Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Plato again

So I thought James' presentation on similarities and differences between Plato and More and Morris was excellent, really excellent - and I will leave him to decide whether to post it here or not.

My comment was really to try and show how Plato's ideas were connected to each other and sustained a single narrative - they were not just comments on random topics - and to ask if M&M made similar connections and sustained narratives - or not - or different ones.

Plato starts with men and women but is using that 'natural' binary not only to explore the nature of nature but also to introduce the importance of dialectic (building a philosophical binary on an allegedly natural one). Though perhaps, he suggests, the only natural difference is in the act of reproduction. Interesting, isn't it, how many philsophies and religions we encounter start with the binary of sex? (Giles Constable, a medievalist, wrote the prevalence about binaries and trilogies in his survey of medieval ideas about social order.)

Having started off with male/female binaries as a way of exploring dialectic - Plato/Socrates then builds systematically on this by addressing education, reproduction, law and so on - all the social elements which will sustain this naturally based dialectical philosophy into a proper foundations for the ultimately best form of philosophy (his discussion of knowledge and opinion) ending up with his famous metaphor of the cave and enlightenment.

Now I am no Plato expert - this is just my reading of the patterns the text creates - but are there similar or different patterns in M&M?  We also talked about a lot of other things (historical coincidence for example in the situation of different authors - see Baumann).

This week - in the difficult reading by Jameson and Marin - we will find other ideas about how imagination (dreaming) works in utopias and can be productive - in more complicated and also less structured relationships between things than just binaries (or dialectic).

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