Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. Why does Glaucon mention the myth of the Ring of Gyges? What intuition of ours is he trying to jog?
2. Why does Plato go to such lengths to prove that there are three distinct parts to the human soul? Explain both why he needs three aspects to the soul, and also why these aspects need to be distinct and independent from one another.
3. Why does Plato banish the poets from his city?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. Thrasymachus declares that justice is nothing but “the advantage of the stronger.” What do you think he means? Make sure your interpretation of the statement explains how it serves as the challenge which The Republic sets out to meet.
2. Why does Plato think that the guardians should share all of their goods in common? Is this the same reason that he thinks they should share spouses and children in common, or is there a different reason for this?
3. According to Plato, what makes the philosopher-king the best possible ruler? Do you agree with his analysis?
4. What is the allegory of the cave meant to illustrate? Explain how it does so. What primary conclusion are we meant to draw from this extended analogy?
5. Plato’s just city goes through three stages of development: trace these stages and explain why each is necessary. In which of these three stages does justice reside? Why?
6. What is Plato’s opinion of erotic love? Of the five character types that he describes in detail, with whom is erotic desire most closely associated? Relate this to his discussion of sexual activity in Book III.
7. Why do you think Plato ends The Republic by invoking the myth of Er?
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