I typed this post once, but the UGA main library’s shady Internet connection lost it forever. Ugh.
I didn’t post about Tuesday’s classes because I was grading, and I think that was a mistake. I’m going to try reconstructing some of the things we talked about even though I’ve already taught my 8:00 section today.
First, Plato is flying by. I feel like we just started the book yesterday, and we’re already up to the allegory of the cave for Tuesday. In two weeks’ time we will have finished the entire book. (I realize that survey of philosophy classes can take the whole thing down in a week, but this isn’t one of those.) I’ll be glad to move on to Boethius, but at the same time, I do fear that we’ve spent inadequate time really digging into Republic.
Tuesday, to my surprise, neither class wanted all that badly to talk about the strange spouse-and-children-sharing system that Plato elaborates. Perhaps it was just too alien even to speak of. On the other hand, 8:00 class had a really good discussion of the gods and Plato. They hit the nail right on the head: Plato’s unscrupulous admonitions to manipulate heavenly piety is unnerving, even to moderns who are used to ceremonial deism layered over a secular government. He seems to see nothing wrong with telling soldiers that they’ll be made war-gods in the afterlife, telling the community in general that the gods have instituted his ideas (he even calls it the Noble Lie), and telling educators simply not to use parts of Homer that aren’t moral. By contrast, that class noted, Biblical traditions see nothing wrong with a Bible that leads off, four chapters in, with a story in which Cain murders his brother and God protects him from the just consequences of the murder. I can just imagine Plato spitting his barley cakes across the table if he heard that.
In 11:00 class we talked more about the place of children in Plato’s community. We noted the strangeness of protecting them from stories of Achilles’ bad behavior but the exposure of children to actual warfare so that they can see what they’ll be doing as adults.
In other news, UGA president Michael Adams granted an interview at yesterday’s CFF meeting. He seems a genuinely good man, and once more I wonder at North Georgia’s hatred for him. And although this might draw ire, I couldn’t help but remember when Mark Richt, UGA’s head football coach, granted a similar interview last year and noting the stark difference between Richt’s presidential-press-conference style (not answering any questions straight) and Adams’s Socratic-dialogue style (really attempting to get to the truth of things).
If I had to buy a used car from one of ’em, I’d buy from Adams.