Thursday, August 1, 2019
Plato Ã¢â¬ Philosophy Essay
The Republic is one of PlatoÃ¢â¬â¢s longer works (more than 450 pages in length). It is written in dialogue form (as are most of PlatoÃ¢â¬â¢s books), & it addresses major issues in almost all of the branches of philosophy. The central theme in the book seems to be the nature of justice, a topic in political philosophy, but Plato also has his characters explore issues in ? philosophical cosmology, ? philosophical theology, ? philosophical anthropology, ? ethics, ? aesthetics, and ? epistemology. The parts of the Republic that are contained in our text (pp. 107-123) focus on PlatoÃ¢â¬â¢s idea (ideal?) of the Philosopher Ruler. According to Plato, ? the best possible political system (state) ? will be ruled (governed) ? by PHILOSOPHERS! (Is he kidding? ) Our reading selection contains the following themes/sections: ? ? Introduction on the unifying of philosophy & politics (107) Why Ã¢â¬Å"true philosophersÃ¢â¬ would make the best rulers (108-12) Ã¢â¬ ¢ What is Ã¢â¬Å"true philosophyÃ¢â¬ ? (108-11) Ã¢â¬ ¢ Love of wisdom (108) Ã¢â¬ ¢ Knowledge of true reality (108-9) Ã¢â¬ ¢ The distinctions between knowledge, ignorance and opinion (109-11) Ã¢â¬ ¢ How is a Ã¢â¬Å"true philosopherÃ¢â¬ different from a Ã¢â¬Å"lover of opinionÃ¢â¬ ? (111-12) Ã¢â¬ ¢ Who is best suited to rule the state Ã¢â¬â lovers of opinion or Ã¢â¬Å"true philosophersÃ¢â¬ ? (112) ? ? Political leadership and knowledge of the Good (112-13) The ascent of the mind to knowledge of the Good (113-123) Ã¢â¬ ¢ The analogy between the Good and the sun (113-15) Ã¢â¬ ¢ The image of the divided line (115-18) Ã¢â¬ ¢ The allegory of the cave (118-123) The selection in the text begins at a point in the Republic after Socrates, Glaucon, & other characters have been discussing the nature of justice and the marks of a just political system for some time. So we are coming into the middle of the conversation where Glaucon is pressing Socrates to state whether it is possible for a really just political system to come into existence. Before answering GlauconÃ¢â¬â¢s question, Socrates wonders whether it is worthwhile to What does he say construct a theoretical model of a good political system even if such a system could about this? Do you agree? Why not actually exist. or why not? Back to GlauconÃ¢â¬â¢s original question: Can a really just (or at least approximately just) political system exist? What would make it possible? (It is the separation of philosophy & political power. ) And this leads to . . . . unless political power & philosophy are brought together & those who now pursue either the one or the other exclusively are prevented from doing so -neither our political problems nor our human troubles in general can be ended . . . . Ã¢â¬ (Text, pp. 108-111) True Philosophy & True Philosophers What are the characteristics of a person who is naturally suited to practice philosophy? According to Socrates (Plato), a true philosopher ? loves the whole of wisdom and is satisfied with nothing less; ? recognizes the difference between particular things and the essences (or forms) of which particular things are likenesses (e.g. , beautiful things vs. Beauty itself); and ? knows the differences between knowledge, ignorance, and opinion. Plato argues that someone who really loves something must love that thing as a whole and not just some aspects of it. On that basis, he concludes that a true philosopher (lover of wisdom) must desire wisdom as a whole and not be content with having just some wisdom. Do you agree with this? Do wine-lovers really love all wines? A true philosopher recognizes the difference between particular things and the essences (or forms) of which particular things are likenesses (e. g. , beautiful things vs.Beauty itself). One of PlatoÃ¢â¬â¢s major metaphysical theories is known as the Ã¢â¬Å"Theory of Forms. Ã¢â¬ According to that theory, ultimate reality is a realm of forms (essences) not accessible to the senses but only to the mind (intellect). He calls that level of reality the Ã¢â¬Å"intelligible realmÃ¢â¬ (because it is accessible only to the intellect). The perceptible world (i. e. , the world we perceive through our senses) is a reflection or copy of that higher intelligible world. (The Greek word for Ã¢â¬Å"formÃ¢â¬ or Ã¢â¬Å"essenceÃ¢â¬ is eidos. ) Do you think it is possible for one thing to be really more beautiful than another thing? Well, how is that possible if Absolute Beauty does not exist? How can Ã¢â¬Å"AÃ¢â¬ be more beautiful than Ã¢â¬Å"BÃ¢â¬ ? DoesnÃ¢â¬â¢t Ã¢â¬Å"AÃ¢â¬ have to be closer to Absolute Beauty than Ã¢â¬Å"BÃ¢â¬ is? But how can Ã¢â¬Å"AÃ¢â¬ be closer to (or Ã¢â¬Å"BÃ¢â¬ be further away from) Absolute Beauty if Absolute Beauty does not exist? A true philosopher knows the differences between ? Knowledge, ? ignorance, & ? opinion. PlatoÃ¢â¬â¢s view of knowledge, ignorance, and opinion (Text, pp. 109-111) State of Mind Knowledge Opinion Ignorance Object What is (Being, Reality) What is & is not (Becoming) What is not (Nothingness, Unreality) Access Intellect Perception ? (Do you agree with this setup/theory?) Is Plato right about knowledge, ignorance, and opinion? HereÃ¢â¬â¢s a different viewÃ¢â¬ ¦. What about knowledge? The three basic questions in epistemology ? ? What is knowledge? How does it differ from opinion? How do we acquire knowledge? What are its sources? Rationalism vs. Empiricism. (What about Intuitionism and Revelationism? ) ? What are the extent and limits of knowledge? What can be known, and what cannot be known? A (fairly) standard definition of knowledge (and opinion) ? Knowledge is Ã¢â¬Å"justified (i. e. , verified) true belief. Ã¢â¬Å" Ã¢â¬ ¢ To know is to believe. Ã¢â¬ ¢ The belief must, in fact, be true. Ã¢â¬ ¢ The belief must be Ã¢â¬Å"justifiedÃ¢â¬ (i.e. , verified, proved) by some standard and generally recognized means. ? Opinion is belief that may be true or may be false but that has not been or cannot be Ã¢â¬Å"justifiedÃ¢â¬ (i. e. , verified, proved) by any standard and generally recognized means. Of course, some opinions that are rationally defensible in the weak sense are Ã¢â¬Å"justifiedÃ¢â¬ in a limited way. And what about ignorance? IsnÃ¢â¬â¢t ignorance basically an absence of knowledge? Of course, opinion is also an absence of knowledge. So perhaps ignorance is a certain or special kind of opinion that is in some sense groundless (in a way based on nothing, as Plato says). ? There seem to be various types of ignorance, including unintelligent ignorance, as when someone asserts dogmatically that a false proposition is true or that a true proposition is false. There is also intelligent ignorance, as when someone does not know X and acknowledges forthrightly that he does not know it, etc. More thought is needed on this matterÃ¢â¬ ¦. ? However, PlatoÃ¢â¬â¢s view of ignorance as having non-being (nothingness) as its object does not seem correct (or at least not completely correct). ? ? ? Lovers of wisdom (philosophers) Ã¢â¬â they recognize the existence of absolute, transcendental essences such as Beauty & Justice in themselves, and they seek knowledge of such absolutes. ? Lovers of opinion -they recognize only particular perceptible things & do not believe in the existence of absolute essences such as Beauty itself. So what is the nature of the Absolute Good? (Text, p. 112-113) In approaching the problem of defining the nature of the Absolute Good, Socrates (Plato) sets forth three very famous illustrations of his overall perspective on knowledge & reality. These are I The Good & the Sun The Good is to the mind as the sun is to the eye, i.e. , just as the sunÃ¢â¬â¢s light enables the eye to see in the perceptible realm, so the Good illuminates the mind and enables it to Ã¢â¬Å"seeÃ¢â¬ in the intelligible realm. (See text, pp. 113-115) 2 The divided line (Text, pp. 115-118) States of Consciousness Philosophical Wisdom E Objects of Consciousness The Good & Other Forms Knowledge D Intelligible Realm Scientific Knowledge Informed Opinion Delusion C B Mathematical & Scientific Objects Opinion Perceptible Objects Images Perceptible Realm A (Text, pp. 118-123) Can you link the images on the following slide to PlatoÃ¢â¬â¢s depiction of the cave world on pp. 118-121 in the text? Now that the prisoner has Ã¢â¬Å"seen the light,Ã¢â¬ ? What might happen to him if he were to go back down into the cave-world? (pp. 119-121) ? How does he feel when he looks back down into the cave-world? (pp. 119) ? How does the allegory of the cave illustrate PlatoÃ¢â¬â¢s overall view of knowledge and reality? (p. 121) More questions: ? WhatÃ¢â¬â¢s the philosophical difference between coming into the darkness from the light & coming into the light from the darkness? (p. 121) ? What, according to Plato, does the allegory of the cave tell us about what the process of education should be? (pp. 121-122) there are the big questions: Why should we want philosophers to rule? How are we going to get them to rule? Since we are asking them to come back down into the cave-world, wonÃ¢â¬â¢t we be doing them harm by making their lives worse rather than better? (Text, pp. 122-123) What do you think of the following statements by Plato (Socrates)? Ã¢â¬Å"The best rulers of the state are those who know the Good, who donÃ¢â¬â¢t look to politics for their happiness, & who live a higher life than the political life. Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Political power should be held by those who do not want it. Ã¢â¬ The End (for now).