PLATO: The Republic [Book IX]

In Book IX of Plato’s Republic, Socrates describes the character of a tyrant. All men, Socrates admits, have a lawless and beastly nature. This darker nature displays itself during dreams while the rational part is sleeping. “Then the wild beast within us, gorged with meat or drink, goes forth to satisfy his desires; and there is no conceivable folly or crime a man may not be ready to commit.” The difference between tyrants and other men is that tyrants do not reign in the wild beast when they awaken, but rather encourage it. Continue reading


PLATO: The Republic [Book VIII]

In Book VIII of Plato’s Republic, Socrates moves from the discussion of the ideal State of aristocracy to a discussion of the four unjust types of States – timocracy, oligarchy, democracy, and tyranny. Because the natures of States resemble the natures of the men that comprise them, an examination of unjust States will illuminate the natures of unjust men. We can then compare the happiness of the just man to the happiness of the unjust man. “And we shall know whether we ought to pursue injustice, as Thrasymachus advises, or to prefer justice.” Continue reading

PLATO: The Republic [Book VII]

Book VII of Plato’s Republic contains the most famous metaphor of philosophy – the Allegory of the Cave. Socrates requests that his audience imagine a group of prisoners chained since birth to the bottom of a cave. The prisoners can only see the wall in front of them. They cannot turn their heads to either side. Behind the prisoners, puppeteers move statues in front of a fire. The statues cast shadows on the wall in front of the prisoners. The prisoners speak of these shadows as we speak of our world. They call the shadows – horses, dogs, men, etc. Continue reading

PLATO: The Republic [Book VI]

In Book VI of Plato’s Republic, Socrates explains why people reproach philosophers as useless and evil. He draws an analogy between a ship with a mutinous crew and a society with rebellious citizens. The mutinous crew members of a ship violently struggle with one another to become captain, but not one of them possesses knowledge of navigation. The crew considers the captain, who does possess such wisdom, a “star-gazer” because the crew does not realize that the constellations provide an excellent guide to navigate the ocean. Just as the crew’s ignorance of navigation causes them to unjustly mutiny against the captain, so too does the citizens’ ignorance of statesmanship cause them to rebel against true philosophers. Continue reading

PLATO: The Republic [Book V]

In Book V of Plato’s Republic, Socrates asserts that men and women ought to receive the same education and ought to fulfill the same roles within society. In the context of Ancient Greece, where women are prohibited from receiving an education and participating in business and politics, this is a radical notion. Socrates admits that men and women have different natures, and that different natures ought to have different pursuits. Nevertheless, he concludes that the difference between men and women – primarily physical strength – does not restrict women from participating in society as guardians, laborers, or even soldiers. Furthermore, it is in the best interest of the State for both the men and the women to be as good as possible; and therefore, both the men and the women must be educated. Continue reading

PLATO: The Republic [Book IV]

In Book IV of Plato’s Republic, Socrates and his interlocutors finally complete their creation of the ideal State. Because the perfect State possesses all virtues, Socrates resolves to identify the four primary virtues – wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice – within the State, and then draw an analogy between the just State and the just man. Continue reading

DARWIN: The Origin of Species [Introduction—Ch. 6, Ch. 15]

Great Books of the Western World

In this video, we will explore Charles Darwin’s seminal work on evolution titled, On the Origin of Species, and hopefully dispel some of the confusion surrounding his ideas. For example, many people mistakenly regard Darwin’s theory of evolution as a declaration that life is progressing towards a perfect species. The phrase – ‘survival of the fittest’ – is responsible for this mistake. In common usage, the word – ‘fit’ – has positive connotations; being fit is better than being unfit. However, in the realm of Darwinian evolution, being the fittest simply means being the best adapted to a particular environment. If an environment favors weak, cowardly, and lazy organisms that know how to exploit the welfare system, then such organisms are considered the fittest. Indeed, in modern America, the lazy and the uneducated generally beget more children than the educated and the ambitious. In order to reverse this trend, the…

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