POL200Y1 Lecture Notes - Irony, Sophist, Socratic Method

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25 Apr 2012

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Part of the western tradition, faces of old guys probably important people.
Canon of western political thought, why are we reading these tired old dead guys. Political
institutions can be directly tied to this tradition.
Our political practices can be tied to Athenian practices.
IN all these texts it is possible to read from a gendered perspective (Plato chap. 5-> what he says
about women is radical; Aristotle was a misogynist otherwise known as awesome).
Radicalism and reason at the core of western tradition, and how Islamic, christain, jewish etc
traditions affected the western tradition.
Lecture outline
1. Intelluctual Context: Why do we start with the Greeks?
A) Ionian Revolution: -rational account of the universe(cosmos). what is philosophy? What is
the Western philosophical tradition?
Plato considered first father of western political thought, but not political philosophy-this
begins with Ionians.
Philosphy of Greece influenced by what is coming west -> convention derived from linguistic
heritage( the greek language) The Ionians were asking questions in a particular way ( called
pre- Socratics, interested in what the origin of the world was, what are the basic elements-
physical components of the world and how it works)
The Ionian philosophers were thorough going rationalists, they did not reject divinity they
were not atheists they just rejected the pagan approach to answering questions. They
heralded the arrival of certain humanism, a new confidence on the part of philosophers that
humans can make the world less arbitratory and perhaps even control it.
B) Socrates/Plato: -rational account had the same approach rationalists and philosophers that
used reason to understand the world/ what is the worthwhile life?
He was accused of being one of the Ionians that were thought to be very threatening
because the way they approached the world really challenged the old ways.
Fusion of ethics and politics, when we think of the good life, being a good person for these
guys was inseparable from living in a good society.
Historical context
a) Periclean Age- success of democracy
b) Peloponnesian War- failure of democracy
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