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Lecture 4

POL200Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Cephalus, Tyrant, Thrasymachus


Department
Political Science
Course Code
POL200Y1
Professor
Janice Stein
Lecture
4

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POL200Y1Lecture4Notes
PointsRegardingPlato’sRepublic
● DramatizestheconversationbetweenSocrates,GlauconandAdeimantus
● UnderstandingPlato’sideasregardingjustice,bothontheindividuallevelandin
regardstopoliticallife
● Whyjusticegivesgreaterhappinesstothejustcomparedtotheunjust
● WhiletheRepublic
initiallycaterstotheindividuallevel,itcaterstogreateraudiences
later
● Platorecognizesthatpoliticallifeandindividualjusticeareintertwined
○ Onecannottalkofoneofthemwithouttalkingabouttheother
● Bothtraditionalandrevolutionary
● Anunderstandingofjusticethat’sisolatedfromcommonopinionstowhatisentailedby
justice
TwoPassagesonEthics+Politics;537e539a,492bc
● Ayoungmangrowsuplearningtraditionaltalesofethicsfromhisfamily
○ Lawabidingperson,abletoresisttemptation(s),etc.
○ Youngmanisultimatelyproventobeacademicallysheltered
● Aquestionercomesalongtoaskabstractquestions,suchas:
○ Whatismoderation?
○ Whatisselfcontrol?
● Youngmanisunabletoanswerinanyclearway
○ Man’sanswerisbyrecitingwhathelearnedfromhisparents
■ AccordingtoGreektraditionsofthetime,thisman’sviewsarecorrupt
■ Hisrelativismswouldbeconsideredperversionsoftheculturalidealforone’s
understandingoftheworld(accordingtoSocrates)
● Thenoblearenobetterthantheshameful;likewiseforjustice
● Ideassuchasjustice,lawabidingness,courage,etc.,nolongerinfluencesthisman
● Socratesthereforewantstoshowthatthereareanswersquestionssuchas“whatisthe
noble,thegoodandthejust?”
○ Therearewaystothinkabouttheseconceptstomakethemmakesense
● Socratesacknowledgedvirtue’smanythreatsinhistime,suchastheteachingsfrom
thencontemporarysophistsandNewthinkersandthePeloponnesianWar
Sophists
● InPlato’stime,asophistwasaprofessionalteacherofrhetoric/teacherofphilosophy

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● PlatosoughttoseparateSocratesfromotherphilosophers;Platowasultimately
successful
● WhenSocratesheardthatjusticecouldbedispensable,hesoughttodefendthat
thoughtbytheorizingthatjusticeisnatural
○ Humanitycanmakeprogressinunderstandingnatureandjusticethrough
philosophicalconversation
ToThePiraeuswithGlaucon
● GlauconisPlato’selderbrother
● ConversationissetintheharbourofAthens,sometimeduringthePeloponnesianWar
● Accostedbytwoothermen,PolemarchusandAdeimantus
● ThementrypersuadingSocratestojointheirconversationthreateningviolenceand
offeringdinner
○ Throughtheseacts,persuasionandcompulsionaredemonstrated
○ Glaucon’sdecisioninthematterisultimate
● Glauconisalreadytemptedbytyrannicalambitions
○ PerhapsSocratesrecognizesthesehopesandtemptationstoeducatehim
● PlatowasconcernedthattheyouthofthetimewerebeingeducatedbytheAthenian
ImperialDecadenceratherthanmerelyunderstandingJusticeandKnowledge
○ PlatohopedthataDidacticpeacewouldteachpotentialaristocratsinAthenstoavoid
teachingsfromsophistsandtheImperialDecadence
ConversationWithCephalus;Justice+LifeinRetrospect
● Cephalusisawealthypatriarch,slightlyolderthanSocrates
● ThetextportraysCephalusassomeonedrainedofyouthandambition;suchlacking
madehimsuitableforconversingwith
● Heproposesthatone’scharacterismostimportantratherthanage
● SocratestheninquiresabouttherelationshipbetweenCephalus’wealthandcharacter
○ Cephalusshouldhavebelievedthatsucharelationshipprovedfruitlessbecausehe
believedthathiswealthcouldnotbringhimricheswithoutyouth
■ However,Cephalussaysthatwealthisvirtuousbecauseitallowsoneselftopay
backdebtstothegodsandothers,aswellasbecausewealthenablesgood
charactertomanifestsothatjusticecanalsomanifest
■ Sucharesponsebringsupthequestionof“CanEthicsandGodsbebribed?”
● Cephalusprovestobelazyandcomplacentwiththegoodnessandjusticeinhislife
○ Suchtraitsdemonstrateasenseofdependenceonhiswealth,whichmerelyprovides
falsesecurityforhim
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