Overview Of Week 1 Readings and Topics

In the first class session of our course, we will be focusing on friendship as discussed in Plato's dialogues. Plato does have one early dialogue which is specifically focused on the topic of friendship, called the Lysis. There is also an interesting discussion of friendship and its opposite, enmity, early on in Republic book 1.

In the Lysis, Plato will have the dialogue participants examine a number of possible models for what friendship, understood in a broad sense, could be. There is a considerable overlap between friendship and love in the discussions of this dialogue, and a lot of the discussion centers around the basis for the friendship and feelings of affection felt towards each other in the relationship.

In the portion of the Republic book 1, in which Socrates is discussing Polemarchus' proposed definition of justice as "doing good to friends, and doing evil to enemies", we get to see some of the problems in understanding justice in this manner.

On Thursday, we will hold our first online class session using Zoom. We will be recording the class session, and it will be uploaded for all of you students as an unlisted YouTube video embedded here in our class site (these won't be shared with non-students). After that, I will open the Week 1 Discussion Forum to student comments and questions, so that we can continue the discussion throughout the week

The specific topics we will be working through during this week's class session are:

  • the nature of friendship
  • different types or models of friendship
  • the basis or bases for friendship
  • whether good and bad people can be friends
  • the relationship between justice and friendship

You will doubtless find it useful to read through

  • all of Plato's Lysis
  • the discussion between Polemarchus and Socrates in Plato's Republic book 1

before our class session, perhaps more than once. You will also likely discover that rereading that portion of the text after participating in or watching the class session will help you develop a deeper understanding of Plato's ideas.

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