Friendship and the Truth

I recently ordered "Voegelin in Toronto" from the University of Missouri Press. This is a four and one half hour DVD of a conference held in the late 1970s. Part of this DVD is a discussion held on reading Plato's Republic, with the great Professors Allan Bloom and Eric Voegelin.

At the beginning of the talk, Professor Bloom utters something marvelous about friendship. Friendship, he says, is possible only given the oneness of the truth. This is the Platonic view of things, anyway; the reason for philosophy was ultimately true friendship - friendship being two persons able to communicate without any misunderstanding, and delight in what is together. This is only possible with true knowledge of what is.

This idea stands in stark contrast to modern philosophies which emphasize individual perspectives and claim that ultimately, there is no truth, and that nothing is really held in common. Friendship, in this understanding, is really quite impossible. You cannot be truly friends with anyone because there is no way to relate to anyone else. Everyone is isolated from each other because there is no common language.

I'm further struck that this is an idea coming from an ancient Greek and an interpretation of his work by a Professor reputed to be areligious(Bloom). This is strange because this idea, of course, is a thoroughly Catholic idea. It is the Eternal Word that makes all life and all true friendship possible. Father Neuhaus said once that the deepest ground for human friendship is Jesus Christ. Christ is the source of all truth and all goodness and is indeed these things himself. So the ancient Greeks and the quirky professor know the same thing as the Christian mystic but without any knowledge of Revelation. From this it is clear that some aspects of the beauty of God's design for human life, love and friendship are knowable without the Gospel. But oh, how they are lit up and glorified with it.

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