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The Republic by Plato - Barron's Booknotes

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REFERENCE

THE CRITICS

Plato was a poet, with the desire to make every truth a visible
image; and he was a statesman, with a passion for reformation.
The two sides of his character were combined in his desire to
create "the best state", in spirit at least, upon this foundation,
and to set it up as a paradeigma before the eyes of mankind.

Werner Jaeger, Paideia, 1943

Plato's modern readers, judging him by modern patterns of
thought, used to spend much energy searching for his "system".
But at last they became content to realize that-whether for
artistic or for critical motives-he refrained from constructing a
fixed body of doctrine like other philosophers. He wanted to
show knowledge in process of becoming.

Werner Jaeger, Paideia, 1943

The Allegory of the Cave may be viewed as a devastating
criticism of our everyday lives as being in bondage to
superficialities, to shadow rather than to substance. Truth is
taken to be whatever is known by the senses. A good life is
taken to be one in which we satisfy our desires. We are
unaware that we are living with illusion, superficial knowledge.
Our lives are dominated by the shadow-play on the walls of our
caves made by newspaper headlines, by radio broadcasts, by
the endlessly moving shadows on the television screen, by the
echoing voices of opinion makers.

T. Z. Lavine, From Socrates to Sartre, 1984

Unhappily most historians of Plato's thought either glorify
dialectic into something too rarefied to be anything actually
practiced on a Monday morning; or they downgrade it into
something too pettifogging to be permitted to blinker their seer.
Yet for the understanding of Plato, as for the understanding of
any other original philosopher, what is essential is the
appreciation of the style and the structure of his heartfelt
arguments.



Gilbert Ryle, Plato's Progress, 1966

Philosophy is a rare plant, one which has flourished only in the
West; it is perhaps the essence of that West. Its place is not
simply assured everywhere and always as is the city's. The
writings of Plato and a few others made it respectable. The
Republic thus represents one of the most decisive moments of
our history. In this work Socrates presents the grounds of his
being brought to trial and shows why philosophy is always in
danger and always needs a defense.

Allan Bloom, The Republic of Plato, 1968

This choice between the philosophic and tyrannic lives
explains the plot of the Republic. Socrates takes a young man
[Glaucon] tempted by the tyrannic life and attempts to give him
at least that modicum of awareness of philosophy which will
cure him of the lust for tyranny. Any other exhortation would
amount to empty moralism.

Allan Bloom, The Republic of Plato, 1968

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