By R. F. Stalley
Reading the Republic regardless of the fewer universal 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 bargains with the extra distinct concerns curious about establishing a second-best 'practical utopia.' The relative overlook of the Laws has stemmed principally from the obscurity of its sort and the obvious chaos of its association in order that, even supposing reliable translations now exist, scholars of philosophy and political technology nonetheless locate the textual content inaccessible. this primary full-length philosophical advent to the legislation will accordingly end up invaluable.
The establishing chapters describe the final personality of the discussion and set it within the context of Plato's political philosophy as an entire. all of the closing chapters bargains 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 quite simply understandable method. these subject matters contain schooling, punishment, accountability, faith, advantage and delight in addition to political issues and legislations itself. all through, the writer encourages the reader to imagine significantly approximately Plato's rules and to determine their relevance to present-day philosophical debate.
No wisdom of Greek is needed and just a constrained historical past in philosophy. even if aimed essentially at scholars, the booklet can also be of curiosity to extra complex readers because it presents for the 1st time a philosophical, rather than linguistic or old, observation at the Laws in English.
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Extra resources for An introduction to Plato's Laws
3 The role o f reason T h e A thenian an d his com panions always appear confident that the good w hich is the aim of law can be objectively discerned and th at it can th erefore be known w hether a particular m easure is or is not good law. T h ey see them selves as discussing the natu ral correctness and e rro r o f law (627d) and believe th a t in doing so they are seeking w hat is ‘tru e ’ an d ‘b e st’ (634c). e. true) opinion of the city and so m ust aim to be the discovery o f w hat is th e case (314d-315a).
It is obvious to everyone that good m en are som etim es the victims of injustice. How, then, can the A thenian suggest th at virtue protects us from being wronged? So far as the relationships betw een individuals are concerned, the Athenian could defend him self by arguing that, w here the city as a whole is virtuous, each of the inhabitants will be good. N one of them will therefore be willing to w rong his fellow m en. T h u s those who live in the virtuous city will be certain not to suffer injustice.
Even if we cannot accept P lato’s account o f moral knowledge, it does not, I think, follow that we m ust reject the whole of his moral and political philosophy out of hand. L iberal thinkers have argued their case not just by attacking the idea th at rulers can know what is right for their subjects b u t also by depicting the attractions of societies that allow a high degree of individual freedom (m uch as Pericles praises Athens in the funeral speech). Sim ilarly it is open to Plato to paint the attractions of a society com m itted to the kind of moral order th at he admires.
An introduction to Plato's Laws by R. F. Stalley