Plato meets Michael Vick

Thursday’s classes were good, and I actually mananged to have two, very different conversations in them. Since I remember 11:00 a little better, I’ll start with that.

Their main concern was that Plato considers obscuring information for the good of community not much of a problem. Although they did not phrase it this way, they thought that the act of deception itself disqualifies a guardian as good.

That’s where Michael Vick comes in.

When I asked them what they would say to ten-year-olds who idolized Michael Vick, they started to realize the size of the question that Plato was dealing with. After all, nine months ago (give or take), Vick was as close to a classical hero as kids get in 2006–he went out into an open field with some of the biggest, strongest, fastest people on the planet and proved over and over that he could overcome them with his own quickness and vision. Then the newspapers revealed something else, something at least as scandalous (for us moderns) as Achilles’ distaste for the afterlife. I asked them what they’d tell the kids.

Because I hadn’t anticipated that being the big question of the day (this was also the section in which Plato says that visiting Corinthian prostitutes and consuming pastries are basically moral equivalents and in which he formulates what later becomes “Platonic love”), I didn’t articulate things that well. But I think things went fairly smoothly.

In 8:00, as I anticipated, the discussion mostly dealt with that Platonic sense of friendship, in which the best among the community love each other without the sex for the sake of harmony. Putting that in an ancient Athenian context is always a trip.

That’s all I’ve got right now. I’ve got my proposal for my spring course in, and I ought to have some good working time Monday, back here at the Bogart Library. Perhaps more then.

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