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Plato’s Republic on Divinity and the Form of the Good - POSTPONED

Date and Time: 
Thursday, March 12, 2020. 04:15 PM - 06:00 PM
Meeting Location: 
Humanities Center Boardroom
Workshop: 
Ethics and Politics, Ancient and Modern
Meeting Description: 

 

Please note: In accordance with Stanford's response to COVID-19, all Research Workshops planned through April 15 will be postponed, canceled or moved to an online format.

 

All EPAM sessions are pre-read. We will begin with a brief summary of the paper and comments by Thomas Slabon, followed by a response from Anthony Long. Afterward, the floor will be open for questions.

Divinity (theos/god(s) or theios/divine) frames the Republic, starting with Socrates’ participation in a religious festival, and concluding with images of the afterlife and destiny of human souls. Between these contexts Socrates, the work’s narrator, conducts his interlocutors through a series of steps that culminate, in the central books, in the Form of the Good (FG). Those steps include a disquisition on the true nature of theos (singular); a myth concerning the divine origin of the newly imagined citizens; the divine components of the Guardians’ souls; and the nature of the philosopher ruler, who, in studying the divine Forms, becomes as divine as is humanly possible. FG, the final and climatic step in this sequence, is imaged in the Sun, Line, and Cave analogies. Are we to take FG itself as god or divine? Socrates does not say so explicitly, but from antiquity until recently Plato’s interpreters have identified FG with his divinity par excellence. That interpretation has largely gone out of fashion. In this paper I seek to revive it both by appeal to the text and context (as outlined above) and also by reference to divinity in other dialogues. I conclude with some speculations concerning the Socratic antecedents of FG.

Professor Anthony Long is the Professor of the Graduate School and Chancellor's Professor Emeritus of Classics and Irving G. Stone Professor Emeritus of Literature at UC Berkeley. He primarily works in the fields of Greek and Roman philosophy and Greek literature, and he is one of a handful of scholars primarily responsible for the modern revival of academic interest in Hellenistic philosophy. As a professor emeritus, Tony has remained quite active. A few of his recent publications include How to be Free; An Ancient Guide to the Stoic Life, published by Princeton University Press, and Greek Models of Mind and Self, published by Harvard University Press. In 2017, he gave the Keeling Lecture in Ancient Philosophy at University College London and the Michael Frede Memorial Lecture at the British School at Athens. In 2018, he gave keynote lectures at the Life of Breath Conference at the University of Durham, and for Stoicon at the University of London Senate House.

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