Laws

Tell me, gentlemen, to whom do you give credit for establishing your codes of law? Is it a god, or a man?

So starts the Laws.

I was afraid this dialogue would be centered on politics. I forget that Plato doesn’t change politics, he changes persons. He never disappoints. With that said, there are a lot of interesting things going on in this dialogue. Socrates is is not present, at least not in name. We have an Athenian that stands in his place, and is only known as that, the Athenian. Why Plato does this is not clear.

Plato quickly addresses the human person. While the Athenian’s companions want to talk about war and battles of nations, the Athenian brings it back to battling oneself. He turns the enemy internal. The conversation then turns toward drinking parties, which is strange. The Athenian thinks that drinking can be a kind of revelation of a person’s virtue. He lets his inhibitions go and we see what kind of man he really is. It rings different from what we hear. It’s as though we change people when we drink too much, ‘that wasn’t me, I was drunk!’. The character is tested. There a second analog to drinking that the Athenian calls the fear drink. He says that it would work by making people more and more afraid as they drank. The more afraid they are, the more they are tested, the more their character is shown. What kind of person they are is manifested in how they react to that deep fear.

Plato never pulls punches when it comes to people. He will never let people go of the responsibility of being human. We must seek the good or our lives are not worth living. We must seek the good in order to be good. The responsibility is never taken away. Plato never lets you get away from him, and that is why he is still read.

~ by Barky on September 23, 2011.

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