1. In his book, The Republic, Plato (c. 428–348 BC) outlines the ideal state, relaying a discussion Socrates had with his companions about the individual and the individual’s relationship to the state.
Review Plato’s thoughts on justice in Book I and Book II of The Republic.
Review Plato’s thoughts on justice in Steven Smith’s lecture, Philosophers and Kings: Plato's Republic, III-IV.
Review the definition of polis in this introductory video to Unit 1, The Polis: Western Political Thought—Political Science 201.
2. Plato believes an ideal society is based on the principle of specialization. When labor is divided among citizens “justly,” and according to their natural inclinations, the city will reach its maximum potential.
3. A key question in Western political thought is: who should rule? According to Plato, the ideal political community is ruled by a philosopher-king.
Review the “Form of the Good” in Book V of The Republic.
1. In The Apology, Plato outlines the speech Socrates (c. 470–399 BC), his teacher and mentor, made in self-defense when he was put on trial for impiety and for morally corrupting the youth of the city-state.
2. Consider what we mean by the Socratic Method.
3. Why does Socrates believe philosophy and poetry are in conflict?
4. In The Crito, Plato recounts a debate between Crito and Socrates before Socrates’s death sentence is carried out.
Review this material in the introduction to the The Crito.
1. Some believe the views Socrates expressed in The Crito conflict with those he expressed in The Republic and The Apology.
Review the article, The Antagonism Between Personal and Public Virtue, for a succinct comparison of Socrates’ views expressed in The Republic, The Apology, and The Crito. Pay close attention to the first paragraph, and the second full paragraph on the second page.
Review the last third of Steven Smith's lecture, Socratic Citizenship: Plato's Crito, to help master this learning objective.
1. According to Aristotle (384–322 BC), eudaimonia is the highest end of human beings.
It may help to think about what Aristotle means by a "highest end," as described on page two of the article, The Good Life: Virtue and Well-Being. Then, return to Socrates’ discussion on the Form of the Good, in Book VI of The Republic.
2. We often say that Aristotle’s method of inquiry regarding virtue and justice begins from praxis.
Review this material in page one and page four of the article, The Good Life: Virtue and Well-Being.
3. Recognizing that Aristotle’s approach begins from praxis, think about how Aristotle addresses the following questions in his book, Nicomachean Ethics.
4. Both Socrates and Aristotle explore the concept of justice, and believe it is supreme among the virtues. In fact, Aristotle even states that all virtue is summed up in the virtue justice.
Review this material in Book V of Nicomachean Ethics.
5. Socrates approaches the concept of justice by exploring it at the city level in Books III and IV of The Republic. He argues that justice at the city level will parallel justice at the individual level.
Review pages three to four of The Good Life: Virtue and Well-Being, for additional insight into the differences between Socrates and Aristotle’s views of justice.
1. Virtue, justice, and eudaimonia are a few of the major points of exploration in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. However, Aristotle believes virtue is grounded in the real world and stems from praxis. Consequently, virtue is intertwined with the polis and cannot exist without it. In other words, there is no separate political and ethical sphere; instead, they are one.
Review the connection between virtue and the polis in the article, The Doctrine of the Mean (pay close attention to pages two to three).
Review the article The Primacy of Law, to help think through these connections between Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and Politics.
2. According to Aristotle, a virtuous aristocracy is the ideal form of government.
Review Steven Smith’s lecture, The Mixed Regime and the Rule of Law: Aristotle's Politics, IV (time stamp 21:00).