Thursday, June 26, 2014

Plato is Socrates and Socrates is Plato—No One Actually Knows for Certain

Our guest speaker.
Today seemed more laid back than yesterday. I feel as if I am becoming more adjusted to Summer College with each passing day. This also means I must maintain reading the readings before they are assigned—if not; they will clump up pretty quick. This morning I woke up around 5:00 AM thanks to my roommate’s alarm and I went back to sleep and woke up around 7:30 AM and got ready for breakfast. I didn’t eat that much but I was sleepy so I drank a cup of coffee even though I’ve never been a fan.  Let me tell you, even though coffee tastes horrible, it’s a taste you have to acquire and the caffeine will definitely keep anyone awake for the rest of the day. I still find it hard to comprehend that Natalie enjoys drinking black coffee.

Going to class I didn’t know what would be more interesting, hearing another one of Kramnick’s stories (preferably about killing small mammals) or the long Plato lecture that was awaiting us. Well it turns out there was no other creatures whose lives were taken away by the hand of our professor but sure enough there was a lot to cover on Plato. We first began with how Greek “tyranny” has dominated western society. By that, Kramnick meant how influential Greek culture has been all throughout the western world. For example I didn’t realize the symbolism behind southern plantation's columns until Kramnick brought up the correlation of how the Greeks believed the perfect society has a class of slaves. This “tyranny” also exists in the form of how many cities are named after Greek city-states like Syracuse, Ithaca and even Athens, Georgia (which Professor Kramnick pointed out as containing Georgia Tech for a reason). He also talked about how each Greek city-state had its own dramas, gods, and culture that constituted the Polis. We also learned about how Greek society practiced a democracy that didn’t have elected representatives (hence the name direct democracy). Furthermore much of the populace was excluded from voting including women, children, some men and of course slaves.

Our guest speaker gave us all a constitution.
Professor Kramnick mentioned how The Republic is indeed a repudiation (Professor Kramnick loves using this word) of Greek government. I also found the discussion very interesting today as we examined the first half of The Republic. We just reviewed why Socrates, Glaucon and Thrasymachus made the small community they first envisioned enormous, had to have three branches of people and that training of the guardians and auxiliaries was to be implemented. We even talked about the myth of metals story and the tripartite mind that Socrates envisioned as something everyone has in every community. Our TA Vijay even joked how Socrates in reality was an old and very ugly (I don’t know why but every one of my teachers has always emphasized Socrates as being very ugly) man that asked random people questions around the agora, such as “What is good?” and then argue with them until they’ve reached absolutely nothing. Towards the end of class he explained how we really don’t know if it was Socrates or Plato that said the majority of Socrates’s lines. The way I think of it is that Plato just followed Socrates around the agora, kept in mind everything he said and rewrote it all restructured and added some of his ideologies to what Socrates said.
The North Campus gym facility.
We also had another lawyer by the name of Ray Schlather as guest speaker this afternoon. He dealt with three different cases within the local Ithaca area. One of which was about this unlawful home intrusion by police officers who did not have a search warrant. What made this story even more ridiculous was, after the police entered the family household that was full of teenagers hanging out, the police arrested an 11-year old girl for disorderly conduct after she refused to allow the police officers to enter her household knowing the power of the fourth amendment. Another story was that of an unruly new principal at Ithaca high school back a few years ago. He attacked the school newspaper's funds after the editorial staff  included a picture in the newspaper that seemed to be controversial--but in reality was nothing to fuss over. Either way that case is still pending. The most riveting case by far that he has taken on was the Kearney case that was about a young African-American girl that was intensely bullied by a white kid on the bus everyday to school and didn't receive justice in the court of appeals of New York. Eventually a settlement by a new superintendent was reached where she was compensated $250,000 instead of the original million. 

Soccer game.
After class Natalie, Sue and I all headed to the library adjacent to the McGraw Tower where we all rewrote our essays and printed them out. We spent a little over an hour and a half and then went back to our dorms. When I got back to my dorm I decided to rest on my bed for a bit and when it was dinner time, my roommate happened to have “left for soccer” as he said before he left, although he left his keys in the room and I couldn’t leave the room unlocked so I had to wander to the soccer game that I signed up for but didn’t play in because of time constraints. Turns out he wasn’t there so I just gave my roommate’s keys to one of my RCA’s Titus so he could give it to him. He got them not too long after and now he carries his keys with him 24/7. Next time he’s going to bring his cellphone too.
Squirrel I found.
My view from the window.
Now it is time for the funny story of the day section that happened last night. As I was studying (all exhausted), I heard/felt two booms from a different floor (or so I thought). Turns out that four of my Sierra Mist soda cans exploded in the refrigerator and spilled all over the place. All except one that stayed intact, the mess didn’t take that long to clean up. Oh well time to review for the allegory of the cave section in The Republic that we will be discussing tomorrow. 
I don't know if you can tell but they are all opened.

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