Study Questions for Plato's Republic Book VI-VII (parts)

from Voices of Ancient Philosophy, Part 3, pp. 166ff.

September 20, 2006

1. How does Socrates distinguish philosopher or lover of wisdom from "one who fusses about his lessons"? (475b-c) how is the philosopher like a sightseer? (e) how unlike? (476b)

2a. Write a paragraph discussing the connections between the following pairs of opposites: dreaming & being awake; knowledge & belief; reality and what is intermediate between reality and unreality (476c-477e, 480a).

2b. How does ignorance differ from belief? (478c) In what field does Plato place the things belief relates to (the objects of belief)? (478d-479c) Does he include among these things popular conventions about "beauty and the others"? (479d)

3. What point is being made at 507 b2-7? (This is one of the most central doctrines of Plato's philosophy.) Relate to the distinction between visibility and intelligibility. (507 b9-10)

4. What is it that links what can be seen and the power of sight? (507e-508a) What (visible) god is the cause of vision? (508a-b) (Incidentally, why do you think Plato regards this entity as a god?)

5. State the analogy which relates the Sun, visible things, and sight to the goodness, intelligence, and intelligible things? (508b-c)

6. How is the mind like an eye? (508d) (This is one of the early sources for the notion of "seeing" something with the "mind's eye.")

7. What does goodness give to the things known? (508d)

8. What further claims does Socrates make about goodness? (509b-c)

9. Reconstruct "the divided line" as a chart. (509d-511e)

10. How are the two divisions of the intelligible distinguished? (510c-511d)

While the examples used come from the sphere of perception and mathematics, the divisions of the D.L. pertain to the stages in moral knowledge as well. At what level do you think Plato would place the definitions of morality, etc. offered in Rep. IV, around 442-43 (VAP 77-79)?

11. Relate the phases of the Cave Allegory to the four subdivisions of the Divided Line. (514-517e) Does any phase of the "prisoner's progress" in the C.A. correspond to something beyond the divisions of the D.L.?