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Symposium in the History of Political Thought: Plato's Laws

Level
Semester
Spring 2024
Instructor(s)
Units
4
Section
1
Number
214
CCN
26127
Times
T 2-5pm
Location
DOE308C - Doe Library
Course Description

Plato's Laws has long stood in the shadow of its more celebrated predecessor, the Republic.  In recent years, however, scholarly interest in the work has been surging.  While taking recent scholarship into account, this seminar will focus on making sense of the Laws in its own terms as well as in relation to the Republic.  What did Plato seek to achieve in writing this later work?  Who is he writing for?  Is the work a utopia?  A practical guide?  A blend of the two? Is it a meditation on law and law-giving?  On social control of culture more generally?  If it is all of these things and more, how are its themes connected?

Themes will include performance culture (chorality, the symposium); the presence and absence of Socrates; persuasion vs. compulsion; checks and balances and the mixed constitution; and religion as a foundation for society.  The seminar aims to be of interest to a broad audience of classicists and students in political and legal theory.  Our common text for the class will be in English (Griffith translation), but students who are able to do so are encouraged to integrate reference to the Greek text into our discussions.  Students who have not read the Republic will find it useful to do so before the seminar begins.

 

 

Co-Instructor: G.R.F. Ferrari

 

Class will meet in DOE308C - Doe Library.