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.

Letter on the Epidemic of Shootings in the US

Dear Representative Dingell:

Please consider the possibility that psychiatric drugs, specifically antidepressants are CAUSING the epidemic of mass shootings in our nation.

HIPAA laws prevent the gathering and therefore study of this possibility, so that if it were so we would not know. Factors similar to the Oxy-heroin scam may be occurring. A known side effect on some persons is listed on the bottles- “suicidal ideation.” Might these not also make certain bad persons randomly murderous? The instances where the victims are not known to the shooter are especially interesting. What if 90% “involved” antidepressants? Most are under the care of our “Mental health” systems, which have obviously failed in these instances.

Mass psychiatric drugging is what we are doing that is different from all other armed nations and times, in which these shootings did not occur. While I also strongly advocate any gun control measures possible- if 18% of our people need psychiatric drugs, we may want to rethink that second Amendment!- it becomes gradually clearer that our psychiatry simply does not have the knowledge that would be required to treat the soul with drugs. An example is the recent deposing of the assumption that depression is a chemical imbalance. As a lifelong student of psychology, we submit the opinion that our psychiatry is in a word profitable, but unscientific ineffective and often decisively harmful- though necessary. Nor has it been answerable to any higher judge or authority, allowing great opportunity for pharmacy companies to harvest tax dollars while doing more harm than good.

Thank You,

Your new constituent,

Mark A. McDonald, PhD (Politics)

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.

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).

Selection on “Christian” Rock, from “Rock Commentaries” IX

   In honor of Creed, we will include a list of ten Christian Rock songs, or songs that could be played toward the purpose by a christian rock band. These are songs that could make up a great Christian Rock concert, enriching a small and struggling genre. Why this should be is a good question, if one considers that there is fine Christian bluegrass music out of the middle of America. There is Christian classical, but not Christian Big Band or square dancing music. Some modes do not fit. The purpose of music itself is to glorify the Creator, as Henry Schaeffer says. There is some question here, though, of whether the rock beat is not itself corrupt and irredeemable. But if Christianity is also a soaring of the intellect, and enlists the greatest passions, one would think the rock mode might be especially suited, if one could find the right way, and this we think was done by Scot Stipe of Creed and in Jesus Christ Superstar to some extent. The acoustic or folk ballad type of explicitly Christian music is somehow easier to come by, and there are some among my simply best of all songs list below. But there will be no longer any excuse that there should not be very successful Christian Rock concerts. The first three penitent songs, and not explicitly Christian, though they demonstrate the recognition of wrong in a Biblical context. Locomotive breath, studied above with Aqualung, is included because the fellow caught as if on a tragic train ride ends by picking up Gideon’s Bible, though I am not sure I have understood the meaning aright. God stole the handle, or seems to the fellow to have taken away the means of stopping the tragic train.

15. In the Light Led Zeppelin

14. In My Time of Dyin’ Zeppelin

13. Take Me to the River, Talking Heads

12. Locomotive Breath Jethro Tull

11. House of the Rising Sun Eric Burden

10. Stealin Uriah Heep

9. Jesus Children Steevie Wonder

8. Aqualung side two (above)

7. All along the Watchtower (above)

6. Presence of the Lord Blind Faith (

5. Easy Livin Uriah Heep

This is a thing I’v never known before, its called easy livin’

This is place I’v never seen before, and I’v been forgiven

Easy Livin, and I’v been forgiven, since You’ve

Taken your place in my heart.

Somewhere along the lonely road, I had tried to find you

Day after day on that winding road I had walked behind you

  1. Love One Another Jesse Colin Young
  1. Love reign O’er Me The Who Quadrophenia
  1. Pride (In the Name of Love) U2

Xenophon on the Turn from Presocratic Philosophy: Memorabilia I. 11- 16

 Blog Preface

  At the root of our theoretical attempt to reset the foundation of psychology is the suggestion that we simply follow Socrates in making the turn from pre-Socratic to Socratic philosophy. Our effort is to redirect psychiatry within a new comprehensive context- as distinct from dismissing what has been learned in the attempt to imitate the physical sciences. We assume a narrative: That modernity involved the attempt to turn to nature for an account of the fundamental causes of things, amounting to a Renaissance repetition of the ancient Greek discovery of nature. But the methods and models fail when addressing the human things, demonstrating a fundamental limitation of our science. Regarding man, simply put, our psyche-ology, does not attain knowledge. It addresses accidents and symptoms, while making itself a servant to the baser ends that usually govern mankind. What we say is that the science of the soul is no such slave. The obvious suggestion- if there has been a Renaissance repetition of the ancient Greek discovery of nature- is that we also follow ancient Greece in the emergence of Socratic from pre-Socratic philosophy. The following account of Xenophon allows one the best access to a direct account of the principle shown in the Socratic turn at the root of a psychology that may do more good than harm.

The full original is in the Menu above, accessible by hovering over “Philosophy.”

III. The Second Part of the Answer of Xenophon                        (original, pp. 15-23)

a) On I, i .10 The Impiety of the Other Philosophers in Conversation

b) On I, i .11-15  The Objections of Socrates to the Conversation of the Other                                                 Philosophers

c) On I, i .16 Socratic Conversation

1) The turn of Socrates to the Human Things

2) That Socrates Continued to study the Nature of All Things

3) The “What Is” Questions

4) Conclusion on Socratic Sophia and Phronesis

[From p. 15…

   …In attempting to show that Socrates was rather worthy of great honor from the city, Xenophon distinguishes Socrates from those who study the nature of all things, now called Pre-Socratic. In the second of three sections of the answer of Xenophon to the impiety charge in the indictment, he turns from the lack of impiety in the deeds to the lack of impiety in the speeches of Socrates. The account of the speeches aims to show that the jury “erred in judging what it is not manifest how they knew (I,i, 17).” At least part of the error of the citizens is to suppose that Socrates is the same as others, those who talk about nature. Like the answer of Socrates to the old accusers in Plato’s Apology (18 a-24b), the account of Xenophon here serves to distinguish Socrates from the atheistic tendency  of the natural philosophers. This has been prepared by the discussion of Socrates’ daimon, which surely distinguishes him from the atheistic natural philosophers. It will be our aim here to follow out the theoretical section* of the account of this difference.

   Xenophon begins by saying that Socrates was always in the open, in the gymnasium or marketplace, speaking much to all who would hear, but never was he known to be impious in deeds seen or words heard:

…For he never spoke considering about the nature of all things in the manner of most of the others, as the sophists call the nature of the cosmos and the necessities by which each of the heavenly things comes to be.

                                                                                 (Memorabilia I,i,10)

Those who talk openly about the nature of all things are impious because the discovery of nature at the beginning of philosophy undermines the conventional beliefs in the mythic opinions of the first and most fundamental things, the origin or man and the way of the cosmos. Natural philosophy gives an account of the “necessities by which each thing comes to be” without reference to the gods, in terms of elements and motion. Jaffa gives a good example in his study of Lear: the belief that Zeus will punish human injustice by throwing lightening bolts is undermined by the account of the cause of lightening in terms of electricity. So is the belief that the care of the gods for men ensures that there is no disproportion between one’s just deserts and one’s fortunes (Mem. IV, iii,14; Hesiod, Works and Days, 238-285; Aristophanes, Clouds, 395-97). Men’s sight of the heavens and the earth is purged of the imagination. In the turn from the opinion of the city to natural philosophy, it is found that the gods have fled.

   In Plato’s Apology, Meletus asserts that Socrates believes the sun to be not a god, but a stone (26d). Socrates responds that Meletus has mistaken him for Anaxagoras. The atheism of the pre-Socratic thinkers is much like that of modern scientific “empiricism.” This seems to have emerged through a Renaissance repetition of the ancient Greek discovery of nature. It is the emergence of philosophy as such, rather than Socratic philosophy in particular, that undermines custom and is fundamentally at odds with pious belief. Yet, Socratic philosophy is a kind of philosophy.

   Upon the discovery of nature, it appears that justice or right is not natural, but exists only by human convention and agreement. Justice seems to be without trans-political support in the more general cosmos. Hence, Plato’s Republic. In his description of the discovery of nature at the origin of philosophy, Leo Strauss states:

   It is not surprising that philosophers should first have inclined toward conventionalism. Right presents itself, to begin with, as identical with law or custom or as a character of it.; and custom or convention comes to sight, with the emergence of philosophy, as that which hides nature.

                                                                           Natural Right and History, p. 93)

   According to Xenophon, Socrates, for three reasons, held that even to give thought to such things as the nature of all things, is madness. These reasons are two practical considerations surrounding a central theoretical objection. First, Socrates considered whether such thinkers came to give thought to such things upon believing themselves to see the human things sufficiently, or whether they were “roused from the human things to consider the divine things (ta daimonia) as leading them to what is fitting to do.”

   The question of what is fitting to do is more urgent for men than the question of the nature of all things. Do these thinkers then know this- what is fitting to do- sufficiently from the human things, or do they turn to the divine things in order to learn this? Natural philosophy is criticized for being useless, and for not seeking a good that is human (as is theoretical wisdom, Aristotle, Ethics, vi, 1141b 2-8). The natural philosophers  disregard the human things, which lead to a knowledge of what is fitting to do, knowledge of right action. It is possible that the natural things are called divine in accordance with the beliefs of the city. But again, one wonders if there is not some kind of contemplation of the nature of things that is not useless but leads to what is fitting to do.

   Secondly, Socrates wondered that “it was not manifest to them that human beings were not empowered to discover these things.” (I,i, 13). The evidence of this limitation of humans is that even the “greatest thinking” [Note 11] or hubristic, of these talkers did not agree with one another, but took extreme opposite positions on questions of the nature of all things. In this, they behaved madmen. For as madmen exhibit extremes regarding fear, shame and worship (some even worshiping wood (hule), so these talkers exhibit extreme opinions. Worrying about the nature of all things caused…

…some to believe being to be one, others, infinitely many, and some (to believe) all always to move, others never to move and some (to believe) that all comes to be and passes away, others that nothing ever comes to be and passes away.

                                                                                              I,i, 14

   The extremes of the madman regarding piety are analogous to the extremes in thought of those who give thought to the nature of all things. Aspects of the regard of humans toward the gods are thus set in analogy with thought, corresponding to the distinction between characters of the passions and reason. This pattern of the presentation of the central objection of Socrates points to the question of whether or not the mean regarding piety is likewise analogous to the mean in thought regarding the first principles.

   The third objection of Socrates is, like the first, a practical objection. Socrates considered whether as those learning about the human things hope they are led by what they learn to do what they choose for themselves and others, those who pry into the divine things (ta thea) think that when they know the necessities by which each comes to be, that they will make wind (Aristophanes, Clouds, 385-395; Hippocrates, lost fragment), water seasons and other things when they need these things? Or are they satisfied only to know how each of these things comes to be (I,i, 15)? Do the natural scientists seek to apply their knowledge of the causes to produce the effects of these causes according to need, mastering fortune and the elements as one obeyed by wind and sea? Or are they satisfied with knowledge for its own sake? Is the contemplation of these material and efficient causes, the theoretical wisdom of an Anaxagoras or Thales (Aristotle, Ethics, VI, 7, 1141 b 4-5), the same as that self-sufficient and thus satisfying activity which is the health of the best part of reason (Ibid., 1141 a 4)?

   Socrates own conversation was rather of the human things (I, i, 16). Through this kind of conversation one hopes to learn both what is fitting to do (.12) and to be able to do what one chooses for oneself and others (.15). “Xenophon in the Memorabilia (I,i, 16) links this knowledge to being kaloi te k’agathoi,” noble (beautiful) and good. Xenophon presents the difference of Socrates as that of one who is concerned with an entirely different subject matter than that of the natural philosophers. Xenophon is silent, though, regarding the commonality of Socrates with the other natural philosophers as philosophers. It will be helpful to follow the account of Leo Strauss in attempting to follow the account of Xenophon of the revolution or “turn” by which Socrates was different and yet similar, or the same in part, to those who converse about the nature of all things.

   By the turning from the divine or natural things to the human things, Socrates is said to have been the founder of political philosophy (Leo Strauss, NRH, p. 120, HPP, p. 4). [Note 12] Socrates is said to have been the first who called philosophy down from heaven and forced it to make inquiries about life and manners and good and bad things” NRH, p. 120). According to the most ancient reports, Socrates, after this turning, “directed his inquiry entirely into the human things” (HPP, p. 4). It seems that Socrates was induced to turn away from the study of the divine or natural things by his piety (HPP, p. 4). The account of Xenophon here (I,i,10-16) of the founding of political philosophy appears to agree with these ancient reports in ascribing the complete rejection of natural philosophy to the origin of Socratic or political philosophy.

   But Strauss emphasizes that Socrates continued the study of the nature of all things, even if he did not do this openly. While Socrates was always in the open, Socratic natural philosophy may yet be hidden, even in or through this open conversation. It is not itself open or apparent to all. Strauss reveals an excellent example of this character of Socratic conversation when, in interpreting the central objection of Socrates to the natural philosophers, he finds a piece of Socratic cosmology. Strauss writes that the list of the opinions of the natural philosophers would seem to imply…

That according to the sane Socrates, the beings are numerable or surveyable; those beings are unchangeable while the other things change, and those beings do not come into being or perish, while the other things come into being and perish.

                                                                Xenophon’s Socrates, p. 7

The Socratic cosmology is presented as the silent mean between immoderate extremes, analogous to the mean regarding fear, shame and worship neglected by the madman. Strauss states that “Socrates seems to have regarded the change which he brought about as a return to sobriety and moderation from the madness of his predecessors (NRH, p. 123). “Socrates did worry about the nature of all things, and to that extent, he too was mad; but his madness was at the same time sobriety: he did not separate wisdom (sophia) from moderation” (Xenophon’s Socrates, p. 7; Memorabilia III. 94). The cause of the turn of Socrates to the human things may have been his pursuit of wisdom rather than his piety.

   In describing Socratic conversation, Xenophon presents a list of questions which Socrates would consider. Xenophon, famously, writes:

   His own conversation was always considering the things of humans, what is pious and what impious, what is noble and what is base, what is just and what unjust, what is moderation and what madness, what is courage and what cowardice, what is a city and what a statesman, what is the rule of humans and what is a ruler of humans and what is a ruler of humans, and others, of which knowing would lead one to be noble and good, but ignorance (of which) is justly called slavery.

                                                                                 (Memorabilia, I,i, 16

   The “What is” question points toward the form or idea (eidos) of a thing and identifies this with its nature. Contrary to both custom and pre-Socratic natural philosophy, the nature of a thing is shown not in that out of which a thing has come into being (Memorabilia I,i, 12) but by the end which determines the process of its coming to be (NRH p. 123). Particular examples at their completion are those which most fully show the nature or class character of a thing. Because the kinds or classes are parts of a whole, the whole has a natural articulation, the natural logos. [Note 13] An example of a point of this natural articulation is the fundamental twofold division between the “beings” and the “things” in the conjecture of Strauss of the silent Socratic cosmology presented above. In Book VI of Plato’s Republic, there are two kings, one the king of the intelligible and another king of the visible.

   Through the human things, Socrates discovered a new kind of natural philosophy and a new kind of being. It is due fundamentally to this difference in object that Socratic philosophy differs from pre-Socratic philosophy, and from our natural history and science. Strauss states:

Socrates, it seems, took the primary meaning of the word “nature” more seriously than did his predecessors; he realized that “nature” is primarily form or “idea.” If this is true, he did not simply turn away from the study of natural things, but originated a new kind of the study in which, for example the nature of the human soul or man is more important than, for example, the nature of the sun (HPP, p. 5). Contrary to appearances , Socrates’ turn to the study of the human things was based, not upon disregard of the divine or natural things, but upon a new approach to the study of all things.

                                                                             (NRH, p. 122)

[In Plato’s Apology, Socrates distinguishes between divine wisdom, which belongs not to men but to “the God,” and his own human wisdom, which consists in part in knowing he does not have divine wisdom. There too, though, he claims not to know how to cultivate the human as well. It is strange that we should know the human without knowing the divine, but this is true in one sense, that the human is accessible, or, “first for us”.]

   Socratic philosophy presupposes and emerges out of pre-Socratic natural philosophy. Before turning to the human things, Socrates himself studied natural philosophy (Phaedo 99) Socratic philosophy emerges when the appeal from custom to nature regarding the causes is transferred from the direct inquiries of the natural philosopher into the divine or natural things, to be combined with the political concerns of man with right or justice. Socratic philosophy appeals from customary beliefs to nature in asking the “What is” questions, which are parts of the question of the nature of man and how men should live. [Note 14] The asking of the what is questions implies the attempt to ascend from opinion to knowledge regarding the nature of man. By asking what is the best life for man, Socrates discovered natural; right, and in this founded political philosophy. Strauss writes that ” the distinction between nature and convention which marks the emergence of natural philosophy retains its full significance for Socrates and for classical natural right in general” NRH, p. 121).

   From the inhuman madness of natural philosophy, not unlike the attempt to know “Being” directly in metaphysics since Aristotle, Socrates returns to begin from the things that are first for us” NRH, p. 123-4), from opinion, (NRH, p. 124), from [page 22] the visible looks eidos), or from common sense (NRH, p. 123). Socratic philosophy begins from custom or from the beliefs of the city (Mem. IIV, iv, 30-31; Aristotle, Ethics, 1096 b1-12), regarding the way of the cosmos and the things good and bad for man. This teaching of custom is embodied in “visible” poetic images for apprehension by the human imagination. Conversation regarding the most important things ascends from opinion because opinion proves to point toward knowledge and truth as an artifact points toward its original. Strauss states:

   The opinions prove to be solicited by the self subsisting truth, and the ascent to the truth proves to be guided by the self subsistent truth which all men always divine.                                                                                        (NRH, 124).

   But upon returning to the human things, Socrates does not hold conventional beliefs conventionally, as axioms taken as known from which to reason downward toward a conclusion. For example, he does not begin as do his accusers by assuming that they know what piety is and what Socrates thought, and conclude from this that Socrates is guilty of impiety for not believing in the gods of the city. Believing in the gods in which the city believes may not be the whole of piety. Socratic philosophy rather turns the opinions into “steppingstones and springboards to reach what is free of hypothesis at the beginning of the whole” (Republic 511 b5). Trust in the visible things is transformed into dialectical insight. [Note 15] Socrates cannot believe the conventional opinions as these are conventionally held any more than one could believe the shadows of visible artifacts to be real things (Ibid, 514 b5).

   Strauss writes: We have learned from Socrates that the political things are the key to the understanding of all things” (Thoughts on Machiavelli, p. 19. Also, Xenophon’s Socrates, p. 8). Socratic philosophy replaces the activity of the poet of making myths with the construction in speech of the best regime. On the principle that the political things are the key to the understanding of all things, the most thorough account of the good life and of the highest beings is presented by Socrates not in a dialogue on questions of metaphysics or epistemology, but rather, as in Plato’s Republic, in a dialogue on the regime (politea) which asks the question “What is justice,” and is answered by the theme of the best regime. The just and unjust are the central pair above which the good form has a what and an opposite. The Socratic cosmology is seen reflected in the nature of the soul, which is in turn reflected in the political things, and especially the articulation of the best regime. (501 b1-7; also 506 e1-507 a3, 490 b4-5; 484 c2-d6,540 a8-b1; 368c6-369 a1).


 Socrates held that seeing the things of which the what is question is asked would lead one to be “noble and good (I,i .16). Socratic phronesis and sophia are joined in this activity. In the Socratic work of unfolding and going through the treasures which the ancient wise men have left written in books, Socrates seemed to Xenophon to lead those hearing into the noble and good (I, vi .14). Socrates is one who by his thought is the cause or source of eupraxa, well-doing or right action (Aristotle Politics VII.iii; Memorabilia I, iv .15). By Socrates’ contemplation, he is enriched with virtue (IV, ii. 9), which is wisdom (III, ix, 5), and thus blessed. By the activity of his well ordered soul among his companions (Strauss, XS, p. 116-117), they are led into the virtues, or into the noble and good (NRH p. 128, Aristotle, Ethics, 1144b12, 1145 a1-2).

   Because Socrates goes beyond the beliefs of the city regarding the highest beings, we find again that he is in a way guilty as charged, and that Xenophon hides his account by hiding the wisdom of Socrates. Xenophon hides the wisdom of Socrates because the city cannot judge correctly regarding the whole of wisdom from the appearances which can be made visible to all. The citizens cannot see the difference between Socrates and the natural philosophers which makes his similarity with them an aspect of his virtue. Socrates brings conventional piety to its completion in his contemplation of the beings, his moderate cosmology, just as Socratic foresight is the fulfillment of conventional divination. The attempt to reconcile the city to philosophy is limited to opinion. The philosopher can be reconciled to this limitation. After the ascent from opinion or law to nature, “It appears more clearly than ever before that opinion, or law, contains truth…” (Strauss, HPP, p. 4) It is possible for Xenophon to veil his account of the philosophic activity of Socrates in an account given in terms of opinion because of the analogous relation of opinion to knowledge, or because the many opinions point toward the philosophic life.

Postscript on Modern Psychology

   “What is sanity and what madness” is one of the Socratic questions, showing the place of psychology within Socratic political philosophy. Psychology as a separate science was just emerging, as in the direct essay of Aristotle of the title Psyche, a study of dreams, and of course his Ethics, his “structure and dynamics” of the soul. He follows the fundamental division of the two parts of the soul, distinguishing “ethical” from intellectual virtue so well that it must be argued that the Good is still king of the intelligible, and that there is par excellence good and evil regarding intellectual virtue. The intellectual virtues are the measure of the practical and theoretical faculties disturbed in madness, not so that all the imprudent and unwise might be quickly drugged for the great benefit of the whole, but so that we have any scientific measure at all. The neurons and chemicals cannot provide this. The right functioning of these faculties is not the normal, though the symptoms, say, of what is called “schizophrenia,” or the symbols mis-produced in “psychoses,” cannot be understood without reference to the right functioning, and indeed, we say, the knowledge within. In addition to ethical vice, there is intellectual vice, understood in the collective shadow figures of literature and history. But that Justice is the good of the soul, and either is or is necessary to human happiness, while the unjust soul is in faction with its own true nature and within and with the outside world- this ground is shown most clearly through the best regime beginning from the three part soul, before moving to the two and the transcendent one. The three part city and soul: where three elements appear in a type represented by Monarchy, Aristocracy and Polity, seeking reason, honor and pleasures or compassion- is the basis in thought of the common model or archetype that connects political science and psychology. These arise in each city due to the dominance of the elements of the spirited pursuit of honor and beauty, the wisdom of its assembly, and the baser concerns of the many, as written by Plato at the opening of Book VIII of his Republic.

   Our psychology and psychiatry must now follow the Socratic turn, or the destruction of our civilization is likely. The very science that unleashed these powers has hitherto made it impossible for us to inquire into how these powers might be used well, even telling us that it is impossible to know anything about these matters most important to man, while profiting by the sophistic spread of drugs and first principles hardly better than what is available to the common man. By showing us the Socratic turn to follow the Renaissance repetition of the discovery of nature, Xenophon’s Socrates shows a way to subordinate the new technologies within a genuinely scientific pursuit that is appropriate to the faculties of man, rather than the instruments of science extending the bodily senses.

P. S.: The whole of the paper from which this blog is derived may be typed out from the original printed copy in the Philosophy section, available in the menu above.

Notes [to III, a] pp. 15-

Note 11: Under custom, it is impiety to think big or great thoughts, a hubris the opposite of moderation, punishable by the gods. But Socratic philosophy seems to follow a path that is both great thinking and yet not immoderate toward the gods in the way that the sophists or natural philosophers are, because Socrates did not separate wisdom from moderation (III, ix, 4-6).

Note 12 NRH will be used to refer to Leo Strauss, Natural Right and History, HPP to The History of Political Philosophy.

Note 13: There is a similarity between the Socratic turn toward the eidai and the statement of John 1: 1 that the word (logos) was in the beginning.

*Taken from a 1985 paper for the class of Wayne Ambler on Xenophon, at the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas. The Socratic turn has also been described in “Philosophic Psychology” and the Introduction to Philosophy essays in the menu at the top of the page.

The Dixboro Ghost: Commentary

   Here is a genuine ghost story for the Halloween season. Our Michigan local history of the Dixboro Ghost is told quite well by Carol Willits Freeman in her book Of Dixboro, Lest We Forget, and by Russel Bidlock, in a 1962 paper, “The Dixboro Ghost,” presented to the Washtenaw County Historical Society. This Michigan Pioneer ghost story, too, is especially astonishing in a number of ways that invite our musing and commentary in the harvest season.

   Among the reasons that this appearance or apparition is astonishing is that the man who experienced it testified in the Washtenaw County Court before the Justice of the Peace, in December of 1845, to nine separate apparitions between September 27 and November 6th of that year. In this, the ghost of Martha Crawford-Mulholland apparently revealed three murders- her own, that of her sister, and possibly of a tin peddler who disappeared when passing through Dixboro, his horse and cart left undisturbed. The ghost may also have prevented a fourth murder, that of her son Joseph, who would likely be in danger from her apparent murderer, James Mulholland. The Ghost herself seems changed- pacified- through the appearances. As she- the ghost of Martha- says in her final word,

I wanted to tell a secret, and I thought I had.

    Isaac Van Woert, the one who saw the ghost, was travelling to Ann Arbor when his wagon broke down, and he was forced to turn back to Dixboro. Isaac had come from Livingston New York seeking a life Michigan with his wife and two children. Even then, Ann Arbor was a flourishing town, while Dixboro seemed to develop less, and became a suburb, as if stuck in time. John Dix had founded the town, but was unpopular. Dix had left in 1833 for Texas, just three years after the brothers James and John Mulholland arrived in 1830. Dix and Mulholland together were assessed a 50$ “indictment” by the United States. And the Mulhollands live on the corner of the general store. James had a wife Ann, who had become ill and disturbed when her sister, a young widow from Canada, came to visit with her young son Joseph, then about 5 years old. Unknown to Isaac and his family, Ann, James and most recently Mary had just died in Dixboro, the pall of the funeral week barely passed. Van Woert saw that Mr. Hawkins had a building under construction, and applied for the work. Needing lodging, he was directed to Joseph Crawford, now about 15, whose mother Martha had just died, and whose house was then available. From where it is that Joseph is summoned, and why he is not himself living in his mothers house is important to our story, but it is noted that Joseph later married Jane, the daughter of a Mr. Whitney, who had recently bought property on the north side of Main street or Plymouth road. Joseph later bought and owned this property until 1864. As He is found by Isaac moving a load of stone, and may have been working in lots 7 and 8 on the Whitney house he would later own with his wife.

   The first time the ghost appeared, she did not speak. Three days after arriving, Isaac was before the front window, his wife gone to visit a neighbor, Mrs. Hammond, two “rods distant,” and his sons playing in the back yard, about sunset. Combing his hair in the window, where one might see a reflection, there appeared…

…a woman with a candlestick in her hand in which was a candle burning. She held it in her left hand. She was a middling sized woman, wore a loose gown, had a white cloth around her head, her right hand clasped in her clothes near the waist. She was a little bent forward, her eyes large and much sunken, very pale indeed; her lips projected, and her teeth showed some.

   She moved slowly across the floor until she entered the bedroom and the door closed. I then went up and opened the bedroom door, and all was dark. I stepped forward and lighted a candle with a match, looked forward but saw no one, nor heard any noise, except just before I opened the bedroom door, I thought I heard one of the bureau doors open and shut.

The courage and open mind of Isaac are noteworthy, as well as his rational and responsible proceedings, given human ignorance regarding such matters. It is interesting too that the ghost chose- or Isaac was able- to see and hear her, rather than for example Joseph, who would have been disturbed and not believed. The purpose does seem to be to make the matter public. A few days later, Isaac spoke of what he had seen, and learned then, for the first time that a widow Mulholland had lived there and had recently died. It is likely he spoke to Mrs Hammond, the neighbor, though it may have been to Jackson Hawkins. It does not seem he spoke directly to his landlord, the 15 year old Joseph.

   The second time Isaac sees her, still early in October, she speaks. she says,

‘Don’t touch me- touch me not.’

Isaac steps back and asks her what she wants She says to him:

‘He has got it. He robbed me little by little, until they kilt me! They kilt me! Now he has got it all!’

Isaac asks her then, “Who has it all” She answers:

‘James, James, yes, James has got it at last, but it won’t do him long. Joseph! Oh, Joseph! I wish Joseph would come away.’

   James had petitioned the court to become executor of the estate of Mary by having her declared incompetent. But as Joseph, and not James, is the landlord, this does not seem to have worked- yet. It is possible too that she refers to something else that James does have, such as money or gold, from the joint enterprise with John. It is not said how John dies, but throughout the story, there is no suspicion that he was murdered by James. It is possible that the event of the ghost prevents the plots of James from occurring. Throughout the appearances, it is as though the ghost were trying to protect her son Joseph, and figuring out gradually how this might be done. In the third appearance, she appears in the night in his room, and he does not know what hour it is, so it is as if he were awakened. Here she says:

James can’t hurt me any more. No! he can’t I am out of his reach. Why don’t they get Joseph away? Oh, my boy! Why not come away?”

It is almost as if she is calling Joseph to come where she is, out of the reach of James. And who is it she thinks of when she she asks, why  “they” do not get Joseph away?

The fourth appearance is an apparition that is of a scene past, rather than of the ghost herself, and includes a person then currently living. The testimony of Isaac is as follows:

   The fourth time I saw her about 11 O’clock P.M. I was sitting with my feet on the stove hearth. My family had retired, and I was heating a lunch, when all at once the front door stood open, and I saw the same woman in the door supported in the arms of a man whom I knew. She was stretched back and looked as if she was in the agonies of death. She said nothing, but the man said, “She is dying. She will die.” And all disappeared, and the door closed without a noise.

   As Carol Freeman relates, “The night before she died, she went to a neighbor’s house where she “fell into a fit of delirium” and was carried home by her brother-in-law. He was heard to say, “She is dying. She will die” (Freeman, p. 23). This neighbor is likely Mrs. Hammond, 2 rods distant. If Isaac has heard this from the ghost for the first time, the confirmation is astonishing.

   The fifth appearance is the first in daylight, at least since the ghost appeared in the windowstill in October, “about sunrise.” Isaac testifies, “I came out of my house to go to my work, and I saw the same woman in the front yard. She said:

I wanted Joseph to keep  my papers, but they are ____.

Van Woert explains, “Here, something seemed to stop her utterance. Then she said,

‘Joseph! Joseph! I fear something will befall my boy.’

Van Woert concludes, “And all was gone.” The papers may relate to the interest of the ghost in the bureau drawer, though another possibility for this will soon appear. James may well have stolen the papers from the division of his property with his brother John, which the ghost would intend to be passed on to her son Joseph.

   In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Horatio also sees the ghost, confirming it is not one mind’s delusion. Horatio, a scholar, explains that the ghosts of damned spirits return at sunrise from wandering because they fear “Lest daylight should look their shames upon.” According to Puck and Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, these willfully exile themselves from light, in contrast with the Fairy sort of spirits, who “oft make sport” with the morning’s love.” Some Protestants believed that all ghosts were bad, while others did not believe in them at all, rejecting these with Purgatory. It is not clear what role the Dixboro Methodist church plays in the story. A R. Stoddard is a Methodist minister in Ann Arbor in 1839. But there is not yet a Church and preacher in Dixboro.

   In Hamlet, a ghost too reveals a crime, and there is similarly the difficulty of the protagonist to bring the murderer to Justice when the crime is hidden.

   The sixth appearance is again at night, at midnight, still in October. Again the room became light though no candle was visible, and Isaac sees the same woman standing in the bedroom. Isaac looks at his wife, afraid she will awaken, but the ghost tells him,

‘She will not awake.’

Van Woert testifies: “The ghost seemed to be in great pain; she leaned over and grasped her bowels in one hand and in the other held a phial containing a liquid. I asked her what it was. She replied,

‘Doctor said it was balm of Gilead.’

Then she disappeared. She does not say that it is this balm, but that the doctor said it was such. A balm, though, is not an oil in a vial, but an ointment. “Balm of Gilead” is made in the US from cottonwood trees (and so is similar to turpentine). In the Eastern Hemisphere, it is the original anointing oil, grown in the suburb of Jericho that would be Gilead, and this is a fragrant healing ointment. It is also the name for universal tonics or remedies as were popular at the time and sold by paddlers.

   The last three appearances concern the ghost’s own purgatory. While working at a bench as he did in the evenings, the same woman appeared, saying to him,

 I wanted to tell James something, but I could not. I could not.

Isaac asks her what she wanted to tell James. She answers,

‘Oh, he did an awful thing to me.

Isaac asks her who, and she answers,

‘Oh! he gave me a great deal of trouble in my mind.’ ‘Oh, they kilt me, they kilt me!’

which she repeated several times. Isaac then walks toward her, but she kept the same distance from him, as does a rainbow or mirage. Isaac asks her if she had taken anything that killed her. She answered,

‘Oh, I don’t____. I don’t _____.’

Isaac relates, “The froth in her mouth seemed to stop her utterance,” showing him what she could not tell. Then saying again, “They kilt me,” Isaac asks, “Who killed you,” and she answers: “I will show you.” Isaac then relates:

   Then she went out of the back door near the fence, and I followed her. There I saw two men whom I knew, standing. They looked cast down and dejected. I saw them begin at the feet and melt down like lead melting, until they were entirely melted; then a blue blaze two inches thick burned over the surface of the melted mass. Then all began bubbling up like lime slacking. I turned to see where the woman was, but she was gone. I looked back again, and all was gone and dark.

As copper has a green flame, we might consider whether lead or other metal has such as lead or arsenic happens to have a blue flame. The image of damnation, for murder, is similar to the melting of the Wicked Witch of the West in the movie the Wizard of Oz. The two men known to Isaac are James but not John, nor Joseph, but possibly the peddler selling the balm of Gilead. The only other man in Dixboro we know he knows is Hawkins, on whose building Isaac is employed, though it would seem strange if he already had met the peddler.

   In the eighth appearance, Isaac relates:

   The next time I saw the woman was in the back yard, about Eight O’ clock. P. M. She said, “I want you to tell James to repent. Oh! if he would repent. But he won’t. He can’t. John was a bad man,” and muttered something I could not understand. She then said, “Do you know where Frain’s Lake is? She then asked another question of much importance, and said “Don’t tell of that.”

Van Woert later said that what he was told not to tell pertained to the well at the corner of Mill and Main, near Martha’s house. The well has since been filled in. Frain’s Lake is up the road to the East about a mile or so.

   I asked her if I should inform the public on the two men that she said had killed her. She replied, ‘There will be a time, The time is coming. The time will come. But Oh! Their end! Their end! Their wicked end. She muttered something about Joseph, and all was dark.

   When Martha Mulholland had come to visit her sister Ann in 1835, she begun the courtship with John, and planned to marry him, when Ann, disturbed, told her a terrible secret about John and James that has never been revealed. Martha then attempted to break off the engagement and return to Canada, but according to the story James then threatened that she would never reach Canada alive. Still, it is difficult to explain why she would then remain and marry John, except that she was pregnant. A child Martha had with John had died shortly after his father. One does note that every person standing between James and the property of his brother has died untimely. One wonders about the earthly end of John Mulholland. Martha had been taken to see a doctor Denton at the University of Michigan in 1845, just before she died. She offered to tell the doctor the secret if he would then bleed her to death, as she did not want to live after revealing it. The doctor, though, refused of course, but never did reveal the secret, likely as according to the Hippocratic Oath.

   In the ninth appearance, she is dressed in white, and her hands hang down at her side, as though her doing were done. She “stood very straight,” and “looked very pale.” She said, “I don’t want anybody here, I don’t want anybody here. She then muttered words he could not understand, except occasionally the word “Joseph.” She then said to Isaac, “I wanted to tell a secret, and I thought I had.”

And all was gone and dark.

   The secret may be that James and John killed the peddler, and then killed every person who knew about this: John who told Ann, Ann who told Martha, Martha who told…  But does murder fit the secret which Martha would not want to continue living having disclosed? It is possible that because she told the doctor, and Isaac testified before the Justice of the Peace, the body of Martha was exhumed in January, as the public demanded when the testimony of Isaac became known. It was determined then, famously, that Martha was indeed poisoned, and by a person other than herself, though what the poison was is not said. Notes from this coroner’s inquest would be very interesting with the hindsight of 173 years of the progress of science.

   The well might have been checked for a bottle from poison. The lake, too could now be searched better, and the bodies of both Martha and Ann exhumed, along with that of John. Many records no doubt exist, such as from the lawsuits for slander- none of which were brought against Isaac Van Woert, who speaks quite carefully in his testimony. Isaac continued living in Dixboro for about two years.

   That the Mulholland property was sold at a Sheriff’s sale means that it was not sold when James left Dixboro. He may have disappeared, or even suffered a fate similar to those he made suffer. The alternative explanation for the appearance of the ghost is that it was part of a conspiracy to banish Mulholland “because of his mistreatment of both his wife and his sister in law.” But on the 1874 map of Superior Township, a W. and an S. Mulholland own property just east of Dixboro, so it may be that his wife and some children remained.

   Ellen Hoffman, in an article, “The Dixboro Ghost” in 3 parts [See Appended section], adds some details regarding James and John. The property division was made by John when he was near death and in failing health, and all was not in place when John died. John was two years older than James, though the arrived in Dixboro two years later. James had brought Ann from Canada, though her maiden name, the same as that of Martha-  is yet unknown. The Mulhollands came from County Monaham in Ireland, and later sold 40 acres to Samuel their father. Samuel petitions the court in 1846 to appoint his sons Sam and William executors, but he does not ask that James be so appointed. And these would be those names owning property east of Dixboro on the map of 1874. Hoffman finds the second wife of James as well….

A site called “What Lies Beyond” adds:

However, James didn’t leave the area immediately. In 1838, he had married Emily Loomis and when she died in 1847, the two had four young children, one of whom was only 4-weeks-old. Although there was no evidence to charge him with murder, or any other crime, townsfolk condemned James, then 34, for his greed and blamed him for Martha death. Because he was no longer welcome, he gathered up his family and belongings and departed Dixboro for parts unknown, never to be seen nor heard of again. In 1852, some of his former land holdings were sold at public auction.

In the end, Martha’s son, Joseph Crawford, inherited John Mulholland’s estate and by 1850, he was the only one of the principals with a connection to the Dixboro ghost still living in Superior Township. He was a successful businessman, married in 1855 and later settled in Livingston County.

[Note 1]

   Another reason that the Dixboro apparition is astonishing is the spirit-ology assumed by the ghost and the literary imagery. It is accurate, and includes things of which a carpenter and family man is not likely to think, while excluding anything false that would indicate it was the work of human contrivance. The wish of the ghost that James could repent means that the ghost has been freed from revenge or the inability to forgive, as though making it through purgatory. That James, or such a murderer, cannot repent, as though they had extinguished the light of their own conscience, here too has another example. In these cases, it is as though the soul itself of the community wished to purge the disturbance, as of terrible crime. In murders, bodies are said to rise toward the surface, symbolically true. Socrates too notes that crime of public significance is sometimes revealed by a kind of divine madness (Phaedrus 244d-e). Yet it is difficult to imagine one more sane in his proceeding, having seen and spoken to a ghost, than Isaac Van Woert.

Note 1: Author: Graveyardbride.

Sources: John Robinson, WFMK, April 29, 2017; Ellen Hoffman, GLakes-Tales Blog;; Washtenaw Impressions, Washtenaw Historical Society; and William B. Treml, Ann Arbor News, October 31, 1972.


II The Dixboro Ghost: Psychological Commentary

   What Socrates says to Phaedrus is that love should not be rejected and favors given rather to the non-lover on the grounds that love is a madness, because there are some forms of madness that are a gift from the gods, and love is one, like prophecy, tragedy and lyric poetry. As translated by Hackforth, Socrates tells Phaedrus…

…When grievous maladies and afflictions have beset certain families by reason of some ancient sin, madness has appeared among them, and breaking out into prophecy, has secured relief by finding the means thereto [fleeing to the gods in] prayer and worship, and in consequence thereof, rites and means of purification were established, and the sufferer was brought out of danger, alike for the present and for the future. Thus did madness secure for him that was maddened aright and possessed, deliverance from his troubles…

   The event of the Dixboro ghost is quite like this second form of divine madness, as Isaac is otherwise wholly sound. Phrenology being then the fashion in psychiatry, these were brought in, and the head of Isaac measured. He was judged “bilous” among the four humors.

   The story does not concern Isaac personally, and so is a collective content in the sense of an issue concerning the community.

The phenomenon of apparitions of course occurs, and the question is whether these are what they seem to us to be, or as these present themselves. It is especially interesting when true things are revealed. In this case, it is very odd that Martha shows Isaac the scene of James carrying her from the house of Mrs. Hammonds- showing him an apparition of both herself and one then living, in order to communicate a truth.

   As in the case of Hamlet, the question arises as to whether the event of the appearance of the ghost might not be caused by the conscience of the king, or in this case the conscience of James Mulholland. This is at least an intriguing third possibility that allows us an alternative on the question of whether or not ghosts exist. That a specter is produced for Isaac showing a both James and Martha, and the specter here is distinct from the person of the ghost, is also revealing and intriguing.

   From Shakespeare, a teaching of Horatio on ghosts relates the cause of their trooping home to their beds in Churchyards before the approach of the sun, “for fear lest day should look their shames upon,” as Puck tells Oberon. Oberon explains to Puck, though, that they, the fairies, are “spirits of another sort.” The key indicator is that he often consorts with the dawn sunrise.

   The central of the nine appearances occurs at dawn. An ordering of the nine appearances, in groups of three, also appears.

   And in his Life of Dion, Plutarch writes that Dion and Brutus, both students of Plato, were alike also in seeing an apparition:

…by preternatural interposition both of them had notice given of their approaching death by an unpropitious form, which visibly appeared to them. Although there are people who utterly deny any such thing, and say that no man in his right senses ever yet saw any supernatural phantom or apparition, but that children only, and silly women, or men disordered by sickness, in empty and extravagant imaginations, whilst the real evil genius, superstition, was in themselves. Yet if Dion and Brutus, men of solid understanding, and philosophers, not to be easily deluded by fancy or discomposed by any sudden apparition, were thus affected by visions that they forthwith declared to their friends what they had seen, I know not how we can avoid admitting again the utterly exploded opinion of the oldest times, that evil and beguiling spirits, out of envy to good men, and a desire of impeding their own good deeds, make efforts to excite in them feelings of of terror and distraction, to make them shake and totter in their virtue, lest by a steady and unbiased perseverance they should obtain a happier condition than these beings after death…

It is interesting in comparison that our Isaac Van Woert is not unsteadied, nor is his apparition ethically inferior or jealous of his happiness, but rather learns top hope James will repent.

   The purpose of our strange holiday called Halloween is, or can be, to accustom ourselves to facing terrors, including the innate human fear of the dead. Gazing once as a seven year old out the back car window into an empty field, I asked my mother, “What if there was a dead body out there! She wisely answered, “It is not the dead ones you have to worry about, but the living.” And so in martial arts, we teach overcoming the fear of the dark, and clumsiness, too. We notice too that at night, one approaches not out of the artificial light, but out of the darkness.

Late notes: Here is a breakthrough in Dixboro ghostology: On a hunch, I looked up Independence, Texas, in Washington County, there east of Amerillo and North ‘o Houston. Dix went there from Dixboro, and Mulholland was his buddy. Strangely, I found a very similar Mulholland family in Independence Pennsylvania, with numerous similar names and dates. A James Mulholland also appears in the earliest records of the Seventh Day Adventists out in Iowa, from where the “Spectator” wrote.

Isaac Van Woert turns out to be the grandson of Isaac  Van Wart who captured Major Andre in the Revolutionary War, leading to the arrest of Benedict Arnold. Bidlack reports this, but there is no record of our seer in Livingston county NY. It is rather Livingston city, where Van Wart is from, and has his grave. In capturing Andre, Van Wart and 2 others declined substantial bribes at a crucial turning point in the Revolution. So something of the spirit of his grandfather may have allowed Van Wart to see the ghost.


Appendix A: Ellen Hoffman on Mulhollands and the Dixboro Ghost

From “Dixboro Ghost Part 3: Are We Related?
…According to the 1881 History of Washtenaw County, the Mulhollands were a family of weavers in Ireland, but their professions shifted to farming and other trades after arriving in the U.S. James and John Mulholland worked diligently to earn money to buy the kind of large farms not attainable in their homeland. By 1832, the brothers obtained their first land patent for 80 acres in Section 18 of Superior County, the same section in which Captain James Dix, the founder of Dixboro, bought in that year. In 1835, after more of the family had arrived from Ireland, James purchased another 40 acres in Section 20, a parcel which was sold to his father Sam sr. and where my great-great grandfather Samuel Mulholland jr later farmed. The description of this latter property looked like this, rather arcane for those who are not surveyors or deed writers:

Sw 1/4 of the Nw 1/4 of Section 20 in township 2 South of Range 7 East [Superior] in the District of lands subject to sale at Detroit Michigan Territory containing 40 acres (Land patent, certificate 8030, issued 9 Oct 1835, to James Mulhollan of Washtenaw County Michigan Territory)

John and James had continued to buy homestead property in Michigan, expanding beyond Washtenaw and picking up large parcels in Livingston and Ingham counties in 1837. In a history of Livingston county, it was pointed out that the Mulhollands never lived on their homestead but sold it off for a profit in the following two years. 
The patents show John and James held all but the Section 20 lands in common not in joint tenancy. Just prior to his death and in failing health, court records show John arranged for a division of the land held by himself and his brother. While John attempted to get his estate in order before his death, he was unable to get all in place.

With John’s death in June 1840, Martha became the administrator of John’s estate under Probate Court order to produce an appraisal of “goods, chattels, rights, and credits” in 1840. When the estate had not been appraised, James went back to the Probate Court in 1841 indicating that it needed to be done and that there were debts to be settled and he was the primary creditor. The court ordered a $1000 bond to bring in appraisers, but in 1842 Martha herself indicated she was not able to comply due to failing health, and requested that the court appoint a new administrator to review the estate. Despite continued claims and counterclaims, the estate remained unsettled until 1846, when John’s father Sam sr. petitioned the courts to appoint his sons Sam jr and William, John’s younger brothers, as administrators. In the petition dated 19 Jan 1846, Sam was sworn as stating:

The undersigned Samuel Mulholland would represent that he is the Father of John Mulholland late of Superior in said county deceased that said John Mulholland died at Superior aforesaid sometime in June in the year AD 1840 intestate leaving real and personal property to be administered. The undersigned further represent that the said deceased has no children now living and that it is necessary that some person or persons should be appointed to settle the estate of said deceased as there are debts to be collected and paid. The undersigned would waive his right to administer said estate on account of his extreme old age and requests you to appoint Samuel Mulholland jr and William Mulholland brothers of said deceased and sons of your petitioner administrators for said estate upon their [young hand?] for the faithful discharge of that trust.

With Martha’s death in 1845, eventually most of John’s remaining estate formally went to his stepson Joseph Crawford, Martha’s son from her first marriage as there was no will. If James felt some resentment for Martha’s teenage son, not even a member of the Mulholland family, inheriting the land and money he had worked so hard to attain with brother John, and likely had further plans to exploit, it would not be a surprise.

   James left Ireland and immigrated to Quebec, Canada in 1826 and by 1829 was living in Washtenaw, Michigan. He was an early settler in Dixboro founded by John Dix. In county civil court records from November 1829, James appeared in the court with Dix for an indictment of $50 owed to the United States. The indictment does not indicate the reason for the assessment but it must have been paid, as the two were released on their own recognizance and ordered to pay up or appear at the next court session. They do not appear again at the next court session.

The exact date that James married his first wife, Ann Mulholland, is unknown as is her maiden name, although some reports indicate she came with him to Michigan. By the time of the 1830 census of Panama Township, later divided into Superior and Salem Townships as we know them today, James is listed as living with a woman (most likely his wife Ann) between the ages of 20 and 30, about the same age as her husband, and with a son under five. In 1834, the household had grown to five with the addition of another adult male, presumably brother John who immigrated in 1831, and a daughter under 5. These early census records did not have names for any but the head of household. As a result, the names of most of James’ children have been lost to us unless new records are discovered. Only one son of James is known from a sad story of a toddler who got too close to the fireplace and burned to death when his clothes caught fire. James jr. died after his mother Ann, living from 1835 to 1838.
Martha Crawford and son were not listed as living with her sister Ann’s family in mid-1834 when the census data was recorded. She is reported to have arrived in mid-1835 from the later court hearings related to her enigmatic death. John and Martha were married in December 1835 when John was 33. When John died in 1840, he left behind a son reportedly born in 1836 but who died later in the same year as his father.
James remarried to Emily Loomis in 1838 after Ann’s death about 1836-7, all before John then Martha died. While the ghost story claimed James and his second wife had only one stillborn child, in fact they had at least two more children. Further, he and his family did not flee immediately after the 1846 inquest, nor were any criminal charges ever filed against him. In an interesting vignette reported in a Universalist Church publication in 1847, Emily Loomis Mulholland’s death is noted, indicating the family remained in Superior Township: 

Death. In Superior, on Ap 25 last [1847], Mrs. Emily, wife of Mr. James Mulholland, in the 34th year of her age. She has left a husband and four small children, the youngest about four weeks old, also an aged Father and Mother, to mourn the loss of a faithful child and virtuous Mother. She has been a member of the Universalist Church in Ann Arbor about nine years. (published Dec 1847, The Expounder of Primitive Christianity, v. 4, p. 175)

By 1850, only Martha’s son, Joseph Crawford, remained in Superior Township of all the characters from the Dixboro Ghost Story. He retained his inheritances, with the records showing he owned property worth $1000. Joseph married in 1855, and by 1870 he too had left Superior Township, moving initially north in Michigan to Livingston County where other Mulhollands had settled, and later to Ogemaw where he became one of those revered early settlers, dying shortly after his move there.

Mounting Problems for James Mulholland

For James Mulholland, the evidence suggests his departure from Superior Township after the ghost inquest may have been as much about finding a wife or caretaker for his four orphaned young children rather than any guilt over what happened to his sister-in-law. He did not flee immediately as has been recorded in legend but did eventually move on, and over time, community sentiment eased after the initial hysteria brought on by the wild tales of Martha’s ghost and perhaps gossip by a few who didn’t like James. Whether the community feud also rendered family ties to his father and siblings is unknown, but Sam jr. did testify to the Probate Court in 1846 that there were unpaid liens on John’s estate, perhaps providing some evidence the family was sympathetic to James’s complaints.

Debts may also have contributed to the disappearance of James as suggested in earlier histories. His lands were seized by the courts for unpaid debts. Initially land in Section 19 of Superior was sold at public auction in late 1849 for debts owed by James, his brother-in-law William Loomis, and David Bottsford, another original land owner in Washtenaw County.James debt problems continued to mount. Frederick Townsend petitioned for redress in the Detroit courts in February 1850 and as a result James’ two remaining lots in Dixboro were seized by the sheriff of Washtenaw County. With no creditors coming forward after 15 months, the lots were auctioned at a sheriff sale in fall 1852. Townsend was allowed, rather conveniently, to purchase the two village lots owned by James for $100, far below the actual value. As history has since recorded, based on Michigan laws at the time, this process of land seizure and repurchase was a corrupt one in which a debtor could collect and profit with little evidence and often few others being aware of the court orders and sale.The ending of the recorded ghost story stating it is uncertain where James Mulholland went remains true, as neither he nor his children have been located in official records after Emily’s death in 1847 and with the loss of his property in 1850. 


Appendix II: Isaac Van Woert is a descendant of Isaac Van Wart who captured Major Andre in the Revolutionary War (Bidlock) : From Wikipedia:

Isaac Van Wart (October 25, 1762 – May 23, 1828) was a militiaman from the state of New York during the American Revolution. In 1780, he was one of three men who captured British Major John André, who was convicted and executed as a spy for conspiring with treasonous Continental general and commandant of West Point Benedict Arnold.[1][2]

American Revolution

A yeoman farmer, Van Wart joined the volunteer militia when New York was a battle zone of the American Revolution. Overnight on 22–23 September 1780, he joined John Paulding and David Williams in an armed patrol of the area.[1][2] The three men seized a traveling British officer, Major John André in Tarrytown, New York, at a site now called Patriot’s Park. Holding him in custody, they discovered documents of André’s secret communication with Benedict Arnold. The militiamen, all yeomen farmers, refused André’s considerable bribe and delivered him to Continental Army headquarters.[3] Arnold’s plans to surrender West Point to the British were revealed and foiled, and André was hanged as a spy. With George Washington’s personal recommendation, the United States Congress awarded Van Wart, Paulding and Williams the first military decoration of the United States, the silver medal known as the Fidelity Medallion. Each of the three also received federal pensions of $200 a year, and prestigious farms awarded by New York State.

Personal life

Van Wart was born in the farm country of Greenburgh, New York, near the village of Elmsford. He lived on the frontier and his birthdate is not recorded.

Van Wart married Rachel Storm (1760–1834), a daughter of Elmsford’s most prominent family (from whom the settlement’s original name, “Storm’s Bridge”, was derived). He divided his time between his family, his farm, and his church (he became an elder deacon of the Dutch Reformed Church). Van Wart was buried in the cemetery of the Elmsford Reformed Church in Elmsford, New York.[4] His tombstone said that he died at the age of sixty-nine.


Van Wart died in Elmsford and is buried in the cemetery of the Old Dutch Reformed Church on Route 9.[5] A marble and granite monument was erected at his grave on 11 June 1829, bears the single emphatic word “FIDELITY”, followed by this epitaph,

On the 23rd of September 1780, Isaac Van Wart, accompanied by John Paulding and David Williams, all Farmers of the County of Westchester, intercepted Major André, on his return from the American Lines in the character of a Spy, and notwithstanding the large bribes offered them for his release, nobly disdaining to sacrifice their Country for Gold, Secured and carried him to the Commanding Officer of the district, whereby the dangerous and traitorous Conspiracy of Arnold was brought to light; the insidious designs of the enemy baffled; the American Army saved; and our beloved country now free and Independent, rescued from most imminent peril.

The three militiamen were highly celebrated in their lifetimes: commemorations large and small abound in Westchester, and can be found in many disparate parts of the early United States. Among other honors, each of the men had his name given to a county in the new state of Ohio (1803): Van Wert County, bearing a common alternate spelling of the name, is in the northwest corner of the state.

Still, Van Wart and the others did see their reputations impugned by some. André at his trial had insisted the men were mere brigands; sympathy for him remained in some more aristocratic American quarters (and grew to legend in England, where he was buried in Westminster Abbey). Giving voice to this sympathy, Representative Benjamin Tallmadge of Connecticut persuaded Congress to deny the men a requested pension increase in 1817, publicly assailing their credibility and motivations. Despite the slight, the men’s popular acclaim continued to grow throughout the 19th century to almost mythic status. Some modern scholars have interpreted the episode as a major event in early American cultural development, representing the apotheosis of the common man in the new democratic society.[6]

Van Wart and his companions are honored on the monument erected at the site of the capture in Tarrytown, dedicated on June 11, 1829, by the Revolutionary general and congressman Aaron Ward of nearby Ossining.[7] A Van Wart Avenue is located on the south side of Tarrytown, near the Tappan Zee Bridge. Three streets in the neighboring village of Elmsford, New York, are named for the militiamen, with Van Wart Street being one of the village’s main roads. White Plains, New York, has a Van Wart Avenue in the southwest section of the city, off NY Route 22.


  1. Jump up to:a b Raymond, pp. 11–17
  2. Jump up to:a b Cray, pp. 371–397
  3. ^ [1]“Vindication.” From New York Courier; reprinted in American & Commercial Advertiser, February 22, 1817. Account of capture of Andre, in rebuttal to criticism by Rep. Tallmadge. Depositions by Isaac van Wart and his neighbors, intended to refute allegations he and his companions were bandits or “Cow-boys”; Retrieved July 25, 2011
  4. ^ Austin O’Brien (August 1983). “National Register of Historic Places Registration: Elmsford Reformed Church and Cemetery”New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2010-12-24.
  5. ^ Isaac Van Wart at Find A Grave
  6. ^ White, p. 49
  7. ^ “In Saw Mill River Valley: Elmsford and its Revolutionary Church and Graveyard” (PDF)The New York Times. 17 November 1895. Retrieved 25 August 2013.
  • Bolton, Robert (1848). A History of the County of West Chester. Gould, Alexander S. Retrieved 25 August 2013.
  • Cray, Robert E. Jr. (Autumn 1997). “Major John André and the Three Captors: Class Dynamics and Revolutionary Memory Wars in the Early Republic, 1780-1831”. Journal of the Early Republic. Univ. of Pennsylvania Press. 17 (3). doi:10.2307/3123941.
  • White, James T., ed. (1892). The Builders of the Nation. New York: Stanley-Bradley Publishing Co. Retrieved 25 August 2013.

Further reading