Download Ancient Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short by Julia Annas PDF

By Julia Annas

The culture of historic philosophy is a protracted, wealthy and sundry one, within which the notes of dialogue and argument consistently resound. This booklet introduces historic debates, attractive us with the traditional advancements in their topics. relocating clear of the presentation of historic philosophy as a succession of significant thinkers, the booklet supplies readers a feeling of the freshness and liveliness of historic philosophy, and of its big range of issues and types. in regards to the sequence: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and elegance, Very brief Introductions provide an advent to a couple of life's finest issues. Written by way of specialists for the newcomer, they reveal the best modern pondering the crucial difficulties and concerns in hundreds and hundreds of key themes, from philosophy to Freud, quantum thought to Islam.

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Extra resources for Ancient Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions - 26)

Example text

Is not the Republic the vehicle of three or four great truths which, to Plato’s own mind, are most naturally represented in the form of the State? . Through the Greek State Plato reveals to us his own thoughts about divine perfection, which is the idea of good – like the sun in the visible world; – about human perfection, which is justice – about education beginning in youth and continuing in later years – about poets and sophists and tyrants who are the false teachers and evil rulers of mankind – about ‘the world’ which is the embodiment of them – about a kingdom which exists nowhere upon earth but is laid up in heaven to be the pattern and rule of human life .

It has certainly been one of his more suggestive ones. Why has the Republic been seen so often since the mid-nineteenth century as primarily a work of political theory? It is obvious that to some extent the Victorians, and subsequent generations, have used the Republic to develop their own ideas, and have read into the work what was necessary to do this. Plato’s Guardians have been seen as meritocratic officials by Victorians worried about creating a more just society. They have been seen as fascist Big Brothers by twentieth century thinkers worried about totalitarian states.

But if the Republic can be used 32 to come to such opposed conclusions, can we find a single political philosophy in it at all? This can be a depressing thought. It can encourage the reflection that there is no real basis for an objective interpretation and assessment of the book, that each generation, or perhaps each reader, invents their own Republic, or at least the political philosophy in it. Outside academic postmodern circles, this is seen as a pessimistic conclusion to draw. The book certainly seems to be saying something which different readers with diverse concerns can argue about.

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