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Plato: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #79)

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  321 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
This lively and accessible book focuses on the philosophy and argument of Plato's writings, drawing the reader into Plato's way of doing philosophy and the general themes of his thinking. It discusses Plato's style of writing: his use of the dialogue form, his use of what we today call fiction, and his philosophical transformation of myths. It also looks at his discussions ...more
Paperback, 104 pages
Published May 15th 2003 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published February 13th 2003)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Plato: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #79), Julia Annas
The Theaetetus: The Theaetetus is one of Plato's most appealing dialogues, but also one of his most puzzling. In it, Socrates says that he is a midwife like his mother: he draws ideas out of people, before testing them to see whether they hold up to reasoned examination. Refusing to put forward his own ideas about what knowledge is (though displaying sophisticated awareness of the work of other philosophers), he shows fa
Riku Sayuj

Annas focuses on providing as nonintrusive an introduction to Plato as possible for the beginning reader. He does not try to cover the vast array of topics that the prolific Plato has touched on but instead tries to give a general structure on how to approach the dialogues. Annas conveys the difficult yet rewarding nature of reading Plato: that Plato is intensely concerned both with unbiased argument and also with with bold and assertive ideas - creating a subtle contradiction that pervades his
Jan 28, 2017 Darwin8u rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
I'll review tomorrow.
Sep 27, 2008 IWB rated it it was ok
The Very Short Introduction Series by Oxford is a bit hit or miss—some are excellent, others mediocre. Some of the titles are reprints from Oxford’s former series called Past Masters originally published in the 80’s (which has been presently reprinted with new covers). Some are new commissions such as Annas’ Plato. This series now extends its scope of introduction to more than just significant individual thinkers, artists, musicians, scientists and so forth, but also to various theoretical conce ...more
Erik Graff
Jul 27, 2015 Erik Graff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: philosophy fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: philosophy
The usual take on Plato is twofold. First, to try to separate Sokrates' thinking from his. Second, to trace the development of Plato's own thinking. Annas does neither. Instead she pretty much black-boxes Sokrates and doesn't try to resolve the contradictions in Plato's texts. Rather than attempting to trace the development of a 'Platonic doctrine', to even chronologically order the dialogues, she takes a minimalist approach. We don't know their order and the contradictions are just that, namely ...more
C. Derick
May 02, 2016 C. Derick rated it really liked it
Annas does an admirable job here considering how many counter-narratives there are about Plato and how much many fault lines there are in the scholarship. This leads to a non-intrusive and helpful introduction, but it doesn't give one solid rubric for interpretation. Annas does give a good overview of some of the seeming contradictions in Plato, particularly his very differing doctrines around the "soul" and the "forms." Annas does not try to delineate "true Plato" from "true Socrates" nor does ...more
Dec 27, 2012 Blake rated it it was amazing
I must be alone in and against the clockwise direction of my little circle to find myself willing to entertain the new variants of platonism. There are two parts to this entertainment: the first elevates an ethical and aesthetic view inherited from Iris Murdoch, whose detail of Plato is content to remain unhistorical; whereas, the second is a substantial view about abstract objects that may not even fit best under a platonist heading. Contrasting these with the conservative naturalism (properly ...more
Jagrut Gadit
Jul 03, 2011 Jagrut Gadit rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone beginning with ancient philosophy
Effective introduction for Plato beginners...Clearly demarcates important aspects and themes of Plato's dialogues...Clarifies that Plato didnt leave for us any ready-made theory or dogma but a vibrant tradition and expectation of dialogue which engages others and as well as one's own self. Highlights the homoerotic aspects of Plato's writings which were subsequently marginalized by Christianity's appropriation of Plato. Dispels major misconceptions about Plato's theory of Forms and his ideas abo ...more
Mar 20, 2014 Ahmad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
کتاب خیلی خوبیه. اطلاعات جالبی در مورد افلاطون و اندیشههاش بهم داد. ...more
Aunt Edie
May 11, 2017 Aunt Edie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, audio
Narrated by Julia Whelan. I struggled with this one. It was super informative on one hand and I learned a whole bunch in a short amount of time. But the organization of the information made it difficult for me to follow. I found myself going over the same passage again and again trying to make sense of it. Could be user error - I'll freely admit that.
Ashley Adams
A decent breakdown of the concepts in Plato's dialogues. However, Annas' attempts to connect the philosophy to contemporary reader-dom feels forced and divorces Socrates/Plato from important historical context. Better overviews are out there.
Mar 02, 2016 Rod rated it liked it
Wow, I read a book about Plato (just for fun!)

I learned that Socrates and I would have gotten along really well. And that he may not have actually existed. (But most assume he did). Where-as Plato and I would have agreed on little that had to do with reality - and he would've had to stay in the Chariot while Socrates and I went to the Buffet.

My favorite quote (pg 23):
"Socrates, after all, rejected everything in philosophy that could be thought of as academic."

YES, I hate academic philosophy. Too
Apr 14, 2017 Jake rated it liked it
Shelves: vsi
Annas is torn between presenting Plato as he saw himself in antiquity, and a Plato that has developed and transformed over the ages. Is she trying to give a brief overview, or simply pique the reader's interest? Why does she not cover the theory of Forms, even after she has warned against the shakiness of claims to Plato's real intentions, or the existence of a positive theory at all?

Still, she does a good enough job exposing Plato to the layperson and busting some misconceptions for this to cou
Kabar Flobamora
I just want to know the ideas of Plato about microcosmos
Sep 02, 2015 ROC rated it it was ok
For a book supposing to focus on the argument of Plato's writings there's never any mention of the textual and historical subtleties Plato uses to back up his points.
That being said, this introduction peaks with a description of the 'argument of opposites':

...which is the most prominent way in which Forms are discussed in the Phaedo, Republic, and Hippias Major. This focuses on the point that, while we can make a true claim that something in the world of our experience is F, for some property
Sep 25, 2010 Steve rated it really liked it
Quite a few philosophers have now been given the Very Short Introduction treatment. If you're new to the series and looking to tackle the great thinkers, Plato is a good place to start. Frequently cited as one of the more captivating and accessible philosophers, he was a pivotal figure in institutionalising philosophy, exploring complex ideas with an unusual degree of literary appeal.

Organised by subject matter rather than treatise, the author does an admirable job of packing quite diverse them
Marcus Vinicius
May 16, 2015 Marcus Vinicius rated it really liked it
A glimpse of Plato's life and thought is exposed by Julia Annas with clarity and in a readable way. The philosopher early life, his background and his contemporaries in the philosophical endeavor give the reader some insights in order to interpret Plato's works. Some of the understandings advanced by the author are disputed but in no way misleading. Plato's main concepts and ideas are refered in a compreensible way. The reader with special interest in Plato's philosophy will profit by this readi ...more
A really great and concise introduction to Plato. A wide variety of topics, interesting commentary and critique, includes both modern and historical perspectives on Plato's work, illustrates some of Plato's key ideas using relevant and well-selected passages from his work. Annas' writing is fluid, very easy to follow, and takes you straight through the book without the reader even noticing how much information Annas impressively compiled in such a condensed way. Knocked off one star for the leng ...more
Apr 09, 2008 Bob rated it really liked it
When I first picked up this book, I thought it was going to be, basically, "Plato for Dummies". I wanted a quick overview so I understood him better when I read his other writings.

Instead, I was treated to a much more scholarly approach, which assumes some previous knowledge of philosophy and classic Greek culture. I appreciated the level this took because it was sophisticated enough to get an understanding with some depth while not being difficult to understand. Good stuff, I think I might look
Jun 15, 2012 Charlie rated it liked it
One of the people at the library at which I work lent this to me. I'm not terribly familiar with Plato's work, but Ms Annas's book seemed like as good an introduction to it as any. Didn't agree with all of the opinions and concepts in here--in fact, the assertion that creativity and imagination are useless made me pretty mad--but it certainly got me thinking, and I do plan to find out more about this guy and his thoughts. His "Republic" has been staring at me from my bookshelf for a while. (I'll ...more
Stephen Olley
Jun 15, 2014 Stephen Olley rated it liked it
Another solid entry in the Very Short Introduction series which whips through the key topics Plato prsented in his dialogues. The key message that is highlighted here is that Plato did not leave us with one fixed world view but rather a series of, often conflicting, arguments with which we need to engage and debate.
I now feel ready to tackle some Plato for myself which is what I shall do next.
Joshua Duffy
Mar 02, 2014 Joshua Duffy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now, this is how an intro should be written. Much better than VSI: Nietzsche. Gives an overview of history, culture, thought, ideas, etc., of Plato in a very basic way. Great book to determine whether or not you want to learn more.
Joel Zartman
Jun 14, 2016 Joel Zartman rated it really liked it
Annas' Plato is one who is more interested in getting you to think and deal seriously with problems, to get the right questions rather than providing you with answers. A good very short introduction.
Patrick Beatty
Part of my brilliant "read one non-fiction book for every fiction book you read" plot. I read it. I don't remember anything about Plato. 'nuff said.
Jackson Cyril
Mar 26, 2014 Jackson Cyril rated it really liked it
Good book. I just wish she would've spent more time working through some of Plato's major works.
Apr 08, 2013 Laura rated it it was ok
I learned some mildly interesting things, but overall the book did not excite me.
Jacob Stubbs
Oct 09, 2015 Jacob Stubbs rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Very interesting and very basic intro to Plato. See especially the chapter on gender and sexuality in the dialogues
Daniel Wright
I can barely remember reading this, which is perhaps not a good sign, but if you genuinely know nothing about Plato, it is probably not a bad place to begin, short of diving in to the man himself.
Mar 28, 2013 Nabilah rated it liked it
A reliable and concise book on Plato. Gives you the basic idea what Plato's philosophy is all about and also, on his life.
Amanda Sanfelice
Mar 21, 2013 Amanda Sanfelice rated it really liked it
Excellent introduction to Platos world. ...more
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