Friday, November 25, 2016

Could my dating of Plato’s Phaedrus be the answer?

In February of this year (2016) I offered Dr Jirsa, the Director of the Institute for Philosophy and Religion at Charles University, two papers: ‘Plato’s defence of Forms in the Parmenides’ and ‘Plato and Dionysius’. He replied: ‘I thank you for your offer, but I have decided not to use it.’ I asked him to explain his decision, but he has not replied to my request. These two papers, as well as everything else I have written on Plato since my arrival at Oxford in 1980, depend on my dating of the Phaedrus. Could this fact provide an explanation of his decision?

To give substance to this conjecture, let me quote from Dr Jirsa’s Curriculum vitae:
2008-2009 - visiting scholar at the Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge
2006 - PhD degree in Philosophy, Central European University, Budapest; thesis title: “The Ethics of Self-Knowledge in Plato’s Dialogues”, supervisors: Gábor Betegh, David Sedley (viva: July 17, 2006)
2004-2005 - Research stay at the Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge, Hughes Hall College (supervisor: David Sedley, Malcolm Schofield)

The Daily Telegraph of August 25, 1988, published Barry O’Brien‘s interview with David Sedley entitled „Philosophers in knots over Dr Tomin‘s Plato thesis“, from which I quote:

‘A leading scholar responded yesterday to complaints by Dr Julius Tomin, the Czech dissident philosopher, that he cannot get his controversial work on Plato published in Britain. “He holds that the Phaedrus is Plato’s first dialogue, which is contrary to the beliefs of pretty well all scholars in the field in this century,“ said Dr David Sedley, editor of Classical Quarterly, and director of studies in classics at Christ’s College, Cambridge. … “I think people just have a great difficulty in seeing how it can be right,“ he said. “It means he is asking people to give up nearly everything else they believe about Plato’s development.“


I never asked David Sedley or any other Platonic scholar to give up what he or she believed about Plato. What I have asked them, so far in vain, is to meet me in a discussion on Plato with Plato’s writings at hand.

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