Plato is perhaps the most significant philosopher who has ever lived, and The Republic, composed in Athens in about 375 BC, is widely regarded as his most famous dialogue. Its discussion of the perfect city and the perfect mind laid the foundations for Western culture and, for over 2,000 years, has been the cornerstone of Western philosophy. As Simon Blackburn writes, "It has probably sustained more commentary, and been subject to more radical and impassioned disagreement, than almost any other of the great founding texts of the modern world."
In Plato's Republic, Simon Blackburn explains the judicial, moral, and political ideas in The Republic. Blackburn also examines The Republic's remarkable influence and unquestioned staying power, and shows why, from Saint Augustine to 20th-century philosophers, such as Ludwig Wittgenstein and Henri Bergson, Western thought is still conditioned by this most important of books.
©2007 Simon Blackburn; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.
"Rigorous and humble, admiring and dismissive: a clear and accessible introduction to philosophy's first superstar." (Kirkus)
"Plato's Republic...is loaded with perennial questions that every generation must struggle with." (The Independent)
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"Not about Plato"
This is not a book about Plato’s Republic. It is a collection of political, historical and philosophical musings based upon the Republic. If you are interested in the insights of author Simon Blackburn, this book is for you. If you are looking for a book about Plato’s Republic, you should seek elsewhere. The book is very well read and recorded.
"Less than I expected"
The commentary in this audiobook was not what I expected. I thought I was going to get a reading of Plato's "Republic" but instead this is a commentary on the book with very few quotes from the book. This audiobook is a chapter by chapter commentary by the author consisting of his interpretations of what he though Plato was trying to say. In that aspect, the commentary was reasonably good, but certainly less that a reading of Plato's book as I had expected.
"Please hold the politics"
I liked the idea, and the early part of this book, in that it's a "biography" of a book, where the author discusses the book rather than reading the book itself. With a book as old and "deep" as Republic, this seemed like a good way to get some perspective on the work. Unfortunately, as the book goes on, Blackburn increasingly abuses his readers by indulging his bitter political bias against George Bush and Neoconservatives.
Blackburn is as entitled to his arbitrary political opinions as anyone else, but not in the context of a book purporting to give an objective analysis of subject matter far removed from modern day political partisanship.
Blackburn's assertion, for example, that that the ousting of an aggressive and murderous Dictator sitting on one of the world's greatest stores of wealth in Iraq, is somehow equivalent or analogous to the Athenian Greeks putting an apparently innocent, unobtrusive neighboring city-state to the sword because they could, is not only gratuitous, it is a whopping non-sequitur.
Since the entire reason for this book, given the structure I've described above, necessarily leaves the reader to trust the author to provide an objective, reasonable analysis of the subject material at hand, Blackburn's ongoing grinding of his political axe soon had me asking whether his take on Plato and philosophy was as overtly biased and arbitrary as his needlessly imposed political views. As the frequency of political harping increased as the book went on, I turned it off, for good, about two thirds of the way through.
If you are someone who genuinely wants to concentrate on and find good and trustworthy information on the title subject, you will be distracted at best, and probably disgusted, as I was, by this author's political self-indulgence.
I would suggest that if Mr. Blackburn wishes to be a political pundit, he should advertise himself, and be accountable, as such.
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