Just finished Plato's Republic. Please ask me questions about it. Answering questions of things I've just read helps me jog my memory. Also, I read about the Presocratics, the Theban plays, and most of the Histories by Herodotus last year, so I'll answer some questions on those as well.
I think I'll reread Homer's epics and maybe the Metaphysics by Aristotle, and that's going to be wrap up my Greek readings for now. I want to move on to the Romans soon. I'm going to begin with the Aeneid. After that, what else should I read? Do you think I should tackle Livy's history of Rome or should I just read the Periochae?
In the last book, Socrates condemns poetry as a kind of flawed imitation of reality, but he gives the chance for counter-argumentation. Do you think that Plato somewhat doubted his judgement over poetry since a lot of his education came from poetry?
In the part where Socrates suggests subjects to teach to youths before dialetic, do you think he would include Programming and other STEM related subjects that didn't exist that time? If yes, which ones?
My own interpretation of the Idea of Good after rereading the book (and reading other dialogues) is that its existence/explanation shows that 1) Plato thinks that morality is a fundamental property of reality and 2) knowing the "morality status" of something is essential to understanding and reaching its Idea. Socrates, in his socratic method, asks frequently if the subject is Good, Bad or morally neutral, This interpretation of the Idea of Good in the culmination of these pratices. Do you agree with me?
> Socrates condemns poetry as a kind of flawed imitation of reality
No from what I remember he was condemning poetry that depicts the gods as having faults (being promiscuous, drunks, unfair, cruel) because he felt people justified their faults by saying "well the gods fuck up too" rather than realizing they have faults and working on them
Aristotle's poetics somewhat redeems Plato's views against poetry, in that you can see how it CAN serve towards the common good. It claims that poetry is greater than history because history is concerned with facts whereas poetry is with idealism (mimesis)
I read penguin's Early Greek Philosophy, so I pretty much read a little bit of each of the Presocratics, Thales to Democritus. I didn't read about the Sophists or some of the more minor ones who aren't really assigned to a particular school.
You can definitely see all of the influences these Presocratics had on Plato, particularly Pythagoras. Its been a while since I've read them and I don't have my notes by me, but I believe Pythagoras believed the only constant in the world, and what the world was made up of, was numbers. He believed math opened out minds up to the truths of the world, much like how in Plato's ideal education system math is the thing everyone must learn for years and years before they can even reach dialectic.
I think I may have also been Pythagoras who came up with the idea of transmigration of the soul, which Plato discusses at great length during the final chapter of the Republic and also why good is more rewarding than evil.
On the writing of the Presocractics: not a single text written by any of them exists fully intact iirc. All of their works survive in scraps.
I haven't read anything else by Plato. What do you recommend?
I don't think so. Many people like to be blinded from the truth, they never want to leave the cave because of the comfort of ignorance. They'll ostracize anyone who believes to (and actually does) know the real truths.
1. First off, I really doubt Plato ever believed the construction of his utopia would occur. Obviously, the Kallipolis is meant as a symbol of our soul, and I think it ends there, as just a metaphor. The part about poetry is connected to this.
Plato didn't want to just outright ban all poetry and paintings, he wanted to have the reader rethink their stances on these arts. Think about it this way: lets say we go to a museum and see a painting of Venice. We can't really say that "we've been to Venice" simply because we saw a painting of it. However, many people see paintings as the "real thing", not as an imitation. I think Plato was more so trying to reshape our views on arts. We should identify paintings as imitations, and not as something to learn from. Could we learn about painting from studying paintings? Yes. But Plato does not believe we can learn about Venice from studying a painting of Venice.
Also, I don't think Plato hated poetry or painting as some say, but that, in studying these things, our studies rely too much on what we see and hear. The studies never leave the physical reality and its impossible to study paintings and poetry on the intelligible reality which math exists on.
2. As a programmer, I think everyone should take a computer science class at one point, mainly because our modern world is computer-driven and it would be difficult for anyone to get a successful career without some computer skills, but also because programming completely changes the way you solve problems. Plato didn't want philosophers to learn astronomy or harmonics to learn about space or music, but to be able to solve problems using concepts from their studies of astronomy and harmonics.
3. I felt that Plato definitely believed morality to be a property of the universe. He believed in the concept of "objective good". Every action can be, and will always be, classified as a either objectively good, objectively good, or objectively neutral. Going back to his condemnation of poetry, Plato also condemns art, poetry and painting in this case, as being too "subjective" in how they handle morality. Part of the reason he wanted to censor many of the poems at the time was because they depicted Gods, who represent the form of the good, as deceptive and just plain evil at times. In his reality, this just cannot exist and should also not exist in the subjective reality of poetry and painting.
Earlier in the book, around Book III, he condemns poetry which inaccurately depicts gods. By Book X, he says that the only poetry which should exist are the ones which honor gods and heroes for their good deeds.
As I said in one of my above posts, I didn't read about the sophists. But I like penguin's editions on things, and they have one on the Greek Sophists.
>I really doubt Plato ever believed the construction of his utopia would occur
he even tried to establish it enlightening some tyrant he found somewhere
>As a programmer, I think everyone should take a computer science class at one point, mainly because our modern world is computer-driven
that's retarded. computer science doesn't even have almost anything to do with what code monkeys do and you want to teach it to users
Dionysius? He's pretty clear in his letters that he while practical implementation was a concern, he thought that it wasn't feasible that the Dionysius situation would be improved, and he was only going at a certain point in order to save his friend Dion.
Recall that the idea of the Good is "beyond being"; in a certain way, it looks like knowledge of Heidegger's question ('what is the meaning (sinn) of Being (sein)'), that is, knowledge of the source of meaningfulness of beings. I don't think that it actually implies knowledge of what is good in what we might otherwise call and idealistic or moralistic way, though I think Socrates is playing with some ambiguity there, given his audience.
Now with respect to ruling, I suppose that if it were at all possible for a philosopher to rule, it would have to be a ruling with knowledge of the Whole (either an impossibility, or a matter beset with many aporias in Plato), so some sense of how things structurally fit together, or how they can meaningfully be put into relation with each other.
He really didn't expect it to happen when he wrote it, and there's also that quote about the utopia always existing in heaven and every individual can enter it and obey in reality by the laws of the nonexistent republic.