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The Collected Dialogues of Plato, Including…

The Collected Dialogues of Plato, Including the Letters (Bollingen Series… (1961)

by Plato

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8851015,620 (4.58)2
All the writings of Plato generally considered to be authentic are here presented in the only complete one-volume Plato available in English. The editors set out to choose the contents of this collected edition from the work of the best British and American translators of the last 100 years, ranging from Jowett (1871) to scholars of the present day. The volume contains prefatory notes to each dialogue, by Edith Hamilton; an introductory essay on Plato's philosophy and writings, by Huntington Cairns; and a comprehensive index which seeks, by means of cross references, to assist the reader with the philosophical vocabulary of the different translators.… (more)



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So talented a writer, it is a joy to read him. His dialogues create a philosophy that elevates the mind of man through dialectic. Wonderful. It works your brain. ( )
  JVioland | Jul 14, 2014 |
Plato and Aristotle between them not only laid the foundations for Western philosophy, many would argue they divided it neatly between them: Plato the one who with his "Allegory of the Cave" gave birth to the idea of an existence beyond our senses, giving a rational gloss to mysticism. Aristotle, the father of logic and a scientist, with a this-world orientation. There's a famous fresco by Raphael, "The School of Athens," where that's illustrated, where the figure meant to be Plato points to the sky--the heavens--while Aristotle points to the ground--to this Earth. If you're going to ask me which school I belong to--at least as so categorized, Aristotle wins, hands down. Yet if you ask me which philosopher I found a joy to read, which a slog--well, Plato wins.

Unfortunately, much of Aristotle's works were lost, and what remains I've seen described as not his polished material, but "lecture notes." In the case of Plato, though, what we have are largely "dialogues." These are like little plays, with characters arguing back and forth. Even if, as the "Socratic method" many a law student has endured suggests, much of it often consists of Socrates asking questions and others answering things such as "It would seem so, Socrates."

Not in the Symposium though, where various characters (including the comic playwright Aristophanes) meet for a dinner party where all contribute to a conversation on the meaning of love--and I think even those derisive or fearful of something labeled "philosophy" would find themselves engaged--even charmed. Plato's Republic though, is likely the most famous of his works--even perhaps the most controversial. It has so many famous aspects--the question of whether one could be virtuous if you owned an invisibility ring and could cloak your crimes, and especially the "Allegory of the Cave," perhaps the most famous metaphor in all of philosophy. The Republic has taken heat for being the paradigm of the totalitarian state, as it posits an ideal state modeled after Sparta, where children are taken away from their parents to be raised communally and all aspects of the lives of citizens controlled.

Karl Popper has a fascinating critique of Plato along these lines in the first volume of his The Open Society. But he notes a contradiction looking at Plato's works as a whole. The Gorgias, for instance, which I studied in college, reads as a great defense of freedom of speech and expression. It's also not consistent with the three dialogues that tell of Socrates trial and death, The Apology, The Crito and The Phaedo. In the first Socrates defends himself as a gadfly--as someone that stings the lazy horse of the state awake--and who should be rewarded, not swatted. It's a spirited defense of the role of the dissenter. Popper attributes the inconsistencies to the differences between Socrates and Plato, as well as a change in Plato over time. In the earlier dialogues, particularly the more biographical ones about Socrates' trial and death, we get the genuine article. But more and more, Popper would argue, Plato put words into Socrates mouth that didn't accord with his democratic and libertarian beliefs, particularly as Plato grew more aristocratic and authoritarian. It is interesting in that regard, that in what is purported to be Plato's last dialogue, The Laws, Socrates disappears as a character altogether.

In any case, I'd strongly recommend becoming familiar with Plato--he's just as important to Western Civilization as The Bible, whether you're sympathetic to his arguments or not. (Indeed, much Christian theology is a amalgam of the New Testament and Greek philosophy.) At least try The Republic, The Symposium, and The Apology. And truly, reading the dialogues isn't arduous as is true of many philosophical tracts. The ideas can sometimes be difficult and sophisticated, but it's often a surprisingly lively read. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | May 24, 2013 |
Edition: // Descr: xxv, 1743 p. 23 cm. // Series: Bollingen Series LXXI Call No. { } Edited by Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns Contains Introduction and Prefatory Notes. // John E. Rexine Library Donation //
  ColgateClassics | Oct 26, 2012 |
This book is my bible. I first read it for a college class as an undergrad. One of the first books I remember reading was the Symposium. I ended up dropping that first philosophy class for various reasons. When I came back to school at a different university, I decided to try philosophy again. Synchronicity must have been at work in my choice of professors, as the one I chose became my mentor and my friend. It was in his class that I delved back into Plato and fell in love with them. It would be a massive undertaking, and one I am not prepared to do, to summarize the contents of this book. Instead I will point out notable books, and perhaps a few the general or beginning reader should tackle first. It would be a very goo idea to start with the Apology. It will give you a sense of who Socrates is, what Athenian society is like at the time, and for the feel of Plato's style. I strongly recommend that readers stick with these translators: Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns. Their translations is lively and captures Socrates' wit and sometimes subtle humour. After the Apology, the Laches would be a good place to go, as it's centered around the single question of courage, and will give readers a feel for the structure and style of his argument. In general, there are six parts and then the release or conclusion. One interesting thing I've noticed is the importance of the middle section of any given book. This is especially noticeable in the Euthydemus and the Phaedrus. However, I would not recommend trying these two books until you have made it through several of his others. The Symposium is a beautiful book and pairs nicely with the Phaedrus. The Republic is fairly standard reading for many schools, but there is much to be discovered in this lengthy text besides what he says about philosopher kings. The Republic offers a fairly concise presentation of the Forms, or the eidos that are the central tenant of Plato's philosophy. Many people, including the other father of western philosophy, Aristotle, have mistakenly believed that Plato desired to separate the mind and the body, the ideal from the sensual. In the context of the Symposium and the Phaedo, I do not think this is the case at all. I will not however, try to tell you what to think. All I ask (if I can do such a thing) is that you read mindfully, carefully, and critically. The Euthydemus is perhaps one of my favorite books; it is also the most demanding and existentially terrifying. When reading this book, one must be very aware of language and the meaning of words, for the brother's arguments often turn on a single word. It is also in this text that you can find much of, if not all of the ideas presented in the later dialogues. Perhaps the most difficult book of all however, is the Phaedo because it is in this book that Socrates attempts to describe most directly his concept of the Good--what it is, how we reach it--and a proof for the Forms. This is where we find the argument that "each is in all, and always all." This was one of the last books we covered and it made me feel as if I had lost all the understanding I previously thought I had. It really brought home the other oft quoted piece of wisdom: "wisdom is knowledge of one's own ignorance." I would highly recommend the dialogues for people who are searching for answers to questions they don't know how to ask. The beautiful thing about Plato's philosophy is that it truly is a philosophy for living. While other philosophies or religions will tell you what steps to take at each and every turn on the path, Plato instead shows you the goal, the ultimate Good, and lets you find your own way there. For those who may think that eastern and western philosophies only and always oppose each other, I'd encourage you to consider Plato in light of Buddhism, and visa versa. ( )
  VeronicaH. | Nov 29, 2011 |
Princeton University Press (1971), Hardcover, 1743 pages - The Collected Dialogues of Plato: Including the Letters ( )
  vegetarian | Oct 5, 2011 |
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The first three dialogues given here are an account of the last days and the death of Socrates.
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Translations of all writings attributed to the Greek philosopher Plato.
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