Slow Reading Project: Republic, Book 2

Let’s go at it again, even slower this time — my plan is about two posts a week (Thursdays and Mondays, perhaps) until we reach a natural stopping point. For those who are new to this and want to know about slow reading, go here. For those who are new and/or want to review our previous slow reading of Book 1, start here. Let me review briefly the rules:

A. Let’s stay focused on just this part of the larger dialogue. Please, those of you who have read the entire dialogue, don’t make connections to anything beyond our current reading for now — although earlier texts are fair game. For now, let’s try to consider only the dialogue up to the end of today’s passage.

B. Read slowly. Try to incorporate every detail into your experience of the text. Aesthetize: try to see, hear and smell what is going on. Sympathize: try to understand the motives of the characters

C. Please comment in order to contribute. Make sure that you check the comments later on, since that is where the life of this Slow Reading will be conducted. Feel free to comment in response to other commenters as we go along. Don’t just think you are talking to me. You should know that I am actually out of the country — this post is being posted automatically according to a schedule — so I may not be able to respond quickly to your comments. I encourage other posters to step in in my absence.

I will give a few notes and observations to help you with your reading. They are not interpretations exactly, just pointers, notes, provocations and hints. Feel free to totally disregard them! In several places, I include questions. You don’t have to answer those either. I have no fixed answer in mind myself — questions just arise for me as I read slowly — as they should for you. Now on the the reading:

Today’s text is the first part of Book 2 in which Glaucon and then Adeimantus take up Thrasymachus’ cynical argument that “justice” is nothing more than a ruse by those in power to secure their own advantages. The text begins at the beginning of Book 2 (357a) and goes until 368c. Here are few notes and questions for reflection:

1. Socrates “wins” the argument with Thrasymachus at the end of Book I in the sense that Thrasymachus no longer offers resistance to Socrates asserting his notion of justice against the one offered by Thrasymachus (although Socrates does express misgivings about where things stand.)  Glaucon and Adeimantus (Plato’s brothers, by the way) agree with Socrates’ opinion concerning justice and agree that Thrasymachus is wrong. So why do they they resurrect the argument when Socrates (and presumably Thrasymachus) is ready to move on?

2. This text includes the famous “Ring of Gyges” story about a ring of invisibility. Does anybody want to draw connections to Tolkien’s ring of power?

3. Consider Socrates words of praise for Glaucon and Adeimantus at 367e – 368a: “And as I listened, though I had always admired the nature of Glaucon and Adeimantus, I was completely delighted then…” What delights Socrates so much?What would have been lost had the brothers not objected? I think it is important to emphasize that the Republic is not just about Socrates and his noble opinions.

That’s all for now. Please answer or respond in the comment section.

3 thoughts on “Slow Reading Project: Republic, Book 2

  1. Woody, I am waiting for someone else to comment. I commented so much on Book 1 that I felt I was over-commenting so want to see if there are others who want to participate.


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