Credo in Unum Deum

I Believe in One God

Toward a New Interpretation of Plato

Giovanni Reale is the author of this little book of just over 400 pages.  The outlandish concept of the this book is that Sola Scriptura stinks… whether it’s in Christianity or Plato studies.  The traditional paradigm established by Schleiermacher relies on the maxim that “the dialogues have a value taken on their own and so are self-sufficient, in the sense that Plato’s thought can be found in them.” (39)  Of course, there are a couple other points in the Schleiermacherian paradigm, but I want to deal very briefly with this one.  This paradigm totally dismisses the unwritten doctrines of Plato as the subjective and probably inaccurate interpretations of what Plato thought and taught and wrote.  Therefore, he rejects any of the oral tradition about Plato as irrelevant to the task of reconstructing Plato’s thought.

The task of this book is to actually recover this tradition and rely more heavily on the Unwritten Doctrines.  Reale claims that the current reading of Plato has led to unresolvable problems in Plato Scholarship and the paradigm is utterly broken.  Plato himself says that the most important things he knows are not to be written down because the medium of writing is not fit for such a lofty and high subject.  Plato left that to the oral discourse.  There is also the testimony of Aristotle.  In the Metaphysics (I think… or maybe it was the Physics… crap!) Aristotle expounds on Plato doctrines.  But 2/3 of what he expounds are to be found nowhere in Plato’s dialogs!  Now we know that we have everything Plato wrote (and more!).  So if Aristotle is conversing with Plato at the level of Unwritten Doctrines (which he refers to), then they must be important.

Too long already, but I wholeheartedly recommend this book.  It is utterly fascinating and the promises made if the paradigm works are the best thing since… the last best thing there was.

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November 1, 2007 - Posted by | Philosophy

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