PHIL 345 Lecture Notes.docx

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12 Apr 2012
of 49
January 9, 2007
Homeric epics, for example
Gives us an idea of archaic Greece and its system of values
End of 6th century: Athens becomes a democracy
Political philosophy as an attempt to explain/set up ideal (norm) of the best political arrangement
of order
Best political arrangement for ancient Greece: what gives the most virtue or excellence leads
citizens to become good citizens (possessing arete)
What allows citizen to live a good life/be a good citizen? This is the question that we attempt to
answer through moral philosophy
Early dialogues middle late
Early dialogues reflect teachings of Socrates (his teacher) important to understand Socratic
concepts (because Socrates wrote nothing down)
What is courage? Temperance? Piety? Justice? Self-control?
These are all moral judgments that Socrates/Plato attempt to explain through their philosophy
Socratic question of what is justice?
5th century and a crisis of traditional morality causes some disagreements over how we define
moral values
How do we develop a moral system?
System that stopped being taken for granted in 5th century initial, traditional concepts of justice,
piety, etc.
Plato and Meno Anytus as one of the people who brought Socrates to trial arete (virtue)
should be taught Anytus holds conservative ideal that arete can be transmitted and does not
need to be taught
Socrates and others, however, believe that arete is inherited
Aristocracy aristos (the best) superlative of agathon (good); the best rule small group
wielding political power
Aristocracy is a form of oligarchy (oligos = few; arche = rule/power/etc.)
Difference between oligarchy and aristocracy: oligarchy does not mean that the few in power are
the best. Aristocracy is an oligarchy in which the few that rule are the best.
Greece a series of aristocracies and sometimes monarchies (the power of one)
What does it mean to be the best? How does the aristocracy hold onto power? How do they
justify their ability to rule?
Rhetoric not important until democracy
Homer: excelling in battle (p. 6) linking courage and meriting power see Homer exerpts on
the back of the course outline
Iliad VI, 123-211 to be the best to always be the first and excel over all others (Iliad, XI, 769
Iliad, IX, 438 ff. speaker of words and a doer of deeds
Wisdom, courage and to give counsel make ones voice heard required of Greek aristocrats
Odysseus as someone who excels in wisdom and cunning; Achilles as exemplifying courage
Greeks obsessed with the concept of excelling (think: Olympic Games)
Agon competition especially
Olympic Games as connected with religious festival to Zeus show ones excellence to the gods
and derive excellence from them (Pindar)
Symposion (Plato) symposio = banquet competition for best speech for Eros (love)
Art, architecture attempts to find perfect form of human body, building proportions
Werner Jäger Paideia education in Greek attempt to form the most perfect human being
(like Greek culture in general)
Ideal coming up with sophists, Plato, Aristotle attempts by all to make education produce
perfect human beings
Idea of excellence will change (i.e. wisdom, courage, etc.), but the pursuit of excellence remains
the same
Archaic Greece and the emphasis on courage because of competition between city states and
their ruling aristocracies
Political power is tied to land ownership (natural resources)
Also: internal tensions between landowners and land workers courage is needed to defend
Sparta city-state with most of population not citizens (Helots) only purpose was to work the
Spartans land
Spartan political power was organized so that the ruling class could remain in power needed
strength, courage to keep monopolizing the Helots (p. 23)
Political problem in archaic Greece: preserve balance between the ruled and those who rule
Solon: most important Athenian law-giver (wisest) ruled at the end of the 6th century
Importance of good government: eunomia (nomos = law) land redistribution and reduced
debts for small landowners owing to powerful landowners major political reform aiming to create
more balance of power
Hubris (excessive behaviour) to knowingly commit an unjust act (justice, in this case, as
maintaining balance of power)
Can increase tensions among populations
Pleonexia = the desire to have more moral critics will criticize people who exhibit this trait
Solon the citizens themselves, lured by wealth, want to bring this great city down with their
Solons reforms aristocratic system but doesnt fully replace it
Where does justice come from? Who is responsible for upholding justice? ZEUS responsible
for political order based on justice political order as based on religion
Idea that there is a just law and that it is derived from the gods
Good political order in archaic Greece as being religiously sanctioned
Sira mustaqim (Arabic) straight path on which one must walk to remain in Gods favour; same
idea with Zeus influence on Greek law
COURAGE same honour system in Sparta applies in Athens; extended to women p. 4: lines
Aristocracy as gentlement kaloskagathos combines physical beauty and internal moral
January 11, 2007
Homework for next class:
Protagoras 1-4; 8; 9; 13-20
Gorgias 1; 12-15
Antiphon 2; 5-7
Critias 5