Dante’s Inferno, III: Hell as an Allegorical Contrast to Catholic Teaching

In our exploration of Dante’s Inferno, I have already explored the general construction of Hell in its two tiers in the first part of this essay series, and I then explored the relationship between Dante and Virgil in the second part of this series.  This final part will highlight in some greater detail what has … Continue reading Dante’s Inferno, III: Hell as an Allegorical Contrast to Catholic Teaching

Plato’s Myth of Er

The conclusion of Plato’s Republic is the Myth of Er.  What are we to make of the Myth of Er and why is it important?  Why does it come at the very end of the work and not earlier?  It is important to remember that – as I’ve said before in other explanatory summaries of … Continue reading Plato’s Myth of Er

Plato’s Noble Lie

In The Republic, Socrates famously discusses the idea of the “noble lie.”  The noble lie has been an issue of tremendous interest to scholars and political and sociological theorists.  But is it the case that Plato endorses the noble lie, as some suggest and as the cursory reading seems to equally suggest? We must remember … Continue reading Plato’s Noble Lie

What is Platonic Irony?

What is Platonic irony?  When reading Plato’s dialogues philosophers are often keen to highlight irony within his texts.  Irony, however, is not necessarily what we think of it today.  Rather, Platonic irony is carefully constructed and inserted into the text by Plato himself.  Platonic irony is deeply dialectical in the Socratic sense, since Plato’s literary … Continue reading What is Platonic Irony?

Johann Hamann: Philosophy of Language

Johann Hamann is one of the most understudied and unknown philosophers, especially in the English-speaking world.  A figure of tremendous importance to history, who was called the “Magus of the North” and the “brightest star” by Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Hamann came to be an influential father of the Sturm und Drang arts movement in Germany, … Continue reading Johann Hamann: Philosophy of Language

Plotinus: On Philosophical Dialectic (Ennead 1.3)

Plotinus is not the first philosopher to concern himself with dialectic but he is among the most famous.  The Platonist tradition with Socrates and Plato already established two important dialectical conceptions: the conversational dialectic (Socratic dialectic) in which opposing parties (or individuals) discuss a matter and arrive at a conclusion from drawing the contrast between … Continue reading Plotinus: On Philosophical Dialectic (Ennead 1.3)

Plotinus: The Virtues (Ennead 1.2)

Plotinus’s second tractate of the first Ennead is a commentary over the division of virtues.  This is commonplace in ancient philosophy and theology.  For instance, Christianity divides the cardinal virtues (justice, prudence, fortitude, and temperance) and theological virtues (faith, hope, and love).  Plotinus, in this section of his Enneads, separates the “civic virtues” with the … Continue reading Plotinus: The Virtues (Ennead 1.2)