1. Is The Republic unrealistic? 2. Is Machiavelli a ‘teacher of evil’? 3. Why does Polybius praise the mixed regime? 4. Should we fear Hobbes’ Leviathan?
I will provide you with 6 questions and you can choose what question you want to write an essay on. Ill also provided sources based on your choice. It’s really important that you read to answer the question.
1. Is ‘The Republic’ unrealistic?
2. Is Machiavelli a ‘teacher of evil’?
3. Why does Polybius praise the mixed regime?
4. Should we fear Hobbes’ Leviathan?
5. Should rule be based on consent as Locke demands?
6. Is political theory useful or wishful?
-Please remember, this is a short essay so precision and focus are crucial. Write clear, sharp, short sentences and move steadily through the argument. Do read the questions carefully!
-This class requires you to write analytical essays.
-A good essay of this type should have a clear introduction, body and conclusion, and show deep knowledge of the most important arguments and counterarguments in the required reading.
The introduction should very briefly and clearly state what your answer is going to be, and indicate what reasons generally support your conclusion.
-The body should lay out your argument in a coherent, logical fashion, along the lines indicated in the introduction. Cite evidence and source material where necessary. Stake out your position, explaining why you take a particular stance on the question at hand. Avoid digressions and stay focused on answering the question. You should identify and respond to the most compelling counterarguments. You cannot respond to all counterarguments, but a careful essay will be written so as to anticipate and take account of many counter-arguments.
-The conclusion should very briefly summarize your position, and underline why you have ultimately concluded in favor of one position, despite potential objections or counterarguments from the opposed points of view. If you have reservations about your position, by all means state them. We want you to take a position, but you need not conclude that there is nothing to be said for the other side. We want you to get as close to the truth as possible, not write a polemic.
-It is important that you identify and cite material that you refer to or rely upon. Use footnotes where necessary. It does not matter what exact citation style you use, just use one style consistently across the footnotes (and please use footnotes rather than endnotes).
-Think carefully about the question before you begin writing. Read it over a few times and make sure you understand what it asks. Avoid writing an essay that is only tangentially related to the question – this happens all too often. Follow all directions in the email that contained the essay questions.
-It is best not to write your essay at the last minute, nor to write it in one go. Draft an answer a few days in advance of the deadline, and then think more about it, consult your sources again, and polish it into a completed essay. Giving yourself time will help you reflect on the question and consider potential arguments and counterarguments. Reading it over a few times before submission will help edit out typos and non sequitors.
-Avoid lengthy citations from the original sources. Cite only the line(s) directly relevant to your argument.
In Plato’s work, The Republic, there is a systematic questioning of being, as The Republic itself is an attempt to answer a problem in human behaviour: justice.
To deal with the problem of justice, Plato considers the ideal polis, a collective unit of self-government, and the relationship between the structure of the Republic and the attainment of justice.
Plato argues that philosopher kings should be the rulers, as all philosophers aim to discover the ideal polis. The ‘kallipolis’, or the beautiful city, is a just city where political rule depends on knowledge, which philosopher kings possess, and not power.
Although theoretically it would be ideal if the Republic and the modern state were ruled by knowledge, and not power, power is crucial in the make-up of political activity. This is one of the flaws of Plato’s argument, which the essay will discuss.
The question of who should rule emerges, to which the essay will conclude by saying that, in terms of Plato’s argument, the philosopher kings should not be the rulers, as Plato is advertising an undemocratic political system led by a benevolent dictator.
At the same time, it is inevitable to pick out some features of the modern state congruent to those of the ideal polis.