A Forum for and the Background of the Mediation of Dialogue in Ancient and Modern Academies

Friday, 10 May 2013

Missing Seas and Philosophers, Ladders and Beauty.

I am especially happy and feel quite fulfilled at my working desk, since I have Kierkegaard’s Über den Begriff der Ironie on my right and Vlastos’ Socrates, Nehamas’ relevant contributions and McPherran’s Socrates on my left. I have chosen to take on the responsibility and welcomed a much earlier personal challenge to differentiate between different levels of atopia for the Platonic concept of philosophy, starting with Plato’s Symposium. This paper is for the coming International Plato Society Meeting, which our Italian colleagues organize in Pisa in July. And while preparing the “ladder of atopias” for this academic event, I am also anticipating and delving into some Florence Renaissance for the sequence. There I will definitely need no ladder. Florence will be perhaps one city in which I shall refrain from my tendency to cherry-pick beauty. I am namely used to visiting a museum just to see two Vermeers or stare at one Da Vinci and, in addition, a couple of Cézannes. Then I carry the artistic beauty I received and leave the rest for the next time. In the case of Florence, I anticipate I will make an exception and “consume” beauty throughout the day and without a break, receiving as many accomplishments in the paintings, architecture and sculpture as I can, in awareness of my pleasure's completeness despite the restriction of my stay.

In this very moment, I am finishing the review of Gill’s book (Philosophos: Plato’s Missing Dialogue), which is charmingly “pattern-governed”, distinguishing itself as such in the Anglo-American landscape, and fun to read.  Beside this praise, I would like to express my astonishment, before submitting my review to the European Journal of Philosophy, in which I weave the entire fabric of praise and critique. In the appendix, I missed the word theology, though this is a book devoted to Plato’s concept and nature of philosophy and his type of philosopher(s). As carefully as I could, I looked for hints throughout the book but to no avail. Though Gill often appeals to Aristotle as having provided a “more fully worked-out” theory with regard to many topics, right, she is not willing to regard Plato as preparing the Aristotelian bent on this point: metaphysics as the question of being qua being and of the divine being(s). Gill detects the first in Plato but remains silent about the second. This I did find interesting, not just interesting, but very interesting. All in all, the book is fascinating and finely imitates many virtues of Platonic writing.

PS: I had terribly missed the Greek sea. After almost three years, I enjoyed a reviving encounter.

Masaccio, Madonna and Christ with St. Anna, Florence (Uffizi). Masaccio has been one of the most important figures with regard to the introduction of perspective in (Renaissance) painting. What a joyful anticipation, deepened by my thinking of the Fra Angelico's frescoes (the very many of them in the Monastery of St. Marcus), not to mention Botticelli and Filippo Lippi. How can someone prepare for (so great "amounts" of) beauty? By re-reading the wise words of Diotima?

PPS: My warmest greetings to two cities and dear friendships: New York and Sydney.