By turns wickedly funny and profoundly illuminating, Encounters and Reflections presents a captivating and unconventional portrait of the life and works of Seth Benardete. One of the leading scholars of ancient thought, Benardete here reflects on both the people he knew and the topics that fascinated him throughout his career in a series of candid, freewheeling conversations with Robert Berman, Ronna Burger, and Michael Davis.
The first part of the book discloses vignettes about fellow students, colleagues, and acquaintances of Benardete's who later became major figures in the academic and intellectual life of twentieth-century America. We glimpse the student days of Alan Bloom, Stanley Rosen, George Steiner, and we discover the life of the mind as lived by well-known scholars such as David Grene, Jacob Klein, and Benardete's mentor Leo Strauss. We also encounter a number of other learned, devoted, and sometimes eccentric luminaries, including T.S. Eliot, James Baldwin, Werner Jaeger, John Davidson Beazley, and Willard Quine. In the book's second part, Benardete reflects on his own intellectual growth and on his ever-evolving understanding of the texts and ideas he spent a lifetime studying. Revisiting some of his recurrent themes—among them eros and the beautiful, the city and the law, and the gods and the human soul—Benardete shares his views on thinkers such as Plato, Homer, and Heidegger, as well as the relations between philosophy and science and between Christianity and ancient Roman thought.
Engaging and informative, Encounters and Reflections brings Benardete's thought to life to enlighten and inspire a new generation of thinkers.
Benardete (1930-2001), who taught for many years at NYU and the New School, was a leading figure in American classics, publishing many books and translations, including the recent Argument of the Action and Plato's "Laws." This book grew out of a number of conversations among Benardete and his students. The first part focuses on his encounters with some of the leading figures in philosophy and the classics, including David Grene and especially his mentor, Leo Strauss, and with fellow students at the University of Chicago, such as George Steiner, Allan Bloom, and Severn Darden. The second part focuses on some of his contributions, from his early challenge to philological orthodoxy, arguing for a dynamic plot in the Iliad instead of the oral formulaic, to his later analysis of the "indeterminate Dyad" in Plato, as well as to his work in Greek and Roman law. While these conversations are always lively and fun, they assume a background that limits their interest mostly to specialists. A bibliography would also have been desirable. For academic collections only.-T.L. Cooksey, Armstrong Atlantic State Univ., Savannah, GA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.