Thursday, July 13, 2006

Burke's Pentad

In applying Burke's pentad to The Republic, I observed that the entire premise of Book 1 is based on the search for truth, namely the search for the true meaning of justice. The book begins with Socrates and Cephalus discussing what is just/unjust, and eventually results in a similar but much more heated debate between Socrates and Thrasymachus: what is justice? This is the act of the book, or what takes place in its contents. The scene, or background in which the act takes place, is Piraeus, in the house of Cephalus. The major agents are Socrates and Thrasymachus, who are the key players in the more prominant debate, however Cephalus and Polemarchus also play a role in this area of the pentad. The agency of delivery is the Socratic rhetoric of the era, produced in witty conversational debate. The purpose, as mentioned before, is to discover the true meaning of justice; however, I also believe that another driving purpose is friendly competition between the two agents, as they strive to "one-up" the other.
Upon further observation, I do not find utopia to be present in the book. Debate over the unknown does not seem to me to be a key characteristic in a utopian society.

4 Comments:

Blogger Simon Says said...

To be fair, I'm not sure whether you're saying debate wouldn't exist or that it simply isn't key. Anyhow, I cannot see any reason why such debate wouldn't be present in Utopia. If everyone knew everything, thereby eliminating the need for debate, the society would be dull. There would be little use in sharing ideas, because everyone would have the same ones. That hardly seems to me a Utopia. In this instance, justice isn't some impossible "unknown" concept, but merely a misunderstood one. Justice, as most would probably agree, is a staple of Utopian society, yet how would we truly implement it or even recognize it if we never get at its meaning. Perhaps the distinction I'm trying to make is that the debate itself is Utopian, but that the agents in the debate are not living in that Utopia because the world around them does not live up to the virtues of their debate.

3:11 PM  
Blogger Lamar said...

I think what Jordan was trying to say was only that this debate over justice wasn't key to utopian society. I don't disagree with you that debate could be a part of a utopia, but I don't think that is relevant to the prompt question. Basically, my view is that this debate, while it could happen in a utopian society, is in no way indicative of a utopian society. I don't think that their having this debate demonstrated utopia, or even referred to utopia. I hope that argument made sense.

12:41 AM  
Blogger Nick_sp said...

There is one main point that I disagree with in your post. I do not believe the purpose of the dialogue, namely book I, is the pursuit of truth at all.

It seems to me that it started that way, but as soon as Thrasymachus came in with his unorthodox views, the focus was no longer on "what is the true nature of justice". Rather, the focus shifted to the defense of an important value for Socrates, namely book I.

The conversation shifts away from a communicative and multilateral search for meaning of this obscure "justice", and becomes simply a defense of justice, and an assault against injustice.

2:13 AM  
Blogger Nick_sp said...

socrates value is justice, not book I, sorry about that

2:14 AM  

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