The “best” society

Plato, in his idea of the Republic, he proposed five types of government: aristocracy (mainly “the best”, specializing in expert governance), timocracy (the government of honor), oligarchy (rule by wealthy minority), democracy (rule by the people as a whole—which a “mob” Plato saw), and tyranny (ruled by a desperate, who’s unselfish). The classification of Plato’s idea is a good starting point for us to think about the nature of our own government, and although we are not suitable for any of these types, it seems to express one of our political systems Elements. which is the political system in America now–DEMOCRACY.

In the article “ARE WE A DEMOCRACY”, the author talked about the society we are living in right now, which pointed out we are not”really “represented” by the people we elect, and, recently, the suspicion has grown that we, in fact, live in a plutocracy — a nation governed by the wealthy”.  Our democracy is different from Plato’s sense of democracy, which all major decisions are made by majority vote of all citizens. In fact, we are not actually a democracy, but a pluralistic politics – a complex intertwined many forms of government which combines all five types of Plato’s idea of the republic. And our challenge is to ensure our leaders have the power to protect their fundamental freedoms and to keep the balance between these elements. in other words, government still have the power to control our life, and this power is from people who don’t belives the freedom can be work out perfectly without a leader who leads the direction. For example, at present, the “less government” in fact means  the power to be elected and serve their bureaucracy will be smaller and the “oligarch” of the millionaire will have more power, and this will cause the leaders directly responsible for those who vote, and those who are based on wealth is not responsible. which is not what we want to see.

 

 

Team Zeus, Yao

 

Citation:

the source from https://hadeelnaeem.wordpress.com/2011/12/17/platos-forms-of-political-governance-and-the-best-form/

Gary, Gutting. “Are We a Democracy?” New York Times, NOVEMBER 9, 2011 8:35 PM. https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/09/are-we-a-democracy/?mcubz=3

 

Brainwashing

Did you ever thought that the school can be used to brainwash children’s minds? That the Government provided an educational system just  to manipulate people in the way that will be beneficial for rulers?  I personally still think about it! Just think about it, all your childhood you heard so much about Democracy, Liberty, Freedom of Speech etc. Endless history classes made you believe that all of those things are good and that the things you should like and support. But isn’t it brainwashing?

When I was in High School we learned so much about Slavery and how African people fought for their freedom, how white people are bad and offensive. We focused on these so much that I don’t even remember other topics that we were studying. I believe that school goal was to change our minds,  make us believe in what the teacher or the Government thinks is correct and right. However, everybody have a freedom of speech and all students have a right to express their own opinion to other students and a teacher( that is a way to void brainwashing).

In the article : “At Columbia, the Classics’ Olympian Reign Is Challenged” author Mervyn Rothstein mentions a well known Greek  philosopher-  Plato and his work “Republic” to argue either Plato used brainwashing in his texts. “Plato,” he told students, “believed that justice and model behavior could be taught, that you could change human nature through education. But the Platonic attitude also dominates in totalitarian systems. Lenin found in the Platonic way that through education you could shape the way people think. The Nazis did the same thing. It was brainwashing.” He paused. “This course is constantly being attacked as a brainwashing course,” he said. “A brainwashing course for American democracy. Do you think this course is brainwashing?” So the question here  is how “republic” is brainwashing but a republic here now it is our country – USA.
Plato in his first book discussed a theme of justice. Character named Thrasymachus argues that justice is a interest of the stronger.Thrasymachus here trying to say that the person who controls society define what justice is, and they will inevitably define it to further their own interests. Justice is just a social construct that society brainwashes its members into believing.

And then Plato starting to argue with him to prove that he is not correct: “Now, I said, you are on more substantial and almost unanswerable ground; for if the injustice which you were maintaining to be profitable had been admitted by you as by others to be vice and deformity, an answer might have been given to you on received principles; but now I perceive that you will call injustice honourable and strong, and to the unjust you will attribute all the qualities which were attributed by us before to the just, seeing that you do not hesitate to rank injustice with wisdom and virtue. “

Thus. in both texts: article by Mervyn Rothstein and Plato’s “Republic”, we can see that Plato want the audience to believe in what he believes. He is giving a sort of  definition of  justice that in his opinion is a correct one. But in addition, I will say that you will be brainwashed if you will allow people to do so.

Rothstein, Mervyn. “At Columbia, the Classics’ Olympian Reign Is Challenged.” New York Times, 10 Oct. 1992. New York State Newspapers,  Accessed 18 Sept. 2017.

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-Yuliya Kmit

Invisible Executives

one-ring.jpg

John Schwartz, author of the New York State Newspaper article, When an Executive Acts Like a Spoiled Brat,” discusses the problem with tech executives who have no fear of the consequences of their actions. Schwartz says, “These tech bros seem to think that money and position let them do whatever they like, without consequences.” Schwartz compares the problem of these titan executives to a similar problem in the ancient mythology of the ring of Gyges. Schwartz says “it sounds like the problem posed by Plato in ”The Republic” about the ring of Gyges. In that tale, a bit of ancient bling renders the wearer invisible. Using his new superpower, the guy with the ring lies, cheats, seduces the king’s wife and takes control of his entire empire. The question then arises: How bad would you be if you thought you wouldn’t get caught, or couldn’t be held responsible for your actions?”

Schwartz refers to Gyges’ actions to draw a similarity between him and the tech executives who, because of their money and power, feel as if they are invisible to the consequences of their actions. Similar to the reading from Plato, Schwartz raises the question of whether all humans would behave irresponsibly if they were “invisible” to the consequences of their crimes. Socrates brother, Glaucon responds to this question in Plato, “Suppose now that there were two such magic rings, and the just put on one of them and the unjust the other; no man can be imagined to be of such an iron nature that he would stand fast in justice. No man would keep his hands off what was not his own when he could safely take what he liked out of the market, or go into houses and lie with anyone at his pleasure, or kill or release from prison whom he would, and in all respects be like a God among men. Then the actions of the just would be as the actions of the unjust; they would both come at last to the same point.”

Schwartz and Plato touch upon the same issue, as to whether humans would commit crimes if they knew they would eventually have to face the consequences. In the reading from Plato, Socrates and Glaucon are discussing the story of Gyges and how it relates to human nature and innate good or evil. Schwartz refers to this story to build up to his suggestion that executives, when given the power, can and will resort to committing unjust acts, and to stop them, Human Resource need to put in place reward/punishment systems to make it clear to them that they aren’t invisible to the justice system, and that like everyone else, they will eventually have to face the consequences.  

 

 

 

Citation:

Schwartz, John. “When an Executive Acts Like a Spoiled Brat.” New York Times, 16 July 2017, p. 14(L). New York State Newspapers, login.ez-proxy.brooklyn.cuny.edu/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=SPN.SP01&sw=w&u=nysl_me_brookcol&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CA498659325&it=r&asid=07afcf45585cd782fa1691a087efed45. Accessed 18 Sept. 2017.

Plato in the Gym?

Mark Edmundson’s article “Should We Teach Plato in Gym Class?” tackles the complex question of whether athletes need more education about the ethics of sport. The article draws on Plato’s “The Republic” to make a point about the education of student athletes. Edmundson agrees with Plato’s stance, saying that often athletes can get too involved with the “spiritedness” that Plato calls thymus, forgetting the other, perhaps deeper aspects of their humanity. The following is a quote from the article:

The spirited part of the soul can take control and turn what would have been an admirable man or woman into a beast. At one point in ”The Republic,” Plato imagines a state in which the ruling value is spiritedness. He calls it a timocracy, and he is fully alert to its dangers: constant battles for first place and ongoing war.

Edmundson believes that Plato had the right approach to thymus. Athletes need awareness of the benefits and the downsides of such spiritedness. There’s nothing inherently bad or wrong about active behavior, but it cannot be the only thing in a person’s life. One has to know the place it has and keep the more animalistic tendencies in check. In Homer’s story of Achilles, Achilles says he is so enraged he could eat someone’s flesh, yet he is portrayed as the hero of the story.

Plato sought to displace Homer and correct the Homeric values. If a person is only driven by the urge to seek glory and power, with nothing more holding him back, that person is like a beast, with no higher functions. A society ruled by people who love and chase honor is a timocracy, and though it is “praised by the many” as the Cretan constitution, it will likely eventually become an oligarchy.

Plato has the character of Socrates announce,

“When ruling is something fought over, such civil and domestic war destroys these men and the rest of the city as well.”

Competition is all very well in its proper place, but without boundaries and a greater understanding, it is capable of consuming its progenitors. Athletes therefore, according to this article, should be taught more about sportsmanship and the role competition and spiritedness play in the game, so as to avoid being overtaken by thoughts of victory at any cost.

-Chaya, team Venus

Edmundson, Mark. “Should We Teach Plato in Gym Class?” The New York Times, 17 Aug  2014. Web.

http://bit.ly/2x8HZs8

Brains & Brawn

 

 

The author introduces this article as a lighthearted jab at the way we view and administer gym classes by opening with a reference to “Annie Hall”, implying that those who teach gym classes are generally uneducated. While it’s humorous, the writer points out how flawed our system actually is. The connection to Plato is made when Edmundson expresses how by training your body, you are also molding your psyche- what Plato calls Thymos. While thymos is beneficial, it can also be dangerous and this is where Edmundson directly referes to “The Republic”, in which there is “timocracy” and there are “constant battles for first place and continuous war.”  The purpose of the article, overall, would be to express that there’s a lack of programs within colleges that delve into the relationship within taking part in the game and “developing the spirit.” In addition to this, Edmundson points out that in schools where sports and teams play a major role in the reputation of the school, the athletes are not necessarily encouraged to push their academic limits, and end up taking simple classes that don’t stunt thought provoking conversation.   Edmundson then goes on to express that one way this can be done is by analyzing “The Republic” and how Plato “seeks to correct the values of Homer’s warriors.” This meaning that a person shouldn’t let their desire for power take control over themselves. The direct correlation between this and sports would be whether or not an athlete should act out based on his desires.

All in all, Edmundson then wraps up the article by stating that all of us –not just the athletes- need ot be aware of how to control their cravings for power and control. “As Plato told us, the spirit needs education just as much as the mind.”

 

Edmundson, Mark, “Should We Teach Plato in Gym Class?.” The New York Times. 17 Aug. 2014. web. 17 September 2017

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Are we Getting Closer or Farther to the Ideal Society?

In the news “The Purity of a Ruthless TV Couple”, the author first introduces a political thriller plot from “House of cards” then compare it with nowadays society. In the movie, main characters Frank Underwood and his wife Claire start with killing a dog but end with killing two people as he soars from congressman to president. The author makes a comparison of Plato’s Republic with the plot in the thriller later on because of their similarity. In the society of this thriller, money and power are supreme. “They are their own reward. There is almost something of Plato’s ‘Republic’ to the Underwoods: the political life as the highest life.” In the thriller, Mr. Underwood kills those two politicians in order to obtain more power , there is no harmony but violence. It is true that Plato agree that emperor is the supreme power, but he also suggests that everyone should take his/her role in the society so all of us can live harmoniously without the fear of violence and property possession. After the comparison, the author mentions that our society is similar to the society in the thriller, almost half of retired congress member in Washington become lobbyist. We are in financial crisis because banks lend us money but, at the end, they are the one getting benefits and we are becoming poorer as time pass by. All of these are related to money and/or power. Even nowadays society is not exactly as violent as in the movie “House of cards”, but in my opinion, we are getting farther and farther away from the ideal society that Plato proposes because we can never achieve a absolutely peace society. However, we are also getting closer in a sense because our society gives each of us a different role, for example: the president and the congress are chosen by our votes and they are in charged of making national decisions, the military protects our land, and the rest of us are citizens that having not much political power but we choose the person who represents us. All in all, Plato’s perfect society may be seen as very distant for nowadays’ society but we are improving to achieve it.

.Giridharadas, Anand. “The Purity of a Ruthless TV Couple.” New York Times, 17 Mar. 2015, p. NA(L). New York State Newspapers, <http://go.galegroup.com.ez-proxy.brooklyn.cuny.edu:2048/ps/retrieve.do?tabID=T004&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&searchResultsType=SingleTab&searchType=BasicSearchForm&currentPosition=7&docId=GALE%7CA405647806&docType=Column&sort=DA-SORT&contentSegment=&prodId=SPN.SP01&contentSet=GALE%7CA405647806&searchId=R2&userGroupName=nysl_me_brookcol&inPS=true> Sep 15,2017