Charles will be leading this discussion. Plato's Republic has been a classic text for political philosophy as well as philosophy, epistemology, and metaphysics for over 2000 years. Written in the form of a dialogue, the text pits the well-known figure of Socrates against hard-nosed politicos and takes on numerous topics from the best form of government, the nature of reality, true knowledge, and political power.
The text is famous for envisaging a class society with philosopher kings at the top of a pyramid followed by workers and ultimately those at the bottom, slaves. The work attempts to define both what is good for human society, as well as for the individual human soul. In the process of defining the best society, Plato explores the spiritual dimensions and how external affairs and political acts and institutions affect and form the human spirit.
The text is not limited, however, to a political discussion. In the course of exploring what is the best form of government, Plato provides numerous myths and stories as well as philosophical discourse on the nature of the human soul, the realm of ideas, education, art, eugenics, feminism, and the divine.
Whether you agree or disagree with Plato, you will come away with a renewed new sense of wonder at the world and the ideas and powers that shape it. Ultimately, the work not only attempts to inform us but above all to transform us as human beings. For, whatever his faults, Plato believed in the power of beauty and good in human life.
Questions you might ask while reading the Republic
Plato represents what philosophers call metaphysics or essentialism. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche set out to destroy this metaphysics. Can you identify what essentialism is?
Online version of the entire text: http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.html
Free Kindle version: http://amzn.com/B0082SV87G
$.99 version with table of contents for Kindle: http://amzn.com/B00ADSHIFO
There are numerous printed versions
Socrates was executed on this day
Greek Creation Myth
Nice discussion of Plato's theory of justice
Video depiction of the Allegory of the Cave
Plato and eugenics
On Courage, interesting review of a book on philosophers who either opposed or supported Hitler. Note the sentence about Hitler thinking of himself as Plato's philosopher leader.
Nice essay on Plato's theory of human "flourishing," often mistranslated as "happiness"
Simone Weil's political interpretation of Plato
Plato's Ethics and Politics in the Republic, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
a free PDF of Gregory Vlastos' Platonic Studies
a political conservative's appreciation of Plato
Notre Dame review of recent text (TY Jack Burch)
On the Will - not about just Plato but does call on his theories of Plato
Yale lecture Series, the first four deal with The Republic
Yale lecture series on Intro to political philosophy, several on sections of the Republic