On Wednesday I met my OLLI [Osher Lifelong Learning Institute] class on Plato. About fifteen old folks turned out, including enough retired physicians to staff a small hospital and an Anthropologist. OLLI is a hoot. Preparing for the class I re-read the Euthyphro, Apology, and Crito and will in due time re-read the Gorgias, the four Dialogues I am covering. As I think I remarked here earlier, all of us “professional philosophers” [or Sophists, to use the Athenian term] are so familiar with Plato, and have been for so long, that it is easy for us to forget how extraordinary he was and is. I mean, he invented our field [the Pre-Socratics to the contrary notwithstanding.] The distinction between Appearance and Reality, which lies at the foundation of all philosophical thinking, was virtually given to us by Plato, along with the technique of definition by division. On top of which, he was far and away the greatest artist of the entire Pantheon of great philosophers. And he lived TWO THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED YEARS AGO!
If I accomplish nothing else, I need to help the members of the class to see and appreciate how truly remarkable he was. It is a challenge.