The Republic

Let me get this out of the way: I hate the Republic and Plato. I find Socrates arrogance ridiculous and his inability to be held accountable for his opinions irritating. Despite how much I disliked reading the Republic, and how it scares me to think of how much our society is built off of his ideas, his book did make me think, which is all I really ask from a book.

I found the debate that Plato brings up about opinion versus knowledge really interesting. The idea of true knowledge is something that has motivated both “good and bad” leaders (politicians, religious leaders, etc.) throughout time. I find his idea that knowledge is the greater, true power that only philosopher kings know form curious because who decides what the true form is?  But, how is a conclusion drawn on what the true form of an object is, unless it is taken from peoples opinions and perspectives. And, doesn’t Socrates demote opinions as being merely the power to opine? Socrates and his cohorts/robots, discuss the virtues and education, but how on earth would he be able to decide what the true form of a cat (per say) is? Perhaps I’m looking at this from a simplistic view, but if he is saying that people don’t know what is real in a grand philosophical approach, and that we are all just looking at shadows on a wall, wouldn’t that include a mundane object such as a cat?

I find his allegory of the cave one and book one of the Republic, the most interesting parts to be honest. This is mostly because of how the first few books are supposedly a mistake and I like to think of what the books impact would be without those first few chapters. If Plato was trying to show how he is all knowing (gee, doesn’t that sound familiar to another very popular book in our society?) then why would he demonstrate how he can be challenged? I found the literary style very convincing for the first few chapters, and felt as if “oh, maybe I really don’t know anything about anything, and this guy has all the answers?” And then I realized that the way he wrote his arguments enabled the reader to be slowly convinced that he is completely confident and right in his “knowledge”. I found it interesting how when the characters just started agreeing with him constantly, and didn’t put up any debate (because all of the debate was lead by Socrates) I questioned his ideas more than when other character’s such as Thrasymachus brought up aspects for debate.

Anyway, that was my rant on Plato, I hope it made you think and not just roll your eyes.


The Tempest

Oh Shakespeare, so much controversy over a curious human being. I love some of his work, and roll my eyes at other pieces. “Romeo and Juliet”, “Macbeth”, and the “Taming of the Shrew” are all ones that make me want to hit my head on a desk repeatedly. However, “The Tempest” and “A Mid Summer Night Dream” are plays that I continue to enjoy a second time round. That being said though, I had some issues with the interpretation that we have read, and found some of Orgel’s change of wording silly. But I guess this goes along with the whole history of the play, and the various forms it has been presented in.

On another note, I’m glad that we read this after Columbus because it allowed me to view Caliban, and character’s reactions to Caliban, differently. When Trinculo first stumbles upon Caliban, he states that “this monster would make a man- any strange beast makes a man. When they will not give a doit to a lame beggar, they will will lay out 10 to see a dead indian.” (p.145) This made me realize that this, Caliban, is something completely strange, new and foreign, and is what Columbus was looking for.  And that, while he brought back indigenous people, they were not the savage beast that had been anticipated.

I find the themes of monsters in the Tempest intriguing because, Caliban can be perceived as having the physicality of a monster, while his goals and reasoning is actually very human. The difference between him and the other’s is that he succumbs to his natural instincts, such as greed, lust and anger in a way that is deemed unacceptable by the other characters, and our society. The only difference between him , Sebastian and Antonio, is that Sebastian and Antonio didn’t succeed in killing the Alonso and Gonzalo, and they didn’t get caught. This also goes along with how perception is used, because if we are judging Caliban by his greed, lust and anger, then wouldn’t Prospero be the most monstrous? He ignores his dukedom for his own benefit, is enraged when he is mutinied or whenever he does not have a person’s full attention/submission.

Along with Prospero and his need for people’s submission to him,comes another prominent theme of sleep. I was intrigued by Sebastian saying what “a strange repose, to be asleep with eyes wide open- standing, speaking, moving, and yet so fast asleep.” (p.138) I like this statement because it alludes to the waking of different characters throughout the play. It is almost as if Prospero is acting as fate, dictating what each character shall do to arrive to their destiny. k