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POL 200 Lecture 1.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science
Rebecca Kingston

POL 200 Lecture #1 th (Tutorials begin week of 24 ) The Republic - Introduction • Consider what he is reacting to, we must think about his time and what might’ve motivated him to write the text as he did. • The spirit of competition, the spirit of struggle had a major impact on greek politics (as in their sports) • Polis – greek term for community • Conception of good – values you possess • Conception of the good relevant to individuals, can change throughout life The Political history: democratic institutions of ancient Athens and the controversies surrounding them • Plato is developing an idea of an alternative regime, although critical of the democratic practices of his time, it owes lot to democracy. • It is a just commentary based on the proper basis for good citizenship and self rule. • Does Plato think that the just city he is developing possible? Evidence? a) Instability • Democracy in ancient Greece was unstable (lasted 100 years, but suffered from both inside and outside forces) • City states – focused on one urban community with a rural periphery • Athens (pop. Approx 45000) engaged in several wars, against Persia and Sparta, all which lasted a fairly long time. These weakened the state. • Democracy believed to begin in 462 BC and lasted until 322. b) Paradoxes • We go to trained professionals because they can do it best, using this logic, why not train someone in politics and let them make political decisions. • Athens, first time power was given to the ‘popular’ classes. • Athens was a direct democracy as compared to liberal or representative democracy (Canada, U.S etc..) • Direct democracy – citizens have sovereignty and citizens rule • Assembly met 40 times per year, voted by hand •
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