Great Books


"Nowhere in Plato is there a deeper irony or a greater wealth of humor or imagery, or more dramatic power. Nor in any other of his writings is the attempt made to interweave life and speculation, or to connect politics with philosophy."
Benjamin Jowett (1817-1893)

Plato's Republic centers on a simple question: is it always better to be just than unjust? The Republic is the supreme product of Plato's most mature years, thought, and style, containing virtually the entire universe of Plato's philosophy.

In Latin res publica means "public matters" or "the state." In Greek, the title was originially Politeia meaning constitution. But the Republic does not start out about politics. It is initially a Socratic dialogue about justice. The Republic is divided into ten books, each of which originally fit onto one papyrus scroll.

Unusual to other Plato dialogues, in the Republic . .

  1. Socrates narrates the entire text,
  2. he speaks with a large number of people, not just one,
  3. these include two brothers of Plato himself (Glaucon and Adeimantus), and
  4. after the dialogue about justice proceeds in the fashion that we expect of Socrates, things take an unexpected turn . .
. . one we continue to deal with locally and globally today.

See also . .

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