For those who are new to The Republic, or who want a good review, the following front matter from the Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought edition is a good reading for this week.
For those who want more ambitious readings, the excerpts below come from the translation by Francis M. Cornford, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1951, still in print) which was the one I used on first studying The Republic with care in late 1962. I think it is still a very useful translation — it is less literal than many subsequent translations. It aims to help the reader answer the hermeneutic question, "Do I understand what Plato tried to say?" Many of the other good translations serve a slightly different purpose, a philosophical one, namely to answer the question, "Do I think Plato's arguments are correct?"
These excerpts are not what most people would consider the essential Republic, which would concentrate on the middle books, particularly the education of the Guardians and the theory of truth centered on the Allegory of the Cave. Doing justice to The Republic, and to the many other dialogs by Plato that are worth serious engagement, requires a sustained commitment. In My Canon I want to talk about why The Republic and other dialogs impressed me as meriting such sustained engagement, and the opening and closing Books of The Republic seem to me valuable for that purpose.
- Plato. The Republic, Books 1 & 2. Here I am particularly interested in the way Plato set the problem of justice up, framing it for sustained reflection. It has, of course, become one of the fundamental problems in political theory and formal philosophy. That makes it a specialized concern. Does it have a broader reach? And if it has a broader reach, what is at stake through it?
- Plato. The Republic, Bks 8-10. The last three books concern how people choose their controlling purposes, the responsibilities of those gifted with artistry in that process, and how to allocate responsibility for the historical outcome of human choice. Who has a stake in these questions?
Dropbox\Books\Leser-1928-Das-Padagogische-Problem-1.pdf Leser. The Pedagogical Problem.