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‘The Clarke Plato’

‘The Clarke Plato’: the oldest manuscript (discounting papyrus fragments) for about half the dialogues of Plato, perhaps once the first volume of a two-volume set. Commissioned by Arethas of Patrae (bishop of Caesarea, 902-c. 939), who paid 21 gold coins for the copying and the parchment, and added scholia in the margin in a tiny…

On Hating and Despising Philosophy

Bernard Williams in the LRB reprinted in Essays and Reviews: 1959-2002. An update, see: The London Review of Books. As long as there has been such a subject as philosophy, there have been people who hated and despised it. I do not want to exaggerate, in a self-pitying or self-dramatising way, the present extent or intensity of this dislike; I…

Sun, Line and the Cave

Plato’s simile of light – the images of the Sun, the Divided Line and the Cave are outlined in the Republic at the close of Book VI and at the beginning of Book VII. The simile of light has attracted a vast literature from Nettleship’s Victorian lectures, down through the work of James Adam, Henry Jackson and…

Socrates on Trial

I want to give a plug to my chum Andrew Irvine’s play Socrates on Trial. Of perennial interest it is a way of communicating important ideas in an accessible but compelling way. Here is a dedicated page with video footage and reviews. Andrew IrvineAristophanesAthensPlatoSocratesSpartaXenophon

Brain plasticity and the internet – a debate

Neil Levy takes on Susan Greenfield. I started by mentioning Plato’s worry that literacy would weaken memory. As a matter of fact, Plato may not have been entirely wrong: there is evidence that people in preliterate cultures have better memories. It does not follow, however, that the invention of writing had costs as well as…