Monday, March 28, 2016

2 My recent Prague venture

On the 20th of January, 2016, I wrote to Dr Boháček at the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences:

“I hope you received my letter of December 30, 2015. From then on I continued to work on the Parmenides, making some further progress. For it became clear to me that Plato faced very demanding tasks in the years that followed his return from his second and preceded his third Sicilian journey: 1/ How to prepare his students in the Academy for his departure to Sicily, when they would have to do without him. With that aim in mind he wrote the Parmenides and the Symposium, both of which point to the Republic. 2/ As his stay in Athens protracted, he had to parry the growing influence of sophists on Dionysius. The Parmenides was of fundamental importance even concerning the sophists, and so was the Symposium that far surpassed anything they could offer the ruler of Syracuse. But the reference in both these works to the Republic was not helpful, and so he wrote the Sophist and the Statesman. I realized this a few days ago, then read both these dialogues again; as a result, I posted yesterday on my blog ‘The dating of the Sophist and the Statesman’.

In consequence, the structure of the 2nd volume of my Plato suddenly became clear to me. The 1st volume is on my website entitled The Lost Plato. The 2nd volume is so far just in an initial stage, and I began to doubt whether I would ever write it. All this has changed in the course of my work on the Parmenides and the dialogues which I began to see as related to it.

The 1st volume consists of the dialogues which I view as written during Socrates’ life-time: from the Phaedrus to the Apology (the Phaedo, to which I devoted the first chapter of The Lost Plato, will be moved into the 2nd volume in the definitive version). The 2nd volume will be divided into 4 parts: 1/ dialogues from Crito to Menexenus; 2/ Republic; 3/ dialogues from Parmenides to Statesman; 4/ dialogues from Timaeus to Laws. If I succeed in writing this, the whole work will be entitled simply Plato.

And so I intend to approach your Institute with a request to provide me with conditions appropriate for this work. In the first place I should like to rethink in Czech the 1st volume. As part of this work I should like to have a lecture each week during the term; in these lectures I should simply read and present for discussion the chapters dealing with the dialogues discussed in the 1st volume. In between the terms I should work on the 2nd volume. If the Czech philosophers become interested in this project, I am sure it would be possible to obtain for it a grant from the European Union; it concerns every nation aware of its cultural link to the Ancient Greece.

If you can do anything to help to make this happen, I shall be very glad.”

I have received no reply to this letter.

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