Humanities 201 Wexelblatt

First Essay Assignment

Format: Use 12-point font, double-spaced, stapled at upper left with decent margins all around. All papers should have a title, numbered pages, your name, and the date. While this assignment is not specifically designed to be a research paper, outside sources are, of course, acceptable, so long as they are meticulously cited in the way you learned in Rhetoric last year. Plagiarism will be punished with a zero for the assignment.

Length: Every essay makes a promise it ought to be substantial enough to fulfill. Logically then, the length of what you write will be determined by what you promise and how much you have to say. However, to prevent undue insecurity, I recommend a length between 4 and 6 pages.


During the early years of the Cold War, the philosopher Karl Popper wrote an influential book called The Open Society and Its Enemies. The first such enemy he analyzed was Plato. Write an essay supposing you are a citizen of the former Soviet Union or Mao’s Peoples’ Republic of China who is analyzing Plato’s political ideas. What are these ideas? What seems to you good and bad about his ideal republic? In what specific respects do Lenin’s or Mao’s ideas resemble Plato’s? How does Plato’s ideal state differ from American society? Would you care to live in Plato’s Republic? Do you believe we should be striving to achieve something like it or should all efforts to impose high idealism on actual human beings be avoided?

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