for all to see. Strauss established his point of view in the context of Schleiermacher and Klein. He taught his classes with the spirit of that lineage clearly on display. Burnyeat either knew of that or he did not. In either case, awareness of that lineage rebuts Burnyeat's argument.

    Now, there are writers who oppose that lineage for a variety of reasons. Their opposition does not make them all saying the same thing. To make such an equation was the core of Apollodorus' method of argument.

    He was a venomous fountain of ad hominem attacks and contempt. Everybody had to be speaking from a particular camp or school. His opponents were always tools in the hands of their masters. It deeply saddens me that such a spirit has returned to visit condemnation amongst us.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k


    You may have read A Giving of Accounts. They were classmates at university and close friends. Apparently, they were asked about their agreements and differences. What they said would not surprise anyone who has read them both, but may surprise those who have only read about them.

    Klein: There are indeed, I think, differences between us, although it is not quite clear to me in what they consist.

    Strauss: The subject is the relations between Klein and me, i.e., our agreements and our differences. In my opinion we are closer to one another than to anyone else in our generation.

    So why is Strauss so controversial and Klein is not? I think the main reason is that Klein is not a political philosopher. While Strauss taught at a major university, Klein preferred the relative anonymity of a small liberal arts college.

    Since this thread has become about me I will say a few things about my understanding of Plato. Something central to my understanding is something I learned from Klein - "the myth of anamnesis or recollection." A myth Klein points out that Socrates tells from hearsay. The significance of this should not be missed. It is something he has heard, a story, not something he knows from the experience of recollection. He shows how and why the story is problematic. This, if I remember correctly, was the first step in my re-evaluation of Plato. Prior to this I took Plato to be a mystic who gave us a glimpse of a higher truth knows only to a few through a transcendent mystical experience. An experience I hoped would one day be mine. I came to question how much of what I took to be the truth was based on hearsay.

    From Stanley Rosen's "The Limits of Analysis" I came to see the Forms as images. Part of Plato's philosophical poetry. Our understanding of the world is of a world that is in some ways a world of our own making. What Plato calls the "ancient quarrel between philosophy and poetry" is not a battle between truth and fiction, but between competing images of man and the world. Our place in the world is not one that is given to us, it is one that we make.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    I find Fooloso4 interpretations invariably deflationaryWayfarer

    Perhaps that is because you see the part as the whole. Socratic ignorance is not a terminus. It leads to the question of where do we go from here. How do we live and think and believe in the face of our ignorance of what is noble and good? Human wisdom is not simply knowing that we are ignorant, one does not have to be wise to know that. If by deflationary you mean I reject ready made answers that can be found in books and given to us, then yes my interpretations are deflationary. What is not deflationary are the important questions and problems that should not be ignored or silenced by stories that place the answers beyond our reach in some eternal elsewhere.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    I think Fooloso's approach discourages people from reading Plato, and that's unfortunate.*Leontiskos

    I have started several threads on Plato . Both within those threads and via PM I have been told that they have led to an interest in Plato that had not existed before then because these readers reject theories and doctrines of Forms and recollection. This relates to something I asked in a previous post:

    ... what do we expect and hope for in our pursuit of philosophy?Fooloso4

    There is no single universal or correct answer. What you look for may not be what someone else is interested in. To assume otherwise is dogmatic.

    In Melville's Moby Dick Ishmael asks:

    How many, think ye, have likewise fallen into Plato’s honey head, and sweetly perished there?

    Nietzsche says:

    We are unknown to ourselves, we men of knowledge—and with good reason. We have never sought ourselves—how could it happen that we should ever find ourselves? It has rightly been said: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” [Matthew 6:21]; our treasure is where the beehives of our knowledge are. We are constantly making for them, being by nature winged creatures and honey-gatherers of the spirit; there is one thing alone we really care about from the heart—”bringing something home.”

    Like angry bees protecting the hive, those who would question Plato's honey head are repeatedly attacked in order to protect their sweet treasure. Without this treasure they think there is nothing left of value. They are there to find something to take home and call their own. It does not seem to occur to them that Plato's maieutics is about what one has to give not what one takes.
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    I tend to agree with this. Fooloso4 has a very hardened way of looking at Plato. It appears like an opinion of Plato as useless. But to make that argument, there is a tendency to portray Plato as misleading. There's a very big difference between these two. Useless is simply non-productive, having no effect, and that is basically to say that there is no substance there at all. To say that Plato is misleading, is to acknowledge philosophical substance, and claim that it is wrong, pointing us in the wrong direction. Fooloso4 tends to argue both about Plato, without distinguishing one from the other, and without revealing what is truly believed.Metaphysician Undercover

    Quite right, and I think there are also false dichotomies at play, such as the idea that either Plato espoused concrete doctrines, or else he held to no positions whatsoever. Such false dichotomies push and pull the conversations and interpretations in unnatural ways. I would never want to impose such wooden assumptions on a subtle thinker like Plato. And if the false dichotomies are only being used as a rhetorical tool, then I would say that the rhetoric and agendas need to be tamped down.
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    The point of my post was to counter the charge against Strauss that he was an oracular figure who mystified what was there for all to see. Strauss established his point of view in the context of Schleiermacher and Klein. He taught his classes with the spirit of that lineage clearly on display. Burnyeat either knew of that or he did not. In either case, awareness of that lineage rebuts Burnyeat's argument.Paine

    Fair enough, and perhaps you are right that Burnyeat was not sufficiently aware of this lineage.

    Now, there are writers who oppose that lineage for a variety of reasons. Their opposition does not make them all saying the same thing. To make such an equation was the core of Apollodorus' method of argument.

    He was a venomous fountain of ad hominem attacks and contempt. Everybody had to be speaking from a particular camp or school. His opponents were always tools in the hands of their masters. It deeply saddens me that such a spirit has returned to visit condemnation amongst us.
    Paine

    That's unfortunate. I wasn't around at the time. Fooloso has continually reminded me of Burnyeat's article, but I could not remember the name of the article and so simply searched, "Burnyeat sphinx" on the forum, and found Apollodorus' post (which was in fact a response to Fooloso). I am thinking of Burnyeat more than Apollodorus, but I wanted to reference that exchange as an antecedent of the point I was making. I don't find it coincidental that after Timothy pointed up the incongruence of Fooloso's approach, others started coming out of the woodwork, testifying to the same impression.

    Burnyeat's article is 15 pages long and I don't want to fall into a detailed dispute of the article, especially given the fact that it is not publicly available. I think the discussion regarding Gerson's thesis would be more fruitful, but there is plenty of overlap between the two, and it is interesting that Burnyeat's criticism of Strauss in many ways parallels your own criticism of Gerson.

    For what it's worth, the editors included a postscript to Burnyeat's article:

    This review was met with a storm of rebuttals from the leading Straussians of the day, plus a letter of support from Gregory Vlastos: NYRB 10 October 1985; 24 October 1985; 24 April 1986. The title ‘Sphinx without a secret’ derives from a short story by Oscar Wilde. — Explorations in Ancient and Modern Philosophy, Volume 2
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.3k
    One of my favorite explanations of Socrates' reticence to speak or to claim special knowledge for himself, particularly in the Republic.

    From D.C. Schindler's "Plato's Critique of Impure Reason."


    Moreover, we recall that Adeimantus had added a challenge to his brother’s. The whole of ancient literature, poetry and prose, he claims, “beginning with the heroes at the beginning (those who left speeches) up to the human beings at present” (366e), has justified justice only in terms of its good con-sequences. As we proposed in the previous chapter, the fact to which Adeimantus points is not true simply de facto but also de jure: it is precisely the relative goodness of a thing that can be defined and described with mere words. An argument for the intrinsic goodness of something must necessarily be more than a mere argument: it must be an argument that springs from the wholeness of a life. The wording of Adeimantus’s challenge is crucial, insofar as it associates discourse with relative goodness and insists on more immediate evidence for intrinsic goodness: “Now, don’t only show us by argument (τῷ λόγω) but show what each in itself does to the man who has it” (367b). We have here an allusion to the more intimate form of knowledge we have argued lies at the heart of the epistemology of the Republic and distinguishes it from Plato’s other dialogues. There is no better way to show the effect of something that inheres in the soul than to live out its effect; indeed, anything else can be feigned. It is in this sense that Plato points to philosophy as supplanting poetry as the foundation of social order: not in the first place because he takes philosophy to be a superior mode of discourse (an affirmation that will need to be significantly qualified, as we shall see in the coda), but because philosophy is in fact a life if it is philosophy at all, while poetry need never be more than word.

    Or as Eva Brann puts it in The Music of the Republic: at the center of the Republic there is more than a logon, there is an ergon, a deed. Each of the main images Plato uses (the sun, the divided line, and the cave) are incomplete. Something must "come from outside" to relate to the whole. For instance, the Good can't lie on the divided line, since this would just make it one point among many. With the cave, it is Socrates who breaks into his own narrative, we are directed to the historical person of Socrates who demonstrates his knowledge of the good, not through speeches (which always deal with inadequate good) but through how he lives his life.

    It's also worth noting that the imagery in the Protagoras seems designed to recall Book XI of the Odyssey. Decending into the realm of relativists who make arguments purely for relative advantage and relative goods Plato frames as "Socrates' descent into Hell."

    Continuing...



    We receive more light on the exchange when we see it not simply as an interaction between two different moral characters but more fundamentally two different ways of knowing, different understandings of understanding, different views of what is most real. Socrates’ reticence, and Thrasymachus’s incapacity for it, are functions, we suggest, of two different ways of relating to ideas. Socrates professes no knowledge, and yet he remains throughout the dialogue a sort of anchor around which the discussion is ordered. Thrasymachus professes knowledge, and yet never seems to stick to a basic stance.

    How are we to make sense of this paradox?

    We are not yet in a position to deal with this question adequately, but we can make a certain straightforward observation. While Socrates denies definitive possession of knowledge, here he suggests he has a certain idea, which Thrasymachus’s strictures prevent him from proposing (376d). In other words, he does not yet reject the possibility of understanding a priori—for that would, indeed, depend on an insight it would be presumptuous to claim—but suggests that the activity of proposing and considering an idea does not depend on him alone. Instead, it requires the willing participation of others. For Socrates, an idea is essentially something that must be “inquired into.” For Thrasymachus, by contrast, an idea is not something one explores, reflects on, penetrates, or tests, it is something one simply asserts and, if necessary, defends by further assertions.

    Schindler will later argue that Socrates' reticence is a lure, both to get the reader to engage and, reflecting this in the text, to pull Glaucon in with him. But reticence and openness is also a sign of a certain sort of relationship with the Good:


    Plato suggests that the communication of knowledge requires, so to speak, a community in goodness between teacher and student. This entails a willingness to be tested through questioning, a willingness to respond, and in general, good will and lack of envy.56 It is interesting to note that all of these characteristics point to the affirmation of a good beyond oneself, by which one is measured and to which one is responsible. If it is the case, as we have been suggesting, that an indispensable aspect of knowledge is the mode of relating to reality by which the soul subordinates itself to goodness, then it follows that substantial thinking and genuine communication cannot take place outside of the spirit created by a basic disposition toward goodness. The good, then, is the single condition of possibility of communication, insofar as it gives being to what is talked about and imposes certain demands, intrinsic to that being, on those who wish to know and thus to speak properly. In this respect, to teach in the fullest sense means to impart not just ideas but a relation to the good, and one can do so, and foster such a relation, only if one is in love with the good, as it were.57 To communicate truth requires a love of beauty and goodness. Be good, then, and teach naturally.

    But another key thing here is that all of the characters Socrates speaks to seem to embody one of his "types of men" (e.g. timocratic, oligarchic, tyrannical, etc.). By the end of the dialogue each moves up one spot on the hierarchy. Thus the imparting of knowledge of that cannot be spoken of in mere words, but which must be lived, is imaged in a story where the fruits of knowledge show up in the deeds of those involved.
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    By the end of the dialogue each moves up one spot on the hierarchy. Thus the imparting of knowledge of that cannot be spoken of in mere words, but which must be lived, is imaged in a story where the fruits of knowledge show up in the deeds of those involved.Count Timothy von Icarus

    Michael Sugrue gives the same interpretation. I assume your quotes are coming from something written by D. C. Schindler?
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.3k


    Yes, I went back and included the source.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.3k


    I think you're absolutely right about the significance of the myths existing as such, and the import of the warnings against accepting them dogmatically. I suppose we disagree about their exact function though.

    I sometimes wonder what Plato would have thought about analytic philosophy with its extreme focus of formalism and decidability. In some ways, Plato seems like the progenitor of the preference for the a priori, and in others his ecstatic view of reason seems completely at odds with it.

    As you say, Plato's goal in motivating questioning is definetly there, but I also think this is instructive in more than one way. It points to how reason goes beyond itself, its lack of limits (which in turn points to its ability to radically undermine itself).

    IMO, the lessons one learns in Plato do point towards a type of skepticism. This would include skepticism vis-á-vis those sorts of systems that elevate a sort of doctrinal formalism (what can be said). But my take would be that the bigger lesson is not so much that we should be skeptical of such things, but that they aren't truly valuable. That is, even if we could erase our concerns and overcome our skepticism vis-á-vis such presentations of truth, we shouldn't want to, because the truth we'd be sure of would be an impoverished form. And this is why Plato keeps prodding us to never settle down with what is in the text itself—the ideal orientation is towards the Good and True, not towards any specific teaching (edit: ...that can be formalized. That's the point of all the images and "myths." But I would disagree that they are offered up pragmatically or hypothetically).
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    Quite right, and I think there are also false dichotomies at play, such as the idea that either Plato espoused concrete doctrines, or else he held to no positions whatsoever.Leontiskos

    If you see a false dichotomy it is of your own making. I have not claimed he held no position whatsoever.

    You have avoided addressing the problem of why he never spoke in his own name. I suggest that he does not clearly state what it is because he does not put whatever his position is above the issue being deliberated. To take his position as authoritative would forestall further deliberation. As if having identified his position the matter is closed. As I read him, philosophy is open-ended inquiry. The sense of wonder is kept alive and is not to be replaced by position statements. Whatever the position is and whoever's position it is, it is to be examined, not held above question.

    I would never want to impose such wooden assumptions on a subtle thinker like Plato.Leontiskos

    And yet you impose your own assumptions regarding the truth of such things as Forms and Recollection. Contrary to his identification of Forms as hypothetical and Recollection as problematic, you accuse me of sophistic interpretation when I pay attention to and point out what is actually said.

    My approach is to pay careful attention to both the arguments and actions in the dialogues. You dismiss this as convoluted and sophistic. Rather than hold out these purported theories and doctrines against the text itself, you hold to them in place of the text. As if the details of the text itself are superfluous and can be ignored.
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    And yet you impose your own assumptions regarding the truth of such things as Forms and Recollection. Contrary to his identification of Forms as hypothetical and Recollection as problematic, you accuse me of sophistic interpretation when I pay attention to and point out what is actually said.Fooloso4

    Where have I done that?

    My approach is to pay careful attention to both the arguments and actions in the dialogues. You dismiss this as convoluted and sophistic. Rather than hold out these purported theories and doctrines against the text itself, you hold to them in place of the text. As if the details of the text itself are superfluous and can be ignored.Fooloso4

    Where have I done that?

    You seem to be capable of spinning anything to make it say whatever you like, and I'm sure this includes my own posts. It should not surprise when a witch hunter finds a witch.
  • Paine
    2.2k
    And yet you impose your own assumptions regarding the truth of such things as Forms and Recollection. Contrary to his identification of Forms as hypothetical and Recollection as problematic, you accuse me of sophistic interpretation when I pay attention to and point out what is actually said.
    — Fooloso4

    Where have I done that?
    Leontiskos


    It seems to me like you are doing that throughout this comment You insinuate Foolsoso4 resembles a gnostic sophist here:

    When I say that Plato (or Socrates) is a pedagogue part of what I mean is that his words echo truths in multiple registers, as do his dialogues. There is food for the novice and the advanced pupil alike. This is different from gnosticism, which involves dissimulation and falsity for the sake of some higher and secret/concealed truth.It is very easy for a deft hand to warp the pedagogy and diffusity of Plato into a form of dissimulation or skepticism, in much the same way that a conspiracy theorist can cast doubt on everyday realities and replace them with some grand secret.
    [emphasis mine]
    Leontiskos

    And there is your approval of:

    The technique is as follows. You paraphrase the text in tedious detail – or so it appears to the uninitiated reader. Occasionally you remark that a certain statement is not clear; you note that the text is silent about a certain matter; you wonder whether such and such can really be the case. With a series of scarcely perceptible nudges you gradually insinuate that the text is insinuating something quite different from what the words say.Myles Burnyeat, Sphinx without a Secret
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    Or as Eva Brann puts it ...

    My thread on the Phaedo is based on her translation, which I deliberately choose over others

    Brann was a student of Klein. Here are a few things she said about Strauss;

    I did not attend Mr. Strauss’s seminars regularly, but I saw him often at the Klein house for lunch and dinner. I can give you an overall impression. He was absolutely the most exquisitely courteous man imaginable, especially to me as “the daughter of the house.” He was very, very polite. I heard much conversation. I don’t know if I absorbed much of it, but I know that Jasha [Klein] was very happy to have him in Annapolis.

    This stands in stark contrast to the allegations of Burnyeat and others.

    She continues:

    ... one point of difference, and maybe the most important, was that Mr. Strauss thought that political philosophy was fundamental. I think that Jasha thought that ontology, or metaphysics, was fundamental, and that the revolution in science was more telling for modernity than the political revolution.

    They accepted their differences. It did not stand in the way of their friendship. In addition to what they had in common regarding how to read Plato they shared a good character. They were the same type of men.

    I sometimes wonder what Plato would have thought about analytic philosophy with its extreme focus of formalism and decidability. In some ways, Plato seems like the progenitor of the preference for the a priori, and in others his ecstatic view of reason seems completely at odds with it.Count Timothy von Icarus

    I think that to the extent they can be reconciled it can be found in his treatment of misologic in the Phaedo. Analysis is important but can only take us so far. From my thread on it:

    The danger here is that they may come to believe that philosophy has failed them. Socrates is about to die because he practiced philosophy and nothing he has said has convinced them that he will be better off for having practiced it. It is because of Socrates that they came to love philosophy, but it may be that philosophy cannot do what they expect of it. They are in danger of misologic, hating what they once loved.

    ...

    The danger of misologic leads to the question of who will keep Socratic philosophy alive? Put differently, philosophy needs genuine philosophers and not just scholars.

    Socrates turns from the problem of sound arguments to the soundness of those who make and judge arguments.

    In other words, the development of good character. The pursuit of the good is good because through its pursuit we can become good. The pursuit of transcendence can be transformative.

    And this is why Plato keeps prodding us to never settle down with what is in the text itself—the ideal orientation is towards the Good and True, not towards any specific teaching.Count Timothy von Icarus

    Yes, I agree.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k


    Thank you. It spares me the tedious task of reminding him of what he has said.
  • Paine
    2.2k

    I would not have done it if I had not been included in the comment. This is briefest way to express my discomfort with the comparison.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    From D.C. Schindler's "Plato's Critique of Impure Reason.Count Timothy von Icarus

    I forgot that I wanted to comment. Schindler, says:

    A watershed in the modern history of interpretation seems to be Leo Strauss, with his discovery or argument that Locke wrote esoterically.

    The point I wanted to address is:

    ... because philosophy is in fact a life if it is philosophy at all, while poetry need never be more than word.Count Timothy von Icarus

    I agree with the distinction between philosophy as a way of life and a poetry of just words, but poetry can also be a way of seeing and understanding. In other words:

    philosophical poetry.Fooloso4
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    I would not have done it if I had not been included in the commentPaine

    A wide net catches all kinds of fish.
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    It seems to me like you are doing that throughout this comment You insinuate...Paine

    But the claim has to do with, "assumptions regarding the truth of such things as Forms and Recollection." I do not make any assumptions at all about Forms and Recollection in that quote you provide, and Fooloso's whole paragraph is centered around Forms and Recollection. What is he talking about?

    This is actually a good example of what I am talking about. Fooloso is protecting against "assumptions regarding the truth of such things as Forms and Recollection," and there need be no evidence of such assumptions in order for him to mount a defense against such an interpretation. This is an example of "protesting too much," albeit not in a strictly Christian register. If I am to judge from his posts on the forum since I have arrived, he reads Plato primarily against a foil of his own construction; hence the "contrarian polemicism."

    You insinuate Foolsoso4 resembles a gnostic sophist here...Paine

    I do think that.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.3k
    Anyhow, to circle back, when it comes to skeptical or ironic interpretations of Plato, I think one problem is the work of Aristotle. Here, you have a guy equipped with a brilliant mind who studied with the man for years who seemed to miss the memo. He seems to think he has solid metaphysical theories to enhance or rebut.

    The skeptical Plato at least has some things to recommend it. However, I find it very hard to even see the bare bones of Fooloso4's reading of Aristotle where he, in what are essentially lecture notes, is trying to engage in dialectical and lead us to aporia ("the attentive reader is not led to conclusions but to questions and problems without answers"). I think the thread trying to read the Metaphysics this way sort of speaks for itself, it ends up saying nothing of what it straightforwardly says when taken this way. I've never come across a "skeptical Aristotle," in my reading, and I think there is a good reason for that. The Posterior Analytics in particular, with its ideal of sciences flowing neatly from self-evident axioms in logical demonstrations is sort of the opposite. I don't think a skeptical Aristotle is any more plausible than a skeptical Kant who brings up the antinomes just to get us questioning and then purposes the transcedental deduction as a hypothetical for moral edification.

    The thesis that Aristotle was a Platonist (e.g. Perl) rings true with me. The thesis that Aristotle was a skeptical Platonist seems particularly far-fetched, the author of the Posterior Analytics was not a "zetetic skeptic."

    Yet, in any case, one thing Plato would almost certainly agree with is that his opinion doesn't ultimately matter that much. There is always the possibility that what Plato intended was still wrong, be it "Platonism" or something more skeptically oriented.



    That's a fine interpretation that adds an additional dimension. The interlude also seems to mean what it straightforwardly says, which is "if you find out an argument you thought was good is bad, don't distrust reason and argument as a whole," which is sort of the opposite of zetetic skepticism.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    But the claim has to do with, "assumptions regarding the truth of such things as Forms and Recollection."Leontiskos

    It is odd how much you talk about me and how little you talk to me.

    The thread is on Gerson and Platonism. The OP claims that there are core doctrines of Plato. If this is true do you think those doctrines include or exclude the truth of such things as Forms and Recollection?

    You say:

    ...and there need be no evidence of such assumptions in order for him to mount a defense against such an interpretation.Leontiskos

    The evidence is there right from beginning with the OP. And from the beginning you misrepresent what I said:

    The claim that Plato held no doctrines or positions ...Leontiskos

    but you argued against your own misrepresentation. Yet even after I pointed out that I said in my first post "no written doctrines" you go on to argue that:

    To maintain your thesis would require upholding the idea that Aristotle was no more privy to Plato's thought than we are, which is false.Leontiskos

    You accuse me of sophistry without citing examples, while your own is clearly on display.

    If I am to judge from his posts on the forum since I have arrived, he reads Plato primarily against a foil of his own construction; hence the "contrarian polemicism."Leontiskos

    If that is the case then I am in very good company. You reject Strauss without having read him based on what Burnyeat said. But Strauss is not alone. Klein has been cited. If not cited here, John Sallis has been cited in other threads. He can be included as well. He has been influential in my interpretation of Timaeus. And then there is a growing number of Strauss' students who hold faculty positions throughout the U.S.

    Some years ago I started a thread on the Euthyphro. I began with a straightforward summary. The first response was by the guy you raised from the dead:

    I don't know what the question is but I'm sure Karl Marx has all the answers. Or so they say ....

    I ignored this but someone else responded to him:

    Please refrain from the gratuitous ad hominem commentary.

    Several others spoke up in my defense. There is a whole history here that you seem to be unaware of. My interpretation goes against that of some others, but I have been working on my interpretation and revising it when it seems necessary since long before I was aware of this forum.
  • Paine
    2.2k

    Since we are all talking about other people at the moment, I want to talk about ways past discussions intersect with this one for me. I first became aware of Gerson because Apollodorus and Wayfarer appealed to him for support of their theological views of Plato. I then found out that this appeal to Gerson has been going on for years before my start.

    My education included reading Plotinus. There were many arguments about where he differed from the Platonic beginnings, but no disagreement emerged concerning whether Plotinus was using the myths of the past as parts of his system of "realities". The language of approximation and stories, so vivid in the Timaeus, is now the way things are. There are limits to the realm of the "discursive." One had best get with the program.

    The next book we read was City of God. That certainly tempers my understanding of Plotinus, for better and worse, depending upon different points of view.

    Having been introduced to Ur-Platonism on this forum, I started reading Gerson's scholarly papers. That is when I started objecting to his interpretations of texts, for example, here and here as well as the example given upthread. As it concerns this thread, the clear preference for Plotinus shown in those commentaries is not represented as such in the Ur-Platonist stuff. This gives a bit of three card monte flavor to the scene. Is there a bait and switch play between the two enterprises?

    I am glad to have had to discuss Schleiermacher's resistance to Systems because I am willing to acknowledge that is the lineage I come from. The most important element is the individual participating in the dialogue being witnessed. That theme is also echoed in the Dialogues in many ways that are not shy and retiring. So, I freely admit to an aversion to Gerson's efforts to assemble a system to fight modern foes on the basis of that point of view.

    To sum up, I have two lines of resistance to Gerson that are separate in origin and form. Because of that condition, I want to address:

    Burnyeat's criticism of Strauss in many ways parallels your own criticism of Gerson.Leontiskos

    Burnyeat was claiming he was on to Strauss' magic trick. That is a valid way to characterize persuasion and I don't fault Burnyeat for trying it. He took his chance with it. I don't know what Gerson's trick is. But he proposes to close what I think should not be.
  • Fooloso4
    5.8k
    He seems to think he has solid metaphysical theories to enhance or rebut.Count Timothy von Icarus

    That is a fairly standard reading but not one held by everyone. David Bolotin in his "An Approach to Aristotle's Metaphysics" does not see it that way. Neither does Christopher Bruell in "Aristotle as Teacher". As expected both authors have their supporters and detractors.

    The interlude also seems to mean what it straightforwardly says, which is "if you find out an argument you thought was good is bad, don't distrust reason and argument as a whole," which is sort of the opposite of zetetic skepticism.Count Timothy von Icarus


    I think that is exactly what zetetic skepticism says. It does not mistrust or abandon reason. As the term indicates, the way of inquiry continues. It does not abandon inquiry to misologic.
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