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Laws Paperback – June 11, 2012
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About the Author
Plato ranks among the most familiar ancient philosophers, along with his teacher, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle. In addition to writing philosophical dialogues — used to teach logic, ethics, rhetoric, religion, and mathematics as well as philosophy — he founded Athens' Academy, the Western world's first institution of higher learning.
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Top Customer Reviews
Plato tried at different times to persuade rulers to become his envisioned philosopher-king; the last attempt was with a tyrant of Syracuse, who in the end imprisoned Plato rather than following his directions. Plato wrote this work, 'The Laws', as the last of his dialogues. Its difference from the Republic is immediately apparent in the absence of Socrates as a character - Plato at the end of his life has finally taken to working in his own right and not through a proxy.
Just looking at the contents will show the breadth of this work - it involves practically every aspect of civil society: legislative bodies (and Plato has some scathing commentaries on some that he has known); education and its proper role and method (including even drinking parties as part of the educational process); ideas of monarchy, democracy, and the balance of power (some American constitutional ideas were generated from a reading (and occasional misreading) of this work); civil administration; arts and sciences; military and sports training; sexual conduct; economics; criminal law, torts, and judicial process; religion and theology; civil law, property and family law; Plato even argues for the need of a 'nocturnal council', one that delves not only into the practical aspects of the law, but also their philosophical bases.Read more ›
- Unlike other works by Plato, this is less of a "dialogue" and more like a treatise. Whereas in other dialogs Plato would challenge and agree with his dialog-partner on a certain subject, here he (the Athenian stranger) does not shy away from "stating" what should be. So, as such, this work is very different from other of Plato's works, both in structure and in style.
- I like to compare this with Timeaus. In Timaeus, Plato describes the stucture of the cosmos, the world out there, how it works, how each planets interact with each others, how universe was created, and so on. In the Laws, Plato describes the inner working of a polis based on Laws: how laws came to being, what are the laws for various transgression and so on. Laws is a description of the cosmos within a polis.
More appropriately named than 'The Republic', 'The Laws' is wholly and actually interested in the ideal State and how to run it. 'The Laws' illuminates many of the specifics lacking in 'The Republic', but is a distinct concept better described as a companion to 'The Republic' than a replacement or reformulation of it. I even noticed some interesting overlap with Confucian thought! 'The Laws' is hardly a dialogue at all and, as another reviewer put it, is more akin to a treatise on the ideal government and society. If you are interested in the specifics of Plato's utopia, then I highly recommend this work--if not this particular translation.
While the translation read just fine, I was highly irritated by the translator butting his head in and making almost universally pointless and trite commentary in the prefaces to each 'book', that often had a dismissive and unjustifiably apologetic tone--as if he was ashamed to present us with Plato's ideas and words and unconfident that readers could navigate the work on their own. These 'summaries'/'explanations' belong in the back of the book, if anywhere. Saunders also makes excessive notes that simply refer to other notes, which will waste your time flipping to the back and interrupt your reading; I can only assume these have some value for referencing the work later, but they tend to make you distrust his other notes, which can be worthwhile--when he isn't griping about how difficult or confusing the Greek is... There are also an immense number of subheadings that are helpful for reference, but tended to disrupt a consecutive reading.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
its plato so must of it all is the philosophy of laws not how laws are made so read it then add your perspective on the subjectPublished 3 months ago by Carlos paez