Instructor: Seth David Halvorson, Ph.D.
The Dragon Academy, Toronto, ON 
Our first goal in reading Plato’s Republic is for students to understand and appreciate the scope of the work and the points in the text. The text weaves together the domains of ethics, politics, education, epistemology, metaphysics, and religion to give an encyclopedic account of justice in the city and the soul. If we begin with an introduction to the text’s various domains, we forge the tools to connect Plato’s tri-partite schema of the just city with the vision of the just person. Seminar participants should recognize how various sections in the dialogue mutually reinforce each other. Secondly, students should possess a firm grasp of Socrates’ arguments regarding the nature of justice and the functions that the Socratic method serve in advancing the claims of the text.
- Why does Socrates believe that to fully answer Thrasymachus’ challenge, he must develop an account of justice in both the city and the soul?
- How is Socrates’ account of justice in the soul dependent or independent of his account of the goals and structure of the city’s political and social system? To set up the discussion of Books VIII and IX, and to address initial discussion questions, we will focus on Plato’s view of justice as it is articulated in Books III and IV.
Seminars will discuss the education of the guardians, censorship, the noble lie, the abolition of private property, and the ideas of gender equality and freedom as they apply to Socrates’ portrayal of the just city. Discussion would conclude by examining a few of those topics as they are expressed in Book IV and then connecting them to the larger themes of justice and harmony.
The focus will be the last five books and the allegories, the decline of the good person/polity, and the success of Socrates’ reply to Thrasymachus. We first unpack the allegories of the line, the sun, and the cave to develop an account of Plato’s metaphysics and epistemology. To bind together the metaphysics, epistemology, and politics of the Republic, discussion would attend to Socrates’ view of the philosopher-king’s unique capability to govern as a result of his or her knowledge of the forms and the function of the doctrine of the forms within social life. The previous session’s discussion of justice as harmony between the parts of the soul and the city would be revisited from a different vantage point—an analysis of Plato’s educational program as it develops in Book VII.
- Does the education Socrates outlines necessarily shape people who can access the world of truth behind the world of appearances and find harmony amongst the components of the self? The second point of discussion would focus on Books VIII and IX. Here, discussion would center on why Socrates believes that the various forms of governance (timocracy, oligarchy, etc.), and the social relations that follow, exhibit features of discord and imbalance.
- We then move to a direct analysis of Book IX, and ask if the decline in an individual and a society is due to an improper ordering of reason, spiritedness, and appetite, what factors generate such decay? What would Socrates recommend to prevent such decline? The third and final point of discussion would evaluate the success of Socrates’ answer to Thrasymachus’ question: “Why be Just?” We would review the arguments made in the first nine books and ask if the Myth of Er and the claims of Book X generally serve as stronger incentives to be just, than the reasoned arguments Socrates provided.
Plato, From StudyPlace Plato
The Jowett Translation: 
Grube Translation: 
Perseus Digital Library, Tufts University 
University of Chicago Greek-English Lexicon: 
The Ancient City of Athens