The Republic

The Republic (Project Gutenberg, #1497)The Republic by Plato
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Eye rolling, boring, silly “arguments” that were long and drawn out. I got about half way through this mess, while I could have argued with virtually every “premise” Plato, or Socrates, or whoever the hell he thought he was, the goons that sat around him agreed with virtually everything he advocated for his Hitlerian super state. Very few breaks between conversations as well, so if you needed to stop somewhere, it would likely be in the middle of a conversation. Pick that up later, sure. I’ll just copy and paste my unedited notes to give you an idea of what turned out to be much too much trouble for me. I could have done this virtually every page, and there was no GD way that was going to happen…

You must agree on a premise. Socrates’ conversation with Cephalus begins on a false premise, that Men of my age flock together. If that were true in that day the point is moot; but today, “aged” men do everything they can to cling to youth (as do women), but not all. The premise is that all behave in this way, and unless that is accepted, the subsequent argument falls on its face, except in the case of a select number of people to which the premise is valid.

Again, Cephalus talks about Sophocles, where someone asks the elderly sage how love suits him, and if is still the man he was. This would hinge on Sophocles being at a static point in his life, ergo “the man he was.” None of us are static, so the question is incomplete. Close enough for old Sophocles though. He feels that due to his apparent impotence that came with old age he has escaped a “mad and furious” master. Viagra proves that you don’t escape; you just suffer with the indignity and sorrow of losing one of the pleasures of life.

Rich Cephalus says that old age has a great sense of calm and freedom-unless social security won’t cover your bills (or your Viagra). Cephalus sounds like the guy that dropped the soap in the prison shower. That’s the way it goes. Just flow with it. That’s the way it went for him; he extrapolates that to everybody with the assumption (false premise) that we all have the same experience.

I ought to return a return a deposit of arms or of anything else to one who asks for it when he is not in his right senses; and yet a deposit cannot be denied to be a debt.

True.

False. The “debt” is owed by the depositor. You are not indebted to anybody for doing them a favor. False premise.

Then if the just man is good at keeping money, he is good at stealing it.

That is implied in the argument.

Then after all the just man has turned out to be a thief.

The (false) premise that if a man is good at keeping money he must be a thief.

Yes, but do not persons often err about good and evil: many who are not good seem to be so, and conversely?

That is true.

Then to them the good will be enemies and the evil will be their friends? True.

Not true necessarily. However, it seems to be fact for Plato. How cartoonishly simple minded. This guy is one of the greatest philosophers of all time?

There are degrees of truth, but Plato sees the world in black and white. Not only that, he seems to believe what is true for him is true for everybody, even if they don’t realize it.

Of course, it’s easy to sit here and rip apart a book without Plato being able to respond. No doubt there are those that would on his behalf. Not inclined to get that deep though.

Thrasymachus makes the argument that justice is the interest of the stronger. “Socrates” replies with something totally unrelated; a man is stronger because he eats beef; therefore we would all be stronger if we ate beef. False. But then, maybe that isn’t his answer; maybe it’s just fodder for clarification. Do we know? Does “Socrates” believe what he is saying, or is he just fucking with people’s minds? The previous false arguments make a case for that…

To discuss “justice is in the interest of the stronger” we must agree on what “stronger” actually means. “Socrates” was unable to do that.

To wrap up chapter 1:

And the result of the whole discussion has been that I know nothing at all. For I know not what justice is, and therefore I am not likely to know whether it is or is not a virtue, nor can I say whether the just man is happy or unhappy.

I would answer the questions of Socrates in a different way, thereby changing the dialogue completely. This is a static book. I won’t rip it apart chapter by chapter. Illogical and not fair to Plato. Unjust!

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