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· crazy
2,293 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was going to make a thread about favorite psychology books but it turned into just being about one book.

Plato, The Republic - I read this for a intro political science class, and it kind of blew my mind. Here I was thinking psychology started with Freud, but this book is from 2500 years ago. He's talking about what an ideal city-state would be like, and by analogy, what the ideal psyche should be like. The highest good in his view is Justice, which is all the parts of the city/psyche working in harmony.

We had to do a project on it, and she let us draw a picture of our soul, in place of writing a full paper (a fun project!). This is from my summary of the Republic -

The soul consists of three parts: the rational, the spirited, and the appetitive, represented in the city by the rulers, the army, and the people, respectively.

The rational part should rule, with the spirited part obeying as its ally. The appetitive part is the largest part in the soul and is insatiable for money and pleasure. The rational and spirited parts watch over the appetitive part to keep it in line, and protect against outer enemies.

The four virtues of the soul are wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice. Wisdom is found in the rational part, courage in the spirited part, moderation in the appetitive part, and justice is the harmony between them.

Some favorite quotes -

"The effect of ... music and poetry without physical training: softness and overcultivation ... Those who devote themselves to music and poetry turn out to be softer than is good for them, so that they groan and lament at even insignificant misfortunes."

"Rightly nurtured [the spirited part] becomes courageous ... work at physical exercises in order to arouse the spirited part of [your] nature." Yeah!

Reverence: "The greatest, finest, and first of laws: establishing of temples, sacrifices, other forms of service to gods, daemons, and heroes, burial of the dead, and services that ensure their favor." I like that. Not much reverence in modern culture.

Anyway, I found this book really inspiring - the idea of working towards making your psyche harmonious between all its different parts.

And the bit about arousing the spirited part of your nature (corresponding to the army) - I do need that...

Anyone else read this or have any thoughts about it?

· resident classicist
4,415 Posts
I've read some of Plato's Dialogues and the Symposium. Both were very enjoyable. I've never read The Republic, though. I've read sections of it to compare with Cicero's extant bits of De Re Publica, but not much.

My favorite, and the only one I've read in Greek, is the Apology. Second would be the Symposium.

I have gained this reputation, gentlemen, from nothing more or less than a kind of wisdom. What kind of wisdom do I mean? Human wisdom, I suppose. It seems that I really am wise in this limited sense.

And this: (*preface - Socrates has been wandering around Athens trying to disprove an oracle that states that he is the wisest of all men. He goes first to the politicians, then to the poets, then to the craftsmen seeking people who are wiser than he. To his surprise, he finds that he is wiser than them only because he is aware of his ignorance, and the others are convinced that they are wise when they actually aren't.*)

But the truth of the matter, gentlemen, is likely to be this: that real wisdom is the property of the god, and this oracle is his way of telling us that human wisdom has little or no value. It seems to me that he is not referring literally to Socrates, but has merely taken my name as an example, as if he would say to us, 'The wisest of you men is he who has realized, like Socrates, that in respect of wisdom he is really worthless.'

· Fitting In Here & There
2,701 Posts
Haven't read the Republic, but I did read Plato's Pheado about 10 years ago for a philosophy class. I can't say i understand enough philosophy to carry on an intelligent conversation about it, but I have always been interested in it. Enough that i thought about minoring in it in college but didn't. (I majored in Psychology)

Pheado was about Socrates' last days in prison and the conversations he had with his followers about his upcoming death (he got the death sentence). I remember forcing myself to read the book and not having it come together for me until almost the very end. I felt I had to post here because who would guess that an ancient philosopher would have a real impact on someone's life in the year 1999? But it did. It caused my fear of death/dying to disappear!

And yes, psychology started at least as far back as the ancient Greeks. I wrote a paper in college about where Freud got so many of his ideas for his theories from all historical periods beginning with the Greeks. So there is a long history. I think we label Freud as the "Father of Modern Psychology." He really did want to make it a "real" science like biology, to be as credible as the other life sciences. During his life, scientific research and the Scientific Method were being applied to so many other areas, and I think he was trying to squeeze psychology into that category too, but it doesn't quite fit.

Have you read the book Plato Not Prozac! Applying Eternal Wisdom to Everyday Problems By Lou Marinoff Ph.D. C1999? I own it but haven't read it. I'm not sure if there is anything in it that could apply to helping with social anxiety--Probably! :D

· Registered
984 Posts
Yeah except for the whole eugenics thing platos republic is allright along with all the other greek philosophers.

The human mind hasn't really come a long way since then the only thing that changes is the science and technology well and the culture.

"Children nowadays are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers." -- Socrates, 425 B.C.

· crazy
2,293 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
My favorite, and the only one I've read in Greek, is the Apology. Second would be the Symposium.
It must be interesting to read it in Greek. I've only read parts of the Apology, but I like these bits from Wikipedia -
He is not afraid of death, because he is more concerned about whether he is acting rightly or wrongly. Further, those who fear death are showing their ignorance: death may be a great blessing, but many people fear it as an evil when they cannot possibly know it to be such.

A lawful superior, whether human or divine, should be obeyed. If there is a clash between the two, however, divine authority should take precedence. "Gentlemen, I am your grateful and devoted servant, but I owe a greater obedience to God than to you; and as long as I draw breath and have my faculties I shall never stop practicing philosophy".

"Are you not ashamed that you give your attention to acquiring as much money as possible, and similarly with reputation and honor, and give no attention or thought to truth and understanding and the perfection of your soul?"

He says that his daimon did not stop him from conducting his defense in the way that he did, that this was a sign that it was the right thing to do.


[ps i forgot about this thread for a bit, i'll reply to the others later - need sleep now]
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