Converting the Soul from Politics to Philosophy: The Philosophic Way of Life in Plato's Republic

Doctoral Dissertation


This thesis argues that Plato’s Republic provides an outline of conversion to the philosophic way of life, and in doing so founds a new kind of community that is distinct from the political community and its way of life — the philosophic community. In contrast to Plato’s Laws, which is intended to show the degree to which philosophy can transform existing political communities, the Republic (1) depicts three identifiable moments in the experience of philosophic conversion, and (2) connects this experience to the founding of a new, philosophic community. The three moments are (1) ignorance and eros, (2) questions and methods, and (3) philosophy, friendship and speeches. All three moments in the experience of philosophic conversion are guided by the questions of justice and the Good, and culminate in the question, What is the best way of life? The specific intention of this dissertation is to demonstrate that Plato’s Republic provides us today with an avenue for a credible return to philosophy as a way of life. Fulfilling this intention requires responding to some of the recent attempts to make this return, including Leo Strauss, Pierre Hadot, and Michel Foucault. My broader intention is to suggest that the experience of conversion to philosophy as a way of life depicted in Plato’s Republic can respond to Nietzsche’s critique of the possibility of philosophy as a way of life in its original, Socratic form, as well as of its value.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-04162015-121331

Author Elizabeth Anne L'Arrivee
Advisor Mary Keys
Contributor Mary Keys, Committee Chair
Contributor James R. Muir, Committee Member
Contributor Michael Zuckert, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Political Science
Degree Name PhD
Defense Date
  • 2015-04-08

Submission Date 2015-04-16
  • United States of America

  • philosophic way of life

  • Plato

  • philosophy

  • Republic

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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