Leo, Jane; Jane, Leo

So, remember at the end of Persuasion where Anne tells Captain Wentworth that although Lady Russell was not correct to destroy their engagement, Anne was correct to listen to Lady Russell?  Here:

“To me, she was in the place of a parent. Do not mistake me, however.  I am not saying she did not err in her advice… and I certainly never should, in any circumstance of tolerable similarity, give such advice.  But I mean that I was right in submitting to her, and that if I had done otherwise, I should have suffered more in continuing the engagement than I did even in giving it up, because I should have suffered in my conscience.”

Well this is exactly what Strauss says about Socrates.  Anne is Socrates, and Lady Russell is Athens.  Or extend it:  Anne is the philosopher and Lady Russell is the voice of the polis.   The philosopher is right (or righter, closer to the truth) and the polis is not right.  But the philosopher has to submit to the polis, and for exactly the same reasons:  because it is in the place of a parent to him, because without the polis there is no social stability, and because not to do so would bother his conscience.

The nicest thing about the example is that it shows what’s wrong with Anne’s understanding, and with Strauss’s.  I’m with Captain Wentworth who can’t forgive Lady Russell so easily, and who doesn’t hold with this double-talk about duty to do what’s not right.  In a sense, though it’s just a quibble.  They’re on to something, Jane and Leo.

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