Yesterday, on January 16, 2019, I wrote to the Director of the Institute for Philosophy and Religion at the Faculty of Philosophy (Faculty of Arts) at Charles University in Prague:
In May of the past year, it had been forty years since I invited Oxford dons to my philosophy seminar. To mark the occasion, I wrote ‘Plato’s first dialogue – Phaedrus in the light of its dating’. To celebrate the anniversary, I would have liked to present it at your Institute, and so I offered it to Dr Jirsa, who was the Director of the Institute at the time. I received no reply to my offer.
On April 11 of this year it will be forty years since Dr Kathleen Wilkes inaugurated the visits of Oxford dons in my seminar [with a lecture on Aristotle]. To celebrate the anniversary, I wrote a paper on ‘Plato’s first two dialogues, a reflection of his political hopes’, which I have put on my website. Would you look at the text and consider organizing an international seminar on the Phaedrus at which I could present the paper? In the paper I argue that Plato wrote the Phaedrus in 405 and the Charmides in 404 B.C. In doing so I am at variance with the current Platonic scholarship according to which the Phaedrus is a late dialogue and Plato began to write his dialogues after the death of Socrates, that is after 399 B.C.
The dating of the Phaedrus is of fundamental importance for our understanding of Plato. By organizing the proposed international seminar Czech philosophers can make an important contribution to the history of philosophy. This is of particular importance for us, for Plato has influenced the history of our country. Masaryk [a philosopher, the first President of Czechoslovakia; it was largely thanks to his efforts that Czechoslovakia was created at the end of the First World War in 1918] drew strength from Plato for his critical patriotism [critical of the narrowminded Czech nationalism]; his first article was entitled ‘Plato as a patriot’. Scholars [devoted to the study of Masaryk] have come to the view that there are no traces of Plato in Masaryk’s political work. They came to this view, for our Platonists, in conformity with the German, French, English and all the other Platonists view all Plato’s dialogues as written after the death of Socrates. In consequence, all relation of Plato’s dialogues to the political situation in Athens has been lost. By situating the Phaedrus in 405 and the Charmides in 404, and thus to the concrete political situations of those two years, I am demonstrating Plato’s profound interest in the well-being of the city of Athens. When Masaryk drew from Plato strength for his own critical patriotism, he understood Plato well.
I hope that soon I shall receive from you the good news, and that the Faculty of Philosophy accepts the proposal.
With my best greetings,