For this assignment, you are to watch selections from the 2003 Canadian documentary The Corporation. You only need to watch chapters 1-5, 7, 10-13, 17, though you of course can watch and refer to the whole documentary if you find it interesting.
This is a very biased and agenda driven documentary. We are not watching it for accuracy in its portrayal of modern day corporations (it paints them only in a negative light), but instead as a portrayal of what Sophistic practices might look like in our contemporary world.
Link to documentary: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCDF6B02DFD948794
watch chapters 1-5, 7, 10-13, 17
You will recall from our class discussion that the Sophists use arguments for Epistemological Skepticism to lay claim to Epistemological Relativism and Moral/Ethical Relativism. If, they argue, we have no access to Good and Just, but only good-as-x-sees it or justice-according-to-y, then how do we navigate the field of opinions? How should we seek out what is in our best advantage?
Protagoras argued we should just go along with our community’s morality. Why make trouble for yourself? The Sophists we meet in the reading, however, propose more radical answers to these questions.
Answers each of the questions below. You will need to draw from the Sophists pdf, as well as our class discussions, to answer these questions. You will be handing a hard copy of this in on Tuesday 2/19
1) The Sophist Thrasymachus argues that “justice is really the good of another, the advantage of the stronger and the ruler, and harmful to the one who obeys and serves” (pgs 19-20). What does this mean? Why then does it follow that a “just man always gets less than an unjust man?” In what ways might these ideas be at work in The Corporation? (be specific)
2) What is the point of the story of the “Ring of Gyges” from your reading (pg 34-36))? What might the ring be a metaphor for? What examples of such ‘invisibility’ did you find in The Corporation? (be specific)
3) What, according to Callicles (in the reading!), what is the difference between the ‘law of nature’ and ‘conventional morality’ (827-828)? In what ways might corporations here be depicted as operating according to the ‘law of nature’?
4) Both Thrasymachus and Callicles would argue that ‘if the law is not to my advantage I ought not to obey it if I am too powerful to be stopped or too clever to be caught or pay serious consequences.’ In other words, whether or not you follow the rules should simply be a ‘business decision’. In what ways do you see this logic followed through in The Corporation? (be specific)
5) Socrates was very dismayed that people often appeared to be wise without actually being wise. The Sophists, however, think that it’s greatly to your advantage if you can appear to be wise, good-as-others-see-it, just-as-the-community-sees-it, while still seeking your own advantage. In what ways do you see this ‘appearing to be just’ as a business strategy at work in the documentary? (be specific)