Philosophical thought #1: In the book of life, the answers are not in the back…
Plato’s Republic: Why do I have to read a #@$% thousands’-year-old book???!!
While still an aspiring politician, Plato was befriended by the elder Socrates and quickly became his informal pupil.
It can be thought of as a rectification of the fate of Socrates - a just man killed by an unjust State.
it is a philosophical masterpiece; it is acute political theory; it is great literature
http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic for full downloadable text
MARKING & ANNOTATING the Republic, Book 1
And has not the soul an excellence also? Yes. And can she or can she not fulfil her own ends when deprived of that excellence? She cannot. Then an evil soul must necessarily be an evil ruler and superintendent, and the good soul a good ruler? Yes, necessarily. And we have admitted that justice is the excellence of the soul, and injustice the defect of the soul? That has been admitted. Then the just soul and the just man will live well, and the unjust man will live ill? That is what your argument proves. And he who lives well is blessed and happy, and he who lives ill the reverse of happy? Certainly. Then the just is happy, and the unjust miserable? So be it. But happiness and not misery is profitable. Of course. Then, my blessed Thrasymachus, injustice can never be more profitable than justice.
Justice = excellence of the soul
Just man lives well
= blessed and happy
Just = happy
Injustice ≠ more profitable
Plato (427-347 B.C.)
“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play
Polemachus: invites Socrates to his home, eager for the conversation. He cherishes very common ideas
Thrasymachus: is the fierce embodiment of tyranny
Cleitophon, son of Aristonymus
Charmantides, a Paeanian (silent)
Lysias, son of Cephalus (silent)
Euthydemus, son of Cephalus (silent)
Niceratus, son of Nicias (silent
According to Wikipedia BOOK 1 - Prologue I.1: Descent to the Piraeus I.2—I.5: Cephalus. Justice of the Older Generation I.6—1.9: Polemachus. Justice of the Middle Generation I.10—1.24: Thrasymachus. Justice of the Sophist
From Cliff’s Notes
In his History of Western Philosophy (1945), Bertrand Russell sees three parts in Plato's Republic: -Book I-V: the Utopia portion, portraying the ideal community, starting from an attempt to define justice -Book VI-VII: since philosophers are seen as the ideal rulers of such community, this part of the text concentrates on defining precisely what a philosopher is -Book VIII-X: discusses several practical forms of government, their pros and cons.
- Why does he believe that it is never just to harm anyone?
STRATEGIES FOR READING PHILOSOPHY
Philosophical thought #2: Experience is a hard teacher; it gives the test first, then teaches the lesson afterwards…
1. Read for the professor's questions
Generate questions from your lecture notes. View your notes as a set of answers from which you write questions.
When you go to your textbook, use the questions from your lecture notes as a key. Use your text as a reference book: in it, you need to find examples illustrating the major points in class.
Don't take extensive notes from your reading; instead, make a list of key words (both yours and the philosopher's) illustrating given arguments.
2. Read for examples
A philosopher shifts between using the complex "language of philosophy" (terminology specific to philosophy and/or terms taken from common speech - “to know”- but used in a special sense) and ordinary, everyday examples to illustrate his points.
Skim the reading for concrete, out-of-context words("shoemaker,” "joke,” "thief”) and read the full sentence in which they appear – it will illustrate in concrete terms the point the philosopher is making.
Glance away from the book and make up another example of your own that is parallel. Now look for confirmation at the actual principle stated in dense, philosophic terms.
Working from examples is learning by building on what you already know, not trying to memorize difficult-to-digest passages written in strange jargon.
If you are not sure of a given point, go to your professor with your parallel examples (yours vs. the philosopher's) and ask if your example fits.
You'll know then if you've made a correct generalization, if you've really understood the point at hand.
3. Read for the philosopher's controlling principle
For example, a controlling idea for Plato is that conversation about philosophical subjects is the most important of all human activities ("the unexamined life is not worth living").
For Aristotle's Ethics: that happiness is the quality of the whole life, so the happy man "puts it all together."
It is a useful mental exercise to pretend that you believe something then try to uncover the philosopher's hidden and unstated assumptions (e.g. that women are inferior).
Finally, you will want to decide if the philosopher adheres to his principles throughout his work.
Philosophical thought #3, with apologies to Rene Descartes:I don’t think much; therefore, I must not be…
Theoretical Philosophy - epistemology, metaphysics - examines what is or what happens in the world
Practical Philosophy - ethics, politics - examines what ought to be done or sought after
Philosophical Dialogue Plato Conversational, enriched with drama and personalities. Solution-oriented, letting the readers discover things for themselves.
Philosophical Treatise or Essay Aristotle, Kant Order is imposed on a specific subject – physics, politics, ethics, reason.
Meeting of Objections Aquinas Combination of question-raising and objection-meeting; imbued with the spirit of debate and discussion.
Systemization of Philosophy Descartes, Spinoza. Philosophy organized in a mathematical fashion, giving it certainty and formal structure.
Aphoristic Style Nietzsche A subject is touched upon, a truth or insight suggested; then the reader is left, to make the connections and arguments himself.
PHIL 000: Elementary Nihilism. Students learn the philosophy of total self-negation. Those who bother to attend classes will be failed. 3 credits