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The Republic: By Plato (Phoenix Classics)

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Plato’s most famous work and the bedrock of Western philosophyWritten in the form of a Socratic dialogue, The Republic is an investigation into the nature of an ideal society. In this far-reaching and profoundly influential treatise, Plato explores the concept of justice, the connection between politics and psychology, the difference between words and what they represent, Plato’s most famous work and the bedrock of Western philosophyWritten in the form of a Socratic dialogue, The Republic is an investigation into the nature of an ideal society. In this far-reaching and profoundly influential treatise, Plato explores the concept of justice, the connection between politics and psychology, the difference between words and what they represent, and the roles of art and education, among many other topics. A towering achievement of philosophical insight, The Republic is as relevant to readers today as it was to the citizens of ancient Athens.


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Plato’s most famous work and the bedrock of Western philosophyWritten in the form of a Socratic dialogue, The Republic is an investigation into the nature of an ideal society. In this far-reaching and profoundly influential treatise, Plato explores the concept of justice, the connection between politics and psychology, the difference between words and what they represent, Plato’s most famous work and the bedrock of Western philosophyWritten in the form of a Socratic dialogue, The Republic is an investigation into the nature of an ideal society. In this far-reaching and profoundly influential treatise, Plato explores the concept of justice, the connection between politics and psychology, the difference between words and what they represent, and the roles of art and education, among many other topics. A towering achievement of philosophical insight, The Republic is as relevant to readers today as it was to the citizens of ancient Athens.

30 review for The Republic: By Plato (Phoenix Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brendan

    Let me explain why I'd recommend this book to everyone: Plato is stupid. Seriously. And it's important that you all understand that Western society is based on the fallacy-ridden ramblings of an idiot. Read this, understand that he is not joking, and understand that Plato is well and truly fucked in the head. Every single one of his works goes like this: SOCRATES: "Hello, I will now prove this theory!" STRAWMAN: "Surely you are wrong!" SOCRATES: "Nonsense. Listen, Strawman: can we agree to the follow Let me explain why I'd recommend this book to everyone: Plato is stupid. Seriously. And it's important that you all understand that Western society is based on the fallacy-ridden ramblings of an idiot. Read this, understand that he is not joking, and understand that Plato is well and truly fucked in the head. Every single one of his works goes like this: SOCRATES: "Hello, I will now prove this theory!" STRAWMAN: "Surely you are wrong!" SOCRATES: "Nonsense. Listen, Strawman: can we agree to the following wildly presumptive statement that is at the core of my argument?" {Insert wildly presumptive statement here— this time, it's "There is such a thing as Perfect Justice" and "There is such a thing as Perfect Beauty", among others.} STRAWMAN: "Yes, of course, that is obvious." SOCRATES: "Good! Now that we have conveniently skipped over all of the logically-necessary debate, because my off-the-wall crazy ideas surely wouldn't stand up to any real scrutiny, let me tell you an intolerably long hypothetical story." {Insert intolerably long hypothetical story.} STRAWMAN: "My God, Socrates! You have completely won me over! That is brilliant! Your woefully simplistic theories should become the basis for future Western civilization! That would be great!" SOCRATES: "Ha ha! My simple rhetorical device has duped them all! I will now go celebrate by drinking hemlock and scoring a cameo in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure!" The moral of the story is: Plato is stupid.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Everyman

    All the criticisms of Plato are valid. He raises straw arguments. He manipulates discussions unfairly. He doesn't offer realistic solutions. And so on. But he is still, and for very good reason, the most influential philosopher in Western civilization. He makes people think. Most authors we read today are trying to persuade us to agree with their point of view. Plato, not so. He wants you to disagree with him. He wants you to argue with him. He wants you to identify the fallacies in his arguments All the criticisms of Plato are valid. He raises straw arguments. He manipulates discussions unfairly. He doesn't offer realistic solutions. And so on. But he is still, and for very good reason, the most influential philosopher in Western civilization. He makes people think. Most authors we read today are trying to persuade us to agree with their point of view. Plato, not so. He wants you to disagree with him. He wants you to argue with him. He wants you to identify the fallacies in his arguments (and some are deliberately fallacious). In short, he wants you to do the most difficult intellectual exercise there is. He wants you to think, and to think deeply. The other thing to realize about Plato is that he is an exquisite poet and craftsman. There is nothing accidental about what he writes; there is nothing superfluous. Even the most minute seeming points are there for good reason. Part of the joy of reading Plato for the third, fourth, fifth time is to see each time a bit more about what he is doing and why he is doing it, to come closer to appreciating his extraordinary genius and encountering ever more deeply this incredible mind.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    Plato's "The Republic", is a great but flawed masterpiece of western literature, yes it makes sense, mostly, some of it. "I am the wisest man in the world because I know one thing, that I know nothing", said the smart man ... Socrates. Plato is writing for Socrates, his friend and teacher. Late teacher, since being forced to commit suicide by the uncomfortable citizens of Athens ( the famous poisoned cup of hemlock), for corrupting the minds of youth. Socrates didn't believe books were as effect Plato's "The Republic", is a great but flawed masterpiece of western literature, yes it makes sense, mostly, some of it. "I am the wisest man in the world because I know one thing, that I know nothing", said the smart man ... Socrates. Plato is writing for Socrates, his friend and teacher. Late teacher, since being forced to commit suicide by the uncomfortable citizens of Athens ( the famous poisoned cup of hemlock), for corrupting the minds of youth. Socrates didn't believe books were as effective as lectures, big mistake. Socrates advocates complete state control of everything, land, schools , businesses, homes, and even children to be taken away from their parents and raised by the state. In other words, an early form of communism. Plato agreed but Aristotle didn't , he knew only parents would love their children , which kids need. Most of the book is dialogues between various men as how to establish a perfect state. Socrates / Plato wanted Greece ruled by philosopher kings. With a professional army to back them up. An unreachable goal, as 24 centuries later, has shown. Greed is the primary motivation of the human race, but people keep on trying to reach the elusive "Utopia", and failing forever? Socrates the wise man, was correct.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    Is the attempt to determine the way of man’s life so small a matter in your eyes—to determine how life may be passed by each one of us to the greatest advantage? (1.344d) I propose therefore that we inquire into the nature of justice and injustice, first as they appear in the State, and secondly in the individual, proceeding from the greater to the lesser and comparing them. (2.368e—369a) The Republic: An Apology “The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is th Is the attempt to determine the way of man’s life so small a matter in your eyes—to determine how life may be passed by each one of us to the greatest advantage? (1.344d) I propose therefore that we inquire into the nature of justice and injustice, first as they appear in the State, and secondly in the individual, proceeding from the greater to the lesser and comparing them. (2.368e—369a) The Republic: An Apology “The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”  ~ Alfred North Whitehead The Famous Republic 'The Republic' is either reverenced, reviled or just plain ignored. Though it keeps resurfacing, it has been pushed back often, being accused of bigotry, racism, elitism, casteism, anti-democratic nature, the list is endless. But it is beyond doubt, one of the preeminent philosophical works and has been quoted, referenced or adapted by almost all of the major thinkers since. The ideas of Socrates have had an afterlife that is as long and varied as the thousand year journey envisioned for souls in the famous Story of Er. It is impossible to catalogue the full list of impacts but Whitehead's quote (introductory to this review) gives adequate flavor. The practical influence of Republic is more difficult to gauge than its impact on the theorizing of later thinkers - over the centuries, individuals have discovered in Plato’s works the inspiration for undertaking political or social or educational reform and have used it as the springboard for much revolutionary thought, and deeds. Republic has inspired in addition to all the expository analysis, also countless creative interpretations, which have shaped our vision of future possibilities, limits and of extremities. Many depictions of both utopian societies and their dystopian counterparts, ranging from Thomas More’s Utopia to Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver's Travels to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World to George Orwell’s 1984, have their roots in the ideal city brought to life by Socrates, Glaucon, and Adeimantus. Contemporary films such as Gattaca and The Matrix may not owe direct inspiration to Republic, but they participate in a long tradition of artistic works that ultimately trace their concerns back to the political, social, and metaphysical issues raised in Republic. But in spite of all this, the original work retains a reputation for being difficult and hard to penetrate. This has meant that the scholars have more or less appropriated this brilliantly composed treatise, and that is a pity. There is great suspense in every page as you eagerly try to work your way through Socrates’ arguments… anticipating now, guessing now, failing now, but always on the edge of your seats at the sparkle of his wit and wisdom. The dialogues are constructed with an almost unbelievable care and subtlety. The drama is breathtaking and all-pervading, even in the stock responses to theoretical or rhetorical questions. One is never allowed to sit and absorb passively, but is forced to constantly interact with the dialogue. It is as much fun to read as a Shakespearean drama. The Offensive Republic Now, to examine some of the reasons why The Republic offends modern sensibilities: Much of the contemporary discomfort with Plato’s state arises from his countenancing of censorship, a rigid caste system, etc. But these are in a way unfortunate misunderstandings. A close reading of the text would make clear that these catch-all descriptions of Plato’s state are not as representative as they are made out to be. For example, the caste system that is first to get blamed is hardly a rigid hereditary system, but a strict meritocratic system that is much more equal than anything that we have seen till date. It involves a strict battery of tests (similar to the aptitude tests of today) based on which every individual is to be judged (and opponents of IQ tests may relax - these are meant to be much more practical examinations). Also, the popular rendering of the title as “The Republic” itself is unfortunate, giving it an obvious political and ideological overtone. In the manuscripts and ancient citations, the title of Republic is given as Politeia (“Constitution”) or Politeiai (“Constitutions”); Peri dikaiou (literally, “concerning that which is just”) is sometimes listed as an alternative title. The Misunderstood Republic I had planned on giving a blow by blow defense of the most reviled aspects of The Republic, but that is not the point I wish to make here. The primary mistake in criticizing The Republic is to assume that it was meant to be a political treatise in the first place. It is not. The whole argument begins from a question of identifying what ‘Justice’ is and whether it is beneficial to live a ‘Just Life’. This is the crux. ‘Why’ and ‘How’ to be Just and ‘What’ is this “Justice’ anyway? That is what Socrates wants to explore. He takes detours in this exploration. He uses metaphors - of State (as larger manifestation), of Caves, etc. But they all lead us back to the same basic question. To identify this basic concern, we need only look at the complex structure of the dialogue itself. Republic’s “narrative” is structured in an almost circular pattern. This circular pattern is complex, evoking the narrative patterns of epic poems such as Iliad and Odyssey. Most basically, the dialogue’s two main concerns (defining justice and ascertaining its relationship to happiness) are treated in two corresponding sections (books 2-4 and books 8-9) that are interrupted by what is nominally a series of digressions in books 5-7, and 10. These nominal digressions, of course, create the dialogue’s most memorable metaphors, but they are meant to be digressions that add to the core. Not the other way around. At its most basic level, Republic is an effort to forge a consistent and meaningful redefinition of “Justice”. The aretê that is explored lies in nothing outward, but rests solely in the mature reason and regard for what is beneficial to the soul. Not all the details in these allegories stand up to logical analysis, but they are not meant to. This is made clear by the fact that The Republic’s interlocutors repeatedly draw attention to the incomplete, provisional, and at times unsatisfactory nature of their treatment of justice, happiness, the ideal political community, the theory of the ideas, the cognitive faculties of human beings, etc. The inadequacy of “the method we are employing” is acknowledged at 4.435c-d, at 6.504b-d and in many other places. The Personal Constitution: A Constitution of the Perfect Life The Perfect State sketched out (which is the stub of almost all criticism) is only an approximation devised to arrive at the Perfect Man, and that is why the so called bad aspects can be deemed acceptable. The mistake, as stated already, is to see it as a purely political treatise while it is in fact a treatise on justice and how to live the perfect life - the ‘Constitution’ of a perfect life. "He will look at the city which is within him, and take heed that no disorder occur in it, such as might arise either from superfluity or from want; and upon this principle he will regulate his property and gain or spend according to his means." In the end, the state is not fleshed out enough to really form a complete constitution for any state that can exist in reality (and not just as an idea). But the psychological part (it is curious how this part has generated so much less criticism, in comparison) is - we return in the end (and all the way in between) to the original question of how an individual should order his life - what his virtues should be. It is a political critique piggy-backing on a  personal enquiry and hence any commentary of it cannot treat them differently. Censorship, slaves, aristocracy are all wonderful aspects in an individual but not palatable in a state (to modern eyes). Hence, we can only criticize that the greater to smaller equality is not well realized (i.e. from state => individual). But then Socrates, as above, is always eager to make the point about the provisional nature of his metaphor which is only meant to incite thinking and not as an answer - that is just not the way to deal with true lovers of truth, with true philosophers. [Cheeky counterproposal by the reviewer's alter-ego: “Or all the personal stuff is just a convenient cloak for the political criticism that is the real purpose! After all, we cannot forget the historical milieu in which Plato composed it. He had enough axes to grind!”] Indeed, the more we approach certain aspects of the text from analytic and conceptual standpoints, the more we find that Socrates and his companions make innumerable assumptions and leaps of logic that is not satisfactory or fully justified. Each of these can be fairly scrutinized and contested, and have been. We may raise any number of questions about its relevance to our experiences and value systems. Much of Republic, especially its political philosophy, argument for Censorship and Social structuring, is at odds with modern ideals; some readers will doubtless be dissatisfied with, among other things, its unapologetic elitism and naive (almost laughable) confidence in the integrity of “philosopher-rulers.” Some, however, may find that its critique of ancient Athenian society opens the door to meaningful questions about contemporary cultural practices and priorities. And even more meaningful questions on how to organize our inner impulses and constitution. Philosopher, Be Thyself We need to understand that the Platonic Dialogues, in principle, are not meant to represent a simple doctrine that can be followed, they instead are meant to prepare the way for philosophizing. They are not easy guide books to follow. They require work from the reader, above and beyond the ideas presented. That is one of the reasons for the dialogue nature in which they are structured. Plato’s overarching purpose in writing the Republic was to effect a change in his readers similar to the change that Glaucon and Adeimantus undergo at Socrates’ hands in the fictional world of the dialogue. This purpose can be summed up in the word protreptic, from the Greek protrepein, which means “turn (someone) forward,” hence “propel,” “urge on,” “exhort.” Plato uses literary art, which in his case includes but is not limited to philosophical argument, to move his reader toward a greater readiness to adopt a just way of life. The dialogues are thus intended to perform the function of a living teacher who makes his students think. One must philosophize to understand them. One must look at the microcosm of the dialogues as well as the macrocosm of the world that we inhabit simultaneously to understand them. It is in this process that the dialogues assist, insist and themselves provide a training in. We can only conclude by asking questions, in the true spirit of the dialectic method: Can we then say that we are convinced, that justice, as defined by Socrates, is something intrinsically valuable? Are we convinced that the just man can be “happy” even if he does not enjoy a reputation for justice, nor any other material benefit, in this life or after? OR Have Socrates and his companions persuaded us that the ideal city-state they describe in Republic is truly the best political community possible? Do we believe that Socrates himself thinks so? Is that what we take away from such a deep examination of how to live our lives? Or do we let the Story of Er guide us back to the truer motives of the interlocutors? "I really do not know as yet, but whither the argument may blow, thither we go."

  5. 4 out of 5

    Emily May

    My re-reading of this for my university course has led me to the same conclusions I found when I first read it a couple of years back, except this time I am fortunate enough to have understood it better than last time. My conclusions being that Plato, and through him Socrates, was very intelligent, believed he was more intelligent than everyone else (no matter how many times he declared himself unwise) and very much loved to talk. Socrates, in particular, must have been very fond of the sound of My re-reading of this for my university course has led me to the same conclusions I found when I first read it a couple of years back, except this time I am fortunate enough to have understood it better than last time. My conclusions being that Plato, and through him Socrates, was very intelligent, believed he was more intelligent than everyone else (no matter how many times he declared himself unwise) and very much loved to talk. Socrates, in particular, must have been very fond of the sound of his own voice. You can't give a book that revolutionised philosophy any less than 3 stars, even if about 70% of it features many generalisations, jumping to bizarre conclusions, and claims without good reason. And yes, Plato and Socrates had some brilliant ideas - all the more brilliant because they came up with them first - but they don't measure up to today's version of "rational thinking". Good, but outdated. I suppose the best thing about their ideas was that they laid the foundations for the next 2000 years of Western philosophy and politics. Gender Equality? And, though hardly feminists, Socrates and Plato were some of the first to publicly suggest that education should be equal to both genders (apart from military training) and that women should have as large a political role as men, seeing as they make up half of society. Go early Greek gender equality!! Though I suppose the line "whining and crying as if they were but women" (or something to that effect) kind of pisses on that feminist bonfire. Oh well... Justice? So here's some of the reasons why The Republic fails. Firstly, Socrates (the character) assumes that because one example demonstrates a certain type of relationship, then this idea can be applied to all. When he is arguing with Thrasymachus about justice, Thrasymachus says that justice is whatever the rulers decide it to be and that they use this power for their own good and the weaker (i.e. the subjects) get screwed over. Socrates then uses the example of a physician who is stronger than his patients but his agenda is only to help them. Well: 1) Even if a physician selflessly helps his patients, this does not prove that rulers have the best interests of their citizens in mind. There is not a naturally occurring relationship between the two. 2) As Thrasymachus goes on to point out, the physician is doing it for his own benefit because he is paid to do the job. Stupidity & Contradictions So then Socrates starts with the bullshit that doesn't get refuted because the author is on his side, of course. He says that the physician is divided into two roles: that of physician and that of moneymaker (yep). So, basically the two are separate and have nothing to do with each other... um, I beg to differ. You see? Some of the arguments are ridiculous. He also goes on to contradict himself later by stating that rulers do get a reward for ruling: money! If he had maintained his previous argument, then they should have done it anyway for the simple benefit of their subjects and moneymaking should be a separate thing entirely. Agent vs. Act Virtue Plato and Socrates talked a great deal about justice being an agent virtue and not just an act virtue. They believed that it wasn't good enough to act justly, you had to have a good soul as well. Makes sense until you get to where you judge people based on them having a good soul or not - and just how do you do that? Person A: do you have a just soul? Person B: oh yes. Person A: Phew, let's be friends. ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? And they have a very warped view of what makes a person good/just. "A just man values wisdom above all else"... does he? I imagine a person who likes to make friends with the super-smart individuals and disregard the rest to be a bit of an ass. Don't you?

  6. 5 out of 5

    William2

    Halfway through now and the ability to see the book as a metaphor for civic and personal moral development becomes difficult. The book is only useful if you are tracking the history of ideas, which I am not. The state Plato describes here is one that is highly prohibitive in almost every aspect. Arts and culture are severely controlled for propaganda purposes. There is a complete inability to view open, transparent government as an option. The guardians must be lied to and deceived constantly if Halfway through now and the ability to see the book as a metaphor for civic and personal moral development becomes difficult. The book is only useful if you are tracking the history of ideas, which I am not. The state Plato describes here is one that is highly prohibitive in almost every aspect. Arts and culture are severely controlled for propaganda purposes. There is a complete inability to view open, transparent government as an option. The guardians must be lied to and deceived constantly if they are to develop correctly. Moreover, to establish what we might call a footing for his premises, there is an overwhelming amount of presumption on the part of the author. Much of the reasoning seems specious. It strikes this reader how Plato did not have a long and detailed historical record to call on as we do. There are many assumptions, for instance, with respect to the education of the guardians, that shows a weak grasp of human psychology. The guardians should, in effect, be shielded from badness and wrongdoing if they are to develop the appropriate appreciation for virtue. Well, if they're not exposed to badness, how will they know it when they see it? Other aspects of guardian nurturing and education, too, are severe if not totalitarian by today's standards. First, the very sick are to be left to die. This was of course a sign of the times. Medicine was primitive. But there is not an iota of compassion about those left to die. This, indeed, would connote "softness," something not wanted in our guardians, who are to be simultaneously brave and happy, not unlike the family dog. Plato actually says that. The overwhelming import of the reading so far has been to show me how very far we as a culture (western) have come in the more than 2,400 years since Republic's composition. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, and I paraphrase, the arc of history is long but it bends toward justice. I stopped on p. 134, unable to finish. To use a line from Candide, "the book fell from my hands." (AC says I should not be reading this translation at all but G.M.A. Grube's. So I will.) .

  7. 4 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    I’ve gotten into the habit of dividing up the books I’ve read by whether I read them before or after Plato’s Republic. Before The Republic, reading was a disorganized activity—much the same as wading through a sea of jumbled thoughts and opinions. I had no basis from which to select books, except by how much they appealed to my naïve tastes. But after reading The Republic, it was as if the entire intellectual landscape was put into perspective. Reading became a focused activity, meant to engage I’ve gotten into the habit of dividing up the books I’ve read by whether I read them before or after Plato’s Republic. Before The Republic, reading was a disorganized activity—much the same as wading through a sea of jumbled thoughts and opinions. I had no basis from which to select books, except by how much they appealed to my naïve tastes. But after reading The Republic, it was as if the entire intellectual landscape was put into perspective. Reading became a focused activity, meant to engage with certain questions. “Question” is the key word here because, in the end, that’s what Plato is all about: asking the right questions, the important questions. All academic disciplines are organized around a few basic questions—“what is the nature of human cognition?” “what are the fundamental laws of the universe?”—and in The Republic, Plato touches on almost every one of them. That’s why shelving the book in the philosophy section doesn’t quite do it justice. An exhaustive list of the disciplines touched upon in this dialogue would be massive—epistemology, metaphysics, psychology, eschatology, political science, economics, art, literature, music. In fact, it would be easier naming disciplines that aren’t touched upon. That’s how Plato lit up the intellectual landscape for me. By posing these questions in their most basic forms, and attempting answers, he makes it clear which questions are the important ones in life, and how difficult they are to answer. And that’s why Plato’s Republic is the quintessential classic. It has everything a classic should have—a unique perspective, brilliant ideas, engagement with perennial issues, and a charming writing style. It is the greatest book of perhaps the Western tradition’s greatest thinker. I don’t care who you are—you should read it. Nevertheless, there are some perplexing and frustrating things about Plato. For one, it is extraordinarily difficult to figure out where Plato stands in relation to his work. Unlike almost every later philosopher, Plato didn’t write didactic works. He puts his ideas—sometimes conflicting ideas—into the mouths of the people of his day. The result is a kind of double confusion. To what extent are the ideas expressed by Socrates actually Socrates’s? To what extent are they Plato’s? To what extent are they anyone’s? Perhaps Plato was just fond of playing intellectual games and creating philosophical pocket dramas. Added to this is a kind of subtle irony that creeps up in several of his dialogues. In Phaedrus, Plato has Socrates complain about the evils of writing; yet Plato obviously loved to write. One of Plato’s most influential ideas is his theory of forms; yet one of the most influential arguments against the theory was put forward by Plato himself. In The Republic, as well as elsewhere, Plato repeatedly equates knowledge with goodness, and falsity with evil; yet he proposes to found his entire utopia on a massive lie. And again, in this book Plato puts forward one of the most famous arguments in history against poetry and the arts; yet Plato was one of the most artistic of all writers. Plato proposes to banish the myths of Homer and Hesiod; then Plato ends his magnum opus with his own myth. You see these contradictions again and again, which leads you to wonder: how many of his arguments are meant to be taken seriously? What’s more, some of the arguments put forward in his dialogues are—it must be said—frustratingly stupid, relying on false analogies and several other types of fallacies. This would be no mystery if he was a halfwit. But the quality of his writing and the originality of his ideas make it clear that he was a genius. This again makes you wonder if he is putting forth his ideas in earnest. There are many complaints commonly lodged at Plato (and his pupil Aristotle). Liberals criticize his hatred of democracy and freedom. Moralists complain that he embraced slavery. (A friend of mine once told me that his philosophy professor called Aristotle the “father of racism.”) Scientists—such as Carl Sagan—disparage Plato’s anti-empirical and mystical tendencies. Nietzsche and his followers condemn Plato for dividing up the world into self-evident good and bad. The list of complaints can be extended almost endlessly. And, it should be said, there is some justice in all of these criticisms. (But just you try and found an entire intellectual tradition spanning thousands of years, and see if you do any better!) In Plato, I find something so valuable that it could outweigh every one of those criticisms: Plato's celebration of thinking for its own sake—argument for the sake of argument, debate for the sake of debate. Too often, we consider intellectual activity as merely a means to some desirable end; how rarely we consider that thinking is its own reward. Vigorous thought is one the keenest joys in life. And that is why Plato is so valuable, why he still has so much to offer our world—perhaps now more than ever. [A note on justice. Even though Plato spills much ink in trying to prove that justice is more desirable than injustice, I think the real solution is in Glaucon’s speech in Book 2, where Plato manages to hit upon the solution provided by game theory. It’s worth quoting at length. [Many have believed] that to do injustice is, by nature, good; to suffer injustice, evil; but that the evil is greater than the good. [I.e. The evil suffered from injustice is greater than the good gained from acting unjustly.] And so when men have both done and suffered injustice and have had experience of both, not being able to avoid the one and obtain the other, they think that they had better agree among themselves to have neither; hence there arise laws and mutual covenants; and that which is ordained by law is termed by them lawful and just. This they affirm to be the origin and nature of justice; it is a mean or compromise, between the best of all, which is to do injustice and not be punished, and the worst of all, which is to suffer injustice without the power of retaliation; and justice, being at a middle point between the two, is tolerated not as a good, but the lesser evil, and honored by reason of the inability of the men to do injustice. This view—purportedly the common view of justice—is game theory in a nutshell. Cheating your neighbor is (for you) the biggest positive, since you get their resources without having to work. But being cheated is the biggest negative, since you lose both your resources and the work you invested in procuring them. Creating laws to abolish cheating is a sort of compromise—avoiding the pain of being cheated at the expense of the gain from cheating. That, to me, seems like the most logical explanation of justice. This is just one example of why it's rewarding to read Plato, because even when he's wrong, he's right.]

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mackey

    It's been far too long ago since I read this to write a critical review, however, it should be required reading for all students in America at the very least. Oh how far we have strayed.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Piyangie

    The Republic is where Plato lays down his ideas of an ideal state and its rulers. Plato's Utopian state is one which is just and his ideal rulers are philosophers (so far as I understood). Being my first philosophic read, I don't claim to have fully understood Plato's ideas. Presented as a series of dialogue between Socrates and Plato's brothers Adeimantus and Glaucon, in eleven parts Plato step by step forms his ideal state (Part I and II), its rulers (Part IV and Part VII), their education, wo The Republic is where Plato lays down his ideas of an ideal state and its rulers. Plato's Utopian state is one which is just and his ideal rulers are philosophers (so far as I understood). Being my first philosophic read, I don't claim to have fully understood Plato's ideas. Presented as a series of dialogue between Socrates and Plato's brothers Adeimantus and Glaucon, in eleven parts Plato step by step forms his ideal state (Part I and II), its rulers (Part IV and Part VII), their education, women's position (Part VI) and the position of art and poetry (Part X) in the new state. Although some of his views are far fetched and absurd, many of them are thought provoking. And if you examine carefully, you will see the truth of many of his view points, especially those relating to imperfect societies (discussed in Part IX). I really enjoyed Plato arguments although I cannot say that I agree with them all. There are many insightful views though at the same time, given the long years between the time in which it was written and which it was read, some of the arguments are absurd according to modern standards. Plato's Utopian state is one that cannot be realized in reality; even Plato had his doubts about it ever being in existence. But on close examination on various governance in the world we see instances where views of Plato having been adopted. Taking all these into account, it is no wonder that the Republic is regarded as the cornerstone of western philosophy. The translation I read was done by Sir Desmond Lee. I found it easy to read. There were many explanatory notes within that really helped me to understand the text, although I cannot say I fully understood everything. Overall, I loved the read, and am really happy to say that finally one of my long reading wishes is fulfilled.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

    I’ve read this right through a couple of times now – three, or there about, I think. And bits of it many, many times. This is one of the key books of ‘the western canon’, you really do need to be aware of it. And you might be surprised at how frequently it is referenced, particularly in science fiction – everything from The Giver to Brave New World to The Matrix. And while the world Plato is presenting is meant to be a utopia, it is generally used as the basis for the most terrifying of dystopia I’ve read this right through a couple of times now – three, or there about, I think. And bits of it many, many times. This is one of the key books of ‘the western canon’, you really do need to be aware of it. And you might be surprised at how frequently it is referenced, particularly in science fiction – everything from The Giver to Brave New World to The Matrix. And while the world Plato is presenting is meant to be a utopia, it is generally used as the basis for the most terrifying of dystopias. One of the things I noticed this time through was all the eugenics. Not just in the selective breeding of the human stock, but also in the murder of the ‘unfit’. I’ve always been very sensitive to ideas of killing people based on some notion of the ‘costs to society’ that they bring. I believe such ideas undermine our very humanity to the point where the ‘improved’ society would no longer be fit to be called human. This book is seeking to provide an answer to the question ‘what is justice?’ – or rather, it starts by questioning if it is just to help your friends and harm your enemies? I’m not sure it is immediately obvious that we might go from these questions to answers concerning the division of labour in a society – but that seems to be a major consideration of the theory of justice being presented here. Basically, people are born with various levels of merit and a just society would identify those who are favoured with whatever merit they have, and it would set them to the tasks that best suit whatever merit they have. Plato talks of the merit of people as a bit like being assigned to different metals (not unlike in the Olympics) and those people metals differentiate them into different classifications – gold, silver, bronze and iron – and each will have their proper tasks in society. Once you have been assigned to one of these classifications you are pretty much stuck there. There are tasks that are appropriate to your abilities and the just society is one where people are assigned tasks that best meet their abilities. For this reason, it is important that parents don’t know their own children and that children are brought up in common by the whole of society. That way you won’t end up with a bronze child from two gold parents being given a gold education that they will not be able to make any use of, or their bronze child wreaking havoc trying to be a philosopher king, when they would have been a better baker or blacksmith or something. All the same, the best people are still likely to have the best children and so the society should make all proper efforts to ensure that the best breeds with the best – in much the same way as you would if you were breeding race horses. The best societies would be ruled by philosopher kings – and they would not be allowed to have any possessions of their own, since they ought to be focused on the good of the society as a whole. There is a kind of threat to such people – Plato believes they would be unlikely to really give a stuff about most things that others find very rewarding. For instance, wealth, power, prestige and so on. They are likely to be seen as too ‘other worldly’, even by themselves, and therefore they are likely to be uninterested in taking on the responsibility of ruling and they might need to be encouraged. This is all for the good – because the sorts of people who want to rule are generally not the sort of people who should ever be allowed to rule. This is one of the things in which me and Plato are very much on the same page – although, for me, rather than breeding a special class of philosopher kings to rule over us, I am increasingly becoming an anarchist as I struggle to think of a single person in my life who has been a worthwhile leader. I’ve certainly never met a philosopher I would be happy to have as my king. These philosopher kings are expected to structure pretty well all aspects of life to make sure that the dumb (or rather we differently-abled with all too much base metal in our veins) are kept content in our ignorance. There are many, many things that the mass of society really shouldn’t be troubling their all too small minds over. It is also important that the philosopher kings do what they can to make sure that the rest of society doesn’t get their passions too excited by things like poetry either. A large part of religion will need to go – particularly the bits where the gods were seen fighting with each other or doing immoral things to women dressed up as bulls and such. The allegory of the cave is the most famous part of this dialogue. It concerns the nature of education. What always strikes me about it is the pain that is associated with learning the truth and how once one has learnt the truth one appears to be foolish to all those around them. But that the point of learning is to return to those who are ignorant and to be forced to attempt to explain the truth of existence to them. This is almost always a near fatal enterprise. People generally don’t like being told they are wrong and being told ‘everything you have ever thought was true is actually false’ is hardly the first line in a new romance. I keep going on about Marx’s utopia being based on the idea of there being no division of labour – so it is interesting that Plato’s is based on the exact opposite idea to this. In fact, Plato says that people really only have one thing that they are likely to be good at and that they must stick to that. He may have been both the first eugenicist, and the first Fordist/Taylorist too. His discussion of the different types of government in book viii is a bit of a highlight to this, I think. I found his discussion of democracy particularly interesting. I’m not sure I agree with it, but I thought his discussion of how it tended towards tyranny was all a bit chilling, and perhaps also a bit too close to home. The power of money to buy democracy, the fact tyrants need to remove the best of those around them and so becomes increasingly stupid, and focused on giving the people ‘what they want’ – mostly bread and circuses – looks all uncomfortably like Trump’s America writ large.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tristan

    A man, tired from a long day of drudgery at work, walks towards his favourite haunt, an old-fashioned British working class pub in Essex called 'The Griffon'. Drenched from a heavy fall of rain, he enters the building and is greeted by its familiar smells and sounds. Man: “Evening, all.” (The patrons demurely acknowledge his presence, and return to their drinks. The face of Roger, a much older man, lights up as he joyously steps towards the newcomer) Roger: “Nate, ye bastard! Where have ye been A man, tired from a long day of drudgery at work, walks towards his favourite haunt, an old-fashioned British working class pub in Essex called 'The Griffon'. Drenched from a heavy fall of rain, he enters the building and is greeted by its familiar smells and sounds. Man: “Evening, all.” (The patrons demurely acknowledge his presence, and return to their drinks. The face of Roger, a much older man, lights up as he joyously steps towards the newcomer) Roger: “Nate, ye bastard! Where have ye been all this time? Stuck in a sheep’s backside?”(he guffaws, while shaking his friend's hand) Nate [smiling feebly]: “Evening, Roger. Oh no, nothing as queer like that. Had some family business to attend to. I also have been busy reading, as a matter of fact..” Roger: “Reading? You?” Nate [feeling slight shame]: “Yes..” Roger:“Didn’t peg you as the intellectual type, mate.” Nate: “Oh, I am not, I can assure you. Let me explain. You know about that particularly nasty storm a forthnight ago?" Roger:"Aye, the Great Storm of 2017. Already a legend in these parts." Nate:"Well, I got myself caught in the open street during its peak, and sought shelter in the nearest building. Turned out it was the bloody library! Quite a shock, let me tell you." Roger: “Really? I didn’t even know we had one! Didn’t Thatcher close it down back in the eighties? What the hell else did we elect her for?”(he falls prey to a violent fit of laughter, and is soon joined by the others) (Nate waits until the noise dies down and soberly resumes his tale) "All right, men, in all seriousness now. So here I found myself in that building I had never been in before, and which I couldn’t wait to leave. But, since the storm didn’t show any sign of abating, I thought it best to stay put and kill some time browsing. What else’s a man to do, eh? Well, for some reason I ended up in the philosophy section, and found this book titled the Republic by this fella named Plato. Does that ring a bell with anyone?” (A stout little man named Edmund enters the conversation) “Plato? Famous bloke, innit?” Nate: “Yes, rather. In it he sort of details how society should be run by so-called philosopher kings. Rather strict in his way of approaching it, methinks. Not a lot of freedom, or much fun at all really.” Roger: “Hmm. Got you to keep flippin' the pages though, no?” Nate: “Pretty much. The missus always said I was a right philistine, and should get some more culture in my system. The back cover did mention it was ‘a foundational text of Western civilisation’, so I figured I might bloody well start there. I read for an hour or so, and then took it home. First time I applied for a library card, funnily enough. Finished the whole thing in two weeks. I felt real smart for an instance there. A fine feat of self-improvement, if I do say so myself.” (A fierce looking, burly man who goes by the name of Carlyle interrupts): “A philosopher, eh? Bah! Let me tell you something, lad. Buy these fine gentlemen (he intently looks around the room) enough pints of lager and they’ll all be “philosophizin’” soon enough. Isn’t that right, men?” (the whole room shakes with laughter) Nate [uneasy]:“Well, Plato sort of advocated that philosophy is a serious business, to be handled with a clear, well-educated mind, you know. Among other things, he also viewed alcohol as a possible hindrance to that. So that’s us out, I’m afraid.” Roger [jumping in]: “He did, did he? Well, I am a working man with a wife and the fruit of my overactive loins to provide for. After eight hours of breaking my back in the factory, I just want to go to me pub, unwind and drink my scotch. Anything other than that is a damned luxury. Ya see my meaning here?” Nate: [exasperatedly sighs]“I do, and you’re probably right. More than likely, reading these things is a waste of time anyway for folk like us.” Roger: [approvingly] “That’s the spirit, laddie! Don’t concern yourself with these things, it is quite useless. We are simple folk, ye know, who don’t count at all in the grand scheme of things. Trust me, I have seen it all. Best enjoy what we have and hope for the best. Leave that lofty thinkin’ to those smug arseholes in their lofty places. I wouldn’t have it any other way meself. Damn proud to be a nobody at the bottom. At least there is honour in that. (He pauzes for a moment, immersed in thought) Bah, enough of this. Barman, a round of drinks for all!” (They all erupt into loud shouts of appreciation)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    Strange days indeed, when we are sent back to re-visit the very roots of philosophy within the ancient world. Audio book 4:49:25

  13. 5 out of 5

    Justin Evans

    Just to be clear, my rating is for the edition of the Republic I read- the Oxford World's Classics text translated by Robin Waterfield. Giving stars to the Republic is so flagrantly stupid that I can't even come up with a suitably stupid analogy. Giving stars to the Mona Lisa? Not even close. Giving stars to Dante? Not the same, because that deserves five stars. The Republic simultaneously deserves five stars, for kick-starting Western philosophy, social science, aesthetics, theology, and politi Just to be clear, my rating is for the edition of the Republic I read- the Oxford World's Classics text translated by Robin Waterfield. Giving stars to the Republic is so flagrantly stupid that I can't even come up with a suitably stupid analogy. Giving stars to the Mona Lisa? Not even close. Giving stars to Dante? Not the same, because that deserves five stars. The Republic simultaneously deserves five stars, for kick-starting Western philosophy, social science, aesthetics, theology, and political thought. It poses a bunch of difficult questions in a way that no book before it does. That said, the arguments it uses and the answers it reaches are ridiculous and ridiculously flawed. That's okay. If you're smart enough to ask questions that keep people talking for over two millennia, you're allowed to airball the answers. You can tear the arguments of this book apart in more ways than any other work of respectable philosophy: Aristotle is way more internally coherent, even the most moronic contemporary popular 'scientist' has less absurd assumptions. Anyway, really I wanted to review the edition. It's great. Waterfield jettisons the random 'book' divisions of the Republic. Ideally, I guess, you'd just publish the thing as one long rant, but in the interests of user-friendliness Waterfield's split the text up into chapters, each one of which more or less features one argument. This makes the flow of the dialogue much easier to follow. He also breaks up steps in the arguments of the longer chapters, so you don't get lost even if you're kind of half-arsing your reading. For that alone, he'd get four stars, but his notes are *brilliant* too. Philosophically engaged, historically aware, never willing to play cheerleader to Socrates' more obvious gaffs, but willing to go out on a limb to defend something that initially seems implausible. Waterfield's guiding thread is that you really should read the book as what it says it is: an investigation into morality (often translated as justice elsewhere), which proceeds by way of analogy. The political stuff is secondary; the real goal is to defend the idea that the moral person is happier and better in the long run. I say all this despite disagreeing with Waterfield's argument that the forms aren't metaphysical. I know why philosophers say that; the idea that Plato thought there were real Divine Bedframes floating somewhere in the fifth dimension is ridiculous. But he pretty clearly thought that ridiculous thing. Not because he was an idiot, though: he wanted to anchor truth is something which actually existed, but acknowledged the real lack of truthiness/justice/morality in the world as he found it. Good for him.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jason Pettus

    (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.) The CCLaP 100: In which I read a hundred so-called "classic" books for the first time, then write reports on whether or not I think they deserve the label Essay #11: The Republic, by Plato (~360 BC) The story in a nutshell: For those who don't know, the last 2,500 years of Western civilization can be rou (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.) The CCLaP 100: In which I read a hundred so-called "classic" books for the first time, then write reports on whether or not I think they deserve the label Essay #11: The Republic, by Plato (~360 BC) The story in a nutshell: For those who don't know, the last 2,500 years of Western civilization can be roughly broken down into three eras, or "Ages;" the one we're in the middle of right now, the "Modern Age," actually began around the year 1400 or so with what we now call the "Renaissance," in which humanity slowly rediscovered the ideas and philosophies of ancient Greece and other so-called "enlightened societies" from the dawn of written history. (The era of those societies, then, is known as the "Classical Age;" the years between these two eras is known as the "Middle Age" or "Dark Age," in that these were the years such information was lost and forgotten in the first place.) Of all these thinkers and playwrights and architects and scientists of ancient Greece, then, perhaps none was more influential than a man named Socrates, who in our modern days we would call both an educator and philosopher; although he never actually wrote down any of his thoughts about life, his fanboy students did on a voracious basis, including a disciple named Plato who became the most famous of them during the Renaissance, because of so many of his original manuscripts making it through the chaotic times of the Dark Age*. The Republic, for example, which would be better translated in our modern language to Society, is one of the more important of the dozens of Plato's books to still exist; it is one of the first books in Western culture, in fact, to tackle the very question of what a society is, of how to best organize one, and how to lay the long-term plans to make such a "republic" stable and violence-free. For example, the whole first part of the book tackles nothing else but what Socrates saw as the fundamental question behind all societies, that of "justice;" of how we as an organized group of people determine what exactly is "fair," what exactly is "right" and "wrong," and how we go about not only formally defining that but also enforcing it on a society-wide basis. That then gets the group talking about the creation of laws, which gets into the subject of who in a society is best qualified to write and determine such laws; this gets the reader into what most consider part 2 of the book, an examination of what we today would call not only lawyers but also politicians, philosophers and educators. (Plato and his peers, in fact, believed that the enlightened citizen should be all of these things at once; it's only in our modern times that we split them into four different professions.) This then gets us into part 3 of The Republic, a detailed examination of four popular types of society that were around at the time; this is what gets us our modern definitions of timocracy, oligarchy, democracy and tyranny, and of course the dozens of other government types that have since been invented by later philosophers. And then finally, the way Socrates and his students actually discuss and arrive at these conclusions is through what is now known as the "Socratic Method," a fancy term for something most people will immediately understand; it's simply the process of teaching through talking and asking questions, guiding a student through a series of answers into discovering the wisdom of that topic on their own. Anytime a public school teacher discusses a subject out loud in a classroom, for example, then calls on a student to answer a question about the subject, that technically is the Socratic Method. The argument for it being a classic: Dude, it's a 2,200-year-old book that's still being read on a daily basis; if that's not the definition of a classic, fans say, then what is? Much more importantly than this, though, The Republic and other Classical books of philosophy virtually defined how nearly the entire western half of the planet currently conducts its business; all modern free-market representational democracies, after all, are fundamentally based on the ideas of the "Enlightenment" philosophers of the 1700s, and their ideas originally came from the ideas of Plato, Socrates, Aristotle and others. There's nothing like reading the actual source material, fans of Classical literature will tell you, if you want a deep understanding of the principles guiding all of Western culture; this one single book, for example, laid the groundwork for how over half the world's governments now operate, making it the very definition of a book you should read before you die. The argument against: Of course, let's not forget the price of reading a 2,200-year-old book of philosophy, which is that much of it is out-of-date by now; in fact, there's an entire litany of terms in The Republic that a reader must put air quotes around each time they come across, with "democracy" for example not meaning nearly the same thing to Plato that it means to us, nor "republic," nor "equality," nor "freedom." Two thousand years is a long time to be able to tweak and build on a certain set of specific ideas, let's not forget; in fact, most of the incremental improvements we make to government anymore are based on principles from merely a half-century or so ago, which themselves were the product of the 75th or 80th generation of small improvements that have now been made over the centuries to Plato and Socrates' original ideas. Because of all this, critics say, a book like The Republic is certainly historically important, certainly a must-read for anyone devoting their life or career to philosophy or government or education, but not necessarily a book that the general populace should feel a need to read themselves. My verdict: So let me admit right off the bat what a p-ssy I am, and that in actuality I only read something like the first hundred pages of this book; because let's face it, we live in a much more sophisticated age than Plato did, with most of us for example deeply comfortable with the Socratic Method even by the time we're done with elementary school. The Republic itself is written in the same pace one would use when explaining something to a five-year-old child, which of course Plato and his co-horts had to do back then; it was a society that was barely literate, that had never tackled these subjects before, who hadn't even invented such words as "philosophy" yet or such concepts as universities. To tell you the truth, the most interesting thing about the book was in fact the modern 50-page introduction by Desmond Lee (I read the Penguin Classics version); like many other synopses that now exist, it does a much better job than the manuscript itself at explaining the historical context that informed these ideas, as well as the outdated terminology and the words that would be better used today. Although it was definitely a fascinating book to explore and learn more about, I can't say in all honesty that I would recommend tackling the actual manuscript; much better I think to read one of the modern analyses instead, and learn more about how the book has shaped society in the two thousand years since. Is it a classic? Yes, but skip it anyway *And in fact, the majority of the Classical Canon would be gone forever if had been up to the Westerners themselves, who were too busy slaughtering and raping and burning down each others' cities during the Medieval period to give much of a crap about a bunch of dusty ol' books; it was mostly the scholars of the Middle East who saved the majority of these manuscripts, by translating them into Arabic and incorporating them into their own great libraries at Alexandria (in modern Egypt), Babylon (in modern Iraq), and more. Bitter irony, I know, considering the way the majority of Middle East states have been treated by the majority of Western nations over the last couple of hundred years.

  15. 5 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    Theorising the Perfect State 21 October 2013 Sometimes I wonder if people give this book five stars because it is either a) written by Plato, or b) if you don't give it five stars then you are afraid that people will think that you are some semi-literate mindless cretin whose reading capacity tends to extend little beyond the Harry Potter and Twilight Series. Yes, I realise that I have given it five stars, but I have given it five stars because I actually enjoyed the argument that this book outli Theorising the Perfect State 21 October 2013 Sometimes I wonder if people give this book five stars because it is either a) written by Plato, or b) if you don't give it five stars then you are afraid that people will think that you are some semi-literate mindless cretin whose reading capacity tends to extend little beyond the Harry Potter and Twilight Series. Yes, I realise that I have given it five stars, but I have given it five stars because I actually enjoyed the argument that this book outlines. Basically it is a very logical argument that examines the nature of the human soul and of justice and the structure of the argument is of the sort that you could only expect to see from a master. Mind you, some of the points that Plato makes, such as physicians role being only to maintain the health of society and not to heal or care for the sick or injured (thus simply letting them die) would be repugnant not only to us (to an extent) but also to the people of his day. However it is the way that the argument flows, and the way that Plato explores concepts that are relevant even to us today that makes me think highly of this work of literature. First of all, let us consider the context of the book. This was written after the death of Socrates which meant that the democratic model that Athens had been based upon had failed, and this it was quite clear to Plato and his contemporaries that democracy had failed. As such, when writing about the perfect society, one could not write about a democracy, and if one did, one needed to outline how the previous experiment failed and how it could be improved. This is the case today with socialists examining how the Russian experiment failed, but seeking to build upon its ideals to create a government that will avoid those mistakes. However, in Plato's mind, this could not happen simply because he knew that the basic foundations of the democratic state could not support a functioning ideal government. The main reason for that is that, like our democratic system, the power brokers not only tended to be rich, but also very well spoken, meaning that the populace could easily be swayed and end up supporting the power-brokers flawed, and in many cases self-centered, policies. However, while many consider that the Republic is about an idea of how to construct a perfect state, the treatise itself goes far beyond that because what it is actually looking at is the idea of perfect justice. Near the end of the treatise Plato once again outlines his theory of forms, which is that everything in this world his a pale reflection of the object's perfect form. For instance, all tables that we see are a reflection of a perfect table, and as tables can only be created by people who make tables, and because all table makers are different, it is thus impossible to create the perfect form of a table. However to help us understand this concept further, Plato brings out the idea of art. A painting of a table is a mere reflection of the table that is painted, and every painting of that table will be different and no painter is able to paint that table as it truly is – the painter is basically restrained by the medium of which the painter creates the table. The same goes with poetry, because the poet is only able to create a pale reflection of the event that the poet is writing the poem about, and no poet, through the medium of poetry, is able to create a perfect reflection of that event. Thus, what Plato is doing is he is applying his theory to that of government. Thus every government is a reflection of the perfect government, and no government can replicate the perfect form of government. Further still, being a philosopher, Plato is restrained from being able to describe exactly what that perfect government is because he is restrained by the medium of which is uses to outline what he believes the perfect form of government is. That, by the way, is very important - what he believes the perfect form of government to be. The major restraint that Plato faces in outlining the perfect form is that it is his opinion, and his opinion is quite possibly wrong. However, let us consider what this government is. First of all, it is not a democracy, and has no democratic institutions. The government is a oligarchic state which is ruled by philosophers, with the philosopher king at the top of the chain. It is also a very stratified form of government, with three castes, namely the ruling caste, the warrior caste (known as the Guardians), and the working caste. We must remember also that there is no room for anybody who cannot fit into any of these castes, thus the sick, injured, or disabled, have no part in this society because they are not able to fulfil any meaningful role within the state. However your caste his not determined by your birth, which means that just because you are born to working class parents does not mean you are automatically a part of the working class, and as such, just because you are born among the ruling class does not mean you are automatically members of the ruling class. A few further points that I note is that Plato endorses religion in his state, but this is not surprising considering the Greeks were very religious people. However, Plato does not see a need to comment on religion, and while it is the case that there were philosophers who were atheists, Plato, nor his teacher Socrates, were one of them. Plato also does not support the idea of family, and actually believes that it should be abolished (though he does support monogamous marriage). I suspect that is this because the family unit tends to be a very tight unit, and if allowed in such a stratified society, having a family unit would mean that the idea of a person being a member of a specific class based on skill would fall apart as the members of a family in a specific class would not allow their children to fall down to a lower class. Plato also believes in the abolition of wealth and property, which means that his state is a socialist state. Once again this is not surprising considering that most dictatorships tend to have the wealth concentrated at the top, with the rulers effectively being the progenitors of a kelptocracy. However, it is also the case in the democracies where wealth creates privilege, and privilege creates power. Just as it is today, the wealthy of fifth century Athens were able to buy the best minds to write their arguments and promote their policies to the detriment of the poorer classes. A democracy could quite well also be considered a form of kleptocracy. Finally, Plato advocates censorship, particularly in education. He indicates that there are some things that should not be taught to our young for fear that our young may not understand what is being taught. This is very much the case today because there is a form of censorship that is basically accepted, and that is the rating systems for our movies, and now for our computer games. One cannot release a movie in an advanced democracy without getting the approval of the ratings agency. Further, studios will purposely self censor a movie so that it will receive a certain rating so that more people will go and see it and will be willing to see it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Gary Inbinder

    This is my first GR review without a star rating. Here’s the reason why. I don’t like Plato’s Republic, but I think it ought to be read more than once. I didn’t like it when I first read it almost 50 years ago, and my opinion hasn’t changed over the years. Nevertheless, I think it’s an important book that should be read, analyzed and debated. In that regard, it’s much like Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Both books are, in my opinion, prescriptions for tyranny, the two sides of the same counterfeit coin. H This is my first GR review without a star rating. Here’s the reason why. I don’t like Plato’s Republic, but I think it ought to be read more than once. I didn’t like it when I first read it almost 50 years ago, and my opinion hasn’t changed over the years. Nevertheless, I think it’s an important book that should be read, analyzed and debated. In that regard, it’s much like Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Both books are, in my opinion, prescriptions for tyranny, the two sides of the same counterfeit coin. However, I won't compare Plato to Hitler. I believe Plato meant well, but more of that later. Hitler was the prime modern example of a populist demagogue who based his “might makes right” ideology on race, blood and soil. “Justice,” for Hitler, was grounded on the “right” of the Aryan Superman to dominate and rule those inferior to himself. It followed that oppression, war and genocide could be justified when done in the name of the “Master Race” and their “Aryan Superman Leader.” Plato despised the populist demagogues of his time, the products of ancient Athenian democracy, most particularly because he blamed them for the unjust death of his mentor, Socrates. Plato argued for a Republic governed by those most fit to rule, the Men and Women of Gold, the philosopher kings and queens. “Justice” for Plato, was grounded on the “right” of the ”best and brightest” to dominate and rule those who were naturally inferior to themselves. The justification for this peculiar form of injustice was that the naturally superior were "experts" who would rule the naturally inferior for their own good. In my opinion it follows that oppression, war and genocide could be justified when done in the name of “The City State and the People” by the reigning “Men and Women of Gold.” In other words, Plato’s Republic could be an authoritarian hell. If you want to argue that Plato’s hell was at least well intended, I’d refer to the old adage about the road paved with good intentions and where that road leads. Hitler was the rattler who gives a warning before he bites. Plato was subtler. He used the Cave metaphor, an example of his idealistic epistemology, to show how some people have the special insight to see things as they really are, whereas the masses only see things as they appear to be. Therefore, the ignorant masses are always subject to the popular opinion of the moment. Plato sets up his typical straw man arguments about justice, to get to the definition of justice that he wants: A system where the masses “mind their own business” leaving the experts, the “Men and Women of Gold” i.e. people like Plato, to run things for the common good. What’s more, he justifies propaganda in the form of a “Noble Lie” or "Noble Myth" to convince the masses that they are inferior, by analogy made of baser metal, and must submit to the will of their superiors “for their own good.” I assume H.L Mencken agreed with Plato when he wrote: “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” Mencken was writing about U.S. politics in the 1920’s-1930’s. I wonder what he’d think of U.S. politics today? Plato was writing about Athenian politics, their ancient democracy, and other systems of government 2,500 years ago. I haven't a clue what he'd think of the 21st century. Plato’s world is so remote in time and space that we can barely imagine it; Mencken’s world is still within the memory of the oldest among us, but it’s still distant and hard for the young to understand. Things change yet much remains the same. Governments are instituted by human beings, and all humans are subject to the same flaws and weaknesses as our ancestors. Imperfect beings will never develop a perfect form of government. Nevertheless, I believe that a Constitutional Republic with democratic processes and a rule of law that guarantees the rights of individuals, and that promotes equality, Abraham Lincoln’s “Government of, by and for the people”, is still about as good as it gets. As for Plato’s Republic, it’s a Utopian thought experiment. Government by an ostensibly “benign” elite of “intellectuals” and technocrats with little or no respect for individual rights has been tried and found wanting. Robespierre’s “Committee of Public Safety"* is an early modern example of the sort of hell that arises from the “good intentions” of Plato and others. Repeating that experiment over and over again while expecting a different result is worse than insane—it’s downright evil. I recommend reading Robespierre's speech The Republic of Virtue (1794) and considering it in light of Plato's Republic, a good test of thought experiment as applied to reality.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    70417: this is the third translation i have read. i read jowett 1871 years ago (decades...). you can get his version free on the net. read another but do not recall by whom. this is allen 2008. i think what riku sayuj says above is the best in-depth review i mostly agree with. i read it yes as a way of arguing around to 'what is justice/just man', by portraying an entire city as if it can then be seen allegorically as one person. rather as nietzsche proceeds outward from self to society, plato g 70417: this is the third translation i have read. i read jowett 1871 years ago (decades...). you can get his version free on the net. read another but do not recall by whom. this is allen 2008. i think what riku sayuj says above is the best in-depth review i mostly agree with. i read it yes as a way of arguing around to 'what is justice/just man', by portraying an entire city as if it can then be seen allegorically as one person. rather as nietzsche proceeds outward from self to society, plato goes inward from society to self. plato’s concern is not specifically political- but these are the books continuing most interesting, relevant, provocative... plato does seem to see only two roles for 'art'- or 'poets': censorship and propaganda. and this makes sense if you agree to certain questionable premises, ideas, causality. for who would truly risk damaging children through morally suspect art? which sounds like the current russian laws against 'homosexual propaganda' for children. and who would allow people to hear their betters as worse..? which sounds like where comedy comes from... on the other, is plato arguing against poetry by using poetry? is the 'copying' of art truly no more than 'copying' copies (instances) of ideal 'forms'? plato uses socrates as ideal questioner, uses others primarily as those who can agree 'you're right socrates', i have not read any dialogues or studied plato for years (decades...), mostly i remember plato is much easier to read than aristotle as these are single-authored texts rather than student and lecturer notes. and here are those basic platonic concepts: the sun, the cave, the divided line. after heidegger i have a better sense of where plato went metaphysically after the pre-socratics, after a couple millennia we have an idea of where plato's politics were hopelessly naive, strenuously misinterpreted... i suppose this text can be read as scripture is often said to be: look hard enough and here you can find anything, any argument, any prejudice. this is philosophy. there is complete equality of sexes, communal property, anonymous meritocracy, immortal souls, arguments for philosopher kings. there is primitive eugenics, age prejudice, solid classism, usual racism, arguments for totalitarianism. this version is very fluid, very exact, very readable, such that i wonder why other translators chose different words, for this is clear contemporary english from ancient greek... i suppose also that my reading so much other philosophy, over the years, has greatly affect what i now take from this. if this is indeed product of those 'drinking parties' (translation of 'symposium') of plato and others: i want to go to parties like that...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amit Mishra

    The book is a dialogue among the students. Where some serious questions have been asked. Like, what is a reality? What is good and bad? The book tries t capture all the forces of earth and translate them into a constructive idea. It talks about almost all thing. How should be an idle society look like, how should be an individual. The book is a must-read for everyone who wants to understand the depth of life.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jessaka

    Let me tell you about this book. Well, I don't recall it much; I only recall the angst it caused me for in my first year of college there were only two classes left that looked somewhat interesting. First time; last served. I took Philosophy 101 and Child Psychology. I walked into my philosophy class and thought it was really going to be interesting. The teacher, Mr. Flores, spoke in broken English. No one told me that I could drop out of a class, so I sat there. I couldn't take notes because I Let me tell you about this book. Well, I don't recall it much; I only recall the angst it caused me for in my first year of college there were only two classes left that looked somewhat interesting. First time; last served. I took Philosophy 101 and Child Psychology. I walked into my philosophy class and thought it was really going to be interesting. The teacher, Mr. Flores, spoke in broken English. No one told me that I could drop out of a class, so I sat there. I couldn't take notes because I didn't know what he was saying. I read this book, and I was still struggling. A student suggested Cliffs Notes. They helped. The test didn't include anything in the book, what it included was his lectures. But with the help of the Notes, I got a C in the class. I didn't even know then that I could take the class over and change that grade. And one other thing happened in the class. I was always afraid to speak in public, but Mr. Flores said that we had to give a speech. It didn't matter how short or how long it was. If we gave it we would pass. I found a cartoon, and I got up in front of the class. This is what happened: "This is a theological question. Is there life after death? I don't know if there is life before death." I went to sit down, and a student said, "Don't you consider yourself part of this rat race?" I said, "What rat race?" Then the professor said, "That was using the system." And another student said, "Does she get credit for that?" "Yes," he said. And I smiled. But maybe taking the class helped me in other ways, for I knew then that I needed to get a lot of As in order to get rid of that C, and when I quit going to college 12 years later, I had a 3.38 grade point average. I still needed more As. I never graduated because I didn't want to take some required classes. So I spent those years changing majors and taking whatever sounded good. I considered myself a college bum and just quit when I was burned out. Now I just read books I like.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    I finished reading The Republic on my birthday and now am both older and wiser. The Republic is in essence one long argument why a person should lead a just life verses choosing a life of pleasure, riches, ambition, or power. It is deeply concerned with the nature of the human soul and how to prepare one's soul for eternity. Socrates/Plato uses a plethora of logical examples for this argument, although it is the logic of 400 B.C. Greek culture, which seems somewhat fractured to us today. The Rep I finished reading The Republic on my birthday and now am both older and wiser. The Republic is in essence one long argument why a person should lead a just life verses choosing a life of pleasure, riches, ambition, or power. It is deeply concerned with the nature of the human soul and how to prepare one's soul for eternity. Socrates/Plato uses a plethora of logical examples for this argument, although it is the logic of 400 B.C. Greek culture, which seems somewhat fractured to us today. The Republic has been many things to many people; proof of God’s work in ancient societies as seen by later Christian and Muslim theologians, a font of ideas for every political philosopher from Locke to Marx, a Great Grandfather to the Enlightenment. All in all The Republic is a strange but excellent little book that is well worth the read. Now it’s time to read World War Z!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    I almost categorised this as a dystopian novel because while Plato finds his Republic to be ideal, it sounded too much like what Trump intends for Amerikkka. It is an essential read in terms of western philosophy particularly because of the cave analogy and its opposition to the Aristotelian manner of thinking that created the major division in Greek philosophy and continues to underpin politics ever since. In his taking the ideal to be more critical than the real world, Plato creates a model an I almost categorised this as a dystopian novel because while Plato finds his Republic to be ideal, it sounded too much like what Trump intends for Amerikkka. It is an essential read in terms of western philosophy particularly because of the cave analogy and its opposition to the Aristotelian manner of thinking that created the major division in Greek philosophy and continues to underpin politics ever since. In his taking the ideal to be more critical than the real world, Plato creates a model and expects everyone to adhere to it (which is how I see the current american political right where their measuring stick is the Bible) whereas Aristotle was looking at empirical data to derive conclusions and draw up policy (how I see the current american political left but of the Sanders variety rather than the HRC variety). Unfortunately, few have been able to bridge this divide - Kant perhaps, Nietzsche embracing chaos and absolutism...and yet the greatest political philosophers of the 19th and 20th century still come down on one side or the other (see Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind). A critical read in any case for understanding once again how we got to where we are although not necessarily a roadmap to change things - that will have to come out of your critical reading and optimist imagination afterwards.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    There is in every one of us, even those who seem to be most moderate, a type of desire that is terrible, wild, and lawless. So, it should be noted that I did not find this book at a bookstore and voluntarily buy it for my leisurely reading... It was on the syllabus for my political theory class. That being said, I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would. Would I recommend it for a vacation? Absolutely not. Unless you like pondering about justice and censorship and the creations of rulers and c There is in every one of us, even those who seem to be most moderate, a type of desire that is terrible, wild, and lawless. So, it should be noted that I did not find this book at a bookstore and voluntarily buy it for my leisurely reading... It was on the syllabus for my political theory class. That being said, I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would. Would I recommend it for a vacation? Absolutely not. Unless you like pondering about justice and censorship and the creations of rulers and cities... it's pretty dense material, but most of the fun in reading a book like this being able to discuss, debate and analyze the ideas and arguments Plato puts forth with a group of people. Maybe if I tried to read it by myself, I'd get bored or uninspired. But our class discussions (and syllabus) really kept me engrossed in the subject matter. I guess I'd recommend this book to a philosophy book club, if those exist.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Luís C.

    Plato begins The Republic showing what justice is not. In this sense, he points out that it is not fair to give each one what is due to him, it is not fair to give to the friend what is not suited to him and to harm enemies, it is not fair, also, to emphasize, only the interest of the stronger. From there, Socrates seems to begin to present the aspects that involve the problem of justice. After this, then, Socrates asks, "Well," I continued, "but since it seems that justice and righteousness wer Plato begins The Republic showing what justice is not. In this sense, he points out that it is not fair to give each one what is due to him, it is not fair to give to the friend what is not suited to him and to harm enemies, it is not fair, also, to emphasize, only the interest of the stronger. From there, Socrates seems to begin to present the aspects that involve the problem of justice. After this, then, Socrates asks, "Well," I continued, "but since it seems that justice and righteousness were nothing of this, what else can you say they are?" [1] Socrates explains that justice is good, because of the effects it makes in the soul and, when asked by Gláucon, claims to be justice: "... I think that in the most beautiful thing to be esteemed by itself and by the consequences, whoever wants to be happy ... " [2] Then, this shows that justice is good and injustice is a bad thing, but it does not reside in individual conduct, but in communities, because in order to know what it is the justice in the State, we also have to know what a fair man is and to know what justice is, we must investigate the emergence of the State. According to Socrates, it arises because man is not self-sufficient as an individual and:              "..Well, then," said I, "if we considered in imagination the formation of a city, we would also see justice and injustice arising in it?"          "We'll see it soon," he said.          "So, if that were the case, there was hope we could see more easily."          "Much more, certainly."          "Do you think we should try to carry out this enterprise? It's that it seems to me that it's not small work. See then."          "Already seen," said Adimant. "And do not do otherwise."          "Well," I said, "a city has its origin, I believe, in the fact that each of us is not self-sufficient but needs much. Or do you think a city is founded for any other reason? ... ". [3] Because man is not self-sufficient, he must maintain a relationship of reciprocity and, in the case of the just State, the human being imposes full responsibility for justice, where righteous men live in mutual trust and they are reciprocally dependent . Acting in this way, there is no opposition between individuals and the State, they complement each other and owe mutual assistance, where everything revolves around justice. Because of her chasing task, she is the cardinal virtue. It responds by social order and soul. In this way, Justice as a cardinal virtue, concerns the very life of the soul. In these circumstances, the Republic is a rational theory of the State. Thus, Plato wants to know and form the perfect state in order to know and form the perfect man.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Covert.adrian

    No book has influenced my life more than Plato's Republic. It admittedly can be a difficult read: it is almost entirely a back and forth conversation between two people, Socrates and Glaucon, discussing the nature of man, the soul, justice, and what the most just society, or Republic, would look like. In this highly utopian account, Socrates expresses little hope in the common man, and instead suggests authoritarian rule, by philosophers, would lead to the most just state. His contempt for democ No book has influenced my life more than Plato's Republic. It admittedly can be a difficult read: it is almost entirely a back and forth conversation between two people, Socrates and Glaucon, discussing the nature of man, the soul, justice, and what the most just society, or Republic, would look like. In this highly utopian account, Socrates expresses little hope in the common man, and instead suggests authoritarian rule, by philosophers, would lead to the most just state. His contempt for democracy can be disturbing to those who have faith in the said system, however, it behooves all to read. Forget trying to become enlightened by some eastern religion, the morals, lessons and philosophy of this cornerstone of Westernism will strike you as remarkably fresh and increasingly relevant today, some 2,500 years after it was written.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    4.0 stars. I read this book back in college (20+ years ago) so I have put this on my list of books to re-read in the not too distant future. This is one of those books that I believe everyone should read as it is one of those foundational books on which Western civilization is based.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Terrington

    Plato's The Republic is one of the more widely read works of philosophy of all time. It is a complex work, one that rambles due to the nature of it being a dialogue rather than a pure expository piece, but one with some interesting and applicable ideas within it nonetheless. The core argument that Plato makes, through using Socrates as the voice of reason, seems to link up to the idea of the creation of a better Republic - hence the title - or a kind of Utopia. He argues that in the end the thing Plato's The Republic is one of the more widely read works of philosophy of all time. It is a complex work, one that rambles due to the nature of it being a dialogue rather than a pure expository piece, but one with some interesting and applicable ideas within it nonetheless. The core argument that Plato makes, through using Socrates as the voice of reason, seems to link up to the idea of the creation of a better Republic - hence the title - or a kind of Utopia. He argues that in the end the things that most people pursue in life - wealth, fame, power etc. - are not as important as philosophy - or in other words the knowledge of what to do with wealth, fame and power. He, therefore, upholds justice and rationality over such things. One of Plato's biggest claims is that a true king should be a Philosopher (or if I remember I think he even mention poet, given that he seems to argue that philosophy and poetry are not dissimilar) King. A King who does not crave leadership for its own merit, but for the good that he can do for others. But it wasn't the big claims that stuck with me as much as a pointed little side-comment that attacking smaller issues is like attacking a hydra. The reason this comment stuck with me is because of my friends. I have plenty of friends who like to think that they are doing some good (myself included) by attacking every little small issue that comes along to do with injustice or animal cruelty or whatever. I'm not disagreeing that these are important issues, I merely agree with Plato that concentrating on one smaller issue is like cutting the head from a hydra - another related head grows back alongside the same head. The point is not to attack the smaller head, but to attack the bigger issue - the core issue (if it is a negative issue) and see what can be done to change things truly. As for who should read a work like this? I believe that everyone should read at least snippets or a summary in the course of their lifetime. It may not agree with your own worldview, but there are ideas that you can take away nonetheless. I for one agree with his points about what is truly important is not the physical things, but the merits and uses of such physical things.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    I'm not sure why people read this. For those interested in the history of philosophy it's undoubtedly important. For everyone else... meh. A lot of people comment that Plato deals seriously with all the big issues. Well, he brings them up, but never seriously engages with them. Maybe the problem is that I'm reading this at 25 after spending a couple years seriously reading philosophy. Maybe Popper inoculated me. I might have felt differently if I started reading The Republic with a less critical I'm not sure why people read this. For those interested in the history of philosophy it's undoubtedly important. For everyone else... meh. A lot of people comment that Plato deals seriously with all the big issues. Well, he brings them up, but never seriously engages with them. Maybe the problem is that I'm reading this at 25 after spending a couple years seriously reading philosophy. Maybe Popper inoculated me. I might have felt differently if I started reading The Republic with a less critical eye. I honestly found myself giggling at some of Plato's arguments, due to their specious, and often obviously false nature. Plato's rhetorical style is also laughable. The format for much of the book is this: a topic is introduced, "rules for allowable art" for example. Next, Plato makes a dishonest but true-on-the-surface argument. Listener agrees wholeheartedly. Plato uses that simple argument to argue for some ridiculous position like actors not being allowed to play bad men or women or children because they might become like bad men, women, or children. My big criticism is that for most of the book, the listeners do nothing but agree. They are at least interesting in the first book, but by the second have been reduced to a sycophantic chorus. This is a representative snippet of Plato proving that an unjust person is not clever or good. “And about knowledge and ignorance in general; see whether you think that any man who has knowledge ever would wish to have the choice of saying or doing more than another man who has knowledge. Would he not rather say or do the same as his like in the same case? That, I suppose, can hardly be denied. And what of the ignorant? would he not desire to have more than either the knowing or the ignorant?” His reasoning goes: a knowledgeable man never tries to outdo or be different from another knowledgeable man, and knowledge is good. An unjust man tries to outdo other unjust men, so is not good. There's more to the argument than that, but no one ever challenges this (arguably false) assumption that competition and difference are inherently unwise and ungood. If Plato doesn't bother to think about that, why should I bother to think about Plato. There's a dozen better Greek texts, and a rereading of The Orestia will teach you a lot more about life. If you want to think about justice pick up some Rawls. Seriously, this should have been buried with Sparta.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    What do you mean by x, y and z? If you stop people in the street and show them how little thought they've put into their own understanding of the world, I can see why people would be angry and you'd end up on trial. Socrates was the renowned for doing it, he made people feel stupid and the state ordered him to the choose between renouncing his beliefs or drinking the cup of hemlock. He chose death. Luckily, Plato recorded his method and in this book the people who engage in Socratic dialogue are m What do you mean by x, y and z? If you stop people in the street and show them how little thought they've put into their own understanding of the world, I can see why people would be angry and you'd end up on trial. Socrates was the renowned for doing it, he made people feel stupid and the state ordered him to the choose between renouncing his beliefs or drinking the cup of hemlock. He chose death. Luckily, Plato recorded his method and in this book the people who engage in Socratic dialogue are much more interested in gaining knowledge than appearing to be the masters of it. 450 pages of pure dialogue can be at times repetitive and I'm not really a fan of generalization, but overall, I found this book useful and enjoyable even now, approx. 2400 years after it was written.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Steven Walle

    This book was presented as a dialogue between Cocrates and the author as well as three other consorts. They are discussing such matters as "What is goodness? and what is knowledge?" It is a good read yet not an easy one. It requires a lot of thought and introspection. Enjoy and Be Blessed. Diamond

  30. 5 out of 5

    aisha

    i have read plato's republic...three times. and i've actually enjoyed every time, although i hadn't thought i would each round. i love greek writing, and though aristotle and thucydides are my favorite, plato is a close second (third?). even if you disagree with the ideas he presents, the ideas are fascinating to discuss. i actually kind of think it is way more fun to discuss when someone contradicts an idea or assumption made. the dialectic style is one of my favorite aspects of the novel. as a fan i have read plato's republic...three times. and i've actually enjoyed every time, although i hadn't thought i would each round. i love greek writing, and though aristotle and thucydides are my favorite, plato is a close second (third?). even if you disagree with the ideas he presents, the ideas are fascinating to discuss. i actually kind of think it is way more fun to discuss when someone contradicts an idea or assumption made. the dialectic style is one of my favorite aspects of the novel. as a fan of conversations, i think this has got to be one of the most essential ways of communicating and debating ideas (i take it with a grain of salt - i am aware that plato was able to manipulate his contradictors - is that a word?... - since he was the author, but still. i like it despite that.) last, the allegory of the cave is sooo wonderful to me. i love the idea - and even though i don't fully agree / believe in it, it has been the springing board of many of my ideas of human knowledge, capability, and (most importantly to a media studies major) reality.

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