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May 17, 2017


The Republic

by N@ncy

What is The Republic?
This is one of the books that changed the world.
I refer you to the link on wikipedia for an overview.
This subject matter demands reflection
Be prepared to think..and make up your own mind.
The metaphors, allegories and explanations stay the same
…but the  interpretation is different now than 2400 years ago.
Times have changed.
Each person will have their own reaction to the book.
Estimated reading time:3 hours per book!
Read summary then  listen audio book while reading.
Reading schedule:
I could only read 1 or 2 books a day.
Conversation between Socrates and a group if his friends
#MustKnowWord: Dialectic = exchange of logical arguments

What  do I think was Socrates’ most interesting arguments?
Books 1 -5  Justice
Socrates defines justice in books 1-5
These were exhausting reads because Socrates goes into  so much detail.
Three types of justice were mentioned by Socrates’s friends:
— is  paying back debts — is fulfilling obligations — is helping friends fight their enemies.

Justice: in which category do you put it?
Good for its own sake:  like chocolate…a harmless pleasure.
Good for its own sake + its consequences:  like health…good now and in the future.
Good ONLY for consequences: like physical training….unpleasant – but good in due course.
Socrates defines justice otherwise:
Justice is a virtue…not just the adherence to a rule (…like paying our taxes!)
Justice is the result of a state or soul that is in order.
State: when rulers make laws – police carry out laws – people obey authority = justice
Soul: when reason +  spirit work together to keep desire in check =  justice

Books 6 – 7 Philosopher is the best leader
Socrates makes one of the most important claims of the book:
Only the philosopher has knowledge…the rest have opinions!
Knowledge is: ‘what is’
Ignorance is: ‘what is not’
Opinion is: (in the middle) =  ‘what is + what is not’….thus nothing!

Socrates relates a most beautiful and famous metaphor in Western philosophy:

Allegory of the cave.
Allegory illustrates a philosophers transition
..from theory to  practical involvement in the state.
Philosopher has been outside the cave – in the light of external world.
Philosopher must go in to the cave and converse with those living in the shadows.
Philosopher struggles to work in practical politics.
Philosopher  struggles to explain his points to people
…who have no understanding of philosophical concepts.

Books 8-10  Democracy vs rule by experts
Socrates lists forms of government from most just  to unjust
Timocracy (warrior)
Oligarchy (wealthy)
Democracy (majority)
Tyranny (dictator)

DEMOCRACY is the worst form of government!
Plato distrusts the majority.
Each person does what they like with no concern for others.
There is no unity.
A proper system of government must exclude the general public from decision making.
A government should be undertaken by an elite who are trained to govern.
The key to building a good society is a trained  class of people
who will carry out the government functions.


Well, if  this book  doesn’t make your head spin nothing will!
But don’t let that discourage you….keep reading
…the book gets easier to understand!
Socrates makes use of clever words then suddenly his
conclusions will baffle you!
Socrates’ argument  formula: A=B – B=C – thus… A=C.
Next example: sounds like a paradox…but Socrates convinces otherwise!

A man  who is corrupt….who WE THINK to be  honest  =  model citizen who exploits others.
A man who is honest … who WE THINK  to be corrupt =  unfairly punished
Good men (appear to be honest) …are our enemy
Bad men (appear to be dishonest)… are our friends.
It is not justice that is beneficial to a man….
but the appearance  of justice!

I learned from Socrates that the happiest life is just one.
To achieve a happy life….reason must rule one’s soul.
Aristotle will take it one step further in Ethics.
He will explain the difference between theoretical reason (philosophy)
…and practical reason.

Last thoughts:
This book was a challenge.
…and I need to take a break from philosophy for a awhile.
The book was not entertaining….but enlightening.
Republic is a classic.
I couldn’t grasp or agree with  everything.
I would recommend it…but be prepared to feel exhausted after each chapter!
Score: 5

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  1. #NonFicNov 2017 Week 1 | NancyElin

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