RepublicLecture1HandoutRevised 1 Essay

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Philosophy 1
Professor Sean Greenberg
Fall Quarter 2014

Republic Lecture 1

*General course remarks
*Two distinctions: use vs. mention (of a word); validity vs. soundness (of an argument)

1. Plato’s Life & Works
2. The Republic: Structure and Characters
3. Book 1: Thrasymachus’s Arguments; Socrates’s Question

1. Plato’s Life and Works
A preliminary note: history of philosophy and problem-oriented philosophy; division of problem-oriented philosophy into metaphysics and epistemology and value theory
α. Little known about Plato’s life, including his dates of birth (either 428 or 424-423
BCE), death (estimated as 348 BCE) or his name; it is known that Plato was influenced by Socrates (469-399 BCE)
β. Works: Distinction between aporetic (Socratic) and non-aporetic dialogues
*’aporetic’ means a figure of speech in which a speaker expresses doubt or purports to be in doubt regarding a question.
* To be referred to according to the ‘Stephanus numbers’, so named after the page numbers of the complete edition of Plato’s works produced in 1678 by the French editor, Henricus Stephanus (Henri Estienne)
*Debra Nails, The People of Plato, gives information on characters in and historical context of Republic (relevant selections from Nails’s book available on course website)

2. The Republic: Structure and Characters
α. Opening: conceptions of justice (Book 1)
β. Definition of justice (Books 2-4)
∂. Conditions for realizing the just city (Books 5-7)
ε. Injustice in the state (Books 8-9)
ζ. The rewards of justice; concluding myth (Book 10)
Characters: Socrates; Glaucon; Adeimantus; Cephalus; Polemarchus; Thrasymachus Sophists: word has general meaning of one who exercises wisdom or learning; historical Sophists were akin to political consultants.

3. Book 1: Thrasymachus’s Arguments
α. “I say that justice is nothing other than the advantage of the stronger” (338 c1-2). Argument i. In every city/state (polis), the strongest rule. ii. In every polis, the rulers make laws advantageous to themselves. iii. In every polis, justice consists in obedience to those laws. iv. So in every polis, justice is the advantage of the rulers. v. Therefore, since the rulers are the stronger, justice is the advantage of the stronger.

Objection. Rulers make mistakes, so justice is not the advantage of the stronger (339b4-339e7).
Response. Rulers, qûa rulers, do not make mistakes (340c5-341a3).
Objection. ‘Crafts’, e.g., navigation, medicine, etc., seek the advantage of the weaker, not the stronger: so justice, qûa craft, cannot seek the advantage of the