Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A change of plan

On April 21 I wrote to the Master of Balliol: ‘I have put on my website www.juliustomin.org a paper on ‘Plato’s defence of Forms in the Parmenides’. My interpretation of the dialogue differs radically from the accepted views of the dialogue; would you allow me to present it to Balliol students and academics?’ When I received no answer to my proposal, I staged another protest at Balliol on April 25-27. During it I had some very good discussions with students on Plato’s philosophy, but concerning my main aim it was a failure. When the editor of the Cherwell Magazine asked me whether I planned any further protests, I replied: ‘I have decided to ‘Cycle for Plato’. I intend to cycle to Oxford University, from Oxford to Cambridge University, then take a ferry to Holland, cycle to Freie Universitaet in Berlin, then to Charles University in Prague, then to Heidelberg University, then to Sorbonne in Paris, and end as a homeless person at Oxford.’

But then something amazing happened, when I looked at my website statistics. From April 1-27 my paper on ‘Plato’s defence of Forms in the Parmenides’ showed 3 visits, but in three days, April 28-30, the paper registered 193 visits, and the last two days, May 1-2, 55 visits.

During my month in Prague (February of this year) I wrote two papers: ‘Plato’s defence of Forms in the Parmenides’ and ‘Plato and Dionysius’. In March I rewrote and rethought the former in English, intending to go on rewriting and rethinking the latter. But when nobody appeared to be interested in reading the former, it seemed to make little sense to work on the latter. That’s why I resolved to ‘cycle for Plato’. But the statistics changed all this. If there are people who are interested in reading the former, then I should present them with the latter before I decide on making any further protests.

Hopefully, among those who figure in my web-statistics as visiting ‘Plato’s defence of Forms in the Parmenides’ are some Oxford dons, may be even Balliol dons. When I rewrite ‘Plato and Dionysius’ in English, I shall put it on my website and inform about it not only the Master of Balliol, but as well the Head of the Philosophy Faculty and the Head of the Faculty of Classics, asking them for permission to present the two papers at Oxford University. Plato is here to be read and discussed.

If I fail again to obtain any positive response, then I shall consider what protest to undertake at that point. Thinking about it now, I believe I shall concentrate my efforts on Oxford, as I have done in the past. I shall probably ‘cycle to Oxford for Plato’, instead of using the bus and the train, for Swindon is on my way; perhaps I shall be able to find there someone with whom to discuss my ‘Beehive adventure’ of 1988-1989 (see Nick Cohen’s ‘The Pub Philosopher’ on my website). I might even find someone ready to organize for me another talk in Swindon; the theme would be ‘Self-knowledge as an imperative’.

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