The Republic of Plato is the longest of his works with the exception of the Laws, . The argument of the Republic is the search after Justice, the nature of which is. second volume of his translation of the Republic of Plato,. Professor Shorey passed away on April 24, , in the seventy-eighth year of his life. In justice to him. Republic, is by an afterthought represented as its. *. Jowett, Dialogues of Plato, vol. iii. pp. xvi-clvii ;. Grote'a. P/a
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THE REPUBLIC. OF PLATO. 'I'IlANSLATBD WInI INTJtODUCTlON AND NOTES BY. FRANCIS MACDONALD CORNFORD. LrrrD., F.B.A.. Fellow of Trinity. I have been a student of the Republic since I first encountered it as an undergraduate at Trinity College, Dublin. In I published a book about. Note that I have added name indicators to identify whose words are being communicated throughout the dialogue. As written by Plato, The Republic does not.
It is from this sceptical and ironical Socrates, who stands not for a body of philosophical doctrine so much as a certain philosophical practice, that Plato inherits. Thus conceived, the comparison between the Platonic dialogue and other dramatic forms is for the most part appropriate. To read a dialogue is not to isolate the pronouncements of the principal character to the detriment of the dramatic aspects of the drama, but to view it as a philosophical and literary whole.
But he does possess a position of his own, which emerges from the interaction of all of the speakers, within a certain context, over the course of the drama. Further, we cannot simply assume that inconsistencies in the text are matters of which Plato is necessarily unaware; perhaps they are part of a broader dramatic design. Likewise, it is resistant to the idea of studying only selected extracts from a dialogue, since to do so tends to marginalise the dramatic aspects of the whole.
But there are other reasons why many Plato scholars reject the approach. I mentioned that it has produced some inventive interpretations of the Republic. To its critics, however, what is a wonderfully imaginative reading to others is an exercise in untrammelled speculation to them. The objection is if the message the author is intending to convey is not contained in the words of one character, but is to be pieced together from all its various dramatic and philosophical elements, licence is given to all manner of disparate interpretations, as this or that meaning is imputed to various aspects of the text.
To abandon the assumption that Socrates speaks for Plato, it is argued, causes the interpretative debate to collapse into a babble of competing voices see Kraut b. Consequently, it is perhaps unsurprising that, when it occurs, debate between advocates of the two approaches is often fractious in nature — so much so, that the temptation in an introductory text is to ignore the issue and simply assume one or other approach with little or no discussion.
Stephanus is the Latinised form of the surname Etienne. Consequently, whichever translation is used, it is possible to locate a given passage. As to the best English translation of the Republic, it is largely a matter of personal preference often based on extended acquaintance.
Grube — in C. Its structure and content stand in marked contrast to the remainder of the dialogue, and beg the question of its purpose in relation to the Republic as a whole. This matter will be addressed in due course. The Opening Scene a—b What is to be made of the beginning of the dialogue? The tale is long in the telling. Observe further that Socrates spends a good few lines setting the scene.
In passing, Socrates remarks that he was impressed by the local and Thracian contributions to the festivities. Having turned for home, he then relates that they were waylaid by a slave belonging to Polemarchus, and requested to wait. For many readers, it is only when the conversation with Cephalus commences that the text begins in earnest, since it is only now that the dialogue takes on a recognisably philosophical character.
The concern is that attention paid to the latter distracts attention from the former. From this it follows that the serious business of the dialogue begins only when Socrates engages in recognisably philosophical conversation. Consequently, to understand the Republic we must attend to each of these aspects, not least those of a literary and dramatic nature. On this assumption, it follows that much might be gleaned from the opening scene, and indeed many readers consider it to be loaded with prescient detail.
There are two points to bear in mind in this regard. This is important since many of the characters who inhabit the opening scene were either directly involved in the turmoil of the last decade of the fourth century BC or related to those who were there are eleven in all, though not all of them speak.
His presence in the opening scene is something of an anachronism, since he is thought to have died some time previously. According to his own account, Lysias played an important role in the overthrow of the Thirty and the restoration of democracy.
In addition to these foreigners and committed democrats, Plato allocates parts to his own brothers, Glaucon and Adeimantus. Lastly, the restored democrats would ultimately execute Socrates, whom we suppose to have been considered dangerous, not least for his association with both Critias and Charmides.
As the port of Athens, the Piraeus was the point of intersection between Athens and the world beyond, a place where the domestic and the foreign, the established and the new came into contact with one another.
Cephalus, as a metic, and indeed the goddess Bendis, both foreign and new to Athens, are emblematic in this regard. Readers can make what they will of the historical context, which many commentators emphasise sets the scene for a reading of the Republic that emphasises its political content. On this view, we cannot ignore that the largely convivial setting in which a disparate group of individuals meet and discuss politics would soon be overwhelmed by political events.
Thus conceived, the opening scene emphasises that the fate of individuals cannot be separated from their political situation. To overlook this, it is argued, obscures the central theme of the dialogue. The imagery of descent and ascent certainly pervades the dialogue as a whole.
In short, Cephalus is at the threshold of death, when he will enter the darkness of Hades. On the subject of darkness, we note further that the opening scene is set at the close of day. Conceived in this context, Socrates stands for the god Heracles. Following the initial confrontation with Thrasymachus, this task continues to occupy Socrates for the remainder of the dialogue.
Again readers can make of this what they will.
As such, it represents a powerful counterargument to those who view the Republic as a sprawling and ultimately disjointed work. I shall nonetheless treat it as a distinct conception of the opening scene, since it draws particular attention to the status and task of the philosopher. For us it may have become a rather abstract and specialised discipline associated with the lecture hall and the academic journal, but in the opening scene of the Republic, philosophy is rooted in ordinary experiences such as a trip to see a religious festival and a visit to the home of an old acquaintance.
To understand this, it is argued, has important implications for how we read the opening scene. First, in so far as any philosophical encounter takes place within a particular social milieu, it is essential to grasp how this shapes the manner in which the encounter unfolds. The milieu provides the opportunity for philosophical dialogue, but it also limits it. This applies not only to the immediate physical environment — in the Republic, a domestic setting in the Piraeus during a time of relative peace — but also the participants.
Socrates must descend to the Piraeus, a melting pot of contrasting opinions and perceptions, for it is in disagreement rooted in everyday experience that philosophy begins. Only from such a starting point can Socrates endeavour to ascend, to attempt the progress from opinion to knowledge that constitutes the dialogical task of philosophy.
Still it A Guide to the Text 25 remains a process rooted in the ordinary and imperfect world.
The theme of the relation between philosophy and the world, it is suggested, manifests itself in various forms as the dialogue proceeds the relation between the ideal and the possible, the theoretical and the practical, the physical and the metaphysical, and so on. This reading overlaps with the historical reading if the point about philosophy emerging from everyday experience is conceived in terms of the relation between philosophy and politics, in particular the exercise of political power.
Viewed in this light, many readings dwell on the initial exchange in which Socrates is persuaded to remain in the Piraeus c—b. The point is made that this exchange subtly anticipates certain key themes that will develop as the dialogue unfolds. In short, it raises the question of the relation between the philosopher and the political community of which he is a part.
An innocuous remark perhaps, but it may be viewed as rather patronising. Annas Or is C. Reeve 6. In this respect, wealth is a blessing for those of good character, since in addition to helping an individual resist the temptation to defraud others, it enables him to repay his debts prior to death d—c.
Cephalus is generally conceived as representative of the authority of old age and conventional wisdom. The issue is whether it is an unsympathetic portrait of an old man designed to expose the A Guide to the Text 27 limitations of an uncritical acceptance of inherited views.
Imagine one has borrowed a weapon from a friend. What if, Socrates asks, the friend loses his mind and then asks that the weapon be returned? Cephalus immediately concedes that it would be unjust to do so, at which point he makes his excuses and the conversation ends d.
He is the embodiment of moderation — a virtue that, as we shall see, is highly esteemed by Socrates — standing somewhere between his grandfather, who made a huge fortune, and his father, who subsequently lost most of it. What then is so special about the philosopher?
We shall see how Socrates answers this question as the dialogue unfolds. At this point the air of small talk disappears, and the conversation becomes increasingly earnest and focused on the matter at hand. Readers are strongly recommended not to take this option, but to remain with Book I for its duration. What is more, it may be that Plato intends the reader to feel a certain frustration and even irritation with the manner in which the discussion proceeds in Book I.
Socrates draws an analogy that was a commonplace of Greek ethical discourse, between the practice of justice and the practice of a skill techne such as medicine.
In questions of health, the doctor is best able to help the friend and harm the enemy. Socrates immediately launches into a further argument based on the skill analogy e—b. Yet what of the arguments that reduce him to this state of perplexity? Instead, as a capacity for opposites, it is seen to support the idea that justice can be used for both good and bad ends Annas 26—8. Those whom one believes to be good, Polemarchus replies, conceding that mistakes are possible.
Polemarchus concedes that to cause anything harm is to make it worse, depriving it of the quality that makes it good; in the case of humans, the excellence of justice. Yet the consequence is that justice acts to produce injustice.
But is Socrates worthy of his victory? The third argument would seem to be the most reputable of them all, the fourth perhaps the least so. Cross and A. When Polemarchus speaks of harming enemies, he means harming their interests rather than making them worse men. In the Republic, the discussion begins as though Socrates and Thrasymachus are old rivals between whom little love is lost.
Commentators contest the latter whilst for the most part agreeing that the confrontation has an important bearing on what follows, specifying the intellectual challenge that Socrates has to meet in the remainder of the dialogue. It certainly alters the terms of the debate.
If, in one jurisdiction, the ruling power deems it lawful for humans to eat animals, then it is just. If, in another, it is deemed unlawful, then in that jurisdiction it is unjust.
Justice is a sociological issue concerning the exercise of political power. As unchanging in form 3.
It should promote self-discipline and the body necessarily benefits when the soul is in a good obedience condition, whereas the soul does not necessarily benefit when 9. It should not include stories that the body is in a good condition contribute to avarice They need to tell citizens a myth that should be believed by subsequent generations in order for everyone to accept his position in the city. Housing conditions of the Guardians: Related Papers.
The Republic Review. By Ma. Alice J Patangan. By Benjamin Godts. The Republic Study Guide. By Shiela Mae Gregorio.
The Pursuit of Justice in Plato's Republic. By Bongani Roberts. Re-Reading Glaucon's Challenge ". Download pdf. Remember me on this computer. Enter the email address you signed up with and we'll email you a reset link.