Write an essay on the great dialogues of plato
The aim of this essay is to give you the opportunity to wrestle with one of Plato’s main theories or concepts, as it is expounded in the dialogues we have read, on your own terms. This means, in a first moment: a) gaining an overall perspective of what exactly the idea is; b) breaking down the arguments Plato leans on to prove its truth into premises (evidence) and conclusions (the idea or parts thereof); and c) exploring how it is connected to some of his other ideas.
In a second moment, and based on the evidence you have accumulated in the first part of your paper, it will mean elaborating a critique of that idea or of one aspect of it. This can be done by showing how the assertion of that idea results in a tension with some other aspect of Plato’s thought or by pointing to some flaws in some crucial bit (or bits) of evidence Plato uses to support the idea, or by revealing some logical or structural problem with one or several of the arguments Plato makes in the process of constructing the idea.
Note that the interpretation should smoothly lead into the critique. In other words, there should be no evidence in your critique that is not already discussed in your interpretation. And that, in turn, means that you should have a pretty good idea of where you’ll end up at the beginning of your paper (an outline) or, at the very least, that you should be ready to engage in some fairly substantial revisions in the second and third drafts of your paper (on that, more below).
Process: Here are some steps you might follow in order to put the first draft of your paper together more easily:
1. Go through your notes and the reading assignments and consider an idea/theory that interests, intrigues, or maddens you. Identify exactly what you think it says in your own words and actually write it down.
2. Identify and make a note of all the passages in which the idea/theory is referred to or discussed throughout the three dialogues we have read. What are the core arguments and bodies of evidence Plato uses to support the theory? Does the idea still look like your initial assessment of it or do you need to rephrase your initial assessment?
3. What do you think is most questionable about this idea or the argument(s) Plato uses to support it?
4. On the basis of these initial preparatory steps, begin planning a paper that both explains what the theory or idea is that you are interested in in clear terms, using textual evidence to support your interpretive claims and that, in a concluding moment, provides a critique of that theory.