Reading Questions on Book V of the Republic

(1) Before beginning Book V, I would like you to think about where Socrates is in his argument. His argument is supposed to be a response to Glaucon’s challenge, and Glaucon’s challenge, you’ll recall, was that Socrates needed to show that a just life would be happier than an unjust one, even if the just person suffered greatly (and had a reputation for injustice) and an unjust one was rewarded (and praised for his justice). By the end of Book IV, has Socrates answered Glaucon’s challenge?

(2) What is the relationship between having a just soul and doing just deeds? Does a just man perform actions we conventionally call just?

(3) In Book V, Plato begins his long digression, which will last through Book VII. In this digression, he aims to explore further the organization of the city and how it is possible (his short answer to the latter question: philosophers must rule or rulers must become philosophers). Here, however, let us focus on organizational matters: what is the status of women in Socrates’ city?

(4) What happens to the family in Socrates’ city? What are the possible advantages of Socrates’ proposals?

(5) At the end of Book V, Socrates begins his discussion of the difference between knowledge and opinion, which will turn out to be tremendously important for his later argument about why philosophers should rule. What is the difference between the philosopher, who loves Beauty itself, and others who love beautiful things?

(6) Why can there be no genuine knowledge of particulars?


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