Philosophy of the Person
1. What is the main idea in Meno?
The main idea of Meno is to answer the question of what is Virtue. The
question is raised by Socrates and he believes that he does not know the answer to the
question. Meno raises the question of if virtue can be taught and Socrates states that
in order to understand if something can be taught they must first be able to define
what that is.
2. 2. How does Plato (Socrates) start the whole discussion? Describe the initial dilemma.
What is Plato’s answer at the end of the book? Socrates
starts the discussion by bringing up the idea that if one wants to know if virtue can be
taught one must first define what virtue is. He states that he does not know the
definition of virtue and Meno does not either. At the end of the book Plato again
states that he does not know the definition to virtue and him and Meno agree that they
do no know.
3. 3. At the beginning of the book, Meno enumerates many different definitions of
virtue. List some of these definitions and explain why Socrates does not agree with
believes that virtue is being able to manage public affairs to benefit friends and harm
enemies, for a woman it is different it is to manage a home well and preserve its
possessions and be submissive to her husband and goes on that there is different
virtues for different people. Socrates replies by saying that Meno has given a bunch
of different virtues not a definition of virtue, he uses the example of different types of
bees, but they are all the same in so far as they are bees. Meno also says that virtue is
to find joy in beautiful things and have power to which Socrates replies that some
people desire things that they perceive to be good but are in actuality bad.
4. 4. Why does Meno call Socrates a torpedo fish?
Meno calls Socrates a torpedo fish because he makes everyone around him
numb, by all his questioning, he has made Meno’s tongue numb and he has not given
any definition of his own.
5. 5. Why does Socrates introduce “the immortality of human soul’? Explain Socrates’
theory of recollection. Socrates
introduces the immortality of the human soul to describe his theory of recollection.
Socrates tells how the soul lives forever and that our soul has lived many years and
already knows everything that has been learned and that we merely need to recollect
what we learned in a past life. Socrates shows his theory by taking a slave who has
had no schooling in geometry and asking him guiding questions to have him get to
the answer of geometry questions.
1 6. 6. Socrates offers two possible answers on the original question of virtue in a
hypothetical way. Explain Socrates’ answer on the first hypothesis / assumption.
Socrates has the hypothesis that if virtue can be taught then it is a kind of
knowledge, Socrates and Meno answer by saying that virtue is only beneficial when
accompanied by wisdom so virtue is a part of of wisdom. Meno then says that virtue
is knowledge and can be taught but Socrates is not sure because he does not feel
comfortable with the idea of virtue being knowledge as opposed to virtue being a part
of wisdom. His suspicion lies where there are no teachers of virtue. All of the most
virtuous people do not have virtuous sons so clearly they can not teach their kids
because virtuous people would want to see their kids be virtuous.
7. 7. What is Socrates’ position at the end of Meno?
Socrates’ position at the end of Meno is that virtue is a divine gift and should
not be taken for granted, it is very important and it must relate back to the person to
help them find deeper meaning. In the end they can not clearly describe what virtue
is and decide that it can not be taught and they know that they do not know.
1. 1. What is Plato’s Republic about?
Plato’s republic is about Justice and what is just. Socrates goes through these
ideas by addressing justice within a community and justice within one self
2. 2. What are the initial definitions of Justice? (Book I)
The initial definitions of Justice are living up to the legal obligations and
giving people what they want, then it is refined to do good to friends and do ill
towards enemies, then Thrasymachus says it is the advantage of the stronger.
3. How does Glaucon divide all goods? Where does Justice belong? (II)
Glaucon divides all goods into three different types. Goods that are good for itself,
things that are good because of the consequences and things that are both of these. Glaucon
believes that Justice represents things that are good because of the consequences.
4. What is the legend of the ring of Gyges about?
The legend of the ring of Gyges is about a magical ring that gives the ring bearer the
ability to become invisible. This story is used to support Thrasymachus in his explanation of
how it is better to be unjust than just because if we were able to get away with things and not
suffer the consequences, we would do unjust things and no one would be just.
5. Talking about the Justice in the individual, Socrates introduces the political justice as well.
Socrates introduces political justice as well as individual justice because he finds it
important to talk about justice within a community before finding justice within the
individual because without a just city there can not be a just individual.
6. What is for Socrates the foundational principle of human society? What does it mean?
The foundational principle of human society to Socrates is the principle of
2 specialization where everyone has a purpose and they all serve that purpose to which they are
7. How does Socrates build the perfect city? Describe its groups.
Socrates builds the perfect city by having three different groups all serving their
individual purpose. There will be guardians who will be our wise philosophical rulers. Our
auxiliaries who will be our warriors and defend our city. Then there will be producers who
deal with producing all of the goods for the city. There will be no money involved in the city
to get rid of wealth and poverty. Everyone will serve his or her own purpose and the city will
8. Nature does not produce warriors; they have to be educated. Who are the men disposed to
become warriors and what their education looks like? What is Socrates’ dilemma regarding
their education? (Book II). What is the function of stories / myths in the process of
education? (Book III)
Warriors are brought up through equal nurturing and training. The warriors must
participate in music and arts as well as train to become warriors, they must have a soul that is
in harmony. The warriors are selected from the best of the people with the correct innate
psychology and eventually warriors are bred through intercourse amongst the best of the
warrior class. Also the stories and poems they listen to when they are young are censored
because they cannot fear death and must be brave and willing to put their life on the line.
The stories they listen to are supposed to send positive messages to the warriors. Their
education is pure
9. Explain the myth of the metals? (III)
The myth of the metals tells how all men come from the ground and in each of us
there are particular metals, gold, silver, and bronze. Gold is in the guardians, silver is in the
auxiliaries, and bronze is in the producers. The myth states that only the people with gold
can rule or else the city will go to ruin.
10. Why does not Socrates care about the happiness of the warriors? What is more
Socrates does not care about the happiness of the warriors because it is the overall
salvation of everyone else that is the most important. The happiness of the city comes before
the happiness of any one individual. The warriors will be pleased with themselves when they
protect everyone else in their community
11. Why does the just city need no law?
The just city needs no law because the guardians will be well trained enough to make
any points of policy and have the judgment to resolve anything that arises. Also because of
specialization since everyone in the city does what they are best suited to do, there is limited
12. Where is the place of Justice in the just city? (together with wisdom, courage, and
The place of wisdom in the just city is with the guardians because they have the
knowledge to govern and regulate the city. Courage in the just city is with the auxiliaries
because they must defend the city and they would put their life on the line to defend the city
and its inhabitants. Moderation and justice are found in the entirety of the city, moderation is
found in the agreement of who should rule the city and justice is found in specialization
where everyone does what they are best suited to do
3 13. Describe tree parts of the human soul and their functions! What is the soul of the just
The three parts of the human soul are the rational part, the spirited part and the
appetitive part. The just person has all three of these in their soul but has them each
proportioned perfectly with the most weight on the rational part and then some on the spirited
part and then the least on the appetitive part Soul must be in perfect harmony with each part.
14. Who are the true philosophers who should the city? Describe the difference between true
and false philosophers. (V,VI).
The true philosophers are those who love philosophy as much as ruling and have
perfect knowledge of the unchanging world with true ideas and forms whereas the false
philosophers deal with the changing world of sights and sounds. The true philosophers are
the ones fit to rule because they know the true ideas and forms
15. Socrates compares the situation in the city to a ship with an old captain. What is the
message of this parable?
The message of the parable where Socrates compares the situation in the city to a ship
with an old captain serves to show that there is a problem in the city where the people fit to
rule who are the philosophers are not the ones rising to rule because the people next to rule
are the ones who use brute force and clever tricks to appear as the best captain or ruler, but in
reality there is a skill to ruling or navigating and the person looking out over the sea of the
philosopher would be considered useless even though he is fit for the position
16. The true philosopher is able to come to know the Good itself. Socrates describes the
Good as “what is apparently an offspring of the good and most like it” (506e). Explain the
analogy of the Sun and its relation to the Good! (VI)
The analogy of the good and its relation to the sun represented by Socrates
description where he says “what is apparently an offspring of the good and most like it”
shows how the sun is like the good. We cannot look at the sun; we can only imitate it and
know what is most like it which is the good. The sun represents sight and the good is
knowledge, without light there would be no existence and without knowledge there would be
no existence of ideas or forms. The sun is very much like the good
17. The analogy is meant to illustrate four grades of understanding the world. Explain these
The analogy of the lion illustrates four grades of knowledge, beginning with the worst
form of understanding which is imagination, followed by opinion, then thoughts and then
finally knowledge. Imagination is the worst form of understanding because it is just recalling
images of the physical, changing world. Then comes opinions where you do not know things
for sure but you have beliefs what you think you know to be true, based in the material
world. Then there is thoughts where you no longer need to refer to material things, an
example of thoughts is the ability to use math and numbers. Then finally the best form of
knowledge is understanding which is the perfect unchanging world where you get it and you
know that you know, you understand the good
18. Explain the allegory of the Cave. (VII)
The allegory of the cave tells the story of people who are shackled down in a cave
and can only see the shadows of statues, and believe this to be their world. One day one of
the men get free and can see that what he thought of the way things were was not true
because the shadows were coming from statues and fire light. He then went out of the cave
to see the real world and realized that this was the true world. He then went back to try and
4 teach the others the way the world really is. Plato relates this to rulers and how those who
know the true forms and ideas should teach everyone else.
19. What are the main steps in the process of education of the philosopher-king?
The main steps in the process of education of the philosopher-king are by first at
childhood being brought up by studying music, poetry, philosophy and the material reality.
Then they will study mathematics and abstract reality. From there they will do a lot of
physical activity and training for about 5 years. From there they will go back to mathematics
but study true mathematics followed by training in dialects for 5 years. At 35 they will begin
to work in a public position and after 15 years of work they have the theoretical and practical
knowledge and among the best of these guardians the philosopher king will come to be.
20. Describe the constitution of timocracy, oligarchy, democracy and tyranny, and the souls
of the people who rule the city organized according to these constitutions. (VIII)
The constitution of the timocracy is a degeneration of our perfect constitution of
aristocracy where the philosopher kings eventually argue amongst themselves in a dispute
over personal wealth, which will split the rulers in to two groups because they become honor
loving. Then the oligarchy will come about as wealth becomes the predominant right to rule
where you need to amass a certain amount of wealth in order to have a say in ruling. Then
from there the wealthy will become weak and weary and the people will revolt and
eventually bring about a democracy where everyone is equal and free. From here since there
is no central government, eventually the drones will begin to feed more excessively and the
people will look to one leader to take charge and he will eventually become a tyrant who
seeks out and kills based upon his ideas of who should die. The person who represents a
timocracy is honor loving in which he longs for victory in the form of private wealth, and
instead of ruling rationally they rule spiritually. The oligarchy will be a wealth loving person
who thinks with his appetitive part of his soul as opposed to the spirited part. The democracy
represents someone who believes he can do whatever he wants and continues to think with
the appetitive part and only promotes self gain. Finally the tyrant thinks solely with the
appetitive part of his soul and has lawless desires that can never be filled.
21. Describe the psychological development of the tyrannical man! (IX)
The psychological development of the tyrannical man starts during childhood
watching his father in a democracy penny pinch and be thrifty and focus all his attention on
material wealth. He will begin to dream and have desires of insolence. He will then start to
borrow money from his parents to relieve his desires, but his desires are insatiable and he
will continue to borrow until no more is given to him at which point he will steal, rape,
pillage, and murder to get what he wants. He will no longer trust anyone except for himself
and his soul will be consumed with hatred and regret in his attempts to fulfill his insatiable
22. At the end of Book IX, Socrates states that it is worthwhile to be just. Explain his
statement (include tree animals in the soul and question about the biggest pleasure- 585). At
this point, Socrates speaks again about the law. Why?
Socrates states that it is worthwhile to be just because there are 3 kinds of people,
money loving, honor loving, and wisdom loving and that the only way to know which is the
best is for the person with the most experience to judge them and since only the wisdom
loving person has experienced all 3 and he is a wisdom lover, then it is better to be just as
opposed to unjust as a money lover. The biggest pleasure is that controlled by the rational
part of the soul which follow truth. The money lovers and honor lovers will not know the
5 biggest pleasure because their pleasures casue them to lust and become violent where the
pleasure found in true knowledge is perfect and unchanging. Also Plato brings up the idea of
the three animals inside of us, the multiform beast, the lion, and the human. An unjust
person will feed the beast and the lion and starve the human inside and be dragged wherever
the beast and lion take him. The Just person will ensure that the human inside him thrives
the strongest with reason and rational thinking and then feeds the beast second to calm the
evil desires and then the lion finally to make an ally of him.
23. Why does Socrates banish poets form the city? (X)
Socrates banishes poets from the city because they think they know everything when
in reality they know nothing. He says that their work imitates the changing world, which is
bad for our soul because the poets simply imitate reality as opposed to dealing with reality.
Since they serve no beneficial purpose Socrates banishes the poets.
24. How does Socrates explain the immortality of the soul?
Socrates explains the immortality of the soul by comparing philosopher kings and
tyrants. He says that something x can only be destroyed by not x and since philosopher kings
are the happiest and the tyrants are the most wretched, yet they survive and live, the soul
must be immortal.
1. Definition of eudaimonia (happiness, human fulfillment, human flourishing)
The definition of eudaimonia is an activity of the soul in accordance with excellence
of virtue the most perfect, complete virtue or excellence over a complete life with sufficient
2. Definition of moral virtue (character virtue, excellence of character)
Moral virtue is a stable state giving rise to choice lying between the means of excess
and deficiency, a mean relative to us and determined by logos or reasoning by which a
person of practical wisdom would determine it.
3. Aristotle’s vision of the human soul
Aristotle splits the human soul in to 2 parts and then splits each of those parts in to
two parts. First there is the rational part and irrational part. The rational part of the soul is
split in to two parts theoretical reason and practical reason. The theoretical part deals with
grsping theoretical ideas like math or science. The practical part deals with rationally
guiding and ordering desires and appetites, providing principles for actions and choices. The
irrational part of the soul is split up in to the appetitive part and the vegetative part. The
appetitive part of the soul provides feelings, desires and impulses for movement and action,
but it is the practical part that has to order these desires and appetites. Finally, the vegetative
part controls the sustaining of life, like reproduction, growth and taking in and processing
4. Types of action
There are three types of actions, voluntary, involuntary, or mixed. Voluntary actions
come from within and are in our control and we reason out the best action to take.
Involuntary actions are caused by outside factors either by force or by ignorance and are out
of our control. Within involuntary actions done as a result of ignorance, there are two kinds
of ignorance’s, one of universals and one of particulars. Also without regret the action is
6 non-voluntary, rather than involuntary. Mixed actions are between voluntary and
5. Genesis of an action
There are 5 Genesis of an action according to Aristotle. They are: ethos which is
based on the person’s character, boulesis which is based on a basic want or wish, bouleusis
which is based on deliberation and planning, proairesis which is based on choice or selection
of a particular course of action, and finally praxis, which is sim