Harold and Allan Bloom, David Foster Wallace, and Plato’s Republic
Recently, I’ve become enamored with Harold Bloom through a series of interviews with Charlie Rose from the early 90s to early 2000s.
My interest seems to has arisen from watching interviews with Charlie Rose and David Foster Wallace. My interest in those interviews arose from my attempt to read every single New Yorker article that mentioned David Foster Wallace. My interest in David Foster Wallace arose from my career counselor at Boston University for my Tax LL.M. program who suggested I read DFW’s review of Bryan Garner’s dictionary in Harper’s Magazine.
Since my early J.D. days, I have been a strong follower of Garner and his ideas on syntax. My love for DFW further gained a connection with a good friend from work who was reading Infinite Jest the same time I was reading it during the summer of 2019. (Is Wikipedia the movie “Infinite Jest” that the novel is based off of?).
Of course my interest in syntax and language stemmed from my freshman year at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. There people frequently discussed Harold Bloom and Allan Bloom.
Allan Bloom’s translation of Plato’s Republic perhaps gained notoriety as the most popular translation of Plato on campus. However, many opposed such a selection. Yet at the same time some confused Allan Bloom with Harold Bloom — similar subjects of interest, different last names. Truth be told, I confused the two initially as well when I was a college student.
Evidently, there’s a lot of mixed feelings about Allan bloom and his translation of Plato’s Republic. For some people it’s the absolute best translation of Plato’s Republic but for other people it is not an accurate representation of the Attic Greek. (The first line goes: “κατέβην χθὲς εἰς Πειραιᾶ”).
But another line of contention against the Bloom translation is that his history concerning Greek philosophy is not accurate. I think the best counter argument is one perhaps found in his introduction of his Republic. There he states that Socrates and Plato we’re doing something effectively new that had not been done in the world or in Greece at all. However there is a substantial amount of evidence even available to Allan Bloom to indicate that Thales and other Greeks have been doing philosophy in the sense of rationalizing and deductive proofs rather than data collecting and small steps in inductive reasoning prior to Socrates.
© Charles Edward Andrew Lincoln IV