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Instructor Blogs Plato Republic is a text that many believe completely captures Plato s political and moral philosophy while also covering economics psychology art and education The text s principal arguments are deductively derived in other words they are the careful work of reasoned contemplation as opposed to empirical observation Few stones are left unturned in this text because it would appear Plato wanted to convey how political theory encompassed the entirety of human life 39 The question of a good human being including the realization of their needs and wants is inextricably bound up in the question of the good state Further the resolution of these questions is achieved on the back of a guiding proposition inherited from Socrates virtue is knowledge I chose to assign a portion of the text so that you could directly experience the style and structure of his argument Plato employed Socrates as his mouthpiece within the dialogue so Socrates comments should be associated with Plato It is also important to stress that Plato s entire argument is deductive He does not even try to explain justice by referencing any actual real world events In Socrates view which Plato embraces wholly in The Republic real world events are unnecessary if one can understand the pure idea of something Admittedly throughout the text Socrates is pressed to do more than simply provide theoretical explanations revealing a persistent theme in the text the tension between theory and practice The assigned section relates a conversation between Socrates and his companions about Justice and what it means to be a just person As the dialogue unfolds we quickly find out that the questions what is justice and why would someone be just are not very easy to answer Socrates polls his friends discovers what are common ideas of justice in his day ideas which are not terribly unusual even in light of our own experiences and then observes the various problems with each As Socrates moves from friend to friend probing their views of justice only to find fault it is natural to wonder what Socrates is trying to do Is he merely out to embarrass his friends Despite what we read in the Defense of Socrates I do not think this is his objective at all Rather Socrates is genuinely curious about what people think of such an important question and he is concerned because the conventional common views are incomplete or simply wrong This is highly problematic if we can all agree that justice should be the foundation for a happy society and a happy person isn t it Either we would build a city upon an idea of justice that being flawed will not work or we will spend our time arguing about it and never really making progress This reinforces a point which Socrates later coaxes perhaps tricks Thrasymachus into admitting we really do not want someone who does not know what they are doing to rule 340d e 341 page 48 50 Socrates later plainly identifies that there is in fact a link between justice wisdom and virtue such that it is just when someone knows what is Good and then actually is Good to the best of their ability 350a page 53 54 Interestingly while his friends do not actively dispute Socrates idea of justice they end up attacking the notion that someone would actually want to be just I don t expect we would be surprised by arguments linking injustice to deficiencies in one s character but I do find it sad that a good person would lead an unjust life According to Socrates injustice should never be a product of true goodness Nevertheless we are confronted by reasons why anyone of sound mind would opt to be unjust even if they were capable of behaving differently It should not surprise us that Plato is relentless in his efforts to overcome our weaknesses and the challenges that litter Book II of Republic through his political theory As the dialogue progresses beyond what you were assigned we learn more about Plato s views of effective and necessary leadership effective in the sense that this type of leader will be able to enable the virtue of the citizenry and necessary in the sense that without this type of leader justice will remain out of reach As we touched upon earlier this type of leader is the philosopher The philosopher is a lover of learning and capable of achieving the knowledge of the Good which defines the right order of society Philosophers however are a rare breed which also means that a vast majority of any city s citizens will lack what leadership requires Hence we characterize the role of the philosopher as necessary You will learn more about this in the lecture on Plato as well as whether we are meant to take him seriously or if his views remain consistent across his other political texts Play close attention in particular to his logic of power and its linkage to human excellence well being and happiness Aristotle Important Note The reader provides a glimpse into Politics which is a much more extensive work To complement the assigned selection I ve opted to reference additional passages in this post in order to shine a light on important themes referenced in the assigned selection as well as in the lecture for this unit I ve opted to include general citations which would help you find the quotes in any text and the page number from the Princeton reader where appropriate Aristotle s Politics considers both the practical and the ideal On the one hand he contemplates upon the ideal constitution without regard to likely obstacles societies would face in its implementation This is to understand why and how constitutions contribute to the pursuit of human excellence On the other hand he evaluates constitutions in terms of their practicability The latter draws from the former in that the ideal represents certain qualities that the practical constitutions should strive toward In the end Aristotle does not advocate for a single form of government Instead he stresses the qualities that good governments should emulate with the aim of building a self sufficient community Aristotle regarded self sufficiency to entail both material and moral ends In other words a self sufficient city should be able to produce all it needs from goods and services to virtue and justice Thusly the satisfaction of our material and moral ends leads necessarily to a happy society that shares in the supreme Good We find clear evidence of this view when he writes about the purpose of human association Observation shows us first that every polis or state is a

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VCU POLI 107 - POLI-107 Notes and Spotlight

Type: Lecture Note
Pages: 16
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