Philosophical Curriculum and Lawlessness in the Republic

In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought
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  • 1 Ph.D. Candidate in Ancient Philosophy, École Normale Supérieure – PSL UniversityParisFrance
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In the Republic, philosophy is associated with lawfulness, while tyranny and other corrupted regimes and individuals are associated with various degrees of lawlessness. So why does Socrates explain that the curriculum addressed to the philosophers of the ideal city brings about a risk of lawlessness among the potential philosopher-rulers? This is due to a specific step of this curriculum, the practice of refutation, which causes an intellectual as well as moral distress that can lead to skepticism and in fine to lawlessness. Although this risk needs to be reduced to a minimum, it has to be taken because the philosophical natures should be able to survive all challenges in order to become genuine dialecticians. Therefore, philosophy can lead to lawlessness but even when it does not, it is nonetheless true that the requirements of philosophy take priority over lawfulness.

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