C O M M E N T A R Y
Challenging Plato’s Platonism
by Ron Srigley
Ron Srigley is Editor at VoegelinView.
Disentangling Plato from the Eleatic Stranger
The two papers I am discussing today–James Rhodes’ “The Real Name of the Stranger: The Meaning of Plato’s Statesman” and Zdravko Planinc’s “Plato’s Critique of ‘Platonism’ in the Sophist and Statesman”–are mature works of scholarship by two seasoned interpreters of Plato who have attempted to surpass traditional cannons of interpretation in favour of a new type of reading of the Theaetetus, Sophist, and Statesman trilogy of dialogues.
Though they make their arguments in different ways, Rhodes and Planinc agree that the common scholarly claim that the Eleatic Stranger’s politics and diairetic method supersede Socrates’ dialectic and political philosophy is mistaken. Far from superseding Socrates and representing Plato’s mature philosophical outlook, for them the Statesman and Sophist are critiques of the Stranger’s “dialectical science”–a high-minded type of geometrical thinking not amenable to the erotic character of true Socratic philosophy but open to the influence of sophistry because of its apparently comparable precision and intellectual sophistication.FN
This new interpretive strategy makes both papers fascinating reading. If they are right, they would amount to significant challenges to the idealized or Platonist Plato that has come down to us through the tradition and has been appropriated by figures such as Augustine to legitimate the direction of the Christian teaching without however achieving its end.
One View of Zdravko Planinc’s Critique of Voegelin
by James M. Rhodes
James M. Rhodes is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Political Science at Marquette University. He has a special interest in Plato and is the author of Eros, Wisdom, and Silence: Plato’s Erotic Dialogues (Missouri) and is a contributor to VoegelinView. His biographical notice at VoegelinView may be found HERE .
A number of scholars whom I admire and who have been good friends to me have suggested that I would be a satisfactory respondent to another good friend of mine, Zdravko Planinc, who in 1996 wrote a critique of Eric Voegelin’s uses of Plato. I hope that I do not run the risk of getting in trouble with one friend or another by virtue of what I shall say. Whatever the case, I shall speak and let the chips fall where they may.
Speaking of chips, in my initial appearance on the academic stage I was one of those students to whom Voegelin gave the Chip Hughes treatment. To say the very least, Voegelin invariably found me wanting. He would turn in his grave if he knew that I, of all people, had been called upon to defend him, or that I would be thought suitable to address the issue of his uses of Plato. Perhaps his judgment was sound and I should say nothing.
The Boston Marathon Bombers and the Pathology of Terrorism
A great deal will be said and written about the bombs set off this month at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, the terrible casualties that resulted, and the personalities of the young men who planted the bombs. It seems to us that the following brief remarks by Eric Voegelin come close to expressing the spiritual roots of this horror:
“A further reason for my hatred of . . . ideologies is quite a primitive one. I have an aversion to killing people for the fun of it. What the fun is, I did not quite understand at the time, but in the intervening years the ample exploration of revolutionary consciousness has cast some light on this matter.
April 20, 2013
Musings on Voegelin, Theology
“So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, O wicked man, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way; he shall die in his iniquity, but you will have saved your life.”
Quoted in Hitler and the Germans, CW 31, p 201.