Orienting Questions on Plato
 

Plato, The Republic

1. In Book I of The Republic,how does Plato use the logic of elimination to dismiss inadequate definitions of justice? Specifically, how does Plato undercut the definitions of Cephalus, Polemarchus, and Thrasymachus as universal by providing a counter-example to or qualification on their proposed definitions of justice?

2. In Book II of The Republic,how goes the story of the Ring of Gyges relate to the desire to do wrong with impunity, and why does Plato think it would be better to be someone who has the worst reputation but has done no wrong than to be someone who has a spotless reputation but has committed great crimes?

3. In Book II of The Republic,why does Plato support a state that stays between the extremes of austerity and luxury? In other words, why does he think we need more than mere subsistence and less than sheer decadence? How can the quest for luxury lead the state to engage in war? How are international warfare and domestic decadence related?

4. In Book IV of The Republic,how does Plato's three-fold theory of the soul and of classes present us with a view that we are divided against ourselves psychologically and socially. Why does he regard each function (appetite/producers, spirit/auxiliaries, and reason/rulers) as necessary but insufficient? How does he propose that the soul and state achieve the proper balance among their various components?

5. In Book V of The Republic,what is Plato's general argument about the reason why women should have the same education as men? How does he use the analogy to whether men are bald or have hair to make his point that factors like gender are irrelevant for disqualifying people for having access to various occupations and social roles? In other words, what is his view of the factors that need to be considered in deciding when individuals or groups should be excluded from specific social opportunities?

6. In Book V of The Republic,why does Plato think it appropriate for women and children, along with men, to participate in war? On what basis are women qualified to engage in military campaigns with men? Why does he think children should accompany adults on military campaigns? What does he say about the possibility that children will be killed in war?

7. In Book V of The Republic,how does Plato view the relation of theory and practice (actuality, action)? Why does he support first constructing a paradigm or ideal model when he admits that practice (actuality, action) will be unable to fully achieve the paradigm or ideal model?

8. In Book V of The Republic,what does Plato mean by suggesting that societies will continue to have problems until they have philosophers as kings or until political power and philosophy (wisdom) coincide? What does he see as the obstacles to achieving this goal? Why and how does he favor using the educational system to pursue this goal?

Bonus Question: If we locate the Ring of Gyges do you think we should slip it on a finger of "Billy the Philosopher"? Where do you think he would go while wearing such a ring? Do you think that, as a group, philosophers should participate in war--like, be placed on the front lines?