Wednesday, December 19, 2007

God, Plato, Forms, and Queers

So I was perusing the Medieval Club of New York website, when I came across an article about a conference on Hetero/Queer sexuality in the Middle Ages. One of the key ideas that seems to permeate this area of studies is that unlike today's conception of homosexuality, which views it as a deviation from the heterosexual norm, the Medievals conceived both hetero and homo sexual activity to be deviations from the "ideal" of sex, which in the minds of the medieval Christian philosophers was viewed as the sex that Adam and Eve had prior to the Fall. Here is how St Augustine envisions it in Chapter 26 of the City of God:
Surely, every member of the body was equally submissive to the mind and, surely, a man and his wife could play their active and passive roles in the drama of conception without the lecherous promptings of lust, with perfect serenity of soul and with no sense of disintegration between body and soul . . . the seminal flow could have reached the womb with as little rupture of the hymen and by the same vaginal ducts as it at present the case, in reverse, with the menstrual flux. And just as the maturity of the fetus could have brought the child to birth without the moanings of the mother in pain, so could connection and conception have occurred by a mutually deliberate union unhurried by the hunger of lust.

So this really brought home how much that whole worldview was dependent on the Platonic ideas of Forms. And I started thinking that the notion that God is the ultimate Perfection, which seems to be the thrust of the rationalists, such as the Rambam and Rabbeinu Bachya, is really a Platonic concept. [I know it is not much of a revelation]. I don't know if these ideas existed in the much earlier Jewish rabbinic works. Anyone?

So, following my flight of fancy, I googled Plato Forms and God and came across this book.

The interesting thing about this book is that the author is a Professor of Philosophy and Classics with a focus on Queer Studies.

The circle is complete!


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