Week 3 Summary
Chapter 3 pg 59-61
Thinkers from antiquity: Plato and Aristotle
• Plato and Aristotle were active in 4 century BCE Athens
• The city-states of this period were: agrarian, pre-industrial societies, dependant on the
continued exploitation of slave & many whom were captured at war.
• Athens was a democracy- (including women and children in their assembly; 500 people)
• Neither Plato or Aristotle were democratic
o Philosophy presented in dialogue between noblemen and Socrates
o Socrates presented Plato’s position
o He challenged the common-sense opinions by rigorous questions- this leads the
readers into contradictions
o Wants to move his audience from opinion to knowledge
o The forms – enduring reality that can be approached only through thought.
o Plato’s most famous work; The republic touches upon – THE NATURE OF
Socrates demonstrates the flaw of conventional understanding of justice
and says that the human soul has 3 parts:
1. A rational part
2. A spirited or courageous part
3. An appetitive part
Mind over body, intellect over senses
For the city has 3 classes corresponding to the 3 parts of the soul
1. The guardians (the rational class)
2. Auxiliaries(the spirited class)
Justice in the city consists of each class performing its proper function.
Individuals are determined by nature for one class or another
The republic focuses on the raining the guardians must go under. (They
will eventually become philosophers and then rulers)
o Plato’s theory of society = NOT COMPATIABLE WITH DEOMCRACY o One of his lasting achievements was the academy – founded to provide
education for those who would become rulers.
o The most famous student of Plato’s
o Non-platonic features of Aristotle’s politics:
o The value of family life
o The pursuit of health and happiness
o Respect for public opinion
o Most important: THE ART OF THE POSSIBLE.
o Believes everything has a tellos – an end purpose to which it strives
o In both his ethics and politics Aristotle is concerned with how people realize the
telod that is uniquely human
o The concept of citizenship is central to Aristotle- to be a good citizen you must
fulfil the telos of being human.
o Aristotle considers whether we should be governed by the wisdom of wise rulers
or by the impartial neutrality of laws
Chapter 3 pg 64-66
Thinkers from the Mediev