I really appreciate that you all have been continuing the discussion in my absence. I’ll have links soon to several interviews that I’ve done recently, including one for the Immanent Frame website that should be up within a week or so. But my time lately has been taken up with two exciting courses I’m teaching – one a graduate seminar on Heidegger’s Kant and the other a General Education course that is related to the themes of ATS. I’ll slowly be putting up the recordings of those two classes on the relevant course websites, so if anyone wants access to them please let me know. In the meantime, though, I wonder if I could get your help.
In the Gen Ed course we’ve finished our reading of Homer and Aeschylus, and I’ve given a brief account of the difference in temperament and focus between the Classical Greek account of the universe as found in Plato (for example) and the Hebraic account as found in the Old Testament. I won’t belabor the distinction here, though I will say that my strategy has been to emphasize a difference along three axes: 1) the role of history in an account of the being we are, 2) the kind of access we have to ultimate truths, and 3) the importance or unimportance of embodiment. I’m hoping this discussion will set up a reading of the Gospel of John.
At the moment I’m struggling with the famous opening lines of John, which seem to identify Jesus with the logos and the logos with God. But I’d like to give a good, clear account of the distinction between “logos” as it figures in Plato and John. I understand that it is possible to highlight similarities. One might think, for example, that the term “logos” is tied in Plato in some way or another with reason or rationality, and connections between this idea and some of John’s influences could easily be made. For example, John is typically thought to have been influenced by the Stoics, and their account of the logos as the active, rational force that pervades the universe is one of the classic references. Or perhaps one could draw on Philo’s account of the logos as divine reason, which may be in the background of John’s text. But ultimately I think it is misleading to emphasize the rational aspect of logos as John uses it, and I have lots of details from the text to support this reading. What I’m looking for at the moment is a good reference from Plato to make it clear how he understands the term. I remember that in the Thaeatetus there is discussion of knowledge as true belief with logos, and a natural account here might count logos as something like rational justification or explanation. And perhaps Glaukon’s request in the Republic for an explanation or account (logos) of the claim that Justice is a good in itself is a clue. But there must be other places where the term appears in Plato. Does anyone have them?
In general, how do you understand the relation between logos in the Christian and the Classical Greek senses?