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the laws, plato summary

However, in Book 2 the Athenian describes virtue as the agreement between pleasure and pain and the account that one grasps or reason (653a). This process will then repeat; the names of citizens who have the most votes will be assembled into another list. U. S. A. It is worth pointing out that the use of imprisonment as punishment in Greek society appears to be an innovation of Plato. It is here that we get an account of moral psychology (644c-645c). In any case, the Athenian’s overall point is clear. The general worry is that if the world is governed by a rational, powerful, and good god (or gods), what explains the inclusion of evil in the world? The advantage of a dictatorship is that the laws and customs can easily be altered since power is located in one individual. Argues that Plato does allow for weakness of will in the Laws. The book is a conversation on political philosophy between three elderly men: an unnamed Athenian, a Spartan named Megillus, and a Cretan named Clinias. At least since the time of the ancient philosopher Plato, private property rights have posed challenges to those aspiring to craft a just political society. Now if the gods could neglect humans it would be through ignorance, lack of power, or vice. By taking pleasure in virtuous actions depicted in song and dance, one begins to cultivate virtue (655d-655b). Book 3 surveys the success and failures of different political constitutions throughout history. This resulted in a community of ignorance and excess (700a-701d). Having secured the importance of teaching the connection between justice and happiness, the Athenian continues his discussion of symposium. Additionally, this interpretation explains why the Laws goes into greater detail concerning day-to-day activities than the Republic does. However, the allegiance dissolved with only Sparta surviving the fallout with any kind of success. Accordingly, the former should be punished more severally than the latter. They guard the law by supervising both officials and ordinary citizens, by helping resolve difficult judicial cases, and by supplementing and revising the law. Musical education forms the foundation of one’s character because it is through song and dance that one cultivates the appropriate affective responses (654a-d). 45 Plat. CLEINIAS: A God, Stranger; in very truth a God: among us Cretans he is said to have been Zeus, but in Lacedaemon, whence our friend here comes, I believe they would say that Apollo is their lawgiver: would they not, Megillus? He begins his explanation with a medical analogy in which he compares the medical practices of a free doctor with that of a slave doctor (720a-720e). Strictly speaking, the passage only says that the ideal city is one where everything is held in common, and in the Callipolis only the guardians hold things in common. The Laws is one of Plato’s last dialogues. By following reason, the laws will mirror the divine rule that occurred during the time of Cronos and humans will be happy (713c-714a). Accordingly, the completely vicious who cannot be cured will always be in a state of psychological disharmony and will never flourish. Suppose that the preludes are described by the Athenian as appealing to reason and suppose that the actual preludes do not appeal to reason, but instead emotion. Having described a moderate political system in Sparta, the Athenian discusses two states that stand as opposites to each other: Athens and Persia. However, because reason/calculation is soft and gentle it requires the assistance of the other cords (which are hard and violent) to move the puppet in the correct way. This exploration takes the form of a comparative evaluation of the practices found in the interlocutors’ homelands. CLEINIAS: A God, Stranger; in very truth a God: among us Cretans he is The young have lots of energy and are already eager to participate in musical education. Second, the only way to consistently achieve a balanced political system is if the citizens receive a proper education. This is most clearly seen in the Athenian’s discussion of equality (756e-758). Plato was a Greek philosopher known and recognized for having allowed such a considerable philosophical work.. The Laws of Plato is not entirely laws. (2000). The Athenian wants citizens to be motivated to obey the law. We can break this paradoxical view into two claims: Involuntary Thesis: No one is voluntarily unjust. ", Samaras, Thanassis. Argos’ and Messene’s respective leaders suffered from this type of ignorance and the negative consequences of this were exacerbated by the fact that they had absolute power (690d-691d). The myth moves individuals away from their own selfish concerns to the good of everyone generally. Each man is from a different Greek city-state (polis). Cicero  (Laws 1.5.15) holds that he is Plato himself, while others speculate that he is supposed to remind the reader of the Athenian politician Solon. Atheists believe that the origins of the cosmos are basic elemental bodies randomly interacting with each other via an unintelligent process. Many (though not all) of the preludes are like conventional sermons, merely shaming the citizens into obedience. Plutarch compares Lycurgus and his Spartan laws to the law system Numa Pompilius introduced in Rome around 700 BC.[5]. “Tripartition and the Causes of Criminal Behavior in. This is similar to how humans rule over farm animals. Laws By Plato Written 360 B.C.E Translated by Benjamin Jowett. The Laws is Plato’s last, longest, and, perhaps, most loathed work. PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: An Athenian Stranger, Cleinias (a Cretan), Megillus (a Lacedaemonian). Its remote location will deter the influence of visitors, who might corrupt the culture of Magnesia. Lycurgus was the legendary law-giver of the Lacedaemonians. Although he thinks that cultural relativism is a consequence of the atheist’s cosmological views, he admits that not all atheists are vicious and some are good (908b-c). From this it is clear that the law is to have authority over all citizens and that the law is fundamentally concerned about the welfare of the whole community and not any particular group or individual. The Republic represents Plato’s ideal vision of a political utopia, while the Laws represents his vision of the best attainable city given the defects of human nature. Plato’s view of justice ties in with his view of a perfect world. Although there is much scholarly debate surrounding this issue, the general idea appears to be that a criminal can harm someone voluntarily or involuntarily, but can never be unjust voluntarily. The membership lasts one year and the main function is to conduct the day to day business of the state such as supervising elections and organizing the assembly (756b-758d). If the selected names pass scrutiny, they will be declared elected. This demonstrates that peace is superior to victory (627c-630d). Book 11 and the beginning of 12 discuss various laws, which only have a loose relation to each other. Readers should be warned that the argument is obscure, difficult, and probably invalid; let this merely serve as a sketch of the main moves in it. Sparta, in contrast, was safeguarded from disaster because it distributed political power between multiple actors (or positions of power), including two kings (rather than one), a council of elders, and officials chosen by lot (called ephors) (691d-692bc). Too much wealth will lead to feuds and greed, while too little wealth will make one vulnerable to exploitation (728d-729a). 5 of The Dialogues of Plato translated into English with Analyses and Introductions by B. Jowett, M.A. The Athenian is explicitly linking together reason, law, and the divine. The evidence in favor of this reading is mainly found in how the Athenian describes the preludes. Go here to see the full Introduction and Analysis. The general idea is that virtue not only requires reason/calculation, but also the cultivation of the correct feelings. This setting is crucially linked to the theme of the Laws. Another notable difference is that only philosophers possess fully-developed virtue in the Republic (and in the Phaedo) while in the Laws the Athenian says that correct legislation aims at developing virtue in the entire citizen body (1.630d-631d, 4.705d-706a, 4.407d, 6.770c, 12.962b-963a). Book 6 presents the details of the various offices and legal positions in Magnesia and ends by examining marriage. The Athenian’s distinction between injury and injustice accords with his commitment to punishment as a means of recompense for the victim and as a cure for criminality. To have citizens vote for a candidate, is to admit that some citizens are more qualified than others. Laws By Plato . The Laws should be compared to both the Republic and the Statesman in order to get a fuller picture of Plato's political philosophy (and/or its development). The Laws is Plato’s largest and most directly political work; its dramatic frame is a pilgrimage by three elderly men, the Athenian, a Kretan named Kleinias, and a Spartan named Megillos, from Minos’s city, Knossos, to the cave and temple of Zeus at Mt. The main function is to elect members of the council and other officials, though there are other functions (753b, 764a, 767e-768a, 772c-d, 8.850b, 11.921e, 12.943c). Laws 795d, Plat. The Athenian asks us to imagine a puppet made by the gods with various cords in it. Of course, Plato does not provide the details of the marriage laws surrounding the working class citizens and for all we know these might have been similar to the ones in Magnesia. In Plato's Crito, Socrates has been unjustly accused of his crimes by those opposed to him. Stalley, R. “Persuasion in Plato’s Laws.”, Williams, D. L. “Plato’s Noble Lie: From Kallipolis to Magnesia.”. However, this interpretation does face the problem in that the cord called reason/calculation in the metaphor is itself described as an emotion/force, which raises doubts that Plato’s intent is to draw a contrast between reason and the emotions. Since the law is connected to the divine, those who serve the interests of the city are really serving the gods (715c-d). Ignorance Thesis: All wrongdoing is the result of ignorance. Traditionally, the Minos is thought to be the preface, and the Epinomis the epilogue, to the Laws, but these are generally considered by scholars to be spurious.[4]. In addition, each clan brought with them different religious customs. The Athenian clearly wants citizens to obey the law voluntarily. The Athenian thinks this is bad practice, because under the appropriate conditions intoxication can help one cultivate moderation and courage. Plato, Laws ("Agamemnon", "Hom. Unlike most of Plato's dialogues, Socrates does not appear in the Laws: the dialogue takes place on the island of Crete, and Socrates appears outside of Athens in Plato's writings only twice, in the Phaedrus, where he is just outside the city's walls, and in the Republic, where he goes down to the seaport Piraeus five miles outside of Athens. After expressing that citizens ought to care for others, the Athenian offers a fascinating argument in defense of the virtuous life. All Magnesians will learn basic mathematics, with some advancing to study astronomy. However, because the gods clearly are not like this, the gods must care about the affairs of humans (901e-903a). Books 1 and 2 explore what is the purpose of government. He takes on the persona of the laws in order to argue on their behalf. The Athenian explains that the cause of atheism is not a lack of self-control, but, rather, a materialistic cosmology (888e-890a). In other words, in the Laws, the non-rational part of the soul subsumes both the appetitive and the spirited part. However, readers should note that this is merely a cursory discussion of a very large and important issue—there are many other ways to account for the differences between the texts. Its musings on the ethics of government and law have established it as a classic of political philosophy[citation needed] alongside Plato's more widely read Republic. ATHENIAN: Tell me, Strangers, is a God or some man supposed to be the author of your laws? How is the Athenian not simply making the same mistake he accused the Persian leaders of making? Some scholars defend a continuity between the Laws and the Republic, while others argue that the metaphor suggests a bipartition between the rational and non-rational. Nor shall any one dare to sing a song which has not been approved by the judgment of the guardians of the laws, not even if his strain be sweeter than the songs of “Legislation and Demiurgy: On the Relationship between Plato’s. What could explain this inconsistency? They will hold the position for at least twenty years and their primary function is to guard the law (752-755b). Humans honor the soul by pursuing virtue. Here, the Athenian is introducing the key political idea that a successful constitution will distribute power by mixing various ruling elements. According to the laws, Socrates would "destroy" them if … For instance, Clinias and Megillus, who both come from cultures that center on the military, hold that human conflict is a fundamental part of human nature and courage is the greatest virtue. Education, for Plato, mostly comes in the form of play and its importance cannot be overstated. First, the Athenian’s division between honoring the soul and honoring the body maps on to the distinction he articulated in Book 1 between divine and human goods. Summary Analysis Glaucon asks Socrates whether justice belongs 1) in the class of good things we choose to have for themselves, like joy, or 2) those we value for their consequences though they themselves are hard, like physical training, or 3) the things we value for themselves and their consequences, like knowledge. Chapters 8 and 11 focus on theology in the, Powers, N. “Plato’s Cure for Impiety in Laws 10.”. However, at the same time, there will be particular offices made up of more elite citizens. These three men are walking the path that Minos (a legendary lawgiver of Crete) and his father followed every nine years to receive the guidance of Zeus. By education, the Athenian does not mean technical skills, but rather things that direct one towards virtue. This reading denies that 5.739a-740a provides support for the claim that the Callipolis is the ideal city. The Athenian proposes that the three discussgovernance and laws as they walk along the long road to the temple ofZeus. After discussing the appropriate population and geography of Magnesia, Book 4 analyzes the correct method for legislating law. Upon reaching this, the lover will see Beauty in its pure Form, and give birth not to an image of virtue, but true virtue. The Athenian maintains that any law that does not serve the interest of the whole city is a bogus law (715b). The idea is that the virtues always contribute to human flourishing, but things that are commonly thought to do so, such as wealth and beauty, will not do so unless one possesses virtue. However, most citizens will not see things this way and thus the inclusion of the lot is a way to avoid dissension. The Athenian responds by pointing out that this practice does nothing to develop the resistance to desire and pleasure. laws; on our way we can pass the time pleasantly in talking about them, for I am told that the distance from Cnosus to the cave and temple of Zeus is considerable; and doubtless there are shady places under the lofty trees, which will protect us from this scorching sun.

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