Why is it worthwhile to act justly, even if we could “get away” with injustice? Doesn’t the successful thief or tyrant have a life that’s attractive and enviable?
How does the kind of society that we live in shape our character, values, and attitudes as individuals? Is it even possible to be a healthy person, in a society that’s profoundingly sick and unbalanced?
Over the winter and early spring, we’ll be exploring these and other main themes from Plato’s Republic. For 5 every-other-Wednesday sessions, we’ll balance our time and attention between close reading of Plato’s text, and considering the implications of Plato’s arguments for our own lives and times.
While each session will be somewhat self-contained (such that you can attend a stand-alone session at still benefit), we’ll also try to see the tightly woven structure of Plato’s dialogue as a whole, how all the parts come together in a deeply interconnected argument that moves freely between diverse registers, including: observations from daily life and history, creative and lively thought-experiments, meticulous arguments from first principles, and epic poetry and myth. Participating in as many sessions as possible will allow more time to make and experience these larger connections.
Roughly, the main themes for each week, as we step through the text together, will include:
— The Ring of Invisibility, and the Burning Fever of Greed
— A Mythic Education: Poetry and Character
— Seeing and Knowing: The Allegories of the Line and the Cave
— What’s Wrong with Democracy?
— Choosing our Lives: Vindicating Justice
Any translation of Plato’s dialogue will be appropriate, and it might even be helpful if, as a group, we can compare several of them. If you don’t already have a copy, we highly recommend the version for G.M.A. Grube, revised by C.D.C. Reeve (Hackett Publishing), available very cheaply in paperback.
So, come from the torchlit relay race on horseback, stay for the ring of invisibility, and the deep lessons about how, and why, we can cultivate our own character.
5 sessions, every other Wednesday (Feb. 28th – Apr. 24th) in the Reeder’s Alley Conference Center. FREE (donations always appreciated). Learn more & RSVP here: https://merlinccc.org/event/philosophy-merlin-shorts-exploring-the-republic-2/