Context

(Student Guide to World Philosophy)

The Republic of Plato, perhaps the greatest single treatise written on political philosophy, has strongly influenced Western thought concerning questions of justice, rule, obedience, and the good life. The work is undoubtedly the best general introduction to Plato’s philosophy. It contains not only his ideas on the state and human nature but also his theory of forms, his theory of knowledge, and his views of the role of music and poetry in society. Plato presents a penetrating analysis of each of the important philosophical questions. Socrates and his illustrious student Plato force the reader, by their dialectical technique of question and answer, of definition and exception, to take an active part in the philosophical enterprise.

The work is divided into ten books, or chapters, written as a dialogue with Socrates as the main character. One cannot fail to catch the magnificence of Plato’s literary and philosophical style, for all the available translations contain passages of great force and beauty.