Conditions of Use
The book provides accessible yet comprehensive overviews and discussion questions of Republic as organized by book and thematic sub-sections. The table of contents and the index is very navigable. The text provides relevant introduction to... read more
The book provides accessible yet comprehensive overviews and discussion questions of Republic as organized by book and thematic sub-sections. The table of contents and the index is very navigable. The text provides relevant introduction to important historical background of characters and events while providing his introduction to key ideas and questions raised by the dialogue, though Drabkin often fails to raise important questions about these figures. For example, the discussion of Cephalus ignores him performing sacrifices in relation to the man’s position as an *arms dealer* in the war. Also, Drabkin neglects the manner in which Plato is responding to Aristophanes' comedies, especially Clouds (see section 25 "Laughter and Lying"). Importantly, the text also lacks discussion of the 'unity of virtue' theory. Unity is instead discussed in terms of the 'integrity' of the city, thus obscuring Plato's important contribution and potentially misleading students on how the virtues of justice, courage, temperance, and wisdom relate to one another. Drabkin asks whether justice is the entirety of human virtue or only a part, which is a bit too simply stated and does not assist students to understand its relation to the other virtues at hand. Finally, the text could do more to engage contemporary feminist and anti-racist ancient scholarship and activism.
The text does a great job of providing important historical information for students to get a better sense of the Platonic 'cosmos' of the Republic dialogue, though it often fails to raise important and relevant questions about these figures, their motivations, and their philosophical role in the dialogue. While it is difficult to provide a completely unbiased interpretation of Plato given the centuries of masculine bias in translation, Drabkin accurately introduces key historical events and figures as well as very basic philosophical themes.
While some discussion questions begin to place Republic in the context of contemporary debates, there are missed and sometimes botched opportunities in the treatment and discussion of gender and slavery to thinking about the contemporary feminist movement, the anti-war movement, police brutality, Fox News, as well as Plato's important influence on key civil rights figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr. As one example, the discussion of slavery in section 7 seems unconnected to the summary and is posed in such a way that many students of color—especially Black students—in the classroom will feel alienated. Drabkin asks “Has there ever been a time when it was just to own people as slaves?,” which no student of color should be forced to entertain as debateable. Questions of gender and sexuality are also treated with a bit of flippancy throughout the book. For example, the treatment of Glaucon’s homosexuality and Greek pederasty in section 16 "Glaucon's Lover" requires much more care or it risks homophobia. Book V is especially lacking in its engagement with contemporary feminist scholarship on gender and 'manliness' in Plato, missing important opportunities for thinking of his relevance today. For example, the 'cloak' of virtue of naked bodies exercising is relevant not only to contemporary sport but also questions of sexual violence in the ancient and contemporary academies. Finally, the text misses a number of important points related to the plague of 429 BC that is now more relevant than ever in our COVID world.
Drabkin does an excellent job of writing in clear, accessible prose. Use of jargon is generally avoided, perhaps to a fault as he does not adequately introduce or discuss the unity of virtue theory.
The book maintains internal consistency in its approach to Plato.
Modularity and organization are great strengths of the text. Drabkin has organized the text according to books of Republic and thematized sub-sections. Instructors and students alike can easily choose a sub-section to read and engage in fruitful discussion.
Modularity and organization are great strengths of the text. Drabkin has organized the text according to books of Republic and thematized sub-sections. Instructors and students alike can easily choose a sub-section to read and engage in fruitful discussion.
The interface is very easily navigable with useful quick-links in the table of contents. There are no display issues.
The prose is grammatically correct and easy to read.
As stated above in the 'Relevance' section: While some discussion questions begin to place Republic in the context of contemporary debates, there are missed and sometimes botched opportunities in the treatment and discussion of gender and slavery to thinking about the contemporary feminist movement, the anti-war movement, police brutality, Fox News, as well as Plato's important influence on key civil rights figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr. As one example, the discussion of slavery in section 7 seems unconnected to the summary and is posed in such a way that many students of color—especially Black students—in the classroom will feel alienated. Drabkin asks “Has there ever been a time when it was just to own people as slaves?,” which no student of color should be forced to entertain as debateable. Questions of gender and sexuality are also treated with a bit of flippancy throughout the book. For example, the treatment of Glaucon’s homosexuality and Greek pederasty in section 16 "Glaucon's Lover" requires much more care or it risks homophobia. Book V is especially lacking in its engagement with contemporary feminist scholarship on gender and 'manliness' in Plato, missing important opportunities for thinking of his relevance today. For example, the 'cloak' of virtue of naked bodies exercising is relevant not only to contemporary sport but also questions of sexual violence in the ancient and contemporary academies. Finally, the text misses a number of important points related to the plague of 429 BC that is now more relevant than ever in our COVID world.
This is a useful book for students as well as instructors who do not specialize in Plato to gain some familiarity with the historical figures and events referenced in Republic. It does a decent job providing an overview of important themes and generally useful discussion questions. However, the book does some disservice on the issue of Plato's relevance to contemporary social issues and may risk alienating Black readers, women, and members of the LGBTQIA community. Feminist and anti-racist instructors will want to offer additional supplements in lecture or recommended secondary reading.
The Intelligent Troglodyte’s Guide to Plato’s Republic is designed as a supplementary reader’s guide to understanding and interpreting Plato’s Republic. It accomplishes this goal quite admirably. For every section of the Republic (96 in all),... read more
The Intelligent Troglodyte’s Guide to Plato’s Republic is designed as a supplementary reader’s guide to understanding and interpreting Plato’s Republic. It accomplishes this goal quite admirably. For every section of the Republic (96 in all), the author, Douglas Drabkin, provides a lucid summary and interpretation, followed by a serious of questions designed to encourage the reader (student) to think critically about the matters at hand. It is an apropos and effective nod to the Socratic Method. While no topic is covered in polemical philosophical splendor, the entirety of Republic is well represented.
The content is accurate, error free, and unbiased – at least as accurate as any philosophical commentary on an ancient (and translated) text can be. Using the traditional Stephanus numbers to identify the sections of the Republic that are being discussed in this book makes it easy for the reader to compare Drabkin’s summary and interpretation with the reader’s own understanding. While interpretation is always open for debate, the book errs on the side of simplicity: What does Plato say? What might he mean by it? Drabkin is not demanding agreement, but rather providing a tool for understanding.
This book is extremely relevant, and I expect it to be so for years to come. I regularly teach a Reacting to the Past game in my Ancient Greece history courses and in the first half of my World History survey. A key component of the game is to encourage students to read, understand, interpret, and utilize Plato’s Republic in order to craft arguments to compete, convince others, and (hopefully) win. I envision this guide as being indispensable for my students. As well, I think any first time reader of the Republic would find this resource to be a perfect way to find one’s bearings while diving into the mind of the philosopher.
Drabkin’s writing style is clear, articulate, and occasionally refulgent. Any odd or difficult concepts, phrases, or terminology that appear in the Republic are elucidated in the summaries of each section.
The book is consistent from start to finish. Every section is ordered in the same way, and is of similar length and writing style.
The book is structured – thankfully – from the beginning of the Republic to its end. That said, if a professor or student was only interested in particular sections (e.g. Books I, IV, and VII), those sections could easily be parsed out with little or no detrimental effect on the content (the summary, interpretation, and Socratic questioning).
The book is organized exceptionally well. The Index (with its links) makes it remarkably easy to find exactly the section in question. As mentioned above, the use of the traditional Stephanus numbers makes it simple to find the corresponding sections in any good translation of the Republic. In general, the organization works well for both a reading guide and as a reference manual. Superb.
I found no issues with the interface (broken HTML links, etc.) I would use this book as a model if I were to write an OER text of my own.
I will not claim with exactitude that there are no grammatical errors in this book, as my proofreading skills are middling. I will say, nothing stood out to me as being incorrect.
As this is a reader’s guide to the Republic of Plato, its inclusion of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds is not at issue when it comes to the summaries. It is possible that some of the interpretations could be construed as leaning towards a Western bias. The discussion questions are for the most part neutral, in that they stay close to the text, even when including more contemporary examples.
Thank you for writing this book. It is useful!
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... 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.
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... 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 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.
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... 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.
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
- 33 Rulers
- 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
- 67 Dialectic
- 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.