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The Cambridge Companion to Plato (Cambridge Companions to Philosophy) Paperback – November 2, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0521436106 ISBN-10: 0521436109

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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Companions to Philosophy
  • Paperback: 578 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (November 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521436109
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521436106
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #149,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is an unusually well coordinated composite work, with a lengthy bibliography and good index. ... The volume can be commended to the use of graduate students and advanced undergraduates." Religious Studies Review

"...should prove quite useful....For its intended audience, and also their instructors, this Companion will live up to its name, and Kraut and his contributors are to be commended." R.E. Houser, International Philosophical Quarterly

"Richard Kraut has put together a rich collection of fifteen newly-commisioned articles on various aspects of Plato's thought, plus an extensive bibliography of secondary articles and books...". Ancient Philosophy

Book Description

Fourteen new essays discuss Plato's views about knowledge, reality, mathematics, politics, ethics, love, poetry, and religion in a convenient, accessible guide that analyzes the intellectual and social background of his thought as well.

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Customer Reviews

A difficulty with this view is that it leaves Plato contradicting himself an awful lot.
Rachel Simmons
To conclude: these pieces range from the good to the outstanding, none of them is harder than it should be, and they display considerable diversity in methodology.
Mr. S. Koller
I would recommend this volume for those that want to learn of his philosophy without reading that acual works.
John Benintendi

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Mr. S. Koller on August 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
I cannot recommend this volume highly enough. It's a collection of essays, all (bar one) especially written for this volume, each of them authored by a leading scholar on the respective dialogue or topic. Especially the pieces by Frede and Fine constitute path-breaking, durable contributions to Plato scholarship; each of them would merit the purchase by itself. Between them, Frede and Fine also introduce the reader to two rather different approaches to interpreting Plato, and at once present these approaches at their very best.

Some essays are naturally harder than others, ranging from the instantly accessible to the rather technical. This is as it should be: a reader's companion to Plato's dialogues which themselves vary from the easy to the 'forbidding'. And a book that won't become redundant as your own competence with the dialogues grows (who ever said it won't?).

To conclude: these pieces range from the good to the outstanding, none of them is harder than it should be, and they display considerable diversity in methodology.

PS People interested in the 'non-doctrinal' approach to reading Plato may profitably consult Ferrari's piece at [...] and the "Introduction" (pt.III-IV) in John Cooper, "Plato: Complete Works" (Hackett 1997).
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By D. Peters on January 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
The Cambridge Companion to Plato is an extrememly good primer of Plato's philosophy. The book begins with a complete overview of Plato's philosophy and how it progressed through time. This overview is particularly helpful for those who have never studied Plato before and essential for those who use this book, as I did, as their first exposure to the study of philosophy.
Like all books in the Cambridge series, the Companion to Plato consists of a number of essays written by preminent scholars. These essays explain and evaluate various aspects of Plato's philosophy, from "the defense of justice in Plato's Republic" to "mathematical method and philosophical truth."
Like any philosophy textbook, The Cambridge Companion to Plato can, at times, be dense. I won't recommend it for everbody; a hearty interest in learning philosophy is definately required. However, I've found it to be one of the finest introductions to Plato in his philosophy. It provides a good foundation for actual reading of Plato's texts, which is the next logical step beyond this book. It is also perfect for those who wish to gain a working understanding of Plato's view of the world but, like me, simply do not have the patience to garner it from Plato's own work.
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123 of 155 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Simmons on August 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
Plato is perhaps the most approachable of the major philosophers. His work is largely presented in short dialogues. Their brevity allow them to be read in a single sitting, and their characterizations, humor, and stories engage even the reader new to philosophy.
Given this, it may surprise those unfamiliar with Plato to learn that the interpretation of him has always been the subject of hot dispute - perhaps only Nietzsche among philosophers has inspired more controversy.
Why is this? Why is Plato so easy to read and yet so difficult?
Five problems are worth calling out:
(1) Dramatic presentation: All of Plato's published works are presented as dialogues between characters - Plato himself is never a character. Thus, any interpretation must have some mapping (implicit or explicit) between the characters' views and Plato's views, as well as how the dramatic structure (setting, characters, story) as a whole presents Plato's views.
(2) Irony: The main speaker in most of Plato's dialogues is Socrates, a character who often speaks ironically. Other characters can be read as sometimes being ironical as well (such as The Athenian in the dialogue "Laws"). Any interpretation must determine when a character is speaking ironically and when seriously.
(3) Stories/Myths: Characters in Plato's dialogues often tell stories whose subject matter is mythological - they concern Gods and Goddesses, the afterlife, and other subject matter beyond ordinary human experience. Any interpretation that deals with them must determine how they are to be read.
(4) The Platonic Lie: In "The Republic", Plato endorses (or seems to endorse) lying as a means of instilling beneficial beliefs in audiences that are unable to acquire philosophical knowledge.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
This collection of essays written by a host of outstanding scholars of ancient philosophy in this generation may well serve as a comprehensive and dense guideline to the philosophy of Plato and the contemporary viewpoints concerning the arguments presented by Plato. I am especially impressed by the excellent introduction written by the editor of this book, Richard Kraut. It is so well-organized, sharply presented and teemed with useful materials that I find it to be the best short introduction on Plato I ever read. And the structure of the whole book is also well balanced that the essays of which it is composed nearly touch every controverisal problems concerning Plato's philosophy and that those problems are all more or less treated in a appreciable way.
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By David Ebbert on July 7, 2014
Format: Paperback
This text provides some of the most incisive commentary on the dialogues of Plato I have found.
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