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Plato - Mount St. Joseph University

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Ronald F. White, Ph.D.Professor of PhilosophyCollege of Mount St. Joseph
Historical Background
Greek City-StatesAthens v. SpartaPeloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.)The ThirtyPre-Socratic PhilosophyHesiod’sTheogony(725 B.C.)Egyptian PhilosophyPythagoreans (6thCentury B.C.)Milesians: Thales, Anaximander,Anaximenes(6th Century B.C.)Heracleitus:Eleatics: Parmenides, ZenoSophists: Protagoras (5thCentury B.C.)Atomists:Democratus( 5thCentury 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’sHistory of Western Philosophy(Part I)
Plato’s Dialogues
35 DialoguesTetraologiesOrder of DialoguesEarly Dialogues:Euthyphro, Apology,Crito,Charmides,,, First Alcibiades Hippias Major, Hippias Minor Ion ,Laches,LysisTransitional & Middle Dialogues:Cratylus,Euthydemus,GorgiasMenexenus,Meno,Phaedo, Protagoras , SymposiumLater Middle Dialogues:Republic, Phaedrus, Parmenides,TheaetetusLate Dialogues:Clitophon,Timaeus,Critias, Sophist, Statesman,Philebus, Laws
The Death of Socrates
EuthyrphroApologyCritoPhaedoRead: Russell, Chapter 11.
Plato’s Theory of Knowledge
The Divided Line
The Sun v. the CaveTHEWORLD OF THE FORMS (REAL)KNOWLEDGE-ETERNAL, CHANGELESS, INFALLIBLETHE GOODTHE HIGHER FORMSVIRTUES: Truth, Justice, Wisdom, Courage, Temperance, BeautyTHE LOWER FORMSMathematical objectsGeometrical ObjectsNames of ThingsThingsReflections of ThingsShadows of Things
Why Read Plato’sRepublic?
It’s required reading for PHI 140! (I’ll flunk you if you don’t read it.)It is a profoundly influential workWritten about 375 B.C.first philosophy book, first political science bookBanned in most totalitarian countriesIt’s still“scary relevant.”
Study Questions: Books 1-10
Book 1
1. In light of Book I, what kind of a person was Socrates? Why was he invited to dinner? Compare him toCephalus.2. What didCephalusthink about justice?What didPolemarchusthink?3. What wasThrasymachus' view?
Book 2
What are three kinds of “good?”4. CharacterizeGlauconandAdeimantus.Whatis "GygesRing?" 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?
Book 3
7. What is Socrates' criticism of Homer?8. What is the relation between body, soul, and the state ofbodily health?9. What is the "noble lie?"(Allegory of the Metals) Inwhat sense is it noble. In what sense does Socrates believe it to be a lie? Isisnoble?
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.
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?
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?
Book 8
15. What is Plato's interpretation of history in terms of the various political regimes? You may make a chart.
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?
Book 10
18. What is the myth ofEr? Does it sound familiar? Why does Plato offerit at the end of the book?
Final Discussion
In Book I,Thrasymachusproposes 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.





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Plato - Mount St. Joseph University