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Editorial: Getting to know Plato

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Posted on March 11, 2010 |
By Angelo Lynn



I admit the last time I read Plato’s works had to be in the early 1970s as a college student. And, like most of you, I hadn’t thought much about it since; at least not in a direct way.

My loss.

So it was with interest that I met Victor Nuovo, professor emeritus of philosophy at Middlebury College, a few months ago to talk about a series of essays he was writing on Plato’s last work called “Laws.” As the front-page story in today’s issue reports, after a few conversations, we decided to run them in the Addison Independent.

Not long afterwards, the scope of the project grew and more essays were envisioned. The result is that we’ll run the essays under three themes, with several (perhaps six or more) essays within each theme. That’s heady stuff — 20 or more essays on what Plato thinks about the rule of law in a civil society, plus what he says about love, religion, human bonds, physical attraction and more.

But in a community newspaper? And why not?

We are not pretending to be the Atlantic Monthly or New Yorker, and that’s just the point. The goal is to demonstrate that Plato is relevant to everyday life and in ways that can inspire and delight all of us. We plan to host live chats on our Web sites on occasion to allow readers to ask questions of Prof. Nuovo, blog on the topic throughout the series, and, of course, post each essay online after it is published.

In today’s issue, we feature a Q&A with Prof. Nuovo that discusses the project and Plato’s thoughts. We hope you’ll start by reading that, enjoy Victor’s first essay on Page 17, and then join us each week in a thoughtful discourse on the makings of a civil society. Why bother? Because the very stimulation of exercising your civil duties to become engaged is cathartic to the soul, just like exercise is stimulating and healthy for the body. Plus it brings joy and pleasure. So join us for 15 minutes each week, and add your thoughts online anytime.

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