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Analysis of Book I of the Republic


The essay (1500 words, footnotes excluded – between 1450 and 1550 is accepted) consists in an interpretive analysis of Book I of the Republic. The paper should focus on the main text: no outside sources or complementary readings allowed.

/ For this first assignment, you must choose one of the following topics: 1) Cephalus’ and Polemarchus’ definitions of justice*. Analyze the definitions of justice provided by Cephalus and Polemarchus. What are Socrates’ objections to their claims? Do you believe that Socrates’ refutation is convincing? Why, or why not? 2) The Thrasymachean Challenge. Provide a detailed analysis of the arguments that Thrasymachus gives for injustice being more profitable, and Socrates’ arguments for justice being more profitable. Do you find the arguments cogent? What is at stake in the confrontation between Thrasymachus and Socrates? Do you think Socrates is successful in his refutation? Why, or why not? Below are related reading questions to help you in your interpretive analysis (*you are not supposed to answer all – or any – of these questions; they are merely there to guide you as you reflect on the topic): 1) First topic: a. What is wrong with Cephalus’ definition? b. What is Cephalus like as a character? What does he represent? c. What is the foundation for Polemarchus’ definition of justice? d. In what ways is Polemarchus similar/different from his father? e. What is the overall lesson one learns from Socrates’ dialogue with these first two characters? Are there flaws in Socrates’ refutation of Cephalus and his son? 2) Second topic: a. What is Thrasymachus like as a character? Why does he react the way he does when he starts speaking? b. In what ways does Thrasymachus differ from the two previous interlocutors? c. Why is he Socrates’ biggest challenge in Book I? d. In what ways does Thrasymachus’ first definition of justice differ from the previous definitions we have encountered so far? e. How does Thrasymachus modify his definition after Socrates’ critique? f. What are the weaknesses in Socrates’ refutation? What are the limits of Thrasymachus’ position?

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