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Plato's Republic

  • May 21, 2013 · 6:00 PM
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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?

Resources:

Wikipedia: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Republic_(Plato)

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

Secondary Sources

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

Nietzsche's Platonism

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

Join or login to comment.

  • Dianne

    Thanks Charles for the wealth of information you provided and your leadership. I really enjoyed the conversation. The conversation flowed smoothly and everyone was able to participate with their thought-provoking ideas.

    May 22, 2013

  • Tim L.

    Excellent presentation and discussion (could have lasted a little longer)

    May 22, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I am sad about the change in plans, but I came down with a bad chest cold and lost my voice. Would be unfair to spread this around. Sorry everyone! Have a great evening and cxomment about it!

    May 20, 2013

  • Vin L

    Sorry to cancel so late, but something intractable came up

    May 19, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    My apologies for the late notice, but my work schedule is interfering and I will not be able to attend. I look forward to future meetings

    May 19, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    What do you think Plato's reaction would be to seeing Greece today? How would he react to any of the current democracies?

    1 · May 4, 2013

    • Mark H.

      Erika, I would like to know when it's available on Amazon.

      May 12, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Mark, I will let you know. Should be up within 10 days.

      May 12, 2013

  • Dianne

    Charles,

    Thanks for including the link for the video depiction of the Allegory of the Cave. It's a good 3-minute synopsis.

    May 12, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Charles, I've noticed the communications regarding Plato's Republic, aligning him with despotic regimes. The Republic is primarily about JUSTICE, and only secondarily about the IDEAL state where trained individuals would be prepared to lead. We may agree or disagree with this scenario, but I would hesitate to suggest that we would put Plato in the same camp as Hitler. What do you thing? Is this your viewpoint and will you be pressing for this during the meetup?

    May 6, 2013

    • Dianne

      Thanks Charles for all of your input! Anyone else who wants to chime in, feel free.

      May 6, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      I added further comments on this thread to a previous question put by Jerrold.

      May 7, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Several decades ago there was a comedy series called “Soap.” Linda & I thought it was hilarious (& I dislike most comedy series). A very young Billy Crystal played the part of a gay young man who was trying to convince his relatives that there are many famous homosexuals. On one occasion, he told his aunt Jessica (a very flaky & naïve character) that Plato was gay. Jessica looked shocked & said “You mean Mickey Mouse’s dog was gay?” Irreverent but funny to me.

    May 2, 2013

  • Mary D.

    I don't see the change mentioned in the e-mail, looks like what I have on my calendar...

    April 22, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Hi Nary, I added a new secondary source, the first link in the list.

      April 22, 2013

  • Mark H.

    Great list of resources. Thanks!

    April 6, 2013

  • Jack B.

    New book of possible interest from Notre Dame philosophical reviews:
    http://ndpr.nd.edu/news/38582-philosophers-in-the-republic-plato-s-two-paradigms/
    Sign up for their free reviews.

    April 1, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    one screen says "two philosophers attending; 8 spots left" and another says "you are on the waiting list"...WTF?

    1 · March 26, 2013

    • Dave N

      I believe that some kind acknowledgement needs to offerred to whomever it is that adds URLs which provide "Resources" and "Secondary Sources" ... very nice! In the present case, I studied Plato in college, but that was many decades ago. So I like the idea that an easy prep is right there for us!

      1 · March 27, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Thank you Dave, that was I. Please note that I also added some graphics to photos that you and others might find helpful. I'll continue to update the links and graphics in the upcoming weeks.

      March 28, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Tentative yes due to work

    March 26, 2013

7 went

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