Notes from Wasserman: Plato’s Republic

Class 1981/ 1983 GVSC

[In progress:]

Using Bloom’s Republic and Shakespeare’s The Tempest, with brief modern contrasts at the conclusion, Wasserman furthered the project of Leo Strauss to recover ancient Socratic Political philosophy.

The torch of philosophy is being transferred in this from Germany to America, having come to Germany through France, Britain and Italy, from the Petrarchan recovery of the texts of Byzantium. The Hebrew American immigrants, having seen Germany seared, have yet been able to graft philosophy onto the native Americans, and we are seeing how this takes.

Class notes are difficult for a reader to decipher, and exclude much, including the note taker’s own participation and questions. I enjoy watching myself learn the importance of what is occurring here, gradually beginning to take study seriously in a new way.

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Dramatic contrast of ancients/moderns

“I see my teaching of philosophy that way”- Irv

Explicit repudiation of the ancients- Machiavelli/Hobbes/Bacon/Descartes

Mathematics- Descartes wipe the slate clear- of truth.

Skepticism endemic- That all must be “proven.”

Certainty- clarity, or else therew is no answer.

Political philosophy (as distinct from political science) (is) dead for all practical purposes.

Is Plato recoverable through modern eyes?


Start with the ancients in order to see what we said “no” to.

History. But Plato didn’t have history.

Context, yes, but relative to time, no.

What is justice? / What is Plato’s justice?

Through Polemarchus to Thrasymachus.

Lecture Friday January 16th, 1981

All of the dialogue is intentional.

Philosophy and political [philosophy appear inseparable.

[Jean] That none is superfluous. Take it as a whole.

There is no Platonic doctrine as ordinarily understood. [Ken]

Bloom renders in translation.

Concreteness and participation.

ancient/modern. Wasserman: specific characters, questions, answers. Socrates can’t give the answers. We don’t know if there is an “answer.”

Nothing concrete is a what (For man?)

We may have said no to a Plato that is not Plato.

Lecture Jan 19th Monday

It is not clear that philosophy….

Apologos. Speech on behalf of

presuppose- defense of philosophy To break the law

To question. That something has a nature. There

The city does have a case.

? Really. Truly. Best. The ideal

Consent. No one agrees as to what’s best.

“There has not been a coherent discussion on the nature of education in 10 years.” -I. Wasserman

Presocratics/ natural philosophers- atheism

City and poets v. natural philosophers (pre-soc.)

What is human and what is rational seem to be at odds.

Christ the philosopher/poet king?

Poet gives the peculiarly human answer of the city. Convention

Socratic questions. Is rational, (therefore) human.

Athens USA

The poet the natura;l philosopher ballet dancer

Question: How is philosopjhy like the ballet dancer?

Consent involves always a dilution of wisdom. Compromise

-Our standards don’t involve compromise

“For the ancients, the political is second best,but the second best is very very high.” -Irv

It sounds like a doctrine or ideology rather than coming from the inside

…[And then our modern political philosopher says “she shows emotion in public, Plato would says that is not very rational.


realizable republic

saying/doing= meaning, therefore write dialogues.

talking/ showing= meaning. Therefore write dialogues.

a) Polemarchus forced conversation

b) Why are people at the Piraeus? New goddess. Torchrace.

An innovation is Socrates (introduces new divinities)

Socrates must effect the gentlemen who are not philosophers; compromise between wisdom and power.

Rhetoric- the art of teaching better way.

Between powerless wisdom and unwise power; the city necessitates dilution.

Consent. You first have to get the approval of consent. Introduces the problem of rhetoric.

To coincide public opinion

Relationship of tyranny and wisdom.

In dilution

People have their gods, their ideas of justice

Necessitates compromise Falsity not necessary Dilution of tyranny. Degrees? truth.

Question of necessary dilution of wisdom

[p. 4 top: Question: What positive (assertions) does Socrates say?]

Tyranny enters into being by appealing to the people. [margin: true that… is it true that]

Falsity, tyranny, is…may not be diluted

Truth wisdom question?

Is it a character of the falsity that it is not diluted i.e., worshiped?

Auth. city ordered to quest.

or quest to city auth [Is the authority of the city ordered to the question or is the question ordered to the citie’s authority]

answer, truth does not mean it does not endanger the city.

He wouldn’t leave Athens to save his life

He is a friend of the city. He expressed this in the apology.

Tomorrow- answer questions in a more responsible way., take the path of Socrates and Allan Bloom.

Thrasymachus: Isn’t that the answer to the question of justice that is most prevalent now?

some kind of garrulous bird

Very nice.

Eric Linus Kaplan

telling me its theory

that the soul is a sphere

but then it corrects itself

it is constantly correcting itself

and says it is not actually a sphere

but we call it a sphere in order to convey

that it lacks any sort of lack or insufficiency

it takes a stick in its beak, it clears the ground with its wings

and starts sketching a system. it draws a circle and labels it

“language” and then on the perimeter it writes “reality”

and then draws another circle around those two and labels that “the

complign sphere of intercessionality” and then it says — look, beyond that circumference

Do you see? Do you see? SQUAWK SQUAWK SQUAWK Do you see?

The wings of the bird are blowing up the dirt where it (he? she?) drew its diagrams the sky

is too dark to see it is an orange red, the spirit…

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Chivalry and Russofascism

Notes; Essay in progress [any thoughts?]

Medieval chivalry fits together the spiritual and the martial or political- in the way that these two do fit together- by analogy. The conjunction of Christian and martial virtues is formed in the brief Christian period of the empire, 313-476 A. D. Arthur occurs long before Charlemagne, just at the end of the Roman empire when Britain had been separated from ancient Rome, and the “Dark Age” descends onto the area that was in Europe of what was the western Roman empire. Prior to Constantine, the Roman knights were not Christian, and medieval chivalry as Christian developed especially in Christian Britain, on the fringes of the empire. Chivalry occurs as one way of fitting together the spiritual and the political. The spiritual things of the light in man are joined to martial virtue, resulting in “ethical” virtue. Direct theoretical and practical wisdom seem to be replaced by loyalty and obedience, suitable to the spirited and honor seeking part of the soul. Ethical virtue is related to the virtues of the mind by analogy- and so St. George slays the dragon and frees the maiden, somewhat as does the soul ascending past the fear of death out of the cave prison or muddy vesture of decay. Justice, Courage, liberality, magnanimity and moderation or chastity are assumed in the meaning of what is honorable. The oppressed are protected from the strong by the martial virtue of those genuinely best, a natural aristoi.

Our argument will be that Dugin in his Russian-ism advocates tyranny and not aristocracy or chivalry, that the regime and orders are those of a beast and not our image of the best of medieval knights. Apparently, this needs to be said. The Russian argument presents all alternatives to the vices of “democracy” as aristocratic or noble, failing to distinguish the 6 or 7 kinds of regime, and establishing tyranny- a vast degeneration from democracy or the democratic republic.*

But the analogy leads to materialization, and then they literally try to take Jerusalem. In the Revelation, there are no earthly armies battling the beast with Jesus, but 10, 000 of his saints returned. Empire itself- including any Christian, “Judeo-Christian” or Abrahimic empire appears in light of the Babylon of Daniel- as a series of beasts.

The term “chivalry” derives from the Old French term chevalerie, which can be translated as “horse soldiery”.[Note 1] Originally, the term referred only to horse-mounted men, from the French word for horse, cheval, but later it became associated with knightly ideals. Cavalry are few, infantry many. The cavalry are those of the oligarchs, the money seekers, who had the leisure for education- martial and music. The poor cannot afford a horse. Of these are drawn the best of the police and soldiers upholding the nation in domestic and foreign matters.

Largesse or Liberality: generosity was part of a noble quantity. According to Alan of Lille, largesse was not just a simple matter of giving away what he had, but “Largitas in a man caused him to set no store on greed or gifts, and to have nothing but contempt for bribes.”[39]

Mercy to defeated enemies is a part of chivalry. War is not to enact vengeance but to prevent oppression, or the violation of rights the government is obliged to protect- though they had kings, then.

Wiki: “According to William Manchester, General Douglas MacArthur was a chivalric warrior who fought a war with the intention to conquer the enemy, completely eliminating their ability to strike back, then treated them with the understanding and kindness due their honour and courage. One prominent model of his chivalrous conduct was in World War II and his treatment of the Japanese at the end of the war. MacArthur’s model provides a way to win a war with as few casualties as possible and how to get the respect of the former enemy after the occupation of their homeland.[70] On May 12, 1962, MacArthur gave a famous speech in front of the cadets of United States Military Academy at West Point by referring to a great moral code, the code of conduct and chivalry, when emphasizing duty, honour, and country.[71]

Chivalry does not harm civilians, defeated opponents, and protects the honor of ladies-i.e., women, and of course children. The murder and rape occurring in Ukraine betrays the lack or anything but appearance in the use of the human to cover the beast of tyranny. The terror of limitless cruelty is simply used for what appears a tactical advantage to the cold calculator, but is not even cruelty well used, and will seal the defeat of these.

The ideas of chivalry are summarized in three medieval works: the anonymous poem Ordene de chevalerie, which tells the story of how Hugh II of Tiberias was captured and released upon his agreement to show Saladin (1138–1193) the ritual of Christian knighthood;…

…[15] the Libre del ordre de cavayleria, written by Ramon Llull (1232–1315), from Majorca, whose subject is knighthood;[16] and the Livre de Chevalerie of Geoffroi de Charny (1300–1356), which examines the qualities of knighthood, emphasizing prowess.[17]

Kenelm Henry Digby wrote his The Broad-Stone of Honour for this purpose, offering the definition: ‘Chivalry is only a name for that general spirit or state of mind which disposes men to heroic actions, and keeps them conversant with all that is beautiful and sublime in the intellectual and moral world’.

The inspiration by the feminine beautiful to the masculine noble is how love inspires cultivates and perfects the virtues by nature.

Chivalry! – why, maiden, she is the nurse of pure and high affection – the stay of the oppressed, the redresser of grievances, the curb of the power of the tyrant – Nobility were but an empty name without her, and liberty finds the best protection in her lance and her sword.

Walter ScottIvanhoe (1820)

Cavalry are few, infantry many. The cavalry are those of the oligarchs, the money seekers, who had the leisure for education- martial and music. The poor cannot afford a horse. Of these are drawn the best of the police and soldiers upholding the nation in domestic and foreign.

These are those who lay down their lives for their friends every time they punch the clock- Those who are superior to, or in struggle with, the fear of death, etc, and they conquer this, and the enemy by the way.

Russia had Cossacks, and even a noble prince or two, but did not have medieval chivalry as this developed in Europe.

* The pre- Socratics distinguish government by the one, few and many, as in Herodotus. Plato, Aristotle and the Socratic thinkers distinguish 6, dividing the three according to whether the ruling body aims at the common good or the advantage of the stronger ruling element. so these are 1) Of the one, kingship and tyranny, Of the few, Aristocracy and oligarchy, and 3) of the many, democracy and a form called “polity,” or constitutional democracy.

Though these are first the orderings of single cities, they are also the archetypes of the city and soul, and so pertain to politics in the nations as well, if in a qualified way and a wider dimension. Hereditary aristocracy is a derived meaning of the true word, which simply means the rule of the best. Election is of the best, and mixes aristocracy with democracy and the Athenian choice by lot is a degeneration.

In Plutarch’s Lycurgus, we see an example of nobility in war in the laws of Sparta. Plutarch writes:

After they had routed the enemy, they pursued him until they were well assured of the victory, and then they sounded the retreat, thinking it base and unworthy of a Grecian people to cut men to pieces who had given up and abandoned all resistance. This manner of dealing with their enemies did not only show magnanimity, but was politic, too; for knowing that they killed only those who made resistance,and gave quarter to the rest, men generally thought it their best way to consult their safety by flight.”

Dryden ed p. 67