Plato s  Republic
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It is an excellent book – highly intelligent, interesting and original.  Expressing high philosophy in a readable form without trivialising it is a very difficult task and McAleer manages the task admirably. Plato is, yet again, intensely topical in the chaotic and confused world in which we are now living.
Philip Allott, Professor Emeritus of International Public Law at Cambridge University

This book is a lucid and accessible companion to Plato’s Republic, throwing light upon the text’s arguments and main themes, placing them in the wider context of the text’s structure. In its illumination of the philosophical ideas underpinning the work, it provides readers with an understanding and appreciation of the complexity and literary artistry of Plato’s Republic. McAleer not only unpacks the key overarching questions of the text – What is justice? And Is a just life happier than an unjust life? – but also highlights some fascinating, overlooked passages which contribute to our understanding of Plato’s philosophical thought.

Plato’s 'Republic': An Introduction offers a rigorous and thought-provoking analysis of the text, helping readers navigate one of the world’s most influential works of philosophy and political theory. With its approachable tone and clear presentation, it constitutes a welcome contribution to the field, and will be an indispensable resource for philosophy students and teachers, as well as general readers new to, or returning to, the text.



Publié par
Date de parution 09 novembre 2020
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781800640566
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 5 Mo

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Plato’s Republic
An Introduction
Sean McAleer
© 2020 Sean McAleer

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (CC BY 4.0). This license allows you to share, copy, distribute and transmit the text; to adapt the text and to make commercial use of the text providing attribution is made to the authors (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work). Attribution should include the following information:
Sean McAleer, Plato’s Republic: An Introduction (Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers, 2020),
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Every effort has been made to identify and contact copyright holders and any omission or error will be corrected if notification is made to the publisher.
ISBN Paperback: 9781800640535
ISBN Hardback: 9781800640542
ISBN Digital (PDF): 9781800640559
ISBN Digital ebook (epub): 9781800640566
ISBN Digital ebook (mobi): 9781800640573
ISBN XML: 9781800640580
DOI: 10.11647/OBP.0229
Cover image: Anselm Feuerbach, The Symposium (1873). Berlin State Museum, Wikimedia, . Public domain.
Cover design by Anna Gatti.

Table of Contents
1. Fathers and Sons
2. Taming the Beast: Socrates versus Thrasymachus
3. A Fresh Start
4. Blueprints for a Platonic Utopia: Education and Culture
5. Starting to Answer the First Question: The Political Virtues
6. The Republic’s First Question Answered at Last: Personal Justice
7. Questions about the Idea Polis: The Three Waves
8. Surfing the Third Wave: Plato’s Metaphysical Elevator, the Powers Argument, and the Infallibility of Knowledge
9. The Philosopher’s Virtues
10. Metaphors to Think by: The Sun and Divided Line Analogies
11. The Allegory of the Cave
12. The Decline and Fall of the Ideal City-Soul
13. The Republic’s Second Question Answered: Three and a Half Arguments that the Just Life is Happier
14. Are We There Yet? Tying up Loose Ends in Book X
List of Illustrations

This book springs from the happy confluence of two sources: my teaching the Republic every semester in PHIL 101 at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire and my offering a three-session class on the Republic to Chippewa Valley Learning in Retirement in the fall of 2013. Dr Mike O’Halloran, the indefatigably cheerful and intellectually curious retiree who thought the group would enjoy a presentation on philosophy turned out to be correct: the sessions were well attended and well received—if subsequent requests for more philosophy sessions are any indication. Although some philosophical friends were skeptical at my plan to devote an entire ‘intro’ course to the Republic, many students seem to have found the experience worthwhile, so I have continued with this somewhat old-fashioned way of introducing students to philosophy. This book has been shaped by my experience with both kinds of audiences. I thank the students it has been my privilege to teach over the years and the CVLR audiences for their questions, feedback, criticisms, and their laughing at some of my jokes.
Many friends have helped in a variety of ways. Erica Benson, the life partner than which none greater could be conceived, provided insightful feedback on the entire manuscript, created the figures for the Divided Line, and talked me off the ledge more than once. Geoff Gorham has used parts of the manuscript in some of his courses and has given feedback and encouragement, as has his wife, the philosopher Amy Ihlan. Rod Cooke unwittingly served as a ‘responsibility buddy’ during a sabbatical, regularly asking me how it was going and when it might it be finished. My colleagues at UW–Eau Claire—Kristin Schaupp, Matt Meyer, and Steve Fink—models of collegiality all, have been sources of intellectual stimulation and delight during trying times in higher education. I gratefully acknowledge the support of the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire Faculty Sabbatical Leave Program, which supported me during the 2017–2018 academic year, during which time the bulk of this book was written. I conceived the book as a philosophical instance of The Wisconsin Idea, a guiding principle of the University of Wisconsin system, which bids faculty and staff to ‘extend knowledge and its application beyond the boundaries of its campus’. I have tried to do that here, to help general readers with little to no background in philosophy to understand this philosophical masterpiece. Thus I am most grateful to Open Book Publishers for publishing it, since I too believe that ‘knowledge is for sharing’. I thank Alessandra Tosi for her wisdom, guidance, and patience; the two readers for their helpful suggestions, Anna Gatti for designing the cover; and Melissa Purkiss for her careful proofreading and her excellent editorial judgment.
I have benefitted from some wonderful teachers over the years, starting in high school with Frank Townsend, who gave me my first glimpse of the life of the mind, continuing through my undergraduate education at Shimer College with Eileen Buchanan and Harold Stone, who provided such fine, living models of inquiry and engaged classrooms, and lastly in graduate school at Syracuse, where Michael Stocker and Jonathan Bennett showed me what doing excellent philosophy looks like. I am grateful to them all, and to all the other fine teachers I haven’t space to name individually.
I thank Hackett Publishing for their kind permission to quote so frequently from the Grube-Reeve translation of the Republic. Lastly, I thank the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at UW-Eau Claire for financial assistance with the publication of this book.

It is a good light, then, for those
That know the ultimate Plato,
Tranquillizing with this jewel
The torments of confusion.
— Wallace Stevens, ‘Homunculus et La Belle Étoile’
For Erica, my SLPF

Attic Greek Black-figure Neck Amphora attributed to the Princeton Painter, ca. 550–540 BCE depicting an elderly king or man seated between two men and two women. Photograph by Aisha Abdel (2018), Wikimedia, Pulic Domain,

© Sean McAleer, CC BY 4.0
Plato’s Republic is one of those books that most people have probably heard of , even if they have not actually read it. Even Bubbles, the good-hearted, bespectacled doofus of the long-running Canadian comedy Trailer Park Boys knows enough of the Republic to appeal to the famous Noble Lie in a conversation with another resident of Sunnyvale Trailer Park.
I first encountered the Republic like so many others have: in my first semester of college. This was many years ago, but my memory of the experience was one of feeling lost much of the time. I had a fine high school education, but philosophy was new to me, with its focus on big, abstract questions and especially on rigorous, rational arguments as the means to answering them. I did reasonably well in the course, but the Republic was tricky terrain, and I did not really know my way about. My aim in this book is to help readers traverse Plato’s philosophical masterpiece with fewer falls and less befuddled wandering than I experienced. I try to do this by pointing out important landmarks and interesting bits of topography, helping readers not to miss the forest for the trees, as the saying goes, but also to appreciate the importance of particular trees, hills, and streams. I consider objections to the views and arguments Plato has Socrates express and make. Thinking philosophically requires, among other things, stating arguments clearly and carefully, articulating assumptions that lurk in the background, and making judgments—hopefully, good judgments—about whether the reasons offered in support of a claim are good reasons.
The Republic’ s Two Main Questions
The Republic addresses two overarching questions, What is just ice? and Is a just life happier—more profitable or personally advantageous—than an unjust life? Plato addresses these questions in what is for modern readers an unexpected way: in dialogue form. Instead of writing an essay or a treatise directly arguing for his view, he gives

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