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PHL lecture, oct. 20.doc

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Peter King

Republic Book IX • Plato commences with a description of the tyrannical person • Feature that distinguishes the tyrannical person is the predominance of lust in his soul o Lust is like a “tyrant” in his soul as they tyrant is the ruler in a tyranny o NOTE: they tyrannical person is usually not a tyrant • 571B-572A, Plato says that there are ‘lawless’ desires, “probably present in everyone,” which he identifies as those “aroused during sleep”: there is nothing this ‘wild and animal’ part of the soul does not dare to do at the time (571D)” o It does not hesitate, as it thinks, to attempt sexual intercourse with the mother or with anyone else-man, god, or beast; it will commit any foul murder and does not refrain from any kind of food. In a word, it will not fall short of any folly or shameless deed o ‘Foul murder’ referred to here is most likely killing the members of one’s own family  There were special laws and penalties for patricide, matricide and fratricide in Athens o NOTE: the progression of thought here  Plato cites dreams for evidence about internal psychological forces, and in these dreams he specifically mentions sexual intercourse with the mother and the murder of one’s relatives .  Plato is close to uncovering the Oedipus complex, anticipating some of the outlines of Freud’s later theories. And like Freud, Plato finds such evidence to apply to the so-called ‘normal’ person as well (572B)  What we want to establish is this: that there is a dangerous, wild, and lawless kind of desire in everyone, even the few of us who appear moderate. This becomes obvious in our sleep • The central claim for which Plato argues here is, of course, that someone who is perfectly unjust-the tyrannical person-is of all the most wicked and simultaneously the most miserable • Here Plato explicitly returns to Glaucon’s challenge to show that justice is desirable despite the turns and reverses of fortune • To put the point another way, by the end of Book 4 Plato has succeeded in demonstrating that justice is a good in itself o Insofar as psychic harmony is a good in itself • In Book 9 he is arguing that justice is also good in terms of its consequences o NOTE: Plato’s strategy here makes the arguments against Glaucon’s third objection only as good as his identification of the Tyrannical Man as the ‘perfectly unjust’ man  There is a way in which his claim here is deeply better candidate for the role than the Tyrannical Man  Such a moralist is in control of himself and his desires in a way in which the Tyrannical Man as described by Plato is not • Offers three arguments: a ‘political,’ ‘psychological,’ and a ‘metaphysical’ proof o The Political Proof  576B-580D  Again Plato offers us an argument by analogy  As the tyrant-ruled society is the most miserable among societies  So too the tyrannical person is the most miserable of all  Three specific points of analogy  Both are enslaved, i.e. the society as a whole and the soul as a whole (577C)  If follows that the tyrannical person is least likely to do what he wants, because his will is conditioned by the desires of the appetitive part of his soul, as they are produced by external circumstances (577D)  NOTE: this point depends on taking the tyrannical person as a private citizen, as does the next point:  Both are ‘poor’ (577E)  That is the majority of the desires of the tyrannical person will go unsatisfied as do the desires of the many in a tyranny  Echo of Thrasymachus, Plato suggests a comparison between the tyrannical person and the real tyrant in a tyranny  Both are ‘full of fear’ (578B-580A)  The tyrant who is the ‘most afraid’ of all members of the society i.e. is the person who is most dependent on the continued support and good will of others  Hence he must spend his life plotting and planning on the one hand, and flattering his supporters (‘the worst of men’) on the other hand  Hence the Tyrannical Man, like the tyrant himself, is enslaved to his condition  NOTE: also the final statement of this proof: the most unjust is the most miserable, whether his injustice be known or not o The Psychological Proof  580D-583A  Plato begins with the claim that there are, on the whole, only three kinds of lives:  The life in which reason predominates (philosophical life)  The life in which spirit predominates (the glory-hound)  The life in which appetite predominates (the money-maker)  This division of lives is a fairly natural development of the doctrine of the tripartite soul  Which is the best?  Given that the question is a sensible one, how would one determine the answer to it?  Plato claims that there are two way to do so  First a person could try to lead a little of each life and judge for
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