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August and Genesis

July 2, 2011

Just wondering about Bernard Beckett’s August and Genesis… I may have got it wrong, but are these two books part of a trilogy? I thought I read that… In any case, putting them alongside each other to wonder at is easy enough and I got to thinking…

If Augustine’s City of God forms the backbone of August, and Plato’s Republic is the backbone of Genesis, what role does the city – and ‘civil’ society – have in these two texts?  How do these urban places/spaces reflect on the role of the philosopher in the societies of the future?

The dots between these two texts seem to connect in Allan Bloom’s interpretive essay on Plato’s Republic. He writes:  

“The Republic is the true Apology of Socrates, for only in the Republic does he give an adequate treatment of the theme which was forced on him by Athens’ accusation against him.  That theme is the relationship of the philosopher to the political community. … From the city’s point of view, there seems to be something about the thought and way of life of the philosopher which calls into question the city’s gods, who are the protectors of its laws, and which hence makes him a bad citizen, or rather no citizen at all.  Such a man’s presence in the city, and his association with the most promising young men make him a subversive. Socrates is unjust not only because he breaks Athens’ laws but also because he apparently does not accept those fundamental beliefs which make civil society possible.”

p307 Allan Bloom ‘Interpretive Essay’ pp307-436 in Plato (c1991) The Republic of Plato; translated with notes and an interpretive essay by Allan Bloom. Basic Books ; New York. c1991 2nd edition. New York

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