Reason and Revelation Post

[In progress: draft]

The relation of Leo Strauss to Christianity is obviously a primary question for the students of Strauss that arrive for class from a Christian rather than a Jewish tradition.While Strauss addresses the questions of reason and revelation, he does not directly address the teachings of Jesus, but addresses reason and revelation from the Hebrew rather than the Gentile or non Hebrew Biblical tradition (MI, p. 114 “I speak only of the Jewish version” of the older and newer views regarding reason and revelation). This may be no more surprising for him than it was for Maimonides, following the Spanish persecutions. How then do Christian students of Strauss take up the question of Athens and Jerusalem? The following is an essay or attempt.

Strauss has presented the two sources of Western civilization and the alternatives in the crisis of modernity as the philosophic life from Athens and the life of belief, from Jerusalem. Famously, he presents these two as incompatible- one might pursue one or the other, but not both. One must always be subordinate and handmaid to the other. The ways of faith and reason are incompatible. The alternative- of their conjunction- Strauss attributes to Nietzsche

…The single goal of mankind is conceived by him as in a sense super-human. He speaks of the super-man of the future. The superman is meant to unite in himself Jerusalem and Athens on the highest level.

Athens and Jerusalem, p. 149

While it is not clear immediately what text Strauss draws this from, or what of Athens and what of Jerusalem the Nietzschean conjunction might have in mind, his contrast of reason and revelation is quite clear. A Caesar with the soul of Christ would be a conjoining of Jerusalem and Rome.

In response to this we begin from indicating that the word “revelation” is not used in the scriptures sense in which Strauss uses it. This is as an object of belief received by hearing rather than something uncovered to sight. The word revelation is then not used in this sense contrary to reason. This very contrast is medieval, not ancient, while the Bible is not medieval but ancient. The answers regarding the compatibility of the ways of faith and reason depend upon definitions and understanding of what these are, what faith is and what reason is, and as it turns out, there are various meanings for each- not all of which conflict. Strauss argues that the two, Athens and Jerusalem, agree as to the importance of justice, but disagree regarding what completes “morality-” Athens, the life of the quest for wisdom, Jerusalem a way of faith which assumes but does not seek regarding the first principle.

In the 1950 Athens and Jerusalem lecture of Strauss, at 6: 50 of the second lecture, there occurs this statement, repeated in the Mutual Influence essay (p. 111) which shows in its root the arguments which later emerged into such bloom:

The philosopher sees no necessity in assenting to something which is not evident to him… If he is told that his disobedience to revelation might be fatal, he raises the question “What does fatal mean?” If the philosopher is told that his disobedience to revelation might be fatal to him, he raises the question what does fatal mean? Eternal damnation to Hell fire? The philosophers are absolutely certain that a wise God would not punish with eternal damnation or anything else human beings that were seeking the truth with clarity. (MI, 113).

Strauss draws this simple early statement of the issue between Athens and Jerusalem without reference to any text. The reason may be that the texts do not quite say that. It is never said, exactly, “believe in revelation.” The word is used to describe something– the adherence to law, in the Hebrew Bible, but we would say that law and “revelation” in this sense are not coextensive. Law seems to depend upon the presumption of knowledge. Every code depends upon the presumption of knowledge, every city, and it is this, not “revelation” in any other sense that conflicts with the life of reason. Paul contrasts Grace and law. That Christianity has become a belief and a law is obviously true, but is this what Christianity is in the scripture? A belief enforced by law, with the prosecution of heresy as though it were a political crime, with censors employed, etc.? Another way to say this is that while law goes with hearing, the word “revelation” is always used in scripture as something revealed to sight rather than hearing, as in the uncovering of the apo-kalypse. It is the followers of these texts that say such things, and we will try to show that this is an addition which occurs between an original and its image, two or three times removed, and that the conflict Strauss presents between Jerusalem and Athens is due not to what these two are in themselves, but to the imitation. The very persecution of the Jews committed by Christians which makes it impossible, apparently, for the Jews to consider the truth of the Messiah, did not occur prior to 330 AD. The Christ is not a code or nomos at all. There may not be a single example of a single act of violence by a Christian in persecution of either heretic or Jew prior to this time- of the conjunction of Christianity and political power. The political powers simply continued to persecute as they have always done regardless of having taken up- and being vastly improved by- the Christian and Jerusalem based beliefs and images.

But to begin with the statement itself, what if those “seeking truth with clarity” torture their fellow humans? Is the “philosopher” still quite as certain, that no wise God, etc? He may say that no one seeking the truth with clarity would ever do such a thing or that the combination- of evil and the pursuit of “truth-” is by nature impossible. Yet in his published text on Athens and Jerusalem (p. 149), the example of the attempt to combine Jerusalem and Athens on the “highest level” is the Nietzschean “super-man.” Would a wise God, then, “punish” one who causes an anti-Christian culture of murder, torture and general lowness-crushing among his underlings? We are no longer so “certain.”

But we think the two tpo fit together quite nicely, As philosophy brings to Christianity the healthy skepticism that allows the renunciation of the orders of persecution, so Christianity might bring to philosophy the ability to renounce evil despite perrenial uncertainty which Socrates truly discerns to be the human condition. So too, if Socrates and Jesus are both what they say they are, there is not a diametric opposition. The quest might be higher than belief, but lower than faith; The faith might be higher than sophistry, but lower than the activity of the divine in man by nature.

The philosopher, Strauss explains, is certain that the quest for the most important things is the best way of life because he knows he does not know the most important things.- These most important things would seem to include the truth about the relation of the ways shown by Athens and Jerusalem. This absolute certainty is possible despite our ignorance of a great part of the whole- the most important things. But first, does it follow? Worms are presumably ignorant of the most important things, and it is not clear that the philosophic life is the best life for them. The beginning of Nietzsche too has something to do with the pursuit of truth not being best for man, for him because it destroys what is high or great, for us because it undermines the belief on which even a descent life depends. But can it be shown that certainty regarding a part does not require certainty regarding the whole? Our certainties seem all to depend upon hypotheses of which we are not “certain.” One wonders if Strauss is not stating the positions in this opposition in a way that he knows is exaggerated in common opinion.


But to return: What if Christ is true, and Plato right about the Allegory of the Cave? Notice first that it is theology, not attachment to the Christ, that is in conflict with the way of reason, as we understand the love of wisdom (philo-sophia). If the Christ is true, the issue may be different than it is if the Christ is not true. Though John, in the title of the “Revelation” or Apo-calypse, is called “John the divine,” (theologou: or John the word of God), there is no New Testament way called “theology.” Paul, when writing of such things, switches to the passive: …”Now that you have come to know God, or rather, to be known by God!” (Gal. 4:9; 1 Cor 8:2-3). It may well be that Strauss was forbidden to consider such a possibility, or he may have thought it unintelligible, as he returned more toward the things of Judaism toward the end of his brilliant career. Again, these had seen such a face from the Christian world that reasoning through this appearance may not have been a leading priority. But is there any reason “apriori,” as is said, that these could not both be so? That the Christ is true, but mankind, being in a cave, see only the images and beliefs, and not the nature of the thing itself outside the cave?

   Athens and Jerusalem, Greek philosophy and the Bible, are the two sources that we find when we attempt to return to the roots of Western civilization. (MI, p.111 top). The common ground between these two is what is shown- we will not say “revealed- when we consider the rejection, in a single breath, of both the Socratic best regime and the Biblical Kingdom of God in the famous fifteenth chapter of Machiavelli’s The Prince. Rousseau seems to have read this work as a satire of princes, Contrary to Rousseau, this rejection of both Athens and Jerusalem marks the beginning of modernity. Machiavelli here contrasts his attempt to “go behind to the effectual truth of the thing,” in contrast with “the imagination therof.” By this he means  certain “republics and principates which have never been seen or known to be in truth,” but which “many have imagined” (The Prince, de Alvarez translation). [See note 1] Machiavelli chooses to let go what “ought to be done” for what is actually done, implying, we read, not satire, but that what ought to be done, justice or righteousness, is merely imaginary. Machiavelli indeed upholds a certain rejected part of the life of Western civilization- He attempts to recover Roman political action and ferocity (albeit without even the Roman gods). This became apparent not to Rousseau, but only after the course of modernity had unfolded, and especially in the twentieth century. But from its two roots, the life of Western civilization is primarily one of seeing how one in fact lives, or what is in truth done under the sun, in light of how it is best to live, or what ought to be done. No single man has done more for the recovery of this way of life than Leo Strauss.

   The common ground between the Bible and Socratic philosophy is presented by Strauss as follows: Athens and Jerusalem agree regarding the importance of “morality,” or, ethics and justice, as well as the insufficiency of of morality, but entirely disagree regarding what it is that completes morality, or what the basis of morality is. This assertion, which will be addressed, seems to me to be in part correct, getting hold of a genuine difference between what the Bible and Socratic philosophy present as the best life. But the assertion also seems to under-emphasize a certain very important similarity between these two regarding what completes morality, as indicated above. I do not refer to the similarities between the Bible and the theological or cosmological teachings in the dialogues, which similarity Strauss also addresses J. A., pp. 165-6). rather, the similarity to be taken up here pertains to what the Bible and Socratic philosophy show about what man is. But first let us consider what Strauss writes about the supposedly fundamental conflict between these two. Strauss writes:

It seems to me that the core, the nerve of Western intellectual history, Western spiritual history, one could almost say, is the conflict between the Biblical and philosophic notions of the good life. It seems to me that this unresolved conflict is the secret of the vitality of Western civilization. The recognition of two conflicting roots of Western civilization is, at first, a very disconcerting observation. Yet this realization has also something reassuring and comforting about it. The very life of Western civilization is the life between two codes, a fundamental tension There is therefore no reason inherent in the Western civilization itself, in its fundamental constitution, why it should give up life. [Note 2] But this comforting thought is justified only if we live that life, if we live that conflict. No one can be both a philosopher and a theologian, nor for that matter, some possibility which transcends the conflict between philosophy and theology, or pretends to be a synthesis of both. But every one of us can be and ought to be either one or the other, the philosopher open to the challenge of theology or the theologian open open to the challenge of philosophy.

                                                                   (P. R. 44-45; M.I., p.111)

The two lives are presented as mutually exclusive, though friendly alternatives. The alternatives are friendly because these are based on a common ground: “the common ground between the Bible and Greek philosophy is the problem of divine law” (P. R., p. 35), to which philosophy and the Bible present “two diametrically opposed solutions” (P. R., p. 35; M. I., p. 111). The two lives coexist in a friendly way on the basis of their fundamental agreement, and share a “perfect agreement in opposition to the elements of modernity which led to its crisis (P. R., p. 34.

But no one can be principally guided by both. The Biblical and philosophic lives can co-exist in one civilization or one nation, but cannot be together in one soul. It is not even possible, reasonably, to give up the life based on the tension between souls guided by each, because the supposed refutations of either are based on an indemonstrable hypothesis regarding one of the two.

All the alleged refutations of revelation presuppose unbelief in revelation, and all alleged refutations of philosophy presuppose already faith in revelation. There seems to be no ground common to both and therefore superior to both.

                                                                              (M. I., p. 177)

   Strange, then, that they both have justice or righteousness (it is the same word in the New Testament, dike) in common. The inferior common ground is the agreement between the Bible and philosophy regarding justice and the divine law. Strauss states, “By justice, both understand primarily obedience to the law. The law that requires man’s full obedience is in both cases not merely civil, penal, and constitutional law, but moral and religious law as well” (P. R., p. 34). The two agree also regarding the limitation of obedience to law, and this limitation is related to the problem of divine law. The problem is stated as follows:

The original notion of a divine law or divine code implies that there is a large variety of them. The very variety, and more specifically the contradiction between the various divine codes makes the idea of a divine law in the simple and primary sense of the term radically problematic.

                                                                         (M. I., p. 111)

   It is to this problem that the Bible and Greek philosophy present two diametrically opposed solutions between which there appears to be no common ground. The Biblical solution, which stands or falls by the belief in God’s providence…

As has been suggested regarding what completes “morality, Strauss writes:

…Or is there a notion, a word, that points to the highest in the Bible on the one hand and the greatest works of the Greeks claim to convey? There is such a word: wisdom. Not only the Greek philosophers but the Greek poets as well were considered to be wise men, and the Torah is said in the Torah to be “your wisdom in the eyes of the nations.” We must try to understand the difference between Biblical wisdom and Greek wisdom…According to the Bible the beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord; according to the Greek philosophers the beginning of wisdom is said to be wonder…

Jerusalem And Athens p. 149.

Note 1: pp. 93-95. Strauss contrasts the Socratic best regime with the medieval understanding of the Kingdom of God in Chapter IV of Natural Right and History, pp. 144-145.

Note 2: See “Jerusalem and Athens, ” p. 149, top. It is agreed that on the level of “culture,” the conflict cannot and ought not be overcome.


   Strauss indeed assumes that the Christ is false. But IF the Christ is true, philosophy is obviously not impossible. Nor, given that a thinker like Strauss could miss that truth or that possibility, is it clear that philosophy will not be necessary. Nor is philosophy impossible due to the multiplicity of laws. Strauss assumes that the Bible is simply a law or divine code, and that piety is the way of life it teaches- piety in the Greek sense, not only for the many who do not philosophize, but also for those who do. None of these assumptions are warranted, but as Strauss says, each assume the other to be impossible alternatives, philosophy and the Bible. “If the Christ is true” can be a self known premise with which Christians enter reasoning, and if the Christ is true, Christian philosophy is possible. The place of the Christian gospel would be little different from the place of truth, and the highersat truths, in Socratic philosophy. And if Plato is right about the allegory of the cave, it would not be surprising that there are shadows, artifacts, and men chained to viewing images in the Medieval as well as the ancients cave. The city killed the philosopher as mankind did the Messiah because what both have in common is ascent from the cave, the earth, the body, etc.

   Long ago we tried to explain why it seemed obvious to us that the Bible and philosophy did not present mutually exclusive alternatives as the last, and not the first word on the issue. The two ways appear that way inside the cave, but are “resolved,” at least potentially, when one considers the nature of man. Consider, for example, that the Sermon on the Mount opens the ministry of Jesus by rejecting 5 teachings derived for the Jews from Mosaic law. Or that the teaching of Jesus on providence is a bit different from the common assumption about providence. And it is not that these things are not difficult, or that the questions go away. We do quite like the final word of Socrates to the Athenians on the immortality of the soul- that we do not know- though is as true in Jerusalem as in Athens. But whether the soul is immortal or not, we hold that the life of justice or phronesis– the Greek intellectual virtue that contains but transcends justice- is the best life either way. Whether one is happy for a short lifetime or an eternal eternity is perhaps not our business. Like wisdom, it may be the possession of the God.” Ours is to do the right thing in each particular, or to aim at this. (Aristotle, Ethics I, ) Those who are good or obedient only for the promised reward may be in obvious difficulty especially if that reward turn out to be true. We learned this very point by considering the speech of Socrates in Book II of the Republic distinguishing the three kinds of goods, and proposed it to a street preacher at the Diag in Ann Arbor, MI. Can people really be saved if they turn to God from their own self-interest, to save their own skin? His answer was that people begin to take the Christ seriously from concern for their own immortal soul. And we are not yet satisfied with this answer.

   The Christ, Socrates, Jefferson, and romantic love are four things that seems to us to fit quite well together in the same cosmos. A Socratic Christianity might be said to replace the sects, a Protestant or Catholic Christianity, etc, replacing the adherence to a belief with the quest, philosophy replacing these in a philosophic Christianity. We do not have divine wisdom, even as Socrates teaches, but everyone supposes that they do, especially the quarreling sects, and Socrates may be the only human to succeed at the knowledge of ignorance. Irv would say: Socrates is boasting! Only Socrates is THE philosopher, able truly to know his own ignorance, despite the marvel that innate knowledge apparently is sufficient for us to know what the questions are. This ignorance is not the same as belief in the Christ, but might replace not the account of being, but the opinions regarding this. We do not know divine physics for example regarding the transubstantiation, but if the Christ is true, we may do that in remembrance. The tradition of “revelation” assumes for itself divine and natural things, from which Socrates returned to the human things. Hence, for us, Socrates and philosophy replace not the account of the first things, the divine and natural things, but the human understanding of this. We say the Christians ought apply the teaching regarding humility here, in our assumption of divine knowledge. It is wonderful to have the word of God, if only we could read it! This solves the problem of the sects in Christianity.

   Jefferson, in the second sentence of the Declaration, sets out the natural rights, recognized because we are a large nation, but also because of human ignorance, and hence the impossibility, for almost all practical purposes, that government be able publicly to know and tend the good of the soul for each. Our psychology and psychiatry are disastrous examples, and soon these may realize that the Constitution forbids their assumed authority of the soul, even as it forbids the medieval Church from burning or otherwise treating “witches” and “heretics.”

   Finally, Shakespeare in Drama sets out a program of poetry that manages to avoid presenting the divine as known- though prior to this Socratic poet, it seems to have been assumed that the function of poetry was to do just that. So, the Christ, Socrates, Jefferson and Shakespeare fill out four sections of the true divided line, properly understood. And these are only examples and guides, but they show the enterprises and the place of each activity- poetry, law, philosophy and “metaphysics.” Or do we have a theologian who understands the mystery of the “trinity” and the Bride? Or an old testament Jew who understands why wisdom is said to be:

…a tree of life to those that lay hold of her,

And those who hold her fast are called happy.

(Proverbs, 3:

If wisdom is the tree of life, the pursuit of wisdom cannot be forbidden by the Bible, nor is it “diametrically opposed” to the Socratic pursuit of wisdom, but rather, to the antichrist. Nor was Moses piously following Abraham, and Abraham following Noah, Noah, Enoch and Enoch, Adam, on the assumption that the old is the good. These are rather the non-philosophic assumptions of the majority, who do not have the time or good fortune to attempt the ascent, but must be provided.

And during the time of trouble, as Michael tells Daniel (Daniel 12:3), “those who are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament.; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.”

IV: From notes 36-37 to Chapter III on King Lear and The Tempest.

In Deuteronomy, where the Law is given with the preface “Hear Oh Israel(6:4)” even here, the revealed things of the law are contrasted with the secret things of the Lord, the higher things that are not revealed (29:29). But indeed, here the things heard are called the things revealed, though the law is not called “revelation.” Just as in the setting of Deuteronomy, the written law does not exist, so during the writing of scripture in the New Testament, the New Testament itself does not exist, and so is not included in Paul’s reference to the inspiration of every word of scripture. The word of God was in the beginning, though there can be two different senses- as when the Prophets say, “God said, ….”.

In one of the most important treatments of reason and revelation, Paul writes, “has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” Acts 17:18 is another important place, where Paul, in the Areopagus at Athens, questioned by Stoic and Epicurean “teachers, comments on the altar to the unknown God.” This Paul says he proclaims. But he does not use the word revelation or call the gospel “revelation” as opposed to \reason.” Jack MacArthur notes that the word “revelation” occurs 18 times in the New Testament, and always indicates that something has become evident to the eye (Revelation, 1973, p. 4). The closest- and perhaps an exception to what is being said, is 1 Peter 1:7; 13, where “the revelation of Jesus Christ” is future, and the same uncovering that is given to John (1 Peter 1:13), though here it is especially said

…whom not having seen, you love, in whom yet not seeing, believing, but you exalt with joy unspeakable and glorified obtaining the end of your faith, the salvation of souls, for which the prophets searched, to whom it was “revealed” that they ministered not to themselves, but “to you.”

The place held for Socrates by the myth of recollection in the Meno (81 b-e) is in the Christian epistemology future rather than past, as in the account of recollection- hence in this life, in the body, we do not come to know or eat from the tree of life. In this life, it is said, we are rather known by the Most High or first principle than knowing this.”Blessed are those who have not seen yet believed,” as Jesus tells Thomas the doubter. These are told then to set their hope fully on the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” the second coming. The revelation remains primarily the object of sight, though there is access to this through pisteos– believing, faith, “obtaining the end of your faith, the salvation of (your) souls (psuchon).” In the Bible, revelation means literally an uncovering, as of mysteries that have been hidden (Romans 16:25-26), and so may be precisely a seeing for oneself. Elsewhere in the New Testament, the revelation is the second coming, in the title and first sentence of the last book, Revelation (Title and 1:1). The closest direct contrast of reason and revelation as a divinely given set of principles or beliefs, after Deuteronomy, may be 1 Corinthians 1:22: “For the Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly for the Greeks.” Paul in Galatians 1:12) uses the word revelation in contrast to a teaching “according to man, but even here revelation is a direct perception of the Apostle The gospel is a teaching or doctrine- something like the Apostle’s Creed, and there is concern very early with presenting this correctly. John identifies and opposes certain heresies.

The question is whether this belief or faith, with its emphasis on belief or faith, is necessarily in conflict with the life of reason or philosophy, in a sense in which, for example, belief in the Allegory of the cave is not. Is Christianity or Biblical faith in general consistent with the knowledge of ignorance? Or does faith require that certain things be taken as known when these are not known? For it may be that the gospel, as an object of faith, works in some natural way, like a magnet, to attract and awaken the image of God in the soul by the pattern of the deed of the Savior, as Jung writes, and we believe, drawing out the golden element toward the throne of the soul (Jung, Aion, p. 185).

The two, reason and revelation, would be contrasted in this way, mutually exclusive and diametrically opposed, if Socratic philosophy were a teaching according to man. But these things are notoriously problematic in the Socratic thinker, and Paul has not read Plato. The Platonic Socrates may be, as he is presented in the Apology, equally unimpressed with the wisdom of the world and the knowledge attained by human beings. Reason and revelation or faith would also be contrasted in this way if the Bible or teaching of Jesus could be simply identified with the city or with opinion. Yet there is a conflict in Jerusalem between convention or the city (nation) and the prophets and the Messiah, and the conflict often led similarly to the deaths of those similarly said to have been sent. It is surprising that the Straussians and Hebrew students of Plato do not see or emphasize the obvious similarity of the crucifixion of the Christ by Israel or mankind and the trial and death of Socrates. The same pattern was one of the first thing to us to appear. The same pattern occurs with Romeo and Juliet too regarding the family. Each politea or political body, family, city and mankind or the nation, commits what is oddly like a ritual sacrifice, due to something like a conflict of love and law by nature. The conflict of the city and philosophy in Greece parallels that between the prophets and Israel. Hence Jesus calls them out for killing the prophets, etc. and by this love, philosophy and salvation are accommodated among mankind, or civilization, within the nation, city and family.

Regarding similarity of the teachings of the fool and St.Paul in King Lear and St. Paul’s contrast of faith and philosophy, Laurence Berns writes: For Paul, the foolish of faith possess a wisdom far deeper than anything accessible to natural reason.” (Gratitude, Nature and Piety in King Lear, p. ). He asks, “Is this what Shakespeare suggests by echoing this language about wisdom and folly in his articulation of the problem of morality and justice in King Lear?” Berns apparently answers the question negatively because of 1) the primacy of sight to compassionate love (p. 45); and 2) The absence of the patience based on the expectation of the coming of the Lord (pp. 45, 48); and 3) the disproportion between the sins and the unredeemed suffering of Gloucester and Lear (pp. 46, 48 top). On sight, consider Matthew 6:22-3:

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light.; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be filled with darkness. If, then, the light in you is dearkness, how great is the darkness!”

If compassionate love is the soundness of the heart, this is ultimately dependent upon sight. The teaching of Jesus here is similar to the teaching of Aristotle that once one has the intellectual virtue of phronesis or practical wisdom, the rest of the ethical virtues are there as well. (Ethics, VI, 1144b 11-18). This is the soundness of the body that is dependent upon the eye of the soul. Augustine too distinguishes Plato from the worldly wise as addressed by Paul (City of God, VIII, 10), and writes that philosophy as the attempt to attain virtue by knowledge and the imitation of God fulfills the great commandment (VIII.8). He writes that philosophy as the imitation of God fulfills the great commandment (VIII,8) There is a higher sense of “knowledge, by which the teaching of faith does not contradict the teaching that “by knowledge are the righteous delivered” (Proverbs 11:9). Paul, on one hand, claims, We have the mind of Christ.” (I Cor. 2:6-16). However, he also writes, that now we see “as in a glass dimly, but then face to face” (I Cor. 13: 12), and “we all with face unveiled, seeing as in a mirror, (katoptridzomenoi) the glory (doxan) of the Lord, are being changed into the same image” (2 Cor. 3:18) (Plato, Republic, 500 c-d; 500e-501b1, 510e; 516a; 540b 1).

It seems to be a very difficult, and not an easy question at all, how Socrates and Plato would themselves have reacted to Jesus or the teaching of Christ crucified. A Socratic conversation with Jesus did not take place, but one doubts that Jesus would have considered Socrates impious, or that Socrates would have considered the “way to be diametrically opposed to philosophy of the Socratic or Pythagorean sort. And this too is how Justin Martyr- the first Christian to read Plato of whom we know, fit Christianity and Socratic philosophy together in the same cosmos:

We have been taught that Christ is the first born of God, and we have declared above that He is the Word of whom every race of men were partakers; and those who lived reasonably (meta logos), are Christians, even thought they have been thought atheists; as, among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus, and men like them; among barbarians, Abraham…Elias…

Justin, Apology,

Strauss was aware of this striking passage, and may indicate that it is an alternative to his presentation of the contrast (Class on Plato’s Gorgias). That Socrates is saved is the possibility. If so, or if as was said, the Christ is true, Athens and Jerusalem will be compatible on the highest level, their difference widening perhaps as we are submerged again into the visible.

The shocking teaching in this regard is that nous– intellect or the eye of the soul is a thing begotten, as distinct from a thing made, and this, we say is the eye of the soul and the image of God in man. So, as John writes, ” In him was life, and the life was the light of men..The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world (John 1: 4,9). We equate this with baptism, and the birth of the soul or man out of the cave or world. Hence the veil that was on the law and the images is lifted (2 Cor 3:13). This is the rebirth of the soul (John 3; Romans 6). It is in one sense common to all men from Noah, or universal. Hence allusions to it appear in the Elysian mysteries as well, or even in the story of Arion in Herodotus, as referenced in the Republic, as they have a hard swim through the conjunction of the male and female guardian classes of the city. From this conjunction is born the begotten nous (Plato, Republic 494; 501b, etc). Still, as Peter indicates, by faith in the gospel, one can be aligned with the image, if if one is not literally reborn in this life- contrary to the teaching of the reborn Christians.

Is it possible that Socrates and Jesus each are what they say they are? That being a philosopher it is proper that Socrates not know the “what of God,” or of the beings in whose work our service would be piety, if we could figure out what work this is Euthyphro, 12-15). Socrates is famous for teaching that the just man harms no one, but Jesus that we should love one another, and even our enemies. Or again, that salvation be brought to a few by one in a human way, and to many more by Jesus, each being in truth just what they say they are?

The two, Athens and Jerusalem, seem then to be mutually verifying on many of the most important points, or in the most important way, and there seems to be no reason to exclude the possibility that the Christ is true, and Plato right about the allegory of the cave. Christianity and philosophy indeed may correct important dangers on the periphery, where most of us will struggle and serve. The confusion over doctrine that occurs due to the cave disappears when one realizes that we are not obligated to know or hold the right opinions about divine physics- simple old ladies obligated regarding such things as “transubstantiation-” ours are the human things, our penance and forgiveness of others, without which we will not be forgiven, believing whatever. Faith, of course is different from belief, if it is related to belief. Christians are too gullible, perhaps, and philosophers, as the Stoic or Epicurean, too faithless. “Natural reason,” in one sense is the child begotten in the soul of the one ascending, who then sees the plants, animals and men along with “the divine images in water” before turning to behold the marvels of the true cosmos, in the new Socratic kind of the contemplation of the heavens. We would surely never think of the things revealed in the Bible, nor be able to contemplate them- such as the incarnation- without the inspiration of the Apostles and prophets. But as we say, it is a wonderful thing to have the word of God, if only we could understand it!

*Revised from King Lear with The Tempest, 2004, p. 74 and note 36-7 to Chapter III, (p. 254)


Jung, Carl. Aion. p. 185.

Berns, Laurence. Gratitude, Nature and Piety in King Lear.

MacArthur, Jack. Revelation. Eugene Oregon. Vernon I Iverson Co., 1973.

Strauss, Leo Jerusalem and Athens: in Leo Strauss: Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy, University of Chicago Press, 1983.

____________. The Mutual Influence of Theology and Philosophy, in The Independent Journal of Philosophy, (Vienna)1979.

____________. “On the Interpretation of Genesis.”

____________. Progress or Return? The Contemporary Crisis

The 10 Best Love Songs of All Time

Following our old method in aesthetics here, we will attempt to collect candidates for the ten best, hoping to catch the ten in a wider net- which, incidentally, works when fishing for songs. As these swim by, we simply ask: might this be one of the best 10? and these are the candidates, of transcendent height, depth, and beauty.

Two different senses of “love song” are 1) the human song that is like the songs of the birds, a part of our natural courtship ritual, and 2) Songs about love in general, including the sad ones, and the ones about all kinds of love, not only the romantic. About half of all lyric poetry is love songs. As said, we hold that love songs evince the imago Dei of Genesis 1:26, some being like a reflector. The knowledge within is the vehicle of inspiration. These are principles of psychology, more fundamental than what has been accessible to our “science.”

We look especially to the lyrics, and to what it is that lyric poetry is doing, or to the function of lyric poetry. If modern psychiatric science has a better way of collecting data and approaching the questions of love, so that these things are clear and known in the practice of the art, …we have not seen it. A tentative list is as follows:

  1. The Wedding Song
  2. In My Life
  3. Dance Me to the End of Love
  4. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
  5. I Don’t Know How to Love Him Superstar
  6. Holly Holy
  7. Play Me
  8. Your Love’s Return
  9. I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You
  10. Louie, Louie!


Air That I Breathe Hollies

Your Song Elton John / Taupin

Tiny Dancer Elton John /Taupin

Into the Mystic Morrison

Brown Eyed Girl Morrison

Tupelo Honey Morrison

Have I Told You Lately Morrison

Evergreen Streisand

Crimson and Clover Tommy James

Golden Lady Stevie Wonder

Sunshine of My Life Stevie Wonder

For Your Love Yardbirds (Gouldman)

I Can’t Explain Who

Close to You Carpenters

We’ve Only Just Begun Carpenters

I Don’t Know How to Love Him Superstar

Hush Herman

*We Gotta Get Out of this place Eric Burden

*Born to Run Springsteen

*Because the Night Patti Smith/ East Street Band Guy

My Love McCartney

Soul Love Bowie

Let it Grow Clapton

Bus Stop Hollies

For Emily Simon

Kathy’s Song Simon

Bridge Over Troubled Water Simon

*Time of the Season Zombies

*Something Beatles (Harrison)

*#9 Dream Lennon (Lennon)

*Twilight Time Platters

Special Angel Helms

I Love Your Way Frampton

Thank You ZeppelinShe’s a Rainbow

*Stones She’s A Rainbow

*Beach Boys Good Vibrations

Wondring Aloud Tull

Songbird Fleetwood Mac

Sad Love songs:

Taxi Chapin

Yesterday Beatles

Against the Wind Seger

Train Man Seger

Fire and Rain James Taylor

Suzanne Cohen

Tomorrow is a long Time Dylan

Stretched on Your Grave Sinead

Ten Years Gone Zeppelin

I’m Not In Love 10cc

Baby I Love Your Way Frampton

Hello, Its Me Tod Rundgren

No Matter What Badfinger

The word love has many meanings, and the honoring of St. Valentine’s Day opens out from romantic love to all sorts of friendship and the love of humanity in general. While our psychology have been for the most part unable to address any of these theoretically, the Greeks had several words for these different kinds: eros, epithumia, philia, agape. When John writes that God is love, the word is agape. The whole scripture ends in the marriage that is said to unite all things, so that one sees that this is more than a mere coincidence of words- the romantic love that joins man and woman at the beginning of each new family. That this love of one for another is what is at the root of all human connection, community and connectedness.

Love as a “metaphysical” idea stands next to “the Good,” and perhaps “thought thinking thought,” as the best of the Names or definitions of the Most High. It is between and around the two, heaven and earth, that make up the creation, between the things that we see and the good there is somehow this love.

“Philanthrope” as the love of man mat be a participation in God. But the love of the higher for the lower is an overflowing, rather than an eros or longing for fulfillment, as of an emptyness.

“I would I love you from my fullness, rather than my emptiness,” some other man has said.

Paul: Eph 5:31- For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself…

So scripture ends in a wedding, of the Bride and Lamb,when the city of God comes down from heaven, Revelation 19-22. …as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, the things in heaven and the things on earth.” (Ephesians 1:10)

Jesus Matthew 19:4 …He who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. …

…So they are no longer two but one flesh. What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.

The Christ and “Religion”

In discussions with atheists, one impenetrable issue has been the distinction between the way of the Christ and what is common to all mankind in all ages, except in parts of our own age, called “religion.” The insistence is that Christianity is simply one among many false “religions,” which our enlightened age now knows to be false, with no more to say about the soul than unicorns about taxonomy, mere imaginary fables, etc. The assurance these hold demonstrates that this has in a way become our custom or dogma, replacing all others, and allowing us the new banner of toleration, the only virtue, on whose altar we have sacrificed all other virtues.

This question is far more complex than at first appears. Abraham rejected the religion of Babylon, the idols and false gods, when he came forth from Ur to receive the Promise. He hears God directly, and then is taught by Melchizedek about God Most High, the maker of heaven and earth, as distinct from the gods of “polytheism,” which are made of have come to be. Idolatrous religion is different from Mosaic religion, which is intended to replace it as animal sacrifice replaces human sacrifice.

A crucial teaching is contained in a statement of Paul in his Letter to the Galatians.

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were in bondage to beings that by nature (phusei) are no gods; but now that you have come to know (gnontes, knowing) God, or rather to be known (gnosthenres) by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits (stoichia,) whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I have labored over you in vain.

Galatians 4:

To worship the gods is a kind of enslavement to the weak elements, and this is related to the keeping of the calendar. That they are not quite said to know God, but rather be known by God, as through baptism, is of course interesting to us, but here the interesting point regards worship. The Christ receives this worship, as though it were formerly improperly given, and the table of the Last supper replaces ritual. The Christian images were then in conflict with every sort of common practice, but gradually, as the world became Christian, these same things continue- cities, laws, territories and conflicting ways, attempts to influence fortune, hierarchies of priests and honoring of the dead, imaginations of Providence. Then Saint Helen began the recovery of the relics, and the Christians could come out of the catacombs, having suffered the ten persecutions by Rome from Nero to Diocletan. Newton,* for example, blames the early Papacy, following Constantine, with introducing the worshiping of dead men’s souls and images, “mazuzahim,” he calls this. While this may in one side be a proper criticism, whom is it better men honor than saints, and are they really taught to worship them? Christian images and doctrines are conflated with the ancient and what Bloom calls “one’s own,” where originally the Way is a leaving behind of all these worldly things. Let the dead bury the dead. Only then is it possible that “Christians, or Christendom persecute of make martyrs, which of course never occurred in a single instance prior to the conversion of Rome. Again, one might ask, is it not better that the orders be Christian? The separation of Church and state was not yet imagined, but is the answer to this problem bequeathed or donated us by Constantine. The Papal states are especially the place where one sees the conjunction of the regimes of cities and nations with the Christian church. This has now been reduced to Vatican City, and Italy has become a unified nation, after Garibaldi.

The appearances of the word “religion” (threskeias) in scripture are rare and revealing, occurring only 5 times in 3 places, and never in the sense used when Christians speak of what they are doing or praise their own “revealed religion,” for example. It would be interesting to note the first time in history that Christianity was even called a religion. Paul and James use the word, while none of the Apostles or Jesus do so, ever. In Acts (26:5), Paul explains “…according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee” The King James version also uses the word at Gal 1:13-14.

James writes:

“If any one among you thinks to be religious among you, not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his heart, the religion of this one is vain. Religion clean and undefiled before God the father is this, to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

This may be the only use of the word in a scripture in a sense that is not derogatory, or only semi- derogatory. Neither the Christians nor the Christ see themselves as establishing a “religion,” and their relation to all these things is a continual question, rather than anything clear. The Protestants at first made a great issue of this point and this was correct. Through all human history, humans have always had an understanding of things divine or above the mundane, and have always been concerned with the dead, and often with the afterlife- as in Egypt, though such things are astonishingly absent from the Hebrew scriptures. There have always been superstitious understandings of the causes, and what one finds is that Christians are not excepted from these ancient and local things merely by taking the name of Christian. The meetings of the earliest Christians around the Eucharist or “Lord’s Supper” would replace the meetings as at the Temple in Jerusalem, but there is nothing like what was to occur when the Christian images and opinions descended upon and over the pagan practices in the Greek and Roman world of Olympian gods and ancient ways quite foreign to Jerusalem, and quite similar to the idolatrous practices which Mosaic law replaced in Canaan, once out of Egypt- where the things said and done regarding the afterlife- including penance and forgiveness- are done amid an idolatrous religion. One point that arises repeatedly is that the Christians persecuted no one prior to the Fourth Century, when Constantine made Rome Christian, and Rome, having once persecuted the Christians and Jews especially for not worshiping the emperor continued to persecute, though now it was heretics, as began with the Donatists, priest reinstated who had be defrocked for fearing to face martyrdom rather than turn over the scriptures in the last Roman persecution. Soon Aryan and Catholic would be the issue, and it was one thing after another, though persecutions did become rare from the sixth until the early twelfth century.

In Rome as in Britain, Christianity was simply superimposed upon “pagan” altars. Rome in the 4th century took on an odd combination of Jewish temple and Roman pontificate, replacing the Rome that once persecuted Christians with the Rome that made martyrs of heretics. Changing the images did not end either war nor persecutions. One must wonder at the blessing when the 10 persecutions over the refusal to worship the emperor as a god gave way to the imposition of a unified doctrine. Humans did become more humane over all, with the difference that Christianity would now take the blame for the sins of the city.

Geoffrey of Monmouth indicates how the new religion was simply superimposed upon the pagan orders and images.*

When King St. Lucius, the first Christian king excepting Abgar, turned Britain to Christianity, about 156 AD,

…Once the holy missionaries had put an end to paganism throughout almost the whole island, they dedicated to the One God and His Blessed Saints the temples which had been founded in honor of a multiplicity of gods, assigning to them various categories of men in orders. At that time there were 28 flamens in Britain and three archflamens to whose jurisdiction the other spiritual leaders and judges of public morals were subject. At the Pope’s bidding, the missionaries converted these men from their idolatry. Where there were flamens, he placed bishops, and where there were archflamens, they appointed archbishops The seats of the archflamens had been in three noble cities: London, York, and the city of Legions, the site of which last is still known by its by the river Usk in Glaumorgan, is still known by its ancient walls and buildings. The twenty-eight bishops were placed under the jurisdiction of these three cities, once the superstitions practiced there had been purged away.

History of the Kings of Britain, IV.20

Coilus, the father of Lucius and the son of a Marius, son of Avarargus, had been friendly with Rome and paid tribute voluntarily- this in a time in the second century of the more decent emperors, and between persecutions, though it is clear that Britain is on the fringes of the Roman empire, and able to have kings and become Christian. The Coilus line continues after Lucius and a few usurpations to Old King Cole and his son Cole, the father of St. Helen who married a young Constantius, father of Constantine, and moved to York, where Constantine was crowned (Eusebius).

Now the principalities and powers are to become Christian- an improvement, maybe, though anti-christian ire will result from the evils of the city and crimes committed under the banner of the Christ. The cave does not cease to be a cave when painted over with christian images- though these may better lead up and out. It is the soul of humans that is caved and will see only shadows and artificial copies of the real beings outside the cave.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses and others reject the customs of Easter and Christmas on the basis of this history of the mixing of Christian and “pagan” ways, and holidays may be what Paul means when he writes, “You observe days and month and years- I fear I have labored over you in vain.” The mixture of the customs of Samhein with all Saints day to become All Hallows Eve is a good example- turnips and disguises being much older among the Irish than the honoring of all the saints.The monk’s calendaration- our favorite pastime- is not a part of Christianity as such at all, but has of course emerged from the melding of common festivals and imaginings with a Christian world. Santa Claus is a good example of how these things emerge, as this is a fairly recent folk tale. It is mixed, though, with the gift giving of the three wise men, and there seems no reason we should cease these things. From the beginning the Christians had something like the meeting at Synagogues or at the Temple in Jerusalem surrounding the celebration of the Eucharist or communion.

Shakespeare addresses these local dieties, the Fairies, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The nights are no longer blessed with hymn of carol, and this leads to disorders. The poet aims to restore this intermediary realm to its legitimate expression. With the advent of Christianity and the Socratic discovery of “hyper-ouranian” being, what once were the gods and personifications of the more collective causes regarding the soul or psyche become intermediary beings, and the psychoid is revealed as subordinate to Being. “Love is not a god but a spirit” is how this appears in the Symposium, who ascends with our prayers and descends with answers, which is the work of love. The image of this is the sea between two lands, and the traveler who journeys and returns is liker one who ascends. The gods were in one sense psychic and not being, archetype and not eidos, subject and not object, collective unconscious and not God. The limitations of phenomenology set by Jung for scientific psychology prevent his science from crossing over to a clearer distinction between the “self” or true self and God, the imago Dei from its original.

Isaac Newton, Commentary on Daniel and the Apocalypse, pp…

Geoffrey of Monmouth, History of the Kings of Britain, IV.20; Bede, I.4.

Jungian Platonism

I have to try to present the argument for the new Jungian Platonism, since no one gets it, just my saying it. We have to go back and forth, up and down, until the logos becomes apparent.

There is knowledge in the soul, including self knowledge. The “Archetypes are knowledges, the causes of the symbols, whose integration is philosophy.

The wise man or wisdom is the first principle of psychology. The three parts of the soul correspond too to the three levels of the Jungian unconscious and the challenges presented by each. If knowledge is in the soul, but we do not know, it is “unconscious.” Hence, we think the myth of recollection is literal in one surprising sense- regarding the knowledge that is virtue.

That the wise man is the principle of psychology, or the particular that embodies the health of the soul, does not of course mean that we should dress men and women in the cloaks befitting contemplatives, make this the mirror of fashion, or anything of the sort. What it does mean, though, will tale some spelling out. It is in part by analogies inherent in nature and the soul: The single contemplative in the invisible implies the sanctity of marriage in the visible, and the virtue of the king and statesman.

The knowledges are both the cause of the images or symbols and the faculties of knowing them. Hence the products of the soul are intelligible. An example is that the three parts of the city and soul in the Republic refer to the “same form and model.” The same form is archetype. Jung has these “in” the soul rather than in nature, being a subjectivist,” attempting something similar to the Kantian a-priori categories, but regarding the human things.

Platonic “forms” hare closer to the Jungian archetypes than to the linguistic universals of the faculty the sees concepts. Strauss reports that Plato did not think there were eternal forms of artificial things- yet there are linguistic universals of these, and in quite the same way as the other kinds and classes among the intelligibles. Let that suffice. The “numinosity” of the beautiful is the allure of knowledge waiting to become known. Knowledge is of course going to be singular.

Now go to the divided line and allegory of the cave. What are the “divine images in water.” What are the causes of the poems and laws? The nature of man? And this is what Homer too called “Godlike and an image of God.”

Hence the human things are the gateway of metaphysics, and the key to the understanding of all things. But this- philosophy- is called imaginary by those who think the animal revealed from beneath the artificial additions of poets and legislators- the Presocratics- is philosophy.

From Tweets on Johannine Gnosticism:

Someone IS awake out there! This is a difficult and important point. John 1:12: …exousan (power, liberty…) to become children of God, born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” With 1:9, the light that enlightens men,” and 3:8…


…this is what is born in rebirth or baptism, and sleeps in each. It is Christ in us, AND also what each most is. If reason is nous, the eye that if well makes the whole body full of light, the faith and reason question has a top.

Romans 6 with John 3. I don’t say what everyone knows already, much. Peter, too, on Noah. We are begotten sons through the only begotten son- but not by faith in opinion or being born into a tradition. We say: “Turn toward God.” But the traditions are about this.

Jesus teaches this when he is about to be stoned for saying “I and the Father are one.” It is true of him, and us through Him, and surely not him through us. He is the light, we the enlightened. And the lamp guys. We can do remembrance, but this is not by custom or made by man.

Why does John use it in the plural to refer to the men, 1:13, without contradicting 1:14? We are not each Christs, as is often said nowadays, but we are begotten through Him, and not v.v. That is the mystery of the font, and if it were not a mystery.. But yes, and angels fall

Jesus teaches this when he is about to be stoned for saying “I and the Father are one.” It is true of him, and us through Him, and surely not him through us. He is the light, we the enlightened. And the lamp guys. We can do remembrance, but this is not by custom or made by man.

Why does John use it in the plural to refer to the men, 1:13, without contradicting 1:14? We are not each Christs, as is often said nowadays, but we are begotten through Him, and not v.v. That is the mystery of the font, and if it were not a mystery.. But yes, and angels fall


That “nous is what each most is,” and the eye of the soul, is from Aristotle, Ethics, Book X. We say this is higher than “reason,” which depends for its principles in BOTH theory and practice on the seeing of eye of the soul, nous.

Ben Franklin and the Books

Ben Franklin invented the lending library, when a group of friends pooled their books, at what is also the origin of the American Philosophical Society. The library was the first public project. He gained pledges of contributions, the “subscription” library, and began the education of the people that would be self governing. In a short while, the average American was said to be as well educated than most “gentlemen” of the artificial aristocracy. “Franklin” means a middle-class craftsman or tradesman, and Ben is an early cultivator of the Masonic attitude toward virtue. The habit of Lincoln, walking long distances to borrow and return books, and reading Jefferson, may be a result of this, another of the innumerable benefits of Franklin bestowed on mankind and his nation.

In his Autobiography, It is clear that Franklin has access to Xenophon’s Memorabilia, though it is not clear how many are the Platonic dialogues to which Franklin has access. His Latin may not have been sufficient, and the Republic was not yet translated. Similarly, Shakespeare is not quite yet accessible, until the Germans led to a British rediscovery. He writes his list of virtues as though he had not read Aristotle’s Ethics, nor known of the 4 cardinal virtues, though he has seen other lists. While he leaves out charity or liberality, he is, in addition to libraries, the cause of the fire departments, insurance, hospitals, orphanages, the Post office, Franklin stoves, lightening rods. While he leaves “wisdom” out of the list, he is a natural philosopher emerging into political philosophy, in the last third of his career, and is the teacher of Madison and Jefferson in the next generation.

Franklin writes:

“These libraries have improved the general conversation of the Americans, made common tradesmen and farmers as intelligent as most gentlemen from other countries, and perhaps have contributed in some degree to the stand so generally made throughout the colonies in defense of their privileges.”

Imagine trying to study in the library at Alexandria, where one could not smoke or drink coffee! But seriously, to carry and own ones own books, as became possible with the printing press, is a modern marvel, giving those ion our age superior access to scholarship- though a population of 8 billion may not produce the thinkers that emerged in a single century in Athens. My own, built out of used books and books from classes, with additions from the library book sales where the best are discarded as unread, is likely far superior to that of Franklin, and he is one of the few philosophers who were not impoverished, like Anaxagoras, begging oil for his lamp of Pericles. With one’s own books, it is possible to underline in blue and red, saving a reading from 30 years ago, compounding efforts. The traditional bound paper book must make a comeback, as the E-book just is not portable!

Notes from Irving Wasserman II: Intro 1981

We took the Intro class in 1981, after the big conversion in the Plato class, and after the class called “Political Philosophy,” and so the notes begin to become more clear. This section completes my notes from Euthyphro, Apology, Crito and Meno, and introduces Irv’s gemstone: his class on the Republic. Unlike my own “Intro to Philosophy” class, which would have 22 or so students at a Catholic college, Irv had 32 students at a state school, and we remember fondly sitting in the back row marveling at the disrespect and indifference of the Athenian multitude, not knowing what they had before them in the class of Irving Wasserman. I can still see him smirk, twitch, cluck and shuffle his feet in response to the class!

Prof Wasserman was then not yet using the West edition of the Four Texts on Socrates, and was still using the Cornford summary of the Republic. I was quite proud to show him the West edition, from our studies in Dallas, similar to when I was able to get Irving the Strauss essay called “Mutual Influence,” like Mustard Seed in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, able to bring fresh honey to the consort of the Fairy Queen.

Philosophy 101- Section D Professor I. Wasserman

Introduction to Philosophy Office 428 Mackinac Hall

Fall, 1981 MWF 12:00. 210 Mackinac Hall

Texts Plato Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Bobbs-Merril

Plato Republic Cornford ed.

Shakespeare The Tempest Signet

Descartes, Discourse on Method, Bobbs-Merril

Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto, Penguin

Course Aim: To provide an understanding of some of the main problems of philosophy through a study of several important thinkers, both ancient and modern. The ancient, or classical view regarding happiness, the good life, reason and nature, freedom and equality, is represented by Plato and Shakespeare; the modern counterpart by Descartes and Karl Marx.

Notebook, p. 1

The Apology

Socrates speaks of himself Corrupting the minds of the youth

believing in other deities.

“Socrates is guilty of corrupting the minds of the young, and of believing in deities of his own invention instead of the gods of the city.

He spends his life in the effort to kindle into a flame the spark of good in every man

Socrates never condemned.

Socrates the hero

Dialogue rather than treatise, a good way to start philosophy


Not apologetic, eh? But rather bothers everyone

Manner of speaking Sophistry. Appearance.

Strongest case for the city If the city is the best for the youth and worships the true gods

Then Socrates does in fact corrupt the youth and has done wrong in worshiping other gods

Socrates first moves to dig up the context, old accusations.

The existent (present) opinion “When you were children

The foundations are old accusations.

Making the weaker argument appear the stronger

Inquiry into things below and above; Into the mysteries

Hades and Heaven, the beginning and the end

inquiry = Atheism

The oracle: Why he lived the way he did

Difference between public assembly +…begs them not to shout

[No, I’m not a sophist

Who is the expert in perfecting the human and social qualities

“It seems that I really am wise in a limited sense.”

Human wisdom

“an unimpeachable authority, witness, the Oracle of Delphi

Notebook, p. 2

Does the invisible preshadow the intelligible?

Callias, if your sons were calfs or bulls,, we’d get a trainer for their natures

Who is the expert in perfecting human social qualities?

A kind of wisdom, human wisdom

More than human, A lie? p. 21. The oracle

The paradox of human wisdom

“I felt that here if anywhere I should succeed in pointing out to the divine authority: “You said I was the wisest of men, but here is a man who is wiser than I… Notebook 2-5 is reading notes from the Apology]

Notebook, p. 6

Top margin: Timeaus- a likely story

  1. speculates about the heavens and what is under the earth
  2. 2) Makes the weaker argument appear the stronger
  3. 3)Teaches these things to others

2) indirectly replies by talking about manner of speech, and about trying to arouse sympathy (perjury).

Natural philosophers

The reason why is what Socrates mwanted, not prior conditions or particular causes.

Anaxagoras: Mind. But Socrates was disappointed. Why?

Action limited to starting motion in space

Shift from outer tom inner

Pre-Socratic- discoverry of nature

Socratic- discovery of the soul

Bringing philosophy down from the heavens to the earth.

Technae- is there a comparable art that woill produce wisdom?

Arete, purpose, end skill, flute player, etc.

Who is the teachert of human arete’?

Sophists- rhetoric

Of how to win friends and influence people

-political art- to rise in the city

Philosophy: the archetectonic art

2) check- Meletus’ exchange

If he were speaking to folk who would not confuse him with the Sophists, would he answer #2?

The oracle: There is no one wiser than Socrates. (Not that Socrates is wise or is the wisest man)

He went to search for a wiser man. He knew he was not wise, but not that others were n’t. Human wisdom.

Notebook, p. 7

That it is good to know that we do not know.


Questions for Crito

a) What arguments does Crito present to Persuade Socrates to live rather than die?

b) Why does Socrates choose death?

2a) What are the main points in Socrates’ dialogue with the laws?

Is his emphasis on obediesnce to law surprising? Does it seem to contradict what he says in the Apology?

Socrates seems to take for granted that the laws are good. Corrupting the young.

Socrates is not […F?] forcing a vote between philosophy and the city.

Courage in dialogue

Shows that we dio not really know what we thought we know.

Philosophy is always dangerous, unsettling.

Philosophy: What is? aims at the nature of something.

He had to do it in a responsible way, so as not to hurt the city.. The city thinks Socrates hurt them.

He declares his whole life was in service of the city.

Socrates went into the marketplace every day.

Socrates has haunted the West: Nietzsche loved and hated him.

Nietzsche and Heidegger attribute the evils of the West to Socrates.

“Socrates will appear again.”!

To not know and to think tyhat we do know is the worst possible condition, for then he will never know and never seek.

Create. Not a void.


To the poets

The stories of heroesd and gods. Poetry recited to music.

Comparable to the writers of the Bible.

Homer and Hesiod. Literature in the broadest sense. Muses.

Inspiration- The poets say many good and true things. Not as the result of knowledge or understanding.

Notebook, p. 8 Top margin:Lecture Apology/ Text Crito. Take the best course reason has to offer.

numinosity. “Everyone would stop eating.”

The possession of the muses. So theyt think they know. A lot of other things eveyone else thinks they know too.

What kind of music has the most profound moral and political reproduction

The many decide that way by intense emotional attachment.

Artisans- the craftsmen. They do teach and practice a practical art.

They thought they knew a lot of other thiongs, like how to live the good life.

Socrates has a divine mission; For the god.

Service to the god- pointing out to people that they do not know what they thought they knew.

[Margin: Why is this a service of the god? The audience is skeptical.]

Cracow, Poland teaching of Apology

-they just let him have it

Never dig a pit for a student that you cannot fill.

Not iconoclasm.

[Crito reading notes]

Notebook, p. 10

Top margin: Lecture Apology. Crime and invention. The freedom consists in knowledge of reality. Rationalistic freedom and intention

Meletus. What is so wrong with answering: “The laws?” (He could have used that answer to some good)

He is out to show Meletus’ folly

Who? Everyone. To show that Meletus never cared about the improvement of the young.

The horse trainer.


No one would intentionally make someone worse, because he himself then would be harmed.

All harm is done unintentionally. If not intentional, its not a crime.

Acts of agents are intentional. Degrees of murder. Sanity, if your sane, you are responsible. If not sane, determined.

No person in his right mind would voluntarily do something to harm him.

Joury: “What!? No one voluntarily does wrong!? crime!?

All law and crime depends upon volition. He’ therefore, here undermines thew basis of all law.

2 senses of intentional.

[margin: Forgiveness is the truth above the law. Philosophers as such won’t punish]

We cannot act intentionalloy unless we know reality.

Jury: “Boy, he sure makes weaker arguments appear stronger”

Given[ing] Meletus a chance to make the indictment more extreme- and he will- Meletus goes for it. “Atheist.” contradiction. Mixes up with Anaxagoras.

Notebook p. 11-13 Crito second reading notes

p.13: Lecture

On Shakespeare’s King Henry V: What is a Christian king?

On King Henry V

   I have found a Qualifying Exam question written on Shakespeare’s King Henry V, on the question of the Christian king. It was written for Dr. Alvis, which is why it does not refer directly to his Essay “A Little Touch of the Night in Harry,” from the book Shakespeare as Political thinker. The exam format requires one to give an answer, where otherwise one might be silent, and also frees one from numbered references and the sort of precision that would require a longer essay. I remember sitting in worried silence, puzzled for a long time at the way Dr. Alvis had rephrased the question I had submitted, according to the exam procedure, and finally beginning only because I was running out of time.

Question: Is Henry a Christian King or is he a Machiavellian ruler? What is a Christian King, according to Shakespeare?

   At the funeral of Henry the Fifth, Bedford, Winchester and Gloucester present three views of Henry in praising him, or in their eulogies. Winchester calls him “A king blessed of the king of kings,” who was as fearsome to the French as the Judgement day. Bedford, who thinks the bad revolting stars consented to the death of Henry, is in the middle of invoking his spirit to protect England as the spirit of Caesar ruled over Rome after his death, when news arrives that 7 French towns have revolted, and the Anglo -French empire of Henry V begins to collapse.

   Bedford called Henry the best of the English kings and said that he would make a more glorious star than Julius Caesar or bright- (then he was interrupted. These two views agree with the chorus of the play, which calls Henry V “The mirror of all Christian kings” and a “conquering Caesar.” The third view presented is that of Gloucester, who says:

England n’er had a king until his time

Virtue he had, deserving to command…

What can I say? His deeds excel all speech

According to Gloucester, Henry is a true king, England’s first. His claim to rule is not, like Richard, based on hereditary legitimacy, nor like Bolingbroke, on strength alone, but on virtue. The thesis of this answer will be that Henry (aside from whether or not he is a truly Christian king) uses the appearance of both a Christian king and the ferocity of a Machiavellian “Prince” in doing what is expedient for England.

   According to the criterion of the play, that 1) Henry is the mirror of princes and is concerned with the honorable, and 2) that passions are subject to him, Henry is a Christian king. That Henry is not a Machiavellian ruler is shown by various examples, such as 1) his defense of his father in war, where a self-interested son might have simply stood by), 2) His tears at his father’s death, and 3) His sincere -piety shown in soliloquy before Agincourt, where he prays to the “God of Battles and relates his re-interring of the body of Richard with 500 poor to pray for him, 2 chantries built and genuinely repenting for the Lancastrian usurpation and murder of Richard. Machiavelli, or his prince, would presumably consider these things foolish.

   When a French ambassador comes from the Dauphin, and asks whether he may speak his message openly or not, Henry responds:

We are no tyrant, but a Christian king

Onto whose grace our passions are as subjected

As the wretches fettered in our prisons.

   The analogy of city and soul from Plato’s Republic shows the meaning of what is occurring in Henry’s England. A Christian king is the kind of a monarch opposed to the tyrant who subjects the passions This subjection of the passions comes about in England through the rise of Henry to the throne. After the usurpation of the throne by Bolingbroke, England suffered internal faction and civil war, and because ceremony fell with Richard, the appetites of England were unchained. Falstaff embodies the  tendencies of modernity, according to which the  public things are for the service of the private ends, the ends of the appetites The question facing Henry is how to bring Falstaff under again, or “How is kingship, as the sun, to break through the foul and ugly mists” of the appetites and the disrespect under which the crown has come.

The father of Henry compares his son to Richard II, due to his apparent “vile participation,” and advises rare public appearances to cultivate the wonder or awe necessary to the crown. But one problem in England is that the nobility no longer respect a king whom their own hands have helped to make so great. Henry treats the nobles as his father advised treating the people, with rare appearances.

By descending into the taverns, Henry takes the crown, which he will inherit, through a “low transformation,” attaching to it the opinion of England’s appetitiveness, while Henry becomes “of all the humors since Adam. Henry then appears to rise from the people as if born from them, slays Hotspur, and restores the rule of law by choosing the Chief Justice over Falstaff, at the end of II Henry IV. Henry’s calculated appearance, as shown in the conversation of Canterbury and Ely in Henry VI, has the appearance of a rebirth. In this he uses the appearance of Christianity to bring the rule of law to his regime. The free choice of the rule of law, rather than divine right, is to be the principle of the new regime.

After the first soliloquy of the prince in I Henry IV, the word redeem is used exclusively to refer to honor. In Richard II, Mowbray stated that without honor, men are but clay, and Falstaff is referred to as a clay man.” The honor catechism of Falstaff- which imitates Henry’s later speech on ceremony, shows that since the fall of chivalry and ceremony, honor has become meaningless. It was the dream of Hotspur, as he says, to restore honor to England, to pluck honor from the moon or dive into the deep and bring her up, so that he might wear all her dignities without a rival. It is Henry who is capable of separating honor from ceremony and restoring it to England.He slays Hotspur as the true prince slays the lion,” and in this replaces Hotspur as the mirror in which the noble youth of England dress themselves.” By the time Henry leads his men over to France, “silken dalliance” is put away, according to the patriotic chorus, and “Honor’s thought reigns solely in the breasts of every man.” As Mowbray’s use of the word honor shows, it is something of an allegory of immortality, in chivalry. Henry at Agincourt replaces religion with the glory of deeds, leading men into action.

If it is a sin to covet honor, Henry says, he is the most offending soul alive. In the deathbed advice of Henry’s father, he told Henry how he had planned to lead a crusade to the Holy Land in order to busy giddy minds with foreign wars.” and “waste the memory of former days. Instead of this plan to avoid civil faction, Henry chooses to lead the English, nobles and commoners, into France, renewing the Hundred Years War.

In the first act of Henry V, Canterbury and Ely speak of a bill by which the church stands to lose a great deal of its lands to the government of England. In exchange for relenting on the bill, the plan of Canterbury is for the Church to provide Henry with money and an apparent legitimate claim to the French throne. Canterbury agrees that Edward III has a claim through the wife of Philip, Isabel, if succession through the female were allowed. But Henry himself is not even the legitimate heir of Edward III, let alone of France. The Church provides him with the appearance of justice or legality for the war. The genuine “justice” of the war might be argued in terms of the need of England to restore honor and avoid civil war, ruling over the injustice of foreign conquest in the circumstance. But the king cannot do what appears to everyone to be good. In genuinely serving the common good, he does what is necessary. Where ceremony once hid the necessities of politics, Henry is capable of doing this himself. The Anglo-French empire would be a new founding, and would solve the Lancastrian problem of legitimacy.

In the second Act of Henry V, Henry miraculously discovers the conspiracy of Cambridge- heir to the legitimate title to the throne, according to Mortimer- Scroop and Grey to assassinate him Before executing them, Henry allows them to come into his presence, and gets them to advise strict punishment for a man who merely spoke abuse of the king while drunk. In doing this, it looks less harsh to the other nobles when Henry sentences these conspirators to death. Like his father, Henry the Fifth is capable of gardening and weeding. When he sentences the conspirators to death, he separates the public from the private, saying that as a man he will weep for them, and holds no revenge, but as king, he turns them over to the law to be sentenced to death for the safety of England. This separation distinguished Henry V from Richard II.

When Henry leads his men into battle, we see him giving them advice opposite to the advice which Machiavelli, in the Fourteenth Chapter of the Prince, gives to princes. Machiavelli tells princes to devote their intellect and the training of their bodies to war, and during peace, to never lift their thought from war. Henry tells his men that in peace, there is nothing so becomes a man as stillness and humility, but in war, to then stiffen the sinews, summon up the spirit, and disguise fair nature with the look of ferocity, imitating the tiger. Machiavelli tells men to look human, but devote themselves wholly to war, becoming like beasts, somewhat like Achilles in his choice of war over peace [See Strauss, Thoughts on Machiavelli, p. 78]. Henry tells men to disguise a genuinely fair nature by imitating a fierce animal, the tiger. Thus it is shown that Henry uses both the appearance of Christianity and the appearance of Machiavellian ferocity.

Similarly, before Harfleur, Henry threatens to let loose the inhuman violence of war onto the city, allowing his soldiers to rape their daughters and kill their fathers and babies unless they give up the town. The threat works, and bloodshed is avoided.

Before Agincourt, the Chorus tells us to entertain conjecture of a time when darkness fills the wide vessel of the universe. There it has us imagine Henry as a “largess universal” like the sun, thawing the cold fear of his soldiers with the touch of Harry in the night.” In the scene that follows, Henry walks among his soldiers disguised with the cloak of Thomas Erpingham. On either side of an argument on the justice of the war- which Henry turns into an argument about the privacy of the salvation of the soul-Henry presents his speech on ceremony. When asked if the king has been told how bad their situation looks, Henry responds, ” The king is but a man, as am I, and so when he sees reason to fear, he fears as do other men. Later, when speaking alone on ceremony, Henry states how ceremony is “poison flattery,” and cannot cure the knee of a beggar whom it commands to kneel. Ceremony is basically nothing. As a result of his ability to separate himself as a man from his kingship, he need not descend like Richard II with a crash to discover that he shares the human condition with other men. He never forgets himself as Richard did, in what ceremony tells a king he is. Yet in the battle of Agincourt, greatly outnumbered,, it does appear that God fights for him, as Richard thought God would merely because he is king, or because of the divine right of kings and ceremonial kingship. It may be that in some sense Henry is what ceremony told Richard he was, or what Richard thought himself to be but was not, aq true king.

It looks like the thoughts of Henry on kingship cannot be compared to modern thought on rule, even though as a Lancastrian he sees the crown as a burden and says to Katherine, “We are the makers of manners, Kate. Nice customs curtsy to great kings.” Henry refers twice explicitly to the rule of mind, when he says that it is good for men to bear their present pains upon example, because it lifts the spirit, and when mind is quickened the organs, once dead, break their grave and come back to life, mind clearly ruling the body. Second, going into battle, he says, “All is ready if our minds be so.” Nor can his statements about the privacy of salvation be interpreted to mean that he does not think a king ought be concerned with moral education. Salvation does not come from the laws, nor even from the example of a human king, and is distinct from the character formation of moral education. It looks as if it were very necessary to separate out political concerns and political rule from ceremonial Christianity, to avoid the problems Richard II got himself into. It seems that according to the Bible, salvation does not come from the religious law. Thus salvation ought be private, not a matter for the political kingdom at all, except to not inhibit, or to get out of the way.

The unfavorable view of Henry is usually based on 1. The injustice of the war in France, 2. The killing of the French prisoners, 3) his apparent disregard for law and his genuine disregard for ceremony, and 4) the breakdown of his Anglo-French empire and the bleeding of England afterward. While all these might be answered, only some can possibly be answered by this answerer.

With regard to the French prisoners, there is some ambiguity as to what exactly occurs. First, the order is given to kill them when the French regroup. Then Fluellen comments, “Kill the poys and the luggage.” It is clear that the French have not killed the English luggage boys. As in the previous scene with Pistol and his prisoner, the boy commented on how the luggage was vulnerable, guarded only by boys, and it is said that the French have plundered the King’s tent. But this ambiguity may only be to cover up the unjust killing of the French prisoners. The second time the command is given, Henry speaks in the future tense, “We’ll kill the prisoners, as though this had not been done yet. If it was done, it may have been done, as indicated by Mr. Lewis, to avoid the possibility of the English brothers ransoming the king. Or it may simply be an unjust thing necessary to do to make the English forget the numbers of the French. But as it later turns out, they have already forgotten this and and defeated them. The king may do it to unite the soldiers in injustice. If it were somehow a necessary thing, a higher justice would balance it. If not, the king would simply be a doer of injustice.

Henry does fail in that the empire breaks down after his death. He doesn’t do what Caesar did, perhaps because his ends are different from that of Caesar, but Henry does not found on the flattery of the people as Caesar did. Other reasons contributing to the breakdown of the empire is that Henry died fairly early after the birth of his son and Katherine does not prove to be a “good soldier breeder,” nor educator. While Henry shows the deficiency of ceremony and ceremonial virtue, genuine virtue capable of responding to the circumstances (as Henry does for example in spontaneously speaking so as to give or show the significance of deeds) cannot be inculcated and passed on from father to son But if Henry had lived long and had quite a few sons, perhaps the empire could have been held, and the garden of France, so broken down as described in Act V, rebuilt and even better off for coming under English rule Another point is that Shakespeare comes out of the England Henry left behind Shakespeare, by presenting the deeds of Henry, can inspire men to virtue. This seems to be part of his purpose for England, as for example the patriotism of the Chorus could inspire Englishmen for generations. In this way, the defect of Christian orders in the kingdom which allows Machiavelli to introduce tyranny and the arguments for injustice are addressed by the simple restoration of the life of honor.

[In keeping with the principle that the political world of the kingdom reflects the spiritual things not directly, but by analogy may show that Henry’s redeeming of the time refers also to his imitation of the sun regarding the time of England, in a temporal and temporary analogy with the redemption, dependent upon accident, yet an analogous reflection of spiritual virtue in ethical or political virtue. That is, the redemption may refer to the political aspect of practical wisdom, or royal rule. Henry’s redemption of the time in imitation of the sun, planned from his first soliloquy (I Henry IV, I, ii, 183-205) may be contrasted with Richard’s wasting of the time (Richard II, V, v, 49). Hal imitates the sun, and so is not really among the moon’s men. The sense in which his “reformation” is Christian, and hence the sense in which Henry is a Christian king, depends upon the meaning of Christianity and the meaning of kingship. But he is not a Christian king in the sense in which Richard is a Christian king, by custom. “But a good heart, Kate, is both the sun and the moon,/ Or rather the sun and not the moon…” (King Henry V, V, ii, 160). The conjunction of sun and moon in the wedding connects the last to the first appearances of Henry in the History plays. Shakespeare, by upholding honor in the face of modernity and the principle of the body or self-preservation, by showing England its kings and what it means to be royal, exercises the practical wisdom not of a king or statesman, who cares for the particular time, but the practical wisdom of a philosopher, the gardener of statesmen and kings.]

[Winston Churchill, in his Birth of Britain,” reports on the cruelty of the historical Henry, and we can see from this what Shakespeare has done with the invention of Falstaff, or the identification of him with Oldcastle, a heretic persecuted in the medieval fashion. By abstracting from these defects, Shakespeare writes a comedy in history- almost unique- for the English.]

Notes from Irving Wasserman: On Plato

[In progress]


   The nearest semblance we may have to what Plato did regarding Socrates may be to try to collect notes from the classes of our greatest teachers, so that despite the unstateable truth of the living word and the introduction to philosophy in the circumstance, what has occurred might in somehow be preserved.

   There are reasons not to do this sort of thing, yet these seem outweighed by the reasons to do it, and next. I feel indeed like Apollodorus at the opening of Plato’s Symposium, coming to a friend or two with a speech of the philosopher. Wasserman did not write, but then, neither did Socrates, though they both took education through conversation and the greatest books with the utmost seriousness.

   One would wish to communicate the excitement of philosophy in those days, as we had studied psychology and evolutionary biology in search of the beginning of the way, or what we would call the way to the way, an “apprenticeship.” We wound up seeking a “psychology of consciousness,” and at the same time, the depths and heights of Jungian psychology. It is here, when our mentor James Blight, Historian of Freud, went off to Harvard, that we found Irving Wasserman, as though in the corner of a philosophy department in a corn field in Western Michigan.

   Notes from classes are in a way one’s own, what he was able to glean of what occurred and what was said. We mix in our own thoughts, and summarize in our own words, while trying to record triggers for memory of whole accounts. Separate thoughts of my own triggered by the lectures, I would later set off to the right, underangle or pediment. The first class to transcribe would be that called “Plato,” as it was in 1980, and then again in 1982, taught in the Ancient division to be followed by Medieval and Modern, sections for which each in a remarkable department would produce the best of the studies in their satchel,  In 1981 and then again in 1983, he did a class called “Political Philosophy,” in which we read Plato’s Republic and Shakespeare’s Tempest, and these would be most worth transcribing from the notebooks which may otherwise be soon lost in the mists.

We’ll see how this goes:

Plato 1980

The opening is “Why Plato wrote dialogues”]

1) Bring Socrates to us

2) Promise of insight, sobering significance

3) Plato never speaks directly to his reader

[Quote from 7th Letter] 4) “Concerning these things there is no written work of mine, nor will there ever be, for they cannot be expressed in words…”

Therefore there is no Platonic doctrine?

Plato wrote dialogues because of this.

“Mystical?” God help us!

Dramatic discourse precludes that philosophical wisdom

[Concretism   Showing and telling (Donahue) [ I seem to be recalling a saying of a High school English teacher, Mr. Donahue, on the distinction between telling someone something and showing them.]

6) Philo (sophy) carries implications for actions

9) The philosophic endeavor begins with a dilemma + admission of profound ignorance. ? Who knows

Philosophy is dangerous

Is it good to be gadflied, unsettled?  [yes- self knowledge faith

^ (change)                wisdom- Prove it. Insanity?]

“Never dig a pit for a student that you cannot fill” [ a saying from Tho. Aquinas]

Definitions abstract dangerously from the context

Philosophy can end only with a personal conclusion

Dialogues are Plato’s resolution to the paradox that philosophy cannot be written

Plato’s solution of the paradox of the writing of philosophy

The reader

a) excitement of radicals who dig conflict

b) fallacious arguments are dramatically significant

c) The written word knows not to whom it should speak. -(Phaedrus).

inflexible, fixed.

[p. 2] Top: Dialogue relates learning to living

Living word can function in context of relationship (symbol: sideways 8)

DB asks: Why is a dialogue less limited than a treatise?

Empathy- understanding- To climb into Socrates’ barefeet

“I see a dialogue as painting a picture

Treatise: bare facts “What is it that happened to you” [-Wasserman]

The speaker who can empathize his audience.

*To enshrine forever the greatest and the rarest things, deeds

*Fossilized ideas which come alive.

*Plato wrote for Socrates’ immortality.

To combine the power of spoken and written word to overcome the limitations in each.

In the dialogue, Socrates in 1980 still knows when to speak

Choose according to interest

One must participate directly in philosophy to understand

Abstract statements can only be understood in context.

Q[uestion] of the unity of Plato’s thought

Don’t presume [arrow] ideas of (~ unity) stages of Plato’s thought

*Exoteric- ostensible meaning

Esoteric meaning also (~literal)

[p.3] R. Gustavson: “funny that (Euthyphro) thought men and gods have the same standards.”

Euthyphro- Q of the gods- what if you don’t Q[uestion] the gods?

Trial- ” [Question of the gods]

Socrates “The right way is…” with rational backing; considering

similar value, rat[ional] argument produces objective ethic

There are paradigms in…

An art/ paradigms paradigms paradigms paradigms paradigms.

There is much more than content and process.

Conscience- daimon never tells Socrates what to do

Only interferes when he is inclined to get get excessive.


Divine law/ Athenian law

P. 24: Plato’s theory of the Ideas [G edition of Euthyphro].

s-self [a picture is drawn: head with arrows out the eyes straight ahead and out the eyes, around front and over. Another arrow, a not equal sign, another arrow curving out around and down, = impiety. [Self knowledge and reflection does or does not equal impiety]

Soc. remaining on a formal rather than theoretical level

logic/ definition

Euthyphro fills the content

A drawing of a man out of a heart with dividing lines (quite a nice doodle- there are many on these pages, which means that time was occupied listening and musing) with the words to the left: I am that which is: Atman/Brahman

[p.] 25: “I shall tell you a great many other facts about our religion”

That which makes all pious actions pious (?)

“You can’t define anything that way-” -Wasserman

I write: Because one is then dealing with nature itself ?

“It is because they disagree about some action that some say it has been done rightly and others wrongly

Even if all x is wrong

What is piety>? Impiety? What is the predication

x is that which is

hierarchical abstraction of a verb  a process  -being  abstraction

That which one comes across in the search for self-knowledge.

It is like the wind, to try an to catch, not to catch, like Donovan’s wind.

[p. 5] Top: Where there is piety, there is moral rectitude But where there is moral rectitude there is not always piety.

an art of knowing what to give and what to ask for

Shattering of self-confidence to open the way to true wisdom.


Piety is what I am doing now (definition mistake)

  • Euthyphro sets himself up as the measure of all things

Definition in gods who disagree about good and evil (perfection)

contradiction   removed (arrow)    all gods love is pious

what is pious or holy is loved because it is pious (~ is ~)

4. Euthyphro silent

Socrates- Piety is that part of justice which attends to the care of the gods

The good would have to provide a norm for gods, rather than be what the gods do.

By making piety part of the just, he leads Euthyphro to

What do the gods do

The good-the light

Because it can’t turn on agreeing at all

[Do not define quality

What is the process. definition.

[head with self-reflecting arrow] The good is that which is found by light.  There is light and dark which never [triangle: “…changes.”

objection %. degree light/dark, man is both…

…is indefinable…]

Piety is part of the just means that not all of the just is pious.

[p. 6]

Lecture of Friday                     Of essence- its not that we know better now, but that it                                                             is different now.

All the virtues are one

That which results from light

Last words on the Euthyphro

Piety is pleasing to all the gods

consists in service to the gods which is not a barter.

Service is an art which involves knowledge.

Every art involves knowledge.


Every pious act is just, but not every just act is pious: [Circles drawn, the just around the pious.]

What Socrates is doing here are pious

The dialogues are an exhibition of Socrates’ piety.

[Piety is an aspect of being, being is impredicable.]

Excerpt: Lennon #9 Dream

From “Rock Commentaries”

1971: Shaved Fish: #9 Dream

John Lennon achieved some greatness apart from the Beatles. Together with “Mind Games” on Shaved Fish, the dream is a celebration of the mystery rite of love:

So long ago

Was it in a dream?

Was it just a dream?

I know oh yes I know

Seemed so very real

Seemed so real to me

Took a walk down the street

Through the heat whispered trees

I thought I could hear,

Hear, hear.

Somebody called out my name

As it started to rain

Two spirits dancing so strangely

[Ah! bawa kawa, posse posson]

Dream, dream away

Magic in the air. Was Magic in the air?

I believe, yes I believe

What more can I say

On a river of sound

Through the mirrors go round and round

I thought I could feel, feel, feel, feel

Music touching my soul

Something warm sudden cold

The spirit dance was unfolding

   The poem describes a very mysterious and beautiful experience involving love and rain. The song is said to have come to Lennon in a dream. At first he says he knows, at least that it seemed so very real, but then he admits, that he believes, and what more can he say?

   He was walking down the street in the heat, when he heard someone call out his name, and then they met as it started to rain, and their dance was like the spirits dance, as love brings the two to participate in what is like the dance of spirits, within the harmony of things lost from the beginning, in a conjunction of conscious and unconscious mind that is like walking in a waking dream. The harmony can apparently be entered briefly by two in love, and it is this brief contact that makes them both wish that the dance were permanent, and seek to recover the lost harmony in the end. But it is here that for a moment the divided human being can be as if whole, when the two participate in or incarnate the life of the soul which, if it were in one, would be the perfected soul. They are out of their minds, and at the same time more in them than they are likely to be again. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet dance like the two hands of a praying saint, and it is on this higher perfection that love depends for its magic. The two together and the singular soul are both in turn images of the Most High, or show what it means that the soul is an image of God, since here the overflow of the image allows indirect vision, by reflection. In love, the intelligible enters the visible, and so, some very strange things happen, as is commonly reported.

   Here is a nice note from one called Linclink on Steve Hoffman’s Music Forum:

In a weird synchronicity…there are two threads here tonight one on songs with “Sha La La” in them & one on the meaning of John Lennon’s #9 Dream chorus- “Ah! bowakawa pousse’ pousse'”
Well, here we go…when I was living in NYC (’94-’00) I deeply immersed myself in your basic do it yourself basement Shamanism…the mantra I made up was to evoke Love & Magic & it was “Sha La La, Ah Bowakawa Pousee Pousee; Ah Bowakawa Pousee Pousee Sha La La”, or if you prefer “Ah Bowakawa Pousee Pousee, Sha La La; Sha La La, Ah Bowakawa Pousee Pousee”.
The Sha La La was meant to evoke Love, as it’s been used in so many songs as something so jubilant & joyful, and the Lennon phrase because it came to him in a dream, but I had heard, though he didn’t know this, that it was an incantation & I used that to invoke Magic.
Well I became friends with a non-native New Yorker, from which country in Africa I sadly can’t recall the detail of, & when we were talking about mysticism one day I happened to tell him about the incantation/mantra I’d made up. His eyes got huge & he exclaimed, “How in the world do you know about ‘Ah Bowakawa Pousee Pousee’?!?!”. I explained it was from a John Lennon song, & while he didn’t elaborate a whole lot (he was fairly busy that day with customers) he confirmed that it was most certainly a phrase used in some non-Western, non-White (meaning race, not White vs. Black Magic) form of Mysticism/Shamanism. He used to call me by that name, as in “Hey ‘Ah Bowakawa Pousee Pousee’!!”, and get this huge grin on his face when he did so. He was very surprised & amused that any White New Yorker would have had any contact with this.
It came to Lennon in a dream, but it was a very Mystical dream, & I wish I could recall all the details (maybe I’ll look it up again someday), but he said he thought it was just a nice sounding phrase. I think it was a Magical phrase that was delivered to him. “#9 Dream” cracked the top ten (made it to #9 actually) & put a Magical incantation out across the airwaves (which I believe is VERY powerful medicine for the world), just as he might have done in the 60’s had “Across The Universe” ever become the hit single it should have been with “Jai Guru Deva Om”.

Plato’s Apology: With an Eye to Psychology

   Having warmed up, then, by opening the studies of Plato’s Euthyphro and Xenophon, it occurs that the elements of the Socratic study of the soul might be best evident beginning with Plato’s Apology, taken up exclusively for this reason, with an eye to psychology. We have argued that it is possible for modern psychology to turn with Socrates to the study of the human things, resetting the comprehensive context and foundation of the modern study and care for the soul. Our modern psychology and psychiatry lacks any theoretical foundation, producing a variety of more or less useful or profitable ecclecticisms- all the while claiming an authority even greater than that thought due to medicine regarding the knowledge and care of the body. As may appear, the problem is that science or knowledge regarding man does not work as do other forms of knowledge, but begins in a knowledge of ignorance, and would proceed in a much more moderate way than is the current practice. Our study of the psyche- whatever has been attained- must be subsumed within a human context, a genuine study that is both scientific and of man. Both humanism and medical psychology have thus far failed miserably at a scientific knowledge of the psyche. The current crisis might be described as that in which sopho-mores in the study of man categorize and drug many with an assumed authority appropriate to one who knows the soul of each and its care and cure. We say: “The soul cannot be known in that way,” nor should humans be subject to the errors of the partial and false science of our contemporary psychology and psychiatry.

   But our psychiatry can be corrected in the sense that a science or study aiming at knowledge (scientia), a genuine psychology, is possible. Considering the vastness of the subject, and the many unforeseen things too that might emerge, it might well be that the knowledge of man is attained only in part, and so in one sense not at all, even in the sense that the study of the physician might become comprehensive or complete. And what if such a science were possible, though were not attainable in the span of a lifetime?

   Having, then, gone over the Socratic turn from the direct study of nature to the study of the human things, we will attempt to identify points in a Socratic teaching on the soul. As said, the study of the soul was just emerging when ancient Greece suffered the catastrophe of the Peloponnesian war and then Alexander. This- that psychology was emerging and that it emerges explicitly quite late- seems clear from the passage in Plato’s Laws (650 b) identifying the care of the soul with politics. There is no reason, especially given the contemporary crisis, that we should not pick up where Plato, Aristotle and Xenophon have left the emerging study. It is this study, rather than a Socratic doctrine, that we attempt to recover, and state that a lifetime in this pursuit is not sufficient to deserve the authority of the knowledge of the soul given by modern man to the psychiatrist. In another Platonic teaching, there is knowledge in the soul, knowledge of man and virtue, and this awakens with the lifelong pursuit, allowing one to judge circumstances more correctly, and even to see a way to assist in the healing of souls. Well intended practitioners no doubt might gain something by experience.

   The knowledge of ignorance, the supremacy of the soul to the body, the bold statement that the unexamined life is not worth living (38 a), and the question of the effect of philosophy on the city, as well as the daimon of Socrates, are primary points, accessible in Plato’s Apology, in preparation for the fuller study of Plato’s Republic and the erotic works. We will try to show, too that the fear of death is, in the center of the dialogue, the obverse of thinking that one knows what one does not know, so that the conquest of the fear of death is the same as the achievement of the knowledge of ignorance. The fear of death is another side of the principle of Hobbes of self-preservation- a root of the modern thought on man prior to the beginnings of modern psychology, in a Renaissance repetition of the ancient Greek discovery of nature. Within the Socratic topic of the knowledge of ignorance is the distinction of our knowledge of divine things from our knowledge of human things, and the denial of Socrates that he posses either, beyond his knowledge of ignorance. The profession of ignorance is an enigmatic, if only half ironic, phrase. For as one great teacher said, “Socrates is boasting.” He is the only one to achieve the knowledge of ignorance. All others may expect to be hobbled by our thinking that we know what we do not, and it should not be surprising then that this has been the “Achilleus’ heel” of practical psychology. Pythagoras is credited with changing the name of the natural philosophers from Sophoi or “wise men, such as the seven, to philo-sophoi, which includes the idea that they are friends and seekers of a wisdom men do not possess.

    This knowledge of ignorance, together with the Socratic assurance that the soul is more important than the body, is a good example of a famous Socratic paradox. On what would he base the supposed knowledge? But as with the principle of the Quest in the Meno, Socrates throws his glove down at this proposition, that the quest for knowledge is worthwhile, as though virtue is knowledge. But most of all, the Apology shows, even to the city, or to us, the philosophic life, which would be the health of the soul, the very first principle of any genuine psychology.

   Socrates was prevented from considering his defense speech by the daimon (Xenophon, Apology, 5). Lysias is reported to have written him a speech for the occasion. One wonders what Xenophon might have said in the assembly. Socrates speaks extempore or in improvisation, and one must be reminded of the New Testament saying not to consider how one will answer (Luke 12:12). But to say the least, Socrates is honest when he says he is not a clever speaker, as the assembly has been warned to expect. He takes the occasion to replace the end of rhetoric that is to win even with the weaker speech: the purpose of rhetoric is to speak the truth. How does he know such things? The law compels Socrates to speak, and so he will speak the truth to Athens about his way of life. Whether it is good to compel the philosopher to tell the city the truth about his way of life, Athens will soon see.

   The knowledge of ignorance in matters of the divine and nature distinguishes Socrates from the both the tradition of metaphysics and the tradition of theology. The Neoplatonists and even Plato and Aristotle attempt to say more about being directly, and everyone thinks they know about forms and substances and the things said. But Socrates is quite serious about the wisdom in these matters being the “possession of the God” rather than man, leading the men who think one thing or another on these into extremes Xen. Mem. I,i 10-16). Humility rather than assurance has its place regarding doctrine. Yet much can be said as hypotheses and an attempt to place something here that is better for the thinkers, as a sort of place holder, while saying what can be said about the good of things and their intelligibility. The class of things appears on one hand as a ratio, as of “doctor” in general to “good doctor.” On another, the good of each appears in the best example, the best particular. Shakespeare’s Prospero in The Tempest might be an example, as is Socrates in the Platonic cosmos.

   An explanation from Leo Strauss here is most helpful: Socratic philosophy retains the appeal from custom to nature of the first philosophers, in combination with the appeal from hearsay to seeing with one’s own eyes. It retains the distinction between the good and the ancestral, and between things man made and things not made by man. But it has in common with the poets and conservative statesmen a concern with virtue and the things of man as such, or sui generis, similar, we say, to the concerns of the biologist with living physics, the zoologist with moving life, and the psychologist with intelligent or ensouled life, of the sort that also chooses its ways, in addition to its course. On this basis, Socratic philosophy seeks to see for oneself the truth according to nature of the virtue of man as such, instead of Greek or Hebrew man, for example  (Strauss, Natural Right and History, p. 86-88; 121; “On Genesis,” etc.).

   The Socratic profession of ignorance is introduced right at the start, to distinguish Socrates from the impious natural philosophers. Answering the old accusers first, before the present charge of Meletus, Anytus and Lycon, Socrates addresses something like an ancient prejudice, where he is considered to be as he is shown in Aristophanes’ Clouds, a thinker things aloft who teaches sons to beat their fathers on the grounds that the wise ought rule. We do not hear the speech of the prosecution, or the speech of Anytus, [Note 1] but in the Apology, we only see Socrates state the charges (19b) and then question Meletus. He states the accusation of the old accusers as though it were an official charge:

…there is a certain Socrates, a wise man, who has investigated all things under the earth, and who makes the weaker speech the stronger a thinker on the things aloft. Those, men of Athens, who have scattered this report about, are my dangerous accusers. For their listeners hold that investigators of these things do not believe in gods.

   Socrates distinguishes himself from the Sophoi or “wise,” those who look into the things in the heavens and below the earth, not unrelated to those who make the weaker argument appear the stronger. The undermining of the traditional authority of justice accomplished by natural philosophy has unleashed a wave of rhetoricians onto Athens, prospering from their litigiousness as the city declines.

   Socrates does not answer Meletus in court as he spoke to Euthyphro:

…whenever someone says such things about gods, I receive somehow with annoyance? Because of this, as is likely, someone will assert that I am a wrongdoer… And do you hold that there really is war among the gods against one another, and terrible enmities and battles, and many other such things, as are spoken of by the poets and which our temples have been adorned by the good painters, particularly the robe filled with such adornments which is brought up to the Acropolis in the Great Panathenia? Shall we assert that these are true, Euthyphro?

                                                                             (Euthyphro 6 a-b)

From these questions, Socrates turns to the question of “what ever the pious” might be (6d), as Xenophon says in his Memorabilia, turning from the divine as from the natural to the human things, especially seeking the “what” of these (6 d). Then, when Euthyphro gets stuck, or returns to their refuted definition, Socrates- from an hypothesis- returns to the question of service: In what work is it that the gods or the divine would need us as servants? (Euthyphro 13 e).

   But in the Apology, Socrates denies having “any share” in these things, such as are shown in the Comedy of Aristophanes. Nor does he claim to educate men for money. He tells of asking Callias, and Callias answering that Evanus of Paros was able to educate men in “such virtue human and political, or “the virtue of human being and citizen.” If anyone has such knowledge or ability, he does not dispraise it (19c; 20c), but Socrates denies having either sort. We do not quite believe him, but must hear him out. He may be correct in knowing enough not to teach for money! As distinct from these, he says he does have a certain wisdom, for which he calls as his witness the god in Delphi, to explain “my wisdom, if indeed it is wisdom of any kind, and what sort of thing it is,” his peculiar knowledge that he does not know. He tells the story of when Chaerephon went to Delphi and asked if there was anyone wiser than Socrates. To the extent that he is serious, he has just demonstrated belief in one god, even one “of the city.” Or: What does Socrates think he is doing, calling the God to witness at his trial in the court of Athens? “The Phthia,” or priestess, “replied that no one was wiser.” But Socrates was “conscious (sun-oida) that he is “not wise either much or little,” and so he considered:

…Surely he is not saying something false at least; for that is not sanctioned for him.” And for a long time I was at a loss about what ever he was saying, but then very reluctantly I turned to the following investigation of it. I went to one of those reputed to be wise, on the ground that there, if anywhere, I would refute the divination and show the oracle, “this man is wiser than I.”

That Socrates is aware that he is not wise contradicts the apparent statement that no one is wiser, unless no one else is wise either, and Socrates happens to be the only one who knows this. It follows. But why does Socrates try to confirm the God by refuting him? Perhaps, since we can know when some things are false, but not when something is true, human opinion advances by conjecture and refutation. Apparently, too, we can know things hypothetically based on the solidity of logic, which we can check like a mathematical equation, from various directions, though we do not get certainty about the assumptions or conjectures. But if no one is wise, are not prosecutions especially for “impiety” highly questionable?

   Would not this make as much sense to us: “…So I decided to display my wisdom, and invite anyone who might exceed me, and confirm the god, to display theirs alongside.” What would Hippias have done? How does Socrates know to approach the question of human wisdom in negative terms? But that is only the first part of the reason that no one is wiser than Socrates. We try to enter into the aporia,  the “at a loss,” or as Brann (OS, p. 23 explains, the “waylessness” of Socrates.

   Leo Strauss (p. 41 SPPP) notes:

   Chairephon’s question presupposed that he regarded Socrates as wise, as singularly wise, before he consulted the oracle. That wisdom of Socrates had nothing whatever to do with the wisdom which he discovered or acquired as a consequence of the Delphic utterance.

The pre-Delphic Socrates seems also to be the Socrates prior to the Socratic turn or return to the study of the human things.

   Beginning with the politicians, Socrates examines those thought to know something. He examined one politician, whom he refrains from naming, found that he was not wise, and tried to show him, with the result that Socrates became hated. Still he pressed on, in what he strangely calls his service to the god or obedience to the divine command. He finds that the poets do not know what they are saying, but make what they make by inspiration. He also finds that the craftsmen know something- and this is a big clue- but that what knowledge they have is outweighed in value by there assumption that they know regarding more important things (22d). Genuine knowledge has something to do with the inspiration in the work of the poets, including the dramatists, and has something else in common with the knowledge of the trades, such as carpentry. But the politician had nothing like either (Aristotle, Metaphysics, 981 b).

   Of his examination of the poets, considered again in the dialogue Ion, Socrates famously tells Athens:

…Almost everyone present, so to speak, would have spoken better than the poets did about the poetry that they themselves had made. So again, also concerning the poets, I soon recognized that they do not make what they make by wisdom, but by some sort of nature and while inspired, like the diviners and those who deliver oracles. For they too say many noble things, but they know nothing of what they speak. It was apparent to me that the poets are also affected in the same sort of way. At the same time, I perceived that they supposed, on account of their poetry that they were the wisest of human beings also in the other things, in which they were not.

  It seems that all that would be needed to become even wiser than Socrates would be to know what the poets and craftsmen know without assuming that one knows the important things, or to know what one knows and what one does not know. But this work of Socrates, regarding the matter of the god most important, is the cause both of Socrates being given the name wise and of his becoming hated:

…For those present on each occasion suppose that I myself am wise in the things concerning which I refute someone else, whereas it is probable, men that really (onte) the god is wise, and that in this oracle he is saying that human wisdom is worth little or nothing. And he appears to say this of Socrates and to have made use of my name in order to make me a pattern (paradeigma), as if he would say, “That one of you, O humans, is wisest, who, like Socrates, has become cognizant (egnoken) that in truth he is worth little or nothing with respect to wisdom (sophian).

                                                                            Plato, Apology, 23, a-b)

Wisdom is the possession of the god, and so Socrates comes to the aid of the god, as though the one thing best for his fellow human beings and fellow citizens were to to similarly repent the presumption of knowledge. For the revolution in religion, we say that doctrine goes with opinion, subject to humility, rather than with Spirit, manifesting the glory. Human error is at root the assumption that we are wise, and this is to appropriate something that belongs not to men but to “the God. If the city or a nation or empire were compelled to do this: assume that it has knowledge, it would not be surprising if the result were disastrous. And it may be that nothing could cohere more with the revelation out of Jerusalem, where wisdom too is the possession of God, a tree of life, if shared in a mystery. Athens and Jerusalem conflict where reason assumes it knows what it does not, or claims authority for doctrines that it does not possess. And for the revolution in psychology: We do not have the knowledge that would give us an authoritative knowledge of how to exorcise nor drug the soul, and hence, these things are used if at all as an extreme last resort- mild sedatives to stabilize a particular situation- and not as a first resort.

   Socrates explains that the young then imitated him in demonstrating the ignorance of their fellow citizens, leading to the corruption charge. He neglects to question Anytus and Lycon, who accused him on behalf of the craftsmen, politicians and sophists, but questions Meletus, whom he says accused him on behalf of the poets. Playing on the name Meletus in Greek, Socrates simply answers, strangely, that Meletus never cared. We recall the word epi-mele- from the Euthyphro, where the good farmer cares first for the young plants, and this will be repeated in the Apology when Socrates speaks of the care of the soul. Socrates has already reported his conversation with Callias, who directed him to Evenus the Sophist, when Socrates too denied having knowledge of these things ( 20 c). Socrates gets Meletus to say that the city, the laws, the judges and every citizen does well in educating, but only Socrates corrupts. Socrates argues in answer that the matter of education is more like horse training, where many corrupt the education, but the horse trainer alone does well. Needless to say, the ad-hominem argument has little weight in law or logic, though some  in rhetoric. How true it is becomes evident when Meletus confuses Socrates’ teaching with that of Anaxagoras (26 d). In order to present a defense, Socrates would have to open the topic of education, which it is not clear he yet confesses knowing anything about.  The reason for his strange procedure may be that the topic would take a long dialogue, as in the allegory of the cave in Plato’s Republic, and involve an ascent, as in the Phaedrus or Symposium. But he gets Meletus to agree that it is by teaching the young not to believe in the gods in whom the city believes that Socrates corrupts. 

 Another strange argument is that no one voluntarily corrupts his associates, as they would then become worse. is it better to live among upright citizens, or villainous ones?…and “Do not the villainous do something bad to whoever is nearest to them, while the good do something good? This line is taken up again with Crito (49 a). It aims at the human occurrence where families and villages disintegrate when a chain of harm for harm is released, leading to disaster. One is reminded too of the justice among a band of thieves in Book One of the Republic, also called Thrasymachus. Socrates might think that the sophists do corrupt their associates from whom they take money, but the associates of Socrates are only friends and companions, not customers. The topic, though, that there is a sense in which no one does harm voluntarily is introduced here. Either he does not corrupt, or he does it involuntarily, in which case…”the law is not that you bring me in here for such involuntary wrongs, but that you take me aside in private to teach and admonish me. For it is clear that if I learn, I will at least stop doing what I am doing involuntarily.

   Socrates then asks Meletus whether he means that Socrates does not believe in any gods, or is an atheist. Socrates was correct about this too, in explaining of the effect of the old accusers, “For their listeners hold that investigators of these things also do not believe in gods” 18 c).

…Then before these very gods, Meletus, about whom our speech now is, speak to me and to these men still more plainly. For I am not able to understand whether you are saying that I teach them to believe that there are gods of some sort- and so I myself do believe that there are gods and am not completely atheistic and do not do injustice in this way- but that I do not believe in those in whom the city believes, but in others…Do I not even believe that the sun and moon are gods, as other humans do? 

And here Meletus answers, No, by Zeus, judges, since he declares that the sun is stone, and the moon is earth” (26d). Anaxagoras had figured that the sun was a flaming stone. The shock is that the sun is apparently not a god with a will and intention, not a living thing. Diogenes writes that Anaxagoras was…

…indicted by Cleon on a charge of impiety, because he declared the sun to be a mass of red hot metal; that his pupil defended him, and he was fined five talents and banished (Lives, II .12)…Hence Euripides, who was his pupil in the Phaethon calls the sun itself a “golden clod” (II . 10).

Parmenedes had discovered the spherical earth, and, as the Durants write:

…At Thebes, Philolaus the Pythagorean deposed the earth from the center of the universe, and reduced it to the status of one among many planets revolving around a “central fire.”

We are left to wonder what would have happened had Meletus answered correctly. Try this: Socrates introduces a new approach to the divine, one that begins and ends in a humility of human opinion that is at once the openness to what is truly higher than man and an exaltation of something divine in man. Socrates believes in something divine other than the gods of the city, and “corrupts” the young by this teaching. Not knowing, though, what education would be, the city could be a corrupt measure, and what Socrates is doing could be true education. The Athenian law would seem to be unjust if it does not allow for this possibility, and it would then ban its own end or goal. Though there are no damages, his only defense in a civil suit might be that he takes no money. Socrates is “guilty,” but because the city does not have knowledge of the true divine- a failure of theoretical wisdom. The law itself is unjust.

   In order to appreciate what Socrates does here, in converting the charge into the underlying charge of atheism, it may be helpful for us to transport ourselves to the time prior to that of Roman or empirial Christianity, when Christianity had not everywhere introduced a questioning of the many gods, but this- the Olympic gods of the city- was the significant alternative for men like Meletus to the belief in no gods at all. Greece most likely had no contact with the Temple in Jerusalem until Alexander, and the reference to what “is” emerges independently in Athens and Jerusalem. Indeed, we ask those of the faiths of Abraham, with the gift of a tradition of one transcendent God, what we would hope to find men believing if they tried to live an upright life according to tradition. The choice between justice and injustice, virtue and vice, must present itself in some way. Ovid’s Alecthoe, choosing the things of Apollo over those of a worse god is a fine example (Metamorphoses, Book IV). Mohammed brought the Arabs the belief in one God, the God of Abraham, rather than many, after Paul had been turned back apparently from preaching in those regions (Acts 16:6).

   Socrates gives Meletus a second chance…”But before Zeus, is this how I seem to you? Do I believe there is no God?” And Meletus answers, “You certainly do not, by Zeus, not in any way at all” (26 e). Meletus is easily refuted by his own accusation that Socrates brings in strange daimonia. Socrates asks, “Is there anyone who believes there are human matters, but not human beings (anthropio), horse matters…horses…flute players, flute matters… Is there anyone who believes that there are daimonic matters, but does not believe in daimons? This is very nicely done, do you see? Meletus may be unable to conceive of there being gods other than those “of the city,” and if he could, his argument does not allow him to admit there are gods or is divinity other than that “of the city.” Socrates does this out of Meletus’ own opinion, without introducing strange new notions. Since Meletus can conceive of no divine other than gods, and no gods other than those “of the city,” the truth is that according to these parameters, it would be most accurate if Meletus were to think that Socrates believes in gods, and even the gods of the city- such as Athena and Apollo- though Socrates repeatedly speaks of “the God” and the “voice of the god” in the singular. The divine” is one possible translation or understanding of “the daimonia.” Another is also in Plutarch’s Ethics, related to the “genius,” sometimes something like a guardian angel of each (Plutarch, “The Daimon of Socrates”). But if there were divinity or divinities other than that of the city, one wonders why Meletus would think it safe to prosecute one for their being carried in.

   Leo Strauss has here the best comment on what is occurring, and explains why the word “soul” does not occur in the Euthyphro. Strauss makes a famous distinction between orthodoxy and the practice of Euthyphro, that for Euthyphro piety is imitating rather than obeying the gods, in the stories of the poets such as Hesiod (197-198). Orthodoxy may be worshiping the ancestral gods according to custom, but “the gods are not pious, and “by imitating the gods, one ceases to be pious (p. 198).” (What follows may be the best piece of all commentary on the Apology): Strauss, commenting on the Euthyphro, notes that Socrates may not be altogether ignorant regarding divine things:

   Towards the end of the conversation, he says that all good things which he has have been given by the gods. Earlier in the conversation he indicates that he loathes the current stories about the gods committing unjust actions or their having dissensions and fights with each other, and that he does not believe that these tales are true. He seems to believe he knows that the gods are both good and just and therefore both the givers of all good things, and only of good things, to man, and incapable of fighting with each other. But precisely this knowledge would make him impious: (p. 190)…

   The statement to Euthyphro is “There is no good for us that they do not give”  (Euthyphro, 15a), when Socrates is asking what benefit they receive from us. One is reminded of the Socratic correction of the Homeric account of the gods in the Republic (II 376e- III, 392b), where the gods are to be described as being the cause of all good things, and not to be described as changing shape, taking human form, or causing anything except good  (379 b-c). We ask, when things get better, where does that good come from?” thinking this a proof.

…what general opinion assigns to the gods actually belongs to the ideas. The ideas replace the gods. From here we can understand and judge Meletus’ charge (p. 200)…But Meletus is wrong in assuming that the different beings which Socrates introduces are gods or demonic things. In fact they are the ideas. if we want to speak of gods, we would have to say that the different gods Socrates introduces are the ideas…the ideas, being prior to any beings which imitate ideas, are prior to any gods. They are the first things, the oldest things…Socrates is the only one who recognizes as first things such beings as can in no sense be conceived of as having been made and as making other things (p. 200).

   In the reading of Strauss, the Euthyphro does not tell us the truth about piety is, but conveys an “irritating half truth,” while also conveying the teaching that because we do not know the divine, it is unwise to prosecute Socrates for impiety (p. 192). Strauss writes:

Plato has indicated the half-truth character of the message conveyed through the Euthyphron by never using that word, the term “soul.” Through the emphasis on the ideas and the silence about the soul, Plato creates the appearance that there is no place for the gods. Plato would have probably justified this half truth by the consideration that the ideas are at any rate above the soul. p. 205)

   Rather than follow Meletus we might think, is there not another possibility? But could it be that divine matters are the offspring not of gods but of the knowledge and the higher functions somehow above the human mind or “in” the human soul? Consider, too, The opening scene of the Iliad where Achilles is restrained by Athena (I, 193; end note below) or the effects of eros. The many gods and the imagination of the divine do have something to do with the soul as in between the body and the ideas. A modern example is in the song “Can’t Get it Out of My Head,” by Jeff Lynn, who saw the daughter of the ocean walking at midnight on the chicane of a wave. The poets are the masters of this watery realm between that is somehow psyche and beyond the individual psyche.

   In the inquiry into the two kinds of Socratic ignorance, regarding the divine or natural things and regarding man or the human things, it is sometimes said that the knowledge of man is a part of natural philosophy,  accessible by the way of acquaintance to all, while the humans depend upon the divine or natural things. Our ignorance of the knowledge of all things then precludes authoritative knowledge even of the human things. Yet watch for what Socrates says he knows:

   Socrates concludes saying that the indictment here does not seem to require much of a defense, but that much is sufficient. If he is convicted, it will be due to the slander and envy of the earlier accusers. (On envy: Euthyphro 3c; Xenophon, Apology, 26); Strauss, Xenophon’s Socrates, p. 135, on envy). He turns to a wholly new topic: is he not ashamed to have followed a pursuit from which he now runs the risk of dying? He calls up the example of Achilles and the heroes at Troy.


   Socrates calls up the example of Achilles to demonstrate that he ought not be ashamed merely of of being in danger of being sentenced to death. He answers that what such a one would say is ignoble…

…if you suppose that a man who is of even a little benefit should take into account the danger of living or dying, but not rather consider this alone whenever he acts: whether his actions are just or unjust, and the deeds of a good man or a bad.

From this point we can consider the two principles of bodily self preservation and the virtue of the soul, to be indicated directly soon (29e-30b). He considers the fateful choice of Achilles, of a long life without glory or a short life with immortal fame as that of which we still speak. Bloom contrasts the wild fury needed for Achilles to re-enter the battle with the placid, non-tragic death of Socrates. The principle is stated by Socrates rather as follows:

Wherever someone stations himself, holding that it is best, or wherever he is stationed by a ruler, there he must stay and run the risk, as it seems to me, and not take into account death or anything else shameful. So I would have done terrible deeds, men of Athens, if, when the rulers whom you elected to rule me stationed in Potidea and Amphipolis and at Delium, I stayed then where they stationed me and ran the risk of dying like anyone else, but when the god stationed me, as I supposed and assumed, ordering me to live philosophizing and examining myself and others, I had then left my station because I feared death or any other matter whatever.

Socrates at Delium saved the life of Xenophon, when he had fallen from his horse (Diogenes Laertius, Lives, II. 23). Socrates was on foot. Soldiers like Xenophon appreciate that sort of thing. Courage would seem to be, as we say, a matter of priorities. Socrates presents his heroic facing down the threat of death from the Athenian assembly as a demonstration of his belief in the divine. Those who do not acknowledge anything above man are not able to overcome the fear of death, or, to make the sacrifice of the priority of bodily self-interest apparently involved. There follows the section that we identify as the center of the Apology, and Eva Brann identifies the central line as that at 29 b3-7:

   Terrible that would be, and truly then someone might justly bring me into a law court, saying that I do not believe in gods, since I would be disobeying the divination, and fearing death, and supposing that I am wise when I am not. For to fear death, men, is in fact nothing other than to seem to be wise, but not to be so. For it is to seem to know what one does not know. No one knows whether death does not even happen to be the greatest of all goods for the human being; but people fear it as though they knew well that it is the greatest of all evils. And how is this not that reproachable ignorance of supposing that one knows what one does not know? But I, men, am, perhaps distinguished from the many human beings also here in this, and if I were to say that I am wiser than anyone in anything, it would be in this: that since I do not know sufficiently about the things in Hades, so also I suppose that I do not know. But I do know that it is bad and shameful to do injustice and to disobey one’s better, whether god or human being. So compared to the bad things which I know are bad, I will never fear or flee the things about which I do not know whether they even happen to be good.

The immortality of the soul may, in one sense, not be our business, while the course we choose, and how we avoid injustice and find the living things, is our business, white, as white, whether it is so for a brief or long time.

The direct and bare logic of the statement does not make that much sense. Could not the same be said of those who do not fear death, that they too assume what they do not know- that virtue is worthwhile, and death a paltry thing, contrary to the strong assumption of all animal nature that bodily death is THE great evil? [Note 2] Are we justified in assuming, with Socrates. that animal self preservation is ignorant and presumes to know about the things in Hades, while the preservation of our truer selves, so to speak, is by virtue and Justice, so as to matter more than life itself, or, as we say, ” a matter of life and death,” as though that were the greatest thing? For every time we speak of “self interest,” we must clarify, “in the baser sense,” that of the partial interest of a faction in a regime, in contrast to the good of a whole city. The tyrant is not capable of acting in his true self interest. Hence Socrates beats Thrasymachus and every other such theory by the addition of the truth that we make mistakes, especially about our true self interest. If there can be an unjust law, there must be natural right, and it is based upon happiness, or the good of individual souls.

   That is the center of Plato’s Apology, easily one of the ten best books ever written. One notes that our ignorance regarding the things of Hades, and hence the whole, does not preclude our acting somehow with human knowledge of our own things, despite our inability to give a full account of the grounding of our action in nature and the divine. As will become clear in what follows, Socrates shows that the truth about the after life is, perhaps contrary to the thrust if not the theory of St. Paul (1 Corinthians 15:12-18), irrelevant to almost any choice or action. It could even be questioned whether such might be attainable by something chosen not for its own sake, but for mercenary reasons. To love one’s neighbor is the fulfillment of the law whether the soul is immortal or not, and whether the happiness thus attained by choosing the good for its own sake last only a lifetime or is in turn, as is suggested, an image of the entry of the soul into immortal life. Our business is clear enough, regardless of our ignorance of how to think directly about immortal life.

   If to fear death is to think one knows what one does not know, perhaps the conquest of the fear of death is the obverse of the knowledge of ignorance. It is our attachment to the earth or to life, the navel of which may well be romantic love, which makes us adhere to our own opinions politically or in sociability, and so prevents the conversation of the liberal arts becoming dialogue. That is, incidentally, the ethical virtue needed for intellectual virtue, as none of us are self-sufficient. “Love of ones own” is the phrase of Allan Bloom, and the distinction between ones own and what is good lies at the beginning of philosophy, said to begin in thought on death and to proceed through letting go the mortal attachment to the things of the body, as though in a purification. Philosophers are not unjust first of all, from one view, because, as such, they do not desire the things that can be competed for because they are scarce- such as the desire to be “first” that destroyed the Roman republic or the desire for empire that seems to have destroyed the Greek. Eros that would be trapped below, enflaming lower desires, is freed to the things above in contemplation of that of which, sharing, we have more. The philosopher- as the thinking part of a polity- brings to his nation this fundamental moderation, which, if followed, might have sustained either great civilization.

   An example of how we do not know the things beyond death is that even assuming the immortality of the particular soul, we do not understand the difference between living and non-living eternal things, such as the truth shown in the Pythagorean theorem. If we are to be always, must this not also be so now? And yet we do not recall before we were? So we do not even know how to conceive what it is that the image indicates. And yet we say that what is visible or intelligible about the soul indicates something about the reality of things yet higher. The sacrifice of the attachment to one;s own is the same as the following Christ through death (Romans 6) that is the meaning of our baptism. The soul itself evinces the things of which it is an image, but this is inductive, ascending, and not “certainty.” The things of the intellect are reflected in the things noble.

   A pattern of Platonic writing is the statement of a principle in the center and then a flourish of high things after the center, as in the Republic following the central statement of the “third wave,” of Book Five, the philosopher-kings. So here, following the principle about the fear of death, Socrates introduces the word Psyche, and a twofold division fundamental to the logos about man. If the Athenians were to offer to let him go if only he would cease philosophizing and investigating, he would tell them:

I, men of Athens, salute you and love (philo) you, but I will obey the god (To Theo) rather than you.

Here we have the reason for the First Amendment as stated by Madison in his statement on a religious tax, that what is a right toward other men is a duty to the Creator, or put directly: there is an obligation higher than the city, and that is the basis of what we call rights regarding religion. It is also the introduction of a hierarchy: Socrates will obey the god rather than the city. But one clue to the Apology seems to be that the law of the city is unjust, and so the true defense of Socrates would be to argue against the laws- which he will not do.

He will continue to say such things as:

   Best of men, you are an Athenian, from the city that is greatest and best reputed for wisdom and strength: are you not ashamed that you care for having as much money as possible, and reputation, and honor, but that you neither care for nor give thought to prudence and truth and how your soul will be the best possible?

And if one protests that he does care, Socrates will examine him, and if he does not seem to me to possess virtue,” Socrates will reproach him, “saying that he regards the things worth the most as the least important, and the paltrier things as more important. Virtue is a matter of priorities and a hierarchy of ends that determines the ordering of the soul. Socrates goes around and does nothing but persuade both the young and old…

   …not to care for bodies and money before, nor as vehemently as, how your soul will be the best possible. I say: “Not from money does virtue come, but from virtue comes and all of the other good things for human s both publicly and privately. If, then, I corrupt the young by saying these things, they may be harmful. ..But I would not do otherwise, not even if I were going to die many times.

At this there is a disturbance among the crowd of jurists, which Socrates again quells. (30 c). The saying is shockingly similar to the saying in the New Testament, seek first the kingdom, and all these will be yours as well (Luke 12:31;    ), that is, rather than rejecting the body and money as evils, holding them paltry in light of the important things. The same principle is shown in the prayer of Solomon (1 Kings 3: 9-12):

Give thy servant therefore an understanding mind to govern thy people, that I may discern between good and evil; for who is able to govern this thy great people?

Because it is said that from virtue comes wealth: Socrates shows Meno that our stuff is not much good if we do not use it wisely, so that virtue is wisdom, and wealth depends upon wisdom.

    The primacy of the soul and the things of the soul to the body and the things of the body- friendship to money, etc. is the root or first principle of Psychology as a following out of the natural articulation of the things of the soul, or as Jung has it, the Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. The natural hierarchy in practice is interesting, as it means some things and not others. Aristotle too follows a twofold division of intellectual and ethical virtue in his Ethics. The logos of the psyche also follows a three part account, and by going back and forth between these, the principles of the soul can be discerned, if always more or less.

   On this basis, the Socratic or Platonic account of the well ordered soul is indicated, so that we need not be simply mute when anti-psychiatry asks, “What then is the well ordered soul, if you know the disorder?” What are the functions, if you know can measure and cure “dysfunction” with a y? Strauss writes:

   The various human things which are by nature noble or admirable are essentially the parts of human nobility, in its completion, or are related to it; they all point toward the well ordered soul, incomparably the most admirable human phenomenon (NRH, p. 128)

…The classic natural right doctrine, in its original form, if fully developed, is identical with the doctrine of the best regime. For the question as to what is by nature right or as to what is justice finds its complete answer only through the construction in speech of the best regime. The essentially political character of the classical natural right doctrine appears most clearly in Plato’s Republic… ((NRH, p. 144)

   In our age of equality, offense is sometimes taken to the hierarchic thought in Socratic philosophy. But we say the hierarchy is established by our ends or our priorities, as these become character through action based upon the choices with which each are presented. The body too has ends, and in this aspect is a part of the soul.

   The well ordered soul is also a content of the imagination, and necessary for any improvement of each soul, as it is by looking to this- however remotely- that each becomes better. It is this that we set in place of our current psychology of techniques of animal training and druggings.

   Socrates explains that he did not counsel the city as he did persons in private because he is opposed by the daimon. Fearless of appearing to introduce new divinities, he explains:

…something divine and demonic comes to me, a voice- …This is something which began for me in childhood, a sort of voice comes, and whenever it comes, it always turns me away from whatever I am about to do, but never turns me forward.

    This is what opposes my political activity, and its opposition seems to me altogether noble.For know well, men of Athens, if I had long ago attempted to be politically active, I would long ago have perished, and I would have benefited neither you nor myself. Now, do not be vexed with me when I speak the truth For there is no human being who will preserve his life if he genuinely opposes either you or any other multitude and prevents many unjust and unlawful things from happening in the city. Rather, if someone who really fights for the just is going to preserve himself even for a short time, it is necessary for him to lead a private rather than a public life.

Anyone who doubts the daimon of Socrates here regarding just men and women and political action might consider alternatives to saying “No” to an offer one “cannot refuse.” The liberty of every polis– the same root as “police,” depends upon crime fighting, and this can become extremely difficult. Socrates presents just a few examples of his fearlessness in disobeying unjust orders under both the Democracy and the Oligarchy. He decided he “…should run the risk with the law and the just rather than side with you because of fear of prison or death when you were counselling unjust things.” Because of this insistence upon the legal and the just, Socrates asks,

   Do you suppose then, that I would have survived so many years if I had been publicly active, and had acted in a manner worthy of a good man, coming to the aid of the just things and, as one ought, regarding this as most important? Far from it, men of Athens; now would any other human.

   But through all my life, if I ever was active in public life at all, it is apparent that I was the sort of man (and in private I was the same) who never conceded anything to anyone contrary to the just- neither to anyone else, nor to any of those who my slanderers say are my students.

   Socrates denies teaching, and does not have a secret doctrine as he is presented in the Clouds, does not lecture, especially for money, even as we do, hoping to buy time for study from wage labor. What he has discovered about learning, as in explained to Meno in the myth of recollection, is the cause of this unique approach to what we call “teaching,” and the method has a corollary often practiced in all sorts of education and psychiatric “therapy:” By considering the contradictory opinions of the subject, obstacles might be cleared, and a solution arise as hypotheses do, from the nature of the one seeking to learn, and so in a way that more naturally coheres with them, with less risk of harm.

I have been ordered to practice this by the god, as I affirm, from divinations, and from dreams, and in any way that any divine allotment ever ordered a human being to practice anything at all.” 

The dreams of Socrates would be a study in itself. Perhaps the most famous, after the dream foretelling the timing of his own death that opens the Crito (44a-b), would be his dream regarding Plato:

…Socrates in a dream saw a cygnet on his knees, which all at once put forth plumage, and flew away after uttering a loud, sweet note. And the next day, Plato was introduced as a pupil, and thereupon he recognized in him the swan of his dream.

                                                         (Diogenes, Lives, III. 5; Loeb, p. 281)

Interestingly, the twenty or thirty mina offered by Plato to redeem Socrates is similar the later price of Plato’s own redemption (Diogenes, Lives, III .20). Plato himself shows the same fearlessness, similar to that of John but not Peter in fearing to be known to stand with the one persecuted.

   Socrates claims to hear a “voice.” Jung addresses the Vox Dei phenomenon, though it remains dangerous to admit any sort of voices. Some voices are also heard by the mad, and so it is said to “test the spirits, to see if they are from God.” That the voice in Plato’s Apology only tells Socrates what not to do is interesting, and the difference in account may be because Plato knew Socrates more intimately than did Xenophon. Most contemporary readers assume that Socrates is being ironic, or, as Strauss considers obvious, is describing his foresight in a way suited to his audience. People, and not only the mad, hear voices of various kinds, an “auditory hallucination” in the sense that it is not a sound, but an experience more like a waking dream. Plutarch indicates that we do not literally hear in dreams, even as we do literally seem to see, but rather, simply understand ourselves to have spoken or heard- though there should be exceptions, when this is the topic of the dream. The issue becomes difficult for the doubters if the voice transmits content that is true or beneficial, so that as with true dreams, we wonder how it could have known what we have never learned. Many examples of Socrates warning his comrades on the basis of the voice of the god have been collected. Sometimes we wonder if these are not instances of unconscious reasoning, from items suppressed and small details whose significance had not made themselves apparent. But that is only to account on one hand for how such a thing could be if the divine is not. since we know that it exists, and on the other, how the function itself by which we receive in this could ever be mistaken. Maimonides on prophecy includes speech, or the prophesies reported as spoken (Guide, II, 45; 32-33).

   One sees from this, though, that Socrates in America today might be immediately seized and drugged, though he violates the rights of no one. If it were merely his prudence, it may have been safer to simply say so. The point is that our psychiatry does not even recognize the higher faculties. To Maslow, for example, it literally does not matter what one is doing or thinking about when the self actualized person is lost in his work. Nor does Maslow offer any suggestion as to what sort of work the best souls might be about. One could make all sorts of Jokes about this, were it appropriate, but the point is theoretical. Maslow has got hold of a corner, though, of Aristotle: Happiness is a working well, or a being-at-work. The point lays bare the upward edges of our vacuous theoretical foundation in modern psychology.

    Xenophon mentions Alcibiades and Critias as students for whom Socrates was blamed, and West adds Charmides, the latter prominent members of the oligarchy killed when the democracy returned from exile. Xenophon, but not Plato, directly criticizes Alcibiades as “the most unrestrained and hubristic and violent of all those in the democracy” (West, p. 85 note Memorabilia, I,ii, .12). The Alcibiades incident is most interesting in light of the pan-Hellenism of Euripides and Socrates, and what was to occur regarding Alexander. Many friends and auditors of Socrates are indicated as present, and no one comes forward with an example of anyone- even a son- said to have been corrupted by Socrates. The truth is that those who enjoyed hearing Socrates associated with him: “…because they enjoy hearing men examined who suppose they are wise but are not. For it is not unpleasant.”

   Socrates will not bring in his family to gain the sympathy of the assembly,…

For the judge is not seated to give away the just things as a gratification, but to judge them. For he has not sworn to gratify whoever seems favorable to him, but to give judgment according to the laws. Therefore we should not accustom you to swear falsely, nor should you become accustomed to it. For neither of us would be pious…if I should persuade and force you by begging, after you have sworn an oath, I would be teaching you not to hold that there are gods, and in making my defense speech, I would simply be accusing myself of not believing in gods. But that is far from being so. For I believe, men of Athens, as none of my accusers does.

   Here he does state that he believes, and almost says that he believes in gods. It is sometimes thought that Socrates intended to be declared guilty, as to avoid the harder part of life, and it is noted that strangely his goal is not acquittal, but truth. He or the daimon, intends to make Athens choose. But if Socrates were merely intent upon incriminating himself, why would he not simply get to it?  His true defense is that the law of the city- or at least the attempt here to use the law in a judicial murder, is unjust. Socrates will not speak against the law against piety. He does this out of care for the city, or because of his especially political justice. He is declared guilty, though by a margin smaller than he had expected. If Socrates is guilty, is the god not guilty? Would not this proceeding then be the city- the human city- convicting a god for going against its laws?Or for declining to be the god “of the city?” Again the First Amendment of the US Constitution settles the issue. Once stated, the negation of the principle of the First Amendment would seem to claim to the right to exclude the Holy Spirit, though no rights- which it is the purpose of Government to protect- are violated. And as Strauss says, Socrates would seem to be excused by the difficulty of the subject matter!

   The sentence proposed by the prosecution is death. Socrates is expected to propose an alternative penalty for the choice of the assembly as judges. In asking what he deserves, Socrates restates what it is he has done:

…I went to each of you privately to perform the greatest benefaction, as I affirm, and I attempted to persuade each of you not to care for any of his own things until he cares for himself, how he will be the best and most prudent possible, nor to care for the things of the city until he cares for the city itself, and so to care for the other things in the same way…

Here he takes the opportunity to propose for philosophy free meals in the Prytaneum as an Olympic victor- such as now awaits every US poet and philosopher. “For he makes you seem to be happy, while I make you be so, and he is not in need of sustenance, while I am in need of it,” as Anaxagoras, starving, begged of Pericles a little oil for the lamp.

   He seems to address the question here as well as on suicide and Apollo in the Phaedo directly (at 37b): “being convinced that I do not do injustice to anyone, I am far from doing injustice to myself, and from saying against myself that I myself am worthy of anything bad.” But then he explains that because the daimon has been silent, and has not opposed him throughout, it might mean that death is not something bad.

   To the alternative of keeping silent or living in exile, Socrates again summarizes and even expands, providing a picture of the activity of human happiness or the best life in usual circumstances:

…For if I say that this is to disobey the god, and that because of this it is impossible to keep quiet, you will not be persuaded by me, on the ground that I am being ironic. And if I say that this even happens to be a very great good for a human, to make speeches every day about virtue and the other things about which you hear me conversing and examining both myself and others- and that the unexamined life is not worth living for a human, you will be persuaded by me even less when I say these things…

  This paragraph is similar to that in Xenophon about opening and exploring the writings left the ancient great and wise (I,i .16).  It shows the life of theory and friendship for its own sake that is the pinnacle of happiness and in one sense the aim of wise action. Amid this activity- the highest pleasure- is the principle: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” It recalls, in the Apology, without directly mentioning, the Delphic maxim: know thyself.

   As Benjamin Jowett has collected the examples, the Delphic inscription which appears in Aeschelus’ Prometheus Bound also appears in 6 Platonic dialogues, Charmides 164d, Protagoras 343b; Phaedrus 229e, Philebus 48 c; Laws 923 a; and three times in the Alcibiades, 124 a; 129 a and 132 c. In the Alcibiades, setting aside the difficulties of soul and body conjoined, it is clear that Socrates asks, “In what way might the self itself be discovered? “For in this way we might perhaps discover what we are ourselves” (129 b). It is with the soul itself that we are bid to become acquainted by the one who enjoins us to know ourselves (130 e).” The “self” here is similar in part to the sense in which Jung uses the term “self,” meaning our true self. There it is also an archetype, the cause of the god images, as “phenomenology” does not quite escape subjectivism). Socrates tells Alcibiades:

Therefore, dear Alcibiades, if the soul too is to know itself, should it look at the soul, and above all at that place in it in which the virtue of the soul-wisdom- comes to exist, and at any other thing to which this seems to be similar?…

Are we able to say what of the soul is more divine than that which is concerned with knowledge and thinking?…

This part, therefore, resembles the god, and someone who looks at this and comes to know all that is divine- god and sensible thinking- would thus come to know himself also…

   Then just as mirrors are clearer than the reflection in the eye, as well as purer and brighter, so the god happens to be purer and brighter than what is best in our soul?…

In looking to the god, therefore we shall treat him as the finest mirror, and in the human things, we shall look to the virtue of the soul. In this way, above all, we shall see and know ourselves.

                                     (Alcibiades I, Carnes Lord translation, 133 b-c)

   Self- knowledge appears as a principle in psychology in various ways, and means first the moderation of the negative Socratic education that allows one entry into the Academy, far more than geometry- though that too is helpful. We hold that its meaning includes penance- as one cannot but be appalled in dust and ash to see himself in what is called too the Adamic or original nature, where the ends of the body are primary. The way through death, or through the origin is the mystery, common, we think, to both baptism and the Elysian mysteries. Outside the cave, we think, are shadows and phantoms and other things in water, and this seems to us to be like the study of the soul. Jung even uses the word shadow, and the study of the anima or soul projected in love is a study of the phantom, as that of Helen they say was at Troy, and the study of all the beautiful appearances. Following or yet higher is the study of the nature of the man, the wise one that shows the fullness of the nature of man. Plato’s Republic replaces the study of the images of the gods in Homer with the study of regimes and political philosophy. We draw this soul like an egg, an upright oval with three parts, the appetites, the heart and reason. This is the law-formed soul, and as it develops- as the man is ascending- the reason develops, from logistike or calculation into nous, an unfolding that is like a blossoming into nature. Outside the cave, there are appearances of men and other things in water, and the beings themselves, following the pattern of a repetition of the divided line outside the cave. From here, the study of the structure and dynamics of the psyche and man is in turn the attainment of the image, the image of God that is man, and the recollection of this allows one to see metaphysics reflected- beginning by noting, for example, that love is an image of the relation between the messiah and man in the scriptures, and such things. The knowledge within can be addressed as archetypes, hypothesized as the source of the meaning in symbols and dreams, and the reason that lyric poetry can discover and transmit knowledge of the soul, though otherwise the radio cannot. What Jung writes regarding the activity of the integration of the archetypes is the recollection and tethering of knowledge, the attainment of a genuinely scientific psychology, in the sense of the function by nature of the faculty called epistemonikon Aristotle, Ethics, VI). The virtue of these faculties arises more and less, and is by nature, cultivated though by art neither shaped nor created. It does not occur without what is called Nous (and so we are called psychological as distinct from metaphysical gnostics, the first principle of our psychology being mind or intelligence in this sense, of the eye of the soul and lamp of the body (Matthew 7:22-23) We also hold that nous is the imago Dei, and has features that are visible to the mind in study, male and female together, etc. the mysteries called Bridal Chamber- for there is a a baptism, a transfiguration and of all a consummation). The right working of these higher faculties is the measure in psychology, and it is these that especially go wrong in what are called the disorders of the mind as distinct from those of the character, “psychosis” as distinct from “neurosis,” though, again, these words are attached by the moderns almost randomly. That at any rate is an effort to state principles of psychology out of Plato’s Apology.

   One practical example, of what we intend to indicate regarding the right working of the theoretical faculties and psychosis: a common form is magalomania, again just a Greek word for great thinking- but persons commonly become deluded that they are Napoleon, some hereditary prince, Jesus and even God himself, etc. Jung attempts to discuss these things as possession by an archetype, and the wrong form is distinguished from the right form of inspiration, in the study by Socrates of the kinds of divine madness (Phaedrus). There is no more important study, incidentally, for genuine diagnostics, as those who have not themselves experienced the various degrees of wakefulness will not be able to judge in the particular. At any rate, the error involves the inability to distinguish between what Jung calls the self,” meaning “true self,” and that of which it is an image. Our contemporary vacuity is not helpful in this matter, teaching senseless people to say such things as that they are their own gods, or they “make themselves,” and such, by whim; taking things at most true in a small way and presenting them as though they were the great truth, due to our modern iconoclastic vacuity, exalting even a “philosopher” who was trapped in such an identification. There is a popular eastern teaching as well, that encourages such a random identification of the ego and the divine, because this might indeed be true in one sense, and requires a theological commentary [Note 3] How one would tell, for example, if one genuinely were Jesus, as Nicodemus asserts, need not be decided if humans simply do not interfere, but for the subject, this distinction between ego and self can be established and taught and cultivated and strengthened, in the same way that a friend simply telling one the truth can provide an escape from delusion. How it is that our common sense knows these things- and hence how we know the difference between madness and the highest activities of the human mind and and soul remains a bit of a mystery.

   But self knowledge would also mean what we call the attainment of the image. This image, of God in man seen even in oneself, with the self-evidence of tautology, is the stone of the philosophers and the gateway to what we can see about metaphysics, if indirectly and without certainty.

   The idea is again to fit together the farthest advance of the modern study of the soul with the study beginning to emerge in the Socratics. Freud himself, though, discovered what he called the “talking cure,” where neurotic and hysterical subjects seemed to be benefited by unburdening their souls. This practical discovery of common sense is at the root of psychoanalysis, and one sees, for example the cure of Sybil enacted by the doctor Wilson based less on Freudian theory than common sense, as she herself develops some of the theory of what is now called “dissociation.”

   Another fundamental point is shown by Xenophon, in the most direct Socratic discussion of madness on record. Xenophon writes:

Madness, according to him, was the opposite of wisdom. Nevertheless, he did not identify Ignorance with madness; but not to know yourself, and to assume and think that you know what you do not, he put next to madness.”

                                                                        – (Memorabilia III, ix. 6)

   So too, again, the exit from imprisonment in a delusional context, whether regarding practical circumstances or theoretical matters- for we cannot set them aright, since we do not ourselves possess the knowledge- is to induce questioning and the recognition that one does not know and may be mistaken.

   Yet ignorance is different from vice, and these different still from madness, just as these are distinguished in common speech. Lady MacBeth is possessed by vice, and driven mad by it, and there is criminal insanity. Richard III is similarly haunted by those he has murdered, and we will suggest the inescapable conclusion that the wholeness of man goes with virtue, and not vice, nor are these, then, two merely equal opposites. Happiness is impossible without justice because the whole or nature of man is good. The question of volition in these instances is quite complex, and it seems that there are different degrees of volition- as Socrates will famously cure revenge by explaining that no one would do vicious things or harm another if they Knew what they were doing were appraised of their genuine self interest. Similarly, the first effect of the contact between modern psychology and law or legal theory is to destroy the idea of criminal responsibility by noting causes effecting a person, then suggesting that therefore the person did not cause the action. So in a sense all vice is ignorance, or the opposite of knowledge and wisdom. These and other questions we will leave for a reading of the Phaedo and another Day.

   Finally, of course, we address the unique Socratic knowledge of death. To those have acquitted him, he says that death is either one of two things: like we are no more, in which case it is like a dreamless sleep, which he calls pleasant. We take the occasion to note that dreams are rather quite pleasant, and this pleasure indicates a natural function- though we would have yet to address unpleasant dreams. One notes that the indications of a hell in the New Testament are quite scant, with nothing of course like Dante’s inferno or Tartarus, the place of Purgatory described at the conclusion of the Phaedo. Jesus would never frighten children with images of punishment for crimes they are as yet unable to imagine, as the face of their angels are yet before the Lord (Matt 24?), and one is reminded of the objection of Socrates to Homer inspiring terror of the afterworld, which is not inclined to make men courageous in facing death on the battlefield. But in the twentieth chapter of the Revelation, Death and Hades are thrown into the lake of fire. Each is judged according to what they have done, of those that are judged, as though the soul were all along immortal, and we were simply stuck with what we have become by what we have done, especially to oneanother. And it may be that from this side’s view, we are “only immortal while we are alive, ” though from that, life everlasting. We are not, it is said, it is not given to us to eat of the tree of life till we are safely in the paradise of the Lord.

 [  If virtue is knowledge, and Socrates knows he does not know, does he not confess his vice, and worthiness of being put to death by the city? But seriously, vice is different from ignorance.]

Note 1: A sophist Polycrates had, after 393 B. C., published an “Accusation of Socrates,” and this one is rumored to have written the speech for Anytus at the trial. E.C. Marchant, preface to the Loeb edition of Xenophon’s Memorabilia, p. ix. The speech of Socrates assumes the accusation as restated by Socrates. Anytus threatens Socrates in the Meno (89e-95a), in a passage where, as West notes, Socrates appears to praise the Sophists and blame the politicians regarding education (West, p. 64).

Note 2: Rousseau notices how little animals fear death, having little of the imagination for it, though terror- as for rabbits at blood- seems to have a natural function. The truth may be that the animal body itself does not fear death, and as for Xenophon’s Socrates, calls it even either way in certain circumstances.

[Note 3: One way to say this is that we are sons of God through the only begotten Son (John 1:13-17). Our nous, which is distinct from the ego or “I,” is also distinct from both the Messiah and the Father, though we might alike be vessels of the Spirit, especially if we ask to serve God. We are sons through the Only begotten son, and not the reverse. There are many of us, and only one of the Christ. But sighting Isaiah, he says, “Is it not written, “I said you are gods, sons of the Most High.”

Otherwise, as in ancient Greece, the many gods might disagree about what is dear to them- having by nature different circumstances and interests.


. Brann, Eva. The Offense of Socrates: A Re-reading of Plato’s Apology. Annapolis: St. John’s College, .

Benardete, Seth. Sun, Line and Cave.

. Burnet, John. Plato: Euthyphro, Apology of Socrates, Crito.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979.

Durant, Will and Ariel. The Life of Greece. Volume 2 of the Story of Civilization.

. Strauss, Leo. “Plato’s Apology of Socrates and Crito.” in Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy. Ed by Thomas Pangle, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1983.

_________. On the Euthyphro. in Thomas L. Pangle ed. The Rebirth of Classical Political Rationalism: An Introduction to the thought of Leo Strauss.Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989.

__________. Xenophon’s Socrates.

__________.Xenophon’s Socratic Discourse. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1970.

. West, Thomas G. Four Texts on Socrates. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984.

Xenophon. Memorabilia. E.C. Marchant Loeb edition,. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1923.

Draft in progress….

Epilogue: Principles of psychology and psychiatry:

   Can you tell us of the well ordered soul? Well, perhaps “disorder” is “unscientific” as well. Of the adaptive? and yet the “maladaptive?” The function of man and each kind of human? But then the dysfunction? The “normal” is well, is it? Our knowledge of the soul employs assumptions regarding the best condition of the soul without examining these assumptions in any way, just as humans commonly do, but here too, as though we had never had science at all.

   Justice is rare. If justice is or is necessary to the health of the soul, the “normal” cannot be the standard. But what if Justice is the health of the soul? Can we eliminate the possibility that this is so? But justice has been banished from modern science, and cannot be studied, even in order to check the ethical effects of these drugs in the short and long term. Tyler Black tells us:

 “Please learn from experts. You are resisting learning information from an expert here, and its hurting your line of thinking.”

   We were discussing whether antidepressants might correlate with increased violence and the epidemic of public shootings in the US. The suggestion that we look and see was called “unscientific hypothesis.” I was presented with a graph purporting to show that in most nations, antidepressant use had gone up, and violence gone down recently. I had mentioned that I had predicted the rise in knife attacks in the UK following the marketing blitz of the Oxford study. Then a cohort said that suicides had gone up in the UK over 10% in the past year. This expert calls himself a “suicidologist,” MD.

“We’re experts in science”-

   I don’t believe we actually got him to say that! 

   So in diagnosing and prescribing drugs to treat various disorders, does our psych not depend upon this fundamental lie to oneself, the supposition about the “brains” or neurons” being the proper terms of the scientia of man? Nor do we deny- as they think to be the only alternative- that there is something going on in the neurons when the psyche is alive.

   Our Psychiatry does not realize that there is a little problem with the “scientific” foundation of our psychiatry. Man cannot know man that way, first setting blinders to the parameters of what will be considered knowable and cause.

   On Oxy: we have seen our honorable physicians subjected to the profit motive. The same occurs in psychiatry. But to hold profit above the health of patients would seem to be disordered priority And ethics is all about priorities.
And where is the study of ethics in our psychiatric science? They think we can have a scientific psychology that is ethically neutral. This is theoretically false and politically dangerous.
We need to cultivate psychiatry and law, so that psychiatric malpractice has a measure and a check. At present there is no measure of psychiatry. It simply does what it likes without accountability. All malpractice can be blamed on the patient.
They have only “mental health” and illness”, with no standard, so that our psych is arbitrary and subject to profit, etc. We have “illness,” which is especially injustice, and the “normal,” but we also have virtue- the well ordered soul- of which we catch glimpses.
Hence, OUR anti-psychiatry does not doubt there is such a thing as mental illness as might Szasz and Foucault. We doubt whether there is “mental health,” but easily demonstrate that no one even claims to have scientific knowledge of the health of the soul- except maybe Maslow!
Socratic philosophy questions psychiatry- and quickly demonstrates that we do not have knowledge of “mental health” and “illness.” The standard of the “normal” was set by Freud. A philosophic laziness, if not an intention doctrinal obscurantism, lies behind the reluctance to examine this standard. It is an appeal to common sense, similar to the “community standards” norm of the Supreme court in detertmining pornography. Far from scientific, it is easily refuted: If justice is a part of the health of the soul And justice is rare The normal is not “mental health.”

   Strauss, in Natural Right and History, writes: “However indifferent to moral distinctions the cosmic order may be thought to be, human nature, as distinguished from nature in general, may very well be the basis of such distinctions.” That there is no good or evil for atoms does not justify the inference that there is nothing by nature good or bad for any compounds of atoms.” p. 94). Nor, that for living, moving, thinking and choosing compounds, the choice between good and evil, justice or injustice, is the most decisive matter for the health of the soul by nature.

   Rather, we say that words are the proper terms, common sense the place to begin, and that the soul contains within itself- somehow- the knowledge of man. We say too that it takes a lifetime, not an 8 year MD + 2 years of neurons and psychopharmacology, to understand the logy of the psyche.

   The iatreia or healing that IS the goal of psychiatry is benefited decisively by theoretical knowledge of the nature and health of the soul and mind, or the psyche, despite it being knowledge that we do not possess.

   The truth is that the part of “self knowledge” which concerns the study of the soul begins with what Jung calls the confrontation with the “shadow,” the repressed aspects of oneself in the personal unconscious, beneath the persona, in light of both the natural conscience and conventional morality, or what Socrates calls vulgar virtue. Hence, it is a penance and a moderation, and begins with the negative Socratic education. What is integrated is not the shadow per se, as this is always with us, but the function that enables us to recognize and deal with it. Jung seems to take up the quest from Freud at this point, as the study of Freud uncovered genuine effects of, and contents of, the personal unconscious. Socrates address these as the discussion of the regimes and corresponding souls in the Republic descends toward tyranny (Book VIII). Without this, the “psychiatrist,” as all other humans, might be so encumbered by his own shadow as to do as much harm as good. The collective aspects, and the knowledge of the soul that is within, is deeper, and concerns things higher. What Jung calls “Anima” and the work of its integration is the mediator to this. Sometimes, in Jung, the “archetypes” are functions that are universal, or, like love pertain to all men, and sometimes they are contents such as the “knowledges,” or the knowledge within- the knowledge of man that can be recollected, though not possessed. These “archetypes” are of course hypothesized as the source of the symbols, distinct from every manifestation, including the same model that pertains to big and little in the study of poetry early in the Republic. It is perhaps our innovation to say that the knowledge in the soul is the source also of the intelligibility of the symbols it produces that are of collective significance. Whether or not one thinks his terms sufficient, no thinker of the Twentieth Century other than Jung seems to approach the true study of psychology.

   The passage from Plato’s Laws, concluding Book I (650 b), has the Athenian stranger say to Kleinias:

This then- the knowledge of the natures and the habits of souls- is one of the things that is of the greatest use for the art whose business it is to care for souls. And we assert (I think) that that art is politics. Or what?

We of course answer the “or what?” by saying that the knowledge of the natures and habits of souls is called “psychology,” and the art of caring for souls is called psychiatry. For Plato the study of the soul is a part of politics, which Aristotle identifies as the “comprehensive science of human affairs” Politics, I, ). Some interesting assumptions are involved in this difference, but we first note that there is a difference. As said above, the soul includes the mind and body, but not the body as treated in medicine, but rather as giving the lower or natural end to the soul. We of course say that there are also natural ends of the mind, and that these two, mind and body, are at least equal in giving man the ends we pursue by nature. But most especially, as is evident in The Republic, the soul is first visible through the study of the regimes, using these as a geometer uses the triangles and squares drawn, and as symbols occur in poetry and elsewhere.

   There is in the Tenth book of Plato’s Laws an attempt to answer the atheism of the first philosophers and a definition of the soul as “first” among the beings. that which is self moving. (892a-897). Much is of course made of the argument of the first mover, both ontologically and genetically, but we have always thought it a bit strange that it is based, after all, on the self motion we share with animals, or the self motion of the animate body as distinct from the living plant body. One wonders if there is any “motion” unique to the specifically human soul. An interesting double analogical reflection reveals with assurance the height of the mystery: As geometry reveals an eternal intelligibility in bodies of every kind, so, we say, life too and living bodies have a intelligible source of life. Animals too would have a source of self motion, and ethical or rational beings a source of the person-hood or “consciousness,” as we call it, it the introspective “I” and the many things this proves to mean. Animals are not ethical and do not choose their “ways,” as do the creatures of the latter part of the sixth day. But as we have said, justice may be for us as the health of the body is to the animal, necessary to the true health of the human soul. What is in or through man, called the image of God and the source of the law- the very reason that murder is wrong- may well indicate the existence of the divine as surely as the geometry of bodies demonstrates the eternal ground- however we would conceive of how this IS- for it too obviously does not require space to exist, and yet is true of all space and objects in space. Genesis itself, though, clearly distinguished the kinds of being, leaving nothing at all out, while science does not even trouble over their inability to explain the difference between living and non-living matter. That we cannot conceive of the ways in which the ground of life, motion and intelligence might be, it is clear that these come to be because they are possible, just as what is true about geometry indicates that there is some third that is the reason that objects can come to be. That this to be called “alive” or “intelligent” is no more a paradoxical way of speaking than to call the ground that causes geometry to be possible itself geometrical. Similarly, and by the multiplication of the different dimensions, it is strange to imagine this ground of choosing living beings as being itself a particular living being, but nor would it make sense to much limit this ground of intelligence, since we cannot explain the cause even of life and self motion. Nor can we be sure there is not yet higher being possible than man, even as man is more than motion, and motion more than life, and life more than mere body. Music itself indicates some astonishing connection between the rationality in physics and animal life, even as lyric poetry shows a connection between music and the intelligible things about the human soul. It is trans-geometrical, and so the cause of geometry, and similarly the cause of life, self motion and the image of God in man.

   This kind of cause becomes evident in the relation of the architects to the craftsman in a building project, as well as in the natural relations of the human family, where those foresighted govern for the benefit of all. The same occurs in the seven kinds of human polities, and the human soul is of course a panorama of facets- as we say in personality theory- involving its response and relation to all these filial and political circumstances, where the priorities that are by nature and pertain to each character appear in each circumstance. So there is too an intelligibility of human nature that indicates that a scientific psychology is possible, if it does proceed by words and cultivation, unfolding with the knowledge within. That such knowledge is within man itself indicates, to say the least, the wonder of its source.

   The account of cause in Plato’s Phaedo is of course most pertinent to both the Apology and the philosophy of psychology. Socrates explains to Cebes and Simmias how as a young man he was “wondrously desirous of that wisdom they call inquiry into nature…to know the causes of each thing, why each thing comes to be and why it perishes and why it is…”

…and is the blood that by which we’re thoughtful? Or is it air or fire? Or is it none of these, and is it the brain that produces the senses of hearing and seeing and smelling, and would memory and opinion arise out of these, and in this a way out of memory and opinion brought to a state rest arises knowledge…

                                                               (Phaedo, 96 a-b)

This is the sort of cause assumed by pre-Socratic thought, and is of course familiar as that assumed at the root of our psychology, and to which we attribute the contemporary crisis. The assumption- held with all the dogma of belief and first principles- has been that only this sort of cause is to be considered, and hence physical means, such as drugs and electricity- are not only admissible but are the primary means to be used in attempting to remedy the already suffering souls. Socrates, though, found he was not apt at this sort of study, but became as blinded by the inquiry. He compares it to one who would explain the cause that he is sitting there in prison…”

…because my body is composed of bones and sinews…its through this cause that I’m sitting here with my legs bent…and not taking care to assign the true causes- that since the Athenians judged it better to condemn me, so I for my part have judged it better to sit here, and more just to stay put and endure whatever penalty they order, Since- By the Dog- these muscles and bones of mine would, I think long ago have been in Megara or Boeotia, swept off by an opinion of what is best, if I didn’t think it more just and more beautiful, rather than fleeing and playing the runaway, to endure whatever penalty the city should order. But to call such things causes is too absurd.

                                                                               (Phaedo, 98 d-99a)

   Since we have been attempting to outline the study of psychology, and indeed to demonstrate with insurmountable assurance that this study both exists as a science and is beyond the usual human capacity and beyond to what might be transmitted in an eight year study of medicine and two years of neuro-pharmacology. There is an argument we say is in Plato’s Republic that outlines something very similar to the study of the soul as it advanced from Freud into Jung, where Jung became entranced with the symbolism of alchemy: We hold that what was found by the psychology of the unconscious was for the most part known to Plato, if in different terms.

   In Plato’s allegory of the cave, the prisoners had been chained to viewing shadows of  artifacts projected on the wall by a fire, before which poets and legislators held models of man and other things. Outside the cave once the one who ascends adjusts to the superior light,…

   …At first he’d most easily make out the shadows and after that the phantoms of the human beings and the other things in water, and later the things themselves. And from there he could turn to beholding the things in heaven and heaven itself, more easily at night- looking at the stars and the moon- than by day- looking at the sun and sunlight.”

                                                                Republic, 516 a-b)

   We hold that these things, the shadows and phantoms, and the “things themselves” are how the human things- the symbols and legislated characters- appear upon ascent, as images in water, and that the image of God in man appears as the cause of the laws- in either Athens (Republic 501b) or Jerusalem (Genesis 9:6). The good itself is the pattern in the fullest description (540b). This- that the human things seen in a better light- are especially the study of this segment of the cave and allegorical line- becomes clear again when the matter is restated:

…turning around from the shadows to the phantoms and the light, the way up from the cave to the sun; and, once there, the persisting inability to look at the animals and the plants and the sun’s light, and looking instead at the divine appearances in water and at the shadows of the things that are, rather than as before at shadows of phantoms cast by a light that, when judged in comparison with the sun, also has the quality of a shadow of a phantom.- all this activity of the arts, which we went through, has the power to release and leads what is best in the soul up to the contemplation of what is best in the things that are…

                                                                                 Republic, 532 b-c

  One common reading of the Allegory understands the turn from the gods to nature for the account of the causes of things as being synonymous with ascent from the cave, as from the darkness of myth into the light of natural science. Like Freud, these first tend to see man in terms the animal appetite with a thin veneer of civilization. We suggest that this view is rather comparable to release inside the cave without ascent, and that the golden thread is virtue, or the soul rather than the prosperity of the bodily nature. Seth Benardete, in his “Sun, Line and Cave,” famously notes that there is not even a place for the specifically human things, and hence the Socratic turn, in the literal divided line. We say there is an allegorical line, and the reading of the Republic itself in the ascending terms of image and object is possible in the constant reference back and forth between the text, the line and the cave.

   The materialistic first principle of modern psychology cannot be remedied, or even considered, from within modern psychology. And so we have begun to do the philosophy of psychology, an outgrowth of the history of the science. We look for a new kind of student to enter the field of theoretical psychology, even just the sort, or especially one sort, that has been excluded. For psychology must boldly abandon certainty and exclusive use of the model of the physical sciences, and turn with Socrates to ask What is” of all the human things. A psychology and psychiatry of this sort might be both scientific in the sense of pertaining to all men, and yet would not so easily dispense with the works of the ancient wise on man collected over past two or three millennia. And we look to a psychiatry moderated by the knowledge of our common human ignorance regarding even the human things: one third of us, apparently, do not know the priority or value of justice. For such a psychiatry, drugs will indeed be a last rather than a first resort.

  Homer, Iliad, I. 193-218 presents a good example of the psychic reality of the gods, and one must wonder how the experience of such things would be for men such as Achilles.       The anger of Achilleus is checked by wisdom herself, when”within his shaggy breast the heart was divided two ways…”Homer writes:

Now as he weighed in mind and spirit these two courses, and was drawing from his scabbard the great sword, Athene descended from the sky. For Hera, the goddess of the white arms, sent her…

…Achilleus in amazement turned about, and straightway knew Pallas Athena

And the terrible eyes shining…

…I have come down to stay your anger, but will you obey me?…though indeed with words you may abuse him…

There are collective human psychic causes such as love and wisdom which come from higher than the individual and would make obvious the effective reality of divinities- or, at least, of the divine, so that the ancient Greeks would speak of something not remote but as obvious and imminent as what we speak of as emotions, assuming psychic causes. Socrates, in the Republic (431a-c, where intelligence is added to calculation) uses the conflict within the soul or “heart” to distinguish parts, such as, in Homer, the phrene or head from the spirit or “heart” in a second sense. One might follow out these words in Homer, but we do not expect to to see nous and gnosis as in the Socratic philosophers. Socrates is responsible for the distinction between tyranny and kingship, and he and Aristotle for 6 rather than 3 regimes, not distinguished in the tragedians or pre-Socratics. The study of city and soul in the Republic reveals the connection between psychology and politics, lost to our modern study, but new in Plato and the Socratic philosophers (Republic III, 402b-d).