The Intelligent Troglodyte’s Guide to Plato’s Republic
Douglas Drabkin, Fort Hays State University
Pub Date: 2016
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The book thoroughly and comprehensively presents the ideas of Plato’s "Republic". The text is easily approachable and understandable as the read more
The book thoroughly and comprehensively presents the ideas of Plato’s "Republic". The text is easily approachable and understandable as the introduction / summary of the source chapters. The author provides references throughout the text as well as the index that allows the reader to further refer herself to the source and expand on the topics included in the guide.
The content of the book is accurate. Interpretations provided are unbiased and correct but also open for further questions which is quite essential in every reading of Plato. The commentaries exhaust the content of the books in brief but accurate overviews.
The content is relevant and long lived. The structure of the book provides the readers with a relevant and up to date introduction to the "Republic"; is written in a captivating manner that encourages the exploration of the original text. The questions posed after each book are inviting and correspondent but also open for further commentaries and critical evaluation.
The text is written in a clear and approachable manner. The author uses terms that are easily understandable but also explained if necessary. The clarity of the book invites the reader to expand the vocabulary and ideas presented.
The book is internally consistent in its content and is easily searchable which allows the reader to refer herself to the original source without disrupting the reading of the text. The terminology used is consistent and relevant.
Very helpful, resourceful and approachable text. The students may be able to easily find the assigned, relevant material. The text is divided into smaller sections that explain each section of the original work. The content can be aligned with different topics presented in the course without disturbing the flow of major ideas of the original text.
The organization and structure of the text allows for a steady flow. The references / internal links to the original source do not disturb the flow of the book but enhance its content.
The text’s interface allows flawless and smooth navigation and is free of any technical problems.
The text is grammatically and stylistically correct in most parts.
Although the "Republic" is the text rooted in Ancient Greece, it is nonetheless culturally universal and timeless. The guide provides the reader with questions that are relevant to the diverse world we live in now and encourages a critical search for answers that make the ancient text even more significant and relevant to the modern times. The historical overview allows the reader to place the content in the context of Ancient culture but the questions provided invite students to find its relevance in the modern times.
“The Intelligent Troglodyte’s Guide to Plato’s Republic” is a comprehensive and accurate, easily approachable text that may serve either as a valuable guide to the original text, or as a commentary. Yet, it may also serve as an invitation to further exploration and critical reading and analysis of the ideas presented in Plato’s work. The questions included after each section are helpful and encourage further evaluation and interpretation of the universally applicable content of the “Republic”. Overall, I find the text very useful as a teaching material and highly recommend it’s use to facilitate students with the further understanding of, sometimes, complex ideas.
The book is intended as a reading guide to Plato's Republic, and it covers the whole text in sections of a few Stephanus numbers at a time. It also read more
The book is intended as a reading guide to Plato's Republic, and it covers the whole text in sections of a few Stephanus numbers at a time. It also provides some historical background, as well as links to the online English and Greek versions of the text on Perseus. (The quotations discussed use another translation, as noted.) In addition, the book provides interesting and valuable study questions; some of these are aimed at soliciting close reading of the text, while others bring out philosophical issues raised implicitly or explicitly in the text. There is some glossing of Greek terms, but no glossary. The text from which Dr. Drabkin draws his quotation, Reeve's translation of the Republic, does include a glossary and notes; so instructors using that edition will have the needed glossary available. There is no index; under the heading 'Index,' the author provides instructions for searching the PDF. This will be helpful for some kinds of searches (for example searches for names of characters, or terms such as 'tyrant' that are only used in a few sections of the text) but not others (for example, searches for terms that are not used in the text but that may be relevant, e.g. "justice: types" or searches for something like "animals" which will turn up mentions of 'animal' but not of 'bird' or 'horse').
The content is accurate and clear, with no evident errors of translation or interpretation. The study questions appear to be careful to avoid prejudice. It may be relevant to note that the notes and study questions assume familiarity with the US system of government, and use comparisons and contrasts with US democratic institutions and their functioning to elucidate and interrogate the political proposals made in the dialogue. This may make some aspects of the text more useful in a US setting and less so in other countries (though the text will still be quite valuable outside the US). There are also references to US popular culture (e.g. the Star Wars films). This will be more useful in some contexts than others; but those unfamiliar with these cultural references will not miss any major points.
Plato's Republic will, it is to be hoped, continue to be studied for many years; and this will be a good study guide for a long time. The references to popular culture that may help students today may be obscure to students in a few years; but as noted above, nothing crucial hangs on the references to films or to US sports. Should the author wish to update those illustrative references, the task should, I would gather, be pretty straightforward and simple.
The book is very clearly written. I admire its clear analyses of arguments and its presentation of the sequence of discussions in the dialogue.
The text is very consistent in its use of terminology, and elucidates ambiguities and double-meanings of Greek terms as needed.
The text breaks the dialogue into Books, as is customary; and then takes the additional step of dividing each book into multiple short subsections representing stages of arguments or discussions. This is done in a very clear way.
As noted above, the division of the work into small subsections is well-done. The author clearly notes how each connects to the others and represents a stage of the arguments of the dialogue.
The internal navigation works well, and the hyperlinks to external sources works well too.
There are no grammatical errors.
I am not aware of any elements that could be insensitive or offensive. As noted, there is a US focus with respect to the references and analogies, which may make the book less useful outside the US than it is in the US. At the same time, it does not propose that the US political system or US popular culture are or should be norms for others. There is not deliberate engagement with matters of xenophobia or race or ethnicity as these may pertain to Plato's text.
This text covers all of Plato's Republic, breaking its ten books down into 96 sections (so, about ten sections per book). In each section, the read more
This text covers all of Plato's Republic, breaking its ten books down into 96 sections (so, about ten sections per book). In each section, the author distills points of interest from Plato’s text and offers historical context while articulating thoughtful questions to spur the reader to think philosophically about the topics Plato suggests to us. Each section is only a paragraph long, and so the author effectively divides the feast that is Plato's Republic into 96 bite-sized pieces.
Very accurate. The author does not enter controversies about how exactly to understand the text.
I don't think this text will need to be updated. However, there are some links that will need to be updated, e.g. one link to a youtube video that has already been taken down by youtube.
The text is written quite clearly. The goal seems to be to make Plato as accessible as possible to non-expert readers, and this is achieved successfully This Guide to Plato's Republic makes for an enjoyable read.
Yes, the text is consistent.
Teachers often ask students to read some but not all of Plato's Republic, or to read parts of it out of order. Drabkin's text is most useful in providing readers of Republic a bird's eye perspective on the entire text. It allows us to swoop in to consider details here or there with ease.
The table of contents is usefully hyperlinked to the relevant sections in the book. There are also many links in the text to helpful internet sources of information including the reputable Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (accessible and substantive overviews by professional philosophers), the Perseus Project hosted by Tufts (both English and Greek texts of Republic), and other free sources of information like Wikipedia.
The grammar is good. I only found a couple typo's.
The text is not culturally insensitive. In fact, as it discusses some of the foreign or strange claims of Plato (e.g. anti-democratic claims), it is rather sensitive in asking readers to question things we take for granted.
The Intelligent Troglodyte's Guide to Plato's Republic takes the reader on an enjoyable tour of this classic work of Ancient Greek philosophy. Although reading Plato's text can be quite difficult, this Guide is very helpful both in summarizing the important ideas Plato expressed and also in helping a reader to navigate the order in which they are presented and remember the overall narrative arc of the story. This Guide is not intended as a replacement of Plato's text, nor as a “Cliff’s Notes” summary, nor again as a detailed commentary, but rather as a simple and accessible guide. The reader is advised to first get through sections of Plato’s text and only afterwards attend to the relevant sections of Drabkin’s text, which fills the role of a humble interpreter who turns complex foreign pronouncements into understandable statements.
The text provides a book-by-book commentary on the Republic, and is organized by topic in a manner that makes it easy to look up any subject within the text. read more
The text provides a book-by-book commentary on the Republic, and is organized by topic in a manner that makes it easy to look up any subject within the text.
The content is accurate in its analysis of philosophical arguments in the dialogue. The author's interpretation of some arguments is open to debate, but that is true of all interpretations of Platonic dialogues.
This book is a useful guide to students who are reading Plato's Republic for the first time. The analysis of arguments will not need updating; some of the particular questions the author poses to students to consider may need to be updated eventually because of the use of topical examples.
The book is written in a clear and plain style which should be easily understood by any intelligent undergraduate.
The book is organized as a commentary and is consistent in that framework.
The book is admirably suited to an undergraduate course: by its division into books and subject matters, any instructor can easily assign parts of the text that correspond to particular books of the Republic.
The book is suited to a side-by-side reading with Plato's Republic, and closely match the organization of the dialogue.
There are no interface problems; the text directs the reader to relevant online sites, and the links all work.
There are no grammatical or stylistic errors in the text.
This book provides a commentary and a series of philosophical questions raised by the text of one of the most important philosophical works in western civilization. The issues that the dialogue raises about the nature of justice and the best political organization of a city are timeless and valid subjects of inquiry that are not limited to any one culture or time.
Table of Contents
1 A Religious Festival in the Piraeus
2 Being Old
3 Treasure for Heaven
4 Giving What is Owed
5 The Craft of Justice
6 Benefiting Friends and Harming Enemies
7 The Advantage of the Stronger
8 The Good Shepherd
9 The Blushing Argument
10 Function, Virtue, and the Soul
11 The Division of Goods
12 The Social Contract Theory of Justice
13 The Magic Ring
14 The Challenge
15 The Teaching of Justice
16 Glaucon’s Lover
17 From Souls to Cities
18 Making the Most of Differences
19 Luxuries in the Just City
20 The Good Soldier
21 Censoring Homer
22 Gods Causing Bad Things
23 Gods in Disguise or Speaking Falsely
24 Fear and Grief
25 Laughter and Lying
26 Lust, Wrath, and Greed
27 Narrative Style and Personal Integrity
28 The Emotional Power of Tune and Rhythm
29 Love of the Fine and Beautiful
30 Physical Training
31 Doctors and Judges
32 Harmony in the Soul
34 The Myth of the Metals
35 Private Property and Private Interests
36 The City as a Whole
37 Lawfulness Internalized, Legislation Minimized
38 Wisdom in the City
39 Courage in the City
40 Temperance in the City
41 Justice in the City
42 Parts of the Soul ¬¬ Appetitive and Rational
43 The Spirited Part of the Soul
44 The Virtues of the Soul
45 Injustice is Sick
46 A Desire to Listen
47 The Natures of Men and Women
48 Good Breeding
49 Families and the Saying of “Mine” and “Not Mine”
50 The Waging of War
51 Philosophers and Knowledge of the Forms
52 The Virtues of the Philosopher
53 Philosophical Perspective and the Fear of Death
54 The Uselessness of Philosophers
55 Gifted Students and the Sophists
56 Putting Knowledge of the Forms to Use
57 The Form of the Good
58 Every Soul Pursues the Good
59 The Sun
60 Degrees of Clarity (The Line)
61 The Cave
62 Two Kinds of Confusion
63 The Craft of Education
64 Compulsory Service for Philosophers
65 Numbers as Summoners
66 Further Mathematical Studies
68 Selecting Students for Philosophy
69 Abuses of Refutation
70 Completing the Education of the Rulers
71 Establishing Justice
72 The Fall of the Aristocratic City
73 The Timocratic City
74 The Timocratic Soul
75 The Oligarchic City
76 The Oligarchic Soul
77 The Democratic City
78 The Democratic Soul
79 The Tyrannical City
80 Lawless Desires
81 The Right Way to Fall Asleep
82 The Tyrannical Soul
83 The First Proof: Analogy of City and Soul
84 The Second Proof: Who’s to Say?
85 The Third Proof: True Pleasures
86 How Much More Unpleasant is the Tyrannical Life?
87 An Emblem of the Soul
88 Will the Just Person Take Part in Politics?
89 Return to Poetry
90 First Accusation: Imitation in Ignorance
91 Second Accusation: Injustice Promoted in the Soul
92 A Call to Poetry’s Defenders
93 An Argument for the Soul’s Immortality
94 The Soul Without Barnacles
95 Rewards from Gods and Human Beings
96 Suffering, Philosophy, and the Choice of a Lifetime
About the Book
The Republic of Plato is one of the classic gateway texts into the study and practice of philosophy, and it is just the sort of book that has been able to arrest and redirect lives. How it has been able to do this, and whether or not it will be able to do this in your own case, is something you can only discover for yourself. The present guidebook aims to help a person get fairly deep, fairly quickly, into the project. It divides the dialogue into 96 sections and provides commentary on each section as well as questions for reflection and exploration. It is organized with a table of contents and is stitched together with a system of navigating bookmarks. Links to external sites such as the Perseus Classical Library are used throughout. This book is suitable for college courses or independent study.
About the Contributors
Douglas Drabkin graduated from the University of Virginia in 1993 with degrees in literature, education, and philosophy, and has been a member of the department since 1994. He teaches a wide range of courses including Introduction to Philosophy, Bioethics, Aims of Education, Classical Greek Philosophy, Foundations of Modern Philosophy, and Aesthetics, and is currently involved in the Living and Learning Community Heart and Mind: Philosophizing About the Arts. He has published articles in the philosophy of religion, and has recently written an unusually good little book on Plato’s Republic. A fairly accomplished amateur violinist, he shamelessly scrapes away.