Plato's Republic


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A Study

Stanley Rosen

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In this book a distinguished philosopher offers a comprehensive interpretation of Plato’s most controversial dialogue. Treating the Republic as a unity and focusing on the dramatic form as the presentation of the argument, Stanley Rosen challenges earlier analyses of the Republic (including the ironic reading of Leo Strauss and his disciples) and argues that the key to understanding the dialogue is to grasp the author’s intention in composing it, in particular whether Plato believed that the city constructed in the Republic is possible and desirable.

Rosen demonstrates that the fundamental principles underlying the just city are theoretically attractive but that the attempt to enact them in practice leads to conceptual incoherence and political disaster. The Republic, says Rosen, is a vivid illustration of the irreconcilability of philosophy and political practice.

Stanley Rosen is Borden Parker Bowne Professor of Philosophy and University Professor at Boston University. His previous books include The Elusiveness of the Ordinary and Hermeneutics as Politics, both published by Yale University Press.

"The most comprehensive and detailed commentary on and interpretation of Plato’s Republic in English. Stanley Rosen is one of the most original interpreters of Plato alive."—Drew A. Hyland, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut

“Highly persuasive as a refutation of the Straussians as well as of those who wish to accuse Plato of totalitarianism on one hand or philosophical incompetence on the other. Plato scholars of every stripe will be forced to respond to this book’s main claims.”—Jacob Howland, University of Tulsa

"This book is Stanley Rosen's fourth study focusing on a particular Platonic dialogue. It is also by far the best. . . . This is a rewarding book for specialist and non-specialist alike. Rosen takes Plato's project seriously enough to offer numerous specific criticisms of it based upon his and Plato's common humanity. He asks with obvious sincerity time and again how exactly we are to benefit from this dialogue. Surely it is a compliment to both philosophers to say that after all these years Stanley Rosen and Plato are still very much lively interlocutors."—Lloyd P. Gerson, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"Rosen's study of the Republic . . . is unfailingly interesting for it is boldly conceived and strongly expressed. . . . Rosen . . . offers a severe but utterly clear perspective on Plato's Socrates, which is full of interest and, to its glory, totally devoid of jargon. Anyone can read it and learn."—Eva Brann, Claremont Review of Books

"Rosen has written this book, on perhaps the most important of Platonic dialogues, fully within and responding to the history of philosophy. . . . [His] book has successfully indicated the fact that the Republic can truly speak to us late moderns, and that its questions concerning the nature of philosophy and its relation to politics are also our questions. Rosen has shown that new light can always be shed on the best of old books, and that two thousand years of commentaries on a particular work does not disallow something novel, profound, and challenging being said about it."—De Philosophia

“What Rosen has constructed in the space Plato has opened for him is a magisterial, comprehensive, and, in its essence, wholly original interpretation of the Republic that demands the attention of every thoughtful reader of Plato.”—G.R.F. Ferrari, The Review of Politics

ISBN: 9780300126921
Publication Date: February 5, 2008
432 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
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