Discussion Forum: Week 8

As you read Plato’s Republic this week, consider the new city Socrates proposes (“Kallipolis”) as an example of the kind of utopian thinking we’ve been examining over the past two weeks. Respond to one of the following prompts below, or to comments from your fellow students. Remember that to receive credit for participating, you must comment at least once before the start of class on Wednesday.

  • What aspects of Socrates’ proposed state do you find compelling or appealing?
  • What aspects of Socrates’ proposed state do you find problematic or flawed?
  • If we accept that Plato’s perfect city could never truly exist, what actions or thoughts might Plato have been trying to inspire by exploring this version of utopia?
  • How does Plato’s utopia differ from other Greek utopias we’ve encountered, particularly Cloudcuckooland or other comic utopias?

48 thoughts on “Discussion Forum: Week 8

  1. I thought that Socrates’ proposal of a new city was interesting, but had a lot of key elements that could easily be misconstrued and undermined. For example, Socrates goes into great detail discussing what forms of media should be censored in order to create good influences for children and the population in general. When he comes to conclusions about what should not be taught to the next generation, he gives examples of the verses of Homer that must then be expunged to be in concordance with his ideas. His limitations of literature reinforce Athenian cultural values such as gender norms, as he plans on “Getting rid of the lamentations of famous men, and making them over to women” (127). His imposed restrictions on what media people can and cannot consume is limited by his own perspective, one that would probably not be shared with everyone in his proposed city. Censorship is a slippery slope that suppresses the free speech of individuals, and, at least from a modern perspective, is a major flaw in Socrates’ supposed utopia.

    1. I 100% agree, its kind of ironic in the sense that the definition of utopian is “aiming for a state in which everything is perfect; idealistic.” So by censorship of the writers of fiction directly contradicts Socrates “utopian”. Not only the censorship but how he is directing the narrative of Hephaestrus and the binding of Hera his mother we have all of this rewording of narratives and censorship its almost foolish to call it a utopian.

    2. I’ve really enjoyed reading this thread on censorship. I definitely agree, this is a very flawed part of Socrates’ utopia. Limiting what people have access to learn, to me, is incredibly unethical. This being said I understand why someone who is trying to create a utopia would see this as a necessary evil. When people have access to more information, they can better form their own opinions. I feel like a marker of a utopia is peace, and when you have a lot of people with various different opinions, there is more room for conflict. In order to keep the peace, Socrates feels that certain things should be censored and that children should be raised with the same media. I think this is one of the main reasons utopia is impossible. With censorship there is peace (or at least in theory there is), but the people cannot be at their full potential and fully educated.

  2. I think the most flawed and frankly disturbing part of Socrates’ proposed city was censorship. I think one has more potential to grow when one has access to uncensored material. Thst being said, I do understand Plato’s point about censoring texts for young children. When would the censorship stop, though?

    1. I wholeheartedly agree, but I personally don’t understand Plato’s argument about censoring things given to children. Plato asks, “And literature may be either true or false?” to which Glaucon answers “yes.” Plato then says, expecting a “no”, “And the young should be trained in both kinds, and we begin with the false?” I think it is valuable to teach children how to detect false information, as it is naïve for Plato to think that everyone could be completely protected from lies, and even more naïve for someone to say such a thing today. Plato also supports giving children access to just one narrative, and disregards the possibility that the censors may not be perfect themselves, and will have intrinsic biases that affect their decisions. Plato also says that stories of gods fighting amongst each other should be forgotten, as apparently it incites violence among the youth, an argument analogous to the quip that “video games cause violence” today.

    2. I am really split on whether censoring stories for children is a good idea or not. In general America tends to view censorship as indicative of an undesirable regime as opposed to a utopia. That being said, there is implicit censorship that happens for children on a daily basis. While our cultures are different and Plato chooses different things to censor, a modern example is the censorship of most things sexual and for many even the censorship of one’s own language while around children ie) expletives. My knee-jerk reaction is to be against the censorship of education in young children because of the word itself, but upon further inspection it becomes apparent that American education also has a censored lens which we just choose to not name explicitly as censorship.

  3. I think the discussion of fiction vs non-fiction in the education of children is interesting. Socrates said, “For a young person cannot judge what is allegorical and what is literal; anything that he receives into his mind at that age is likely to become indelible and unalterable; and therefore it is most important that the tales which the young first hear should be models of virtuous thoughts.” Socrates is wise because he knows that children will believe anything you say so you should just teach them virtuous fairy tales, even if their false. This will create a belief in the greek gods at an early age.

    1. I think the discussion of education in the play is generally confusing. This quote that Ben touches on makes it seem like education could be used to provide the youth with these “virtuous thoughts” that are not actually realistic. I think that this would be a very dangerous approach to teaching children about the world and preparing them for adulthood. Also, I think Plato’s words here go against his teacher Socrates’ method of questioning everything, and instead it is instilling beliefs about fairy tales and unreal things at an age where children don’t have the ability to question ideas and concepts. Plato says that the guardians should be taught an education that makes them like “noble puppies” that are tense with their enemies and gentle with those whom they know. This all seems very controlling and overbearing.

      1. I also saw a disconnect here between Plato’s writing and what we know about Socrates’ ideology. Socrates literally put his life on the line to defend his opinions about independent thought and not blindly believing what you are told. The idea that you should intentionally teach children about “virtuous thoughts” that are not realistic and expect them to follow them would have been very unpopular with Socrates. I also think that this is just not a good way of teaching children, as highly idealistic people who base themselves off of stories they are told tend not to be the most understanding or flexible.

      2. I think Meinhardt makes a good point here that Plato’s words go against his teacher Socrates. Plato is using Socrates as a character in this play to portray “his” true utopian society instead of what Socrates would have actually thought a utopia would look like. However, this society that Plato uses Socrates to create in the play is far from Utopian as most of his ideas are radical and would not work in today’s society. I found it interesting how over time the perspective of perfect societies and Utopias can change as many people may have agreed with his ideas when they were published, but now it seems as if many people reject them.

      3. I agree, this was also interesting to me as there seemed to be quite a disconnect between Socrates’s thoughts in this work and how he was viewed and characterized by other Athenians in Apology, specifically that one of the charges brought against him in his trial was corrupting the youth. The filtering of education and information from youth who will be “influenced” by it that is proposed here is a stark difference to the Socrates who’s stated goal was finding and illuminating the truth, especially to those who think they know when they don’t.

  4. One of the moments I found most compelling was Socrates’ idea of religion and god. Plato has a way of presenting Socrates’ logic as very roundabout in the ways that he questions and expects answers from the men he’s speaking with, and it eventually comes to Socrates saying: “Then God, if he be good, is not the author of all things, as the many assert, but he is the cause of a few things only, and not of most things that occur to men. For few are the goods of human life, and many are the evils, and the good is to be attributed to God alone; of the evils the causes are to be sought elsewhere, and not in him,” (pg. 121). I found this to be a really interesting way of thinking about God’s interaction with people, and it seems like it’s definitely in conversation and maybe in contradiction with the way that Aristophanes presents religion in his plays. In his plays, with the exception of Birds, which gets a little more confusing, gods are often looked at as the cause of everything and called upon for help in all moments. The way Socrates looks at it feels almost more optimistic in a way, that God can just be the good parts of life, and it’s okay to blame humans for the bad parts.

    1. One part of Socrates’ proposed state that I found problematic was the ideas for educating the people of this state. Socrates’ discusses how education would only be for the guardians of the state, consisting of rulers and auxiliaries, and that the rest of the people would be a part of a third class. The rulers would be be appointed, but I found it peculiar that Socrates believed that the rulers only should have the privilege of lying. Instating rules for who could lie and who couldn’t would without a doubt lead to conflict between the rulers. Additionally, the auxiliaries would be stronger than the average citizen would and perform military, police, and executive functions. Socrate’s proposed utopian society is fatally flawed in that it subordinates the majority of the population to the more elite education and power of the guardians, which would most likely lead to corrupt and fraudulent ruling practices.

      1. I think you bring up multiple great points about the downfall of Socrates’ proposed state. Dictating who can and cannnot be educated has the potential to lead to propaganda and brainwashing of those in the “third class”. With that comes revolution and distrust for power, which is destined to occur in a state like this where a small number of rulers make all decisions. In addition, these rulers are given the permission to be liars, giving even more reason for the “third class” to distrust in the system. I think that in general, Socrates’ proposed state is destined to fail as he has given all power and decision-making authority to few people, historically leading to unrest and turmoil.

        1. I agree that this proposed Utopia is destined to fail, and it is due to the absurd control that the ruling class is allowed. The fact that only certain stories are allowed and all poetry that is not Hymns to the gods is banned is more characteristic of a Dystopia. Abby put it perfectly, education control in the city is meant to be propaganda and brainwashing in nature. Interestingly, Plato is having Socrates say these thoughts when they seem to go against what we know about him. Socrates wants people to be able to discover things by themselves. Being told everything exactly does not allow for this discovery of character and morals. I also disagree with the idea that seeing negative things automatically makes someone a bad person. If presented in the right framing, one can watch or hear about an evil that was committed and believes that it was wrongdoing. People are not so simple-minded as to switch their morals as soon as they see something that goes against them. Overall, I cannot agree with the educational system of this utopian city and I find it hard to believe that Socrates would agree with it.

          1. I agree completely here, and just wanted to add how the ruling class in the proposed utopia is very reminiscent of Peisetaerus’s tyranny in his own utopia in Aristophanes’ “Birds”. In fact I find it oddly interesting is that there seems to be some sort of shared belief that tyranny is a very successful method and would “fix everything”, as we discussed last week regarding how the people of Athens would fantasize about tyranny. Which is very strange to me, because there are blatantly obvious (at least, to us) fallacies in the thought process and leads to more of a *dystopia*. The apparent control over the lower classes and overall power of the leaders/higher-ups, as this thread discusses, is not a productive method at all.

          2. I wonder if these imagined utopias (both those in the Republic and in Birds), which are really dystopias, are a commentary by Plato and Aristophanes on the “unfixable” nature of Athenian society. We have learned about Athenians’ willingness to change their forms of government and vote themselves out of power, which suggests that they are ever in search of a more perfect way to govern themselves and organize their society. Perhaps they can improve their society by making changes, but Plato (and Aristophanes) could be criticizing these efforts. They seem to argue that, instead of seeking perfection (a utopia), it would be better to aim for something less perfect than a utopia, something more realizable and less likely to fail and become the exact opposite (a dystopia) of what the Athenians aim to achieve.

  5. Socrates’ understanding of God is different to what I thought he might say on the matter. He says, “Then God, if he be good, is not the author of all things, as the many assert, but he is the cause of a few things only, and not of most things that occur to menFor few are the goods of human life, and many are the evils, and the good is to be attributed to God alone; of the evils the causes are to be sought elsewhere, and not in him” on page 121. He even admits that this is not the popular view of God, which is interesting given the context of his death. Perhaps his differing beliefs on the subject led to the people of Athens decrying him as impious.

    From my knowledge on Plato’s work, I think this line of argumentation diverges from what Plato himself believes or at least contradicts it slightly. The idea of an infinite being that creates the universe entails that He must’ve created the necessary conditions for evil as well and therefore He can be cited as a cause.

  6. The concept of having every citizen assigned to a specialized task that they fit the best seems at first to be a good idea, but it would probably cause some issues once the people who aren’t particularly good at anything, such as art or philosophy, end up being stuck with the undesirable jobs that nobody wants to do. Having everyone fit into a spot meant for them seems at first like the right way to take a society, but it would eventually cause issues that would have to be dealt with, or you risk some kind of protest or revolt arising from the people stuck with the undesirable jobs who would rather be spending their time doing another job even if they are not the best fit for it.

    1. I agree with what is being said here. I think at first glance, I was a little bit drawn to the idea of creating a society that is based on specialization. It seems quite obvious that if a person focuses on one thing and only one thing for a long time they will become quite good at this thing, and if this is what each and every person does then the society will be filled with very efficient workers for each occupation. However, when you then really break down what this means for a society, there are some flaws. I agree that this could lead to some kind of push back against undesirable jobs. I also believe there would be some people who fit into more than one category and would not want to only choose one occupation. Furthermore, although focusing on one activity all the time definitely allows for faster progress, it can also lead to burnout or disinterest in the future, which is another issue with this system. In addition, I worry about the overlap of many people’s interest and the problems this would lead to in terms of choosing who gets to specialize in the occupation.

      1. I agree with Lizzie and Brandon here on the topic of specialization as a flaw, and the idea of a person working one job that they are good at for a lifetime as problematic. When I first read this, two things came to mind. The first was the concept of creativity: how can one explore their creative selves if they are forced into a life of continually working on the same skills over and over. Then, for my second topic I thought of a recent movie/book reference to “Divergent”, which depicts a society in which people are placed into different jobs and neighborhoods based on their skills, this community was quickly corrupted and those who did not fit in, the Divergents, were hunted. Although this movie/book is an extreme example, I think it can relate here because it shows us that societies shouldn’t create boundaries, rather they should provide opportunities.

  7. I found Plato’s hypotheses about God to be interesting. After reasoning that God is good, and therefore incapable of sculpting the evils of the world, he concludes that “God, if he be good, is not the author of all things, … not of most things that occur to men” (121). By questioning the conventional belief of God as an all-powerful force in this utopia, Plato is proposing to completely uproot people’s understanding of religion and cause/effect of the worlds events, which sounds potentially dystopian for some.

    1. Like ella this hypothese by plato allso stuck out to me. The quote that she uses highlights the fact that men ar inherently evil, and if God was in charge, then everything in the utopia should be perfect. Instead he competeswith the belief that God is in control of everything.

  8. I find the idea of abundance in Socrates’ proposed state questionable because it would be difficult to implement in real life. On page 114 of Plato’s Republic, Socrates describes how in this state there would be people with a myriad of careers. There would be many actors, musicians, poets, tutors, nurses, barbers, and cooks. Socrates also says that there would be “swine-herds” and “animals of many other kinds” for the people to eat (p. 114). He then asks questions that point to the impracticality of this abundance. For this abundance to occur, the state would need to expand its land, the people would have to take only as much land as they need, and the state would have to go to war (p. 115). The cost of abundance suggests that Socrates’ proposed state is somewhat problematic.

  9. One part that stuck out to me was the analysis of how if everyone has one specialty, like agriculture, or tool-making, or artisans, etc. they will all need to depend on another for other necessities in life. If this were a perfect utopia, then society would work seamlessly as products flowed from person to person, and in each transaction someone would gain something and the other would receive something. As we have seen from our own country, this bar is not always achievable when there is poverty, hoarding of wealth, monopolies, and other disparities of resources. However, we can use these utopian ideals to observe our world, or think about how Plato observed his world, and see how and why it differs so much from Socrates’ utopia.

    1. I completely agree as Plato is making a point about his own world, and the nuance to be seen lies in the differences between Plato’s world and “Kallipolis”. Further, I think that Plato is purposefully introducing a ton of aspects into this society that at first glance appear to be positive or utopian in nature, though upon further examination are obviously flawed. Of course the proposition of everyone fitting into their own particular role in society seems nice on the surface, but when there is a ruling class dictating the fates of another, problems will always arise. Also, the imposed censorship appears to be a good idea in some regards, though once we see how it is applied throughout society, most would agree it has negative impacts.

  10. One aspect of Socrates’ utopia that I found flawed was the censorship of stories and myths that painted the gods in a poor light. It surprised me that this topic would come up in a writing with Plato and Socrates, as Socrates was known for debating in the street, so one would assume he would disapprove of any intellectual censorship. It is interesting how he calls them “founders of the state” and uses that as a reason to not tell stories, as many borderline dystopian governments throughout history have used censorship to control their citizens. It is interesting to wonder if any theoretical utopias could exist and acknowledge any negative history surrounding them or their beliefs, or if censorship would be seen as a way to keep everything “perfect” by preventing citizens from seeing flaws.

  11. Similar to other people , I thought the censorship portion of utopian society to be interesting. Especially since it discussed censorship of fables for children instead of media consumed by older members of society. By censoring the stories told to the youth, Socrates is trying to build a “better” society built on the values of the community. While this may seem radical, it is not too dissimilar from practices implemented today. When we are little we are taught fables about patience, kindness, ambition, and other virtues of a good American citizen. We also have the “American dream” beat into our heads from an early age through the stories we read. Censorship comes on a spectrum and while it is scary to think about it in such a socially connected world that we have today, we are not free from the censorship that Plato discussed through Socrates.

  12. An interesting aspect of Socrates’ proposed state can be seen in page 115 with “our State must once more enlarge’ and this time there will be nothing short of a whole army” going on to say that they “will have to go out and fight with the invaders for all that we have”. This line of thinking is quite different to what most people would envision a utopia to be. The idea that a utopian state still needs an army seems rather flawed from a modern perspective. Furthermore, Socrates’ argues that “but is not war an art?” which could be a valid argument for the time in ancient greece. However, comparing the wars fought in ancient greece to modern warfare. I would argue that suggesting a utopian state needs an army is rather problematic because it implies that war is a natural function of society and thus a utopian idea.

  13. I found Socrates’ argument in favor of specialized protectors of the state, or guardians, to be very interesting as it associates war and defense with profession. I noticed similarities between this argument for the soldier as an occupation to that of the discourse in ending conscription in the United States. While it no longer required those who did not want to participate in war to serve, a fully volunteer army in many ways romanticized war as a profession, and encouraged conflict. Is specialization of the guardian Utopian, or would it be more Utopian for all members of society to participate in defending the state as a civic duty?

  14. Socrates’s utopia does not really feel like a Utopia. Cloudcuckooland attempts to create a vacuum in between the realm of Gods and the human world. They fail miserably. Plato’s Utopia, however, feels a lot more realistic as a state rather than an imagined city. He does not seek to be in a vacuum as he recognizes the potential need to rely on neighbors and wage war against them for the benefit of his state. This does not sound Utopian. This is very much in the realm of politics during this era of time and even today. Socrates also describes a clear hierarchy of rulership in his own nation separated into three groups. This is not at all reminiscent of a Utopia as this hierarchy creates an imbalance of power within the imagined state.

  15. I was struck by how the rampant censorship would be problematic in both a modern point of view and an Athenian one. In the modern day, censorship is often associated with tyranny and dystopias, and it leads to the erasure of ideas and history. Athenians would also see this, especially because they would have considered many of the myths that were being changed or neglected to be their history. Furthermore, Plato’s utopia closely resembles Sparta and lacks a democracy, which are two things that Athenians would be against. This leads me to wonder how this was received when it was written, and whether it stemmed from the Athenians’ desire for total reform.

  16. What’s most interesting to me is the back and forth conversation that Socrates and Glaucon have about their ideal utopia on pages 114-115. They describe needing luxury and needing war in order to expand the scale of their city which are very interesting ideas for a utopia to have. In the modern day when we think of what a utopia means we tend to think of a place of peace and sanctuary, not one which needs any wars to be fought, however, to Socrates, war is necessary for the progression of a utopia it seems. These aspects of his ideal city remind me greatly of how the city of Athens was operating at the time— the only difference being that Socrates is imagining he city of Athens to be successful in every venture that they set out. It’s also interesting how war is described to be an art form, and something that drives the people and gives them purpose. Our current perception of war, at least from a Western and liberal point of view is far from being an art and is something that we think of as unnecessary most often.

  17. While reading the republic I was struck by the fact that Plato/Socrates offered a utopia that wasn’t what we would normally think of as a utopia, free of the sins of the world. Instead, he offered one that was more so an optimized Athens. With the presence of an army and therefore the ability to war and bloodshed. Hierarchies classify people into ranks and abilities which halts potential to a certain ceiling till you cannot go anymore. To me, a Utopia would be free of those things, and you can say it is because it is reasoned that utopias cannot exist because they exist out of the realm of our possibility, but the one Plato/Socrates offers isn’t so much out of the realm of possibility, just outside what we humans are capable of to do forever. And maybe that’s the utopic aspect

    1. I totally agree with your view that this utopia was meant to represent an optimized athens. I think that in addition to the points that you brought up, this view is seen in the strictness of education and the censorship of literature. These aspects of the proposed society encourage everyone to think along the same lines which is believed to be a good thing. This would also minimise internal conflict among citizens (especially because stories with conflict would be altered in this reality). If the population had limited disagreement and everyone focused on performing their role well, I see that the quality of life in athens could increase. However, this is unachievable because disagreement and conflict is an important part of human nature.

  18. I think that the main and obvious difference between cloudcuckooland is the emphasis on happiness. With cloudcuckooland the origin and overall goal was to become equal to the gods and not inferior. There were also regulations to who was allowed in that “dystopia” which turned into a toxic environment. Whereas Plato’s utopia Is not centered Ed around power but the more philosophical motive is the goal of happiness for everyone. The goal for his utopia was almost “how” can we ensure everyone’s happiness including a government that will not oppress the people. I think that many did not have this mindset or care for others because the gods were like the goal of power, no one saw power to be happiness.

    1. I agree with your point that Plato’s utopia is to ensure that everyone is happy and that the government is helping everyone, rather than hurting them. Plato’s utopia focuses on policies that help to secure the well-being and happiness of the citizens of the state, which is vastly different from the “laws” set in place in cloudcuckoolands dystopia.

  19. I found the discussion about specialization in the workforce to be compelling. The discussion talked about how a city needs specialists/trade/people doing what they want, in order to function. For example, when constructing a house someone builds, someone makes the tools, someone plans the building, and someone gets the materials. Then everyone puts all there individual skills together in order to complete the task at hand. This is the beauty of a collaborative society and living amongst other people. I also enjoyed the talk about paying debts and when they should/should not be paid. Socrates had an interesting point in saying that debts will always be paid but debts can come in many different forms. For example evil people deserve evil as a debt and paying your debt does’nt always mean returning the same thing.

  20. Seeing this world as a utopia brings about an interesting perspective. Not frequently do you imagine a utopia in which leaders are explicitly allowed to lie and the children are taught falsehoods. That said, this seems like almost Socrates’ take on an attainable utopia. I think the main issue is contradictory nature with much of what we know about Socrates. Why would Socrates, a man we know to support the search for the truth, encourage censorship to younglings and lying amongst his rulers? Why would a virtuous, realist man encourage a corrupt leadership? I think the direct contradictions with Socrates’ beliefs leaves me confused on his intentions with this utopia.

  21. The main aspect of this city/utopia that most seems flawed to me is how it tries to objectively characterize people. I think in the world itself people are far more complex, and even though Plato lays out the qualities he thinks would make the perfect guardian of a city, I am skeptical that this practice and process would ever be able to be implemented. It thus seems to me this idea for a utopia is similar to some others I’ve seen as it seems to deeply crave order and a place for everyone and everything.

  22. In book 2, Plato, Socrates, and Glaucon discuss the qualities of a flawless guardian to lead their utopian city. Their ideal guardian must be morally just, brave, and well-educated. In book 3, they also discuss how strength and honor are essential characteristics in their ideal guardian and they must also be educated in philosophy. Throughout the whole book, Plato mentions the importance of an educated ruler. In Cloudcuckooland, Paisthetaerus appointed himself the ruler. The education of the utopia’s ruler was not valued or considered much at all. It’s interesting to see Plato emphasizing the importance of a philosophical, educated ruler as he was a philosopher. Aristophanes was best known for writing Greek comedic plays, not for his way of thinking. While he had a strong educational background, he did not stress the importance of Paisthetaerus being well-educated. This is a main difference in the two utopias. Plato prioritized an educational, just ruler to avoid tyranny. Paisthetaerus claimed the role of ruler himself.

  23. Cloudcuckuckoo land and Plato’s utopia seem to focus on different ideas of utopia. In cloudcuckuckoo land, the focus was on outsmarting and being able to get by the gods and authorities. Plato, however, centers on a person’s duty and sense of belonging. The main issue with Plato’s utopia is that it is very deterministic. People not being able to have a say in their role within society I think sacrifices too much in the name of order.

  24. In reading the “Republic,” I found Plato’s educational system the most interesting. I’m not sure if I find it appealing or concerning. Open access to education creates a foundation of educated, engaged citizens. However, segregating based on perceived ability also segregates on conformation to specific ideologies, ultimately limiting societal progression. Plato’s “utopia” describes the scaffolding of government and society, but neglects to consider how the society would actually function. Completely accurate measures of a person’s educational capabilities does not actually exist. The sorting system would be fundamentally inadequate and cause vexation.

  25. Socrates believes that the gods should only be taught as being good and virtuous beings and that they have not committed any wrongdoings. Socrates beliefs coincide with censorship, as he wants to control what children are taught to a single misconstrued narrative. I personally believe that his belief that children should be exposed to this single idea of what the gods are eliminates the opportunity for children to learn creativity and formulate their own opinions. This idea is not utopian, but rather dystopian because containing the youth to a single line of though limiting their exposure to certain ideas is dangerous and creates a society that is not free thinking.

  26. Something I found interesting about Socrates’s proposed utopia is the acknowledgement that no definition of justice will 100% fit every situation. When speaking with Cephalus, Socrates highlights how defining justice as “being given what you are owed” is a fundamentally flawed mode of thinking that does not cover every situation. He points to several examples to dispel this idea, such as the existence of physicians, and how “being given what is owed” cannot realistically apply to their profession. What Socrates is saying here is that justice is not a one-size-fits-all concept, which is a fascinating opinion that helps guide the rest of the work as he sets up his utopia. Right off the bat, Socrates admits that justice is not, and in fact cannot be, defined succinctly or boiled down to its essentials without losing some key aspect of what it is.

  27. In Plato’s conception of reality, there exist a reality that is objectively true and exists as it is regardless of how it is perceived by those experiencing that reality. As such, his idea of censorship makes sense in that only giving impressionable children the objective truth of what really is reality would indeed lead to society that more closely conformed to that objective reality. The reason this is a utopia—a place that does not and cannot exist—is because we as humans experience objective reality through our own subjective perceptions. Since everyone experiences, perceives, and interprets reality differently in some way or another, we are always going to be limited in our understanding of any objective reality that exists. Since subjective perception cannot have certainty that what it perceives is objectively true, then attempts to censor that which is not objectively true cave to the limitation that objective truth is not known with certainty.

  28. In “The Republic”, I found the discussion about censorship in Kallipolis to be the most flawed aspect of Socrates’ theoretical city. Specifically, I thought it was interesting when Socrates explained “that the beginning in every task is the chief thing, especially for any creature that is young and tender”. This seems to be a logical and convincing explanation for what role censorship could play in the city. It is presented as a tool to protect a vulnerable segment of the population. However, I think the discussion of censorship takes a turn when Socrates talks about how censorship would be applied in the city. Socrates says “the stories on the accepted list we will include nurses and mothers to tell to the children and so shape their souls by these stories far rather than their bodies by their hands”. Here, I am confused how Socrates goes from arguing that the youth are more impacted by fables to arguing that stories must be censored before they reach the mothers and the nurses of the youth. This extends censorship in Kallipolis beyond the youth and into other segments of the population. This is problematic to me because it is hard to imagine a utopia where ideas are prevented from going to the citizens.

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