Plato's Republic is unparalleled in its coverage of all areas of life. While Plato addresses metaphysical issues, he does so with language and analogies that most people can grasp with studious reading. But Plato talks about much more than metaphysics. Marriage, music, war, kings, procreation and more are all topics of discussion for Plato's dialog. In addition to the teachings about life, this book also offers a great introduction to philosophy. The famous "cave story" illustrates not only the purpose of philosophy, but also the inherent difficulties. While this book is absolutely necessary for students of philosophy and religion, I think there are golden truths for all people no matter what they do. So, why this particular translation of the work? This translation offers the best ease in reading while mainting a tight grasp of the original Greek meanings of Plato's text. Besides, it isn't that expensive. This book is clearly a timeless classic, and if you can't read classical Greek, this translation is probably the best you will get.
This translation, the Grube-Reeve, was recommended to me along with Bloom's. I chose this. It is very readable with chapter summaries by the author.
The physical quality of this edition was a bit of a dissapointment. Hackett puts out editions cheaper than most, but usually they are of better quality than this. The paper is one step from newsprint. Not awful, but I would have liked something better.
I won't waste time trying to summarize Plato's "The Republic". Most people (I would guess nine out of ten) who have read this colussus of classical philosophy, read it because they were forced to by their college instructors. This is unfortunate because "The Republic" is a compelling and enduring philosophy of how life should be lived, how justice should be approached, and how leaders should lead.
What recommends this book, really, is the bargain price: under five bucks. As one of those college instructors who makes their students read this, I always recommend this edition. Sterling and Scott's translation is as good as anyone else's, so why not save my students a few bucks? And, if you're one of those one out of ten who is considering reading this on your own, you've only got five bucks to lose, but an awful lot of rewarding reading to gain!
In the "Republic," Plato may or may not have accomplished what he set out to do, which is to define justice and prove that it is superior to injustice, irregardless of either's consequences. However, what he DID do is set the foundation for over two thousand years of thought. Read this work slowly; within each of the seemingly-simple discussions there is a world of though to be discovered. Anyone with the least bit of background in philosophical readings can literally read page-by-page, discovering the sources of many of the greatest philosophers of all-time. The "Republic" is not so much a work of literature as it is an explosion of thought; a ten-book brainstorm of one of the greatest minds of all-time. By the work's end, whether or not you feel Socrates to have successfully answered Glaucon's challenge is almost irrelevant, for the argument will have already left your mind reeling.
Plato's Republic is the fount from which nearly all Western thought flows. Pretty much everything written in that tradition either borrows from Plato or refutes him, and the Republic articulates his philosophies more fully than any of his other works(although the Timaeus is more mature and the Symposium is an amazing discussion on a single point). I must disagree with both of the main camps on this site; it is neither just a work of political philosophy NOR just a work of moral psychology(how to order your mind). Plato thought that all things should reflect the ultimate good, so that the ideal society would be ordered in the exact same way that the ideal human being would be. Thus, every part of one's psyche would correspond to a part of society(it's a microcosm!), and the "higher" parts of one's mind would be mirrored in the Guardians, the "higher" parts of society. With that said, it is easy to see that the Republic proposes many things that disgust most modern human beings: censorship for political stability, ostracism of those with "weak" (read: human, sensitive, or some equivalent) emotions, killing young children, government regulation of sexual activity, and such. Even when Plato tries to give women equal rights, an _extremely_ radical idea in Ancient Greece, his ancient prejudices show up when he calls them "equal but weaker in all ways(morally, intellectually, and physically)". Despite all of its shortcomings, the Republic was the work that singlehandedly separated the real from the ideal in Western civilization, and it also defined the kinds of questions that Western philosophers would try to answer until the 20th century.Read more ›