Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Institut für Philosophie

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Institut für Philosophie | Studium | Fachschaftsinitiative | SVR18-19 | SVR: Robert Mordarski: The concept of φύσις in Plato’s Republic

SVR: Robert Mordarski: The concept of φύσις in Plato’s Republic

Students’ Lecture Series
  • Wann 23.01.2019 von 18:15 bis 19:45
  • Wo Unter den Linden 6, room 2094
  • iCal


Φύσις (usually translated as 'nature') is considered one of the central concepts of Greek thought. Unsurprisingly, in Plato's Republic, φύσις plays a crucial role, a fact that received comparatively little attention by scholars. One reason for that is probably that φύσις is standardly discussed in the context of Plato's natural philosophy, especially in the Timaeus. Another reason might be that Plato in the Republic does not clarify his view on φύσις, i.e. there is no systematic reflection such as we find in Aristotle’s Physics. Looking more closely at the text, however, it is striking how often the reader finds φύσις in argumentative contexts and Plato’s arguments, it seems, are dealing with certain positions of the so-called νόμος-φύσις debate among Sophists.

By examining Plato's concept of φύσις and its argumentative role in the Republic I hope to shed light on other major concepts such as justice, ruling, and education. For my talk I selected three passages (Glaucon's challenge 358b-367e, the "first polis" 379a-372, and the "first wave" 450c-457b) which I find especially suitable to discuss how Plato understands and applies φύσις. Thus, as I shall show, φύσις plays a crucial role in establishing and justifying the class structure, the goodness and possibility of the laws of the Kallipolis and the definition of justice. Plato does not seem to have any concept of an all-encompassing nature although he clearly attributes normativity to φύσις.




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