Tuesday 10/8

Republic, Book VIII



Discussion Questions

First Question on Book VIII: The Diseased States

Book VIII of Republic describes the process whereby the Aristocracy becomes the Timocracy, the Timocracy becomes the Oligarchy, the Oligarchy becomes the Democracy, and the Democracy becomes the Tyranny. What are the characteristics of each of these kinds of cities? How do cities of one form devolve into the city below it? Do you find the intermediate steps, say of Timocracy between Aristocracy and Oligarchy, necessary, or is it possible for an Aristocracy to become straightaway an Oligarchy? Further, is it possible for an Aristocracy to emerge from a Tyranny? If so, how? If not, how shall the Aristocracy Plato envisions arise? Finally, we know that Plato ranks them from Aristocracy all the way down to Tyranny, but are there alternate rankings? That is, would you prefer living in a Democracy, for example, to living in an Aristocracy? Why or why not?

First Question on Book VIII: The Diseased Souls

At the same time that Book VIII explores the different kinds of governments and the way in which each degenerates naturally into the next worst, we have a parallel discussion of the different kinds of degenerate souls: the timocratic soul, the oligarchic soul, the democratic soul, and the tyranical soul. Setting aside the tyranical soul, which begins Book IX, what are the characteristics of these kinds of souls, of what vices are they individually prone, and what are contemporary examples to which one might point of each degenerate soul? Are the degenerate souls subjected here to Platonic investigations analogous to the mentally diseased or disordered subject today to Psychological investigations? Why or why not?