Skip to main content

Plato study group?

I'm currently reading the book "Finitude and transcendence in Plato's dialogues" by Drew Hyland. It's not very long and fairly easy to read - so if some of you feel like reading along with me we could create a study group dedicated to that book.

Hyland shows that one of the most essential themes in Plato's dialogue is how we humans try to deal with the basic human limitation of finitude. Some resign and accept it - such as those who stop caring about what's it all about or those who cling to old, unlikely worldviews because they think nothing better is available. Some try to overcome it by desperate and/or agressive claims about human nature - such as the Greek sophists. Socrates - as we meet him in Plato's dialogues - tries to turn limitation into possibility: We are human beings and we can think. Let's find out what we can know about what it means to be a human being.

 This both humble and sensitive strategy seems to be contradicted by Socrates ambitions in Plato's dialogue "The Republic" - so Hyland spend a good deal of the book to show that "The Republic" has been heavily misunderstood and that it is really completely aligned with the basic socratic project. In the course of this discussion Hyland heavily criticizes the idea that  Plato developed from being a "Socratic" into being a "Platonist". In Hyland's opinion, every element in Plato's thinking in all the dialogues is completely Socratic.


Comments

  1. Dont have the boock.
    Where can I get, because I would like to be part of the study group.
    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's available on Google Play Book and on Amazon, for example.

      https://books.google.dk/books/about/Finitude_and_Transcendence_in_the_Platon.html?id=tkP9dgKHbmIC&source=kp_book_description&redir_esc=y

      https://www.amazon.com/Finitude-Transcendence-Platonic-Dialogues-Philosophy/dp/0791425096

      Delete
  2. It's available on Google Play Book and on Amazon, for example.

    https://books.google.dk/books/about/Finitude_and_Transcendence_in_the_Platon.html?id=tkP9dgKHbmIC&source=kp_book_description&redir_esc=y

    https://www.amazon.com/Finitude-Transcendence-Platonic-Dialogues-Philosophy/dp/0791425096

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Aristotle on happiness and external goods

According to popular opinion both in ancient Greece and today, happiness requires things such as wealth, good health, good looks, friends, family and good reputation. In Plato's dialogue Euthydemus Socrates challenges those beliefs by claiming that none of those things are good, if they are not used wisely. In fact, Socrates claims that a person who has wisdom doesn't need any of those things at all since he or she can turn any situation into something beneficial for him- or herself.

"If wisdom is present, the one for whom it is present has no need of good fortune".

- Socrates in Euthydemus, 279E

In other words, Socrates claims that wisdom is a sufficient requirement for happiness (and a necessary requirement too, of course). Aristotle famously challenges that claim. But what exactly does he say? Let's have a look.

"we suppose happiness is enduring and definitely not prone to fluctuate, but the same person’s fortunes often turn to and fro. For clearly, if we t…

A documentary about the relationship between Seneca and Nero

A few years ago PBS did a series in four episodes called "The Roman Empire in the First Century"

Episode 3 is about Nero's reign but they tell the story by focusing on the relationship between Seneca and Nero. They do a fairly decent job and mostly present Seneca as a Stoic who tries to play the part assigned to him by fate as well as possible. The text is very pompous, though (to say nothing about the music!). Sigourney Weaver is narrating and sounds like she's quite uncomfortable about the whole thing. Every time a person is mentioned or quoted they show a bust of that person - if one is available - and every single time Seneca is mentioned, they show the "pseudo-Seneca" bust from Herculaneum even though everyone now agree that it is not a representation of Seneca.

All in all a pretty strange experience. It's incredibly rare that anyone mentions Seneca in anything about Rome produced for television so they deserve lots of credit for that - and also fo…

How to win people over to virtue: Socrates vs Seneca

"To give a benefit is a social act that wins someone over."

- Seneca, On Benefits 5.11.5
One of the things I find extremely interesting about Seneca's thoughts on "winning someone over" is how radical an improvement it is to Socrates' ideas (as he is portrayed by Plato). As Socrates sees things, a wise person should try to persuade as many people as possible to become as wise as possible - by engaging in critical, philosophical discussion with them. Winning people over is done by challenging their assumptions vigorously and making good philosophers out of them. A major goal with this activity is to contribute to the best possible society since a society consisting of critical thinkers who have thought a lot about what is good for human beings - and tested their ideas in extensive critical debate with each other - will be the best society. Interestingly - and tellingly - Plato seemed to deeply doubt that it is possible to teach people virtue at all. Either t…