Great Books I   Fall 2019

The Republic

"How may we live the best life?"

Reading Schedule

I;  II-III;  IV;  V-VI;



 September 30

Book I

1.  Describe Cephalus and his view of justice. Is Plato's depiction of him sympathetic or critical?

2.    Polemarchus is a likeable fellow, but Socrates still tries to refute his beliefs concerning justice.  How do Socrates' refutations suggest that Polemarchus is more amiable than his beliefs?

3.    What is Thrasymachus' view of justice? How does it differ from Socrates'? How does it reflect his character? Who, do you think, has the stronger argument at this point?

4.  What is the connection between justice and good? between justice and function?


October 3

Books II, III

1.    What is the rationale to the order of the speakers who face Socrates?

2.    Glaucon asks Socrates to prove that being just brings greater benefit to the just person than being unjust would. Is this easy to demonstrate?

3.    What is the point of the story of Gyges' ring?

4.    What are the criteria for the formation of the just city?

5.  Where does one find truth in the just city?

October 7

Book IV

1.  Map out the connection between the just city, the just soul, and the cardinal virtues.

2.  What, finally, then is justice and how does Socrates' definition differ from the versions already discussed?


October 10

Books V, VI

1. What is the connection between light and the good?

2.  How does Plato define each of the following:  reality, illusion, opinion?

3.  What is above the list of forms?

4.  What is the connection between the divided line and each of the following:  television, books, faith, the internet, pledging a sorority/fraternity, conversation, death, religion?


October 14

Books VII

1.  In what sense are you in the cave right now?

2.  How are you to get out?

3.  According to Plato, how does critical thinking come about?

4.  What is the connection between the cave allegory and each of the following ideas:  television, books, faith, internet, pledging sorority/fraternity, conversation, death, religion?


October 17

Books VIII-X

  1. Why is aristocracy the best form of government?
  2. Each of the other forms of government suffers from a defect of misplaced love. Identify each one.  
  3. What is reality? the good?
  4. What is the difference between the good life and the bad?
  5. Which of the three proofs in book IX is the best?
  6. What is wrong with imitation?
  7. Why is the Myth of Er significant to this work?
  8. Identify a best quote from this work.


What do these forms look like inside/outside the cave?