Posted on: March 13th, 2007 Plato and Chesterton on the Sun, against Derrida

Anyone who has spent much time in discussion with me will know that I love to quote G.K. Chesterton’s analogy of the sun, in which he basically says that Christian mysteries (ie, the Trinity and the Incarnation) are like the sun: you cannot look directly at them, but they illuminate everything that we see.

Only now am I realizing how dependent this idea is on Plato. In the Republic (509b) Plato teaches (in the words of Catherine Pickstock) that "as the source of all light, the sun is more diffi-cult to see than anything else, but it is a beneficent mystery that lets things be seen in their true nature, while itself remaining but obliquely visible. As well as letting things be seen, the sun gives things to be seen, for although it is beyond being, it is the ground of all being(s)."

What this passage asserts, and what Jacques Derrida fails to see in his reading of the Phaedrus, is the transcendant, ecstatic nature of the good. It is beyond us (and all other beings), but it is particible. 

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