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Getting started with political philosophy

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Georgeanna
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Re: Getting started with political philosophy

Post by Georgeanna » September 13th, 2018, 5:48 am

Fooloso4 wrote:
September 12th, 2018, 10:51 am
Georgeanna:
I think this exceptional ‘most important intellectual experience’ he mentions must be of a life-changing type … a provocation or an answering of an existential question or angst - who am I and what kind of a life do I want to lead ?
Is that what happened to you ? And do you think you were alone?
Yes, it was something existential for me. I had started out planning to major in sociology - so I could help fix the world. Instead I turned to the problem of fixing myself. I believed in the Forms and that I was on the ascent out of the cave. It was a kind of religious quest. It took me several years to figure out that one does not escape the cave of ignorance by listening to stories of a transcendent reality, no matter how appealing they may be. This did not turn me off on Plato though, but rather turned me in a new direction, a different way of reading him. A peak behind the mythology of Forms.

As to the kind of life I wanted to live, it would have been an idealized notion of academia, with students and colleagues eager to read and discuss important books.

I was not alone. My roommate and I took our first philosophy class together where we read the Republic. He went to graduate school at the University of Chicago to study with Bloom and others. Along with the professor who taught the class another professor in the Political Science department and a few students discovered the Republic at about the same time and were profoundly influenced as well. We met regularly in class and out. A moment in time. I did not know then how rare it was.
I find this most poignant. A moment in time. And an appreciation after the event of how rare and exceptional the exchange of ideas.
Wow.

Georgeanna
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Re: Getting started with political philosophy

Post by Georgeanna » September 13th, 2018, 5:56 am

Fooloso4 wrote:
September 12th, 2018, 3:12 pm
Adding to the comment that it is a play:

It is a dialectical play and the play of dialectic. Nothing that is said should be taken as the final word. Nothing is settled, and if they say it is settled that should put us on alert that it is not settled. The reader is intended to play a part in the search. Book 2 opens with Socrates saying:
Now, when I had said this, I thought I was freed from argument. But after all, as it seems, it was only a prelude. (357a)
I agree with Strauss that our attitude toward the text should not be one of superiority. If we come across an apparent contradiction we should not assume that we have caught something that slipped Plato’s attention. The apparent contradiction signals the beginning of an inquiry not the failed terminus. It has been my personal experience and that of many others as well, that the apparent contradictions are pointing us somewhere. This does not mean the dialogues resolve all contradiction, but those contradictions may be in the nature of things rather than in the author’s claims and arguments.

It may be that the question of justice is not adequately addressed via definition. As we shall see, the definition Socrates eventually gives is peculiar to say the least. It is ironic, both playful and serious.

What does Thrasymachus agree to at the end of book 1?

A bad soul necessarily rules and manages badly while a good one does all these things well.
The just soul and the just man will have a good life, and the unjust man a bad one.
The man who lives well is blessed and happy, and the man who does not is the opposite.
The just man is happy and the unjust man wretched."
But it is not profitable to be wretched; rather it is profitable to be happy.
Injustice is never more profitable than justice. (353 e-354a)

All of these refer to soul and the man. It says nothing directly about one’s dealings with others. The stage is set for the inquiry into the well ordered soul.
I am torn now between back-tracking to try to articulate my problems with some of the arguments - and to answer your previous questions - and whether I should accept the contradictions and carry on regardless. Sometimes distance gives perspective...
I think I must try to get to grips with argument from analogy - not to mention logic...
Will my brain survive ?!
Advice would be appreciated.

Georgeanna
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Re: Getting started with political philosophy

Post by Georgeanna » September 13th, 2018, 6:03 am

ThomasHobbes wrote:
September 13th, 2018, 5:42 am
Georgeanna wrote:
September 13th, 2018, 5:34 am
I think knowledge of fallacious arguments is important - given their use in everyday politics.
I think you might find this list useful.
https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com

But beware, although a person might employ a logical fallacy in the protection of a claim, the claim itself might be a valid one in its own right.
Thanks - however, I can find lists easily enough. Google is my friend.
I appreciate the various 'Beware' signs you have posted from the start.
I would appreciate even more to hear your views or reactions to your readings of the Republic...
Also, how you would tackle the breakdown of any claim/argument to clarify the various steps or mis-steps.
You have far more experience and knowledge in this area - feel free to share and apply a generous helping of lubricant.

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ThomasHobbes
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Re: Getting started with political philosophy

Post by ThomasHobbes » September 13th, 2018, 5:34 pm

Georgeanna wrote:
September 13th, 2018, 6:03 am
ThomasHobbes wrote:
September 13th, 2018, 5:42 am


I think you might find this list useful.
https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com

But beware, although a person might employ a logical fallacy in the protection of a claim, the claim itself might be a valid one in its own right.
Thanks - however, I can find lists easily enough. Google is my friend.
I appreciate the various 'Beware' signs you have posted from the start.
I would appreciate even more to hear your views or reactions to your readings of the Republic...
Also, how you would tackle the breakdown of any claim/argument to clarify the various steps or mis-steps.
You have far more experience and knowledge in this area - feel free to share and apply a generous helping of lubricant.
You should look into Karl Popper's view of Plato. He identified him as one of the enemies of the Open Society.
Though a student of ancient history I've never looked into The Republic in detail, but generally find Plato something of an aristocratic, authoritarian and enemy of democracy.
Class structure is the enemy of progress and progressive thinking.

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Burning ghost
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Re: Getting started with political philosophy

Post by Burning ghost » September 14th, 2018, 2:47 am

Georgeanna -

To be brief for. I was referring to the lack of analysis and depth to the argument. It begs more questions than if aims to resolve. If you read through the next few pages you'll see that his defensive is far from complete (just the next several pages up to the end of that section.)

There doesn't appear to be any reasonable show of how the "just" and "unjust" feel about their "rewards". It's been so long since I've read the text I think I may be thinking about Aristotle's Politics regarding the "good" and "bad" master of his household ... I think I am, in which case I cannot remember how, or if, Plato applies his ideas to this issue.
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Fooloso4
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Re: Getting started with political philosophy

Post by Fooloso4 » September 14th, 2018, 10:00 am

Georgeanna:
… whether I should accept the contradictions and carry on regardless.
Attention should be paid to contradictions. You should not carry on regardless but carry on and try to reconcile them based on what you read as you move forward.

The arguments should not be treated abstractly. The context is what is important. These are not well prepared rigorous arguments of professional philosophers. Who is making the argument? To what end? What are the concerns raised or addressed in the argument?

An underlying theme is the notion of the “stronger argument”. Socrates accused the sophists of making the weaker argument stronger. This is related to Thrasymachus claims about the advantage of the stronger. What makes an argument strong? Is it its persuasive power? But what is persuasive is not the same as what is true or most reasonable, and what persuades one person may not be what persuades another. It is often the case that what is persuasive is not the logical soundness of the argument but that appeal to desire or prejudice.

Thrasymachus wants to demonstrate that he has arguments that are stronger than Socrates. He is not interested in justice but in making money for teaching how to make persuasive arguments. Glaucon and Adeimantus, however, are interested in justice, at least to the extent that it can be shown that it is better to be just or unjust.
I think I must try to get to grips with argument from analogy
We need to consider the aptness of the analogy. For example, an analogy that uses human beings and horses may not be saying that one is like the other but that the training of one is like the training of the other. But the extent to which this is true does depend on the extent to which human beings are like horses in some respect. Argument from analogy raises the question of the “like and unlike”. This is a major theme of the “divided line” the Republic. The city and the soul are analogous. The analogies Plato employs may have implications that go far beyond their use in an argument.

Fooloso4
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Re: Getting started with political philosophy

Post by Fooloso4 » September 14th, 2018, 12:09 pm

ThomasHobbes:
… an aristocratic, authoritarian and enemy of democracy.
Plato was aristocratic in the sense that he thought that in the best regime the best men should rule. But the best city of the Republic is a “city in speech”. Early on it is made clear that what may be best in speech and what is best in practice are not the same. If in the best regime the best rule then the education of the best men and women is of tantamount importance.

The process by which the best are identified in the Republic uses an untenable means to assure that no one gets preferential treatment because of who their parents are. His notion of aristocracy is not a class structure determined by birth or wealth. In fact, the guardians and rulers are poor.

If democracy is self-rule then one must be capable of ruling themself. And this requires education of mind, body, and spirit. It should be kept in mind that modern democracies such as the US are not the pure democracies that Plato criticized. The US is a democratic republic - in theory, rule by an elected natural rather than hereditary aristocracy, with constitutional laws that are not easily changed.

Class structure is the enemy of progress and progressive thinking.
Does history support this? Modern science and philosophy developed in opposition to the prevailing authority of the Church hierarchy. The intellectual achievements of India, China, Islam and elsewhere all occurred within a class structure.

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Burning ghost
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Re: Getting started with political philosophy

Post by Burning ghost » September 14th, 2018, 12:35 pm

Fool -
Does history support this? Modern science and philosophy developed in opposition to the prevailing authority of the Church hierarchy. The intellectual achievements of India, China, Islam and elsewhere all occurred within a class structure.
Ifear getting off topic here, but a brief explanation would be nice - I don’t intend to reply to what you say just curious.
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Fooloso4
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Re: Getting started with political philosophy

Post by Fooloso4 » September 14th, 2018, 12:42 pm

Burning ghost:
Ifear getting off topic here, but a brief explanation would be nice
As I quoted, ThomasHobbes said that class structure is the enemy of progress and progressive thinking. I am asking if history supports that claim.

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Burning ghost
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Re: Getting started with political philosophy

Post by Burning ghost » September 14th, 2018, 1:07 pm

NOTICE

I hope you guys don’t mind but seemed like a nice “split topic”

To continue the discussion on Class Structure and Progress follow this link: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=15819
AKA badgerjelly

Georgeanna
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Re: Getting started with political philosophy

Post by Georgeanna » September 14th, 2018, 2:27 pm

ThomasHobbes wrote:
September 13th, 2018, 5:34 pm
Georgeanna wrote:
September 13th, 2018, 6:03 am


Thanks - however, I can find lists easily enough. Google is my friend.
I appreciate the various 'Beware' signs you have posted from the start.
I would appreciate even more to hear your views or reactions to your readings of the Republic...
Also, how you would tackle the breakdown of any claim/argument to clarify the various steps or mis-steps.
You have far more experience and knowledge in this area - feel free to share and apply a generous helping of lubricant.
You should look into Karl Popper's view of Plato. He identified him as one of the enemies of the Open Society.
Though a student of ancient history I've never looked into The Republic in detail, but generally find Plato something of an aristocratic, authoritarian and enemy of democracy.
Class structure is the enemy of progress and progressive thinking.
Yes, Smith already briefly mentioned Karl Popper's view of Plato as a fascist. My concern at this point is more about the art of examining claims and arguments, which in the case of Book 1 might need to be fleshed out, given their dialogic form. There are a few distinct claims made in Book 1 which someone of your calibre would find relatively easy to analyse and to pick up any faults or interesting manoeuvres.
If you don't agree with Plato in general, then pick a particular fight with him - argue the points. Pick one, any one.
Or is it easier to dismiss with an airy wave of an assertion.

Georgeanna
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Joined: October 29th, 2017, 1:17 pm

Re: Getting started with political philosophy

Post by Georgeanna » September 14th, 2018, 2:36 pm

Burning ghost wrote:
September 14th, 2018, 1:07 pm
NOTICE

I hope you guys don’t mind but seemed like a nice “split topic”

To continue the discussion on Class Structure and Progress follow this link:

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=15819
I don't mind at all. in fact I welcome interesting spin-offs spinning off.
I find myself fascinated with Plato. More than I thought possible...
Other political philosophers await - patiently.

Georgeanna
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Joined: October 29th, 2017, 1:17 pm

Re: Getting started with political philosophy

Post by Georgeanna » September 14th, 2018, 2:49 pm

Burning ghost wrote:
September 14th, 2018, 2:47 am
Georgeanna -

To be brief for. I was referring to the lack of analysis and depth to the argument. It begs more questions than if aims to resolve. If you read through the next few pages you'll see that his defensive is far from complete (just the next several pages up to the end of that section.)

There doesn't appear to be any reasonable show of how the "just" and "unjust" feel about their "rewards". It's been so long since I've read the text I think I may be thinking about Aristotle's Politics regarding the "good" and "bad" master of his household ... I think I am, in which case I cannot remember how, or if, Plato applies his ideas to this issue.
Thanks for clarification - I am aware of the limitations of the dialogue. Just thought you might have something more to offer in the way of specifics.
That is to say, looking at a particular claim/argument and pointing out any faults or interesting manipulations.
Given that the Republic was one of your recommendations, I should probably have asked 'Why ?' or 'What particular aspect did you find of interest ?'
It's so easy to give recommendations on a forum without further explication. Sometimes, it gives the impression that the recommender has more knowledge and understanding than they actually have. Sometimes, I even wonder if people have even read the books closely at all...
Sometimes, to be brief, it is all blah, blah, blah...

Fooloso4
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Re: Getting started with political philosophy

Post by Fooloso4 » September 14th, 2018, 4:52 pm

The question I am asking about is the relationship between regimes and new ways of thinking. As Smith has discussed, a main issue for Plato is the relationship between the regime and independent thought.

TH frames it in terms of progress and progressive thinking. And this raises some interesting questions:

What is progressive thinking?
Is everything contrary to established norms progressive?
Is there progress to some end or completion?

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ThomasHobbes
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Re: Getting started with political philosophy

Post by ThomasHobbes » September 14th, 2018, 6:58 pm

Georgeanna wrote:
September 14th, 2018, 2:27 pm
If you don't agree with Plato in general, then pick a particular fight with him - argue the points. Pick one, any one.
Or is it easier to dismiss with an airy wave of an assertion.
Plato is inextricably linked to the philosophy of Socrates, for whom I have a great deal of respect. Most of S's questions and statements were not so concerned with the why's an wherefores of the political process.
However, Plato offers a genetically determined and highly structured class system which is utterly anathema to my way of thinking. His system could only result in an utter waste of potential.
His vision of a place for every man and every man in his place could only result in utter stagnation with the buffoon children of the upper class being taught to rule -pearls before swine, whilst children of slaves regardless of their potential remain enslaved never having the opportunities of their "betters".
The worst of it is the sense expressed in Socratic dialogues that capabilities are almost wholly innate. With people born to be stupid, or clever.
It seems to me that Locke was the first to fully reverse this opinion.

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