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Plato in modern China: A study of contemporary Chinese by Leihua Weng

By Leihua Weng

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11] Wu‟s over-interpretation of his passage indicates another feature of this school. They are eager to interpret Platonic dialogues in terms of the inevitable struggle between philosophy and politics. Even though they acknowledge that both politics and philosophy tends to search for a better life in their own ways, while in their reading practice, they are often too ready to associate politics with wicked rulers and injustice. The theories they have seem to be an over-simplified version of Leo Strauss‟ theory.

Wu puts, “Judging from the whole text of Apology, it is impossible to solve the problems between philosophy and politics; not even Socrates intends to” (130) (My translation). Therefore, Wu disagrees with Burnet and Strycker that Socrates refuses to be exiled because he believes democracy in Athens is the best form of political system; Wu holds that it is not because of democracy that Socrates loves Athens so much (130). While being eager to interpret the whole text of Apology in term of politics, Wu sometimes seems to over-interpret in his reading.

In many aspects, these Platonists are the Chinese “disciples” of Strauss. They not only cite Strauss extensively in their commentary on the Platonic dialogues but also dedicate themselves to introducing Strauss‟s political philosophy to the Chinese reader through translating, editing and publishing his books as well as the works of his students. The readership of Strauss in China is mainly constituted by Platonists, but is not confined to them. Partially because of the consistent efforts of these Chinese Platonists, most of Strauss‟s works have been translated into Chinese and thus have created a relatively large group of readers in China.

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