Five years ago I wrote a little post for this blog on the concept of degrees of separation in the course of which I noted that I am connected to Jeremy Bentham by only two degrees of separation. In view of the fact that Bentham’s greatest and most often read work was published 240 years ago, this is a reasonably remarkable fact. For those who did not read that post or have forgotten it, I will explain briefly that in 1954 I had tea with an 82-year-old Bertrand Russell. Russell’s godfather was none other than John Stuart Mill – my first degree of separation – who in turn was the godson of Jeremy Bentham, my second degree of separation. Thus the undergraduates in the course on the thought of Karl Marx that I taught at UNC Chapel Hill this past semester are in turn connected to Bentham by three degrees of separation.
I am afraid I cannot say the same of Plato.