Plato’s The Republic

Plato’s The Republic - Platos The Republic...

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- Greatest of Plato’s works, most important of antiquity - Philosophical work that sets the stage for all of western philosophy - Sets out basic questions and basic positions that will be taken up again and again through western philosophy - Synthetic work, combines ethics, philosophy, aesthetics, economics, political science and systematically gets philosophy off the ground - Would compare to James Joyce’s Ulysses, must read two or three times to grasp the meaning of the whole. - Divided into 10 books; originally a long scroll with no chapter divisions. Book I: - Introduction to the book as a whole - Doesn’t answer questions but critiques ancient theories and beliefs, such as justice - Constructive not destructive project - Some scholars argue that the first book was originally a self-contained dialogue - The first book has a different feel, in some case self-contained, be prepared moving into book II for a different feel. Argument of Book I: - “ I went down.” (1 st page, first 3 words) book starts out with descent, with down going. Note that this insignificant fact is suggested of a problem: decline, descent, or crisis. The solution will lie in an ascent, in a going up. Book starts off with the suggestion that there is a problem, a down going. - Socrates goes down to the pyrayes, harbor of Athens (Port city of Athens, still is) Democratic Stronghold. For reasons we don’t yet know. We’re told he is going to pray to a goddess. Witnessing a religious festival; stopped by a slave boy (quite significant) Plato is speaking to us between the lines, both directly and indirectly. What might be suggests by the fact that a slave boy stops Socrates? o Very literally: a commentary on the freedom of a democratic society. Slaves follow orders, Philosophers serve no one and attempt to find the truth. The proper hierarchies of things are of some sense out of whack when a slave stops the philosopher. Here is the suggestion that there is a really big problem. o Athens had been declining through the wars; more serious problem: Socrates was killed by democracy; this democratic society appears to be a society where philosophers are put below others. Philosopher is stopped by the many, is told that he must stop because the many are stronger. Those who are more powerful in terms of physical strength outnumber Socrates, the philosopher. Conflict between the knowledge and wisdom of the philosopher and the power and strength of the many of the non- philosopher. How can we bring power and knowledge together? How can we make the powerful wise and make the wise powerful? So we can avoid the history of the Peloponiansian War and the downfall of Athens. -
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This note was uploaded on 09/16/2011 for the course PSC 105 taught by Professor Winstead during the Spring '09 term at GWU.

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Plato’s The Republic - Platos The Republic...

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