Governance with Love, from New York to Boston. @platobooktour

My investigations here started 15 years ago into information, particularly as knowledge in a decision-making context, but it’s been some years since I decided governance was the umbrella term for that agenda – the basis for enacting best decisions – for any groups of people or constituencies of any size.

Furthermore, wherever the information does not simply represent “objective” evidence forming the basis of a “logical, scientific” rational decision considered non-contentious by the stakeholders, then governance involves rational agreement on value-judgements by the group. Not all values can be reduced to objective logic, but most values are fundamentally based on love. Love of fellow man individually and collectively and what’s best for us and our cosmic environment. The qualitative nature of such values, particularly expressed as love, do not sit well with those who cling to the supremacy of logical positive, scientistic rationale of falsification and critical argument. But love it is. Even humanists agree. [Here][and here].

I’m no scholar of Plato, but anyone researching the philosophies, can’t fail to notice they are reading footnotes to Plato. And clearly for all it’s faults Plato’s Republic is the de-facto check-list for constructing a state governance manual. When I read Rebecca Goldstein’s Betraying Spinoza some years ago, I drew much the same message of love summarised above. Amor Vincit Omnia. Currently I’m reading her Plato at the Googleplex a good 2/3 through as I type. Borrowing the literary structure from Plato and from her earlier 36 Arguments, she places her subject character at the centre of a “speaking tour”, a sequence of dialogues in narrative time interspersed, in the current fiction, with historical chapters summarising the relevant original dialogues by, and contemporary writings about, Plato. In that sense her latest is a tougher read than 36 Arguments where (with hindsight) the Spinozan allusions are woven directly into the fictional narrative, and the 36 actual arguments are relegated to an appendix so as not to interrupt the narrative flow.

But, Googleplex nevertheless works really well. At the end of the 4th chapter (delta) Plato at the 42nd Street Y, there is a real cliff-hanger (or perhaps a gag I’ve not got yet) but it goes into a sequence of chapters majoring on love, love and more love as the basis for wisdom. Love in all its guises – Erotic, Platonic (as we typically misunderstand it), Carnal, Any-Which-Way-Orientated and Complicated in the modern-relationships agony-aunt sense. The language is really well crafted and necessarily varied too as the author puts her words as well as Plato’s in many different characters including 21st century Plato himself.

In a footnote in the Chapter I Don’t Know How To Love Him, this turn of phrase made me smile:

Eros is the full-on obsessional “in-love” experience,
the kind that makes people do crazy things,
like move from New York to Boston.

Given that I already made a privacy-invasive comment about witnessing the awkward (to me) presence of Ms Goldstein “in-love” in Cambridge, I’m pretty sure this note is autobiographical – and clearly vindicates the central theme, that personally invested love is …. what it’s all about. Real world rationality needs to welcome that crazy little thing called love, back into its domain.

Now, to resolve that cliff-hanger.

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