DISCUSSION: THE LAST OF THE GREAT TEACHERS CREATES THE ACADEMY OF MASTERS
In his works, Plato presents Socrates to us as the greatest of all teachers; in his institutional work, he also tells us that Socrates is not an example to emulate. It is only in contrasting Plato’s institutional work with his writings that his salient originality and his importance can be fully appreciated.
Even though Plato spent his life defending Socrates’s reputation, he founded in 387 BC the antidote to the omnipotence of the great masters by creating an Academy (the name of the gardens that surround a building). The structure of the Academy indicates that from the time of the judgment on the fate of Socrates, Plato had intensely questioned his former beliefs. It contains a library, lecture halls, and rooms for particularly gifted students.60 This Academy gathers authorities in many disciplines to establish an education that cannot be associated with one sect or one school of thought. In this way, students can learn from masters who represent different approaches. Nothing will stop them from specializing after having followed different ways of thinking. This Academy is recognized as the foundation of the academic institutions (wherein lies the etymological link).
Socrates’s teaching addressed itself to the elite students who frequented his school. To discover the Ideas in a school like his, engaging in intense reflection is a luxury that very few people could afford. Plato and then Aristotle proceeded from the conviction that we all have the same truths within us. They can be made explicit, together or individually. A public knowledge could thus complement the unavoidable self-exploration every citizen must undertake.
The Academy founded science, to the extent that it initiated a collective search for the truth. Aristotle was a student and then a teaching member of this institution. We attribute to him the foundation of the scientific movement. Science is then conceived as coordination between rigorous observations and reflections undertaken collectively to be able to enter into resonance with the intuitions of the soul. Therein lies the potential to foresee the possibility of creating a kind of human knowledge able to bring about the true functioning of the world and the way humans should participate in the future of this world. The scientific movement has the task of producing irrefutable
truths, close to the visions inspired by the Truth of the world of Ideas.
The different psychotherapies constitute a domain that has not yet developed enough to be considered academic. The question here is not to know up to what point the formulations produced by psychotherapists are scientificâ but up to what point they are produced by an ethics of knowledge compatible with science. This implies the capacity to leave behind the structure of particular schools, masters, and teachings that constitute themselves in a conceptual frame that is limited to a specific endeavor. The inability of the schools of psychotherapy to produce concepts and terms common to the whole of their discipline and debates on the different ways to understand these common notions keep them in an intellectual status that predates Plato.
Rene Descartes: The Body and the Soul of Scientists