Questions for Reflection

These are open-ended questions, designed to get you engaged in reflection about key ideas of the text(s) we have been studying in this section. You may find it useful to write your own responses, read your own writing, and reflect upon what you have written. Or you may find these interesting to discuss with other people.

Question 1: Do we have to live in the luxurious City?

Socrates makes a case for human communities developing out of human needs, and the first community he proposes is one in which human basic needs seem to be met. Glaucon argues that the kind of life Socrates is proposing isn't really a good human life. Why? Do you agree with him or not? Explain why you agree or disagree with him. What are genuine "needs"? How far do they go for human beings? What does a modern human being in our society "need"?

Question 2: Are we in Plato's Cave?

Plato's Allegory of the Cave has been a powerful metaphor used and reused for over two thousand years. Does it still have relevance to us today? How might it apply to the condition of many people today? What would be the Cave? What would be the unreal shadows? Who would the prisoners be? And what would the world outside of the Cave be?

Question 3: Plato's three parts of the Soul

Do you find Plato's three-part account of the human soul convincing or plausible?
Discuss what (if anything) you think makes sense in it, and what (if anything) you find difficult to accept about his account of the human soul and its parts. Make sure to explain why you think it makes sense or find it difficult to accept.

Question 4: Plato's ideal society

Would we be better off or worse off if we were to live in a community like the ideal society Plato outlines in the Republic? In what ways would people be better off, if any? In what ways would they be worse off, if any? -- and Why?

Question 5: Applying Plato's anthropology to your own life

In Plato's theory, there are three parts to the human soul, and when we are just -- when justice exists in our soul -- is is because those parts are properly ordered. How would you evaluate your own soul, according to Plato's standards? Do you ever make choices that you know or suspect are wrong? If so, what part or parts of your soul are lacking their respective virtue? What sorts of concrete choices and actions would you need to make in order to remedy that condition?

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