References

The Classics Pages
Includes a guided tour of Plato's Republic. I highly recommend this resource.

Historical Women of Philosophy
Women Philosophers from 600 BCE to 17th century CE.

Plato
Excellent essay by Richard Kraut from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Philosophy Talk: Plato
Listen to this excellent radio program and take notes. The segment is about one hour. The free Real Player is required for streaming audio.

Plato and Platonism
A concise introductory essay from the Catholic Encyclopedia

The Philosophy of Plato
An well-organized overview from the Radical Academy

The Republic, Book I
One of Plato's greatest and most influential works. This is a marked-up version of the Jowett translation.

The Republic: Study Questions
To think about and look for when reading Book I.

The Apology
The mind altering depiction of the trial of Socrates. really, this work changed the world and if you read it well it will change you too.

Works by Plato
25 of his dialogues and letters from the 1871 translation by Benjamin Jowett

Plato's Allegory Of The Cave: A Springboard For The Matrix
A clever interpretation of Plato's allegory in relation to a philosophical movie The Matrix

Noble lies and perpetual war
Danny Postel and
Shadia Drury discusses Plato and other political philosophers in the service of contemporary theory and practice. This piece is particularly useful as an instance of how ancient philosophy remains relevant. Whether Drury's critique of Leo Strauss and current politics is accurate is open to discussion.


 

Plato: Women in the Ideal State - Part VII
The Conclusion

The Context >>The Problem >> The Distinction >> The Analogy >> The Principle >> The Application >> The Conclusion

Recall in the beginning of this investigation Socrates and Glaucon were noticing how ridiculous it would be to have women exercising naked along side of men in the gymnasia. The oddness of that image seemed to rule out the equal education of women. But then, Plato (in the voice of Socrates) began his argument. Here, then, is the result of that argument;

"Then let the wives of our guardians strip, for their virtue will be their robe, and let them share in the toils of war and the defense of their country; only in the distribution of labors the lighter are to be assigned to the women, who are the weaker natures, but in other respects their duties are to be the same. And as for the man who laughs at naked women exercising their bodies from the best of motives, in his laughter he is plucking a fruit of unripe wisdom, and he himself is ignorant of what he is laughing at, or what he is about; --for that is, and ever will be, the best of sayings, That the useful is the noble and the hurtful is the base." (Rep. 457a-b).

Please read that passage aloud at least three times. No analysis or commentary that I could offer will convey these complex ideas and images with the power that Plato imbues in them.

"their virtue will be their robe"

"in his laughter he is plucking a fruit of unripe wisdom"

"he himself is ignorant of what he is laughing at, or what he is about"

"the useful is the noble and the hurtful is the base"

Do these words resonate for you with insight and mastery of communication as they do for me? If so, then you share with me an experience of the richness that Plato brings to thought and that philosophy creates for human potential.

The metaphor of nakedness as the striping away of appearances and prejudices imposed by society upon nature reveals Plato's deep intent. This position of total gender equality is a radical claim bound to be dismissed by his contemporaries. In anticipation of that rejection, Plato is asserting that it is society itself that must be challenged. It turns out that not just Plato's society needs challenge, but yours and mine. The norms and conventions of our culture are based in appearances, not natures (reality). Enforcing such norms creates an unnatural and corrupted society. Only by the courage to face truth through reason and to accept the consequences of change based in reason, can the society be redeemed. Otherwise, the culture and the people in it are doomed to ignorance, injustice, and repression of the fulfillment of human potential.

The theme of appearance vs reality is pervades The Republic and Plato's work generally. The most famous statement of that issue is The Allegory of the Cave which is also in The Republic.

The Context >>The Problem >> The Distinction >> The Analogy >> The Principle >> The Application >> The Conclusion

 

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