Initial Ponderings About Power

So far this semester, we have primarily focused our attention on introducing and defining power as an ideal, and broadly tracing some of the key political and historical developments in terms of power structures from the ancient world through the so-called Renaissance. And by the time you write this first blogpost of the semester, you also will have been exposed to some of Plato’s philosophical ideas about power and justice. For your first written homework of the semester, then, I’d like you to build on this early work, while also starting to make some connections to things we will be covering in the coming weeks. To do this, you are going to respond to three question sets, which are designed to get you to think critically about some key elements of power, past and present. Below are the three question clusters you should answer carefully and thoughtfully, through (at least) a well-crafted, detailed paragraph per section. Your blogposts are due before classtime on 9/18, and I look forward to reading your responses, and learning more about you as a result!

1)  The first two full class sessions were designed to introduce two key concepts for us this semester:  power and critical thinking.  And then we spent a day covering a broad overview of various historical and political systems and structures of power.  As you think back to those classes, I want you to reflect on them and consider what you learned. What is it that seems most important to you from those early days in class? Why so? How might you use/apply this learning to the rest of our semester’s work (if not your work in other classes or other social environments)?

2)  Now that you have a better basic sense of just what power IS, I’d like you to offer some thoughts about how it is manifest in your own life. On one hand, what are some of the ways in which you, as an individual, have power? And why is this so important to your life, your own well-being and prosperity? On the other hand, what are some key ways in which you are disenfranchised in American society, or at least relatively powerless? How does this lack of power make you feel, and what might be done about it (personally, locally, or globally)?

3)  For class today you will be examining brief excerpts from Plato’s Republic – a monument of Greek philosophy and world literature. The main focus of these passages is the topic of justice, a premise that is varied and complex. To explore the theme of justice in the Republic, I would like you to do two things in this section of your blogpost. First, I’d like you to select a single passage from the Republic that you find to be interesting, provocative, or somehow problematic as it relates to the topic of justice. Then, you should analyze the passage itself and try to place it within its historical context.  How does this statement fit within Plato’s broader discussion of justice and power, and how does it fit within the political and intellectual climate of ancient Athens? Secondly, what do you think about the viewpoint at hand concerning justice, and why? One way to answer this question would be to consider Plato’s reasoning, and then provide a modern-day example as a test-case. What does your example show us about justice (or lack thereof) in the face of social controversy, and how does it illustrate your own view of justice? What might Plato have to say about your example?

15 thoughts on “Initial Ponderings About Power

  1. One of the most meaningful and important things that I took away from the discussion of power is that if we want to understand society and people we have to understand what power is. Since that discussion I have observed how power drives government, human relationships and also how the world works. As we saw Wednesday in class, history is full of power struggles. This shows in kings, rulers and society. As we progress through the semester I will especially be looking for how power is present and how it affects certain situations. Not only will I look for power throughout the class but also in my everyday life. I am curious to see how people use and abuse power throughout society and also within my own community.
    Power is a multitude of things depending on how you look at it. Within the community, the country and the world there are people with no power, people with an absurd amount of power and of course there is the common folk. No matter where you look in society you will see a power tree, whether that be in your household or the government. Within my household I am the oldest child, which presents some level of power even though some may disagree. Being the oldest you are responsible for taking care of your younger siblings to a degree. In many other ways I have a very small amount of power in relation to the government and the world. Being a 19 year old teenager there is not too much room to have power. I like to look at it as the older you get and the more responsibilities you have the more power you acquire. Being a young adult with not much power makes me feel like I don’t have a voice in many things. Even though this may be fair it limits the younger population’s voice and say in matters.
    Within Plato’s Republic the reader can see how society, justice and power worked during these times. During this time people were set into classes and whichever class you were born into was where you spent the rest of your days. Plato states, “Seeing, then, I said, that there are three distinct classes, any meddling of one with another, or the change of one into another, is the greatest harm to the State, and may be most justly termed evil-doing”, this passage shows that trying to escape your class was not only wrong but also unjust. This passage is problematic because they state that it is just but really it is unfair and wrong by nature. This shows the power tree in this ancient time and how once you were in a class there is no opportunity for you to climb the tree or gain more power. This statement fits with the times because during that time royalty was not tampered with. Royalty ran within the family, and the only way you were going to be an upper level of society was if you were born into it. In my eyes this is not justice because it is not fair to all people. While it may be fair and the best thing for the higher members of society it is wrong and hurtful to the poor and impoverished. An example of this today would be LaDainian Tomlinson who is one of the most well known football players of this decade. LaDainian Tomlinson ancestors were slaves and he came from an impoverished family but is now a millionaire. Plato would look at this as unjust because he rose through the ranks and made a great life for himself and his family. With this being said power is a very strong and dangerous thing and it is important for us to be cautious of who we give it to.

  2. 1. Over the past two classes, I have found that the discussion about power to be the most intriguing. Power has been present in every society, both modern-day and ancient civilizations. I believe power and where that power lies can have a great impact on how civilization works. It can also have a great impact on human behavior within that civilization. As we progress through the semester, I hope to apply my knowledge of power to learn more about how these civilizations worked. I will also look to see how power affects me and the society that I am currently apart of.
    2. Power can be interpreted in many different ways. Every person has a different viewpoint on what makes a person powerful. I believe every individual has power in some way shape or form. Each person has the power to make their own decisions. Each person has the power to decide who and what they want to be. I have power in the shape of having a car. While someone may view that as being powerful, someone who does not have a car or is unable to drive does. In the grand scheme of American society, I would be considered relatively powerless. As a young adult in college, I am part of a large group of people in the United States. As a group of people that are new to adult life, we are trying to find our role in society. We are seen as people who are fairly unknowledgeable about society and how it functions, therefore we are powerless. I think people should look at young adults for what they are, the future of the country.
    3. In Plato’s “Republic”, he dives into the topic of Justice. Near the end of book four, Socrates states, “This, then, is injustice; and on the other hand when the trader, the auxiliary, and the guardian each do their own business, that is justice, and will make the city just”. Earlier in the book, Socrates states that justice is one of the four virtues that makes the city complete. This illustrates that Plato’s definition of justice is that each individual in society should have a role best fits them and what benefits society the most. Plato sees justice as a human virtue. He believes that if each individual is a part who has specific virtues, those parts will come together to make a “just” city. At the time, Athens was on the verge of ruin and Plato was greatly disappointed by it. It would make sense that his definition of Justice would be about how a city could better function. A modern example could be in a city with a high murder and poverty rate. Plato would see this city as being in that state due to the people not specializing in their roles. He would say that the population of the city lacks the virtues that people need to have for it to flourish.

  3. 1)Reflecting upon my recent class sessions, I can infer the importance of a single thought. It is not so simple as the everyday voice in our head dictating disgust in another’s actions. It is the critical thought in which we must pay attention – to stop and ponder; to question anything and everything for our own understanding and benefit. I shall apply this thinking and new found understanding of power to my studies in my own major – criminal justice. Our own system of justice has a chain of power in which can cause issues with the people; a dilemma we must study to solve.
    2)As an individual I have many sets of ideals that are under power. The power to free will, to decide in what state I want my physical and mental body; to choose, choose what to believe in, choose what place I want to live in, choose what food to bring into my body, choose who I want to spend time with, etc. I have the power over my education, the power to prioritize and procrastinate. These stems of power underline freedom, and its importance to us. Well-being is found in happiness and choice , to which our individual power resides. However in reality and the life of republic, our choices and powers are not over all that is around us. We are powerless in the situation of war, of famine and starvation, we are powerless when it comes to food growth (unless of course we are farmers), we are powerless when stores run out of toilet paper or suddenly our world is a disease and we must wear masks. Globally we must tackle peace and health. Locally we must elect fair leaders of power, and personally we must fight for our imminent needs.
    3)Justice can no longer be rightfully so once a leader is a tyrant – for “Then the tyrant must do away with all such if he is to maintain his rule, until he has left no one of any worth, friend or foe” as Plato stated. In order for power to prevail, a leader will turn to tyranny – in given time. However, in order to keep his tyranny unknown, he must keep his people in need of his leadership, and his closest blind to his true actions. There can be no justice in tyranny. Athens was a city of war made from these instances, for war was futile in a tyrants end game. Plato understood this to be a leaders weakness, yet an inevitable result. Today the same can be connected to a presidential campaign. No side can be friends. If a candidate has negative intentions he cannot express these ideas with anyone – he must be alone; which is exactly why we have checks and balances. My example displays the intricate way justice must be ‘leashed’ and taught to obey. Justice is its own ideal until allowed too much freedom, and it takes on dominance as a second name. Plato would undoubtedly agree.

  4. 1. honestly, i think the most important thing we discussed in class is critical thinking. how we think about things and see things in our daily life has a bigger impact and we take it for granted what our minds are capable of. we walk around everyday thinking about things only on the surface level for what it is. the only time we really tap into our actual potential is when were assigned to do it for homework and assignments. the rest of our lives we spend just walking around and doing things mindlessly. the truth is we can all take our small thoughts and think deeper if we really wanted to. i could start taking this into consideration with my life when it comes to my future career with being a lawyer and how i’m going to get to get to that point. its especially important for when i do start practice law and its just in general a good skill to have.

    2. power is a flexible term. it’s not specific or restricted to one specific category or definition. everything in life has its own power and its own definition depending on the circumstance. let’s take a school for example. a principle has the power to keep the school functioning and make sure everyone is doing their proper jobs. the teacher has the power teach their students things they need to know in order to pass and grow up. students themselves also have power to actually learn from their classes and to help others around them. this same concept applies to many other things such as families and governments that run countries and form societies. we all have a certain amount power no matter what the circumstance is.

    3. society, justice, and power have continuously changed throughout the years to adapt to the changing times and different circumstances. these terms have served different purposes to fit the societies standards at the time. our current definition of power for example is different from the definition of power in the middle ages. with Plato’s Republic the reader can see for themselves how different it was to be living in Plato’s time of living. back them there was social classes and wealth you were born into and there was no opportunity to change your fate. the class assignment you had was the rank you were in until your last breath. today were given plenty of opportunity to change our quality of life and the term “rags to riches” is possible to anyone who really thinks they can change their outcome. plato states “there are three distinct classes, any meddling of one with another… is the greatest harm to the State” meaning you were unable to do anything to change your quality of life and it was even considered evil and potentially illegal to attempt to do something about it. power back then is way different than it is right now which defends the fact that the term is flexible as it changes with time. another topic discussed is justice and how that it relates to society as well. justice is a trait that contributes to running a successful society. justice is also a flexible term but more so towards the individual and what they see as just in the society they contribute to. Athens was in shambles in Plato’s time and its society was doing a poor job in trying to better themselves. i can relate this to the violent protests and burnings that have occurred during the black lives matter movement especially in new york where i am from. i relate this because what used to be a good cause was slowly poisoned by those with ill-will. our functioning society was slowed down with the new focus on rebuilding those buildings and stores. instead of focusing on bettering our society as a whole with making progress towards change we have to pause to deal with other things that people saw as “just.” the meaning of what is just is interpreted differently by people which can potentially lead to our downfall. we must work together to fix and function as a society in order to make progress overall.

  5. A large part of our earlier discussions in class primarily focused on various types of power and how they can be analyzed from a philosophical standpoint. Digging deeper into not only the meaning of power, but the nuances surrounding it. As a society, we view power as desirable while tending to resent those that hold it, leading to a yearning for an institutionalized balance of power. When we pursue, and ultimately achieve a balance of power, the power no longer exists. The idea of power is an odd phenomenon by nature and it continues to be an enigma in its causes– another previously observed concept. One cannot observe causation, only its regularities. As a political science major, outside of this class I study and observe power in American Politics and Philosophy class, and hope to reach a greater understanding of power and its use (or misuse) in society.

    Independently, my power extends to my interpersonal relationships and really, every aspect of my life. In life, we only have control over ourselves and our decisions, which consequently, may lead to other external powers. Understanding one’s individual powers and abilities to dictate their own reality is necessary to live a prosperous life. Without recognizing your own power, life truly lacks meaning. From a societal perspective, though, there is typically a hierarchy in power where we as individuals may lack it. Despite that lack, our individual power still exists within ourselves and within our democracy, even when we don’t feel it. That absence, facade or not, is dissatisfying as a member in society and we yearn to be heard. Making power more accessible could arguably have great benefits.

    Plato’s The Republic discusses justice in a society that limits its definition of justice to those of the same social class. Plato, notably being someone born into some degree of fortune, claims that “…there are three distinct classes, any meddling of one with another, or the change of one into another, is the greatest harm to the State…”, essentially referring to an ill-refined version of a jury of one’s peers being the ideal scenario for justice in society. From a historical standpoint, this idea is far from revolutionary– Limiting people from escaping a lower social class is common practice, one that we continue to see living in a Capitalist society today. Ancient Greek politics, whether it be an oligarchy, democracy, etc, are all similar in Plato’s philosophy. Ultimately, the wealthy minority controls politics. Many modern societies have not really advanced beyond this idea and in the context of justice, there is nothing more unjust than alienating social classes from one another and creating an impenetrable hierarchy. Philosophers like Diogenes or Aristippus, though fundamentally very different, share a common understanding of living one’s life for themselves. Whether that life be a crude, offensive one or a hedonistic, pleasure-oriented one, they differ from Plato in that they do not believe in limiting one’s lifestyle and are less focused on societal “harmony”. Plato’s virtues essentially serve his own ideals. A relatively modern example of Plato’s reasoning would be to say that marginalized groups of people should not stray from oppression. Minority groups that are systematically oppressed or discriminated against would stay that way– the true antithesis of justice. Plato might consider my personal take on justice to be lacking in proactivity, as he considered an ideal constitution to be far from a utopia, but to me, true justice lies within the hands of everyone in society.

  6. 1. There is no doubt that all the topics we have started to discuss are very important, but in my eyes critical thinking will be the one of the most important skills I take away from this class. The definition of critical thinking is “the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment.” And in today’s world your judgement and point of view is one of the main ways people form opinions about you and intellect. So critical thinking is a key skill that will become very useful to me in my first year at college, the ability to evaluate a situation or issue and come up with a deeper understanding in order to make your best judgement. This ability may be put into effect everyday, whether it be in school or in your personal life, no matter what for everything life throws your way or asks you, you are expected to have put your best thought into it and you’re expected to make the best decision you can personally make. And how can you do that without critical thinking. So that is why I believe critical thinking is the most important skill and the most useful we have started to discuss in class so far.

    2. In my eyes the system is built in a certain way that as we get older we slowly obtain more and more power, this is excluding the idea of the wealthy having more power then all. But overall as you grow up you slowly gain more power, me as an 18 year old I hold the power to do multiple things, I can have a full time job, I can drive a motor vehicle, I can vote, and a few other forms of power. And these things are important because it allows me to really attempt and feel like i’m growing into my own person, and with power like that it allows me to mature more and more as a person. But if I had to say I’m one of the lower people on the totem pole when it comes to power. So I dont have much power in any big real life decisions and this at some points makes me and others angry. One way is politically, I know I have the ability to vote, but with the electoral college does it really matter? If you are someone in a predominantly blue/red state and you are of the opposite political beliefs, is there really any power you have voting wise. Not much in my opinion and for not only me but hundreds of thousands of people feel the same problem and it’s frustrating. All though I don’t believe there is a solution right now, I feel like somewhere in my life this will change.

    3. Plato’s Republic mainly focuses on justice, but justice in all forms and ways. There are many key points made throughout the Republic, but if you look closely into book two Chapter V plato makes a statement that in my eyes is so true it has even survived the test of time. On page 44 paragraph 2, to summarize Plato basically talks about how if you give all the power in the world to two men, one just, the other unjust, you will find the just man on the following the same path as the unjust man. To me this was a great viewpoint for Plato to have because it’s true, you see it almost all the time, great people change when it comes to power. For some people being justified and doing the right thing is the only power they have, but give them all the power in the world and they will slowly feel like they can get away with the unjust behavior and the wrong decisions in life. This is why even today people say power is corrupt and bad for people. This is why they say power is only good in the right hands, and shouldn’t be given to anyone. Plato saw this because he himself has went through many leaders who were once good, but when power came their way they made the turn for corruption and no good, and it’s crazy to think this type of behavior still takes place in our world today

  7. 1. Based on these recent classes, what I believe is most important to me is what is power, and how it influences all of society, and what’s good and bad. In different societies around the world, power is viewed as a structure, with laws binding it together. In America, our power structure is formed so that one branch of government doesn’t have more power over the other. I would apply this thinking in an everyday occurence, where you see power is working all around you.

    2. Individuals in America hold a lot of power over the government in Washington D.C. For instance, I have the power to speak out against an unjust government, and I can vote for whoever I want. Every vote matters, especially with an election coming. The Electoral College is effective, in the sense that it gives the power to all people to pick a true leader. It also gives us our voice in government, and makes each state in America feel like they mean something. However, the one way that I feel sad with American society right now is that even though the individual has power, you feel powerless to those in the government who support ideas that can hurt our country, and there’s no immediate way you can stop it. And what makes me sad with our country is that some people in Congress want absolute power. A wise man once said, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”, which means that power is not everything. Ad if someone wants to take your power away, you should question that and take action against it, not just sit around and watch one party try to take it.

    3. In Plato’s “Republic”, one can understand how power and society are intertwined. But what I found most interesting was when Plato wrote, “And then conceive someone saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision. What will be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them. Will he not be perplexed? Will he not think that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him?”, and he writes how when one person sees the truth, they finally see justice. In today’s America, we see a lot of people not seeing justice, and claim that people are lying and hurting them, but when they finally see the truth about power, that they will either believe in it, or continue to deny it. An example would be the claim to make America into a socialist country. On paper, it sounds wonderful, but what they don’t say is that only one person rules the country. When people start to like these ideas for Medicare for all, they’re not going to see the truth until it’s too late. Winston Churchill once said, “Socialism is shared misery,” and it is. Only until people see the truth, and reject the lies, can justice finally be served

  8. 1. The thing that stuck out to me the most and seemed most important over these past couple days in class was the idea of how we all need to better interpret what power is to truly understand it. To truly understand power, you must look deeper into its meaning and look back in time and reflect on how power was handled in ancient times, as well as in modern times. I also realized that power is the main thing that operates our society as a whole, and can be easily manipulated. I want to be able to apply this learning to what is going on in the outside world. This learning could help me better understand if power is being manipulated or abused in my society and also in other countries.

    2. There are a few ways in which we as individuals have power. One way in which we have power is in how we are able to control our decisions and be able to have the decision on what we can and can’t due as people. We as an individual have the power to use our rights and to use our freedoms in any way we would like to use them. This is important to our own prosperity and well being because only the individual can have control over their own life, not anyone else. I feel like a way in which we as people feel powerless in American society is due to how many protests are being done all over the country, and yet not a significant change has been made in terms of police reform and all other types of things. That could make people feel powerless because their voices are not being heard by the people in power. In order to change this lack of power, we must use our right to vote and choose leaders who are just and will take the extra step to make change.

    3. The topic of justice is looked into deeply in Plato’s “The Republic”. The way in which justice is used in his society is explained thoroughly in the excerpt. Plato states in the passage “the meaner desires of the many are held down by the virtuous desires and wisdom of the few”. This statement fits with Plato’s discussion of power and justice because he states that when power is held in the wrong hands, the desires and wishes of those in charge will come before the needs of what is best for the people that are being governed. A modern day example for this statement would be when leaders or presidents in countries abuse the power they have, proving to be detrimental to the citizens of that country. One country for example can be Venezuela, because the president of Venezuela decided to abuse his power and put his own interests over the people, causing turmoil all over the country.

  9. The most important items from the first few days of class were most definitely Hearns ideas of power and how they are used in society. Most of them contradict with each other and can be used in different cases, I can find them in every day life about how those different types of power are used therefore I think they’re the most useful.

    I can use power for my own well-being and prosperity by using the knowledge I accumulate from school to become a better person and more knowledgeable in areas where it can help me. Most importantly in the disenfranchisement in American school systems where our first amendment rights are stripped from us. By studying law I can find ins and outs of ways that I can speak my mind without overstepping.

    Plato writes “ The father habitually tries to resemble the child and is afraid of his sons, and the son Lichens himself to the father and feels no awe or fear of his parents, so that he may be forsooth a freeman. And the resident alien feel some self equal to the citizen and a citizen to him in the foreigner likewise“. Historically this makes sense in a theoretical basis because the fathers were the head of the household and the son would take over eventually, making them a threat to power to the fathers. This fits in with Plato’s broader discussion of justice and power because it is about the exchange of power throughout the lineage of families. It fits with the individualism that Athens had at the time by the son becoming a freeman and getting his individual power. Plato theory of Justice is slightly concerning because he claims justice to be a human virtue and to be a self consistent good in the world. This is not always the case for example when people murder out of revenge this is often not looked at as a good thing. It shows that humanism in the face of the social controversy with regards to justice is dangerous. This is in contrast to what Plato believes and he would most likely dispute my argument.

  10. As I reflect on our early days in class, the views of power in “The Allegory of the Cave”, by Plato, come to mind. Looking at the power held by the people who projected the shadows on the cave walls shows how a forced perspective can shape a point of view. The power to be able to control other people by forcing their views is a very strong and intimidating thought. This can be seen today with our modern media, forcing a perspective on their viewers to further their own power. Forced Perspective is a very powerful tool, and if used correctly can be used to influence the masses and gain extreme power.

    In my personal life, I have powers which I control and power which is controlled by others. For instance, I own and operate my own boat, which gives me the power to do as I please with it, such as where I go, when I go, and who I go with. However, this power is not entirely mine, as the government of the state of New Jersey has given it to me and holds the right to revoke this power as they see fit. The same goes for most powers I possess as a young adult, power that can be taken away or revoked with cause. The one true power that I possess that no one can take away from me is my power to make my own decisions and to think freely. This power is unalienable, and is an extremely strong power to have. I have the power to stick to my personal morales and to make choices on my own. The lack of power I have within the confines of the United States does not trouble me. I am grateful for the powers given by the state, but also understand those same powers can be taken away. I am very fortunate to be able to vote and eventually have the power to be able to run for political office if I so choose. To conclude, even though my powers are given to me most can be taken away, I do not feel powerless, but rather privileged to be able to have these powers given to me.

    In chapter 4 of “The Republic”, Socrates speaks about fairness towards all citizens of the city, wealthy or poor. He is describing his version of a utopian city. He feels that if all citizens are treated the same and the use of money is dissolved, then the people of the city would have no qualms or issues. Comparing this to Plato’s beliefs on justice, Socrates ideas are a sound concept. Socrates’s plan provides fairness and justice for the entire city, by making all of the citizens equal, which Plato would view as a very just thing to do. However, this type of society would not work in ancient Athens. The power structure that was in place in Athens had individuals in certain classes which there was few to any movement between. The powerful citizens at the top of the classes would never allow themselves to be made equal to the lower classes. Even the middle class citizens would not have wanted to be considered equal to the lowest class. The viewpoint being given on justice for all is a very good point, but would never be able to work practically. All people have the right to justice and equality, however enforcing this right is extremely difficult. Those who hold all the power often times are the ones who are able to control justice and the power system. In our society today, we are experiencing mass amounts of social injustice, and even with the many laws and rights we have in place justice is not being given to all. Certain communities and minorities are being treated unjustly and unequally to this day. This shows even with different laws and procedures in use, justice is still only a dream for some people. Plato’s views on justice are very important and can be used to build a strong society, however those who have the power to implement such policies fail to do so. Even when such policies are put in place, those with lesser power still abuse it and ignore the call for justice. Plato would agree with the statement and views I have just provided, citing that in a perfect world we would be able to have justice for all, but it is impossible unless all agree to it.

  11. Through the past few classes our text readings have really illuminated what the real meaning of power is and all the different applications it has in our society. What seems most important to me is the distinction between the different forms of power. Having a good concept of what power is and how it functioned throughout history will aid in understanding in how it operates in society. The whole reason I took this class was to have a better understanding of power constructs in our current political/social structure, so to see how its been applied throughout the ages helps identify the roots of power and give better understanding of what kind of world we live in.

    Prior to this class, my predisposition to power was negative. To me power could only lead to hatred and slavery between people. Though I still believe having unbalanced power over others shows insecurity and is in a way selfish and egotistical, I can see how the different forms of power merely describe the relationship. The only person I truly have power over is myself. I try to keep symbiotic relationships with friends and family but at the end of the day I know there are power structures there that I cannot control. For one my parents ultimately have power over me. I can say that I am independent all I want, they will still be my parents and will hold that fundamental role as such. Politicians and corporations also have immense power over our lives. They affect taxes, what I eat, what I wear, my income, where I am able to live, the list goes on. This brings a feeling of unrest to me, but for others it brings about security. I do not find security in this though, I find that it isn’t truly freedom. But like Plato suggested, too much freedom leads to tyranny.

    Prior to the reading, I saw justice as something that exists only when it is needed; a tool that brings down the likes of criminals. So when Plato compared justice as: “…to be the having and doing what is a man’s own, and belongs to him?” This was interesting to me because it suggests that justice is in a state of being and not a fluid value that comes and goes as needed. Plato compares justice to professions in the following example: “But when the cobbler or any other man whom nature designed to be a trader, having his heart lifted up by wealth or strength or the number of his followers, or any like advantage, attempts to force his way into the class of warriors, or a warrior into that of legislators and guardians, for which he is unfitted, and either to take the implements or the duties of the other; or when one man is trader, legislator, and warrior all in one, then I think you will agree with me in saying that this interchange and this meddling of one with another is the ruin of the State.” I interpret this as class struggles in their time period and even now. Although hard, it is possible in our day in age to move up the class structure but in Athens it was a fixed structure and for someone to move up the classes will cause disorder and “ruin of the State.” He says when people do their own business, which is justice, it will then make the city just.

  12. 1) I think it’s interesting how the concept of power has changed over the years. Power definitely has a great impact on how not only decisions are made, but how people live their everyday lives. I can use this learning to educate myself on how society tries to balance the various hierarchies. I want to be able to fully understand and grasp the concepts of how power has been developed throughout time.
    2) Power has various definitions. Personally, I feel that power within my own life is taking control and deciding what I want to do, pursue or be in life. I do not believe that you have to look a certain way or have a certain social class in order to be in control or have power. I feel like having peace of mind, eating well, taking care of myself, mentally and physically, is what makes me powerful. Power is having control and deciding my next move without having to run it by a higher power, (like my mom or something haha.) It is crucial to my way of living because if I succumb to a negative way of living by accepting the bare minimum, whether it be in relationships or opportunities presented to me, I will feel I do not deserve what life has to offer. Feeling powerful leads to a higher self esteem and more confidence, which makes life easier. In society, in terms of age, the younger generations are not taken as seriously and often ridiculed by what they consider, a “hopeful” imagination. Older generations are typically stuck in their ways, driving younger generations to advance in more modernized social norms. It encourages me to fight against society’s interpretation of what’s right from wrong and to inspire others to want to be their own leaders.
    3) Then the tyrant must do away with all such if he is to maintain his rule, until he has left no one of any worth, friend or foe”. All leaders will eventually go rotten, in other words, will eventually become tyrants. All sides must be completely far from each other, no one is able to be friendly, which is typically why campaigns usually get ugly. You have to take down your opponent by making them seem unprofessional,unreliable, etc. I believe this viewpoint is extremely concerning, for the power to fall in the wrong hands is dangerous for the people being involved. There is always corruption when justice is involved most times it is never exposed but there are always some form of rumors going around with deeper meanings behind them , we just aren’t aware or chose to be blind or naive. I think Plato would agree, when one has too much power, it leads to corruption, whether that was the initial intention or not.

  13. 1. One of the most meaningful and important things I learned from class is the importance of power it had during the time periods we discussed. And how power can influence all people in society that they live. For example during the time period we are learning about, one who grows up into wealth immediately has power whereas one who is born into poverty back then will not be able to see power, and there is no way that they can achieve the level of “power” by working up into it. This goes to show that it is also related to the concept learned that power differs in different cultures and ethnicities. So for example, how they portrayed power back then is different then how we in the US portray power. Throughout the class going forward, I will compare and contrast how power is perceived throughout different situations and lessons we look into.

    2. I believe that the biggest way I have power in my own life is that I have the power to shape my future how I want it to turn out to be. Living in the US one has the power to do anything they want as long as they put their mind to it. One way in which I am relatively powerless (in a sense) would be being a freshmen on a sports team. Not that I am powerless, but decision making and commands would come from the upperclassman and the coach due to experience and credibility. In most cases, I do not believe freshmen of any sorts on a sports team would be the ones with the “power” of making decisions for the team as a whole. One thing I can do about it is observe and take note, so one day when I am in the position they are in, I will have experienced different situations and adversity making me better suited for that “power” role.

    3. Plato’s Republic emphasizes the importance of justice and society throughout the passage, in numerous ways. It is noted that there are 3 distinct classes and that basically there is no escaping those classes, what you were born is what you will die in. In the text Plato states, “Seeing, then, I said, that there are three distinct classes, any meddling of one with another, or the change of one into another, is the greatest harm to the State, and may be most justly termed evil-doing.” This excerpt goes to show how society worked back then. But it also can go to show that it was unjust. The first class families may not see anything wrong with this statement, but as for the lower class families it is a poor example of justice and just not fair for the lower classes. A great example of this today would be NBA player Jimmy Butler. Jimmy was born into poverty and struggled to find meals as a kid growing up, even living in foster care for a while. Despite his struggles he went on to play in college and then the NBA where he is now making millions of dollars. He went from impoverished to rich in a matter of his own lifespan, and this example would be unjust in Plato’s world because he rose out of the bottom class all the way to the top. All in all, power differs in different ways and depending on who obtains it, people must stay woke and make sure power is not being portrayed unfairly.

  14. 1. It is not often that I would sit down and analyze different forms of power, the ways that it can affect our lives, and the historical context of which power is used. But the first few days of the class taught me a lot of things about ancient and present-day power structures, which affect the way we live our lives. I think the most important idea that I was taught was how the past affects the present and that is the way I will be analyzing the rest of the semester’s work.
    2. I believe the way that you can gain power in American society is through self-improvement and networking. Physical strength, verbal ability, and financial strength are all important forms of power that should be sought after in anyone’s life. Those are the virtues that grant the freedom to do what you want and the way you want it to be done. I feel as if I do not have many of those strengths yet and that makes me much less of a man than I should be.
    3. In book 8 of “The Republic” Socrates exclaims, “This, then, seems likely to be the fairest of States, being an embroidered robe which is spangled with every sort of flower. And just as women and children think a variety of colours to be of all things most charming, so there are many men to whom this State, which is spangled with the manners and characters of mankind, will appear to be the fairest of States.” Socrates believed that the idea of democracy looks as if it is fair, that all people’s voices count and that it is diverse and interesting, but it actually is not and that those that believe that it is the best form of government are mainly women and children that can be tricked quite easily. I think that statement is very problematic because he is devaluing the opinions of a disenfranchised group of people by simply calling them dumb. But we know now with science that women and men can think the same and are equal so that is why in the present day we allow women and younger people to participate in our democracy. I believe it is just that we allow people to do what they like because we live in a free country where we should not judge other people’s actions unless it is criminality at hand. For example, it was because of women that we are able to have such a diverse and accepting country where we tolerate all people no matter your sexual identity or your background. This shows how women can know what is just and be able to affect society positively. I don’t think Plato would have agreed with my beliefs because he also doesn’t believe democracy would be a just society.

  15. While both power and critical thinking were interesting topics, I think that critical thinking was the more important of the two. Critical thinking is something that can be applied to numerous aspects of life and it shows that we can go beyond just the surface level thoughts that we have. I think it will be especially important to apply it to my school work because it can help make me a better student. However that doesn’t mean that the lessons on power were not important. Power is what allows society to function and live our ways of life, it can be seen everywhere from to our political system to our households and it is something that I want to pay better attention to and get better at recognizing as the semester progresses.

    Power has a multitude of ways it can be viewed, however it still differs for every single person. A person has the most power when it comes to power over themselves, in the end the only person with total control over their actions and beliefs is themselves. Power can also increase as a person ages, such as reaching the age to drive a car, or being old enough to vote in elections. As one grows, they begin to better understand society and how the world works, being only 18 I have a tiny amount of power compared to others who may be older, however as people my age get older we will gain more power and have opportunities we previously did not have such as the ability to run for political roles. Despite having this tiny amount of power compared to the world around, I still have what I believe is the most important form of power, the ability to shape my future through my actions.

    Plato’s Republic takes place in a very different time from our own, and their views towards how society should be structured is made very clear. In Athens, people are born into the roles they will maintain their entire life, and it is seen as unjust to try and escape these roles. Socrates states “Seeing, then, I said, that there are three distinct classes, any meddling of one with another, or the change of one into another, is the greatest harm to the State, and may be most justly termed evil-doing.” It shows that they view trying to change your class in their society is evil and should not be done, as it would ruin the system that Athens works upon. This is something that would have likely been desired mostly by the lowest class, as they had the least in all of Athens while the other three had mostly prosperous lives. It is unjust to force a person to not be able to change the conditions they live in if they are unhappy. One modern day example would be the rapper Logic, he grew up in an impoverished household with drug addicts for parents, and was homeless in his teens but has made a career for himself with numerous number one albums, a Grammy nomination, and is now worth $14 million dollars while being only 30. This is something the Plato would have seen as unjust as he came from nothing and has risen to be worth more than many will earn in their lifetime. It also shows that Plato’s views may have been to serve his own ideals as he did not have to suffer the same lifestyle as the lower class. It is unjust to prevent people from trying to improve their way of life.

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