The biennial Nellie Wallace Lectures, which are shared between the Faculty of Classics and the Faculty of Philosophy, enable scholars from outside the University to visit Oxford in order to lecture and conduct seminars in a subject in the field of Literae Humaniores (that is, ancient philosophy, ancient history, and the Greek and Roman languages and literatures)
Nellie Wallace Lectures 2022
Prof Rachel Barney, University of Toronto
The Just Society and its Enemies, Rereading Plato’s Republic in 2022
Since the publication of Karl Popper’s The Open Society and its Enemies in 1945, Plato’s political ideas in the Republic have generally been shunned with distaste. These lectures will make a case for the permanent value of the Republic as a work of political theory. While it has detailed and highly pertinent arguments to make about the requirements for a just society, it is a book not so much about justice or politics itself as about the preconditions for both: about the features of human nature and society which make the problem of injustice universal, urgent, and -- just barely -- solvable.
Lecture One: Last Night in Suburbia
To grasp the politics of the Republic we need to clear away unhelpful accretions from its use and abuse over past centuries. It is neither Utopian nor idealistic; it is not the story of a town called Kallipolis; it is not a fantasy about 'philosopher-kings'. It is something far more abstract: an argument for the permanent possibility of justice both in the human psyche and in a political community.
Those who are unable to attend in person are welcome to join remotely via MS Teams, by clicking this link. You will be redirected to a page in which you will be prompted to sign in with your Oxford SSO.
The handout of the lecture can be found here.
Drinks Reception from 5pm onwards, in the Colin Matthew Room of the Radcliffe Humanities Building.