By R. F. Stalley
Reading the Republic regardless of the fewer normal Laws may end up in a distorted view of Plato's political conception. within the Republic the thinker describes his excellent urban; in his final and longest paintings he offers with the extra specific issues thinking about establishing a second-best 'practical utopia.' The relative forget of the Laws has stemmed principally from the obscurity of its kind and the obvious chaos of its association in order that, even though stable translations now exist, scholars of philosophy and political technological know-how nonetheless locate the textual content inaccessible. this primary full-length philosophical advent to the legislation will hence turn out invaluable.
The beginning chapters describe the overall personality of the discussion and set it within the context of Plato's political philosophy as an entire. all of the ultimate chapters offers with a unmarried subject, ranging over fabric scattered throughout the textual content and so drawing jointly the threads of the argument in a stimulating and conveniently understandable means. these subject matters contain schooling, punishment, accountability, faith, advantage and enjoyment in addition to political concerns and legislations itself. all through, the writer encourages the reader to imagine severely approximately Plato's principles and to determine their relevance to present-day philosophical debate.
No wisdom of Greek is needed and just a constrained heritage in philosophy. even if aimed basically at scholars, the publication can also be of curiosity to extra complicated readers because it offers for the 1st time a philosophical, in place of linguistic or historic, observation at the Laws in English.
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Extra resources for An introduction to Plato's Laws
L ater the ideal of friendship is p u sh ed to an extrem e. In th e tru ly best state, all citizens w ould share com m on feelings about everything — a situation w hich could come a b o u t only if pro p erty and fam ily relationships were abolished (739c; cf. 807b). At 693c th e A thenian apologizes for characterizing the ends o f legislation in so m any different ways, b u t claims th at it does not m a tte r w hether the goal is d escribed as self-control, friendship or w isdom , since these are all in reality the same.
Plato does not succeed in bridging this gap: now here does he make any really serious a tte m p t to show th a t the p articular provisions he recom m ends follow from his general conception o f law. 4 The Aims of Legislation Laws, 625c-632c, 688a-b, 693b-c, 697b-c, 705d-706a, 707d, 718c724b, 81 lc-812a, 829a, 857c-859b, 961c-964a; Republic, 426c-435a, 441c-445b; Gorgias 503d-505c We saw in th e last chapter that law, as Plato views it, m ust aim at the overall good o f the city. As it stands, this doctrine lacks any real content, since it gives no account o f the specific form s o f good to be sought by legislation.
1 M oral psychology A t 632e, after establishing th at virtue is the m ain object o f legislation, th e A thenian tu rn s to consider the D orian institutions designed to inculcate courage. As th e C retan and S partan u n d erstand it, courage consists in doing b attle w ith fears and pains, b u t they readily agree w ith the A thenian w hen he suggests th a t it is equally im p o rtan t to struggle against desires and pleasures. In d eed it is the m an who gives w ay to these who has really lost m astery over him self (632e-633e).
An introduction to Plato's Laws by R. F. Stalley