Reading questions on Plato’s Republic, Book II

(1) In this book, Glaucon and Adiemantus (Plato’s brothers) renew Thrasymachus’ position, which already implies that Plato understands that he has not adequately refuted what Thrasymachus had to say. So our first question is this: why do you suppose that Plato put this renewed Thrasymachian objection into the mouths of new characters? Why not allow Thrasymachus to renew his own objection?

(2) Glaucon’s renewal of Thrasymachus’ position begins with a distinction between three kinds of goods; what kinds of goods does he identify? How does Socrates categorize justice?

(3) Glaucon observes that most people do not see justice as Socrates does. What does Glaucon say is the common view of justice?

(4) What is Glaucon’s fundamental challenge? What does Socrates have to demonstrate?

(5) How does Socrates propose to respond to Glaucon’s challenge? That is, what is his strategy for dealing with it?

(6) This book is significant because it begins Socrates’ efforts to construct an ideal city, which is the centerpiece of the Republic as a whole. What are some of the features of this city as Socrates begins to construct it? What sorts of people have to populate the city? What does Socrates assume about the people who populate the city (he has several assumptions, by the way, and some of them turn out to be essential, even if they look innocuous in the present context)?

(7) Glaucon objects to Socrates’ initial sketch of his city and insists that the city should also have luxuries. Socrates agrees, even though he admits that once luxuries emerge, the city ceases to be fully “healthy.” Why do you suppose Socrates’ ideal city must also be a “luxurious” city? What is the relationship between luxury and justice?

(8) What effects does the introduction of luxuries produce? What new people have to be introduced into the city as a result?

(9) What characteristics do Socrates’ guardians need to have?

(10) One of the other essential themes of the Republic concerns the training of the guardians. This theme begins in this chapter. What should be the initial training of the guardians? What sorts of stories should be told to them? What sorts of stories shouldn’t be told to them? What is Socrates’ justification for his position?

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