These dialogs are also on the web on a special separate site: http://www.parkbench.platonicdialogs.com/index.html (just click)
This page is the preface to a series of 6 Platonic dialogs that occur on a park bench, constituting a spiritual journey, or a parable of one. The participants are yours truly and a certain professor Plagno. Totally fictitious, Prof. Plagno is the formerly fully tenured endowed, now emeritus Professor of Platonism-Agnosticism, “Plagno" being an acronymic contraction of Plato and agnosticism. Though fanciful, the professor practices real-life professorial creativity in conveying his mentor’s or anybody’s concepts, comparable to artistic license, and sports both the quaint professorial badge, the bow tie, and the contemporary professorial quirk of calling everybody “dude.” Acting as the antagonist, I am a real enough retired octogenarian MD, very deaf and likely to misunderstand you despite hearing aids, perhaps overly prone to express myself in a splashy way through satire loosely defined and what I like to think is wit and whimsy, plus reckless abuse of puns, alliteration, and tropes especially synecdoches, all curiously akin to Plagno’s style. I’ve met my match. Our exchanges, though cloyingly polite, get pretty heated and our epithets sometimes less than civil.
Our dialogs devolve upon one man – Plato – who, on this fictitious park bench as well as in actuality throughout history, is simultaneously a documented historic figure and a symbol of all generations of philosophers and wannabes who have adopted and/or adapted knowingly and deliberately or unwittingly his core contentions – chair-borne pure reasoning and logic as sole and certainly overriding authority, bundled with a certain hauteur improbably coupled with tolerance, and, crucially, the questioning of everything and, towards God capitalized, agnosticism -- and their innumerable spinoffs, most of which are oblivious to their platonic roots. Thus, or so these minds proclaim, Western Civilization is the product of platonism, with a little help from Judeo-Christianity after being intellectually upgraded by an infusion of platonism or neoplatonism or whatever. And it has, as Plagno credibly boasts, infused the minds of more than a few of the open-minded Seventh-day Adventist (my church) scholars who have been privileged to sit at his feet.
Because Plato famously presented his philosophy in dialog, a large part of which I assume, reasonably I think, to be as fictitious as mine, I have, in homage, espoused his format if not his philosophy. Besides, it seemed the most effective and most circumspect yet outspoken (whimsical) way of synthesizing the great number of real conversations and not infrequently fist-banging arguments in seminars, church pews and Sabbath School classes, small cafes, on long drives, on blogs, all sorts of places including sofas but never a park bench that have been etched into my memory over my very long lifetime. Those were real, some were painfully real, not fiction; only the matrix into which they are woven is.
First dialog: PLATONIC FRIENDSHIP
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