Plato’s Phaedrus and the Paideia of Søren Kierkegaard

In the summer of 2022, a friend invited me to join a discussion group which gets its jollies reading and discussing Plato’s dialogues line by line in minute detail. Before long it became obvious to me that I had entered the gates of heaven though I was much more alive than dead. Old pockets of gray matter long dormant, but still harboring vestigial memories of Attic Greek, learned in college a long time ago, and Hellenic culture, shrouded in darkness, received light. That should have been sufficient for any philosophical junkie.

But gluttony overcame me and I talked myself into joining a second discussion group on reviewing, also with tedious devotion, the complete works of Søren Kierkegaard. Both discussion groups came to me through the medium of under the auspices of The Chicago Philosophy Meetup. The Chicago Philosophy Meetup is what you call an “enabler”.

Reading Kierkegaard’s works, which tend to drip with irony, refer to theological and philosophical figures and concepts only obliquely, and take pseudonymous inscriptions, I was while very much intrigued also very much overwhelmed. An oppressive cloud of ignorance hovered over me, as I tuned in on our weekly discussion of Kierkegaard parked on a street in Chicago on a fine autumnal evening, idly researching an influence on K.— it was Herder or Hamman or some “H” name—when I serendipitously came upon a course offering “Søren Kierkegaard – Subjectivity, Irony and the Crisis of Modernity” taught by Professor Jon Stewart—auspiciously out of the University of Copenhagen—that started that same day.

That was all the serendipity I needed. Or so I thought. Unbeknownst to me at the time. Professor Stewart’s schtick concentrates on demonstrating Kierkegaard’s indebtedness to Socrates (the other guy I had been trying to “get my mind around”).

By this “chance” moment, I was afforded the means to get Kierkegaard better by getting Socrates better and vice-versa.

Flash forward to early April in 2023, I was dreading the task of writing an essay for my final assignment in the Kierkegaard course, while we completing a reading of the Phaedrus dialogue with my Plato meetup group. Clearly, fate ordained that I combine the Phaedrus into the paper, the necessity of which became abundantly clear as reacher lead me to discover more and more reasons to emphasize the significance of the Phaedrus for better appreciating Kierkegaard.

I now have serendipitous whiplash.

Here is the most recent draft of the essay, which I seek to improve and is open to your suggestions.



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