Now that I've read TheOpenSocietyAndItsEnemies? I'll just have to get this one too... Has anyone read both ? -- lb
I've read both, but I read The Open Society and its Enemies (both volumns) many years ago. I do not have The Open Society at hand.
The Republic is recorded verbal thoughtful dialog and debate. There are many arguments and many voices, it is the twists and turns in the conversation that interested me. The group is searching for truth but not nessisarily finding it. The key arguments were face to face, the Republic merely records them. In Popper's writing the arguments occur in written debate.
I'm not sure what I think of The Republic. As a philosophical book its fame is well deserved but it is hard to summarise a single coherent view from it. The view that Popper critises is definately widely held but not what I read.
Recently, I've been reading fragments of The Republic at random because of a conversation at the extreme tuesday club in London a few months ago. The other people were much more knowledgeable than me so I just asked questions to explore a hypothesis. If you want a good example of debate through questions, it is the best that I've encountered. -- BryceKampjes
I read that Plato renamed "The Republic" fifty times before he settled on its final name. -- BrentNewhall
There's an small but vitally important bit about The Republic that is often missed. Plato has Socrates advocating things that make modern people uncomfortable, such as censorship, sex and reproduction tighly controlled by the state, and a special caste of warriors who do little else but train to fight... and fight. However, just after the dialogue participants have agreed that Socrates should contruct the hypothetical republic, there's this tasty little exchange. Socrates is speaking:
Thus, by seeking luxury over health and simple goodness, Glaucon forced the creation of a fascist state. -- StephenGilbert
Hardly fair! All Glaucon demands is "couches to lie on and tables to eat from, and the ordinary dishes and dessert of modern life" (Lindsay's translation). Then Socrates turns this into "couches and tables and other furniture; rich dishes too, and fragrant oils and perfumes, and courtesans and sweetmeats, and many varieties of each" and continues in a similar vein. It's hardly Glaucon's fault that Socrates swings from one extreme (no meat, no furniture) to the other. And Glaucon can hardly be blamed either for the lavish assumptions Socrates goes on to make about what this "luxurious" city will require, despite the usual sprinkling of "Yes, Socrates" that Plato puts in when he can't be bothered making up obviously unsound arguments for Socrates's disputants to bring up and have refuted. -- GarethMcCaughan
Dear Socrates is merely doing as Glaucon asked: providing the comforts that Glaucon himself enjoys. In reading the two translations I have at hand (Griffith and Bloom), it seems to me that Glaucon's list (furniture and food) is not comprehensive, but representitive, which is supported by the fact that he agrees with the list of luxuries that S. trots out. We have to take G. as he is presented, not as we imagine him to be. If he agrees with S., we must assume he is expressing his honest opinion. Adeimantus didn't speak against the luxurious city, so he should bear part of the blame, but his was agreement through silence; Glaucon, in active agreement, must claim the majority share. -- StephenGilbert
No: Socrates must claim the majority share. Glaucon just says "Yes, Socrates" and "No, Socrates" and "Certainly, Socrates" like the good sycophant Plato has made him. It's Socrates who makes all the decisions that lead to a fascist state. But, if you must, by all means blame Glaucon for his agreement with those decisions. That's a far cry from saying that Glaucon by seeking luxury ... forced the creation of a fascist state. Glaucon sought luxury and then acquiesced in Socrates's creation of a fascist state. Not the same thing. Another option, of course, is to blame Plato for the lot. -- GarethMcCaughan
It would be a mistake to assume that Socrates agrees with the conclusions he reaches. He follows an argument to its end; if the end isn't reasonable then it's time to question the assumptions. Early in book one when exploring what justice is they go from "it is just to do good to our friends and bad to our enemies" to "it is never just to injure anyone" then they jump to "might is right" as the next starting point. All the arguments were worth recording, but no conclusion is satisfactory when explored. The game is to test our beliefs by deductive reasoning. -- BryceKampjes
I agree, likewise claims of 'creating a fascist state' contradict their notions of justice. The material merits more than one analytical level of interpretation. There is an audience present of varying erudition. Similarly, Socrates' notion of a 'white lie' for the guardians regarding their inner 'metal' may be interpreted as a benevolent means of seizing upon a mechanism that is much more elaborate in its dynamics. This appears to be a habbit of Socrates' and I am not sure I agree with its use. It's argument, one might suppose, is epistemological and if the fiction is congruent with the more robust, yet sophisticated, notion, is its use correct? -- HuwLloyd
Indeed, Socrates makes several questionable leaps of logic in the book. Can you spot them? -- BrentNewhall
An ancient BookOnTheBookshelf