Spring 2017 not offered
CCIV 257, COL 341|
"The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato." This declaration, famously made by Alfred North Whitehead in the early 20th century, seems especially true of Plato's Republic. No other work in the Western tradition can lay claim to setting the tone so influentially for the further development of philosophy as a discipline. Almost every branch of philosophical thought we are familiar with today--on matters of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, moral psychology, politics, and aesthetics--receives a major formulation in this text. This seminar will be devoted to a close reading of each of the 10 books of the Republic alongside relevant secondary literature on the dialogue and various perspectives that have been taken on this magisterial work in contemporary philosophy and literature.
We will focus on the Republic primarily as a work of moral psychology by investigating the topical question of the dialogue: Why is it better to live justly rather than unjustly? For Plato, a just life is one governed by the pursuit of wisdom or learning, and this he believes will also be a psychologically healthy one. By contrast, a life governed by the indiscriminate pursuit of power--the life of a tyrant--is psychologically corrupted. These are bold claims. What is Plato's argument for them? In raising this question, we will consider the political project Plato embarks upon in the Republic in constructing a just society, as well as connected issues he raises in the dialogue concerning the nature of human motivation, the distinction between belief and knowledge, the distinction between appearance and reality, the importance of a proper education to the human good, and the role of art and beauty in furthering the common good. Alongside Plato, we will read two complementary works of fiction this semester, both inspired by the Republic: Jo Walton's THE JUST CITY and Rebecca Goldstein's PLATO AT THE GOOGLEPLEX.
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Seminar||Grading Mode: Graded|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (COL)(PHIL)(PHIL-Philosophy)(PHIL-Social Jus)
various secondary source readings
Jo Walton, THE JUST CITY
Rebecca Goldstein, PLATO AT THE GOOGLEPLEX
|Examinations and Assignments: |
Four reflection essays; one final research paper; group presentation; class participation.
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments: |
Students who haven't taken PHIL 201: if you have a background in the study of Plato that you believe provides you with a basis to take this seminar, please send a short note to firstname.lastname@example.org to request a prerequisite override for the course. Please also indicate: (1) your knowledge of ancient philosophy and/or specific interest in Plato; and (2) any prior courses you've taken that you feel prepare you for this seminar.
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