Harvey Weinstein gives Americans a teachable moment regarding Plato and the Myth of Gyges?

Our media and Facebook feeds are full of sanctimonious condemnation of Harvey Weinstein. What human being could be more despicable than this fat old guy who threw his Hollywood star-building power around? Certainly none of the virtuous Facebook users or journalists condemning him!

The question of “How many ordinary folks would have behaved better?” is addressed in Plato’s Republic, in particular in the “Ring of Gyges.” A virtuous humble man (perhaps a clay-tablet Facebook scold!) gets hold of a ring that makes him invisible and therefore powerful. He has sex with the queen and, with her assistance, kills the king and takes over the kingdom.

What do readers think? Will Harvey Weinstein give classics and philosophy professors a hook to snag student interest?

[Separately, Mrs. Harvey Weinstein (Georgina Chapman) certainly is providing a teachable moment regarding California family law. The comparatively young lady waited precisely 10 years, the point at which a plaintiff is entitled to alimony, before suing her husband (BBC). With two children, the 41-year-old plaintiff (24 years younger than her defendant) could have retired comfortably off child support (unlimited by formula in California), but by waiting 10 years she opens up the field of litigation considerably (see Bill Burr on this subject) and she also will be entitled to claim Mr. Weinstein’s Social Security benefits. Given that rich people like this move around a lot, the lawsuit might teach Americans about venue litigation.]



  1. Neal

    October 11, 2017 @ 2:53 pm


    I think that most ordinary folks would have behaved better than Mr. Weinstein in similar circumstances, but that is (apparently) such an absurdly low bar it is hardly interesting. I think the more interesting question is what do most people do if they encounter someone like Mr. Weinstein either as bystander or victim. Despite the willingness of those in your FB feed to punch him on his way down to the mat, this episode suggests that the gap between what most of us imagine our response would be, and what most people’s response actually is, is worth some attention by classics and philosophy professors. It is also worth keeping in mind when we examine victim’s post incident behavior for clues about their credibility.

  2. Phil (Not G)

    October 11, 2017 @ 3:07 pm



    Agreed, this strikes me as a more interesting question


    I also find myself wondering how many truly talented actresses there are out there whose art we’ve never encountered because 1, 2, or 3 times saying no thanks to producers or casting agents was enough to filter them out of the pool of people whose art we might encounter

    (or for that matter, baseball players who we consider not talented enough to make it, mainly because they felt that taking steroids wasn’t worth it to pursue their dreams)

  3. George

    October 11, 2017 @ 3:43 pm


    The groupthink about Weinstein is amazing.

  4. Jack

    October 11, 2017 @ 6:00 pm


    So many women of courage kicking ole Harve while he is on the ground, his wife now bravely trying to extract his wallet by way of his gonads. Not exactly the women of courage in Svetlana Alexievich’s “The Unwomanly Face of War” but I guess the best we can now do in modern America.

  5. superMike

    October 11, 2017 @ 6:45 pm


    It is difficult to imagine the temptations to act badly if one had millions of dollars of starlet both deeply indebted to and deathly afraid of oneself. Frankly, I’m sure I’d give into some temptation, but his conduct is gross even by Hollywood standards. You’d think there would have been enough willing women for him to avoid some of the “I’m a busy man, come up to my hotel room to talk” hi-jinx, but here he stands, accused of coercion and outright sexual assault.
    Although the way this posting aged: http://blogs.harvard.edu/philg/2016/07/01/prince-and-donald-trump/, you might have a point.
    Mike Pence’s dinner policy is starting to sound less insane.

  6. superMike

    October 11, 2017 @ 6:52 pm


    @Phil (Not G),
    I was wondering about a different effect: A few women have told stories “Weinstein told me that I could star in movie X if I slept with him, and I ran out of there”. Then you can go look on IMDB and see that other actress Y did indeed star in X. Realizing that actress Y had no more influence at the time than the teller, it makes you wonder what actually happened. I imagine a lot of stories aren’t being told because this stuff is so pervasive they don’t want the whole industry (and their friends) to look awful.

  7. Phil (Not G)

    October 11, 2017 @ 7:57 pm




    Now reflect on how much of our culture is based off what this uniquely filtered population decides to normalize (or glamorize)

    And who gets left out of contributing to that culture.


    Seems relevant

  8. David K.

    October 11, 2017 @ 9:41 pm


    HRC covered Bill’s similar abuses, and disenfranchised his victims when they complained, for DECADES. Then, in what I can only describe as the single, most hypocritical thing ever said, had the gall to tweet that every victim of abuse deserved to be respected and heard. But liberals, Hollywood, the media, and the DNC have been just fine with all of that. So all of this hypocritical hand-wringing and virtue-signaling, by Hollywood insiders, Clinton campaign donors (but I repeat myself), and the mainstream media, over Harvey — something that, again, was WELL known, for DECADES — is about to make me sick.

  9. Spanish to English

    October 12, 2017 @ 4:24 am


    Will Harvey Weinstein give classics and philosophy professors a hook to snag student interest?

  10. Joe Rouse

    October 12, 2017 @ 4:53 am


    Nemesis will not be denied.

  11. Steve

    October 12, 2017 @ 8:42 am


    There’s a joke:

    Man: Will you sleep with me for a million dollars?
    Woman: (smiles) Do you have a million dollars?
    Man: Will you have sex with me for $500?
    Woman: What kind of woman do you think I am? No!
    Man: We’ve already established what kind of woman you are, now we are just haggling over price!

  12. mishka

    October 12, 2017 @ 11:28 am


    @Steve: That is a horrible sexist joke. Real men never take money for sex from women.

  13. Phil (Not G)

    October 12, 2017 @ 11:58 am

  14. Suzanne Goode

    October 12, 2017 @ 12:43 pm


    @mishka — have you watched the HBO series “Hung” (due to child support payments to ex-wife, extremely handsome & charming male is forced to work as a prostitute to support himself)

  15. Just another internet user

    October 13, 2017 @ 6:12 pm


    Plato’s story is adapted from Herodotus. See:

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