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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 15, No. 9. June 5, 1952

Plato in Trouble

Plato in Trouble


I do feel that your critic "Plato" Who reported the Staff. Student debate has chosen a somewhat inapt name. From my scant knowledge of Greek I understand that Plato in the original has a remarkably lucid style and an extremely logical air. It may have been that "Plato's" appetitive self was nursing a smouldering duodenal ulcer, or perhaps merely a bad liver at the time of the debate. If so, it appears to have continued long enough to prevent his writing style from rising above that level of turgidity which he so readily attributes to the debate.

He is of course, is entitled to his own opinion about the merits or demerits of the debate (though perhaps he shares his namesake's that there is only one correct's truth). I for one would agree that the debate did not rise to the heights which have been achieved in the pant two years. Nevertheless. I would take issue with him on a few points.

The first is his peculiar statement that the debate was not welt attended. One can only conclude either that he came in at five minutes past eleven, or that he (again like his namesake) believes surface reality to be merely a shadow. By an official count at nine o'clock there were 163 people in the hall. True, this is a small proportion of the college; II is also a larger number than a number of recent general meetings have beet) able to collect. I confess myself unable to fathom his reasoning. Maybe "Plato" subscribes to some Pythagorean system or mathematics which is beyond me.

Nor can I follow the peculiar reasoning which enabled him to overlook the brilliant debating speech which was judged first by Dr. Williams.

My own impression was that Mr. Milburn's winning speech was better than anything we have been graced with for the last few years—yet Mr. Milburn came in for no mention. His speech was, on the Judge's verdict, sincere, logical. Hell presented.

Mr. McCreary is also [unclear: assaried] for failing to do more than make "a semi-serious threat" to refute Mr. O'Brien's argument on truth. I behave that the extreme solipsist or Berkleyan view which Mr McCreary mentioned is a sufficient answer. Moreover. I assume that the speaker would prefer it because a rather larger number of people in the audience, not professional (or Stage II) logicians would be able to follow that argument than would follow the equally valid argument which "Plata" mentions Again I find him somewhat inappropriately named.

Your critic appears to have been considerably more exercised in airing his own opinions about the subject rather than in commenting on the debate. Indeed, one could be forgiven for thinking that he is writing his report from what someone else told him of the debate: he knows so little of what went on.

The only attribute which (I as, sume) enables your critic to borrow without other justification the name of a rather gifted philosopher in his distrust of equalitarian democracy. But in this case he should have been consistent enough to deplore, not the fact that there were too row, but that there were too many, at the debate.

It is with some trepidation that I subscribe myself.


[Salient apologises that reportorial difficulties made it impossible to publish a word for word, blow for blow report of the debate. Rather than let the Staff Student debate pass without some, mention (for It is a rather Important event in the year) it was decided to print "Plato's" impressions which we admit were rather inadequate.