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Lecture 1

PHIL 330 Lecture 1: PHIL330L1

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James Schall on Plato: why is his work still worth studying? Even if some arguments lack “sophistication” what makes it good philosophy? 1)Plato’s writing produces more truth than falsity 2)The actual practice of Platonic philosophy: what makes the dialogue (main speaker + interlocutors) attractive as a format? -philosophy is brought to life—you are immersed in the action/ ie the speaker addresses as “you” -a drama, not a declarative treatise; includes themes, imagery, motifs, can prove more interesting to read even in non philosophical discussions The Republic will provide a concept of philosophy: how do we define it? What constitutes practicing it? -for every philosopher they write within a context even if they make their arguments out of context like Descartes does (context often has tones of social debate or is rooted in history) -for Plato, the context is during a period of radical humanism -radical humanism: The human mind has a conflict in itself. It will either give in to an authority or ask questions. In order for a society to thrive it should follow the latter path. -a period during which the Sophists taught rhetoric: taught how to win arguments in a way in which the actual truth value proved irrelevant “knowledge without truth” -when humans begin to be able to “choose their truth” skepticism will arise: ie does one accept or reject the conception of god, or of religion on a whole -political change was also occurring: many changes to the “face” of democracy, and differing beliefs on what exactly democracy should include and preclude -radical humanism dominates today, making Platonic works highly relevant: the human determines their truth -sophism abound: advertising is a type of sophism (does not matter what you say so long as you make it convincing; likewise with writing papers—often about how you say it, not what you say Philosophy from the beginning: The Republic begins immediately with speech; the colon right after Socrates name makes the work immersive—it lacks a “true introduction”, such as a thesis or position -piece begins with a story/ line of thought -uses images/motifs: interplay between being down and up—ie Socrates wants to head “up” to Athens, but this will lead to more descent -port imagery: first scene involves religious celebration/worship at the port/pier: a port being a place where new things arrive, an image/symbol for the arrival of new ideas H
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