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Lecture 4

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Political Science
Rebecca Kingston

POL 200 Lecture 4 Plato IV 10/07/09 I) The Need to go beyond the city and the soul • Knowledge is communicated through three important images 1) The cave 2) The Sun 3) The line • Socrates begins to develop n account for the theory of knowledge • There is a moral structure to things prior to human beings, thus the quest for understanding is an outward quest • Plato is trying to convince us that justice is ground in something beyond ourselves – the theory of forms is that which ensures the goodness of the philosophers. II) Background to Plato’s Theory of Forms (sceptics, Parmenides, Pythagoreans) • Three strains of thought that had significant influence on Plato: 1) The sceptics: “you can’t step into the same river twice” (because it is in constant movement). Reality is always in flux, you cannot have good knowledge of things as we see them because there is no such thing as real continuity. 2) Parmenides: one constant feature of the world is Being  things exist, everything is connected. 3) The school of the Pythagoreans: the key to understanding was mathematics. • One way to understand the forms is through beauty permanency • The forms (justice, freedom virtue) serve three important functions for Plato 1) Standards by which we judge the world 2) The forms participate in the world – they are more than just concepts 3) Forms make the world intelligible to us- they are a living principle that allow us to understand justice III) The Sun, Line and Cave (Books 6 &7) 1) The Sun (508) The form of the good is like the sun. The sun is something that transfers part of itself into the living world. 2) The Line (end of book 6): the line between things we see and things we think about. Knowle
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