Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Republic and Paradigmatic Shift

The Republic and Paradigmatic Shift

The first Utopian work, 360 B.C., from Greece, is Plato’s Socratic dialog, The Republic. This text focuses on a society that is equal for everyone. Ten books within this ongoing philosophical debate alternately discuss social and governmental structuring along with legislation and resource distribution necessary to sustain a society. Initial comprehension of The Republic at first is dystopian in nature. Presented are strict class systems, referrals to slavery, and veneration of kings. However, one must realize that to our present existence, in relation to this ancient world, 360 B.C., Plato’s belief is radical idealism.
Morality and ethics play an immense role in the formation of Utopian societies and in The Republic, justice is of utmost consideration. Robin Waterfield, editor of the Oxford World's Classics edition of Plato's Republic, states via video, “Plato did not write philosophy like a dry text book, he wrote it like a living conversation . . . Plato asks this absolutely, fundamental question, “Why should we bother to be good?”. . . He [Plato] asks the question, “What is justice?”
The brilliance of paradigmatic shifts is numerous. For example, in Book I of The Republic, during conversations between Socrates, Polemarchus, Cephalus and Thrasymachus, starting with, “And a just person is good?”, Socrates examines and refutes each conversationalist with another equally essential question leading up to a final answer that not everyone agrees with. This mode of truth leads to sabotage because Thrasymachus repeatedly attempts to take over the conversation, yet is restrained. Eventually, Thrasymachus attacks all speakers with rage by roaring, “What nonsense have you two been talking, Socrates? Why do you act like idiots by giving way to one another?” (Plato. Complete Works. The Republic. Book I. Page 981).

A second paradigmatic shift occurs within the same question, “And a just person is good?” Most speakers answer with a resounding, yes. Socrates asks another question to their answer, again a “what if this?” question leads to yet another scenario. Essentially, every answer leads to another question that leads to another answer than what was originally thought. In turn, the minor change in thought leads to an entirely new world. The worlds that can be created via Plato are endless. It all depends on the perception of the individual.
In conversations between Socrates and Glaucon, the utilization of satire in this dialog is for the sole purpose of shaming current ideals about inequalities into improvement starting with, “the only difference between them [men and women], is that the males are stronger and the females weaker.” (Claeys, Gregory, Sargent, Lyman Tower. (1999). The Utopia Reader. Chapter 2. Page 27). The dialog then continues to ask questions to answers to prove that men and women are equal and share responsibilities and passions.
In conclusion, Plato examined Utopia and justice by posing hypotheticals and questioning rationales normal to his time in order to cause people to think, more importantly, to allow people to decide for themselves how they need to be thinking first, followed by action. As Plato's best-known work, as well as the world’s most influential works of philosophy and political theory, The Republic teaches us that our perception enables the creation of our existence.


Plato. (2008). The Republic. The Project Gutenberg EBook of Plato's Republic, by Plato

Plato. (1997). The Republic. Complete Works. 

Claeys, Gregory, Sargent, Lyman Tower. (1999). The Utopia Reader. Chapter 2. Pages 27-56. 

Waterfield, Robin. (2011). Why Read Plato's "Republic"? Oxford University Press.

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