Case study
Socratic Project as described in the Apology. Socrates is pursuing the truth about the Good life. The Oracle said he is the wisest person. Be able to explain why Socrates did not accept this statement. Know the process of elenchus and the 5 steps. Why is it significant that Socrates finds the contradiction in someone’s thinking?
Book 1of the Republic. Know views of justice of Cephalus, and his son and Thrasymachus. Know how the latter’s perspective reflects ethical relativism. Be able to explain the latter and contrast it to cultural relativism. Is Socrates an ethical relativist?
Know why Plato describes the heathy and the fevered city in book 2. What is the role of propaganda in the city that Plato ends up presenting to us? Explain the distinction the true lie and the lie in words. What is mimesis and how does that explain the need for propaganda in Plato’s city?
Explain why Plato first tells us the nature of justice in the city before that of the individual. Be able to describe the triangular structure of the classes of the Republic. The 3 classes and their technes (roles and jobs). Be able to explain the nature of the human soul and its 3 parts. Explain how the 3 parts of the soul correspond to the 3 classes. Explain Plato’s dualism and how it affects his view of gender.
Know the metaphysical system of Plato. The division of the universe into Being and Becoming. Know the nature and role of the forms. Be able to relate this to the cave analogy. Explain the structure of the educational system and how it correlates with the metaphysics. For example, kids start by learning stories because education starts a lowest metaphysical level (shadows). Next, they study geology and earth science because the physical objects are the next level of the world of becoming. Students also do physical education and war training because that also fits the level of objects. The next steps are learning math and finally the forms. The latter is only done by future philosopher rulers.
Know why Plato knows that his “ideal” society will notsucceed in the long term (know the metaphysics reason). Know the de-evolution of the republic into timocracy, plutocracy, democracy, and evil dictatorship. Be able to explain why the original republic fails. Be able to explain the Platonic critique of democracy. Democracies cannot be just because everyone has two technes—the one they have by nature and the job of ruling the society.
Know Plato’s view of “evil”. It is either caused by a lack of good or the physical matter of the universe itself. Know Plato’s view that the ultimate goal for the human individual is to escape the physical world and live with the forms. Explain how this idea relates to the Platonic view that our essence as human beings is the soul and the body is not significant.
Know the nature of the concept of virtue. Why are they important for Plato? Be able to define the virtues of wisdom, temperance, courage and justice. Why does the view of justice reflect Plato’s value on social harmony?
Know Plato’s view of love and eros. Why are relationships most permanent when they are based on a love of the forms? How did Plato’s view affect Augustine’s later religious view of marriage?


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