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Philosophy stuff: Plato’s Republic May 3, 2007

Filed under: books,college,philosophy,school — bookwritegirl @ 5:28 pm

Here’s a retrospect of my thoughts of Philosophy this last semester (and obviously, we talk about stuff loosely related to what we read):

But if you give the enemy what is owed (a paperclip projectile), it just leads to an escalating conflict (think cafeteria food fights; one person starts, another person retaliates, and so on and so on). Then you’d get sent to the principal’s office and get repremanded, and you wonder why you went crazy in the first place, and whether the retaliation was worth the punishment or not.

I’d say be the better man, don’t retaliate, because the other person is obviously provoking a fight. If you don’t give them what they want (a fight), then they’ll eventually give up and leave you alone. That doesn’t mean you can let yourself be pushed around. You can stand up for yourself and your principles, but make like Gandhi or MLK Jr. It’s difficult to stand your ground, but as long as you don’t stoop to your enemy’s level, then they really have no reason to retaliate. Remember in the Civil Rights Movement, when those students stood up against the police peacefully? Even though the police was brutal with dogs and water cannons and such, they never grew violent. When the nation saw the footage of the police brutality, they realized that there’s no reason to be brutal to a peaceful protest, and soon after JFK signed the document that gave blacks full voting rights. It took a while, but it really made a deep impression of how violent racism can be and how black people are definitely worth being a full part of our society.

***

As I read more and more of the Republic, the more I realize how much authors rely on philosophy to write their famous books. I think I mentioned “The Giver” by Lois Lowry in class…Socrates’ “perfect city” is obviously an inspiration for the book. But there are a lot of flaws to having a perfect city, such as stagnation. A lot of inventions were invented not for a perfect society, but for an imperfect society. If society was perfect, there’d be no need to improve our lives with inventions such as the car or Tang or stuff like that. “Giver”‘s society doesn’t seem so vibrant–it seems like they did the same old same old year after year.

And obviously, JRR Tolkein was influenced by philosophy–I don’t know how much he studied it, but he has some philisophical ideas of his own, such as with the One Ring and how it corrupted many men, while a Hobbit was able to withstand temptation for a LONG time. This ties in really well with the invisible ring in the book, and Socrates’ questioning whether all men would become corrupted with such temptation. I say it depends greatly on the person. If they automatically think it’ll corrupt them, then they might allow themselves to be corrupted “because everybody does it”. If a person is sort of rebellious, knowing that the ring corrupts might struggle longer against corruption in an effort to run counter the crowd. But again, each personality behaves in a slightly different way, so we really can’t say for sure that “one size fits all” when saying that such a ring would corrupt everybody. It’s impossible to generalize on such topics such as good and evil.

***

I see a lot of parallels between the ideal city and communism. Forgive me if I remembered the wrong guy, but didn’t Karl Marx also plan out a similar ideal? What was that called? The “Communist Manifesto”?

***

 The one thing why the perfect city will never remain perfect for long is because we humans have free will. Naturally, some of us will choose one path while others will choose other paths, as evidently seen in Paradise Lost. This ties back to the liberty idea I brought up in class. As long as humans have free will, we will consider liberty to be an unalienable right (at least, in modern ages).

***

The perfect city would quickly come to ruin because humans also have always wanted to strive to be better, that’s been a trend in all of history. I mean, if we lived on only what was necessary, no luxuries, the perfect city would mean we’d all live in mudhuts and cook our meals over campfires, because we don’t need fancy ovens to cook our meals. And if we never searched for new luxuries in order to improve our living conditions, who knows? Cars, computers, hearing aids, glasses, none of these would have been invented. And if there was no need for computers, then what about the people who have the “craft” of programming computers, what should a society do with these unecessary people? I think I mentioned the Twilight Zone episode where this one society declared the librarian “obsolete” and thus had to dispose of him. Would disposing of people unnecessary to our society also be an inherent part of the perfect city?

The designers of the perfect city also overlooked one cause that would effect their city’s downfall. Liberty. Of course, liberty wasn’t even considered as an idea back in ancient times. But eventually the idea of liberty would have been born as a result of the “rising conscience” of society sooner or later. Such a city would never come to be in America, in modern times, because such city deprives citizens of their “unalienable rights”. And such city would also prevent citizens from pursuing happiness, for without that pursuit, certain things that we take for granted today would never have been (see above). So while I understand the creators of the perfect city had only the welfare of man in mind, it creates a society like in “I, Robot” (Asimov), where the main robot decided to control everyone’s lives in order to “cause no harm to any human, or let any human fall to harm” (okay, I’m paraphrasing). Of course the humans revolted shortly after that sort of regime was implemented. (Man, lots of books rely on philisophical ideas!)

***

I didn’t believe it either, not because of the number, but also because of what the footnote said…But I think the point he’s trying to make is that it is exponentially better to be “good” than “evil”…same way sound gets exponentially louder.

***

Exactly. If you tell people what exactly to do, then there’s no room for imagination, because it’s all based on mathematic principles. That’s the whole flaw of the “ideal city”, it makes no room for the unpredictability of the human nature… like in Battlestar Galactica, the only advantage the humans have over the Cylons (robots) was that humans have the advantage of being unpredictable. (now that I think about it, the Cylon robots sort of represent the “ideal city”…)

***

Possibly…especially proven after watching Dr Strangelove.

But I’m one of those optimists who believe the human race will endure…

When we’ve been there ten thousand years/Bright shining as the sun/We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise/Than when we’ve first begun!

(yes, I know some of you will take offense at this, but give me a break.)

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