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

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: The Dialogue Form - Republic

The Republic is consider by many to be Plato's masterwork. It certainly is one of the most important texts of political theory. In the Republic Plato reasons his way (by means of a lively discussion at a dinner party) to a description of the perfect political system. Plato opposed Greek Democracy and designed his vision of the ideal state on his theory of the human soul. One of the striking aspects of Plato's ideal state is the role of women. Greece was a strict patriarchy with no political or property rights for women. Plato describes a political system in which women and men may serve the same roles as guardians and rulers. Of course, as a philosopher, Plato was not content at merely stating this view; he provided detailed reasoning in favor of it. Anyone interested in issues of justice, equality, and political power will be well served to study the Republic in its entirety.

Most of Plato’s writings are dialogues in which the discussions between people are presented. We are used to narrative forms of writing in which lots of description takes place with dialogue punctuating the action. Plato gives very little description, and when he does it is usually through someone else’s words. This can be disconcerting to modern readers who are used to the author providing a God’s eye view of the scene. An effective method is to figure out who the characters are and to follow the discussion as if you were actually present.

Most of his dialogues have Socrates as a central figure. Socrates was a real person and was Plato’s teacher, but he never wrote anything. Most of what we think that we know about Socrates comes to us from Plato. Even though the Republic is written as a dialogue with Socrates as the main character, it is plainly not an actual discussion that Plato copied. In this work Plato is presenting his own ideas, using Socrates as his mouthpiece.

So why doesn’t Plato just say what he thinks and write his own opinions? Well, both Socrates and Plato agreed on a key idea that reasoning and truth can only be gained through dialogue. They saw the search for truth as a process of assertions and testing those assertions. Just stating opinions is not enough. We need to put our claims and beliefs to the test of reason and analysis. The process of a dialogue (as Socrates conducts it, anyway) puts claims to the test. This is why Thrasymachus is so angry with Socrates from the start. As a successful Sophist, Thrasymachus wants to rely on speeches and statements of opinion. His view is that the ability to speak forcefully and beautifully is all that it takes to establish truth. Thrasymachus is certain that he can give more skillful speeches than Socrates, but when the method of inquiry becomes a dialogue with questions and answers (called Socratic Dialogue), then all of his rhetorical skill becomes useless.

The Republic is a large work consisting of Ten Books (chapters). Every serious student of politics. government, ethics, psychology, epistemology, or literatire simply must read and study this work as it is a basic text to the history of those fields. Anyone who cares about justice and freedom should read this work completely, because you can see in it the basis of competing forms of government that exist today. The entire text as translated by Benjamin Jowett is available in the resources at left. Provided here is a marked version of Book One presented in four parts.

Part One
The Setting

Part Two
Justice as honesty
Part Three
Justice as loyalty
Part Four
Justice as the interest of the stronger

Next read about Justice in the Republic.


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