Social Utopias: Will Saada Fall 2015

December 15, 2015

Final Self Evaluation

Filed under: Portfolio — William Saada @ 4:42 pm

There are a few components of argumentative writing that I have learned and become more aware of throughout the semester.  First, is the complexities of most arguments which I tended to simplify.  In high school I would make a thesis and find a couple points that supported the thesis.  Although this can be effective to write a more compelling argument it is important to include more.  I’ve learned that is it important to include counter arguments more seriously inside an argumentative paper.  By thinking critically on what the evidence and reasoning that goes against one’s own thesis then you can make your arguments stronger.  An argumentative essay that gives reasons the counter arguments are wrong is very strong.  As the arguments itself becomes more complex it is important to present a clear argument that is argued point by point in a cohesive manner.

The introduction of an argumentative essay is very important to the flow of the entire paper.  Although I have still stuck to a similar style of writing introductions from high school I now understand what I need to do to make them stronger.   Before my introduction tended to be a very broad analysis of the topic.  It would work as a funnel starting broad and narrowing in on my topic.  However, this strategy, along with a lack of focus in my intros, made my introductions weak in setting up the rest of my paper.  Because began with broad concepts many ideas I presented in my introduction are not included within my paper.  This can be confusing for the reader who will then not be able to understand my main argument until they have made it through most of the paper.  It is important to use the introduction to introduce the concepts and the arguments that drives the paper.  The introduction should be written last so that the writer knows the arguments and the order it follows.  Each piece of evidence should be presented in a logical order each point building of the last.  The organization of an argumentative essay is key to the clarity of the argument.  The introduction is an important tool that must be used to effectively introduce the reader to the ideas that will be examined within the paper.

In addition to the introduction of a paper I found it important to spend more time preparing an outline before I began to write.  When you start writing a lot of times you expand upon your thoughts and find new ideas.  By making an outline prior to writing you can explore every important topic you want to hit in the paper.  Then you can organize these points in a logical fashion.  I used to write without planning ahead, essentially just writing without an end goal in mind.  This can be dangerous because once you develop the end you may be half way through the paper.  Thus, the first half may seem to have a different purpose than the second half and the paper is not cohesive.  It is important to think about what you want to write before hand rather than just jumping in.

In the course we did a lot of reading including: The Republic, Utopia, A Discourse on Inequality and the Utopian Feminist.  These four books were not easy to read and understand, thus, it was necessary to ready each book slowly and actively to understand the concepts and arguments introduced within the books.  The idea that brings each of these four books together is the critique of the society they live in by offering ideas and systems for a better or “perfect” society.  These ideas have had a strong influence on my opinions.  By reading about a critique on society we can think critically about the society we live in.  The readings we did in the course do not verify an accepted form of thinking.  However, they challenge popular or current ideas which dominated the society they live in.  For example, in book one of Utopia through Hytholoday, More presents many different problems in England and how they could potentially be solved.  Ultimately, the ideas in the books are very strong and encourage the reader to question and challenge the world they live in.

In order to fully understand the complex and thought provoking ideas and arguments in the reading we did, one must be able to think critically and see beyond the words on the paper.  This practice called explicating, which involved reading very carefully and understanding the important ideas that are conveyed by the text.  This process is very important especially when analyzing quotations.   Quotations are a significant part of a paper, however, one can not simply use a quote and simply expect the reader to fully understand it and how it relates to your argument.  Thus, it is important to both introduce the quote and explicate the meaning of the quotation.  In this sense critical reading is important in the writing process.  Not just to form one’s own ideas but to explain them and use other writer’s arguments to help your own.

The final component of this course work is the one I need to develop the most: oral communication.  Before entering this course I had been exposed to different forms of oral communication.  First, looking simply at class participation and attended a high school in which many courses involved a participation grade.  I learned a lot about my oral communication and how to maximize my potential.  Some people have the ability to speak of the top of their head improvising what they say as they go along.  I have never been good at improvising because I struggle to find the correct word choice and the underlying idea until I finish a thought.  Essentially I must fully explore my thought before I put it into words, otherwise it would be confusing for others to understand.  I am most successful in class discussions when I have thought about an idea or concept prior to the discussion.  When a new idea is brought up in a discussion I tend to remain silent because I have not formed my own well though out opinion on the topic.  Ultimately, I have learned that the key for me is preparation.  When I actively read something the prior to the class and thought critically about the discussion topics I felt that I was able to participate within the discussion.  When a new idea or topic was brought up that was not in the reading or that I had missed, I found it difficult to be a part of the discussion.  Preparation is key when it comes to oral presentation not only in discussion but especially in speeches and presentations.

In the class we were given 3 opportunities to give presentations to the entire class, the final one being our research presentations.  I thought I did good research on my topic and found many sources to help my claim.  My weakness, however, was a lack of preparation for the presentation itself.  I did not have a clear idea of how long it would take me and was forced to skip some important points to fit within the time limit.  Additionally, I had a difficult time with the diction of my presentation.  If I had spent more time preparing my presentation, I could have found the correct words for certain situations.  I forced myself into a couple of situations where I had to improvise what I was going to say and as I said above improvising is difficult for me to do successfully.  More preparation is helpful for any speech because it allows the speaker to focus more on the delivery rather than the content.  If the message is planned and memorized prior to the speech, then all the speaker needs to worry about is speaking clearly and effectively.  He or she can use eye content and gestures to help further their message.  I learned how significant preparation is for oral presentation not just for myself but for any speaker.

Response Paper 1: Take 2

Filed under: Portfolio — William Saada @ 4:39 pm

The Paradox of Utopia

Over the course of the class my idea of what a Utopia is has shifted more from a society where people work together and hold the needs of the entire community above the needs of individuals to simply being idea of hope that is different for each individual.  However, it has changed to become more of an idea and a state of mind than an actual place.  When asked to write our first response paper on what we thought of as a Utopia my response was a simplified and different version of the Utopia Thomas More creates.  Essentially, a community in which everyone is as happy as they can possibly be, not individually but as a whole.  As a result of the many different kinds of Utopia and a deeper look into Thomas Moore’s Utopia I formed a new idea: that Utopia is only an idea that is different between each individual rather than an actual place.

For our research project we each chose a Utopian community and were given the task to ask a research question and then answer it with what we could find.  The majority of students chose relatively similar questions that examined whether or not the given community can be considered a Utopia.  We examined the social and political structure of our chose community and found connections between the Utopian ideas that were presented in our readings such as communal ownership and self-sufficiency.  The questions of “Is this place Utopian” is a paradox in the sense that there is no answer.  Some have chosen to use Thomas More’s Utopia as the definition: a community which seeks to appeal to the largest number of citizens within the community.  The problem with this is that involves using abstract concepts such as happiness to define the community.  Ideas such as happiness and community are formed within an individual and not a society.  Thus, their really is not clear Utopia.  A more in depth look at Thomas More’s Utopia shows that he may agree with this idea.

The first piece of evidence is that the term “Utopia” actually means no place along with perfect place.  This suggests that Utopia is not an actual place it is just an idea that is conceived within the minds of individuals.  Thus, Utopia can not exist within the real world it is just a figment of our imagination that we will one day be in a better place.  More evidence of this is used within Bradshaw’s article which tries to make sense of Utopia.  He essentially finds book two as the best possible solution to all of the problems present in book one.  He acknowledges how book two is something that we could never emulate in real life.  The world is too unpredictable and people are too different to all follow the same patterns of the members of Utopia.  However, we can strive to be like Utopia in order to improve upon our own society.  This final claim is what gives the books some meaning if even the writer knew that it was impossible to reach this goal.  Ultimately, by examining Utopia it becomes clear that Thomas More is only presenting an idea that he thinks can help the society he lived in improve, rather than an actual society that could one day come into existence.

Utopia is an idea which is within each and every individual, but everyone’s idea is different because everyone is different.  One way to describe this is by thinking back to the first response paper in which we were all asked to explain our own Utopia.  Although there were likely similarities between each answer, no two responses were identical to each other.  This is because everyone has a different Utopia.  The best way I could describe Utopia is the idea or place that enters one’s mind when they are hoping for a better life.  Everyone had a different perception of what they believe will improve upon society.  That why so many different communities have been created in attempt to create an ideal situation.  However, the downfall of most of these communities is conflict between their direction.  Everyone has a different idea of what will make things better and this conflict has lead to the ruin or break up of many communities.

Everyone sees it different that is why Utopia is an idea inside the individual rather than a concrete ideal.  Each of the four books we read offered a better society in response to the world they lived in.  When Plato thinks of a better place he sees a Republic with philosopher kings as its rulers.  Rousseau sees world before man was civilized finding Utopia in the savage man.  These conflicting ideas of Utopia all come from the same problem, unhappiness with their current situation.  When life is hard it is helpful to imagine something better.  Everyone is guilty of this practice.  Ultimately everyone seeks out a better life, but everyone has a different idea of what this life will look like.

It is significant to understand Utopia because it still plays a role in shaping the society we live in.  Politicians argue with one another over the best course to set our society on.  Communities argue over the best plan to improve.  Everyone is striving to find this better place and it is important to study Utopias and determine the parts that are beneficial to society.  In striving toward a better place we may be able to make our world a better place.

 

 

  1. Bradshaw, Brendan. “More on Utopia*.” J. The Historical Journal 24, no. 01 (1981): 1-27. Accessed September 30, 2015.

 

Response Paper 3: Take 2

Filed under: Portfolio — William Saada @ 4:26 pm

The Philosopher King makes Kallipolis a utopian society because he seeks true knowledge and he rules for the benefit of the city not himself.  A philosopher’s soul desires the truth above all else.  This enables him to be the best ruler for the happiness of the city as a whole.  Socrates’ ship analogy explains how a philosopher is better suited to lead than other members of society because leads for the betterment of society not to fulfil personnel desires like so many leaders do.  He refers to a ship captain who is clearly not competent for his position.  Each crew member plots a way to become the captain themselves by the use of force, trickery or persuasion.  Consequently, the new captain is not the one who is most fit to navigate the ship but it is the one who was able to overthrow or convince the old captain to gain power for themselves.  Naturally, the captain should be the one who is most knowledgeable on navigation and running a ship.  In terms of a city, it is the one who is most knowledgeable on what is truly right and wrong who should rule: a philosopher. This makes it utopian because the ruler is not selfish and is very knowledgeable on how to rule.  In most societies rulers come to power because they are wealthy, persuasive or powerful.  However, none of these traits make a good ruler.  In fact, these traits tend to be associated with people who are selfish and greedy.  For example, in Plato’s time, the democracy was dominated by those who had wealth and could convince citizens to accept their ideas. Someone who is wealthy can use money to get their way, which leads to unjust laws.  A philosopher will never make decisions for personal gain.  Additionally, he will not make decisions to gain honor and praise, but he will make decisions to be benefit the entire community.  The knowledgeable part of his soul, which overpowers the other two parts, makes him just and thus fit to rule a utopian society.

And important component of the Philosopher King is their unwillingness to rule which makes them the best fit to be the leader.  One of Socrates subjects notes that the Philosopher King will be unhappy and reluctant to rule after being properly educated.  Socrates responds by saying that they will have a sense of duty to pay back the city for their upbringing.  One who rules out of duty rather than for personal gain will be a better ruler.  They are chosen and rule for the benefit of the entire city, which will also erase conflict over who shall rule.  It is utopian because no one part of society benefits at the expense of another.  Each member of the society does their part by sacrificing some of their freedom.  The Philosopher King, for example, would rather not rule, but he does because it is his duty.  This is utopian because the happiness of the city as a whole is prioritized over the happiness of individuals.  A philosopher would rather not associate themselves with people of less intelligence, however, by ruling he will benefit the entire community.  Many ideologies seek to create a better means of government such as communism and democracy.  But in both of these societies the wealthy and powerful benefit at the expense of everyone else.

In understanding Plato’s Republic, it is important to understand the time he lived in and what he is speaking against.  Essentially, he sees an oligarchy with philosopher kings as the rulers as a better form of government than democracy.  This is demonstrated in the allegory of the cave in which he explains how the uneducated members of society only see shadows rather than what things actually are.  It is up to the philosophers who understand the truth, to lead those who do not understand the truth.  In practice a democracy gives everyone in society a say in the government.  This can be very dangerous because in some cases people take advantage of the masses lack of knowledge.  Demagogues arise by appealing to the emotions of the masses, even when they have no understanding of governing.  This can even be seen within our democracy with people like Donald Trump who appeal to the masses despite having no idea how to lead.  Plato saw the fall of Athenian Democracy because people who could convince the masses were given power.  Thus, an oligarchy in which the leaders are trained, humble, and intelligent would be better than democracy which is essentially an oligarchy with leaders who gain power through popularity rather than merit.  Ultimately the Philosopher Kings are ideal rulers.  By giving power to the masses, power resides in people who only see shadows and do not know the truth.  By using education and other limits to the philosopher’s lifestyle, Plato creates a king who rules for society and not for power.

 

I pledge that I have neither received nor given unauthorized assistance during the completion of this work.

 

Bibliography

 

  1. Plato, and C. D. C. Reeve. Republic. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2004.

Response Paper 6

Filed under: Portfolio — William Saada @ 4:18 pm

Rousseau challenges the idea presented by Hobbes in his book the Leviathan arguing that man is naturally aggressive only wiling to accept a “social contract” with a ruler solely for the purpose of survival.  In essence, Hobbes’ argument takes a pessimistic view of the savage man contrary to Rousseau.  Government and rulers are necessary in order to keep mankind from constant conflict with one another.  This argument is the opposite as Rousseau’s claim.  Hobbes’ saw man as naturally evil.  Civilization is a means for man to protect himself from the brutality of other men.  There are similarities between the arguments but ultimately, Rousseau uses strong evidence to make his claim that man is naturally good and in the state of nature man is peaceful.

He uses concrete and abstract evidence to prove that man is not naturally even, in fact he is even somewhat compassionate.  Rousseau’s argument stems from the idea of man in the state of nature who knows nothing but his immediate surroundings and what he needs to survive.  Man has no clue what vice and virtue are.  From that Hobbes claims that since man knows no good he only knows evil.  However, Rousseau counters that claim first by arguing that compassion is nature within the savage man.  He argues, “An animal never passes the corpse of a creature of its own species without distress. (Rousseau 99).  This quotation projects his belief that creatures have compassion for their own kind.  This compassion is natural to the savage man.  Although he does not know right or wrong that does not mean he is left with brutality alone.  Man is more complex, even in the state of nature.  He goes further into this idea, claiming that man cares about the self-preservation of his species.  In seeing his own kind suffer he will naturally feel empathy and distress.

In addition, he makes an abstract argument in which he argues that man does not have the ability to commit vice, to the extent Hobbes argues, because they do not understand what it means to do good, and they have their needs under control.  First, man does not understand the difference between right and wrong.  He has no moral code and acts on instinct alone.  With no laws in place, man will act in order to satisfy his needs.  Rousseau claims, “… but the calm of the passions and ignorance of vice which prevents them from doing evil. (Rousseau).  By the “calm of his passions,” he means that man’s natural needs are satisfied in nature.  With sufficient food and shelter man will have no reason to harm one another. Additionally, he does not understand evil and what it means.  Since he feels compassion for the pain of his own kind than he will not be inclined to cause any violence unless there is a reason.

This contributes to his overall argument that civilization is what caused the inequalities among men because it helps the reader understand the steps man took toward this inequality.  It was not to stay safe in an otherwise dangerous environment, but it was our will too improve and the ambitions of men that formed societies.  If this is wrong then Rousseau’s entire argument, that man is more peaceful in the state of nature, falls apart.

I have neither given nor received unauthorized assistance in the completion of this work.

Works Cited

  1. Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, and Maurice Cranston. A Discourse on Inequality. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin, 1984

Midterm Reflection

Filed under: Portfolio — William Saada @ 4:06 pm

At the midway point in the semester I have developed a stronger understanding of my writing; what I do well and what I need to improve upon.  Each FYS class shares the common purpose of improving students writing and reading ability.  Therefore, we have done a lot of reading and writing in this class.  Personally, I feel like I have not made significant improvements in my writing ability yet.  The first large paper we wrote on Plato’s Republic was difficult for me.  The prompt was challenging and required more critical thinking than any assignment I have done before.  What happened was I failed to organize my thoughts under a strong central argument.  The result was a paper which I believe had many strong points and arguments but lacked focus and clarity.  After meeting with my teacher and writing assistant I am more aware of what I need to improve on.  I plan on spending more time constructing a thesis and an outline for my next big writing assignment before I begin to write.  In my first essay I did not know my thesis until I was halfway done with the paper.  Because of this my paper was unorganized.  By making an outline I can create a main argument before I begin to writing so I stick to one main idea.  I have a tendency to digress from the central argument of my essay, which can be confusing for somone who reads it.  I believe this will immensely improve my next argumentative essay adding more strength and clarity.  Despite failing to make significant strides in my writing I am now more aware of my writing habits thanks to the constructive criticism I have received from my teacher and writing assistant.  I plan to use this new found awareness on my future assignments to make my writing is more persuasive and focused.

Along with an awareness of my writing this class has helped to expand my awareness of the world in which we live.  From studying both Plato and Moore there is a focus on the problems we face as a society.  This theme surfaced in our visit to Chat where we saw an effort to improve an impoverished society.  This experience along with the reading assignments we’ve had have forced me to think about the many problems in our society today and how they can be fixed.  By studying utopia, there is a visual goal to strive toward.  This has allowed me to find a more profound meaning for taking this course aside from just reading and writing.  I can say that I don’t look at the world the same way.  I have a better understanding of the problems that occur in a society and where they are caused from.  For example, in Plato’s republic a lot of time is spent discussing temperance and its importance in combating greed.  The issue of greed is still just a much of a problem today as it was in the past.  These are problems that I never devoted much thinking to but I am now starting to understand their importance.  This class examines the true issues within a society as we read from people who provide possible solutions to these issues.  From this I have thought a lot more about this and have a better understanding of the many problems in our world and more resolve to make the world a better place.

October 18, 2015

Response Paper 5

Filed under: Portfolio — William Saada @ 3:30 pm

 

By reading the source, Two Swords; Heresy and Just War, in which Thomas Moore defends the use of violence to fight against Heresy, we can better understand religion in Utopia.  First we gain a better understanding of the time period in which violence caused by relgion was very prevalent.  While Hythloday is discussing religion in Utopia he writes, “It is one of their oldest policies that no one should come to any harm because of their religion” (Moore 118).  In Utopia if someone hurts another citizen because of religion he will likely be banished.  The source gives us a background of the time period which helps us understand the importance of this law.  Moore lived in a time where many people were harmed and even killed because of their religion.  In the article heretics have resorted to violence against Christians and Moore believes they must be punished with violence.  But in Utopia he sees this cycle of violence and makes sure that can not occur in a just society.  In Utopia the punishments for fighting over religion seem very harsh but it makes sense based on the religious conflict at the time.

In Utopia the idea comes up that the the less holy religions would be “choked like grain” by worse people.  When war and religion meet it is likely that the worse religions come out on top.  Thus, the religions that are not as virtuous will come out on top.  Conversely, in a society like Utopia where people can believe whatever they like and are not pressured to follow any religion the best and holiest religion will thrive.  It seems contradictory that he is justifying the use of violence but in utopia any sort of violence relating to religion is severely punished.  However, his argument is that the use of violence is necessary in the current society.  If they just accept the violence of heretics eventually Christianity will suffer.  Because the heretics are using violence then it is okay for them to use violence as well.  In an ideal society, like Utopia, there would be no initial violence.  The utopians made sure that no one could fight over religion foreseeing the effect it would have on religion; the worse ones would win out.  To counter this in Moore’s time he believed they must use violence as well to contain the heretics.  This law is vital to a utopian society to ensure that religion does not result in death and controversy like it had been during the 16th century.

 

Response Paper 4

Filed under: Portfolio — William Saada @ 3:28 pm

In his article about Thomas Moore’s Utopia, Brendan Bradshaw argues that Utopia was not created as they only solution for the problems recounted in book I, however, he offers the best possible solution for those problems, essentially something for society to strive toward.  In addition, he refutes Hexler’s claim that Utopia is supposed to represent a Christian commonwealth, therefore, challenging the relationship between morality and religion in Christianity.

In the beginning of the article Bradshaw explains the success and the failure of those who have attempted to find Moore’s intentions in writing Utopia: what was successful and what he disagrees with.  The main argument he focuses on is Hexler’s claim that Utopia is a Christian commonwealth.  Bradshaw links Moore to Erasmus, a Christian humanist and colleague of Moore, who argues that even the most virtuous pagans still need the revelation of Christ.  Hexler, however, sees the Utopians as true Christians despite never truly becoming Christian.  Virtue and reason are enough for one to be a “true Christian.”   He is right to argue that Utopia must be related to Christian humanists in the 16th century but not to condemn Christian practices as useless.  He does, however, stress the importance morality plays alongside religion.  Bradshaw writes, “Just as morality is a precondition of spirituality in practice of religion, so it is a precondition of revelation in the understanding of it” (Bradshaw).  Therefore, morality and revelation are both necessary to become a true Christian.  Without each other they become useless.  Erasmus claims that one must have knowledge and prayer.  Without knowledge and virtue prayer is useless.  But without prayer one can not connect with God and is not truly Christian.  The Utopians, who have achieved virtue and knowledge through reason, are able to understand and truly accept Christ.  Ultimately, Moore did not intend to completely challenge the need for revelation, instead he viewed morality as a way to better accept and understand the teachings of God.

Skinner and Falon, rightfully argue that utopia should be considered “No Place”, however, they fail to recognize it as an ideal and instead see it as an idyll.  An idyll would refer to the commonwealth of utopia a happy, perfect place that can only be imagined and not brought to life.  Bradshaw, however, argues that it is an ideal solution to the problems society faced.  He asserts on the purpose of book II, “Book II, therefore, did not represent ‘the only possible solution… for the evils depicted in book I’. It represented the best possible solution for them. (Bradshaw 20).  Essentially, he argues that Book II is the intended as the best possible solution to rid the problems discussed in book I and although Moore knows Utopia could not exist, society can use its ideas and institutions to better themselves.  He uses evidence from the societies described in the first book such as the Macerians: who placed a limit on the about of coin the king may have in his possession so the king will not be greedy.  Raphael notes that this society is not perfect like Utopia, but it is close.  This reform is something that could have been done in Europe at the time and may have improved its social conditions.  Therefore, by striving to be like Utopia, society can find ways to improve its social structure.  The final argument stems from the relationship between Moore’s character, the political side, and Hytholoday, the moral side.  In conclusion to his work, Bradshaw claims on the relationship between moral and practical thought.  Both ways of thinking are important to society.  He is arguing that the two sides, represented by Moore and Hytholoday, must work together to make improvements.  Both arguments are valid and society must be able to use logic and morals cohesively to adapt and change for the betterment of the society, just like the Utopians.

I have neither received nor given unauthorized assistance in the completion of this work.

 

Bibliography

 

  1. Bradshaw, Brendan. “More on Utopia*.” J. The Historical Journal 24, no. 01 (1981): 1-27. Accessed September 30, 2015.

Response Paper 3

Filed under: Portfolio — William Saada @ 3:26 pm

The Philosopher King

 

The Philosopher King makes Kallipolis a utopian society because he seeks true knowledge and rules for the benefit of the city rather than himself.  A philosopher’s soul desires to seek the truth above all else.  This enables him to be the best ruler for the happiness of the city as a whole.  Socrates’ ship analogy explains how a philosopher is better suited to lead than other members of society because a philosopher would not lead to fulfil his own desires.  He refers to a ship captain who is clearly not competent for his position.  Each crew member plots a way to become the captain themselves by the use of force, trickery or persuasion.  Consequently, the new captain is not the one who is most fit to navigate the ship but it is the one who was able to overthrow or convince the old captain.  Naturally, the captain should be the one who is most knowledgeable on navigation and running a ship.  In terms of a city, it is the one who is most knowledgeable on what is truly right and wrong who should rule: a philosopher. This makes it utopian because the ruler is not in charge of the city for personal benefit.  In most societies rulers come to power because they are wealthy, persuasive or powerful.  However, none of these traits make a good ruler.  In fact, these traits tend to be associated with people who are selfish and greedy.  For example, in Plato’s time, the democracy was dominated by those who had wealth and could convince citizens to accept their ideas. Someone who is wealthy can use money to get their way, which can lead to an unjust law.  A philosopher will never make a decision for personal gain like many rulers do.  Additionally, he will not make decisions to gain honor and praise, but he will make decisions to be benefit the entire community.  The knowledgeable part of his soul, which overpowers the other two parts, makes him just and thus fit to rule a utopian society.

And important component of the Philosopher King is their unwillingness to rule which makes them the best fit to be the leader.  One of Socrates subjects notes that the Philosopher King will be unhappy and reluctant to rule after being properly educated.  Socrates responds by saying that they will have a sense of duty to pay back the city for their upbringing.  One who rules out of duty rather than for personal gain will be a better ruler.  They are chosen and rule for the benefit of the entire city, which will also erase conflict over who shall rule.  It is utopian because no one part of society benefits at the expense of another.  Each member of the society does their part by sacrificing some of their freedom.  The Philosopher King, for example, would rather not rule, but he does because it is his duty.  This is utopian because the happiness of the city as a whole is prioritized over the happiness of individuals.  A philosopher would rather not associate themselves with people of less intelligence, however, by ruling he will benefit the entire community.  Many ideologies seek to create a better means of government such as communism and democracy.  But in both of these societies the wealthy and powerful benefit at the expense of everyone else.  But Plato offers a truly Utopian society with a just and wise ruler fit to be King.

 

I pledge that I have neither received nor given unauthorized assistance during the completion of this work.

Response Paper 2

Filed under: Portfolio — William Saada @ 3:25 pm

 

Plato’s Use of the Socratic Method to Define Justice

 

Plato teaches the reader about justice specifically through two techniques: asking questions and creating analogies via his teacher Socrates.  First he poses broad questions such as, “What is Justice?” and whether or not is it more beneficial than injustice?  He allows others to answer him and finds flaws in their arguments. Socrates disproves two common definitions of justice.  By finding out what is not justice it will help determine what it is.  In addition, Plato has Socrates ask very specific and simple questions to prove his points.  For example, Socrates asks, “But with natures like that, Glaucon, how will they avoid being like savages to one another and to the other citizens?” (Plato).  Socrates already knows the answer to this question but he is making sure everyone can follow his argument.  By taking it slow and asking questions, he leaves no holes in his argument.  Asking questions also gives his listeners a chance to follow along and notify Socrates when they are confused.  Many times in chapter two Glaucon asks questions such as “In what way?” so Socrates can clarify his meaning.   The next technique is his use of analogies to draw similarities between his arguments and real world scenarios.  In the quotation above Socrates refers to his analogy connecting a dog and how a good guardian should act.  He later makes the point that because a dog can be both “high-spirited and gentle,” then it must be possible for humans to acquire these natures as well.  He then states, “and what we are seeking in a good guardian is not contrary to nature” (Plato). By making analogies with things found in nature he proves his point.  Because dogs can have both of these natures than it must be possible for man to have them as well.  This is helpful for the reader because it establishes a connection between his point and something similar found in this world.  By finding connections to nature and asking questions Socrates makes his point very efficiently and carefully.  

In addition to asking broad questions, Socrates uses a broad strategy to define justice.  Instead of focusing on what a just individual is like, Socrates seeks to build a just society, step by step. He looks for justices within his Republic and plans to find similarities between that and the individual.  This is both important and effective because it is difficult to simply find justice for an individual.  Without a society justice is non existent.  One man alone can not be just or unjust there must be other people to interact with.  The Republic is Socrates’ means of finding how justice can be achieved by a society.  Then, once the society has been made, the just individual will become more clear.  For a society to be just members of the society must be just as well.  Even if there is a very strong legal and political system, people in the society can still be unjust.  The only way to truly create a just society requires justice both in the society and in its members.

Response Paper 1

Filed under: Portfolio — William Saada @ 3:14 pm

A Social Utopia

 

The basis of a utopian community would be the ability to work together and hold the needs of the entire community above the needs of individuals.  Since everyone contains a unique skill set, each member would be given a profession based on their ability and preference.  Each job would be something necessary for the community’s survival and prosperity.  However, there would be no salary for completion but it would be necessary to complete in order to be a part of the community.  For example, cooks would be required to make food for the entire community.  All members would be given access to a meal as long as they complete their own job.  Ultimately, everyone is working for each other and not for themselves.  Greed must not be tolerated for this utopia to exist.  If one member of the community seeks to gain more than an other member, it would no longer be fair.  The economy and material wealth of the community must be evenly distributed.

Additionally, the community would need to be free of conflict and segregation in order to live peacefully.  Along with no individuals having more than each other, no group of people can be entitled to more wealth or privilege than another.  For example, those who believe in a certain religion shall not be considered any higher than those who do not believe in said religion.  Ideally the entire population would share similar religious and political beliefs in order to avoid too much disagreement.  Evidentially there will be differences among members in the the community.  However, they must be handled peacefully and responsibly in order to keep the peace.  In order to combat conflict there must be a strict legal system in place.  Breaking a rule can not be taken lightly in this world.  If someone can not follow the rules, then he or she will not be allowed in the society.  The legal system must be strong and ethical.  No innocent member would be charged with a crime and all criminals will be caught.  In this world, however, crime would be rare because each member would be satisfied and unified.  The ideal location for this utopia would be an ascetically pleasing, self sustaining island.  The isolation of the utopia would keep external conflicts away from the island.

Righteousness and equality keep members of the society unified by distributing the wealth and privilege evenly.  This alone would create a fair society but a Utopia must not only be just but also enjoyable.  Each member must be entertained and distracted to keep the morale and happiness in the community high.  The members of the society gifted with humor and creativity would be tasked with putting on shows, performances and games as means of entertainment.  The best athletes would compete in front of large crowds.  Additionally, there would be plenty of social events and gatherings not only to serve as entertainment but to bring members of the society closer together.  Finding a balance between work and play would be essential for this to be successful.  If they focus too much on entertainment, then the society may not be able to function well and resources could become scarce.  But if there is too much work then people may become disturbed with the society and create political conflict.

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