Friday, September 24, 2010

Correspondence

Mrs. Self-Important emails FLG:
I also don't know what it means to claim that the Republic is entirely about the soul--does it mean that it's not at all about politics or philosophy or justice, as everyone since its composition, including Plato's students, thought it was?

The primary question of the book is "What is Justice?" A major part of Plato/Socrates' answer is that Justice is manifested in the relationships and interactions among and between people. Most people, including Aristotle, read the book and focus on the Just City, as if the political arrangements were what would manifest Justice. FLG contends that this is a misreading of the book. Justice is manifested in in the relationships and interactions among and between people, but it truly exists in the souls of the people interacting. Therefore, the book is about how to correctly order the soul to manifest Justice in interactions with other people.

The political arrangements in the Republic wouldn't work, and Plato/Socrates admit as much. They are not meant to be taken as literal prescriptions for a republic.

The book is about justice, as explained above, philosophy, because that's the highest calling of the human soul and indeed the only way one correctly orders their soul, and politics, but largely in the ancient understanding of living in a polis rather than the more limited connotation we have now.

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