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Carl A. Levenson received his doctorate from the University of Chicago, where he wrote his dissertation on Augustine's Confessions under the direction of Mircea Eliade, Paul Ricœur, and David Tracy. For 35 years he was a Professor of Philosophy at Idaho State University. He and his family now reside in Seattle where he lectures and occasionally teaches, and studies ancient philosophy in the light of current events. He hopes to finish a book about Socrates and prophecy.
Socrates Cover image
Being, Reality, and the Gods
Second, revised edition 2022
Paperback original, 174 pages, $25
ISBN: 978-0-88214-960-8
Kindle/Apple Books, $9.99
ISBN: 978-0-88214-962-2

In Plato’s dialogues, we find many references to Corybantic rites—rites of initiation performed in honor of the goddess Rhea. But in the dialogue titled Euthydemus, there is more than a mere reference to the rites to be found. Within the context of Socratic dialectic, the ancient rites of the Corybantes are acted out—although veiled and distorted. This is what Carl Levenson argues in his book.
Since the Corybantic rites are of the Dionysian/Eleusinian type, Plato gives us a glimpse of the reality of Dionysian ecstasy. This interesting knowledge of these rites has usually been lost in the academic assertion that the Euthydemus is just a satire on philosophic arguing, and hence it has been consigned to a marginal place in Plato’s canon. But here Plato is rejecting his abstract theories in favor of intimacy with the reality of the world, of matter and being rather than form. Levenson states that complete immersion in the material substrate of the world is what Plato discovers at the heart of Dionysian ecstasy, and the aim of ecstasy. Plato says it is to purify the soul of ancient guilt.
With a new Afterword by the author.