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History > The Republic (375 BCE) - #12

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message 1: by Kenia (last edited May 01, 2018 07:06PM) (new)

Kenia Sedler (keniasedler) | 240 comments Mod
Hello Classic-Book-Loving Friends! It's a new month, which means we're on to our next read!

From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

"Plato’s Republic centers on a simple question: is it always better to be just than unjust? The puzzles in Book One prepare for this question, and Glaucon and Adeimantus make it explicit at the beginning of Book Two. To answer the question, Socrates takes a long way around, sketching an account of a good city on the grounds that a good city would be just and that defining justice as a virtue of a city would help to define justice as a virtue of a human being. Socrates is finally close to answering the question after he characterizes justice as a personal virtue at the end of Book Four, but he is interrupted and challenged to defend some of the more controversial features of the good city he has sketched. In Books Five through Seven, he addresses this challenge, arguing (in effect) that the just city and the just human being as he has sketched them are in fact good and are in principle possible. After this long digression, Socrates in Books Eight and Nine finally delivers three “proofs” that it is always better to be just than unjust. Then, because Socrates wants not only to show that it is always better to be just but also to convince Glaucon and Adeimantus of this point, and because Socrates’ proofs are opposed by the teachings of poets, he bolsters his case in Book Ten by indicting the poets’ claims to represent the truth and by offering a new myth that is consonant with his proofs.

As this overview makes clear, the center of Plato’s Republic is a contribution to ethics: a discussion of what the virtue justice is and why a person should be just. Yet because Socrates links his discussion of personal justice to an account of justice in the city and makes claims about how good and bad cities are arranged, the Republic sustains reflections on political questions, as well. Not that ethics and politics exhaust the concerns of the Republic. The account in Books Five through Seven of how a just city and a just person are in principle possible is an account of how knowledge can rule, which includes discussion of what knowledge and its objects are. Moreover, the indictment of the poets involves a wide-ranging discussion of art...
"

I look forward to everyone's thoughts as the month progresses.

Happy reading!


message 2: by Kendra (new)

Kendra (kendrary) | 146 comments Mod
I'm excited to get started on this! What's even more exciting is that I will be bringing this along with me on a trip to Europe I'm taking later this month that ends with a couple days in Athens. Reading Plato is Athens is going to be an interesting experience.


message 3: by Kenia (new)

Kenia Sedler (keniasedler) | 240 comments Mod
Kendra,

Reading Plato in Athens?! How exciting, indeed! You’ll have to tell us all about it. :-D


message 4: by Mike (new)

Mike | 4 comments A few years ago, I ran across a book entitled “The Music of the Republic” by Eva Brann. She spent over fifty years as a tutor at St. John’s College, Annapolis. At St. John’s they reportedly refer to the professors as tutors due to the way their classes are structured; their entire curriculum revolves around reading the Classics or Great Books. Each semester deals with one or more of the classics for study; students reportedly meet in small groups with tutors to explore and report on what they are finding. Her book is the result of years spent in these seminars, directing them and instructing.

While her entire book is very worthwhile, a take away that resonated and stayed with me was her admonition to not merely read the Platonic Dialogues but join in the conversation. Over the years I have added my own touch; to visualize yourself in the room, seated between two of the participants, as statements are made don’t simply agree with the participants but think if you really agree. At first you will feel a little awkward but soon you will be more involved in the story. Make note of your disagreements to see how they would play out as the story progresses.

Hopefully, this may add to someone’s enjoyment.


message 5: by Kenia (new)

Kenia Sedler (keniasedler) | 240 comments Mod
Mike, that is an excellent suggestion! Thank you for sharing that—I do believe I’ll read it in that manner.


message 6: by Mike (new)

Mike | 4 comments Kenia wrote: "Mike, that is an excellent suggestion! Thank you for sharing that—I do believe I’ll read it in that manner."

Thank you, I hope you enjoy the read.


message 7: by Kendra (new)

Kendra (kendrary) | 146 comments Mod
I'm a little over halfway through and, honestly, this is not what I was expecting. It's crazy to think that I have heard so much about The Republic but, in reality, I knew so very little.

Socrates ideal State is very interesting, although I'm doubtful. I resonate with his understanding that this State is not likely to exist in its pure form because humans are not entirely good.

I'm currently on a cruise through Europe and it's interesting to compare this "ideal" with the realities of government in Russia, Finland, and (modern day) Greece.

Additionally, Socrates' ideal State includes everyone doing just one thing and I think I would personally hate that. I'm very much the kind of person who wants to try a million different things, and would if I had the time. So, as much as I admire dedication to one skills, I don't think I would thrive in that situation.

What does everyone else think? Do you like Socrates form of government? Do you think it's possible? Are there parts you disagree with?


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