Study Questions for Plato, "Republic"
in Cahn and Markie, eds., Ethics (2009)

Translation by J. L. Davies and D. J. Vaughan; rev. by Andrea Tschemplik

Questions composed by Dr. Jan Garrett

Revised July 20, 2010

The numbers that include letters following the questions correspond to the marginal page and section numbers in the text. (These are called Stepanus numbers. "359a" refers to the section that begins at "359" and ends at the line just before "b." The line on which "b" occurs is b1, the next line is b2, etc.)

The numbers without accompanying letters correspond to the page numbers, or page and column numbers, in the Cahn and Markie anthology.

Glaucon from Plato Republic II, Ethics. (pp. 65-67, 72-73)

1. What three types of good thing does Glaucon distinguish? (357b-d4 [65])

2. In what class does Socrates place justice? (358a) Where do "the many" put it, according to Glaucon? (358a)

3. What does Glaucon want Socrates to do (358b, 358d1-3)

4. What three things will Glaucon do? (358c)

5. How does Glaucon describe committing injustice? suffering it? (358e [66.1])

6. What do people find "expedient"? Why? (358e-359a [66.1])

7. How does justice come into being? (359a [66.1-2])

8. Why do men who practice justice do so? (359b) See also 360c5.

9. How does the story of the Lydian shepherd illustrate Glaucon's point? (359d-360d [66.2-67.2])

10. What method does Socrates propose to use in order to discover the nature of justice and injustice in the individual? (368c-369a [72.2-73.1])

The Parts and Virtues in the State (Plato Republic IV [83-88.1])

In books II and III, Socrates outlines the construction of a state, and then, in that context, of an ideal state. There will be three classes, the class of producers (including farmers, craftsmen, herdsmen, retail merchants, producers of luxury items, and even, eventually doctors); and a class of guardians, ultimately divided into two classes: the warrior or auxiliary guardians, and the ruler-guardians. Membership in the classes is to be determined on the basis of natural ability and degree of natural devotion to the common good. Each class is to be given an appropriate education or training.

1. What is wisdom in the ideal state and where will it be found? (428b-429a [83])

2. Where, primarily, will courage or bravery be found in the ideal state? (429a-430c [83.2-84.2]) How is civic bravery defined? (429b9-c5) What sort of "right opinion" is involved? (429c8-430c2)

3. In which of the classes will temperance reside? (431e-432a [85.2-86.1]) When does temperance exist in the city? (431d12-e2)

4. How does Socrates describe justice in the city? (433a-434a2; see especially 433b2-4; 433d4-8; d11-12; e10-12; 434a1-2; see also 434c11-15 and 435b)

5. What is injustice in the city? (434a4-c7 [87.2])

The Parts and Virtues of the Soul (Plato Republic IV, pp. 89-96)

1. What are the conversation partners discussing at 436a-c (89.1)?

2. What lesson does Socrates draw from the study of the example of the spinning top (436c-e)? Why is this principle (436e-437a) important for Plato's theory of the soul? (439b, d)

437d-438d (90.1-90.2) develops the point that every mental state is defined in part by its correlated object, e.g., thirst is of drink, medical knowledge is of medical issues, such as health and disease.
3. How can one person be many? (439c-d [91.2])

4. Is "spirit" (sometimes "spirited" principle) included in the appetitive principle? What evidence is given? What grounds are there for distinguishing it from the rational principle? (439e-441c [91.2-93.1])

5. When is a person wise? brave? "temperate"? "just"? (441c-442d [93.1-94.1], 443c-444a [94.2-95.1])

6. What "ordinary cases" does Socrates discuss? (442e-443a [94.1-2]) Why does he do this?

7. How is justice understood at 443c-d (94.2)? Injustice at 444a-b (95.1)?

8. How does Socrates show that "it is profitable to act justly, and to pursue honorable aims, and to be just, whether a man be known to be such or not"? (444e-445b [95.2-96.1])

9. Relate this conclusion to Glaucon's initial challenge to Socrates.