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Plato

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  1. Plato Ronald F. White, Ph.D. Professor of Philosophy College of Mount St. Joseph

  2. Introduction

  3. Historical Background • Greek City-States • Athens v. Sparta • Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.) • The Thirty • Pre-Socratic Philosophy • Hesiod’s Theogony (725 B.C.) • Egyptian Philosophy • Pythagoreans (6th Century B.C.) • Milesians : Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes (6th Century B.C.) • Heracleitus: • Eleatics: Parmenides, Zeno • Sophists: Protagoras (5th Century B.C.) • Atomists: Democratus( 5th Century B.C.) • Empedocles (5th) • Anaxagoras (5th) • Socrates (469-399) • Plato (427-347) • The Academy (387-529 A.D.) • Aristotle (384-322) • The Lyceum (334-529) Read Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy (Part I)

  4. Plato’s Dialogues • 35 Dialogues • Tetraologies • Order of Dialogues • Early Dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Charmides ,,, First Alcibiades Hippias Major, Hippias Minor Ion , Laches, Lysis • Transitional & Middle Dialogues: Cratylus, Euthydemus , GorgiasMenexenus, Meno, Phaedo, Protagoras , Symposium • Later Middle Dialogues: Republic, Phaedrus, Parmenides, Theaetetus • Late Dialogues: Clitophon, Timaeus, Critias, Sophist, Statesman, Philebus, Laws • http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/plato/index.htm • http://plato-dialogues.org/tetralog.htm

  5. The Death of Socrates • Euthyrphro • Apology • Crito • Phaedo • Read: Russell, Chapter 11.

  6. Plato’s Theory of Knowledge

  7. The Divided Line

  8. The Sun v. the Cave • THE WORLD OF THE FORMS (REAL) • KNOWLEDGE-ETERNAL, CHANGELESS, INFALLIBLE • THE GOOD • THE HIGHER FORMS • VIRTUES: Truth, Justice, Wisdom, Courage, Temperance, Beauty • THE LOWER FORMS • Mathematical objects • Geometrical Objects • Names of Things • Things • Reflections of Things • Shadows of Things

  9. Why Read Plato’s Republic? • It’s required reading for PHI 140! (I’ll flunk you if you don’t read it.) • It is a profoundly influential work • Written about 375 B.C. • first philosophy book, first political science book • Banned in most totalitarian countries • It’s still “scary relevant.”

  10. Study Questions: Books 1-10

  11. Book 1 • 1. In light of Book I, what kind of a person was Socrates? Why was he invited to dinner? Compare him to Cephalus.  • 2. What did Cephalus think about justice?  • What did Polemarchus think? • 3. What was Thrasymachus' view?

  12. Book 2 • What are three kinds of “good?” • 4. Characterize Glaucon and Adeimantus. • What is "Gyges Ring?" Why discuss it? • 5. Why does Socrates expand the discussion to include the study of the State? • Discuss self-sufficiency of the state. • How do you train “guardians” (leaders)? • 6. According to Socrates, what is the nature of God and why is this definition important? 

  13. Book 3 • 7. What is Socrates' criticism of Homer?  • 8. What is the relation between body, soul, and the state of bodily health?  • 9. What is the "noble lie?" (Allegory of the Metals) In what sense is it noble. In what sense does Socrates believe it to be a lie? Is is noble? 

  14. Book 4 • 10. What is the relationship between the State, the Soul, and Virtue? What is justice and injustice? • Discuss happiness for Guardians, military, and the populace. • What is the difference between education and law. Which is more important? • Explain how the virtues of wisdom, courage, and temperance relate to guardians, military, and populace. • What is justice, according to Plato? • Discuss the soul, state, and virtues.

  15. Book 5 • 11. Discuss the family as proposed by Plato.  • 12. What does he say about women?  • 13. What is a philosopher and his/her ideal position in the state.  • Lovers?

  16. Book 5-7 • 14. Discuss the simile of "the sun" and the allegory of "the cave."  • What role should philosophers play in governing the state?

  17. Book 8 • 15. What is Plato's interpretation of history in terms of the various political regimes? You may make a chart. 

  18. Book 9 • 16. What are the characteristics of a tyrant?  • 17. What are the three proofs of the tyrant's misery? Why does Plato feel the need to provide such a proof? What is its political significance?

  19. Book 10 • 18. What is the myth of Er? Does it sound familiar? Why does Plato offer it at the end of the book?

  20. Final Discussion • In Book I, Thrasymachus proposes that justice is "nothing but the interest of the stronger." Over the course of the next nine books, do you think Plato was successful in refuting this view? Why refute it? Would you like to live in Plato's Republic? Compare it to the United States in the twentieth century.