Reading Plato's Republic... again

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by thechidz, Sep 1, 2008.

  1. thechidz macrumors 68000

    thechidz

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    #1
    so the assigned reading for a graduate level music theory course I'm taking includes Plato's Republic. I had to study the work for a Freshman Studies course I took many moons ago in college, but of course this time I will be looking at it through new eyes. I enjoyed the Allegory of the Cave the first time through... any thought on this work and things in particular I might notice this run?
     
  2. r1ch4rd macrumors 6502a

    r1ch4rd

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    #2
    This has to be the most intellectual thread I have seen on any internet forum ever. As such, I am unable to comment :confused:
     
  3. wordmunger macrumors 603

    wordmunger

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    #3
    I too read the Republic both as an undergrad and as a grad student. In my case, the professor was much more critical of Plato in grad school than my professor in college. After all, Plato is making the case that literature and most of the arts are worthless!

    I very much enjoyed giving it a closer look the second time. Very eye-opening.
     
  4. dylan macrumors 6502

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    #4
    A lot of the arguments in that writing are severely flawed. Make sure you take it slow and think critically about it. Too many people just rush through it without challenging any of the assertions. Also, think about for whom the Utopia caters.

    Bottom line, take it slow, digest it, just like anything else.
     
  5. OutThere macrumors 603

    OutThere

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    #5
    I choked my way through Plato's Republic last year in an intro political thought/philosophy course. Not really my kind of thing, but I really enjoyed comparisons of Plato's musings with those of Nietzsche. :)
     
  6. thechidz thread starter macrumors 68000

    thechidz

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    #6
    Well, it is usually prefaced as anachronistic in most areas, the point I think is to look at the pure philosophical value. That being said I don't think they were calling the arts worthless. I think he was making an attempt to give them place in society, as misguided as some of his assertions of artists may have been.
     
  7. Much Ado macrumors 68000

    Much Ado

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    #7
    I've just started reading 'The Rep' myself. On first impressions, I must say that Socrates's allegory-heavy arguments are often quite suspect, but it's interesting all the same.

    Sometimes I think Socrates comes across as an insufferable bore, and all his friends are just nodding and agreeing with him:
    "Is it not so, then, that the body is like a city?"
    "Yes"
    "And is it not therefore so, that cities, being large and full of buildings, are in effect, centers of society and as such smaller versions of a nation?"
    "Yes."
    "And would you not agree that ... ... ... and so our first argument is rendered false?"
    "Alright, Socrates. Alright."
     
  8. thechidz thread starter macrumors 68000

    thechidz

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    #8
    thanks for reminding me... it's easy to forget who is making the arguments at times in the book. Although I don't really think it even matters:p

    I think the argument is kind of the whole point for the philosophers. The content is almost secondary to the critical thinking aspect that the argument creates. It's almost as if they are trying to prove themselves wrong...
     
  9. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #9
    I read it in the original Greek at school, and by the time I'd referred to my lexicon enough times to translate it, I wasn't too bothered about what he was actually trying to say.
     
  10. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #10
    Impressive, man, impressive. Whatever about Latin (which I studied at school), Greek is a seriously difficult language; and Plato, too is not exactly bed-time reading. Your school sounds as though a rigorous intellectual workout was part of your daily routine.

    For my part, I had read Plato at 15, and later, encountered Plato as an undergrad, and years later again, had to teach it to undergrads. The arguments are really a rhetorical device, a means of channeling and focusing the debate; the most interesting thing is his attempts - using rhetoric and a dialectical approach - to address the whys, wherefores and forms of governance. Dylan asks a good question in wondering just who this Utopia caters for? Another good one would be to look at the section "who shall guard the guardians?' which still has - huge - relevance today.

    Above all, Plato - and those who followed him - gave us the vocabulary and conceptual frameworks of politics; most of our terms, our concepts (notwithstanding however narrow, or however limited, one feels he is in his scope, or conclusions), our frameworks of reference in the field of politics to this day were coined by the various schools of political philosophy in the Greek city states.

    The Romans revered them as impossibly splendid ideals to be achieved, and measured against, (and safely ignored at the same time, as did Renaissance scholars centuries later.) They were seen as a sort of apex of human intellectual achievement, but few were tempted to put these theories into practice (perhaps, Pericles). But they did give us our vocabulary of politics, as well as context, framework and a means of articulating political matters. Despite the manifold contemporary shortcomings of the work, it is still a masterpiece for its era and ours.

    Cheers and good luck
     
  11. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #11
    I realise that Plato is not going to rock the forum the way some of the other threads have managed to do; however, a further thought occured this morning which is this. The world Plato came from defined not just the vocabulary of western political thought, but out of the Greek city states evolved what we can loosely term western urban society and, arising from that, also the very concept of the "public space" as something which ought to be accessible as of right to that public.

    Of course cities evolved in other parts of the world, but they tended to serve a different function. Access was a privilege, or somehow licenced and limited by definition and law and custom, not a right. The public didn't own the public space, they had occasional permission to enter it. Other societies had cities, but they were designed for imperial/royal/government display, regulation (not exchange) of trade, and were centres of bureaucracy, trade and expressions of might and authority. Not places for the free exchange of ideas and goods which is what the Greek city states started, and what a lot of our world has developed subsequently.

    Cheers
     
  12. pinktank macrumors 6502

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    #12
    I believe there is a podcast of it on phlosopohy bites
     
  13. thechidz thread starter macrumors 68000

    thechidz

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    #13
    so far the course has revolved around the incorporation of mathematics in the ancient greeks understanding of music theory, and thus how music theory helped inform the creation of the ideal citizen. We have been reading Greek texts as it is central to understanding how they named the notes in their scale (Proslambanomenos etc.) and the mathematical proportions between the notes in their genera. ie. 1:1=unison, 1:2=octave, 3:2=perfect 5th 4:3=perfect 4th etc. probably the most important for them was 9:8, or the tone (fairly equivalent to our whole tone major 2nd). yesterday's discussion got much deeper into the role of music in the Greek city state how Plato and others judged certain "scales", if you will, to be appropriate for the Guardians, and others to be inappropriate. Interesting so far...
     
  14. question fear macrumors 68020

    question fear

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    #14
    I read Plato's Republic 4 times in college. I majored in philosophy and so I took several courses that overlapped their reading material. Each prof had their own translation they liked best, so I ended up with 4 copies by the end of college.

    On the upside, one of the great things about philosophy, and especially something that is as analyzed and discussed as Plato, is that you get something different every time you read it. Reading it for a general philosophy course is very different than reading it for a feminist philosophy course, than reading it for course on violence and philosophy, than reading it for a course on the greek classics. You really look at it from every angle.
     

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