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The Republic Of Plato: Second Edition [Paperback]

Allan Bloom
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 3 1991
Long regarded as the most accurate rendering of Plato's Republic that has yet been published, this widely acclaimed work is the first strictly literal translation of a timeless classic. This second edition includes a new introduction by Professor Bloom, whose careful translation and interpretation of The Republic was first published in 1968. In addition to the corrected text itself there is also a rich and valuable essay-as well as indexes-which will better enable the reader to approach the heart of Plato's intention.

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About the Author

Allan Bloom is professor of social thought at the University of Chicago. The author of many books, including The Closing of the American Mind, he is also the translator of Rousseau's Emile (Basic Books, 1979).

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First Sentence
Socrates: I went down to the Piraeus yesterday with Glaucon, son of Ariston, to pray to the goddess; and, at the same time, I wanted to observe how they would put on the festival, since they were now holding it for the first time. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A literal Republic Feb. 21 2006
Plato's 'Republic' is one of the most important works of ancient Greek philosophy, and one of the foundation pieces of political science and political philosophy of that and subsequent ages. It was one of the first pieces I read when undertaking a political science degree. This translation by Allan Bloom is perhaps the most recent 'Republic' I have read.
Plato was not only a great philosopher, but also a great writer. While few master the classical Greek language sufficient to undertake its study in the original language, the text appears in countless translated forms of varying degrees of integrity. This translation by Bloom is one of the best literal translations - it stays very closely to the original, explaining things that do not translate easily, but avoiding many interpretation issues that often show more of the philosophy and/or politics of the translator than of Plato.
The text is traditionally divided into ten sections, although some scholars see this as being a function of the papyrus and scrolls of original composition more than being integral to the structure of the text itself. One of the interesting features of the Republic is that it was not originally intended for scholars and philosophers primarily, but for the common (albeit educated) reader, and remains one of the more accessible texts of ancient Greek philosophy.
In typical fashion, this is done in a dialogue fashion, with the lead character Socrates (fashioned after Plato's teacher, the great philosopher Socrates, although the words Socrates utters in this and many other Platonic dialogues are undoubtedly Plato's own).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Plato's Republic is really beyond reviews, and it would be presumptuous do anything other than encourage potential readers to study it for themselves. As the overt political slants of some of the other reviews suggest, his ideas resonate in the modern world as much as they did in his own. Whether a reader approaches Republic with positive or negative prejudices, the actual text of the argument forces constant reevaluation and refinement of those preexisting opinions.
Allan Bloom has created a literal translation that is ideal for those who truly wish to engage with Plato. Most other translators have used non-literal methods that attempt to convey in a more contemporary form what Plato "meant" by his arguments. However, in this process the translator's own interpretation of Plato's argument inevitably influences the language in which he renders his translation. Bloom has attempted, with a great degree of success, to separate the processes of translation and interpretation. Rather than imposing his reading on the text itself, he express it in a thought-provoking interpretive essay that follows the text
This is probably not the easiest translation of Plato to read, because Bloom does not attempt to serve as a baby-sitter for his readers. However, the extra time spent in reading this version will be well rewarded by a deeper understanding of Plato's argument.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The classic--what did you expect? Aug. 25 2002
There probably isn't much I can add in a scholarly vein to what people have already said about Plato. So I thought I would make a few personal observations from the standpoint of a somewhat philosophically literate, 21st century man who is reading such an august classic in middle age.
I came to this book with more of a background in modern epistemology and the philosophy of science than in classical philosophy. So political philosophy isn't exactly my strong suit, but nevertheless I found the book interesting reading in a way I hadn't really thought of before.
Actually, I had read portions of this book 20 years ago when I was a young student first studying philosophy, and I have to say, there is something to be said for having a more mature outlook in approaching such a venerable work. At the time I thought political philosophy pretty dull stuff, and besides, I felt there was no real way to answer any of the important political questions that get debated here, despite the easy way Socrates disposes of everybody else's half-baked opinions and theories.
The fact is, if you move ahead 2400 years and read something like Karl Popper's "The Open Society and Its Enemies," an advanced modern work, you can see how much, or how little, political philosophy has progressed in the last 24 centuries.
Well, that may be true, but at least with this book you know where it basically all started. The best way to decide this issue is to read the book and decide for yourself.
Although entitled "The Republic," this society isn't like any republic you've probably ever read about.
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Plato's purpose here is to find the definition and nature of justice such as whether the just man is happier than the unjust man. I found that the dictionary says little more than "doing what's right" which doesn't say much.
The discussion opens with conventional definitions for justice that anyone might come up with such as "speaking the truth and giving back what one takes." But consider borrowing a weapon from a friend who asks for it back in a violent state of mind. Similarly, there can be times when telling the truth is wrong.
That definition seems wrong because it implies that you may have to harm a friend. So the second definition offered is that justice is benefiting your friends and harming your enemies. But this definition turns out to make justice useless because with matters of health, the doctor, not the just man, is most capable of benefiting friends and harming enemies. Furthermore, the doctor is useless to those who aren't sick. This definition really collapses when we consider that we may mistake people's true natures and be enemies with good people. Then it would be just to harm good people. Besides, harming a person makes him worse and this can't be justice. All this leaves in the definition is to benefit all people, which doesn't really say anything. Plato did not mean that punishing is harming them because then the purpose is to make them better. However, Nietzsche said that the purpose of punishment is to improve those--who punish.
The argument that justice is giving what is owed will be salvaged, however through this example: Cooking gives what is owed to food and learning gives what is owed to the mind. An example not used in the book is borrowing money with interest.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Roots of Western Discourse
Plato's 'Republic' is one of the most influential works in Western philosophy--one critic once said how all of Western thought is a footnote to Plato. Read more
Published 21 months ago by AP
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent translation of an aging classic
Why get *this* Republic rather than some other translation? Because Allan Bloom is wonderfully attentive to the fact that the ancient greek civilization is a totally alien society... Read more
Published on Aug. 27 2006 by J. E. Mueller
3.0 out of 5 stars For those willing to disagree
So you've asked some of the tough questions. You've questioned your teachers, you've questioned your parents, you've questioned yourself (you never thought to ask your boss), but... Read more
Published on March 10 2003 by Sobeit
5.0 out of 5 stars A splendid translation of one of the world's greatest texts.
The famous French philosopher, Rene Descartes, once said that the reading of good books "is like a conversation with the finest men of past centuries. Read more
Published on April 17 2002 by Mitchel Weaver
5.0 out of 5 stars Awsome
If you love philosphy, this is the best book. There are many different versions of this book but this is the best one.
Published on Feb. 21 2002 by "tommy88"
5.0 out of 5 stars Same version I used in College
Ah... those lectures were invaluable. Pick up a copy and do some thinking!!!
Published on May 19 2001 by James May
5.0 out of 5 stars Irony Schmirony
With all due respect (and I really mean it -- Bloom's a treasure and I have a lot of respect for this translation), people with a modern right-wing ideological bent desperately... Read more
Published on March 30 2001 by Bill Krapek
5.0 out of 5 stars The only responsible way to read Plato
The Republic is a challenging, intricate, subtle work in which every word counts. This is why a "literal" translation is necessary -- a translation that truly reflects... Read more
Published on April 11 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars solid translation
For serious students of Plato (i.e. of philosophy) Bloom's translation is a must. Nowadays few can read Greek comfortably, and a translation that does not cheat the readers is... Read more
Published on Nov. 13 1999
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