Ada Palmer: Plato vs. Metaphysics, or How Very Hard it Is to Un-Learn Freud: “My students can know intellectually that Plato’s world was full of unfreedom…

…but still feel instinctively that a Republic which offers universal, equal education to all children, of all parents, all races, and both sexes, then gives you an exam to determine the job that will make you most happy in life, is a step toward totalitarianism.  So, well done, Enlightenment, you made a society of young people who really think with freedom and equality as defaults (even if that has the flip side of making it harder for them look past our paper claims of universal equality recognize the real inequalities caused by issues like poverty and race).  As for the Republic, the simple conclusion is that a richer analysis of Plato’s alternate society requires keeping in mind which default society Plato is critiquing, but that is only the first step of engaging with the question of historicity…