Plato: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
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This is not a book to leave the reader standing in the outer court of introduction and background information, but leads directly into Plato's argument. It looks at Plato as a thinker grappling with philosophical problems in a variety of ways, rather than a philosopherwith a fully worked-out system.
It includes a brief account of Plato's life and the various interpretations that have been drawn from the sparse remains of information. It stresses the importance of the founding of the Academy and the conception of philosophy as a subject. Julia Annas discussesPlato's style of writing: his use of the dialogue form, his use of what we today call fiction, and his philosophical transformation of myths.
But at the end of the day: Plato is simply a confused theologian with no real answers. I don't think he ever got his hands on a Jewish Bible or even the Old Testament as a whole.
Plato: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Julia Annas - PDF Drive
That sure would have answered some questions for him. I'll have to look. At least Plato doesn't see the hand or foot as part of the soul Strangely, Plato writes in Timaeus and Laws: The world as a whole has a soul, of which our souls are individual portions Bit of New Age spiritism there. Fun comment: by Augustine "Plato is the Pagan philosopher who comes nearest to Christianity. Endlessly disturbing. I'll have to think twice about going to parties with appreciators of classic philosophy.
Or letting them babysit my children. I guess the prisons were full of other crimes?
Then something about everybody spending the nights under the same cloaks. I could read up more on this issue - but i'd rather not. I'll end with a pleasant quote pg 83 "Philosophy always involves argument and discussion, ideally with others, and requires you to be able to defend your position against the arguments of others Plato is always sure that philosophical thinking is superior to all other kinds. Now i'll go read some Ravi Zacharias books: just to cleanse myself from What follows are thoughts that occurred to me while reading this book, organized according to its chapters.
For me, the value of a book is determined largely by the quality of thoughts given to me as I read it. If they are of high enough quality, I write them down. Arguing with Plato Persuasion is a powerful and sometimes dangerous tool. If one is persuasive enough, one can convince another person to believe something that is false.
This raises a question about the role of persuasion in disco What follows are thoughts that occurred to me while reading this book, organized according to its chapters. This raises a question about the role of persuasion in discovering the truth: Can persuasion lead to knowledge? And, closely related, can persuasion ever justify anything like epistemic confidence? This might sound rather pedantic until one stops and looks around. Observe all of the people convinced—via persuasion—of incompatible things. The present political climate in the United States, torn as it is between the so called Right and Left, demonstrates that persuasion is a powerful force in life, by no means mere pedantry.
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Subjecting the phenomenon of persuasion to philosophical analysis—asking what it is, questioning its value, testing its reliability—is something Plato is very good at. Philosophy, whatever it is for Plato, entails arguing. And arguing involves persuasion. Thus, to practice philosophy and Plato is keen on philosophy as a practice is to relate to persuasion in an appropriate manner. Philosophy is incompatible with mere persuasion since it aims only at the truth: What is real, philosophers ask, in spite of popular opinion?
And yet, persuasion plays an ineluctable role in searching for the truth. Whatever the truth is, Plato thinks, it must be the most truly persuasive reality—eternally persuasive. One must get to know the object of knowledge personally, even passionately. Regardless of the object of knowledge be it mathematics, music, a book, the concept of justice , knowledge requires existential commitment from the knower.
Plato leads his reader through various arguments and lines of inquiry that grant the opportunity for precisely this kind of commitment. To make this commitment is to begin the practice of philosophy. In Critias, he writes that his family descended from the sixth-century statesman Solon, who brought reforms that put Athens on the road to democracy. As a result, antidemocratic sympathizers took power and set up a government of thirty the Thirty Tyrants —two of whom were relatives of Plato. Plato, in other words, came from a family divided by civil war.
Plato is, understandably, a figure who can be interpreted in different ways. Some reckoned him a superhuman sage, a son of Apollo, a genius among mere cave-dwellers. Others reckoned him a political idealist simply disillusioned with his social context. Various interpretations of him were probably contested before he died, and this will almost certainly continue to be the case in the future. The figure of Socrates exercised a lasting influence on Plato. Socrates is the chief character in almost every dialogue, and he models more than anyone else the values of philosophy.
Socrates is described as talking to individuals openly about matters of ultimate concern, stressing the importance of understanding precisely what is being talked about the subject matter.
Philosophers ever since have stressed the necessity of defining terms, achieving understanding as to what must be taken for granted at the most basic level of thinking. For Socrates, who never wrote a word, this cross-examining comes about through dialogue with others. While the Academy did not codify a certain set of doctrines that it required its students to adhere to, it did provide a place wherein people could reflect systematically on philosophical questions.
In large part due to Plato, philosophy became systematic: not an organized set of dogma, per se, but a set of distinctly philosophical concerns, questions, and attempted answers. Drama, Fiction, and the Elusive Author Philosophy, for Plato, aims only at the truth, not at mere persuasion. For this reason, philosophy resists the main cultural ways of speaking and thinking, which tend to either forget the question of truth altogether, or grow to despise it outright.
Socrates is a controversial figure, admired by some and despised by most, largely because of his uncompromising pursuit of the truth—which, in each of the dialogues, his interlocutors come to realize they do not possess though they perhaps thought they did before. Philosophy, then, is not mere entertainment, nor a tool to get whatever one wants. Philosophy is, instead, a searching, refining, sometimes painful quest for the truth. This reading sees Socrates as a figure of irony, knowing nothing himself—except that he knows nothing—and never putting his own positive positions forward.
Annas suggests that these two traditions can learn from each other since there is an element of truth in both of them—Plato almost certainly does have views of his own on the various issues he writes about, but he writes in dialogue form so as to allow the reader to come to his or her own conclusion about the matter. Reading Plato takes work. His dialogues do not assert one position that must be assented to on his authority; the reader must think through the issue for him- or herself.
But Plato romanticized the teacher-pupil relationship as transcending merely physical attraction. The impetus for this relationship, relatedly, is not desire for hedonistic or bodily pleasure, but desire transformed by concern for the soul rather than the body—the desire to become a better person. Love plays an essential part in this philosophical relationship. This desire comes from within and is genuine, just like love eros. It also takes place between persons by means of joint activity like conversation.
For Plato, philosophy and love possess certain shared characteristics, and one might even say that they are intertwined—philosophers are lovers of wisdom. Plato is critical of the nuclear family for the ways in which it creates selfishness, competitiveness, and hostility toward outsiders. It is impossible to create a harmonious and cooperative society, he thinks, so long as the nuclear family remains its most basic organizational mechanism more on this in the next chapter.
For this reason, Plato saw women, who are not to be confined to the home, as having access to the same sorts of responsibilities as men—they are to be guardians of society, along with men. While Plato has little or nothing to teach modern feminism, we can still be impressed by his ability to recognize the role, responsibilities, and contributions of women as a philosophical problem.
Plato: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions - 79)
Virtue, in Me and in My Society Plato assumes that humans seek happiness eudaemonia —not simply to live, but to live well. But what is happiness? And what does it mean to live well? Typical answers to these questions are success, fame, riches, power, or perhaps all of them combined. But Plato was a faithful student of Socrates.
And although his teacher relinquished worldly success and ended up condemned as a criminal and executed, Plato believes that Socrates—more than any other person—embodies happiness and reveals what it means to live well. The answer is virtue. Virtue is a sort of practical reason that enables one to do good with the materials of life, just like a craftsman uses tools which are useless in the absence of a craftsman who knows how to use them properly to make something with them.
Without virtue, human goods like health, wealth, good looks, and so on will not ensure happiness or a well-lived life—indeed, in the absence of virtue, Plato thinks, such human goods might even be harmful. For this reason, virtue is to be valued above all else. It is not one good among others, but the unconditional good that allows all merely conditional goods to be useful in the craft of living well. Without virtue, conditional goods will inevitably spoil and preclude, rather than assist, the attainment of happiness. Plato also sometimes writes of virtue in a way that anticipates Stoicism when he says that philosophical activity leads one to detach from everyday concerns.
Philosophers are unconcerned with even despise making money, looking attractive, attaining social capital, etc. On this account, Plato is different from Aristotle, who thinks that human goods are a more essential component of the happy life than does Plato.
In particular, he is very concerned about the harmful impacts of popular entertainment on the moral compass of the polis. Plato is perhaps the first to see the role that popular opinion and entertainment play in the construction and distribution of societal values. Such content needs to be rigorously regulated, or else societal virtue will be compromised.
For Plato, the main issue that plagues society is competitive individualism. The nuclear family is complicit in this since it would rather drag its goods into its own house and use them up privately rather than cooperate in the production of shared goods. In his Republic, political power is in the hands of the philosopher-kings, who own no private property, take part in no nuclear family, and are formally educated in the art and science of political governance so as to ensure that society functions virtuously.