By R. F. Stalley
Reading the Republic irrespective of the fewer popular Laws can result in a distorted view of Plato's political thought. within the Republic the thinker describes his perfect urban; in his final and longest paintings he bargains with the extra designated concerns excited by establishing a second-best 'practical utopia.' The relative forget of the Laws has stemmed mostly from the obscurity of its kind and the plain chaos of its association in order that, even though strong translations now exist, scholars of philosophy and political technology nonetheless locate the textual content inaccessible. this primary full-length philosophical creation to the legislation will consequently end up invaluable.
The starting chapters describe the final personality of the discussion and set it within the context of Plato's political philosophy as a complete. all of the final chapters bargains with a unmarried subject, ranging over fabric scattered during the textual content and so drawing jointly the threads of the argument in a stimulating and easily understandable approach. these themes contain schooling, punishment, accountability, faith, advantage and enjoyment in addition to political concerns and legislation itself. all through, the writer encourages the reader to imagine severely approximately Plato's rules and to work out their relevance to present-day philosophical debate.
No wisdom of Greek is needed and just a restricted historical past in philosophy. even if aimed essentially at scholars, the ebook can also be of curiosity to extra complicated readers because it presents for the 1st time a philosophical, instead of linguistic or ancient, remark at the Laws in English.
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Extra info for An introduction to Plato's Laws
In stead he distinguishes betw een w ritten and u n w ritten laws. H e uses this distinction in at least th ree different contexts. (1) Som etim es th e point is th at it is, as a m atter o f practice, in ap p ro p riate to lay dow n form al rules w ith penalties to regulate the details of, say, fam ily life or behaviour in the h u nting field (788b, 7 9 0 a-b , 822d-823a). (2) At 7 9 3 a-d he seems to be m aking the im p o rtan t p o in t th at a legal system requires a background of accepted m oral beliefs, custom s an d conventions.
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.
G. 6 4 4 c-d , 645a, 659d, 714a, 715d, 728a). g. g. 63 1 c-d , 690c, 853a). T h e fullest tre a tm e n t of this problem is betw een 712b and 715d. T h e re th e A thenian, w hile officially discussing w hat form of constitu tio n should be im posed on the new C retan city, seizes the o p p o rtu n ity to distinguish betw een genuine and p seu do-constitu tions. Crete and S parta have genuine constitutions because th eir laws aim at the com m on good o f the whole state. O ther so-called co n stitu tio n s are sim ply m echanism s by which one faction in the city im poses its will on th e rest.