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This article undertakes to examine the reception of Platonic theories of falsification in the contemporary philosophy of Leo Strauss and his adherents. The aim of the article is to consider the Straussian response to, and interaction with, Platonic ideas concerning deception and persuasion with an emphasis on the arguments found in the Laws. The theme of central interest in this analysis is Plato’s development of paramyth in the Laws. Paramyth entails the use of rhetorical language in order to persuade the many that it is to their advantage to obey certain laws. It does so without explaining in detail why a given law is ethically correct and its use assumes that the audience, on the whole, is not capable of understanding the finer philosophical underpinnings of the law. The so-called ‘noble lie’ of the Republic is also considered in this context. The crucial issue, for Plato if not for Strauss, is whether or not an instance of falsification, however minor, for the purposes of persuasion contains ‘truth-value’, that is, whether it is morally justifiable in terms of ends and means. In terms of Strauss’s reception of Plato, such issues as ancient Hebrew mysticism, Medieval Jewish and Islamic scholarship and Heideggerian Phenomenology figure in the argument. Ultimately, the article finds that Strauss and his followers have constructed a particular view of Platonic ideas that, while unique, is not compatible with their original signification.

In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought
Volume Editor:
Brill’s Companion to the Reception of Alexander the Great offers a considerable range of topics, of interest to students and academics alike, in the long tradition of this subject’s significant impact, across a sometimes surprising and comprehensive variety of areas. Arguably no other historical figure has cast such a long shadow for so long a time. Every civilisation touched by the Macedonian Conqueror, along with many more that he never imagined, has scrambled to “own” some part of his legacy. This volume canvasses a comprehensive array of these receptions, beginning from Alexander’s own era and journeying up to the present, in order to come to grips with the impact left by this influential but elusive figure.

The themes of hybris, erôs and mania are interconnected in Plato’s final opus, the Laws, regarding his narrator’s construction of sexually accepted norms for his ‘second-best’, utopian society. This article examines this formulation, its psychological characteristics and philosophical underpinnings. The role and function of his social programme are considered in the context of the Laws and the hypothetical polis outlined therein. However, this particular formulation is not a new development in later Platonic thought. It is, rather, a logical extension of earlier Platonic ideas, expressed in a number of previous dialogues, and brought to bear in the peculiar circumstances of the ‘second-best’ polis. This can be especially observed in relation to the Symposium and Phaedrus. Instead of regarding the construction of sexuality in the Laws as a work in isolation, these earlier ideas are here considered intertextually as part of a broader Platonic continuum.

In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought