POL200 Interpretive Essay notes.doc

3 Pages

Political Science
Course Code
Clifford Orwin

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In order to be just as Polemarchus understands the term, you would have to know who your friends and enemies are. Like most of us, Polemarchus thinks he does know. But do we? What are the difficulties in our usual understanding of friends and enemies at which Socrates takes aim? Of the characters in the Republic, only Polemarchus champions justice in its usual political sense of loyalty to one’s city and fellow citizens against enemies outside the city and dishonest people inside it. What is Glaucon’s critique of justice conceived as dedication of this sort? If being a good Athenian is good enough for Polemarchus (who isn’t even a full citizen of Athens) why shouldn’t it be good enough for him? If even Toronto FC lives by the motto “All for one and one for all,” why won’t Glaucon buy into it? In answering this question don’t neglect the problems in Polemarchus’ position exposed in his conversation with Socrates, to which Glaucon has been listening and which may have shaped his own views. Aspects to discuss - the good that comes from it, soc critique of poly, laucon seeking a fundamental understanding of justice free of presupposed ideas of social order (i.e. politics), justice might mean that the greatest good must be sacrificed and how it relates to poly’s understanding (maybe it means that politics and the current social order represent the lowest end of Glaucon’s hierarchy?), mention glaucon compelling Socrates to continue (page 15) and interrupting the argument in page 24 The way in which each interlocutor addresses the subject of justice gives us a reflection of them and how they think: their experiences, their values, and their prejudices, among other things. Socrates, in challenging the interlocutors to answer the question, “what is justice?” forces them to face, if not reconcile with who they are. Glaucon witnesses to this process and seeks to both reconcile with his ideals and help formulate the best answer to the question “what is justice?” reached thus far in the dialogue. He does so by making the strongest case for injustice, in hopes that he and Socrates will develop the strongest case that can be made for justice. This case for injustice is essentially a critique of justice. It is a particular aspect(s) of this critique (what is/are it?) that when juxtaposed with Polemarchus’ conception of justice exposes a paradox in Polemarchus’ argument that Glaucon cannot accept. (or the paradox has previously been exposed and Glaucon cannot reconcile with it.) Established social conventions inform how Polemarchus interacts with Socrates and approaches the task of defining justice. These conventions are relevant to his morals, values and status in life. He begins his discussion with Socrates by stating that justice is “paying what is owed”, an argument previously argued by his father Cephalus, in reference to his life and the debts to which he owed the gods. Cephalus dominated the conversation before Polemarchus because he is the oldest of the interlocutors. Author Allan Bloom points out that age is both “politically recognizable and easily defined,” (Bloom 312) as is friendship and
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