Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Socrates

From: Marc Kivel <>
Date: Wed Apr 6 12:22:01 2005

BTW, Todd, I found your comments on Popper wonderful
and I have noticed the joy with which learners devour
White's "The Once and Future King." I'd also note
that democracy need not be all or nothing - A.S.
Neill's Sumerhill did not allow learners democracy in
all decisions as Neill himself points out in his book.

Perhaps we should also consider how we might create a
Rugby School version of Sudbury? An umbrella "school"
run by a democratic Assembly with chartered Houses
using various governance mixes dedicated to particular
learning approaches and varying levels of adult
encouragement. All learners might belong to the
school but would then also choose a House to pursue
their interests....

Any dreamers want to tackle this one with me? smiling


--- Todd Pratum <> wrote:

"I haven't read Popper yet. Is there a simple way to
summarize his arguments?
OK, here is my take on Popper:

Scott David Gray puts forward, in a muscular way, the
Aristotelian viewas opposed to the Platonist view, as
Popper does (I have read bothPopper's The Open Society
and its Enemies, and the primary workof his chief
critic, G. J. deVries' Antisthenes
Redivivus,(Amsterdam 1952). As many of you must know,
much of this argument,(that of democracy versus
kingship), is well mirrored in the lives ofPlato and
Aristotle, and Popper explored this in a very
comprehensiveway, but from an oppositional point of
view. You could, if needed,boil it all down to this:
Whether you believe that some people insociety are
more advanced than others, (either
intellectually,culturally, or psychologically for
example), and thatthere are fair ways that can be
found in society and culture toidentify them from the

Some historians, for example the great religious
scholar Huston Smith,would say that there are ways to
do this but that they have been lostfor the most part.
 In any case, the rape and ruin that has been
raineddown upon mankind by royalty, dictators, and
power grabbers has led tothe modernist belief--first
put into action in modern times during theFrench
Revolution--that there are no "superior" people, and
if thereare, there is no workable way to put them in
places of power, and evenif there was a way, it
eventually leads to corruption, and that theonly hope
for mankind is democracy. Plato tried to codify a way
tomake it possible to avoid these pitfalls (see
especially TheRepublic, but the Thomas Taylor
translation, or perhaps Jowett's,not translations by
his critics if you want the other perspective for
achange), and thus to make available to society the
great benefits ofhaving great leaders in charge, wise
kings. He saw this as man'sgreatest engine for
evolution. In my view the best way to understandthis
philosophy is to read about King Arthur and his
Galahad Quest, (itis interesting to note that kids
love this story, the story of a wiseking who rules the
land with grace and respect!). (A good simpleversion
for those who don't have time to plow through the
completeArthurian corpus is T. H. White's The Once and
Future King,cheap on the internet at

I suspect there is not a single Platonist on this
Sudbury list, andthere will be those who wonder how
can somebody like myself talk ofdemocratic education
while being a Platonist, (answer: authenticdemocracy
really is our only hope right now in education).
Iwould also like to plead patience and open mindedness
when thinking ofideas that contradict your dominant
paradigm. When the modern dominantparadigm is
democracy, it is easy to defend it when you are in
themajority, but when you are in the minority, it is
not so easy!

But this is all so interesting, and I am glad to meet
online somepeople like Scott who have spent time
trying to understand the roots ofour civilization.
One of the most fascinating books on the subject
isJulius Evola's Revolt Against the Modern World. If
you haveonly read the defenders of democracy (like
Popper), then I wouldsuggest this defense of Plato,
very well written and quite edifying. The subject is
of course vast and I have only outlined it a tiny bit,
from my own limited perspective! Todd Pratum.

Scott David Gray wrote:
On Tue, 5 Apr 2005, Woty wrote:
On Apr 5, 2005, at 11:04, Scott David Gray wrote:
The Socratic Method? Do people actually think that
thisshowed any sincere respect for the 'student?'

Certainly it doesn't as practiced now.Popper argues in
_The Open Society and Its Enemies_ that Socrates
genuinely respected young people and thought of them
as friends, but that Plato misrepresented him in later
works. He argues that Socrates was not authoritarian
but that Plato was. I haven't studied the period much,
so I don't know how credible this line of argument is.
Several writers besides Plato spoke about Socrates.
Thehumorist, Aristophanes, shows his understanding of
Socrates(as an arrogant buffoon) in 'the Clouds.'
Plato was perhaps the most sycophantic.The most
balanced picture (in my opinion) comes fromXenophon --
a man who counted himself a friend, but a friendwho
was critical of Sorcates' lifestyle and opinions.
That's why I suggested Xenophon as a source.But you're
absolutely right to draw a distinction betweenPlato
and Socrates. Plato was to Socrates as Paul was
toJesus of Nazareth... One popularized the other, and
eachstressed his own particular spin and opinions in
doing so.
Have you read _Open Society_? If so, do you have an
opinion on the arguments Popper raises?
I haven't read Popper yet. Is there a simple way to
summarize his arguments?

-- TODD LEIF PRATUM. Est.1981Antiquarian & Scholarly
Books627 Vernon StreetOakland, California 94610Tel.
510.655.1281 Fax. 510.653.8694Books Bought --
Catalogues Issued
Received on Wed Apr 06 2005 - 12:21:27 EDT

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