Today, I want to share some highlights from the latest episode of the Other Life podcast, Plato Uncovered: Building Influence in the Ancient and Modern World with Alex Petkas.
Alex Petkas is a recent Princeton PhD (in Classics) who, like me, has chosen to pursue the independent path. Alex's main operation right now is the Cost of Glory podcast, which is an extremely deep and well-researched podcast about the lives of great figures from Antiquity. Alex is a longstanding member of the Other Life community, having come to two of our annual retreats, so I've been meaning to do this podcast for a while.
In this podcast, we go deep into the life and times of quite literally the most influential thinker in the history of Western civilization.
But this podcast isn't like anything you've ever read or heard about Plato.
This podcast is about how Plato engineered his influence.
We go deep into the ancient political economy of book-writing vs. tutoring, the competing "personal brands" of ancient Greek thinkers, and the network logics that made certain ideas rise and fall. All to answer the question:
How did Plato make himself the most influential thinker in the history of the West, and what lessons can we draw for independent thinkers and writers today?
You see, Ancient Greece was surprisingly similar to our cultural economy today. It was totally decentralized, it was defined by new technologies (literacy and writing), and there were few (if any) established intellectual institutions. Of course we have some established institutions today, but our era is defined by the dissolution of their credibility—and likely their continuing decline.
If you don't have much time, here are some must-listen highlights:
- Plato's New Playbook for Philosophical Power (0:21:06)
- The Seductive Power of Mystery (Why Plato Beat Pythagorus) (0:43:45)
- Plato's Exact Business Model and Network Approach (1:07:56)
Listen to the whole episode on the Other Life podcast—you can find it anywhere you get your podcasts.
Make sure you subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or whatever podcast player you prefer.