Authors: MAX MAXWELL & MELETE
The character and focus of the writing on this web site is the result of two people sharing their lives together through the philosophical examination of ideas, life, the universe, and our own character. My dialogues with Melete, who is the co-author of most of the writing on this web site, have been a manifestation of the best of a Socratic philosophy of conversation, because her philosophical dialogues with me over the course of 33 years have helped me to become a better human being. In the absence of her thoughtful, poetic, and humanity loving presence, the nature and quality of my writing, thinking, and capacity to live well would have suffered tremendously.
To the extent that the writing on this website has any depth of heart at all, it is a result of her feeding me that heart for decades. Over time, the divergent characteristics of our minds merged together through philosophical dialogue to the effect that she is now able to give depth of heart to all of my ideas and I am able to speak her sensing. In the absence of her extraordinarily sensitive thinking, my own work and writing would have merely been an exercise in grotesquely over abstracted and mostly inaccessible analyses of complex structures.
My own journey in philosophy began with my reading of Plato in the summer of 1981. You can read about that here:
In the early years I studied the art of government, as part of my fascination with Plato, through my participation in business management. I left business to earn a BA and MA, and later worked as a research and development project manager for a company that invents new ways to teach that have been used in every state in the US and internationally from elementary school through college. Currently most of my work is devoted to research and writing.
In 2006 I started posting essays on this web site. Today, these self published writings have been used at all levels of education including, reading assignments used in elementary to graduate school, PhD research, cited in journals and university press publications, and used as a resource for faculty development and accreditation remediation for colleges.
Melete (a pseudonym) spent most of her energy in the first half of her adult life as a mother raising kids. She never went to college or worked in a field related to philosophy or education. What she did do was to participate in one simple habit, which she expressed with extraordinary persistence over decades. That habit was to be deeply thoughtful about life. Over the decades she gave a lot of energy and time to thinking about the nature of human virtue and life. Today, she can run circles around me when it comes to clarity of thought about what is essential to living well. I can always count on her to listen to my interpretation of works or to read the texts of the original authors with an ability to put things into simpler terms with a more useful focus than either my interpretations or the texts themselves. I am thankful that she has shared her journey with me for so long.
We are currently working on the completion of the book length essay, "The Fundamentals of Education: A Socratic Perspective on The Cultivation of Humanity". This essay uses George Steiner's criticism of the academic study of the arts (his book Real Presences) as a starting place for exploration. I constructed a critical rereading Steiner's book through four years of my own experiments with participating in artistic study and performance in order to articulate the first principle of all possible Socratic perspectives on the education of an individual. This first principle is then extended to the public discussion of ideas. The ability to bring this first principle to full power in the life of a human being is examined through an exploration of the relationships between repetition, variation, increasing complexity, and meaning, which is used to synthesize aspects of the philosophies of Socrates, Immanuel Kant, and Nietzsche into a simple framework for doing ethics based on physics. The essay will end with a simple description of the principles that underlay Socrates' ideal of living an examined life, which are the plain fruit of this unusual exploration. The principles needed for actually living an examined life are the fundamentals of education. This essay's take on living an examined life will be shown to be a universal human philosophy that is not only compatible with all possible world views concerned with the task of living well, but is already a necessary foundation for all such world views that is either explicitly acknowledged by these world views or unconsciously assumed. Melete is responsible for insisting that we focus on key ideas, clarifying how those ideas will be expressed, helping me structure the relationship of the different aspects of our thought in writing, and coming up with new ideas that are incorporated into the essay. Without her contribution, the structure and content of this essay would have been impossible.
Copyright © 2016 Kenneth J. Maxwell Jr.