Getting started with political philosophy

Have philosophical discussions about politics, law, and government.
Featured Article: Definition of Freedom - What Freedom Means to Me
Post Reply
Burning ghost
Posts: 2619
Joined: February 27th, 2016, 3:10 am

Re: Getting started with political philosophy

Post by Burning ghost » September 19th, 2018, 11:05 am

Fool -
The Bloom translation attempts to be literal and consistent in the use of terms. I linked to a PDF in an earlier post.
My point was we don’t have the equivalent terms in English so I’m left with a hist only of what is being talked about in terms of “justice”, “mind”/“character”/“morality” and “education.”

The term agathos : “morally good”, “beneficial” and “adventageous”
The term mousice : roughly translated as “education,” yet derived from the Greek muses which essentially (as far as I can tell) cover everything from intellect to aesthetics - then pseudo pops up which is apparently either “lie”, “myth” and/or “fiction” as some have translated it.

I am quite aware that you provided a link. I have a copy translated by Desmond Lee which I’ve read twice already, referred to numerous times and am currently rereading. When it comes to translated texts I take the important terms with a serious pinch of salt if I am completely unfamiliar with the language.
AKA badgerjelly

Fooloso4
Moderator
Posts: 3274
Joined: February 28th, 2014, 4:50 pm

Re: Getting started with political philosophy

Post by Fooloso4 » September 19th, 2018, 2:10 pm

BG:
My point was we don’t have the equivalent terms in English so I’m left with a hist only of what is being talked about in terms of “justice”, “mind”/“character”/“morality” and “education.”
This is always a problem with translation. It can also be a problem when reading a work in its original language since words tend to have extended elastic meanings.

If you are going to complain about translation then the least you can do is try to find the best translations available.

Lee exacerbates the problem. In the first argument discussed above he translates justice (‘dike’) as:
Doing right (331c)
But in his division headings repeatedly uses the term ‘justice’ rather than ‘doing right’.

The Republic is an inquiry into justice. It is not axiomatic. The question of what is just does not admit of a single correct answer or principle applicable to every situation. “Is it just?” is intended to be a guiding question.

Burning ghost
Posts: 2619
Joined: February 27th, 2016, 3:10 am

Re: Getting started with political philosophy

Post by Burning ghost » September 19th, 2018, 2:40 pm

Complain? It was an observation not a complaint. Bloom comments in just the same way in the notes pretty much in the same way as other translations do - akin to what I outlined above.
AKA badgerjelly

Burning ghost
Posts: 2619
Joined: February 27th, 2016, 3:10 am

Re: Getting started with political philosophy

Post by Burning ghost » September 21st, 2018, 2:13 am

Fool -

I am interested to hear our take on the meaning of “education” as framed in The Republic. It is clearly derived from the Muses. Given that Plato is outlining the “education” of the people of the state via mythos (among other subjects) I do find it strange to hear you pull away from the politcal effect of religions/traditions learnt through narratives - as Plato makes about as explicit as anyone could in his talk of the “bad” ethos projected by Homer and others in how they represent the gods/heroes as flawed.

Given too that the work is in pursuit of an “ideal” state/education/ruler I don’t really see why you’d be inclined to pull back from a clear definition of “justice” and the terms in use surrounding it? Again, the Muses are a prominent feature in the discourse once it comes to guiding principles for the members of the state. Keep in mind that the general “education” of citizens in ancient Greece included being able to “recite” Homer (to act it out, to express with vigor and emotion) not to merely commit the words and phrases to memory.

What Plato is liekly pointing out here is the effect of performance on the performer, a kind of “method acting” in which the pupil comes to believe are sayign due to the emotional content - through the Muses. This is quite clearly a “religious” issue and he wishes to frame it as being ill formed because it can lead to the person claiming to be imitating the mistakes of the gods in order to better themselves. Somehow he sees “mistakes” as being utterly “bad” and to be completely avoided in youth (at least that is how it is framed in the opening remarks on “education”. This is the set up for the “theory of art”, which cites concerns yet fails to explore possiblility of any benefit fully.

The issue of the Muses is too often glossed over for my personal liking. I think it is better to understand “education” as meaning the “honing of temperament”.

I don’t see the “education” of citizens as being framed as anything more than moral conditioning. It is a plea to neither to factual knowledge nor to artistic learning. Both are framed in the idea of “justice” and “wisdom” in regard to the state, not to the exploration of humanity. It is a journey of the individual set out along rigidly defined lines with an intellectual pretense of “good” over an artistic pretense of “good”.

And yes, I know this is dealt with to some degree with how talk about the indivdual in society.
AKA badgerjelly

Fooloso4
Moderator
Posts: 3274
Joined: February 28th, 2014, 4:50 pm

Re: Getting started with political philosophy

Post by Fooloso4 » September 21st, 2018, 11:17 am

BG:
I am interested to hear our take on the meaning of “education” as framed in The Republic.
The question cannot be addressed without specifying whose education it is. There is no discussion of any education for the majority of people, except perhaps, the “myth of metals”, the “noble lie”. The early education of the auxiliaries and guardians is designed to strengthen the body and temper the spirit - gymnastics and music. As they mature academic studies are added. Philosophy is reserved for the mature.

There is also the education of the reader of the Republic. Here we find a salutary public teaching that moves from justice to truth and the good. But underlying this is the education of the philosopher. The philosopher is not content with images of the truth and stories of transcendence. The philosopher sees this as the art of philosophical poesis, the making of salutary myths.
It is clearly derived from the Muses.
One of his criticisms against the poets is that they do not know what they are talking about. They cannot give an account or defense of what they say. They are only the mouthpiece, the conduit, of the Muses.
I do find it strange to hear you pull away from the politcal effect of religions/traditions learnt through narratives - as Plato makes about as explicit as anyone could in his talk of the “bad” ethos projected by Homer and others in how they represent the gods/heroes as flawed.
I don’t know what you mean by my pulling away from the political effect of religions/traditions. They are the images on the cave wall that shape opinion. Plato attempts to reshape them. What he did is similar to what Nietzsche did when he declared that God is dead. It is not something he decided on his own. The old system was already broken.
Given too that the work is in pursuit of an “ideal” state/education/ruler …
This is an assumption that should be questioned. What does ideal mean? How does the ideal relate to the actual and the practicable? The city in speech, the Republic, is heuristic, not a model of the best city for human beings.
… I don’t really see why you’d be inclined to pull back from a clear definition of “justice” and the terms in use surrounding it?
Because it is not a matter of definition. There is no rule book for what is and is not just. Socrates does give a definition of justice but it is deeply ironic and comical. It is a response to the Aristophanes, a defense of the philosophical way of life. Justice, Socrates says, is minding your own business.
Keep in mind that the general “education” of citizens in ancient Greece included being able to “recite” Homer (to act it out, to express with vigor and emotion) not to merely commit the words and phrases to memory.
Yes, but both Plato and Xenophon point out just how empty this is. Being able to repeat what Homer said is different than being able to explain and defend the truth of what Homer said.
… at least that is how it is framed in the opening remarks on “education”.
What opening remarks? What is said and where?
It is a journey of the individual set out along rigidly defined lines with an intellectual pretense of “good” over an artistic pretense of “good”.
We may be somewhat in agreement regarding the pretense. According to the allegory of the cave, once one has left the cave one sees things as they are by the power of his own sight:
"Then, if this is true," I said, "we must hold the following about these things: education is not what the professions of certain men assert
it to be. They presumably assert that they put into the soul knowledge that isn't in it, as though they were putting sight into blind eyes." "Yes," he said, "they do indeed assert that."
"But the present argument, on the other hand," I said, "indicates that this power is in the soul of each, and that the instrument with
which each learns—just as an eye is not able to turn toward the light from the dark without the whole body—must be turned around from
that which is coming into being together with the whole soul until it is able to endure looking at that which is and the brightest part of that which is. And we affirm that this is the good, don't we?" (518b-c)
Despite what he says about education he is putting something into the soul, an image of the good. But one cannot say what the good is or even what it looks like based on this image. It is a turning of the soul toward the question of the good. And this is a question the philosopher must pursue. He is not given an answer. There are no rigidly defined lines to follow, only a direction to guide further inquiry.

Post Reply