Do you agree that those who argue that Plato’s Republic represents a blueprint of a totalitarian state have plenty of textual evidence to support their claim: censorship, eugenics, ‘noble lies,’ elite rule, etc

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  1. “The only thing wrong with hierarchy is that it is not politically correct. For while we all agree that parents must guide the lives of their children, we refuse to recognize the fact that being a child is not simply a matter of how old you are.  Some, perhaps many, adults think and act like children.  They need moral instruction and political guidance for the same reason that our children do.  Is such authority paternal?  Perhaps.  Is it wrong?  I think not.  And I have the authority of Plato to support me.”   Discuss, analyze and assess the issues raised in this remark.

 

  1. “When all is said and done no one wants to be ruled by self-interested, narrow-minded ideologues. If philosophers are truly able to care more for the common good than their private goods and to take a larger view of the needs of society, why not let them rule?  No doubt there are dangers in doing so, but there are far more dangers in not doing so.”

 

Write an essay that examines the issues raised in this quotation.  In the course of your analysis, be sure to explain whether you agree or disagree with the view it expresses, and why.

 

  1. “When we look into nature we can’t find things like justice or morality, injustice or evil.  These concepts are human constructions that cannot be classified as knowledge.  Is it unjust for a wolf to eat a deer?  Of course not.  It is no more unjust for a general to order his/her soldiers into combat or a ruler to tax the people heavily, even to the point of starvation.  Likewise, it is not unjust for me to steal your possessions, because there is really no such thing as justice.  Justice is an intentionally vague concept deployed by the weak against the strong.  We cannot base any notion of politics or human society on such fictions.”

 

How would Socrates respond to this statement?     Do you agree or disagree?  Why or why not?

 

  1. “Socrates is simply a slyer Thrasymachus. The latter states openly that he wants power (in the dialogue and in the world) and that power means dominating others. Socrates says that he doesn’t want power and that anyway power is ruling in the interest of the ruled.  In what more effective way could you disguise your desire for power?  What more effective way could there be to get it than by denying your interest in it and by defining any interest you might have as benevolent?  No wonder Thrasymachus hangs around.  Watching Socrates manipulate others is the best education a potential tyrant could possibly have.”

 

Do you agree?  Why or why not?

 

  1. “Those who argue that Plato’s Republic represents a blueprint of a totalitarian state have plenty of textual evidence to support their claim: censorship, eugenics, ‘noble lies,’ elite rule, etc. Yet such arguments are persuasive only if one ignores much of what Socrates says and does. In fact, Socrates represents a model of political thinking and democratic citizenship that is entirely at odds with the theory and practice of totalitarianism.”

 

Do you agree?  Why?

 

  1. “The philosopher-king’s claim to rule rests upon a prior claim to knowledge. Is politics something about which we can have specialized knowledge?  Or does it rest on experience, which philosophers are debarred from having precisely because they are philosophers?  Does being removed from attachment and commitment to what is particular and local give you a privileged understanding of politics or an impoverished one?”  Use Plato to comment.

 

  1. “Although widely considered one of the most important books in the history of political thought, Plato’s Republic is in fact a deeply anti-political work. Contrary to appearances, Plato=s ideal state doesn’t provide useful resources for coming to grips with the deep conflicts and controversies about public life and political action that are the very stuff of politics.  Instead, it provides a picture of a world in which those conflicts never arise in the first place.”

 

Do you agree?  Why or why not?

 

  1. “All texts contain barely concealed voices that speak against and even undermine their explicitly stated arguments. Such is the case with Plato’s understanding of philosophy.”  Discuss.

 

  1. Write an essay that articulates and assesses Plato’s critique of democracy in The Republic.

 

 

  1. “Our claim that we cannot judge between different kinds of lives or political societies is simply moral laziness. What we mean is that WE don’t want to be judged and don’t want to take the time or make the effort to engage in moral argument.  Plato shows us why we must judge and provides grounds for such judgment, and demonstrates to us what form moral argument must take.”

 

Write an essay that explores and assesses the issues raised by this remark.

 

  1. “Plato’s perfect society cannot exist unless human beings are imperfect.” Write an essay discussing the significance of this quotation for understanding the issue of justice.

 

  1. Plato argues that inequality does not entail oppression if those who rule do so on the basis of superior wisdom rather than on the basis of wealth, social standing, gender, or race. Do you agree or disagree with him?  Why?

 

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