Ideas from 'The Republic' by Plato [374 BCE], by Theme Structure

[found in 'Complete Works' by Plato (ed/tr Cooper,John M.) [Hackett 1997,0-87220-349-2]].

Click on the Idea Number for the full details    |     back to texts     |     expand these ideas

1. Philosophy / A. Wisdom / 2. Wise People
Philosophers become as divine and orderly as possible, by studying divinity and order
2. Reason / C. Styles of Reason / 1. Dialectic
Dialectic is the only method of inquiry which uproots the things which it takes for granted
The ability to take an overview is the distinguishing mark of a dialectician
For Plato, rationality is a vision of and love of a cosmic rational order
2. Reason / C. Styles of Reason / 2. Elenchus
You must never go against what you actually believe
2. Reason / C. Styles of Reason / 3. Eristic
People often merely practice eristic instead of dialectic, because they don't analyse the subject-matter
4. Formal Logic / B. Propositional Logic PL / 2. Tools of Propositional Logic / e. Axioms of PL
In mathematics certain things have to be accepted without further explanation
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 5. Geometry
Geometry can lead the mind upwards to truth and philosophy
6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 1. Mathematical Platonism / a. For mathematical platonism
We aim for elevated discussion of pure numbers, not attaching them to physical objects
In pure numbers, all ones are equal, with no internal parts
Geometry is not an activity, but the study of unchanging knowledge
6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 4. Mathematical Empiricism / c. Against mathematical empiricism
The same thing is both one and an unlimited number at the same time
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 3. Being / c. Becoming
To become rational, philosophers must rise from becoming into being
7. Existence / B. Change in Existence / 1. Nature of Change
The best things (gods, healthy bodies, good souls) are least liable to change
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 2. Reality
Plato's reality has unchanging Parmenidean forms, and Heraclitean flux
8. Modes of Existence / D. Universals / 2. Need for Universals
The plurality of beautiful things must belong to a single class, because they have a single particular character
8. Modes of Existence / D. Universals / 6. Platonic Forms / a. Platonic Forms
Craftsmen making furniture refer to the form, but no one manufactures the form of furniture
Forms are not universals, as they don't cover every general term
8. Modes of Existence / D. Universals / 6. Platonic Forms / b. Partaking
A Form applies to a set of particular things with the same name
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 1. Knowledge
Knowledge must be of the permanent unchanging nature of things
12. Knowledge Sources / C. Rationalism / 1. Rationalism
If theory and practice conflict, the best part of the mind accepts theory, so the other part is of lower grade
13. Knowledge Criteria / A. Justification Problems / 1. Justification / b. Need for justification
True belief without knowledge is like blind people on the right road
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 1. Mind / e. Questions about mind
Is the function of the mind management, authority and planning - or is it one's whole way of life?
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 2. Psuché
Psychic conflict is clear if appetite is close to the body and reason fairly separate
There is a third element to the mind - spirit - lying between reason and appetite
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 5. Unity of Mind
The soul seems to have an infinity of parts
The mind has parts, because we have inner conflicts
19. Language / A. Language / 3. Rhetoric
The 'Republic' is a great work of rhetorical theory
20. Action / B. Motives for Action / 2. Acting on Beliefs / a. Acting on beliefs
We avoid evil either through a natural aversion, or because we have acquired knowledge
21. Aesthetics / D. Aesthetic Concepts / 2. Artistic Representation
Representation is two steps removed from the truth
21. Aesthetics / E. Art Theories / 2. Value of Art
Truth is closely related to proportion
Artists should be excluded from a law-abiding community, because they destroy the rational mind
21. Aesthetics / F. Arts / 3. Poetry
Without the surface decoration, poetry shows only appearances and nothing of what is real
22. Metaethics / A. Ethical Ends / 2. Goodness / b. Candidates for the Good
Pleasure is commonly thought to be the good, though the more ingenious prefer knowledge
22. Metaethics / A. Ethical Ends / 2. Goodness / c. Form of the Good
Good has the same role in the world of knowledge as the sun has in the physical world
Goodness makes truth and knowledge possible
Bad is always destructive, where good preserves and benefits
For Plato we abandon honour and pleasure once we see the Good
Every person, and every activity, aims at the good
The main aim is to understand goodness, which gives everything its value and advantage
I suggest that we forget about trying to define goodness itself for the time being
The sight of goodness leads to all that is fine and true and right
22. Metaethics / A. Ethical Ends / 6. Pleasure / b. Value of pleasure
Philosophers are concerned with totally non-physical pleasures
Even people who think pleasure is the good admit that there are bad pleasures
22. Metaethics / A. Ethical Ends / 6. Pleasure / c. Types of pleasure
There are three types of pleasure, for reason, for spirit and for appetite
Nice smells are intensive, have no preceding pain, and no bad after-effect
22. Metaethics / A. Ethical Ends / 6. Pleasure / f. Dangers of pleasure
Excessive pleasure deranges people, making the other virtues impossible
Pleasure-seekers desperately seek illusory satisfaction, like filling a leaky vessel
22. Metaethics / A. Ethical Ends / 9. Selfishness
If we were invisible, would the just man become like the unjust?
Clever criminals do well at first, but not in the long run
22. Metaethics / B. Basis of Ethics / 3. Morality as Convention
Justice is merely the interests of the stronger party
22. Metaethics / B. Basis of Ethics / 4. Is/Ought
Plato measured the degree of reality by the degree of value
23. Ethics / A. Egoism / 1. Ethical Egoism
We should behave well even if invisible, for the health of the mind
23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 1. Contractarianism
Morality is a compromise, showing restraint, to avoid suffering wrong without compensation
Isn't it better to have a reputation for goodness than to actually be good?
23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 3. Promise Keeping
Surely you don't return a borrowed weapon to a mad friend?
23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 4. Value of Authority
Is right just the interests of the powerful?
23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 5. Free Rider
Sin first, then sacrifice to the gods from the proceeds
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 1. Virtue Theory / b. Basis of virtue
If something has a function then it has a state of being good
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / c. Motivation for virtue
Is the supreme reward for virtue to be drunk for eternity?
For Plato, virtue is its own reward
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / h. Right feelings
Goodness is mental health, badness is mental sickness
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / j. Unity of virtue
True goodness requires mental unity and harmony
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / a. Virtues
A good community necessarily has wisdom, courage, self-discipline and morality
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / c. Justice
Simonides said morality is helping one's friends and harming one's enemies
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 1. A People / b. The natural life
People need society because the individual has too many needs
25. Society / B. The State / 1. Purpose of a State
All exchanges in a community are for mutual benefit
25. Society / B. The State / 2. State Legitimacy / d. Social contract
After a taste of mutual harm, men make a legal contract to avoid it
25. Society / B. The State / 5. Leaders / d. Elites
Only rule by philosophers of integrity can keep a community healthy
Reluctant rulers make a better and more unified administration
25. Society / C. Political Doctrines / 8. Communitarianism
Is there anything better for a community than to produce excellent people?
25. Society / E. State Functions / 5. Education / a. Education principles
Dialectic is the highest and most important part of the curriculum
To gain knowledge, turn away from the world of change, and focus on true goodness
25. Society / E. State Functions / 5. Education / c. Teaching
Compulsory intellectual work never remains in the mind
26. Natural Theory / A. Heart of Nature / 3. Natural Function
A thing's function is what it alone can do, or what it does better than other things
28. God / E. Attitudes to God / 3. Deism
If the gods are non-existent or indifferent, why bother to deceive them?
29. Religion / E. Immortality / 2. Soul
Something is unlikely to be immortal if it is imperfectly made from diverse parts
29. Religion / F. Problem of Evil / 4. Natural Evil
God is responsible for the good things, but we must look elsewhere for the cause of the bad things