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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


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

1 The Dialogue Style and the Characters.

2 The Main Argument and Plot of the Republic.

3 The Fundamental Ideas of the Republic.

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

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

2 Socrates' Refutations of Thrasymachus’ Premises.

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

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

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

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

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

3 Why should I be Just?

4 What is a Just Society? Plato's own Social Ideal.

1 What is Justice? Socrates Divides the Question.

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

3 The Functional Theory of Good and Virtue.

4 Plato's Definitions of Justice and the other Virtues of his Completely Good City.

5 Return to Plato's Methods for Discovering Justice.

5 Plato's Ideal of a Just and Good Person.

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

2 Plato's Analysis of the Human Psyche.

3 Parts of the Human Psyche: Faculties or Agents?

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

5 Plato's Ideal of Rationality.

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

6 The Equality of Women: Plato's Blindfold.

1 The Blindfold of Justice.

2 Does Plato's Justice wear a Blindfold?

3 The Gender Blindfold of Plato’s Justice.

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

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

1 Ideals as Standards and their Approximations.

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

3 Knowledge and Opinions.

4 Platonic Forms and Physical Particulars.

5 Plato's Theory of the Form of the Good.

6 Knowledge of Good.

7 How Elitist is Plato's Completely Good City?

8 Plato's Criticisms of Democracy and the Democratic Character.

1 Political Equalities and Economic Inequalities.

2 Platonic Knowledge and Democratic Ruling.

3 Plato's Criticisms of Democratic Freedoms.

4 Plato's Democratic Character: Freedom and Equality in the Human Psyche.

5 Plato's Criticisms of his Democratic Character.

9 Plato's Defense of his Social and Psychic Justice.

1 Is Plato's Social Justice Justice at all?

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

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

4 Plato's Defense of his Just Person: The Sachs Problem.

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

6 The Defense of the Just Life as the Pleasantest.



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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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