Plato_s Republic Notes.pdf

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science
Janice Stein

REPUBLIC OF PLATO 241110 307 PM Character detailsSOCRATES Socrates is remembered chiefly as a philosopher and the teacher of Plato but he was also a citizen of Athens and served the military as a hoplite during the Peloponnesian War SENETENCED TO DEATH BY DRINKING POISON HEMLOCK GLAUCON born circa 445 BC son of Ariston was the philosopher Platos older brother introduced to the reader as a man who loves honor sex and luxuryPOLEMARCHUS was the son of Cephalus of Syracuse He had two brothers Lysias and Euthydemus Platos Republic is set at Polemarchus house in the Piraeus which was located next to their shield manufacturing store that employed 120 skilled slaves ADEIMANTUS WAS A COMMANDER AND LATER APPOINTED A GENERAL CEPHALUS AN ORATOR son of Lysanias from Syracuse 5th cBCa wealthy metic and elderly arms manufacturer living in Athens who engages in dialogue with Socrates in Platos Republic He was the father of orator Lysiasphilosopher Polemarchus and Euthydemus THRACYMACHUS Thrasymachus was a citizen of Chalcedon on the Bosphorus His career appears to have been spent as a sophist CLEITOPHON CHArmANTIDES ONE F THE SILENT OBSERVERS OF THE REPUBLIC CONVERSATION EUTHYDEMUS SON OF CEPHALUS LYSIAS Greek orator He was a metic resident foreigner in Athens and as such he was forbidden to speak as a Roman citizen all his speeches were delivered by others He and his brother were seized by the ruling oligarchy his brother was killed but Lysias escaped He ranks with Antiphon as a writer of clear simple prose of great effectiveness and his style became one model for Attic Greek prose NICERATUS son of Nicias commendable writer Greece cities were smaller and more political It was thought that the art of speakingrhetoric was most important to be a successas a citizen and statesmanTUDY QUESTIONS FOR THE LECTURE OF JANUARY 7 Republic I 327a334b S wwwnotesolutioncom 1 Look at a page of the Republic any page One character says one thing another character says another the work proceeds by means of a series of clashesWhat familiar literary form does the Platonic dialogue resembleHow do we go about interpreting such a work whose author never speaks directly to us in his own name but instead provides us with a cast of characters each of whom presents his own take on the worldFreedom to be intolerant is to commit a great sin Discovering the ineffectual truthIn modernity we find itself above all alternatives The focus is to explore theoretical alternatives bw modernity and others Plato is not a character in these dialogues The truth is dramatic or dialectical Dramatic and subtle One of the characterssocrates makes other characters very angryPay attention to Sophocles The presentation of the human world is crucial in this drama Understand these human interaction and the truth about itPublic things or affairsTHE REPUBLIC Ordinarily republic mean form of governmentBut also politics in the sense of a way of lifecephalus is the fatherwhat he says goes Piety supports patriotThose who can do those who cant they talk about it according to cephalus Why does sophocles spend his life talking Cephalus is content with his life in old age in response to sophocles question Wwould it be good if eros played no role in manss life at allnostaligia for his lost youth by cephalus Classical thought aims higher than modern political thoughtand therefore aims for the beautiful rather than erotic a good character and money is necessary for a good old age in response to Socrates old age rude question Cephalus is not the greatest money maker He is a little ashamed o admit the fear of punishment in the afterlife He didnt even concern himself with justice before The money consoles him against what lies beyond This is the initial presentation of the problem of justice It is practice only under duress In fear of the evils inflicted by the gods it Is not that justice is good for you but the divine punishment is badSocrates objection has no mention of the g Gods the principle behind Socrates reformation Although all truth telling to other has become dependent on justice Polemarchus intervenes in duty to stand by his father Cephalus Heir who understands justice as selfless loyaltyCan justice be defined in terms of self interests Polemarchusseeks to defend cephalus position 331 e332 b POLEMARCHES LEAVES THE GODS OUT OF THE COVERSATION AS WELL He tries to explain justice on the basis of friendship THERE ARE LIMITS TO EUALITY Most of us believe in the equality of opportunity Help those who helped us and harm those who harm usChristian context In cephalus exchange there is a selfish concern In polemarchus THEREI IS MORE CONCERN WITH FRIENDSHIP HE IS A MORE NOBLE SOLE THAN HIS FATHER Cephalus uses money to atone for his sins There is always a certain political dimension to justice They both define justice with respect to self interestPolemarchus tries to solve the dichotomy of jusice with the friend and enemy distinctions Socrates 332 c autocraft a useful art rather wwwnotesolutioncomthan fine artsJustice is understood as giving what is fitting Justice must be based on a form of expertise 332 e not an adequate answer by polemarchuswrt warfare And in peacetime justice is useful when money is useless Justice is viewed as a glorified security guard hired at minimum wage Ultimately polemarchus answers wont stand Socrates scrutiny333 e contradiction in the robber comment It takes a thief to catch a thief Justice is an art therefore unidentifiableCrazydialogues Even Plato understands how crazy these dialogues areIn book one there will be three definitions of justice We usually call justice rather than an art its a virtue a moral disposition The just man maybe a simple righteous person knowledge and intention lie behind a righteous man So it must and must not be an art 2 The settings of Platonic dialogues are importantThe discussion reported inthe Republic takes place in the Piraeus the seaport of AthensYouve all heard what seaports are likeYou may even have visited one perhaps even as a drunken sailorIs this the appropriate setting for a discussion of the meaning of justiceDont such discussions belong in universities 3There are some conversations in which we participate willingly and others that are forced upon usDoes Socrates submit to this one willingly or unwillingly Did not intend to spend the day in the conversation 320b stronger and unreasonable polemarchusPhilosopher kings was the major forms of regime rules In the real world philosophers wishes are easily brushed asideSocrates seems powerless at the beginning of the conversation Power and wisdom The greatest innovation of all philosophy was created over the great waters and portsNew goddess inauguration in Venice festival4 To hear old Cephalus tell it he and Socrates have a lot in commonIn particular they both like to talkDo they have as much in common as Cephalus supposesIf Cephalus enjoys talking so much why does he leave the discussion almost before it gets started 5 The discussion between Socrates and Cephalus is brief but no too brief to teach us something important about justiceNamely 6 Polemarchus presents himself to the departing Cephalus as the heir of his fathers argument about justiceIs the position that he takes up the same one that Cephalus has laid downwwwnotesolutioncom
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