“On the Gods and the Good,” Polytheist Leadership Conference, 7/12/14

July 13, 2014

I was honored to present this paper at the first Polytheist Leadership Conference on July 12, 2014. My deepest gratitude to H. Jeremiah Lewis and Galina Krasskova, the organizers of the conference, to all of the other distinguished presenters, and most of all to the dedicated, impassioned attendees who made this event so rewarding.

On the Gods and the Good



6 Responses to ““On the Gods and the Good,” Polytheist Leadership Conference, 7/12/14”

  1. Wonderful paper. The parts I grasped were perhaps the most insightful discussions of the Gods I have read, and the parts I did not grasp mean I have some more rereading and thinking to do.

  2. Excellent article. Don’t you think that Socrates was actually equating the Good with divine Aither when he describes the illuminating intellect of light and the Sun as ‘The Son of the Good’ in his discussion with Glaucon in The Republic? It seems fairly explicit, at least to me.

    • henadology said

      No, the Good cannot be the aithêr, or indeed anything at all. For if the Good were something, we would still need to ask why that thing is good. We would not have joined Socrates on his “second voyage” (Phaedo 99d), on which he embarks after his disappointment in natural philosophers such as Anaxagoras, who “did not assign any real causes for the ordering of things, but mentioned as causes air and aithêr and water and many other absurdities” (ibid., 98c). These things are absurd, not because one has chosen the wrong things, but because such things are not causes at all in the sense that Socrates seeks, who wants philosophy, as distinct from any other science, to “explain what is best for each and what is good for all in common” (98b).

      • Perhaps I am assuming wrongly that aither to be the most pervasive aspect of divine light, he is equating this light with intellect and understanding, the father/parent of which he calls the Good.

      • Apologies for the iPad-borked reply. Let me rephrase what I was trying to say: In Republic, Socrates seems to be implying that pure essential ethereal fire (i.e. Latin ‘Lux’) is the father or parent of illumination (i.e. Latin ‘Lumen’) and understanding, and therefore implies pure divine intellect is the Good. Aither in the context you quote probably refers to Lux moving in bounded time, but the root of Socrates’ Good seems to be in boundless time. I am still trying to understand the concept, tbh. Pherekydes of Syros had this nailed with his concept of Khronos as the unbegotten ‘I Am’ instead of Chaos at the root of his cosmogony. He was a contemporary of Guatama, of course, albeit separated by the gulf of the Persian Empire.

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