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Commentary on Lewis

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image of Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy

If Lewis prefers the political Plato to the apolitical Socrates, I take my stand with Socrates. I also regard Plato as having been more profoundly invested in establishing a philosophical religion than in establishing a philosophical politics. Cultivating trust in the Good is ultimately of more importance than arming a state against potential enemies. Courage is a virtue greater than prudence. Plato’s Laws, on my reading, is less concerned with maintaining the order of the state than with civilizing its inhabitants. In light of this contention, I understand Plato as being more Socratic—more open to question and thus more flexible—than Lewis’s reading seems to allow. This is why I think Plato provides more attention to his extended preambles to the laws than to the laws themselves. As seriously as Plato took the quest for true law, he realized that any positive code of law (or any constitution) has to be subject to constant revision. 

Affiliations: 1: College of the Holy Cross


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