The aim of this Topics Seminar is for the participating student (1) to gain a thorough understanding of the primary texts for the course and a familiarity with the current debates in the philosophical literature on this topic; (2) to appreciate the arguments for and against the positions; and (3) to develop an independent judgment about the most promising approach in this area.
This “Topics Seminar” explores in depth issues and texts in the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, as well as their relationship to their contemporaries. The specific topic will be different each time, so as to tailor it to current research developments in the field.|
Topic of 2021/2022:
One of the milestones of the Western philosophical tradition and an acclaimed literary masterpiece, Plato’s Republic continues to be a constant point of reference for all those who reflect upon society, in both its existing and its ideal arrangement. Presenting a conversation between Socrates and a few interlocutors of different persuasions and backgrounds, Plato develops an “expansive” theory of justice involving ideas on education, the position of women, art and literature, soul, metaphysics and epistemology, and myth. The proposals he advances are often provocative and shocking and have been rejected as being communist or fascist, or at any rate anti-democratic - the various qualifications testifying to a certain elusiveness of the work’s nature and purpose. But if Plato does not present a blueprint for the ideal society, how are his proposals and arguments to be understood instead? What do they imply for us here and now? This course covers the whole of this Platonic key treatise and takes us to the heart of Plato’s thought. Not for the intellectually lazy or the easily discouraged, it provides a lasting impression of one of the great works of philosophy.