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Lecture 8

POL200Y1 Lecture 8: What Philosophers are Good for and Elaborations on the Allegory of the Cave


Department
Political Science
Course Code
POL200Y1
Professor
Janice Stein
Lecture
8

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POL200Y1Lecture8Notes
What(IfAnything)arePhilosophersGoodFor?
● ‘ShipofStateAnalogy’
● Adeimantusobjectedthatphilosophersareeitheruselessorharmful
○ Philosophersareeroticloversoftruth(viasexualmetaphorstoconveyaffection)
○ PhilosophersarealsomembersoftheWarriorclass
○ Theyarealsofamilymembers
● IntheFirstWave,SocratesmakesthepointthatensuringPhilosophersarejustand
goodpeople
○ However,hedoesnotgivewarningstotheCity’sthreatsthatperverthisvirtueand
‘goodness’;headvisesthatthisweaknessbeexamined
● Socratesbelievesthatthejustandunjustareequippedwiththeabilitytointerpretthe
formofthings
○ Opinionsdonotconstituteknowledge
○ Socratesexamineseducationasamoduletopreservethe‘goodness’ofthecollective
andthevirtuesthatformthis‘goodness’
■ Hedoeshowever,warnabouttheharmstoeducation,whichcancorruptitandlead
toanintrusionofdemagoguery
● Socratesrealizesthatcitizensthatuniteunderacollectivecannotbecomephilosophers
becausephilosophersareanaturalembodimentofaminority;thattheyarethefewwho
canrealizetheformofthings
○ Hebelievesthese‘pretenders’areharmful,but‘genuine’philosophersarenot
becausethisphilosopher’slifeisdedicatedtosomethingthattranscendstheir
individualviewsandpolitics;thatis,beingjusticeandtruth
● Philosophersrealizethattheycannotsurviveinpoliticallifeiftheyliveitjustly
○ Theymusttherefore,facecorruptionorlivelivesasexiles,underconstantsolitude
■ Thesephilosopherslivejustlivesbyavoidingpolitics(particularlyitsinjustices)
■ Theydothisbecausetheycanunderstandthatjusticeisimpossibleinthecityuntil
certainchangesoccur,despitecaringaboutpoliticsandjustice
● Question:Sinceitcannotbeappliedtoanordinaryurbanlife,isphilosophyuseless?
○ No,becauseeventhoughjusticeisunachievableitcanbeagoalonecanstrivefor
○ Philosophycanalsobenefitsindividuals,eveniftheyhavenoroleinacollective
● SocratesbelievesthatThrasymachus’theoryofJustice(thatjusticeismerelyatoolof
thepowerful)isnotonlywrongbutalsoharmful(toThrasymachus)ifputunder
Elenchusscrutiny
○ However,ifthephilosophercanarriveatapositionofpower,thenajustcitycanbe
achieved
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● Socratesbelievedthat‘DisturbingFeatures’enablesacitytoaccomplish‘Disturbing
Goals’
● Question:Howdoesonearriveattheagreementtoletphilosophersrule?
○ Peopleharbournohostilitytophilosophy;whentheyarecomprehendwhatphilosophy
is,thentheywillappreciateandultimatelyapproveoftheirrule
● FormswithintheRationalOrderareimitatedbyphilosophersbecausethephilosophical
soulstrivesforahighergoodandpsychologicalwellbeing
○ Whileaphilosopheriscompelledtoimitatetoshapehisowncharacter,thereisa
possibilitythatheisalsocompelledtodothesameuntoothers
■ Inadditiontothisisthefactthesephilosophersalreadypossessthe‘CraftofRuling’;
onecanalreadyseethattheywillcompelthemselvestorule
FormoftheGood
● Question:Isjusticethegreatestvirtue?
○ Nobecausethereissomethinghigher,whichcanbeachievedthroughenlightenment;
the‘FormoftheGood’isthegreatestofvirtues
● The‘FormoftheGood’istheultimateobjectofhumandesires;thepurposeforallone
does
● Weshouldcareaboutthegoodbecauseitistheprimaryfeatureofone’slife
○ Byunderstandingthegood,onecanunderstandeverythingelse,namelyjustice
● Question(s):Whatmakessomething‘theGood’?
○ Doweacceptthesocietalviewofgoodalone?
■ MostpeoplethinkthatpleasureistheGood
■ However,anenlightenedpersonbelievesthatknowledgeistheGood;knowledgeof
what?Is‘theGood’tautological?
● Socratesbelievesthattheproblemwithpleasuresisthattherearebenevolentand
malevolentpleasures;justonesandunjustones
○ PleasurecannotbetheGoodifitcanbeabinary
● Philosophy’sgoalistounderstandtheGood
● ‘SunandtheDividedLine’isascenariothatinvokesimagery
○ OnecanlovetheGoodbutdosoinappropriately,forthe‘wrong’reasons
● SocratesinvokesanimageoftheGoodthroughasimile
○ TheSunrepresentstheGood
○ One’ssightrepresentsknowledge
■ Sun’slightrepresentsone’scapacitytoseethingsastheyare
■ FormoftheGoodgivestruthtoathing(initself),butonlytothosewhocaninterpret
○ ObjectsofknowledgeowetheirexistencetotheFormoftheGood
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