POL200Y: Lecture 1
- Five major figures: Plato, 4 century BC.
- Modernity that shaped, defined the big picture.
- What does it mean to question modernity? It means to question the
underlying aspects of modernity. The idea of “faith”
- Modernity depends on progress and understanding.
- Modernity isn’t a state of affairs, it is merely temporary, subject to change, to
- Forever radicalizes what is relevant today, but may become obsolete
- Faith on which modernity rests, what today is better – may not be so.
Modernity has losses, due to the massive human transformation of the world.
- Questions the extent to what we gain or rather what we do not gain.
- The authority of modernity itself – questioning throughout the course
- Challenging the idea that the modern view is better than the earlier thinkers
– comparative perspective.
- Instead of taking modernity for ranted, the idea is to gain some critical
- Is modernity simply authoritative? Is modernity what is popular today?
- Typically, post-modern.
- Post-modernity represents a loss of faith in truth(s) – the idea of taking a
- What do we mean by post modern? There is a particular significance to the
term itself, since it focuses on the loss of faith in truth, not the advance of
faith. The twilight of modernity.
- Post-modernists assume that should the loss of faith in modernity occur, then
the faith in any truth whatsoever is also lost.
- Questioning post-modernity as well as modernity.
- Post-modernism asserted itself through architecture – followed on with a
reversion to modernism. Everything remains in suspension to an extent. The
key distinction between the two types of thinkers it to distinguish
themselves from each other without bias, without believing in it.
- Post modernists – irony – continue following something even though they
may not necessarily believe in it.
- There is a modern prejudice towards these concepts, these thoughts –
instead of taking modernity to judge pre modern thinkers, it is important to
establish a critical distance to judge them accurately, without bias and with
- Marxism is moral – continues to live on, in varying forms despite the
indoctrination of its portrayal in key countries (eg. Cuba, North Korea, less so
- The Cold War is over – liberal democracy won over communism – brief
moment in change of political thought – (think end of history thesis – LINK –
Francis Fukuyama) - Liberal democracy faced constant strain – combining accelerating pace of
modern technology, criticism of modern leaders, global economy, fragility of
the government itself, failure to deliver of what people expect, mass media
portrayals, science and technology.
- Global environmental crisis, genetic engineering (threats v benefits), nuclear
threats – hence the craving of further progress in science.
- Dilemmas of modernity – contributed to the third world, non modern
- Consider the appeals of a greater world, to move towards a newfound
religious fundamentalist – including ideas of weapons of mass destructions,
new world view, the terrorist networks, the fear of an Islamic republican rise
overtaking the first nations. Exposing weakness of modernity: NOT limited to
Islamic tendencies, but also other de facto religious networks.
- Equal reaction as well as action to modernism.
- Aim to clarify the status of modernity – to consider post-modernity.
- The Republic was the first work of political philosophy – is also the best book.
- Articulates the question of justice, the notion of justice – compels the
question to come alive.
- The Republic does not necessarily provide the answer to justice, just
articulates the question of justice with clarity and unsurpassed vividness.
- Therefore, we cannot justify the Republic as being ahead of its time, or
revolutionary in terms of futuristic ideals.
- More important to consider the ideals of Plato, which may be right. Which
- Usual name for the genre of the Republic – considered dialogue – basically
conversational in basis with multiple persons.
- Transliteration of the word “alogros” – Greek for “speech” – “speaking for
among or in between”
- Defines the dialogue – would be the change of differing, sometimes
- Plato’s views; He might not have been certain with the truth, or maybe he
thought they could be actively or accurately conveyed in the manner that
would be most effective. Also due to his association with Socrates, there was
a certain standard he would have had to uphold.
- Socrates also never wrote – only conducted conversation, therefore Plato
was only producing imitations of Socrates’ typical method.
- The question would be – would the dialogue be the preferred form for the
ideals to be portrayed? The questioning would be more supportive.
- Plato does not convey views, but plobacity(?) of views.
- In order to understand justice, it is important to consider the different
perspectives of human beings in their ideals of justice and the idea of justice
- Different kinds of human beings have different contributions to the idea of
justice. - Crucial points are often made with the interchanging of perspectives, of
- Should Plato be like Shakespeare – neither vocalize anything in their own
name, but instead use the medium of a “clash” to promote their ideas.
Infusion of ideals and perspectives in order to create the role of a spokesman.
Through presentation of characters and their clash – which would lead to the
understanding of the world the author would wish to portray.
- The dialogue is a type of drama – Socrates, makes some characters very
- Socrates is still just one character among men – therefore cannot justify his
responses as gospel so to say.
- Crucial in a drama – the interpretation of the human world, the portrayal.
The differing kinds of people present would lead to the better
comprehension of the interactions that do occur.
- This is particularly exemplified through the use od the dialogue used by
- Plato shows through the interaction of characters within his dialogue – some