Old 10-24-2016, 07:25 AM   #1
Fred O'Malley
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Default The Republic By Plato

INTRODUCTION AND
ANALYSIS

The Republic of Plato is the longest of his works with the exception of the Laws,
and is certainly the greatest of them. There are nearer approaches to modern
metaphysics in the Philebus and in the Sophist; the Politicus or Statesman is
more ideal; the form and institutions of the State are more clearly drawn out
in the Laws; as works of art, the Symposium and the Protagoras are of higher
excellence. But no other Dialogue of Plato has the same largeness of view and
the same perfection of style; no other shows an equal knowledge of the world,
or contains more of those thoughts which are new as well as old, and not of
one age only but of all. Nowhere in Plato is there a deeper irony or a greater
wealth of humour or imagery, or more dramatic power. Nor in any other of his
writings is the attempt made to interweave life and speculation, or to connect
politics with philosophy. The Republic is the centre around which the other Di-
alogues may be grouped; here philosophy reaches the highest point (cp, especi-
ally in Books V, VI, VII) to which ancient thinkers ever attained. Plato among the
Greeks, like Bacon among the moderns, was the first who conceived a method
of knowledge, although neither of them always distinguished the bare outline
or form from the substance of truth; and both of them had to be content with
an abstraction of science which was not yet realized. He was the greatest me-
taphysical genius whom the world has seen; and in him, more than in any other
ancient thinker, the germs of future knowledge are contained. The sciences of
logic and psychology, which have supplied so many instruments of thought to
after-ages, are based upon the analyses of Socrates and Plato. The principles
of definition, the law of contradiction, the fallacy of arguing in a circle, the dis-
tinction between the essence and accidents of a thing or notion, between means
and ends, between causes and conditions; also the division of the mind into
the rational, concupiscent, and irascible elements, or of pleasures and desires
into necessary and unnecessary–these and other great forms of thought are all
of them to be found in the Republic, and were probably first invented by Plato.
The greatest of all logical truths, and the one of which writers on philosophy are

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