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Lecture 2

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Department
Political Science
Course
POLC70H3
Professor
Jooyoung Lee
Semester
Fall

Description
I. Background  Agenda-setting work in political theory: He offers the first systematic answers to our three questions (on pol. Comm., pol. Leadership, and justice)  Original Greek title: Politeia- meaning ‗well-ordered‘ or ‗well-governed‘ city/constitution. (an ideal city)  Roman philosopher, Cicero, translates title into Latin, as De Re Publica (‗On the public thing‘)—hence the modern English title  Other suggested titles? ‗On the Heavenly City‘  Politeia and Respublica historically have positive connotations meaning ‗constitutional government‘ or lawful government‘—to contrast with an ‗lawless government‘  Wide-ranging work: not just about politics  But also a critical work: Why? It did not describe any state in existence- it implied that existing political forms were somehow defective, degenerate, and unjust—especially Plato‘s native city, democratic Athens.  Plato‘s goal is to design an ideal city which embodies the idea of justice (one that does not exist completely—even though there are similarities b/w his ideal state and other city-states in Greece such as Sparta) II. Book I: The Republic  Some notable features of Book I  Dialogue Form: example of the ‗elenchus‘ or the Socratic/ elenctic method.  Socrates is not trying to educate the other characters/ participants of this dialogue, but to the reader.  A deceptive tool which forces us to accept his premises which lead to an absurd conclusion or a conclusion contrary to the initial argument.  Socrates is portrayed as Plato‘s spokesperson  Other Characters:  Thrasymachus → well-known sophist  Glaucon →Plato‘s brother  Aidemantus →Plato‘s brother  Polemarchus → Plato‘s friend  Cephalus → Polemarchus‘ father  Book I subject matter: Plato‘s attempt to show what Socrates would have said  Function of book I is to provide a preview of what is to come.  What is Justice? o Cephalus: The father of Plato‘s friend, Polemarchus.  I. 329c-d: Old age is like a release from a savage and tyrannical master. It brings freedom from bodily desires  What is important to one in their youth isn‘t necessarily important to them as they age  I.330b: We know that Cephalus is wealthy, a money-maker  I.330c: He questions why material wealth is valuable  I.330d-e: Fear of death and possibility of an afterlife compels him to evaluate his own life. ‗whether he has been unjust to anyone‘  Fear of death forces you to ask questions you ordinarily wouldn‘t ask  Cephalus‘ worry about justice/injustice leads Socrates to ask, ―What is justice?‖  Some Possible definitions  I.331c: Speaking the truth and paying whatever debts one has incurred  I.331e: Simonides‘ definition: to give to each what is owed to him  I.332d: Justice as a craft (Gr. Techne)—treating friends well and treating enemies badly Note: Socrates doesn‘t tell us what justice is, only what justice is not. b. The Challenge of Thrasymachus o Thrasymachus, a sophist, accuses Socrates of trickery, deceit—something is wrong with Socrates‘ method of elenctic questioning o Because Socrates simply relies uncritically on our own intuitive beliefs o People‘s beliefs may be programmed into us by those more powerful than us. Beliefs may be manufactured, misleading. o Socratic method is incomplete—it doesn‘t help us arrive at truth. It simply helps us identify falsehoods.  The Socratic Method is all about ideology—where do we get our beliefs from? Why do we hold certain beliefs? o Thrasymachus‘ definition of justice  I.338c: I say justice is nothing other than the advantage of the stronger (Gr. Kreitton)  I.338e-39a: justice is the same in all cities, the advantage of the established rule o Some observations about this definition i. For Thrasymachus, there is no such thing as an unjust law 1. All laws are enacted by people in positions of power, making laws, by relation, just. ii. No independent standard to evaluate or measure justice iii. Critical assumption: Rulers always favour this own private interest, rather than the interest of those who are ruled 1. Plato strikes back at claim (3): the very idea of ruling involves the opposite relation: Rulers must favour the advantage of those who are ruled, not those of the rulers. c. Plato‘s Craft-Analogy o Ruling is a kind of ‗craft‘ o Craftsmen are not motivated by self-interest; they seek the advantage of their crafts, not of themselves (doctors and medicine) o If ruling is a kind of craft, same principle holds. They must seek the good of those over whom they rule, not of their own self interest  I.342e: No one in any position of rule, insofar as he is a ruler, seeks or orders what is advantageous to himself, but what is advantageous to his subjects  i.e. doctors always look out for interest of their patients  therefore, ruler looks not after his private interests, but of public interest of subjects o Thrasymachus is still unconvinced. Raises two objections to Plato i. Is injustice more profitable than justice? (I.343b ff)  Why not lead a life of injustice? Isn’t justice simply ‘high- minded simplicity’?  Justice is a kind of virtue (I.350a) ii. Is Justice a virtue? (I.349a)  Certain virtues are necessary for a thing to perform its ‗function‘. A soul must have certain virtues in order to perform the functions of a soul. Since justice is one of these virtues, justice is necessary for the soul to live well and be happy.  I.353e-354a: A just person is a happy person Note: Book I is ultimately a failure: I.354c: the result of this discussion is that I know nothing. For what I don’t know what justice is, I’ll hardly know whether it is a kind of virtue or not, or whether a person who has it is happy or unhappy III. Book III: The Republic  In Book I, we heart Socrates speaking and using the ‗elenctic method‘.  It was a failure because it does not tell us what justice is, but only what justice is not. It is designed to show us our ignorance, and our supposed wisdom.  In Book II, Plato‘s voice now begins to come through (although Scrates is still the spokesperson). The new method is called the ‗Dialectic‘ method, which is much more constructive A. He Begins  Justice is good. But what kind of a good is it?  3 possibilities (II. 357-358) 1. Intrinsic good- something valued in itself, for its own sake—regardless of the outcome 2. An instrumental good- something valued not for itself, but only for its outcome that result from it—i.e. physical training 3. Combination of (1) and (2)  Plato‘s claim: Justice is a good of type (3), because it is valuable both in itself, and for its rewards.  But to prove this, we need to know what justice is- back to original question
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