Everyman's Reviews > The Republic of Plato

The Republic of Plato by Plato
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May 21, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: my-library
Read in January, 1967

All the criticisms of Plato are valid. He raises straw arguments. He manipulates discussions unfairly. He doesn't offer realistic solutions. And so on.

But he is still, and for very good reason, the most influential philosopher in Western civilization. He makes people think. Most authors we read today are trying to persuade us to agree with their point of view. Plato, not so. He wants you to disagree with him. He wants you to argue with him. He wants you to identify the fallacies in his arguments (and some are deliberately fallacious). In short, he wants you to do the most difficult intellectual exercise there is. He wants you to think, and to think deeply.

The other thing to realize about Plato is that he is an exquisite poet and craftsman. There is nothing accidental about what he writes; there is nothing superfluous. Even the most minute seeming points are there for good reason. Part of the joy of reading Plato for the third, fourth, fifth time is to see each time a bit more about what he is doing and why he is doing it, to come closer to appreciating his extraordinary genius and encountering ever more deeply this incredible mind.
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Comments (showing 1-21 of 21) (21 new)

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Alexandria After having just finished the entire works of Plato found at my local bookstore you do not know how happy I am to hear you say "He WANTS you to disagree with him". Would you also say he was joking when he was explaining his idea of a Utopia in "The Republic"? I certainly hope so!


Nathan Hardy Thank you for this review. I am going to refer to it in mine.


message 3: by Melissa (new)

Melissa hm..do you find this book actual for modern generation?


Michael Fogleman A sober, sound, and mature retort to some of the less generous reviews.


Everyman Alexandria wrote: "After having just finished the entire works of Plato found at my local bookstore you do not know how happy I am to hear you say "He WANTS you to disagree with him". Would you also say he was joking..."

I wouldn't say he was joking. He's deadly serious. But that said, I don't think he thought that his Utopia was a realistic proposal. Rather, I think he was showing one instance what the extremes of rational thought could lead to. Are there parts of the Utopia which if enacted would make life better? For sure. Are there parts which if enacted would make life worse? Equally for sure. Which are which? Ah, there's where you have to argue with him and come to your own conclusion, which will probably differ not only from his but from most other people's.


message 6: by Allister (new)

Allister NWO agrees with Plato. This is the model of their dreams to dominate the world.


message 7: by Filbert (new) - added it

Filbert Lam Agreed. I think the point about Plato is to recognise that he was making fallacious arguments.


Everyman Filbert wrote: "Agreed. I think the point about Plato is to recognise that he was making fallacious arguments."

But making them for a non-fallacious point.


Cullen Quinn That's a shame he wanted people to disagree with him because all I noticed was Glaucon dickriding/agreeing with everything he had to say without question


Ietrio You are weird. Somebody wrote a book. It is fallacious. It is deceitful. And later on it is sold as smart for centuries by individuals who seem to be not smart enough to see the obvious. So this volume received 5 out of 5 because, unlike your current dislikes, the author seems to accept to be debated?


Everyman Ietrio wrote: "You are weird. Somebody wrote a book. It is fallacious. It is deceitful. And later on it is sold as smart for centuries by individuals who seem to be not smart enough to see the obvious. So this vo..."

He throws out the most challenging challenge there is in literature: he asks people to think.

He happens to have raised almost every important question that mankind has discussed ever since he wrote. What does it mean to live a good life? What is the best form of government? What is love? What is justice? Should people be just for its own benefit, or only out of fear of getting caught? How did we get here? Why are we here? And on and on.

But he doesn't give answers. What he gives is the process for finding answers. But you have to work at it. Which is hard. Very hard. Most people give up, so they never get to why the book is worth reading and re-reading and re-reading and pondering and re-reading again. Because when somebody asks them tough questions, people want answers, they don't want to be told that you have to find the answer for yourself. And when they offer facile answers they resent being shown how facile those answers are.

When you have read a Platonic dialogue at least five times and spent much of a year thinking hard about it, then why it is such a great book gradually starts to appear. And if you're lucky you become a bit better person.

But hard thinking is hard. Much easier not to do it, but to blame the book.


Ietrio He, who?


Everyman Plato, of course.


Ietrio That would make Socrates some sort of Laurel from the duo Laurel and Hardy.


Everyman Nope.


Ietrio So the character is Socrates. But the verbose Socrates is some sort of Plato in disguise inviting people to debate him. The same silly bordering stupid dialogue tells me Plato badly needs people to drop to their knees and confess the greatness of such a shallow reasoning. Notice how long fuzzy arguments are broken into parts by simple and suggestive "I agree"? Read how this is not the Socrates/Plato/whomever inviting for a contest, but the Socrates/Plato/whomever humbling the proud thinker proving once more how this BatMan of Antiquity wins again? Is it at any point that he has the decency to bow before another?


Everyman Okay. You don't get Plato. That's fine. Fortunately, other people do.


Alexandria Wow. I am extremely impressed with the patience in Everyman's responses to letrio. I wish I could reward blatant rudeness so :)


Jason nice review


message 20: by Jim (new) - added it

Jim Bertsch He asks interesting questions and provides thought provoking answers. His arguments are flawed. The answers hold an element of truth, yet they are flawed.

Why are they flawed?

What is a better answer?

Is their ever really an answer at all, or does the argument always become circular?

Your viewpoint simply becomes the place upon which you park in the circle.

If you hold that their are fundamental truths, then this book helps you find them, know them and believe them.


Ietrio Jim wrote: Your viewpoint simply becomes the place upon which you park in the circle.

Wow! Simply genius! You solved me some dilemmas. Thank you.


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