About the BookThe Republic is a Socratic dialogue, written by Plato around 380 BC regarding the definition of justice, the order and character of the just city-state and the just man. It has been widely acknowledged as one of the world’s most influential works of philosophy and political theory, both intellectually and historically. In it, Socrates along with various Athenians and foreigners, discuss the meaning of justice and examine whether or not the just man is happier than the unjust man. They consider a series of different cities coming into existence “in speech”, culminating in a city called Kallipolis, which is ruled by philosopher-kings. The participants also have discussion on the theory of forms, the immortality of the soul, and the roles of the philosopher in society.
The Republic is most widely taught of Plato’s writings. Although it contains some dramatic moments and makes use of certain literary devices, it is not a play, a novel, or a story; it is also not an essay, in a strict sense. It is a kind of extended conversation that embraces a central argument advanced by the proponent Socrates. The Republic may be seen as a kind of debate, a fitting description for most of the dialogues.
Plato’s intent in this book is to establish, philosophically, the ideal state, a state that would stand as a model for the existing or emerging societies functioning during Plato’s time and extending into the present times. The readers are to infer that any proposed changes in the policy of effecting justice in any state would have to meet the criteria of the ideal state: the Republic.About the Author/sPLATO, born around 428 BC in Athens, was a philosopher and mathematician in Classical Greece. He was the founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world, and is arguably one of the greatest writers in the entire Western canon. He is widely acknowledged to be the most pivotal figure in the development of philosophy, especially the Western tradition. His entire oeuvre is believed to have survived intact for over 2500 years.
Along with his teacher Socrates and his student Aristotle, Plato is believed to have laid the foundations of Western philosophy and science. In addition to being a foundational figure for Western science, philosophy, and mathematics, Plato is widely recognized as one of the founders of Western religion and spirituality, particularly Christianity, which scholars like Friedrich Nietzsche called “Platonism for the people.” Plato’s influence on Christian thought is often thought to be mediated by his major influence on Saint Augustine, one of the most important philosophers and theologians in the history of Christianity.
The innovation of the dialogue and dialectic forms in philosophy originates with Plato. He is said to have founded the Western political philosophy, with his Republic, and Laws among other dialogues, providing some of the earliest extant treatments of political questions from a philosophical perspective.
Plato is believed to have been influenced by Socrates, Parmenides, Heraclitus, and Pythagoras. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy describes Plato as “one of the most dazzling writers in the Western literary tradition and one of the most penetrating, wide-ranging, and influential authors in the history of philosophy.... Few other authors in the history of Western philosophy approximate him in depth and range: perhaps only Aristotle (who studied with him), Aquinas, and Kant would be generally agreed to be of the same rank.”