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Understanding Plato's Republic

ISBN: 978-1-4051-2010-4
256 pages
April 2010, Wiley-Blackwell
Understanding Plato


Understanding Plato’s Republic is an accessible introduction to the concepts of justice that inform Plato’s Republic, elucidating the ancient philosopher's main argument that we would be better off leading just lives rather than unjust ones
  • Provides a much needed up to date discussion of The Republic's fundamental ideas and Plato's main argument
  • Discusses the unity and coherence of The Republic as a whole
  • Written in a lively style, informed by over 50 years of teaching experience
  • Reveals rich insights into a timeless classic that holds remarkable relevance to the modern world
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Table of Contents

Preface xi

1 Introduction: The Style, Main Argument, and Basic Ideas of the Republic 1

1 The Dialogue Style and the Characters 2

2 The Main Argument and Plot of the Republic 5

3 The Fundamental Ideas of the Republic 8

2 Is Justice the Interest of the Rulers? Is It Good for Us? The Challenge of Thrasymachus 15

1 Why does Thrasymachus Think that Justice is the Interest of the Rulers? 16

2 Socrates’ Refutations of Thrasymachus’ Premises 19

3 Is [the] Justice [of Thrasymachus] Good for Me? 24

4 Thrasymachus Unconvinced, Socrates Dissatisfied. What Has Gone Wrong? 31

3 Justice by Agreement. Is It Good Enough? The Challenge of Plato’s Brothers 36

1 What is Justice? Glaucon’s Theory of a Social Contract 36

2 Glaucon and Thrasymachus on what Justice is: Results and Methods 41

3 Why should I be Just? 44

4 What is a Just Society? Plato’s own Social Ideal 55

1 What is Justice? Socrates Divides the Question 55

2 What is a Just Society? The Problem of Justice, and How Socrates Tries to Solve It 59

3 The Functional Theory of Good and Virtue 63

4 Plato’s Defi nitions of Justice and the other Virtues of his Completely Good City 67

5 Return to Plato’s Methods for Discovering Justice 71

5 Plato’s Ideal of a Just and Good Person 76

1 The Analogy between a Just City and a Just Soul 77

2 Plato’s Analysis of the Human Psyche 79

3 Parts of the Human Psyche: Faculties or Agents? 81

4 Just, Temperate, Brave, and Wise Human Souls 89

5 Plato’s Ideal of Rationality 93

6 The Virtues and Vices of the City-soul Analogy 100

6 The Equality of Women: Plato’s Blindfold 107

1 The Blindfold of Justice 107

2 Does Plato’s Justice wear a Blindfold? 109

3 The Gender Blindfold of Plato’s Justice 110

4 Was Plato an Advocate of Women’s Rights? Was He a Feminist? 114

7 Knowledge and Governing Well: Opinions and Knowledge, Forms and the Good 120

1 Ideals as Standards and their Approximations 120

2 The Paradox of the Philosopher-king: Knowledge and Political Power 122

3 Knowledge and Opinions 124

4 Platonic Forms and Physical Particulars 127

5 Plato’s Theory of the Form of the Good 137

6 Knowledge of Good 143

7 How Elitist is Plato’s Completely Good City? 146

8 Plato’s Criticisms of Democracy and the Democratic Character 158

1 Political Equalities and Economic Inequalities 159

2 Platonic Knowledge and Democratic Ruling 165

3 Plato’s Criticisms of Democratic Freedoms 170

4 Plato’s Democratic Character: Freedom and Equality in the Human Psyche 174

5 Plato’s Criticisms of his Democratic Character 177

9 Plato’s Defense of his Social and Psychic Justice 187

1 Is Plato’s Social Justice Justice at all? 189

2 Is Plato’s Political Justice Better for me than the Justice of Thrasymachus or the Justice of Plato’s Brothers? 192

3 Is Plato’s Political Justice Good for All the Citizens? 194

4 Plato’s Defense of his Just Person: The Sachs Problem 202

5 The Defense of Justice as the Health of the Soul 208

6 The Defense of the Just Life as the Pleasantest 212

Bibliography 220

Index 227

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Author Information

Gerasimos Santas is Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus, at the University of California, Irvine. He has taught courses in Ancient Greek Philosophy, Plato's Republic, and Ehics for fifty years in American Colleges and Universities. He is author of Socrates (1979), Plato and Freud (1988), Goodness and Justice (2001), and editor of The Blackwell Guide to Plato's Republic (2006).
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"Santas's long career in philosophy and in the classroom has resulted in a wonderful new reading of Plato's Republic. The analysis is close, fresh, and revealing, and at the same time remarkably concise . . . Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty." (Choice, 1July 2011)


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