In an attempt to subject representative texts of a dozen ancient authors to a more or less Socratic inquiry, the noted scholar George Anastaplo suggests in The Thinker as Artist how one might usefully read as well as enjoy such texts, which illustrate the thinking done by the greatest artists and how they “talk” among themselves across the centuries. In doing so, he does not presume to repeat the many fine things said about these and like authors, but rather he discusses what he himself has noticed about them, text by text
Drawing upon a series of classical authors ranging from Homer and Sappho to Plato and Aristotle, Anastaplo examines issues relating to chance, art, nature, and divinity present in the artful works of philosophers and other thinkers.
As he has done in his earlier work, Anastaplo mines the great texts to help us discover who we are and what we should be. Some of the works used are familiar, while others were once better known than they are now. The approach to all of them is fresh and provocative, demonstrating the value of such texts in showing the reader what to look for and how to talk about matters that have always engaged thoughtful human beings.
These imaginative yet disciplined discussions of important texts of ancient Greek thought and of Raphael's The School of Athens should appeal to both the specialist and the general reader.
George Anastaplo teaches constitutional law and jurisprudence at Loyola University of Chicago and is also a lecturer in liberal arts at the University of Chicago. In 1950, he was denied admission to the Illinois bar because of his principled refusal to answer questions about his political associations. He took his case to the Supreme Court and lost in 1961. Justice Hugo L. Black, in his celebrated dissenting opinion, wrote, “We must not be afraid to be free.”
This has been the theme of Anastaplo’s career, which he has devoted to education and public service. He is the author of Human Being and Citizen: Essays on Virtue, Freedom, and the Common Good, The Artist as Thinker: From Shakespeare to Joyce, The Constitutionalist: Notes on the First Amendment, and The Constitution of 1787: A Commentary. In 1992 he was honored by the publication of a two–volume work, Law and Philosophy: Essays in Honor of George Anastaplo. Anastaplo has been nominated annually since 1980 for the Nobel Peace Prize. Andrew Patner has said of him that he “remains the most challenging American essayist.”