lecture for sep 22, 2010

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September 22, 2010
The Political and philosophic context of Plato’s Republic
I. Introduction.
Conception of the good: collection of principles and commitments that cohere
together in a vision that adheres to you and others of what is good
What does it mean to be good? It is relative to you as an individual
Political theory as developed in the West began as a conversation
What is the most important good in politics
What is a good place to live?
These thinkers were in dialogue with one another but also with their own time
Plato’s political project
Athenian democrats saw democracy as a necessary condition for their theory of
the good
II. The political history: democratic institutions of ancient Athens and the
controversies surrounding them
Democracy=persuasion rather than force
The republic is a commentary about good citizenship and rule
Perfection of the intellectual faculties and the formation of the just soul
a. Instability
Athens, large but relatively unstable
It was also fragile
462-322BC Athens remained democratic
b. Paradoxes
The main governing body, the main decisions were made by the citizens
There were more residence than citizens
Not all residence were citizens
Not necessarily more democratic than our society
The concept of the citizen
Citizens received special privileges
c. Defending democracy as a way of life
Democracy means Lack of experts
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Document Summary

Instability: athens, large but relatively unstable, 462-322bc athens remained democratic. 1-the many are less corruptible than the few. 2-the many are ill informed , collective judgments produces better outcomes. 3-wide spread participation in government/public life is a necessary condition the matter of politics: the type of reason that is good for us as humans is practical reason. The practice of politics in terms of a defense of democracy is seen as positive and important, higher exercise of freedom. The philosophic history: plato and socrates: true justice is only through theoretical reasoning. Beginning to unpack book i: socrates is engaged in the dialog and is observing the different perspectives on justice. It sets the tone for the subject of the book: justice is good and is fundamental to human life. General theme: despite plato"s perennial appeal and iconic status in western philosophy and political theory, his work is not easily understood.

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