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Lecture

PHL lecture, oct. 11.doc

4 Pages
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Department
Philosophy
Course Code
PHL100Y1
Professor
Peter King

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Republic Book V • Last time we saw that there is a structural analog between the three parts of society and the three parts of the soul • Socrates uses the analogy to justify his account of the traditional virtues in the soul o Wisdom is the rule of the rational part of the soul 441E o Courage is the activity of the spirited part of the soul regardless of pain and pleasure 442C o Moderateness is harmony among the parts of the soul so that each part believes reason ought to rule 442C o Justice is each part of the soul respecting its proper place in the hierarchy (implicit at 442D) o But we’re left with a question dangling  What is the relation between psychic harmony and ordinary notions of justice?  Could someone with a perfectly harmonious soul be a master thief?  Why not?  Plato quickly sketches an account, but its very sketchiness suggests that he has more to say on the topic-and indeed he does, for he has to show what injustice is like in the soul, too before he can properly answer the objections raised that the beginning of Book 2 • Yet before Socrates can turn to this task, his entire argument is threatened with three “waves” of objections, which are detailed in Book 5 o The status of women and children 449A-466D o Proper behaviour in warfare 466D-471C o How to bring the Feverish Society into existence 471C-480A o *We’re concentrating on i and iii* • First Socrates is called on to explain a claim in Book 4 (423A-424A): that the wives and children in the guardian class should beheld in common (449B- 451B)-“as all goods among friends.” o The discussion of this proposal involves three separate but related claims, each taken by Plato as an integral part of the abolition of the family as a social institution  Women are to be treated on an equal footing with men  Traditional forms of marriage and the like be done away with in favor of a system of temporary sexual liaisons based on eugenic principles  Children and parents be separated from one another  Plato recognizes how radical his claims are as can be seen in the long and tentative prologue to their discussion 449A-451C Women’s Equality • The “equality” in question is that possessed by each member of the Feverish Society, namely to be assigned labour-activities solely on the basis of merit (natural aptitude) • Lends naturally to the conclusion that women are to have exactly the same training as men if women are to occupy the same social roles as men 451D-453A • There are only two differences between the sexes which might be important o They have different roles in procreation o Men are generally stronger than women 454D-E • Plato then argues that whereas men are generally better than women at various pursuits, women are better than men at several, such as cake-baking 455B-D o His point being that even in the limited opportunities available to women traditionally we can see clear cases of excellence and differential talents/abilities Abolition of Marriage • Plato takes it to follow from women’s equality that his contemporary Greek marriage-system is inappropriate • Instead, he puts forward a system for sexual liaisons, always for the purposes of procreation, based on eugenics o Best should be mated with the best o The
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