According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Plato seems to a reader in New England an American genius. His broad humanity transcends all sectional lines.” Much like the sevententh-century Cambridge Platonists and their contemporaries, at once influential, as John Dewey observed, on Emerson and other brands of nineteenth-century Idealism, all gathered together “under the spell of Plato” to reinterpret authors ancient and modern. In the most famous, perhaps, and certainly much-quoted remark of that latter-day Cambridge Platonist, especially influential in America, A. N. Whitehead writes, “The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato”.
Whitehead and Emerson were right: Greek Philosophy is not simply an interesting “antiquarian” pursuit. it is part and parcel of American thought. Whether discussing C. S. Peirce’s use of the Platonic dialogues, the modern psychotherapeutic applications of Socratic midwifery, or the arguments in Plato’s Phaeclo—not to mention the Platonism of Canadian Transcendentalist and artist Lawren Harris, whose stark and stunningly beautiful painting provides this volume’s cover art—the essays gathered herein reflect the continuing tradition of a critical and ever-creative adaptation of Plato and the Neoplatonic thought in modern North America.
Jay A. Bregman is emeritus Professor of History and Religious Studies at the University of Maine.
Melanie B. Mineo independent scholar of Platonism and American Metaphysical Religion, taught Philosophy and Religious Studies at Dowling Cirge.
Platonic Traditions in American Thought, Jay A. Bregman & Melanie B. Mineo, The Prometheus Trust in association with the International Society for Neoplatonic Studies, 2017
Paperback. Octavo. Crease at the bottom of the back cover. otherwise like new. 339 pp.