I got to teach perhaps my favorite Republic lesson today, the one in which I take on the persona of Plato and go after democracy. And as in previous classes, the reactions varied from students who got mad, students who looked betrayed, and students who started to think that perhaps democracy wasn’t so great.
As I tend to do at the end of those classes (weakling that I am), I assured both classes at class’s end that I in fact prefer American-style democracy and that Tom Jefferson, Ben Franklin, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and all the other Founding Philosophers of the American Republic knew Plato and his arguments and still preferred democracy. I also issued my standard challenge to the students, that if they claimed to be proponents of democracy, they should be able to stand nose-to-nose with Plato and explain intelligibly why American democracy is a viable system.
Because some of them get this blog through Facebook feed, I’m going to hold off right now on articulating my own account.
Tuesday we take on the allegory of the cave, the most famous bit of Plato, and after that, we only have two more classes on this great book. In November we take on Boethius, and that should be fun, but I always get a little sad when we get towards the end of Republic, the same kind of sad that I get when we reach the ends of Job and 2 Samuel. I suppose the good news for me is that, if God allows me to continue teaching college, I’ll have more opportunities to teach good books to smart people. When I think on that, I’m not sad at all that I’ve devoted the years to study and teaching that I have.