Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day One of Plato

After meeting the guys for breakfast we headed to class, looking forward to exploring and analyzing the philosophy of Plato.  We started with reviewing of the reading, which the three of us had reviewed after class yesterday.  I felt well-prepared starting school today, but still organized a list of questions and concepts to go over in the discussion section.  Professor Kramnick spent most of the lecture explaining the basic theories of Plato, as we will spend tomorrow learning more about the messages and lasting influence of the text.

In the discussion section we mostly spent the time asking questions about the information Professor Kramnick shared with us today.  We further explored messages in Plato’s political concepts, especially his thoughts on an ideal community.  Basically, Plato believes that the ideal society has an essentially concrete social structure, where everyone, whether a laborer, soldier, or philosopher, is bound in their class and specializes in their task to serve the good of the community.  He also believes that the philosophers, the best of the people, should rule and that democracy is the most dangerous way of overturning his self-made aristocracy.  One of the most satisfying parts of the day was when Professor Kramnick referred to what he said was the most important message in the text, which I had already underlined during my independent reading. We later made comparisons from Plato’s ideal society to ours today and how much we differ with our opinions of democracy.  Before lunch, a few of us stayed to speak to Ulas in greater depth about Plato’s philosophy before heading toward the Trillium Dining Hall. 

After lunch, Ross Brann, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at Cornell, came to speak to us about the importance of Freedom and Justice in Middle Eastern as well as international affairs.  Of course, with the enduring involvement of fossil fuels in Middle Eastern matters, our conversation focused more in that matter.  One thing that I didn’t know was that in Egypt, the recently elected president as supported by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party. 

Some days Professor Kramnick is willing to stay after class to have an open discussion about anything related to the class.  With the election coming up later in the year, we talked about Professor Kramnick’s opinion of politics and the election process.  He believes, while including his humorous personality in his explanation, that the admittance of the president into office should be based on a lottery system. His thoughts are that few people want to be president, and that those who campaign are doing it primarily for attention and personal benefit.  Appointing a president at random will not only erase any competition for the spot, but will eliminate all the financial association that is involved in each election, something that can arguably go against the philosophy of freedom. 

The afternoon was hot, but still not at all humid.  We sought refuge in Risley Lounge with a friend to watch the Germany vs. Italy soccer match and later study for tomorrow.  As the week approaches its end I cannot believe that we have almost spent a whole week in Freedom and Justice.  This experience has truly been enlightening and I an so grateful for this opportunity.

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