Ecotopia writing

The Log from the Sea of Cortez

by John Steinbeck
Reviewed by Don Weiss

Steinbeck is best known as the author of The Grapes of Wrath, which brought him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. But he was also an enthusiastic marine biologist. In fact, he studied marine biology at Stanford, though he left there without graduating. It was only later, when he became a friend of Ed Ricketts, that he became active as a collector of marine specimens for Ricketts’ Pacific Biological Laboratories, which Steinbeck helped keep afloat financially when times were tough.

In the spring of 1940, Steinbeck and Ricketts hired a Monterey Bay fishing boat, The Western Flyer, and cruised through the Gulf of California (AKA The Sea of Cortez) on a collecting trip. Steinbeck and Ricketts then produced a book, Sea of Cortez, of which the narrative section is normally reprinted as The Log from the Sea of Cortez.

Ecotopia writing

Ecology, A Pocket Guide

by Ernest Callenbach
Reviewed by Don Weiss

Wallace Stegner once called ecology “a harder form of literacy” than reading and despaired of teaching the American public to change its ways. Ernest Callenbach, author of the famous novel Ecotopia and many other works, thinks this is an unduly negative view and provides one of the tools we can use to educate one another about ecology — a new book called Ecology, A Pocket Guide. It’s a book both timely and, for us at the Ecology Hall of Fame, particularly comforting.

When we started the Ecology Hall of Fame, we put out the word on the internet, asking for nominations, suggestions and comments. Of the emails that came back to us, several argued that our basic concept was flawed. The writers felt we were misusing the term “ecology.” It was, they argued, a scientific term with no implications for social action, a non-philosophic concept. They said what we were creating was an “environmental movement hall of fame” and asked that we change the name.

Ecotopia writing

The Moral Equivalent of War [William James]

by William James

This essay, based on a speech delivered at Stanford University in 1906, is the origin of the idea of organized national service. The line of descent runs directly from this address to the depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps to the Peace Corps, VISTA, and AmeriCorps. Though some phrases grate upon modern ears, particularly the assumption that only males can perform such service, several racially-biased comments, and the notion that the main form of service should be viewed as a “warfare against nature,” it still sounds a rallying cry for service in the interests of the individual and the nation.

The war against war is going to be no holiday excursion or camping party. The military feelings are too deeply grounded to abdicate their place among our ideals until better substitutes are offered than the glory and shame that come to nations as well as to individuals from the ups and downs of politics and the vicissitudes of trade. There is something highly paradoxical in the modern man’s relation to war. Ask all our millions, north and south, whether they would vote now (were such a thing possible) to have our war for the Union expunged from history, and the record of a peaceful transition to the present time substituted for that of its marches and battles, and probably hardly a handful of eccentrics would say yes. Those ancestors, those efforts, those memories and legends, are the most ideal part of what we now own together, a sacred spiritual possession worth more than all the blood poured out. Yet ask those same people whether they would be willing, in cold blood, to start another civil war now to gain another similar possession, and not one man or woman would vote for the proposition. In modern eyes, precious though wars may be they must not be waged solely for the sake of the ideal harvest. Only when forced upon one, is a war now thought permissible.

Ecotopia writing


by Henry David Thoreau

This essay was presented as a lecture by Thoreau in his later years but only published after his death. It’s best known quote, “In wildness is the preservation of the world,” has become one of the rallying cries of the environmental movement. But Thoreau means much more by the phrase than most of his modern admirers realize. “Wildness” is Nature itself, and Man is seen as an aspect or manifestation of Nature. The rules that apply to one apply to the other. This is, in fact, one of the three seminal works of the environmental movement, the other two being Emerson’s Nature and George Perkins Marsh’s Man and nature; or, Physical geography as modified by human action.

Ecotopia writing

The Long Lost Last Dialogues of Socrates

By Plato

Responsible for their translation and publication--Paul A. Lee, Director
The Platonic Academy
Santa Cruz, California

September l981


The Academy has located two important sites:

* from Professor Brumbaugh of Yale University we have been given the address of the original Academy. It is now our intention to reconstitute the original Acaemy on its original site in Athens

* some years ago, a former student studying and travelling in Greece--Rick Baker--sent this small photograph of the prison where Socrates was incarcerated and executed, or so it was thought, for thousands of years. It is now possible to correct this historical confusion about the execution and death of Socrates, and, at the same time, confirm his place in history of great men, participating in divinity, in so far as he was a source of veneration, and a check against the fall into radical evil. History has recourse to figures like Socrates who represent the unreflective striving toward what is noble in the course of reflecting upon it--Socrates and his confession of ignorance--the docta ignorantia--is the doorway to this reflection.

Socrates did not die in this prison as has been thought. He was squirreled away and kept in secret, the most carefully guarded secret in Athens at the time. Perhaps for all time. Socrates alive! Back from the dead! Seven more years of teaching! The secret message! All of this is revealed in the long lost last dialogues of Socrates to his students, foremost among them, Plato.

This remarkable find, the first archaeological attempt of the Platonic Academy of Santa Cruz, redefines Plato Studies. Beginning with Socrates, in these last dialogues, Plato reads like the Gospel of John. It is clear from the recovery of these 'lost' dialogues that the 'divinity' of Socrates was a thiing to be kept secret, to be transmitted to the initiated, those for whom the spark had ignited after association with a teacher, and the love of philosophy is born.

The Socrates-In-Seclusion, where retreat from this world is complete, is the Socrates of the Desert Fathers, the Hermits, the self-exiles from a civilization falling apart. Thomas Merton would have appreciated the Socrates of the long last dialogues.

The Platonic Academy thanks all of those who have supported this work.

Special thanks goes to Jack Stauffacher of the Greenwood Press, San Francisco, whose fine-press, hand-set, edition of the PHAEDRUS, prompted the formation of the Platonic Academy of Santa Cruz. We dedicate this effort to him in grateful recognition of his inspiration and guiding light.

Platonic Academy of Santa Cruz Announces A Rare Find of Platonic Dialogues

On the site of the original Platonic Academy a brief dig was conducted which turned up two ancient manuscripts, still perfectly preserved, containing the long lost last dialogues of Socrates, given in the last years of his life, after he survived his so-called execution.

These secret teachings form the heart of the Socratic Theology and reveal, for the first time, the intimate relation between Plato and Socrates.

They are the basis for Socrates' reputation as a Saviour and Messiah, thanks to his overcoming the anxiety of having-to-die, through the Socratic confession of self-delusion.

Now translated and published for the first time, they are a revolutionary contribution to Plato studies and the history of the humanities.

Lost Dialogues of Plato Found

In an unprecedented find, the Platonic Academy, of Santa Cruz, California, announces the discovery of the long lost dialogues of Plato, two Socratic dialogues, delivered by Socrates after his recovery from his presumed execution by hemlock.

It is now known that Socrates, in fact, did not die, but revived from a deep trance state, induced by an herbal concoction, capable of simulating death.

Spiritied away by his friends who were thought to have conducted his funeral and burial rites, Socrates was kept in seclution and absolute secrecy until his eventual death, some eight years later.

During this time, Socrates revealed to his disciples, foremost among them, Plato, the true meaning of his life, to be known as the Socratic Theology, at the heart of which is the Thymos Doctrine.

The Thymos Doctrine is the Socratic reflection on the vital root of existence and the basis for human self-affirmation, understood as "justification-in-spite-of"... The thymos doctrine contains Socrates' meditation on the history of Greek thought from Homer to himself and his self-interpretation in terms of the breakthrough to rational self-consciousness.

Socrates knew that this was achieved at the cost of vitality. Thought would sap the vital forces of the root of existence. Disastrous consequences would follow for our relation to the natural order. A whole new appreciation of Homer is expressed in these last dialogues, completely reversing the negative appraisal of Homer and the Oral Culture, as set forth in the Republic.

A fully developed awareness of the Perfect Tense, the tense of epic, of accomplished action, re-enacted, comes into view, in the self-awareness of Socrates, as though returned from death, to see life again and this time whole. The Socratic comprehension of the meaning of existence takes on new clarity in these last dialogues, where, Socrates, in seclusion, speaks his views on the meaning of life.

These Perfect Tense dialogues reveal the meaning of the myth in Plato, at the center of which is Socrates. The principles of the Socratic Myth constitute the Socratic Theology, the key term of which is thymos. This unreflective striving for what is noble is reaffirmed by Socrates as the urging of life-itself, prompting us to our lines. Departing from the notions of puppets, sleepwalkers, the deluded, Socrates reaffirms the meaning of existence and its vital root.

The vital root of existence, the ground of vital self-affirmation, the garden of existence, a theme that preoccupies the secret teachings of Socrates in these last late dialogues finds expression in the Academy of Plato where the Socratic garden was planted, the basis for the identification of Plato with the tradition of medicinal herbs and the meaning of pharmakon--medicines to charm; it was in the Academy garden that plants appropriate to philosophy were grown--from sage to thyme.

Medicinal plants were sacred to Asclepias, for whom the milkweeds are named, the Greek god of healing. The first to impart herbal lore, the teacher of Asclepias and of Achilles--Chiron the Centaur--is held up, by Socrates, as an example of thymos. The figure of the horse-man, as well as the horse-woman, is an archetype of the unreflective striving for what is noble, as only a noble horse can represent. The vitality of the horse, the courage of the horse, the spiritedness of the horse, all specify the meaning of thymos, as the vital drive of existence.

Thymos is just this biologically endowed spirit at the origin of the effort we call existence.


The Long Lost Dialogues of Plato Now Revealed

In a sample dig at the original site of the Platonic Academy, a spectacular find was made, in the form of two hithertofore unknown and lost dialogues of Plato concerning the death and fate of Socrates and containing in its clearest form--the Socratic Theology.

Until these dialogues were found, it was thought that the Socratic Theology was largely imbedded in the myths told by Socrates in the preceding dialogues. In these long lost dialogues, Socrates makes clear the central teaching of the Socratic theolgoy. It is an elaboration and interpretation of the two key myths as told in the Phaedrus and the Republic with references to other myths in other dialogues.

Central to the Socratic Theology is the thymos doctrine, the Socratic meditation on the vital root of existence, critical to an understanding of philosophy as therapy, as defined by Socrates.

The thymos doctrine is the emergence of Homeric views, as expressed in the Achilles Theology, into full rational exposition. It is an argument for the existence of God from the point of view of the Perfect Tense. In other words, it is a linguistic argument for the existence of God, as though God were Self-disclosing in the Perfect Tense of language. That there should be such a tense is an argument for the existence of God. It is not based on the self-transcendence of the human mind. This is made possible by the Perfect Tense. Therefore, it is a mistake to argue from human self-transcendence to a highest being called God, as though logical moves could carry it through, as though self-transcendence necessarily implied a highest being called God. This is not the case.

The dynamics of human self-transcendence occur within the structure of the perfect tense of human language. The perfect tense is the tense of myth. It is the myth that reveals the existence of God.

Therefore, the Achilles Theology and the Socratic Theology are imbedded in the myths of Homer and Plato.

Now, for the first time, they are laid bare in these last dialogues of Socrates.

Heigegger on Self-delusion-- Of their shining splendour, taking that glimpse into the Iliad and Odyssey where they can be glimpsed again albeit it in retrospect, a memory trace, a light that was.

The Archaic Smile

Heidegger associates hiddenness, with mislead, deception, as the opposite of unconcealedness or what is manifestly revealed and disclosed--opened. He pursues the meaning of mislead: H'apate (is there an association to the French epater, as in le bourgeois?) is detour, by-way, and off-way, making available another prospect exchanging the right way for the wrong way--the off-way deceives as off-way, promising what it can't deliver, leading to a concealment, a dissembling and distorting...So much is clear. After all, the biblical word for sin, hamartia, borrowed from the Greek means missing the mark, along with losing the right way, two major symbols for the meaning of evil, untruth, and delusion. (cf. Ricoeur).

As Heidegger calls Aletheia a goddess, from the Proem of Parmenides, so Ate is her counterpart, from the Myth of Ate in the Iliad. Self-delusion is juxtaposed to truth. "The myth expresses what is to be said before all else." p.60.