plato s republic essay three

Plato’s Republic, Essay Three

“The Fall of Constitutions”

“It is hard for a city composed in this way to change,

but everything that comes into being must decay.

Not even a constitution such as this will last forever.

It, too, must face dissolution.”

Plato’s Republic, VIII.546a

In Books VIII & IX of the Republic, Socrates, Glaucon, and Adeimantus describe the way in which the city they have been founding collapses. One step leads to another, and the analysis is as much about the persons in the city as it is about the city itself. The purpose of this essay is for you to recount this degeneration.

In the first two thirds of the paper, show the way in which changes in the values or desires of the ruling class—how they ‘constitute’ themselves—necessarily leads to an alteration in the society’s way of life—how it is constituted. You should attend closely to the different kinds of souls and cities, starting with timocracy; we have already said quite a bit about the guardian city. Most of your focus should be on Book VIII, with a small focus on Book IX when necessary.

As we have said throughout our semester, the Republic is not a text to be read as if it were a relic of times past. Plato portrays the souls and cities not as historically relative phenomena but as perennial patterns or models of what motivates people’s choices and guides political entities. Therefore, in the final third of the paper, select one of the character/society types and give an example of how we see it reflected in our world today. You might, for instance, consider a particular news article, the discourse of contemporary politicians, distinct coronavirus policy responses, etc. This will require you to do a small amount of research, but all that is necessary is that you link the text, in a concrete and specific way, to something from our contemporary moment.

Format: 1500 words; 12 point, Times New Roman Font; Double Space; No Name

Instructions: Introduction and conclusion; quote text with marginal notations; no formal works cited or bibliography, just make it clear where you found your reference to our contemporary moment; check spelling and grammar.

Criteria for Evaluation: Your paper will be evaluated on the bases of (1) faithfulness to and insight about the argument; (2) attention to and explanation of relevant passages in the text; (3) clarity and philosophical relevance of your section on contemporary application.