[Repost] The Green New Deal, Explained

December 2019 Quote of the Month

A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” -James Madison

A Million Little Deaths

To the skeptics and the willingly blind,

Recently, a friend and I was talking about politics and current events and this phrase was uttered:

“I think people are exaggerating. Well, it’s not like the world is going to end.”

Or something to that effect; I don’t remember it word-by-word.

And immediately, it had a gut-clenching effect of hopelessness and frustration on me. The phrase contains a world of privilege that some would sacrifice everything to have.

That simple phrase opened up a chasm of experience between suffering and a TV screen, death and the even voice of a newscaster. The individuals and the statistics used to represent them. The eye-watering emotion of a well-written book and the inert words that you could stop reading at any time… except not everyone is able to “go back to the real world”.

If you’re tired of seeing the news, you turn it off and ignore it and keep on with your days. You don’t want to see suffering, you close the door so you don’t have to hear your parents watching the news. When you walk past people demonstrating or petitioning and you’re irritated they’re wasting your time.

No, these issues aren’t your fault as a common citizen but to numb your awareness is to walk around intentionally blind. To live in a black-and-white world because you couldn’t handle the sensation of colors. Besides, you wouldn’t want others to turn away in your time of need so why would you towards others?

Feel the anger. Feel the sadness. Feel everything when you see broken little bodies coming out of elementary schools, feel everything when you see the bodies of mothers cold over their infants, feel for the village of children where everyone else has been eaten up by War. Feel when you see men treated worse than animals, when women become faceless and when the profit of one trump the good of many.

Of course, the world wouldn’t end. Society and people would carry on but remember: society, laws and rules don’t protect people, rather, it is the people who protect society, the status quo, the law.

When a middle schooler came home to find her mother deported, don’t you think her world ended just a little?

When a man was short $50 on his GoFundMe to pay for life-saving insulin, he literally died. He left behind an ailing mother who also passed away.

When a teenager is forced to give birth to a malformed infant after a rape or a rape survivor has to see her rapist granted custody of her child, feeling less than a worm on the sidewalk, don’t you think their worlds have ended then?

When a parent travels thousands of miles because even the threat of death isn’t enough to make them stay only to see their child die at the doorstep to freedom when they needed to be treated like people but were instead deemed worse than vermin, don’t you think their worlds ended?

These millions of little deaths individually should be worth more than the comfort and ignorant bliss you get from closing your eyes and ears.

It’s not about you, okay? IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU! Your discomfort, unease, whatever it is, does not compare to this monumental suffering. It’s doesn’t mean that one has to be consumed with it but the worst one can do is turn their back and become tired. Because, that’s when hope is lost. This devil of fatigue, of mental sleep is so alluring because it feels unfair to feel the burden of suffering you didn’t cause and feel too little to alleviate but even if one in one hundred can bear it and cry out and say “I hear you”, then just in the US, that would be three million voices strong.

So, don’t turn away. Feel every one of these little deaths like pricks on your skin. Let them tattoo you and empower you to act and change a world that isn’t nice.

Labels in Politics

Merriam-Webster defines identity politics as politics in which groups of people having a racial, religious, ethnic, social, or cultural identity tend to promote their own specific interests or concerns without regard to the interests or concerns of any larger political group. 

Identity politics are a persistent part of the American narrative, as they would be for any non-homogeneous society. A homogenous society tends to assume a singular culture which would include the same beliefs and identity. This means that everyone will easily agree on how to use resources and what should be prioritized. This is an idealized benefit of homogenous society, but it also means the members of said community would have more difficulty interacting with people from other communities. It could even mean a more difficult time thinking outside of the proverbial box, stifling innovation. These would be the strengths of a heterogeneous society. . . if such a society could manage to cooperate but of course that’s if they could settle on an agenda. America elected to have a democratic republic and that means America should evaluate the weak points of such a system and make them less vulnerable. 

I commend the fundamentalists for trying to stick especially close to what they believe is the exact vision of the Founding Fathers but as with most fundamentalists: they never consider that the context has changed since then. It’s always struck me as odd but of course, that would mean that they would find them to be self-evident truths. As these are the core values that they refuse to have compromised. That isn’t to say that federalists constantly make ethical concessions but that they’re constantly illustrated as being “less sane” due to their progressive agenda. Of course, this is just a tactic to win arguments in policy by targeting the public’s insecurity with change as well as the expenses that come with adjusting. Quite frankly, I’m of the opinion that the whole constitution of the American government is a social experiment with ideas borrowed from the Native Americans, the Magna Carta and The Enlightenment; therefore, the government would follow to have a progressive agenda on most matters. Of course, many things tend to be rather ambiguous when it comes to the more theoretical cases; that’s exactly why we elect presumed experts to oversee such things so that the everyday man can go about his personal affairs.  

A democratic republic in and of itself is to appoint experts to oversee the operations of the government. Identity politics have a negative connotation whenever it’s mentioned in any commentary. It’s become the go-to for “I can’t empathize or remotely understand your mindset because I feel that it doesn’t affect me but I will acknowledge that a minority of the population is concerned with the same thing as the issue you have just presented.” Or even more demeaning, “The issue you have presented affects a small minority and for that reason, it is not a major concern that needs to be addressed. I dare say it is a waste of resources.” This is the polite way of putting it. I would advise readers to continue the discussion in the comments but the United States of America was founded on salutary neglect and identity politics. No one was advocating for the British colonists “across the pond”. So they advocated for themselves but there was an issue of the Loyalists, Tories, and “Patriots”. Ultimately, America did get its independence despite the reluctance and opposition of others. I’d like to know why this differs from minority groups that have been systematically persecuted from doing the same thing. However, bear in mind that these minorities would like to be treated as equal and NOT superior to others by enforcing a hierarchy that means stripping others of their rights. 

Liberals have started to advocate for intersectionalism (that the overlap of various social identities, like race, gender, sexuality, and class, contributes to the specific type of systemic oppression and discrimination experienced by an individual) to better unite the party with an identity. Largely because they unfairly characterised and branded the Republican party for years and for free without determining where they themselves truly stand. I assume it was to avoid limiting the scope of their audience by saying, “if you aren’t these things, we will warmly accept you” given the two-party system America has always had going on. 

In the time that it took me to complete this article, Special Counsel Robert Mueller finally testified before Congress. In the time that it took me to write this article, 55 people were fatally shot in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas and there was an attempt in Springfield, Missouri. In the time it took me to complete this article, I was indignant than the devil’s advocate, before taking to the dreaded fence. The United States has internalized the bipolarism of the Cold War to an excessive degree. As it stands, Republican is now synonymous with racist and Democrat with contradictory cradle cullers. Things have grains of truth but humans are such that we try to establish generalizations as to the regular standard by which “all of them” operate. It lends to the whole Us vs Them dynamic. 

[Repost] Bias in Medicine

Whitewashing: A Distortion (An Introduction)

Whitewash:

a: to gloss over or cover up (such as vices or crimes)

bto exonerate by means of a perfunctory investigation or through biased presentation of data

This is the definition provided by Merriam-Webster and is the most suitable definition for this article.

       White-washing is not a racially charged term despite its recent re-introduction with respect to African-American history. The Black Panthers were considered a radical group that was characterized by its militant structure. They were accused of anti-black racism and yes, there were undoubtedly many members who believed in racial segregation for the purpose of a Black state. There were several groups and factions that had much larger roles in the Civil Rights Movement than classical historians afford them in history, and this can lead to a loss of context when addressing precedents for future decisions. To be fair, one cannot be certain of the exact range of a variable especially in history, but to disregard a variable by deeming it negligible can be a grave misgiving when considering the big picture.

        As a student raised in the American educational system, I understand that an introduction is more likely to be superficial as it is to being broad. As we advance our state education, we receive more in-depth teachings on particular subjects. I cannot say the same for history. In elementary, we learned very briefly about the Age of Exploration and The American Revolution. Junior high/ middle school saw vapid discussions on the American Civil War and lesser engagement on the Civil Rights Movement, depending on the demographics of one’s state. High school, the age at which we are to be developing our critical thinking, we spoke only of America’s interaction with the rest of the world. I did the advanced route for the latter half of middle school and for all of high school so my own education in history is steeped in reading the actual documents (agreements, declarations of war, propaganda, etc.) and of course understanding the context in which the documents were written as opposed to receiving only a blurb that I’m expected to memorize. This method of investigative learning is something that the College Board (the national authority on US college entrance exams) wanted to further while I was still in high school. There, of course, was a push-back because the short-list of the Advanced Placement United States History course treated Presidents Lyndon Baines Johnson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt more favorably than Ronald Reagan. For Ronald Reagan to receive less than honorable mentions without any respect to his being a Republican icon, seems suspiciously like an attack against conservatism. So the ensuing arguments against the short-list was that not only was there political bias but conservatives feared that American children would be less patriotic as a result. 

++++++Such an assertion makes the debate politically charged when it really is not a political debate. The reason why previous classes were taught the US could not err and to have an unflagging sense of patriotism was because the sense of nationalism was very fragile. There was context to why older generations had to believe that America was the greatest. That is to say: I give my kin the benefit of the doubt and “discovering” that a leader used to be much more radical justifies the behavior of my kin and therefore invalidates this person as part of a movement (and that movement itself for carrying them as a symbol). Why whitewash ethnic leaders? Yes, the same is done to white leaders but their crimes or misgivings are simply seen as a byproduct of circumstances whereas their general message is romanticized as being ahead of its times or as brilliantly infallible as the ultimate truth.

++++++There was the demonization of freethinkers, McCarthyism, and public dissension about the wars. It’s not to say that I myself am a proud Reagan-ite, but more that history always has undertones: classical, revisionist, and neo-revisionist. Recent history is not impervious to scrutiny. We must learn from history. The tail-end of the Cold War figures must admit the actual efficiency of their policies, the achievements and the casualties. That is what the College Board is proposing. This I can appreciate but social movements, thorough research into regional histories, and foreign policy classes should not only be allowed to college students. How many meaningless arguments are had when things are plainly etched in ink by the same deceased people for whom we argue? College Board is not perfect but it’s a step towards acknowledging that the United States is not flawless but that we are trying and that we can all work towards bettering the nation. If being honest about history means that a child would become unpatriotic, it obviously means that things have to change. To do the same thing and expect different results is insanity.

++++++Diluting what happened and why it happened makes it encourages dissent from those who don’t truly understand but are not comfortable with acknowledging that people that they knew and loved actively participated in such hatred. If people are constantly absorbed in their own daily lives, they tend to pay little attention to things that do not overtly and directly concern them. It also means that we often look for generalizations and take many things out of context in order to appear wiser than we are, which makes all conclusions convoluted. The 2016 election re-introduced George Orwell’s “1984” to the mainstream public as a best-seller. The book was formerly one of those books that all the Advanced Placement students tried to forget because of how unpleasant the ending was. The protagonist is basically brainwashed brutally though torture and re-integrates into society. It’s bleak. It was crucial that readers were aware of what led to the establishment the institutions that would forcefully re-mold him into a contributing member of Airstrip One. People then began Googling phrases like newspeak, doublespeak, class warfare, and police state.

++++++Why then, do we gloss over the anger and frustration felt by Civil Rights leaders in their early days and only focus on their peaceful years? We need to know why people are mad. We need to know both sides and address the bias. We can cry over bias in the media or we can actually take our time to hear it out. We don’t have to agree but when we completely ignore what is there, people begin to think that the other side can’t be reasoned with. “You have to have been there (the state of mind or the actual location) to get the joke.” We need to get everything straight and appropriately tackle gerrymandering and red-lining districts beyond their being vocabulary terms. We need to look at gun control and emphasizing that the Constitution is considered one of the greatest documents because it allows for change because there was the expectation that we would need to add onto it over time and that it wasn’t perfect but it was the beginning of something. We need to re-capture this enthusiasm to actually expand the possibilities of what the US can do.   

This is a new year. Hopefully, we’ll try something new. 

Comments are welcome.

Plato’s Republic Books IV-IX: An Analysis Essay

*This is for educational purposes only. All who plagiarise or otherwise attempt to reproduce this content will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. *
This was written for a PHIL2010 class and I didn’t get a 100% on it so if in doubt, please refer back to the original material.

A/N: I originally decided to post these three essays on Outlet while I was writing this essay as the final for my class. I thought about the state of America and I thought about the trending thoughts and concerns of the world and the pushback of these thoughts and concerns. So, please read this essay with those thoughts and concerns in mind. In a lot of ways, Plato has hit the head on a lot of issues in his own way even though Athenian culture and attitude is supposedly far removed from how things are today.

Jump to:

Socrates’ Tripartite Theory of City and Soul

Reconstruct in your own words the chief arguments by which Socrates justifies the theory of a three-fold soul and city.

++++++Socrates argues for a three-part city and soul in his theory of how justice can be realised. He first builds the city based on the principle that the city takes on the characteristics of its citizens and that since the city is a bigger entity, is easier to spot where justice and other virtues lie (Book 2, 368d-369a). First, the city is founded on the idea that individuals aren’t self-sufficient and therefore need to band together to provide all the goods that one needs to survive, giving rise to the principle of the natural division of labour (Book 2, 369e-370c). These people are the first defined part of the three: the craftsmen. The next group that arises are the guardians who are needed as the city grows and is now in need of military power (Book 2, 372e). Lastly, a third group is created out of the guardians, splitting the guardians into the auxiliaries that make up the armed forces and true guardians that will act as overseers or rulers in the city (Book 3, 412a-e). With these three classes established, we can then start looking at where the virtues of the city lie and most importantly, where justice lies. The virtues are defined as wisdom, courage, temperance and justice (Book 4, 427e). The rulers display wisdom in their ability to use their knowledge to know what is good for both the parts and the whole of the city (Book 4, 428a-429a). Courage is displayed by the auxiliaries being knowing of what to fear and not fear in to preserve through both pain and pleasure to faithfully execute their duty (Book 4, 429a-430c). Moderation is displayed when the citizens of the city submit to the reign of the guardians and this produces harmony within the city between subject and ruler (Book 4, 430c-432a). Lastly, justice can be found where the other virtues are not, revealing itself in each part of the city faithfully carrying out their job and that to do otherwise can be considered to be unjust (Book 4, 432b-434c).

++++++With the city and its virtues fleshed out, we can then move on to the soul. The underlying principle of the division of the parts of the soul lies in the fact that one thing cannot be willing to do or be the opposite relative to the thing in question on the same subject (Book 4, 436b-437a). Therefore, if a soul is displaying opposing desires, then there must be multiple parts to that soul that are generating those independent desires. Socrates then set about defining these parts using an analogy of a thirsty man.

++++++The first part of the soul to be defined is the appetitive part where the man is simply desirous of a drink. There is no reason to it; it does not desire a good drink or a healthy drink, merely a drink (Book 4, 437e) because to want a good drink means that it’s no longer an appetitive desire and requires a reasoning element to know what is good and healthy (Book 4, 438a-e) and therefore all of its desires needs to be unqualified (Book 4, 439b).

++++++This leads us to the second part of the soul, the rational part. With the desire to drink can come with the opposing disinclination to drink (Book 4, 429c). This part uses reason to rein in the desires of the appetite. For example, while the appetite may desire a drink,  reason will stop it from drinking pond water which could have caused harm to the body.

++++++However, reason doesn’t seem to be the only part that has control over the appetite. This can be seen in the fact that having given in to a desire against reason, a person may experience anger for having done so and thus, exposes a third part of the soul that seems to aid reason in controlling the appetite (Book 4, 440a). The third part comes into being with the observation that small children and animals seem to still display some amount of control over their appetites despite not having a fully-formed rational part of their soul. This third part of the soul is the spirited part — an honour-loving part that gets angry when one indulges in one’s unbridled desires. Since the spirit part can exist without the rational part, this means that the two parts are separate despite both of their purposes being to control the appetite (Book 4, 441b).

++++++With all the parts of the soul established, we can begin to apply the virtues to the soul as well. The rational part of the soul would naturally be where wisdom is exhibited by its use of reason to make decisions for the rest of the soul (Book 4, 442c); the spirit would exhibit courage by also preserving through pain and pleasure to know what is worth fearing (Book 4, 442c); moderation can be found when the parts of the soul are in harmony with one another and justice is exhibited when each part is properly performing their role with the proper balance between all three parts (Book 4, 442d). With this, Socrates divides both the city and soul into three parts and is able to draw corresponding parts between them.

Jump to:

Obstacles to the Realisation of the Just City

Identify the problems that Socrates recognises to jeopardise the realisation of justice in the polis and soul.
Evaluate to what degree Socrates succeeds in showing that justice can be achieved in both polis and the soul.

First Obstacle: Against the Equal Treatment of Men and Women

++++++However, even with the source of justice found in both the city and soul, Socrates’ interlocutors aren’t convinced that a truly just city can exist. The first of three complaints are directed towards the fact that women seem to be given the same responsibilities within the city as the men and they argue that that can’t be so because women are of a different nature than men. They drew particular attention to the fact that men and women in this city were to train together in the typical Greek nude and thought it a ridiculous notion (Book 5, 452b). However, Socrates argues that since only those best at a task can perform that task, this requires that all guardians have the same education ( Book 5, 451e) and since this is good and the proper way to maintain justice in the city, the idea cannot be ridiculous (Book 5, 452d-e). Socrates further supports his position on having women as part of the guardians by likening the situation to one of a bald shoemaker and a long-haired shoemaker. He asks if the presence or absence of hair, in either case, precludes one or the other from having the proper nature to perform the job of shoemaking.

++++++Having established that it is a ridiculous idea, it is agreed that since women do not differ from men in the significant ways that would make one more or less suited to a particular practice, then there is no reason to limit women to or from specific practices (Book 5, 454c-e).  This argument maintains that since the woman, although generally physically weaker than man, is made of the same three parts of the soul and so, is able to have the same natures relevant to the types of jobs that the city needs to sustain itself and therefore, upholds the existence of justice in the city as both men and women are able to perform the job best suited to their nature, including becoming guardians (Book 5, 456d-457b). Therefore, the inclusion of women in the guardians and in all other roles of craft is both plausible and beneficial to the city.

Second Obstacle: Against Families Being Held in Common

++++++The second of the three complaints of the city is directed at the system of common spouses and children within the guardians. Socrates asks for the assumption to be made that the system be considered plausible to allow him to address whether it is beneficial (Book 5, 457e-458b). Having been granted that assumption, Socrates starts with saying that since the men and women would be rooming together, it’s natural that they would have sex with each other. However, if left unregulated, it would harm the city by introducing extraneous loyalties into the guardians so the city should regulate it to achieve maximum benefit (Book 5, 458c-e). Since we would want to produce the best guardians for the next generation, then only the best guardians in the current generation should be allowed to procreate with one another, just like how dogs and livestock are bred for favourable traits (Book 5, 459a-b). This would cause disunity within the guardians as it would be a form of favouritism so they would need to be deceived. They would be told that their right to get married and, by extension, to procreate is determined by lottery. This also allows the city to manage the population so that while the city doesn’t overpopulate, there are also enough people to sustain the city if there was war or some other extraordinary circumstances.

++++++However, the city cannot prevent those seen as possessing not the less than favourable traits from procreating so their children must be disposed of in secret. Since children are held in common where the child doesn’t know who are their parents and vice versa, this is possible to maintain the absolute integrity of the guardians’ offspring (Book 5, 459c-460d). Furthermore, only men and women in their prime years should be allowed to have children sanctioned by the state. Those who procreate outside of these years will also have their children be disposed of. Since familial relations aren’t known, to prevent incest, those of different generations won’t be allowed to marry and procreate (Book 5, 460e-461e).

++++++By demonstrating the way in which common families can be carried out, Socrates can turn to show that it is a beneficial arrangement. The idea behind this arrangement was to bolster unity within the guardians of the city so that their loyalty would be to the city and not to spouses or children. The arrangement would allow the guardians to share a sense of commonality within themselves and all things held in common where pain and pleasure are shared by the whole of the group (Book 5, 461e-462e). The guardians have the most ability to split the city as they are the group with the means and knowledge to wage war. If the guardians are united, then the city is safe from internal dissension and protected from foreign forces (Book 5, 465b). Furthermore, since spouses and children are held in common, each guardian would be inclined to fight hard no matter who they’re next to in battle, not valuing one life over another (Book 5, 466e). This ensures the survival of the city as a cohesive whole and is therefore considered beneficial. It also ensures that the guardians are only focused on their loyalty to the city and performing their duties so an arrangement like this upholds the justice of the city by allowing the guardians to focus only on their job and to perform it at all times as dictated by the natural division of labour.  

++++++However, by bringing in eugenics, he does slightly undermine an idea he introduced previously in his first noble lie: the Myth of Metals (Book 3, 415a). The Myth of Metals posits the idea that all citizens are born with a metal that corresponds with a particular class within the city: bronze and iron for craftsmen, silver for auxiliaries and gold for true guardians. If the idea is that people are naturally born with a certain metal and the metal a person is born with is random, then the fact that the guardians are bred with the result of their offspring having the best metals in mind, then it calls into question whether the “metal” is something inborn and random or something that can be bred. However, on further thought, although there does exist this contradiction, the noble lie is still a lie to fool the general populace so it was never supposed to be taken seriously by the rulers who are imposing these systems and noble lies and because of this, Socrates’ arguments still stand without much opposition.

Third Obstacle: Against the Plausibility of Such a City

++++++With the first two of the three waves of complaints addressed, the last wave of complaints addresses the conception of the just city itself in the form Socrates has built (Book 5, 471c). Socrates then introduces the argument that for such a city to exist, either kings must become philosophers or philosophers must become kings (Book 5, 473c-e). He argues that if rule and philosophy were united, then the just city can exist. To demonstrate that such an arrangement is possible, we would have to first address what it is to be a philosopher (Book 5, 474a-b).

++++++ First, Socrates says that a philosopher, as a lover of wisdom, must love all forms of wisdom and not just towards a specific subject (Book 5, 474c-475e). However, true philosophers are lovers of truth so this directly contradicting the previous claim. Socrates resolves this by pointing out that since truth can only be known when one has grasped the Forms (what it means to be completely Good or Beautiful or Just etc), philosophers only possess true knowledge on all fronts and not just an opinion or belief based on perception about specific subjects when they can grasp “what is completely” (Book 5, 475e-476d). Such philosophers would be virtuous because, above all, their seat of reason is in control over other desires and this results in the philosopher being a just man with the rest of his soul falling into line and by extension, displaying all the other virtues like a city and soul who has all three parts in proper alignment with the rational, aided by the spirit, lording over the appetite. So, by defining philosophers thus, he distinguishes “pseudo-philosophers” that are lovers of sights and sounds from those true philosophers who have grasped the Forms and therefore true knowledge and, possessing the virtues, are then fit to rule (Book 6, 484a-d).

++++++The next problem then is to address how such philosophers should come to rule as Adeimantus points out that the people won’t willingly follow a philosopher-king because the opinion of the people on philosophers are of those who turn their knowledge and abilities to vicious acts, or, for those who remain pure in their craft to be useless to the city, blind to everything but their quest for knowledge (Book 6, 487a-d). Socrates agrees but he posits that the few philosophers who possess a true philosophical nature aren’t nurtured correctly. He claims that if such philosophers were given proper conditions and allowed to learn and grow in such an environment, their natural talents wouldn’t be corrupted to be used in politics or sophistry and they would be willing to take on the mantle of rule (Book 6, 497a-b).

++++++There is still a question of how such an environment would arise as these philosophers can only be reliably be brought about by the very city that they must already rule over. To this, Socrates insists that it is not impossible and it is only the current unfavourable opinion of the people on philosophers that rendered the idea implausible (Book 6, 499a-500e). To make people more accepting of such a ruler as well as making the emergence of true philosophers as rulers, education would be key. The easiest way to do this would be to reach the children of the city young and eliminate the influence of other adults by sending everyone over the age of ten out of the city and educating the remaining children (Book 7, 541a-b) in the arts, dialectics, mathematics and astronomy as well as physical training in a specific order and at certain times in their lives (Book 7, 524d-540c). Of course, only those who have proven themselves to be potential candidates to be rulers are going to go through the full course of such an education and most people won’t be trained in all the aforementioned subjects in full and instead become auxiliaries or craftsmen. With the proposed arrangement of sending all but those who are ten or older out of the city, Socrates’ defence against this third wave ends, having proven that the city as it is described right now is possible and given the arrangements so far made, that they are beneficial.

++++++However, despite the glaring implausibility of a city of children under ten years old, Socrates never addresses this. This proposal creates more problems than it solves. Without the adults in the city, the city cannot sustain itself. If the adults were to be removed outside the city and still somehow be able to carry out their crafts, then it remains to be answered the location and duration. Even with Socrates being able to clear up the first two waves of criticism about the city with relative effectivity, in introducing this last arrangement, he has a glaring implausibility still needing to be accounted for. Without a proper conclusion to this argument, since the existence of the city is precipitated on whether the children can be raised in the way described, the very formation of this city is threatened and the justice that Socrates was trying to create falls short of realisation.

Jump to:

Democracy: Second Worst

Explain why Socrates considers democracy and the democratic man to be the second worst types of injustice

Note: The word aristocracy is from the Greek roots, aristos, which means excellent, and kratos, rule. Therefore, the word aristocracy as used here refers to a meritocracy where rulers are chosen based on ability.

++++++With the city established so far, we return to the discussion of justice and the forms of injustice that may arise in the different constitutions that may arise in this city. Since the city is a reflection of its citizens, then we can speak about the presence (or lack thereof) of justice in both the man and the city and see which is the most unjust and whether injustice corresponds with happiness or misery (Book 8, 544d-545c). Socrates proposes five different cities, including the current constitution of the just city. One of these constitutions is one of democracy and the corresponding democratic man. Socrates will later claim that this is the second worst type of injustice and therefore, the second unhappiest constitution.

++++++To see why, we will first have to understand what other constitutions there are. The original form is aristocracy where everyone performs the job they are naturally suited for. This is the optimal constitution of a just city and because justice is present in its fullest form, the aristocratic man and the aristocracy are the best. Serving as the basis from which we are going to explore the other less good, less just cities, the other cities will see a deterioration between the balance of the three parts of the city and by extension, to the soul of the individuals who have that constitution and then, we will compare to see who is the happiest (Book 8, 543c-544d).

Three Types of Desires

++++++To do this effectively, we would first have to look at the three different types of desires: the necessary, the unnecessary and the lawless desires. The necessary desires are those that are required to survive and the unnecessary desires are those we can survive without and thus, with proper education, can be conquered (Book 8, 558c-559d), and unlawful desires are those desires without limits and seek to be satisfied at the expense of everything else. We will expand on these desires as they arise in seeing how the city deteriorates from its just form.  

Timocracy

++++++The first sign of this deterioration comes in the form timocracy where the guardians of the city neglected the arts (poetry, music etc.) in their studies and become more warlike and start obsessing over the accumulation of wealth. However, even though their reason is starting to crumble and giving away to their appetite, their spirit keeps their desires in check for the most part and their activities to accumulate wealth are kept secret to maintain their honour. They seek glory in battle and war and this forms competition within the guardians which then breeds dissension within their ranks (Book 8, 545c-549b). The timocratic man is torn between following his aristocratic father, who encourages his use of reason, and his peers, who encourage him to seek honour and recognition (Book 8, 549c-550c). This is one step down from aristocracy because the authority of reason and its aid, spirit, has been weakened by internal dissension and due to this, the appetite is then able to exert more of its influence in its desire for honour and wealth.

Oligarchy

++++++The next constitution to arise is oligarchy where owning a certain amount of property become a requirement to hold office and the guardians’ preoccupation with wealth becomes apparent (Book 8, 550c-551b). The city then becomes divided between the rich and poor. Since the rich are few and the poor are many, they mistrust those who aren’t rich and this will cause them to undermine the power of the auxiliaries for fear that they will be supplanted, weakening the defence of the city and its ability to wage war. In this city, the man’s role in the city isn’t reflective of his nature and his status is purely reflective of his wealth and thus, the people filling certain jobs aren’t adequately doing those jobs and those who should be doing those jobs can’t without sufficient status as it is in the case of rulers. This creates unemployment in the city and gives rise to the drones who are divided between the stingless beggars, and the thieves and other criminals with stings (Book 8, 551b-552e).  

++++++The oligarchic man is characterised by a fear stemming from his timocratic father losing his wealth and status and thus begins obsessively hoarding wealth. However, besides his need for more and more wealth, the rest of his appetite is suppressed because, to satisfy other desires, he would have to sacrifice part of his wealth. In other words, he only indulges in his necessary desires and keeps unnecessary desires in check. This is the next step in the city’s deterioration because appetite is starting to clearly dominate reason but only in one respect. In all other desires, the oligarchic man still has an iron grip. Like how he is unwilling to indulge in his other desires to accumulate the most wealth, the oligarchy tries to weaken the auxiliaries to maintain their authority. Furthermore, like the city, the soul of the oligarchic man is divided into two where his need for money is set against all his other desires (Book 8, 554a-555a). Justice is now severely threatened if not nonexistent in both the city and the soul as people, especially the rulers, aren’t taking up the jobs they’re most suited for and there are those who have no job in the city and the seat of reason/wisdom is no longer the sole ruler of either the city or the soul.

Democracy

++++++Following oligarchy comes democracy which Socrates claimed was the second worst form of the city and soul. Here, the poor of the oligarchic city has risen up in revolution against the ruling rich who, weakened by extreme greed and faulty business practices, lose their status and a government is established where self-rule is practised (Book 8, 555b-557a). In this city, all desires are considered equal and there is no longer a distinction between what is supposed to be the seat of reason (the rulers) and the appetite (the wants of the city). The government no longer pursues what is best for the city but rather, the impulses of the majority and suppresses the minority. Since there is no longer any restriction on the appetite, people do as they wish and everyone is considered equal. Whereas the oligarchic man still had a handle on his unnecessary desires for his quest for wealth, his son, the democratic man, begins to long for the goods that the money could buy to satisfy his unnecessary desires and at the urging of others, gives in to those desires. In time, he moderates his more extreme desires and grows to treat all his desires as equal (Book 8, 557b-558c). In the democratic city, more of the virtues are upturned as temperance no longer exists as the ruled and ruler become one and the same. As education becomes less and less of a priority, wisdom and courage are no longer displayed as the proper knowledge to know the truth or to know what to fear is no longer taught and a similar transformation takes place between the soul of an oligarchic man to a democratic man with the spirit and reason brought down to the same level as the appetite.

Tyranny

++++++This leads to the worst constitution for the city and soul: tyranny. Division is created within the city when those who are trying to acquire wealth and status are accused as being enemies of the people and in response, those people will try to act like oligarchs by suppressing those below them. Out of this struggle, the people will nominate a champion for their cause and this champion will become the tyrant. In the democratic city, the breakup of the three parts of the city becomes the drones, the wealthy and the rest of the common people. The drones, hoping to gain the riches of the wealthy for themselves, will prey on the sensitivities of the masses and orchestrate an uprising using the overwhelming momentum of the masses united under a cause and uses this conflict between the wealthy and the masses to seize power (Book 8, 564b-566d).

++++++A city under a tyrant is always in turmoil as the tyrant endlessly stir up fears that there are enemies to the people to keep the people distracted to consolidate his power and control. He wages wars and tries to eliminate all dissenters and people of wisdom and insight because they threaten his hold on power. Therefore, his citizens have the least freedom and are the least happy. Although he is able to indulge in all his desires, (even those lawless desires that one would act out only in dreams, Book 9, 571a-572b) he is constantly in fear of opposition and assassination, and cannot trust anyone (Book 8, 566d-569c)and so, is the unhappiest (Book 9, 576b-580a). The soul of a tyrannical man is the same. All that rules his soul is his appetite fueled by erotic love. Neither spirit nor reason remains to restrain his desires and all virtues have long since ceased to exist, making him the most unjust of men (Book 9, 572b-576b).

++++++Having seen all five constitutions of the city and soul, we can now look at why democracy and democratic man is second-removed from being the worst constitution. Whereas the democratic man still possesses his reason and spirit in conjunction with his appetite, the tyrant is only aware of his appetite, making democracy above tyranny and therefore not as unjust as the tyrant. It is below the other three constitutions because there is no distinction in the roles between the three parts of the city or the soul as they are considered equal in the name of total freedom, making the democratic city and man more unjust than the previous three constitutions and thus, the second unhappiest (Book 4, 443d).

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Socrates’ Critique of Democracy and Self-Rule

Evaluate Socrates’ critique of democracy and democratic man.
Discuss whether Socrates’ argument concerning self-control in Book IV repudiates self-rule and whether justice can be realized in the soul of each citizen without making each eligible to rule

++++++Besides that, democracy’s concept of self-rule also goes against some of Socrates’ previously proposed truths. Previously, Socrates talked about how the parts of the soul is to be in proper order. He said that there must be a stronger and a weaker part of the soul and a better and worst part of the soul. If the better part is stronger and rules over the worst, then we can say that the person is in control. If the opposite is true, then the person is said to be self-defeated (Book 4, 431a).  In the aristocratic city, only those worthy of ruling and possessing the knowledge to rule are the rulers while the others are subjected to their rule, and therefore the city can be considered to be self-controlled (Book 4, 431b). In the democratic city, uneducated or not properly trained individuals can become the rulers and by representing the democratic spirit of considering all desires equal, will rule according to wherever his impulses take him. This shows that self-rule isn’t a good way to rule a city as it allows the indulgence some of man’s worst impulses and when congregated in greater numbers, causes majority rule to not reflect what is best for the city or even what is good but are rather often random and irrational as pointed out in The Crito.

++++++Lastly, we must discuss what separates a just individual from a ruler. There is more than just the education that has been before mentioned in Book III that separates a just man from one fit to rule, there is also, more importantly, the question of a person’s nature. While an education can heighten one’s natural aptitudes, a person’s nature is inborn and hard to change. Socrates lists several traits that rulers would need to have: having a good memory, a quick learner, personable, and a friend of truth, justice, courage, and moderation ( Book 6, 846e-847a). Furthermore, a ruler would need to be able to grasp the Form of the Good. If the rulers can grasp the Good, then they are then able to grasp the other Forms (Book 6, 504d-505a) just as the Sun provides the light to makes vision possible to perceive the things around us, the Good illuminates the being of the Forms, making them knowable ( Book 6, 507a-509c). Since the knowledge of the Good allows one to reason without having to rely on previous assumptions or their senses, then that means that those who can grasp the Good are able to get at true knowledge and not merely superficial knowledge derived from appearances or formed from deductions. This allowed the rulers to know what is truly good for the city and distinguished them from the auxiliaries or the craftsmen who had a lesser education and less of an inclination towards the seeking of truth or knowledge.

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Works Cited

Plato, and John M. Cooper. Complete Works. Hackett, 2009.

Plato’s Republic Books I-IV: An Analysis Essay

*This is for educational purposes only. All who plagiarise or otherwise attempt to reproduce this content will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. *

This is an essay with multiple prompts which will be separated onto different pages. This was written for a PHIL2010 class and I didn’t get a 100% on it so if in doubt, please refer back to the original material. 

Glaucon’s Account of Justice

Discuss what kind of a good justice is according to Glaucon’s account of its genesis through social contract.

In the Republic, three types of good are described; the good practised for its own sake, the good practised for its consequences and the ultimate good that is practised both for its own sake and for its consequences (Book 1, 357b-d). The discussion of justice starts off with Glaucon’s account of justice where he explains why justice is a necessary good that people only practice begrudgingly for its consequences. First, he establishes that to suffer injustice at the hands of others is an evil that no one is willing to suffer while to commit injustice benefits the unjust. He argues that justice came from the recognition that the gains of committing injustice are far outweighed by the potential losses sustained from being the recipient of others’ unjust acts. Those who’ve been wronged or who fear being wronged then band together to create a compromise that prevents its participants from committing injustices against others but at the same time keeps them safe from receiving injustice (Book 2, 358e). To achieve this end, they make laws and separate those who follow the laws into the just and unjust, thus he concludes that justice is a manmade construct that leads to the least unhappiness for those involved at the cost of maximum happiness (Book 2, 359a). Therefore, no one would willingly bind themselves to such a construct if not for its effects (Book 2, 359b). He follows up by proposing two thought experiments to show that the natural inclination of man is towards injustice. One of the examples he came up with looked at how both the just and unjust would act if consequences were removed for their actions. Both of them would end up committing injustice but while the unjust man would be able to get away with his injustices, the just man would be caught. This shows that humans are naturally inclined to do what is best for themselves and the laws prevent us from carrying out our natural urges so no one will practice justice willingly (Book 2, 359c). Furthermore, a completely just man who is just for its own sake must endure all injustice directed towards him but cannot avenge himself or commit injustices and appear unjust while a completely unjust man will take every plausible opportunity to benefit himself at the expense of others while appearing to be just. Therefore, the completely just man would be deprived of reward while the completely unjust man would appear just while reaping all the rewards. So, according to Glaucon, there is no intrinsic value to practising justice because to lead a just life is always an unhappier life than to have one of injustice so justice is a good that is practised only for its benefits (Book 2, 360e-362c).

December 2018 Quote of the Month

Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought.

To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears.

To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool.

To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen.

To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies.

To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.

Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Talents (Earthseed, #2)

[Repost] Don’t Feed the Trolls, and Other Hideous Lies

As the internet population grows and the influence of the internet over people grows as a result, the internet becomes an increasingly accessible tool to spread one’s views and attitudes. Trolls in recent years have received increasing coverage as their numbers grew and their tactics more malicious. Discussions on how to combat them have popped up, out of which, the phrase “Don’t feed the trolls” came from.  But, how does this strategy actually work out and how can these social parasites be cut from their host?

A Twitter follower reminded me of a line in the famous parable from Bion of Borysthenes: “Boys throw stones at frogs in fun, but the frogs do not die in fun, but in earnest.” Defenders of trolling insist it’s all just a joke, but if trolling is inherently designed to get a rise out of someone, then that’s what it really is. In many cases, it is designed to look and feel indistinguishable from a genuine attack. Whether you believe what you are saying or not is often immaterial because the impact is the same — and you are responsible for it, regardless of how funny you think it is. It is a lesson kids learn time and time again on the playground, and yet, it is ridiculously difficult for people to accept the same basic notion in online culture, no matter their age. Why is that so? Because those are the social norms that develop when you create a culture where everything is supposed to be a joke.

For the whole article, click here.