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Plato's Republic: A Biography (Books…

Plato's Republic: A Biography (Books That Changed the World) (edition 2008)

by Simon Blackburn

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231582,854 (3.74)2
Plato is perhaps the most significant philosopher who has ever lived, and The Republic, composed in Athens in about 375 BC, is widely regarded as his most famous dialogue. Its discussion of the perfect city-and the perfect mind-laid the foundations for Western culture and, for over two thousand years, has been the cornerstone of Western philosophy. As Simon Blackburn writes, "It has probably sustained more commentary, and been subject to more radical and impassioned disagreement, than almost any other of the great founding texts of the modern world." In Plato's Republic, Simon Blackburn explains the judicial, moral, and political ideas in The Republic. Blackburn also examines The Republic's remarkable influence and unquestioned staying power, and shows why, from Saint Augustine to twentieth-century philosophers such as Ludwig Wittgenstein and Henri Bergson, Western thought is still conditioned by this most important of books.… (more)
Title:Plato's Republic: A Biography (Books That Changed the World)
Authors:Simon Blackburn
Info:Grove Press (2008), Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Currently reading

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Plato's "Republic" : A Biography by Simon Blackburn



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Blackburn is a very readable philosopher - not a common thing. This book is very enjoyable and Blackburn does a great job of picking out the main points of interest in Plato's masterpiece and discussing them in an intelligent and easy style. However, it seems fair to say, he isn't particularly sympathetic to Plato, and this occasionally leads him into uncharitable readings, I think (e.g. the accusation that Plato denied the possibility of social mobility in his ideal society). Also, the book is less historically informative than other books in this series (e.g. Janet Browne's excellent book on Darwin's Origin of Species). However, it is still highly recommended.

Gareth Southwell is a philosopher, writer and illustrator.
  Gareth.Southwell | May 23, 2020 |
It's hard for me to rate this because I have not actually read Plato's Republic but checked this out thinking it was a translation of Plato's Republic. From what I can tell though, Blackthorn does a good job of pointing out the flaws in reasoning as well as some of the important ideas we can take away from Republic. He definitely does a great job of tracing Platonism's influence throughout the millenia. Now I am more determined than ever that I need to read Republic. ( )
  aurelas | Dec 23, 2016 |
While I have read and discussed many of the dialogues of Plato, some of them multiple times, I continue to explore differing presentations and critiques of his ideas. Simon Blackburn's short study of Plato's Republic is an excellent place to review one of Plato's most famous dialogues and learn from him. He presents The Republic in a topical manner with sixteen chapters that range from a discussion of custom and convention to a brief essay on "The Farewell Myth". The latter, the Myth of Er from Book X, was a text used prominently in a memorial service for one of my teachers at the University of Chicago more than two decades ago. Its power is demonstrated in the vivid memory of not only my own reading but the memory of that memorial.
With emphasis on both the best known passages like "The Ring of Gyges" and the "Myth of the Cave", but also less well-known sections of the ten books that comprise The Republic, Simon Blackburn makes a thorough overview in this small, 161 page, book. With the addition of valuable suggestions for further reading this is both a good starting point for those unfamiliar with Plato or an excellent review for old hands in the reading and study of this founding father of Philosophy. ( )
  jwhenderson | Sep 12, 2012 |
"Must we not acknowledge...that in each of us there are the same principles and habits which there are in the State; and that from the individual they pass into the State?"

What does it mean to be good? What enables us to distinguish right from wrong? And how should human virtues be translated into a just society? These are the questions that Plato sought to answer in this monumental work of moral and political philosophy, a book surpassed only by the Bible in its formative influence on two thousand years of Western thought.

In the course of its tautly reasoned Socratic dialogues, The Republic accomplishes nothing less than an anatomy of the soul and an exhaustive description of a State that both mirrors and enforces the soul's ideal harmony. The resulting text is at once mystical and elegantly logical and may be read as a template for the societies in which most of us live today.
  antimuzak | Oct 6, 2008 |
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