Get real, political philosophy!

Here is a review of Raymond Geuss’s latest book, Philosophy and Real Politics. Geuss is a very smart philosopher; the book is surely worth a look. The review makes him out to be along the lines of a modern-day Thrasymachus. (I wonder if the students in the Republic class think that sounds fair, at least given what’s said in the book review.)

2 thoughts on “Get real, political philosophy!

  1. Kleiner

    Thrasymachus’ claims are complicated, and might not be uniform. So I will here just focus on a slice of what he is saying.

    Thrasymachus does suggest justice is only a mask the unjust ruler uses to get his way (that justice is to the advantage of the stronger). Of course, Socrates objects to his view, arguing that rulers sometimes err and so they command what is not actually to their advantage. We would then have a contradictory result – that it is both just and unjust to do what rulers command.

    In response to this, one might expect Thrasymachus to say something like ‘justice is what the stronger believes to be to his advantage’. But Thrasymachus does not take that route. Instead he rejects the obviously true assertion that rulers sometimes make mistakes. He insists that the true ruler would never err.

    In other words, Thrasymachus is as much of a dreamer as Socrates. His notion of perfect injustice (perfect ruling) is every bit as – perhaps more? – abstracted from concrete reality as is Plato’s or as is Rawls’. (I would say, by the way, the same thing of Nz).

    So it might be the case that Thasymachus is playing the same sort of game as Socrates, but he just sides with the other team (values perfect injustice over perfect justice). But Geuss’s book (based on the review) seems to suggest that we should not waste our time on such speculative machinations at all, that we should avoid conversations like this that seek to be ‘above the fray’ of real, concrete situations and facts.


  2. Cheryl Adams

    We’ve just received this title here at the library. I’ll catalog it today, so it will be available soon for anyone wanting to check it out. (Cheryl Adams, Subject Librarian for Languages, Philosophy, and Speech Communication)



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