Distance Lends Clarity To The View?

They told us, in Sixth Form Classics and University alike, that we should read Plato and Aristotle as vital milestones in the history of thought. Just how well our teachers understood their own history is demonstrated by the fact that they never told us how, for almost all the intervening centuries, these thinkers were known and influential solely through their commentators. Plato had no influence on the Middle Ages except as mediated through Plotinus and Boethius; and even Ibn Rushd approached his Aristotle by way of Hellenistic commentators such as Alexander and Themistus, of whom no public schoolboy or undergraduate was ever told. The assumption that we fledglings could acquire a better understanding of what these philosophers really meant than was available to their immediate successors, who lived two millennia earlier and had access to both living tradition and documents long since lost, may reflect the Protestant assumption about the New Testament, namely that its meaning is clearer to the layman reading it in translation nearly two millennia later than it was to the generation immediately following that of its authors, namely people called Apostolic Fathers of whom no self-respecting fundamentalist has ever heard.

Posted on July 26, 2011 at 23:24 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: THE LONGEST CON, The Longest Con, Miscellaneous

Leave a Reply