tgiFHI: Wenjin Liu, "Political Vice in Plato"

Friday, February 10, 2023 - 9:30am to 11:00am

Smith Warehouse, Ahmadieh Family Lecture Hall, Bay 4, C105

Wenjin Liu

Please join the Franklin Humanities Institute for its Friday morning series, tgiFHI!

"Political Vice in Plato"

Plato, born not long after the beginning of the Peloponnesian War, witnesses the decline of Athens from a hegemonic power in the Greek world to a city state that struggles to recover its glory in the midst of constant internal quarrels and external threats. His contemporaries often assume that salvaging Athens from its decline crucially involves attending to particular, salient episodes of the decline, for which politicians who are directly involved should be blamed. In this talk, I argue in the Gorgias and the Republic, Plato provides a different perspective to understand not only the decline of Athens but also political problems elsewhere. In his view, a better understanding and treatment of those problems requires us to go beyond particular episodes and agents, which, albeit palpable, are symptoms or products of an underlying structural flaw, namely, political vice. Political vice is a substantive deviation from a city’s normative order. Because of that deviation, a city performs its function—collective human living—poorly. A corrupt culture is the root of political vice. Sustainable political changes should accordingly be mediated via gradual shifts in cultures.

Bio: Wenjin Liu is a Research Assistant Professor at the Philosophy Department. She is finishing up her PhD dissertation, titled, Plato's Theories of Vice, at Princeton University, where she is a member of the Interdepartmental Program in Classical Philosophy. She earned her BA in Philosophy and Classical Studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 2015. At the moment, she is working on a series of articles that explore the darker side of humanity, focusing on ignorance, individual vices, and political vices, via the lens of the Platonic Corpus. Building on those articles, she will complete a monograph, which argues that Plato's works are home to two different pictures about the darker side of humanity. She also works on parallel ideas in Classical Chinese Philosophy.

Breakfast served at 9 am. Masks required.
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Photo of Wenjin Liu
Friday, February 10, 2023 - 9:30am to 11:00am
Franklin Humanities Institute (FHI)
Event Co-Sponsors
Classical Studies, Philosophy