Sunday, July 06, 2003

If we had a political culture our president would be in immanent danger of impeachment. But we don't and so his handlers are merely beginning to feel nervous.
I admit I'm torn. I want to feel sympathy for the American people but I can't quite pull it off. I was raised to be aware of the outside world and to think I had obligations beyond those to myself or to my friends and family. Americans as a whole seem to begin with their allegiances limited to a few square miles, and as they climb the economic ladder, though geographic distances increase, the number of people in their group gets smaller and smaller, until finally they're alone.

Brad DeLong put up The Declaration of Independence on the 4th, and I read it for the first time in years. You really become aware in the writing of a tension between claims for individual liberty and claims for the freedom of one community from the restrictions placed upon it by another. The conflict runs through the language like a stripe.
"...let Facts be submitted to a candid World." What a wonderful line.

Jack Balkin on The Supreme Court as a Majoritarian Institution.
Also Mark Kleiman on Plato's Euthyphro. As a result of this discussion I picked up my pocket Plato and read through the dialogue.

I have to admit I have a hard time reading it straight. In the Jowett translation Socrates sounds like a character out of Oscar Wilde: another aristocratic homosexual having sport with the simplicity of the the masses (and later paying the price.) But Socrates' arrogance and condescension- or that of his author- is more than a little cruel. And Kleiman seems to want there to be a specific point of resolution where there is none. I find it frustrating when people want their problems solved by books. Plato constructed a dialogue between a pedant and a trickster and the acolytes of the trickster, beginning at his death, made him a pedant as well.
Soc. (Jowett): "And is, then, all which is just pious? or, is that which is pious all just, but that which is just only in part and not all pious?"

Did we not owe the King of England hotsiotes (piety)? But were our actions not just? Socrates hints that Euthyphro has a way out -Is it not possible that his prosecution of his father is just but not pious?- but Euthyphro doesn't take it. And I think Kleiman, like Euthyphro, is too much in want of an answer.

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