Luxuries in the City
Luxuries in the City

Luxuries in the City

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A philosophy worksheet from the FHSU Scholars Repository.

Luxuries in the City

​Socrates and Glaucon decide their imaginary city is to be a luxurious one. The citizens aren’t to eat just nourishing food, but to enjoy “high cuisine” (fish, sweets, and other unnecessary pleasure-foods). They aren’t to sit on just anything, but to “recline on proper couches.” They are to have “incense, perfumes, prostitutes, and pastries.” They are to have sculpture and painting, music and dance, theater and jewelry, “tutors, wet nurses, nannies, beauticians, barbers, and relish cooks and meat cooks.” And to cap it off, they are to have an army, for they will need to acquire and defend the land necessary to support such a city.


Socrates considers the luxurious city to be “feverish” – unhealthy – and so it is a fair question why he agrees to take it on as the basis for his discussion of justice. It will eventually become clear that he has taken it on much in the way a physician takes on a sick patient. But why this approach? Why, if Socrates is searching for an understanding of the nature of justice, doesn’t he focus instead on the simple, “healthy” city?


What, if any, relation is there between ownership and force? Does ownership require the ability to defend one’s possessions?


What, if anything, do people need to own in order to flourish and be happy?


​Philosophy at FHSU Scholars Repository