Political Philosophy- Lewis and Plato
In 5 pages (12 point font, double-spaced, one inch margins), please respond to one of the two
1) In The Abolition of Man, Lewis argues that a â€œdogmatic belief in objective value is
necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not
slaveryâ€ (73). What are Lewisâ€™ most important reasons for making this claim? Bearing in
mind Socratesâ€™ account of his moral duty to the city in Apology and Crito, to what degree
would Socrates agree with this statement?
2) In both the Apology and Crito, Plato presents Socrates as a staunch defender of law,
particularly in the sense that respect for the legal order of oneâ€™s polity is a basic
obligation of citizenship. What are the most important reasons Socrates provides for this
position in defense of Athenian law? If we accept Lewisâ€™ critique of emotional
subjectivism (Gaius and Titiusâ€™ position) in Abolition of Man as sound, we cannot
interpret Socratesâ€™ actions as merely the result of his subjective feelings. Why would
Lewis insist we interpret Platoâ€™s Socrates this way?
BOOKS MUST BE USED AS REFERENCES:
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man, HarperCollins, ISBN: 0060652942
Plato, The Trial and Death of Socrates, John M. Cooper and G.M.A. Grube trans., Hackett Publishing, ISBN: 0872205541
Tips from the Professor:
The first paragraph usually makes or breaks your essay. Begin your essay with a clear and
focused thesis statement that directly responds to the questions in the prompt. The next couple
sentences should give us some indication of the paperâ€™s plan, or briefly elaborate upon the thesis.
Do not hope things will come together and attempt to write your essay before you have a clear
thesis. Such efforts do not work. Outline your essay with this thesis in mind and evaluate every
subsequent paragraph in your essay for fit with that thesis. If you cannot establish a clear link
between a point you think is important later in the essay and your thesis, it probably does not
belong. This means you need to get the point immediately: Long-winded written equivalents of
throat clearing that tell us how important these authors merely waste space you will need.
Generic efforts at comparison do not help either (ex: â€œPlato and Aristotle were both Greeks who
cared about politicsâ€). Both of these types of openings indicate a) you are not sure what you are
doing, b) you are trying to fill space, and c) you really have not thought about how this will
irritate us in the fourth or fifth hour of grading.
Devote serious attention to each of the elements of the prompt you choose â€“ one sentence about
half of the prompt and five paragraphs about the rest is not a complete response to the prompt.
You should not attempt to outline or laundry list every idea you have, rather choose one focused
line of argumentation that brings a handful of the most important points you think support your
case to bear on the subject. The best method of accomplishing this is to engage in a close reading
of the texts and marshal evidence from them to support your claims. Do not use any outside
sources. If you do, you will lose credit.
Avoid editorializing. This essay demands careful textual analysis rather than a judgment about
the rightness of the arguments under consideration. We are looking for a sustained effort on your
part to understand what these authors are saying and we are not at all interested in what you think
about the merits or deficiencies of their arguments. So, do not waste the space and effort.
While we are not seeing your judgment about whether these authors are correct, note that merely
attempting to summarize what the authors say will not fully answer the question. Usually
students go wrong when they try to tell us everything they know about the thinker in general and
lapse into a kind of comparison and contrast. So read the questions very carefully and decide
what arguments are actually important from each thinker for your answer to the questions.
Cite both direct quotes and all specific references to the text. By this, I mean: each and every
time you use or refer to a specific passage to help develop your essay, you must use a page
citation to tie this to the book. In this case a parenthetical (author, page number) is fine. Failure
to cite sources is plagiarism and will result in an automatic F on the assignment.
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