Title: The Democratic Soul
9 - January - Lecture
 
11 - January - Discussion
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Lecturer: Anthony Kronman, Dean of the Yale Law School.

Lecturer BIO : Anthony T. Kronman is the sixteenth dean of the Yale Law School. He was appointed to this position in 1994 after 16 years on the Yale Law School faculty. Before joining the Yale faculty, Dean Kronman taught for two years at the University of Chicago Law School and for one year at the University of Minnesota Law School. His teaching areas include contracts, bankruptcy, jurisprudence and the legal profession. Dean Kronman is the author or co-author of four books and many articles on various scholarly subjects. His last book, The Lost Lawyer, deals with the contemporary state of the American legal profession and analyzes the movement away from what he calls the "lawyer-statesman" ideal of responsible law practice.

Dean Kronman was born in Los Angeles on May 12, 1945 and attended public schools there before coming to Williams College in 1963. He graduated from Williams in 1968 with highest honors in political science. Following college, he studied philosophy at Yale and received his Ph.D. in that field in 1972. During his four years as a graduate student, Dean Kronman was a Danforth Fellow. In 1972, he began the study of law at the Yale Law School and received his J.D. in 1975. While at the Law School, he served as a senior editor on the Yale Law Journal.

Dean Kronman's father, Harry Kronman, was a television screenwriter and his mother, Rosella, was a film actress and homemaker. He is married to Nancy Greenberg and has four children, Matthew, Emma, Hope, and Alexander.

Lecture Description:

One of the wisest and most searching explorations of political order ever written, Plato's Republic, contains a harsh attack on democracy. This critique of democratic man and the regime he inhabits is not incidental to Plato's argument. For Plato as for us, democracy is characterized by the free pursuit of individual desires. But in Plato's view, the resulting society is simply chaotic. According to Plato, psychic and political order share the same structure and are mutually reinforcing. The possibility of order in both domains depends on the existence of an unchanging formal reality, ruled by and accessible to the exercise of reason. Democracy, by this standard, is no order at all, because it privileges the singular and self-inventing individual.

The modern appreciation of democracy is based on a very different understanding of political order - as a framework for human actions and individual fulfillment, not the cause and consequence of an ordered soul. Our defense of democracy starts from different premises: most importantly, the Judeo-Christian belief in creation from nothing, ex nihilo. In this tradition, the absolute distinctness of every individual is something real and valuable in its own right.

A comparison between the Republic and the American republic reveals many of the themes that will reverberate throughout this course. Plato's critique not only highlights the peculiarities of our beliefs, but also poses an instructive and compelling challenge. How is radical individualism compatible with the need to offer a reasoned judgment about the relative worth of different forms of life? And on what basis are we to forge an account of the relationship between individual fulfillment and the good of the community as a whole?

Copyright 2001, Anthony T. Kronman

Discussion will be moderated by Cynthia Farrar, Adjunct Associate Professor, Political Science and Director of Urban Academic Initiatives.

 

 

 

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