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A remedy for enthusiasm: why modern science could not be Platonic

Where I grew up, priests were not the least bit interested in philosophy, nor the history of ideas. Then I met the Orthodox. Then I met the Rumanian-trained Orthodox priest Doru Costache, author of Humankind and the Cosmo.

Doru took an interested in my thoughts on why Western science became separated from theology, and why modern science could never be Platonic.

In this video I explain how, paradoxically, the only science permissible in the Middle Ages was atheistic science. I then explain the political threat posed by the revival of the Platonic “enthusiastic” attitude to science during the Renaissance. The story finishes with the Royal Charter won by a society for the advancement of science during the restoration of the British monarchy in the 1660s. This is where atheistic science was successfully re-marketed as a remedy for the religious enthusiasm that was threatening the spiritual authority of the state Church during the civil war. This marketing model was both hostile to Platonism and very successful, and very successful it was when exported onto continental Europe as integral to what we now call “The Enlightenment.”

Twilight Sessions Nov-Dec 2020

St Basil, St John Chrysostom and St Gregory the Theologian
St Basil, St John Chrysostom and St Gregory the Theologian

Melbourne’s silly season looks not to be so silly this year with COVID restrictions continuing to keep us indoors and online just as the evenings start to fill with light and warmth. Our final sessions for the year begin right after Melbourne Cup week with the ever-popular introductory course, Reading Plato (Tuesdays from 10 Nov 2020), and then one other pre-Christmas special where we reflect on the Platonic origins of Christianity (Mondays from 9 Nov 2020).

Christianity’s beginnings as a Jewish sect are hard to miss, but the subsequent Hellenistic influences are often neglected or ignored. Folks are often surprised to find just how Hellenistic Christianity actually is! The influence of Platonism from the earliest times through to the Renaissance is a rich and fascinating tale. Platonism and Christianity will be more a lecture series than a reading group. It is open to all, including those who have not yet completed Reading Plato. And while some knowledge of Plato and of Christianity will be an advantage, those lacking in this background should still enjoy these classes.