POLI 4081—FINAL EXAMINATION REVIEW QUESTIONS—FALL 2006
The Final Exam (to be given in class on Dec. 11, 10 a.m.) will be drawn from the following Review
Bring a ballpoint and enough paper to write for two hours. Asterisks (*) denote new material likely
to be covered in the exam, much of it based on the lectures.
1. On the basis of Plato’s theory of human nature, and his theological and anthropological principles, explain
in what sense the “best” or pragmatic polis is possible; why if established it would inevitably decline; and
trace the stages of decline down to tyranny. Explain the logic of the cycle of decline and identify the kinds of
men who would be representative at each stage: why is the tyrant the corrupt counterpart of the philosopher-
king? Why must the philosopher resist the sophist (=problem of corruption and obligation to live in truth)?
“Then,” said I, “we must necessarily admit that the same patterns and qualities are in each one of us which are
in the city, mustn’t we?” The anthropological principle states that the soul and polis have similar structures.
“The polis is man writ large.” The order of the soul and the polis are analogous. Justice, virtues, and vices that
are found in men will be reflected in society. The theological principle is the argument for censorship. As
founders of the city, we must speak truthfully about divine reality. “For the young person is not able to judge
what is allegory and what is not.” (1) God is good and the author of nothing that is evil. (2) He does not deceive
man in word or deed. (3) He cannot be bought by perfunctory prayers and gifts. It is unlikely, in Plato’s view,
that the best state will come into existence and more unlikely that it would continue in existence. Thus, Plato
develops for contrast, a taxonomy of degenerate forms of political community: timocracy, oligarchy,
democracy, and tyranny. Philosophers must become kings, or kings philosophers, before political regimes can
be happy. Power and wisdom need to be tied.
The historical process will reflect a process of psychic decomposition. In describing the stages of timocracy,
oligarchy, democracy, and tyranny, he shows that there is a close relationship between types of human character
and political regimes. Political regimes do not “grow out of trees and stones” but out of the character of the
persons who inhabit them.
Corruption stems from a disordered soul, that is when the passions rule as opposed to the reason. A tyrant rules
in his own interests. Philosophers rule in fear that a lesser man would rule. Beauty, Truth, and the Good, are all
the same thing; thus, when the tyrant and sophist cuts out that which is most true, he also cuts out the good.
2. Discuss Aristotle’s theory of human nature (composite, specific, & political), political