Sunday, May 5, 2013

Henry Sidgwick (and Leo Strauss?) on Plato

"Have been studying Plato again, in spite of my despair as to the possibility of making out what he means.  I am coming to the conclusion that his myths are not as I once thought the drapery of a half-philosophised creed to which he clings while conscious that it is not philosophy.  I now think that he was not half poet, half philosopher, but philosopher to the core, as determined by Descartes to beleve nothing but the clearest and most certain truth, who only used his imagination in myths to dress doxai for the vulgar, as near the truth as their minds could stand, but that a long way off.  Thus all the anthropomorphic theology he scatters about, so attractive to pious, cultivated souls, is, I think, simply and solely for the vulgar!  Then how the world has been taken in!  and how plainly he has told usin the Republic his view of these useful fictions.  Instead of securis judicat orbis terrarum must we not say orbis terrarum vult decipi et decipietur?" -- Henry Sidgwick (p407, "A Memoir", 1906).

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