15 March 2005

Handle to Finish

Quine used to say that, when he was department chairman, he would take care of administrative work first thing in the morning, and be sure to handle no piece of mail more than once. When he took something out of his box and first viewed it, he would do then what was required, so that he could put it aside for good. In that way he kept up with that sort of work and left the bulk of the day free for philosophy.

That strikes me as a good pattern for work generally. I would apply the lesson here in the following way. I did not need to review Chris Bobonich's Plato's Utopia Recast, and I was not planning to read it for the while. But I was drawn to examine it through J-F Pradeau's lecture. Recall that material from Bobonich's book helped me to sharpen and then evaluate better Pradeau's thesis.

But now that I'm studying the book, and it's on my desk, I consider that it makes sense to spend a little more time with it, so that I can settle my mind on its chief claims.

"But why secondary literature?!", someone might object, not unreasonably. (I have a professional responsibility to study it, as would a graduate student, but that's not generally shared.) The reason, of course, is that I would study Bobonich for insight into Plato, and Plato because of insight he might give into philosophical truth. It seems to me that all is well, if this order is observed.

Although the book is large (475 pp, and then another hundred pages of endnotes), it defends two or three chief claims, and these involve central ideas of Plato. In a later post--drawing on the helpful reviews of Lorenz and Rowe--I'll state those themes, and what seem to be the main problem areas of the book.

Again, this is a journal. I'm not an expert and will be discovering as I go along.

Of course I'll be following other threads at the same time.