While putting up the thing on Atlantis (see below) another eMedia Press release crossed my desktop:

Plato, a Great Philosopher, or a Criminal Mind that deserves to be locked in his own Cave, and forever Forgotten.

At last someone has found the courage to come up and challenge the ideas of such a big authority, like Plato.

Plato's idea is offensive for the majority of the people in this planet. We are all borne with a mind that if equipped with the right information, can do incredible things; everybody has got the capacity to understand the principles of the Universe, as Aristotle said.

What have the Guardians got so special that they should decide the destiny of everybody else? In the last 2,500 years of recorded history, they have never produced anything.They only caused misery, destruction, ignorance and mass murder, without them, human beings would have gone to the moon 2,000 years ago and by now we would be immortal, not immortality of the soul but biological immortality.

At the end of the piece is a link to the Trial of Plato website ... nothing really new here that you wouldn't get in a first year ClassCiv class ... but is it possible this is connected somehow to something going on at Oxford? From the Oxford Student:

Czech academic Dr Julius Tomin has slammed Balliol and the University generally for their supposed reluctance to participate in open academic debate about Plato. For the second time in ten years he is to protest about his perceived exclusion. Dr Tomin will be standing outside Balliol on three successive Wednesdays this month.

His placard will read: ‘A philosopher from Prague appeals to Oxford Academics: Let us discuss Plato’, an allusion to his belief that, “Platonic scholarship has sunk into a very sorry state”. Tomin came to Britain in 1980 following an invitation by the then Master of the college, Dr Anthony Kenny. Tomin had previously invited Kenny to talk in Prague. He worked as an academic visitor before being made redundant.

Tomin intended to return to Czechoslovakia, but discovered he a had been deprived of his Czech citizenship. Tomin says he is convinced Kenny acted to undermine his academic reputation. “His assertion throughout his talk [in Prague] was that Aristotle said those who were called to study philosophy should do so, and that those who pursued it in their own time were bad men. He was trying to undermine me.”

Tomin also accuses the University of co-operating with secret police to undermine communism in Eastern Europe. He claims when he first came to Oxford he was under the impression he would be partaking in open discussion, but after arriving he stated that due to international concerns a “cloak of secrecy”developed. “It was an attempt to dismantle Communism,” he said. Vice-Master of Balliol Dr John Jones claimed the statement about Dr Tomin’s supposed exclusion was “misleading”.

Dr. Tomin has a piece in the same publication:

On May 4, I will stand in front of Balliol from 11am to 12 am, holding a sign: ‘A philosopher from Prague appeals to Oxford Academics: Let us discuss Plato’. My protest harks back to two discussions. The first I had in Prague with Dr Anthony Kenny, Master of Balliol, in April 1980, in an unofficial philosophy seminar. Dr Kenny chose to speak about Aristotle’s Eudemian and Nicomachean Ethics.

He pointed out that according to the latter, philosophy ought to be pursued by all those who aspire to true happiness, whereas the Eudemian Ethics makes philosophy an activity to be pursued only by those who have been called upon to do so: “The type of person whom many regard as the hero of the Nicomachean Ethics turns out, by the standards of the Eudemian Ethics, to be a vicious and ignoble character.”

Kenny’s own view obviously coincided with his interpretation of the Eudemian Ethics as Aristotle’s mature view on ethics.

His argument therefore surprised me, for I and my students fell into the category of vicious and ignoble characters; nobody called upon us to do philosophy – we engaged in it because it made our lives better, it gave us the strength we needed to defend the little island of freedom in the ocean of oppression in which we lived after the invasion of the Warsaw Pact countries that destroyed the aspiration of my country to create ‘Socialism with a Human Face’.

Unfortunately for Kenny, the passage on which he based his interpretation of the Eudemian Ethics spoke to the contrary, for in it Aristotle places even greater emphasis on philosophy than he does on the Nicomachean Ethics.

I opposed his views by suggesting that according to Aristotle philosophy is the key to the good life because it is the least dependent on external circumstances, and because it can make our lives better as long as we live and irrespective of the situation in which we find ourselves, and that Aristotle wrote it with Socrates in mind.

Socrates engaged in philosophy as long as he could breathe, and philosophy transformed his last day into the crowning event of his life: “This picture of Socrates is very important here in Prague. We never know when the police are going to interrupt our meeting and detain us all. It is good to know that if we remain true to philosophy, it can make our life better even in prison,” I told him.

Kenny did not oppose my interpretation of the Nicomachean passage but asked whether I would not agree with him that Socrates was a good man but a second-rate philosopher, whereas Plato was a great philosopher but a questionable character.

I replied that the Master of Balliol obviously drew such a dividing line through Plato’s dialogues that he considered all those dialogues as Socratic that do not satisfy his criterion of great philosophy, and as Platonic all those that satisfy that criterion: “I do not draw such a line through Plato’s dialogues,” I insisted. At this point the police banged on the door and took away Kenny and then all of us.

I have endeavoured to renew this discussion with Oxford dons for the past 25 years, but in vain. As a result of my reflections on the interrupted discussion with Kenny I realised to my surprise that in all my reading of Plato I did not find anything to militate against the ancient tradition according to which the Phaedrus was Plato’s first dialogue.

After I arrived at Oxford in September 1980 – I had received an invitation from Kenny in 1979, several months before his visit – with the assistance of the late Dr Kathy Wilkes I wrote ‘Socrates in the Phaedrus’. When Kathy sent it to The Classical Quarterly, the Editor replied that it was well written, but he decided not to publish it, for publishing it would destroy Julius Tomin as a philosopher.

What happens at Oxford has a profound influence on the way in which the subjects of Classics and Ancient Philosophy are pursued in other countries. I wish that Oxford University would become the centre of excellence in Ancient Philosophy, a centre where academics can be found who have the courage and academic skills that are prerequisite for discussing Plato.