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Lecture

Making sense of politics


Department
Political Science
Course Code
POL200Y1
Professor
Rebecca Kingston

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Political Theory t Week 4, October 6th 2010
Making Sense of Politics
The Just Soul
- Can distinguish parts of the soul by the types of things these parts are drawn to
o Reason is not just a calculating capacity, but that part of the soul that longs for truth,
loves intellectual challenges, theoretically inclined
Involves both knowledge and motivation, a love of truth
Philosophers need to have a love of wisdom, erotic attachment or love, wisdom
lover, argument lover
x Pleasure that guides us in learning
x Seek to truth in order to gain a better grasp of it
x Reason as a part of the soul is that aspect of our personality that enjoys
learning, intellectual challenges
- Spirited part of the soul (guardian class) is the part of the soul that is honour loving, that part of
us that seeks to be acknowledged and valued by our peers
o Includes love of recognition and a sort of energy and excitement we might take to social
encounters or public meetings, as well as a knowledge component
Know what we stand for, are attached to it, may challenge certain individuals,
involve some sort of judgement
Like soldiers have to justify position and campaign, spirit has to know what the
self stands for and the principles it upholds
Emotional and motivational component as well as judgement
- Appetite is that aspect of our souls that is attached to the material world and values some sort
of acquisitiveness
o Does not exclude reason, we need some sort of calculated rationality
o Use reason to work out how our desires are going to be met
o Can be considered in a way in which each of ourselves at times orient ourselves to the
world
- Ways of conceiving the soul helps because it allows us to suggest that the classes of the city
}v[ZÀ}v}v]vPo}(Z}µoUµZZÇvP}µ}( people
whose major goals and orientations in life are centered around common things (farmers and
craftsmen focus around acquisitiveness and production; warriors focus on honour and
recognition; rulers focus on truth)
- Can reconceptualise city as three groups of people who hold different understandings of what
they deem important in life
- Is Plato correct in suggesting soul can be divided into parts?
o Division between appetite and reason
We all know we have desires (e.g. Food, drink, sex), in addition, we have
moments when our drives or motivations seem to counteract our appetites
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x Our choice in satisfying our appetite are cut off by considerations of a
higher order (e.g. Decide not to have second order of fries for the sake
of our long term wellbeing)
x Counteracting impulses are evidence of at least two different parts
o 439e, Spirited part, part by which we get angry
õlíí]uPÁu}]µ]}]ÇUZ}µPZo]][v}ZZ]vP(}µ
to watch
x Part of us that looks out for our own wellbeing thinks tha][(}
us not to watch that footage
o Overcome with desire, we take a look, give in to desire, but are
angry with ourselves
Anger working against force of desire
But too spirited to be reason
No real connection to theoretical concerns
Argument for why we must consider spirit as the third
part of the soul
- View of soul is further supported when look at workings of cardinal virtues
o Root to a healthy soul is not so much repression but education leading to the knowledge
of what is good for the world
First part of education is a type of training that prepares the soul for reason
Second stage is more formal features of reflection to develop reason to its
highest level (mathematics, philosophy)
In a just soul reason rules, spirit is the ally of reason, appetite is tamed and acts
in accordance with reasoning
x A soul is wise because of the part ruling, possesses knowledge about
what is good for each part
o Rational part has knowledge of each and common interest of
the whole
x Courage is spirit allied with reason, 429c, the power to preserve through
everything the belief of what things should be feared
o Interesting that have idea of fear incorporated into definition of
courage
o Courage is based on understanding of what the threats are and
where they are and how to act appropriately towards the threat
o Courage involves following the definitions of reason although
located in the spirited part
x Moderation (432a) is an agreement among all the parts, between the
naturally worse and the naturally better, that reason should rule
o Moderation in the soul is when the ruler and the ruled believe
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in civil war against it
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o Appetite acknowledges rightness of reason, therefore must
ZÀ]}voÀvZ}µPZ]}v[ZÀe full theoretical
knowledge of the truth
Spirit too is able to recognize rightness of reason
- }v}o]]vuv[Ævo]}vµZÁ]Z]vZ}µo]v]UZZu}vÇ}(Z
soul wherein each part is performing its proper functions
o A just action is not just because of the quality of the action but because it flows from
part of the soul in which harmony reigns
o Injustice is a form of civil war among the three parts
o Vision of justice is very difficult to obtain
In perfectly just soul, can see an educated, moderate, deferential appetite
x Vision of harmonious soul that Plato evokes in Book 9 588c, multi-form
beast
o Difficult standard to attain, for this reason, relationship between appetite and reason is
more of a struggle for most everyone
For most of us moral behaviour is a struggle, give in to desires but feel force of
reason calling us back
Good action is triumph of righteous reasoning over base impulses
The Dual Dynamic t a city built and a city questioned
- City was constructed originally as a model of the individual soul, but seems to take on a life of its
own
o Some see Plato toiling with idea of it as a real political project (utopian political thinkers)
o Some features of this just state make us question it at as a viable political model, double
dynamic, building and undermining the city at same time
May appear on the surface as a contradiction, but is not
Socrates differed to Glaucon and Adeimantus to build a luxurious city, saw the
way in which Socrates drew from features of surrounding regimes (e.g. Sparta,
highly regimented exercise, material conditions of life), vast accumulation of
details gives city an air of reality
x Why else would Plato go into so much detail if he was only looking for
the soul at large
x Seems evident that there is something else going on here t model of a
real political life we are being tempted to indorse?
o On the other hand, see three levels where doubt is present
First, the style, fair amount of jokes and self-mocking
x E.g. Socrates suggests dialogues will be banned in the just state (394b),
banning of dialogues in what is a philosophical dialogue
x More broadly, Plato talks about and rejects the use of representation
books 3 and 10), text is shot through with analogies and poetic illusions
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