Plato

Plato

Plato

Plato

Synopsis

Even after twenty-three centuries Plato's work remains the starting-point for the study of logic, metaphysics, and moral and political philosophy. But though his dialogues retain their freshness and immediacy, they can be difficult to follow. Professor Hare has provided a short introduction to Plato's thought that makes their meaning clear.

Excerpt

This book is not intended as an addition to the already enormous and growing literature of Platonic scholarship, but as an encouragement and help to ordinary people who wish to make Plato's acquaintance. For this reason I have on the whole concentrated on the easier, which means the earlier and middle, dialogues, though the later ones are not entirely neglected. It is safe to say that no single statement can be made in interpretation of Plato which some scholars will not dispute. I have tried to bring out what I think he is up to, in a way that will be comprehensible; but the limits of a popular book do not allow me to defend my views beyond giving a few references to the text. I do not think that they are all that unorthodox, and where there is a lot of dispute I have tried not to conceal it. Above all, I have aimed to show how relevant Plato's dialogues are to questions which trouble us, or should trouble us, today, including some very practical issues about education and politics. To bring this out I have occasionally mentioned the names of thinkers of the modern period; but nothing of importance in my account of Plato will be missed by a reader to whom these names mean nothing.

In concentrating on what I think is the nucleus of Plato's philosophy, I have had to neglect many interesting and important topics. I should have liked in particular to say more on his views about love and about the arts. I have not thought it necessary to dwell on the superb quality of his dialogues as literature and drama; they are still as fresh and delightful as ever, and need no salesman.

A number of colleagues have been kind enough at my request to look at and criticise my typescript, among them Sir Kenneth Dover, Professors Ackrill and Moravcsik, Jonathan Barnes, Russell Meiggs, Christopher Taylor and Julius Tomin. Although all of these know incomparably more about Plato than I do, I have been stubborn enough not always to agree with them; but all the same my debt to them is very great. I should never have undertaken, let alone completed, this book if I had not been privileged to spend the whole . . .

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