Book Seven – “Going Higher”

July 26, 2006

In our lives, we each desire to take ourselves to something higher. We want to acquire better status, more wealth, or a better life in general. We are born with our heads looking up to what we can achieve.

What really is the highest state worth achieving? Are material things going to give us the most amount of joy or are they a waste of time? Socrates addresses these issues in Book Seven of Plato’s Republic. Through the use of the very well known allegory of the cave, Socrates talks about how we are moving to achieve the ideal state of being (i.e. wisdom and truth.)
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Book Six – “The Philosopher King – The Man Who Steers The Ship”

July 18, 2006

It is part of the nature of man to desire to live with other people. Humans desire to live in community together. A community is when two or more people gather with a common cause or purpose. When there is a group, there is a diversity of opinions and ideas. Everyone has his or her own idea of how something should be accomplished. This is why groups need leaders.

Just like a boat needs to be steered, a group needs a leader with the wisdom to know the direction to take things. For Socrates, being a philosopher and a lover of truth is the highest role in life and is what is most needed in a leader. Socrates states that the leader of the city should be the philosopher king. The question is what would the philosopher king look like. What would he value? In book six of Plato’s Republic, Socrates, Glaucon, and Adeimantus continue to discuss who the philosopher king will be and how they will find him.
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Book Five – Building the City as a Family

July 11, 2006

As part of being human, we live in families, communities, and cities. These groups are where we find our identity. Unity among the members of these communities is essential.

We must be guard ourselves to make sure what we do is the best for the community. Only the men and women whom are best for each other should marry. Those who are married will produce the children, which will be the next generation of the community. We need to have the best guardians and the best leaders. Just like this, in Book Five of Plato’s Republic, Socrates understood the importance of protecting the city of today and ensuring a great city of tomorrow; protecting against the forces and factions that could tear it apart.

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Book Four – For The Sake Of The City

July 3, 2006

Sacrifice is a common theme throughout life. It is commonly drawn upon in pop culture. Just about every movie seems to have some type of sacrifice as part of the story line. A man makes a sacrifice for his girl friend. The soldier sacrifices his life for his fellow troops.

In Plato’s Republic Book 4, Socrates, Adeimantus, and Glaucon, while continuing to build their utopian city, start to realize the level of sacrifice that will be required. Will the guardians be able forgo the “savage masters” of their appetites for personal wealth for the sake of the city?
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Book Three – Both Science and Narratives Imitate Past Truth and Move Men’s Souls

June 28, 2006

In Book Three of Plato’s Republic, they talk about how a narrative imitates actual events. They tell you what life was like at certain events. The author or the poet didn’t have to be there during the period of which they are portraying but there is still a power to what they are saying.

Isn’t it the same with science? Scientists use science to make claims about events that they weren’t really at. People will just initially accept it as truth. This gives science the ability to capture men’s souls the same way narratives do.

All of this freaks me out a bit with Al Gore’s new documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. I have heard scientists on each side make a case for and against global warming. I have a feeling Al Gore will be able to bring a lot of people over to his side. He has the power of the narrative movie and the power of science on his side.

Book Three – Shaping The Mind, Body, and Soul

June 26, 2006

Everyday we have hundreds of things that are competing for our attention. They are all trying to influence us. They want us to buy their product, to make a certain decision, or to walk a certain path on the road of life.

If you were to take a survey of what the main influences on our culture, what would you find? Would it be something to be proud of? Maybe on the list there would be things like MTV, Tom Cruise, or Dan Brown.

Socrates did not have MTV, Tom Cruise, or author Dan Brown but there were many things that shaped their regime. The poets, the writers, and the actors played a significant role in defining what was praise worthy and what is blame worthy within the regime. Physical training and the lifestyle that a person leads is something that will have a long-term effect on the life of justice within the city. How people relate themselves to the city also makes a big difference. In Book Three of Plato’s Republic, Socrates and his friends dive into what are the influences and the needs of the city.
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Book Two – Why Are We Just?

June 19, 2006

Most action movies today have the theme of the antagonist desiring great power. He wants to avenge some wrong. He wants to rise up against an oppressor. He goes out on his personal vendetta, exacting his revenge, and protecting his self-interest.

Sometimes the news feels like the movies. Recently there was a story about a U.S. Congressman wrapping ninety thousand dollars in tin foil and putting it in his freezer. There are stories of corporate corruption and celebrities getting no serious penalties for their latest drug escapades. It is easy to start to doubt justice. In Plato’s Republic Book 2, Glaucon and Adiemantus starts to ask the question of whether justice is something we do because we are compelled by law or because it is the highest end.

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The Consequences of Justice

June 19, 2006

In Book 2, Glaucon wants Socrates to talk about how great justice is without mentioning its positive consequences.

Glaucon makes the argument that people only practice justice because they have to and that injustice is favorable. He only mentions the positive consequences of injustice.

Can you really make a rationale argument for injustice just because it is the right thing to do?

Ann Coulter and Book 2 of Plato’s Republic

June 19, 2006

A lot of you have probably heard about Ann Coulter’s new book Godless: The Church of Liberalism. She claims that liberalism is working at sucking God out of American society. They want to promote the idea that “mankind is an inconsequential accident.”

For the sake of argument, lets just say that Ann Coulter is correct. We will accept her premise that liberalism is the Church of the Godless.

I have been reading Plato’s Republic Book Two. It asks the question, why should we be just. Are people only just because they are too weak? Are laws nothing but arbitrary rules setup by “the man” to keep down the weak?

If you ask the questions in light of Ann Coulter’s new book, liberalism seems really scary. Without God, laws would be arbitrary. What excuse do I have to not just go out and break the law? Laws would just be here to keep me down. If I don’t get caught for breaking the law, what is the punishment?

By getting rid of God aren’t we just going to give ourselves more of a culture of corruption?

Doesn’t humanity necessitate a divine? We follow natural and scientific laws. Dont’ wee need a law giver.

I dunno… I’m just thinking out loud.

Book One – What is Just? What is Right? What is Due?

June 12, 2006

Humans are very diverse. We come in every size, shape, and can be found all over the world. We were all born with what the Declaration of Independence calls a natural right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” One aspect of our humanity that connects us all is that we are all searching for answers to questions like how do we run our lives, how are we going to pursue happiness, and what will be right and just in a situation.

The questions of how to run our lives is something that we see strewn throughout literature. In Douglas Adam’s book the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the characters are looking for the answer to the ultimate question. In Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken,” he asks which road he should take, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both…” Finally, in Plato’s Republic Book One, what is just and what is right are the questions the characters wrestle with and explore.

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