Classic Texts in Political Theory:
Location of Book One
• The location of book one is in Athens. It is set during a religious festival,
and this is very important to people at the time (just like if something was
set during 9/11, we would know what it was based on the events going on.
• Philosophy is a challenge to the Gods. This is ironic that this is happening
on a religious date, since philosophy and religion clashed back then.
• Athens has had many major setbacks. They were plagued by sickness a
few years back, and had tension with neighboring cities, so this festival
was much needed (420 BCE).
Justice, Death, and Desire
• Socrates says that the concept of justice becomes easier to fulfill without
desire. Just may emerge because of fear, like of punishment in the
afterlife. Conflicts will also be routed with desires.
• Why moderate your desires? Once the desires start to leave, moderation
now comes back, and it is easy to be just. Temperance of bad things is
• Socrates praises detachment as a way to be just. Detachment from
wealth, and ones own works, and even ones own children may be an
answer. One should not put their own family first (Breaking Bad – Puts his
own family first, and breaks the law).
• Socrates does not bring up religion until Cephalus leaves, this may be
because Cephalus is a member of the council, and bringing up and even
questioning religion would be blasphemy. This part of the book establishes
Cephalus as a legal figure. This is why the conversation of Justice comes
• Cephalus says that Justice is living up to the obligation, but Socrates
counters that by saying that you shouldn’t give a lost weapon back to
madman if you know he will kill someone (as returning it is your
obligation). Cephalus then leaves, and Polemarchus (whose name means
war leader) takes over the argument.
• Polemarchus says that justice owes friends and enemies harm. There are
many inconsistencies in this argument. Socr