Analyze an exchange between Socrates and Polemarchus or Thrasymychus in Book 1 of The Republic
Carefully analyze any part or the whole of Socrates’ exchange with Polemarchus or with Thrasymachus in book one of the Republic. What does Plato’s presentation of him in the first book of the Republic teach about the problem of justice.
Length: five typed, double-spaced pages (with 12 point font and standard margin sizes).
In general, a paper should elucidate an argument in a convincing manner. Reading it should be a pleasure, not a chore. Writing a good paper always requires, therefore, a strong command of the English language. It should evince a good grasp of the argument of the text(s) you are explicating and reflection on that argument, in all of its subtlety, complexity, and depth. Your paper should not be a mere re-hash (sound or otherwise).
You will also find the following specific rules helpful:
1. Use a title page; do not put on page one information that belongs on a title page.
2. Underscore or italicize titles of books or monographs. Articles belong in quotation
3. Use the author’s title, not the editor’s or translator’s: Republic, not The Republic
4. Introduce your reader to the subject matter of your paper. When doing so, however, avoid broad or sweeping claims, especially those that are trite, patronizing, and not
important to your argument. An opening such as œThroughout time, Socrates has been
justly admired as a great philosopher should be avoided.
5. Avoid blind transitions. Keep your argument well ordered, with sentences and paragraphs following logically and smoothly one from another. Avoid using verbs like œcontinues or œgoes on or œcontinues to say that or œreinforces or œfurthers [this point].
6. Give references to the text to support your argument, not only when you quote an author, but whenever you are presenting an author’s thoughts. In this way, your reader will know where to look to discover the basis of your interpretation. Failure to give references to the text will reduce your paper to a series of mere assertions.
7. Avoid useless words: œIn his Second Discourse, Rousseau argues¦, not œIn the Second Discourse, written by Rousseau, he argues
8. Sentence fragments and comma splices are the most common serious grammatical mistakes found on papers. With sentence fragments, the problem is usually that subordinate clauses are presented as complete thoughts. Remember that a participle (claiming, being, etc.) cannot be the main verb of a sentence, and a subordinating conjunction (while, since, etc.) introduces a subordinate clause, not a complete sentence. (œWhile presenting the life of man in the state of nature as brutish and short, Hobbes argues that)
9. Maintain a consistent sequence of tense. Do not jump from the present tense to the past and back to the present, for example.
10. Make sure that all quotations are accurate, grammatically incorporated into your paper, and put in quotation marks or (if long) put in block form. If you use block form, omit the quotation marks.
11. Reference marks (footnote numbers, e.g.) are not part of a quotation. So do not put
them inside the quotation marks.
12. Always include a bibliography, even if you are presenting an interpretive analysis of
one book and have relied only on that book. Page numbers will vary from edition to edition.
13. Avoid telling your reader what a philosopher œfeels or œbelieves when you are attempting to elucidate an argument or to tell the reader what an author is suggesting, implying, arguing, wondering, asserting, or saying. Generally speaking, philosophers believe nothing; they spend their lives attempting to know, through reason, the truth, and theirs is not a life of faith or belief. As for their feelings, we will know them if we become philosophers ourselves.
14. Avoid telling the reader what you œfeel or œbelieve. Your goal is to convince a reader of your interpretation, and using the words œI feel or œI believe reduces your thought to something arbitrary or peculiar to you, and hence not worthy of serious examination by others. Your thoughts are too important to be so reduced. The terms œI feel or œI believe are, moreover, frequently used in an attempt to avoid critical scrutiny by others; they induce laziness or cowardice on your part. You should aim at making your writing withstand the test of time, realizing that to be timely to all ages and places requires that you be timeless. Aim for eternity, and write for posterity.
15. Because it takes a long time to understand a great book, do not presume to know more than the author does. Attempt instead to understand the author’s teaching in its fullness and subtlety, and avoid attempting to reduce it to what the author is œbasically saying.
16. Stick to the author’s own vocabulary, or to common sense words. This will help you to avoid imposing a contemporary understanding on non-contemporary texts, and will better allow the text to challenge your understanding. You may miss what an author is saying if you assume that he meant to use words that he didn’t use.
17. If possible, avoid social science jargon like the following:
œvalues, œcreative, œlifestyle, œperspectives, œontology, œmindset,
œcultures, œthe times, œIdeals, œrealistic, œidealistic, œmentality, œego, œegotistical, œideas, œ role models, œmethodology, œtheories, œsystems, œcity-state, œactors, œwhere x is coming from, œconsciousness raising, œbrainstorming, œpersonality, œframework, œdefense mechanism, etc.
18. Proofread work. Make sure that it says what you wish it to say, that subjects and verbs agree, that pronouns and their antecedents agree, that you have not been careless with spelling or syntax.
Lastly the cover page shouldn’t be counted as part of the 6 pages that I’m paying for, if it has to be counted as a page I’ll do the cover myself.