Plato is the best known and most widely studied of all the ancient Greek philosophers. Malcolm Schofield, a leading scholar of ancient philosophy, offers a lucid and accessible guide to Plato's political thought, enormously influential and much discussed in the modern world as well as the ancient. Schofield discusses Plato's ideas on education, democracy and its shortcomings, the role of knowledge in government, utopia and the idea of community, money and its grip on the psyche,
and ideological uses of religion. - ;The Founders of Modern Political and Social Thought series presents critical examinations of the work of major political philosophers and social theorists, assessing both their initial contribution and their continuing relevance to politics and society. Each volume provides a clear, accessible, historically informed account of a thinker's work, focusing on a reassessment of the central ideas and arguments. The series encourages scholars and students to link their study of classic
texts to current debates in political philosophy and social theory.
In this authoritative general account of Plato's political thought, a leading scholar of ancient Greek philosophy explores its key themes: education, democracy and its shortcomings, the role of knowledge in government, utopia and the idea of community, money and its grip on the psyche, ideological uses of religion. Between them these define what Plato considered to be the fundamental challenges for politics. All remain live issues. On all of them Plato took radical and uncomfortable positions.
The radicalism derives above all from his reflections on the fate of Socrates at the hands of the Athenian democracy in 399 BC. So the book begins with chapters situating Plato's alienation from contemporary politics in its historical context, and examines at length the images of Athens and the
Spartan alternative which pervade his writings on politics.
The Republic is a main focus of discussion throughout, but ideas and arguments in many other dialogues from Apology and Gorgias to the Statesman and the Laws are examined. Plato: Political Philosophy assumes a broad range of readers - with backgrounds in varied fields (politics, philosophy, classics, history) - who may have little prior knowledge of Plato. It articulates and analyses his main lines of thought, illustrating them with a
liberal use of translated excerpts, and highlighting affinities with modern theorists from Machiavelli and Mill to Rawls and Habermas. Schofield's distinctive line of approach to Plato's problems constitutes a lucid and accessible guide for those needing an introduction, and at the same time will provide those who know Plato well with much food for
thought. - ;...intriguing... - TLS;Malcolm Schofield has written an outstanding overview and critical assessment of Plato's political philosophy. As befits a volume meant to be accessible to non-specialists, he ranges widely over many topics and emphasizes the ways in which Plato is still able to engage a contemporary reader committed to open-minded reflection on the norms that should govern the modern nation-state. At the same time, Schofield brings to this work a deep understanding of Plato's embeddedness in the
culture of fifth and fourth century Athens - Richard Kraut, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews;Schofield is also thoroughly immersed in the enormous literature that has gathered around Plato's political writings, and he is unfailingly fair-minded in his treatment ... of other authors. There is no better way to enter this aspect of Plato's thought than to read this fine contribution to the series, Founders of Modern Political and Social Thought, edited by Mark Philp... It will endure as an indispensable guide not only to its principal subject - the
Republic - but to all of Plato's political writings, and to their enduring interest today. - Richard Kraut, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
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