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historybuff234
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Plato

[ Edited ]
I have a question thatb I would like to have answer for. My question is which would be better to read first The Dialogues of Plato or Republic? I am going to buy them both from the BN Classics series and I was wondering which I should read first.

I know that this on the British Classics forum but I have know idea where else I would post it.

Message Edited by historybuff234 on 02-14-200712:17 PM

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Re: Plato


historybuff234 wrote:
I have a question that I would like to have answer for. My question is which would be better to read first The Dialogues of Plato or Republic? I am going to buy them both from the BN Classics series and I was wondering which I should read first.


However you approach them, you're in for a great reading experience!

For what it's worth, here's my view. I would suggest that you start with a few of the key dialogues to get a feel for how Plato works and writes. The Apology is an excellent starting point, since it gives you a view of what Socrates thought he was about. You could move then to the Crito and Phaedo, which also have much to say on Socrates's overall approach to life (and death).

At that point, you could move over to the Republic, or you could read a few of the more central dialogues. Some good choices would be Meno, Theaetetus, Symposium, Gorgias, Timaeus, and Protagoras. But you could insert the Republic at any point in your progress.

It has been said, and I think there's a lot of truth to it, that you can't read the Republic until you've read the Republic. That is, the first reading only gives you an overview of what the dialogue is about. You need then to read it again to begin to understand what Plato is really saying. And it's on the fourth or fifth or later readings that you can really dig into what is being said. My first year seminar tutor, one of the most respected Plato scholars in the country, had read the Republic every year for at least thirty years, and was still finding new and valuable insights in it when I read the dialogue with him. So take it slowly, think about it as you go, and if you can find other readers to discuss it with so much the better; after all, the dialogues themselves are discussions among groups of people. But at the same time, keep in mind that Plato wrote for, and expected to be read by, ordinary students, not university professors (of whom there were none at the time), so there is no reason the attentive and careful reader can't perfectly well understand him on his or her own.

And maybe we can persuade BNBC to open a discussion area for Plato. He certainly deserves it!

Good luck!
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Re: Plato

Thanks for giving me an answer, I am also going to buy Poetics and Rhetoric from the BN Classics series. I would like to know what you think about Poetics and Rhetoric by Aristotle?
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Re: Plato



historybuff234 wrote:
Thanks for giving me an answer, I am also going to buy Poetics and Rhetoric from the BN Classics series. I would like to know what you think about Poetics and Rhetoric by Aristotle?


Aristotle is much more difficult to read that Plato. Plato was not only a philosopher but a poet -- his language is very accessible (even as his ideas are very subtle and rich). It's not clear whether Aristotle's writing was really lecture notes or even possibly notes taken by his students, but his work isn't smooth and fluid as Plato's is. There's a lot there, but it's hard to get at. Although I'm a great believer in original sources, with Aristotle sometimes it's useful to look for good commentaries on his works rather than trying to read him in the original.
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Re: Plato

How has Plato sneaked into the British Classics? Is it because he is a European and we haven't got a European Book Club yet? :smileyhappy:




Everyman wrote:


historybuff234 wrote:
Thanks for giving me an answer, I am also going to buy Poetics and Rhetoric from the BN Classics series. I would like to know what you think about Poetics and Rhetoric by Aristotle?


Aristotle is much more difficult to read that Plato. Plato was not only a philosopher but a poet -- his language is very accessible (even as his ideas are very subtle and rich). It's not clear whether Aristotle's writing was really lecture notes or even possibly notes taken by his students, but his work isn't smooth and fluid as Plato's is. There's a lot there, but it's hard to get at. Although I'm a great believer in original sources, with Aristotle sometimes it's useful to look for good commentaries on his works rather than trying to read him in the original.


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Re: Plato

Choisya, I never thought of that, that clever.
I did not know that Aristtotle was harder to read than Plato.
I was wondering what you think, who had a bigger impact Plato or Aristotle?

Has anyone here read The Prince? I am reading it right now and really enjoying it.
The important thing, is to keep the important thing the important thing.
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Re: Plato

How has Plato sneaked into the British Classics?

He didn't sneak in, he boldly walked in through the same door the Russian short stories had sidled in through.
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Re: Plato

Has anyone here read The Prince? I am reading it right now and really enjoying it.

Oh, yes, I've read it. Machiavelli got a bad name for it, but in fact the book is a perfectly sensible treatise on obtaining and holding power.

After all, one can't do any good for the people as a ruler unless one is able to become a ruler. Machiavelli simply says, most rulers want to be good rulers, but they can't be that until they can gain and retain power, so here's how to do that.
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Re: Plato

I am not really far into it yet(I bought the BN Classics version), I only just finished the third chapter yesterday. Right now I am on chapter 4 Why the states Alexander conquered did not rebel even after he died. It is a good book, I know that I didn't write the chapter exactly right
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Re: Plato, Aristotle and Machiavelli

[ Edited ]
Historybuff wrote:
I was wondering what you think, who had a bigger impact Plato or Aristotle?

I think the jury is still out on that one but many scholars and historians think Aristotle's impact was greater and more far reaching. He was, of course, a student of Plato's, who called Aristotle 'the intelligence of the school'. He was his brightest student by all accounts. Via Plotinus and St Augustine et al, Plato is thought to have had an enormous influence on the teaching of both Judaeism and Christianity and that perhaps is his greatest impact.

One of my favourite quotes from Plato's The Republic is spoken by Socrates: 'Until all Philosophers are Kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit of philosophy, and the political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either to the exclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside, cities [states] will never have rest from their evils - no, nor the human race.' Perhaps this idea will crop up when we discuss Utopia next month:smileyhappy:

Plato is more poetic than Aristotle so his language perhaps flows better and is therefore 'easier on the ear', as it were. Though this might not be true for those who do not care for poetry. Who do you find resonates most through the centuries, Aristotle or Plato?

Has anyone here read The Prince? I am reading it right now and really enjoying it.

The Prince was part of my required reading when I studied PSE (Politics, Social Science & Economics) and I have read it often since. It is a marvellously easy read and very instructive if you apply it to the politics of our time (or any time). He is often called 'the father of modern political science'. One of his greatest contributions was to point out the advantages of separating church from state. His bad press largely resulted from this idea, and the one that maintenance of power should take precedence over moral issues, but looked at from the wider perspective this can be seen to be a 'truism', not a recipe for an immoral tyranny. For instance, it is true that for a country to win a war it must be immoral enough to kill and otherwise harm people. Pacifists might argue otherwise but rulers cannot. Machiavelli has been all things to all men and it is instructive to note that although Benito Mussolini incorporated some of his ideas into his 'right wing' fascist state, Antonio Gramsci also tried to use The Prince to validate the 'left wing' communist movement.

Have you been able to apply his thoughts to anything happening around us today?



historybuff234 wrote:
Choisya, I never thought of that, that clever.
I did not know that Aristtotle was harder to read than Plato.
I was wondering what you think, who had a bigger impact Plato or Aristotle?

Has anyone here read The Prince? I am reading it right now and really enjoying it.

Message Edited by Choisya on 02-16-200706:18 AM

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Before and After Thomas More's UTOPIA

Yes, and I also just got this collection of Plato's dialogues in preparation for our discussion of Thomas More's Utopia, since I hear W. H. D. Rouse's translation of The Republic is very readable:

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?EAN=9780451527455

Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince will probably come up during our discussion as well, so I'll have to read that again, too: thanks for the very helpful commentary, Choisya!


Choisya wrote:
One of my favourite quotes from Plato's The Republic is spoken by Socrates: 'Until all Philosophers are Kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit of philosophy, and the political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either to the exclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside, cities [states] will never have rest from their evils - no, nor the human race.' Perhaps this idea will crop up when we discuss Utopia next month:smileyhappy:

...

The Prince was part of my required reading when I studied PSE (Politics, Social Science & Economics) and I have read it often since. It is a marvellously easy read and very instructive if you apply it to the politics of our time (or any time). He is often called 'the father of modern political science'. One of his greatest contributions was to point out the advantages of separating church from state.
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Re: Plato

I read The Prince when in junior high school or high school. I plan on reading it again later. I also read a book called Masters of Change which presented some arguments why Machiavelli's theories didn't work in all situations and also presented some leaders who used his theories at appropriate times and used other methods during other times with better success. Apparently Machiavelli's prince was the son of a pope and he was more successful until his father died and was succeeded by another pope.

Denise



historybuff234 wrote:
Choisya, I never thought of that, that clever.
I did not know that Aristtotle was harder to read than Plato.
I was wondering what you think, who had a bigger impact Plato or Aristotle?

Has anyone here read The Prince? I am reading it right now and really enjoying it.


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Re: Plato

I guess we have something in common I am reading The Prince right jow and I am in Junior High School. We make so that we amy live in peace- Aristotle
The important thing, is to keep the important thing the important thing.
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historybuff234
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Re: Plato

I was trying to figure out an answer for my question about who had a bigger impact Plato or Aristotle, and I think I know an answer for Aristotle at least. Thomas Aquinnes (I am not sure if I spelled that right) combined Aristotle's ideas with Christianity and greatly influenced Catholic thinking in the Middle Ages. His influence was so big they called him "the philosopher".

Plato I am not sure how big his inflience was. Aristotle was his student so could it be that their influence is about the. Aristole did teach Alexander the Great, but then Plato taught Aristotle. I need to do more research.

Here is something interesting, I read on the internet that a lot of Plato's works have survived ,but only about one-fith of Aristotle's works have survived.

You are only limited by the boundries of your imagination and the laws in you area- Red Green
The important thing, is to keep the important thing the important thing.
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Re: Plato

Everyman will no doubt give you chapter and verse about this historybuff but I think you will find that most commentators say the Plato had more influence on Christianity than did Aristotle. You perhaps need to separate Christian thinking from Catholic thinking. (It is Aquinas BTW:smileyhappy:)




historybuff234 wrote:
I was trying to figure out an answer for my question about who had a bigger impact Plato or Aristotle, and I think I know an answer for Aristotle at least. Thomas Aquinnes (I am not sure if I spelled that right) combined Aristotle's ideas with Christianity and greatly influenced Catholic thinking in the Middle Ages. His influence was so big they called him "the philosopher".

Plato I am not sure how big his inflience was. Aristotle was his student so could it be that their influence is about the. Aristole did teach Alexander the Great, but then Plato taught Aristotle. I need to do more research.

Here is something interesting, I read on the internet that a lot of Plato's works have survived ,but only about one-fith of Aristotle's works have survived.

You are only limited by the boundries of your imagination and the laws in you area- Red Green


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Re: Before and After Thomas More's UTOPIA

For goodness sake pmath - by the time I have finished reading your reocmmendations, I will be bankrupt!:smileysurprised::smileysurprised:




pmath wrote:
Yes, and I also just got this collection of Plato's dialogues in preparation for our discussion of Thomas More's Utopia, since I hear W. H. D. Rouse's translation of The Republic is very readable:

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?EAN=9780451527455

Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince will probably come up during our discussion as well, so I'll have to read that again, too: thanks for the very helpful commentary, Choisya!


Choisya wrote:
One of my favourite quotes from Plato's The Republic is spoken by Socrates: 'Until all Philosophers are Kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit of philosophy, and the political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either to the exclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside, cities [states] will never have rest from their evils - no, nor the human race.' Perhaps this idea will crop up when we discuss Utopia next month:smileyhappy:

...

The Prince was part of my required reading when I studied PSE (Politics, Social Science & Economics) and I have read it often since. It is a marvellously easy read and very instructive if you apply it to the politics of our time (or any time). He is often called 'the father of modern political science'. One of his greatest contributions was to point out the advantages of separating church from state.



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Re: Plato

[ Edited ]
Choisya, I really didn't know that Plato had an influence on Christianity. Could somebody inform me on Plato's influence on Christianity?
I did mean to say that Aristotle had an influence on Catholic thinking. But then really the only denomination of Christianity in Europe at that time was Catholic. Except for the Orthodox Church in Greece and in Russia most of Europe was Catholic, until the Protestant Reformation began in 1513.

You are only limited by the boundries of your imagination and the laws in you area- Red Green

Message Edited by historybuff234 on 02-17-200706:21 PM

The important thing, is to keep the important thing the important thing.
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Re: Plato



historybuff234 wrote:

Plato I am not sure how big his inflience was. Aristotle was his student so could it be that their influence is about the. Aristole did teach Alexander the Great, but then Plato taught Aristotle.

Aristotle was certainly much more influential in the Middle Ages.

I think you will find that Plato is taken more seriously today. Basically, virtually every question about philosophy, ethics, and politics is raised somewhere in Plato. His actual ideas are not so widely followed today, though thee are still plenty of ardent Platonists, but he laid out all the essential question that Western philosophy has spent the past 2,000 years trying to answer. What is justice. What is truth. What is the good life. What is the best way to organize a state? What constitutes a just law? How should children be educated? How do we know what the right thing to do is? How do we know what we know? He opened up all these and many other questions we are still working on.

Alfred North Whitehead, a noted 20th century mathematician and philosopher and colleague of (and co-author with) Bertrand Russell, once famously wrote "The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato." He exaggerated a bit, but not a whole lot.
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Re: Plato

Aristotle is the one who had the greatest influence in the middle ages. He and Aquinus were almost second scripture.



Choisya wrote:
Everyman will no doubt give you chapter and verse about this historybuff but I think you will find that most commentators say the Plato had more influence on Christianity than did Aristotle. You perhaps need to separate Christian thinking from Catholic thinking. (It is Aquinas BTW:smileyhappy:)




historybuff234 wrote:
I was trying to figure out an answer for my question about who had a bigger impact Plato or Aristotle, and I think I know an answer for Aristotle at least. Thomas Aquinnes (I am not sure if I spelled that right) combined Aristotle's ideas with Christianity and greatly influenced Catholic thinking in the Middle Ages. His influence was so big they called him "the philosopher".

Plato I am not sure how big his inflience was. Aristotle was his student so could it be that their influence is about the. Aristole did teach Alexander the Great, but then Plato taught Aristotle. I need to do more research.

Here is something interesting, I read on the internet that a lot of Plato's works have survived ,but only about one-fith of Aristotle's works have survived.

You are only limited by the boundries of your imagination and the laws in you area- Red Green





"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: Before and After Thomas More's UTOPIA


pmath wrote:
I hear W. H. D. Rouse's translation of The Republic is very readable:smileyembarrassed:


It's certainly one of the standard translations and perfectly readable, but personally I prefer the Allan Bloom (no, NOT Harold Bloom!) translation.

The reasons I like Bloom are, first, that he has the benefit of more recent scholarship that wasn't available to Jowett, Rouse, and other earlier translators. Second, and more important to me, he has stuck more closely to what Plato actually wrote. While every translator injects a certain part of themselves and their thinking into any work they translate, other translators of Plato have tended to try to help readers out by shading their translations to match their personal interpretations of difficult or potentially ambiguous passages. (Jowett and Cornford are famous, or infamous, for this; I haven't studied Rouse carefully enough to know how he handles such passages, so can't specifically criticize his translation on this ground.) These editorial interpretations are sometimes controversial and sometimes haven't stood up to the test of time.

Bloom has tried as much as possible to stick with what Plato wrote, and let the reader decide what the passages mean, even where that may mean seeming repetitive or allowing a potentially ambiguous passage to remain ambiguous. As a serious reader of Plato, I appreciate this approach.
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