POL200Y1 Lecture Notes - Athenian Democracy, The Just City, Western Philosophy

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POL 200Y1 Wednesday, September 22, 2010
The political and philosophic context of Plato!s republic:
I. Introduction.
-what does it mean to be good? cant be related to you, may require cultural and
social things to be realized. conditions individual and relative, but also social/cultural context
and hence demand certain politics
-in political works vision of what they see as best good ... idea of political good for plato
and aristotle carried with it a vision of something that is more than the individual. what makes
for a good place to live? the readings this year will answer that. how do we determine what
makes good political community/ what should our priorities be. thinkers were in dialogue with
their time period/context and each other.. aristotle was a student of plato.
machiavellli “puts on the robe to the ancients. puts himself in mindset of time period.”
II. The political history: democratic institutions of ancient Athens and the
controversies surrounding them. decisions to be made on basis of persuasion
rather than authority or tradition. democracy was most conducive to the need
of argument/ theoretical. basic irony that most famous thinkers of poli theory
were largely critical of democracy. how much theorists owe to the background
of political culture. tradition of descent. despite critical stance to dem poli
norms owe gret debt to political democratic principles. *plato commentary for
good citizenship. formation of just soul.
three aspects of athenian democracy:
a. Instability: one of 750 city states that we would confine to geo regions of
italy/greece. rural areas, major political gatherings in one major city of
athens (45000 citizens.) underdeveloped,largely agriculture. relatively
unstable and often changed from democracy to authoritarian very
competitive nature (agonistic nature of this time). athens had internal
comptition and external threats (persians/spartans)462bc - 322bc. athens
remained fairly democratic
b. Paradoxes(ekklesia= the assembly. decisions made by citizens themselves.
direct democracy.), courts, selection but exclusive, imperialist)
-true commitment to participation. one side instiutions of democracy in athens
-participation in courts. (jury duty) rotated participation in various administraion
offices, some by selection and some random selection. elections for admin
office sometimes seen as aristocratic process cause not everyone had equal
chance to get into office as you needed money/power/persuasion.
-aspects of restricted democracy . restricted citizen class. only males of over 18
who had done military service who were sons of those who were citizens
could be citizens. women/kids/slaves restricted. only 1/10 of population
could actually exercise citizenship. athens imperialism.
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