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Dialogues of Plato (Enriched Classics (Pocket)) Mass Market Paperback – April 3, 1984

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Latin (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

"The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates's ancient words are still true, and the ideas sounded in Plato's Dialogues still form the foundation of a thinking person's education. This superb collection contains excellent contemporary translations selected for their clarity and accessibility to today's reader, as well as an incisive introduction by Erich Segal, which reveals Plato's life and clarifies the philosophical issues examined in each dialogue. The first four dialogues recount the trial execution of Socrates--the extraordinary tragedy that changed Plato's life and so altered the course of Western though. Other dialogues create a rich tableau of intellectual life in Athens in the fourth century B.C., and examine the nature of virtue and love, knowledge and truth, society and the individual. Resounding with the humor and astounding brilliance of Socrates, the immortal iconoclast, these great works remain powerful, probing, and essential. --This text refers to an alternate Mass Market Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Enriched Classics (Pocket)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (April 3, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671525247
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671525248
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,124,897 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A.J. on July 24, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This Bantam Classics edition presents, through translations by different sources, eight of Plato's "early" dialogues, all involving Socrates, his apotheosized master. Written in the form of question-and-answer sessions, these dialogues profile a man in a continuous quest for the truth, even when he is awaiting his execution, and demonstrate a particular system of gathering information and building knowledge, a system that is nothing less than the foundation of Western thought.
The oracle at Delphi stated that Socrates was the wisest of men because he knew that his wisdom was paltry -- unlike the Sophists, who not only thought they could teach things like virtue and "excellence" to the youth of Athens but also charged money for their tutelage. Since Socrates admits to knowing nothing, he gains all his knowledge through inquiry, deferring to his interlocutors' presumed knowledge, often using sarcasm with the Sophists. His questions commonly use logic of the form "If A is the same as B and B is the opposite of C, isn't A the opposite of C?"
Socrates saw himself as a "gadfly" to Athenian society, always seeking truth -- an absolute truth, as opposed to the moral relativism taught by the Sophists and practiced by the Athenians. His basic interest was inquiring of the way a man should live his life, one conclusion being that to suffer is better than to cause suffering, since the immortal soul is judged constantly by the gods.
Some of the arguments might seem specious to the modern reader, but the importance of reading the dialogues is not necessarily to agree with any particular argument presented but to observe an intensely systematic and organized method of gaining knowledge through interrogatory dialogue. First-hand experience tells me that asking and answering questions is a better way to learn than listening to a one-sided lecture, and reading Plato's Socratic recollections confirms my opinion.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Diana Cunningham on April 25, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've read a few different translations of Plato's dialogues, and I always go back to my battered and coverless 1951 paperback version of this Jowett/Kaplan edition (ISBN 0671525247). I am happy to see it back in print (now ISBN 1439169489). Yes, there are easier translations to read, but none so beautiful and with the biting humor so eloquently displayed. When I read the others I always feel a little disappointed and have to reach for my old copy to again relish the word play. My only complaint is this: The first few words of each dialogue were carefully crafted by Plato to give a hint or key to its central them. (For example, the first few words of the Apology is "I do not know..." which encapsulates Socrates' wisdom in a nutshell.) This translation reworked the first sentences and the "keys" are not the first few words.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Walton on June 28, 2014
Format: MP3 CD Verified Purchase
I have been a student of Plato for 50 years This is my first experience listening to an audiobook and I like it a great deal. However, I wish someone would do an updated translation. Benjamin Jowett is considered the gold standard in Plato translations and I don't mean to diminish his brilliance as a scholar and translator. But in listening format, it would be nice to have an updated translation that was a bit less formal and more in line with current conversational style.

If you're not familiar with Plato, you're in for a treat. As philosophers go, he's easy to understand and the dialogues are humorous, suspenseful, poignant and thoroughly entertaining. But most of all, Plato introduces us to the Perfect Forms, or Ideas, which are spiritual realities which are actually structured in human consciousness. By realizing and understanding these ideas, Plato argues that we hold the keys to a happy and harmonious life, both in this world and the next.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This CD-rom set contains Plato's dialogs, which are really about Socrates and his conversations with friends. Socrates is brought before a court of his peers in Athens, some of whom (we are told) unjustly accuse him of not believing in the right gods and misleading youth.

The story is very one-sided, but heck, so is the new Testament. I find many parallels between Socrates' and Jesus' stories. Plato wrote this 400 years before Jesus was born, so we can't accuse Plato of plagiarism.

The most important lesson in these dialogues is the Socratic method. Very useful in all parts of life if you want to sell an idea. First ask your "customer" some very basic questions to which the only conceivable answer is, "yes." Plato is pretty pedantic, making Socrates build up to his point only very slowly -- I can't imagine how his straight men could be so patient during the build up. Then, when you have momentum, ask them some less obvious questions with plausible (if not convincing) arguments that lead to your point. Out of habit they say, "yes." Finally, you make your point and the customer is painted into a corner. His only choice is to agree with Socrates or to unravel the conversation, resulting in the customer losing face.

Plato (Socrates) makes ontological arguments about the existence of gods, that the soul survives after death, and that the soul experiences reincarnation (most of the time). The philosophy of reincarnation reminds me a great deal of far-eastern philosophy, which was a great surprise.

It is a useful read, but I was hardly moved by Plato's arguments. In light of the birth of science and philosophical advances made in 2 millennia (e.g. we now think slavery is uncool), his philosophical arguments are quite naive.
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