For this week’s blog post, I’m writing a reflection on my progress in the first quarter and my thoughts about the future of my study.
I have learned a tremendous amount about Classical political philosophy this quarter. I spent most of it studying Plato’s Republic. I read selections from Book I in Greek, which was an amazing opportunity to improve my translation skills and build on my Greek work this summer, and I simultaneously studied Book VIII in English. As I primarily focused on Plato’s theories about forms of government and the progression of a constitution, I also tried to learn about his philosophy that underpins those ideas. After this, I started transitioning towards reading Cicero’s De Re Publica, studying some of the ideas of Aristotle and Polybius, two political theorists who came between Plato and Cicero. That furthered my understanding of the different methods of political philosophy and the spectrum between a deeply-theoretical and a more empirical approach, while also giving valuable context for the field of Classical political philosophy as a whole. Recently, I started reading De Re Publica, which I have loved so far. I have enjoyed both Cicero’s writing style and his ideas about constitutional theory. Overall, I think I have learned even more than I expected about Greek, philosophy, and political science, and I can’t wait to continue.
I think the process has been smooth so far. I have generally followed my initial plan and have met my learning goals each week. I have had meetings every week with Dr. Monahan, which have all been very productive. So far, my main goal has been to learn as much as possible each week, without too much focus on my final paper, allowing myself to explore a wide variety of ideas related to my study.
In the coming weeks, I want to start thinking more intently about my final paper topic. Recently, I have realized that I might end up writing my paper just about Cicero’s De Re Publica, not a comparison of this text with Plato’s Republic as I initially thought. I want to find a specific topic, whether that be one of Cicero’s philosophical ideas or a literary aspect of the text, that I can realistically research, come up with my own idea about, and write as a roughly 6-8 page paper. However, I also don’t want to force it by choosing a topic I’m not interested in. As I read, I’ll be looking for any problems that I find especially fascinating and would like to look more into so that I can gradually narrow down to a paper topic.