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The Collected Dialogues of Plato: Including the Letters (Bollingen Series LXXI) New Impression Edition

4 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691097183
ISBN-10: 0691097186
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This elegant edition contains many of the best and most readable English translations of the Dialogues and Letters. . . . Judiciously edited, beautifully printed."--Review of Metaphysics

From the Back Cover

All the writings of Plato generally considered to be authentic are here presented in a single volume--the only complete one-volume Plato available in English. A comprehensive index is included.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1743 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; New Impression edition (September 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691097186
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691097183
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 2.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on September 30, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This dreadful anthology was once the standard English edition of Plato. I had to assign it when I taught courses on Plato because there was nothing else. Many of the translations are bad. Even the decent ones often are quite old, and their flowery Victorian diction is off-putting. The collection isn't complete, as it leaves out a number of important dialogues from the Platonic corpus. And the introductions are uniformly ghastly; the editors have little understnding of philosophy, and keep saying horrible things like "There's a lot of boring logic-chopping in this dialogue, but at least the personality of Socrates is engaging." There is no longer any need to be subject to the tyranny of Hamilton & Cairns! There is now a far better edition, with excellent introductions, excellent translations, and including all the dialogues. It's the COMPLETE WORKS from Hackett Pub., edited by John Cooper. It will be the standard edition from now on. Go get that one! Don't get this one!
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Format: Hardcover
Here is what you get:
CONTENTS
Editorial Note (editors)
Introduction (Huntington Cairns)
Apology
Crito
Phaedo
Charmides
Laches
Lysis
Euthyphro
Menexenus
Lesser Hippias
Ion
Gorgias
Protagoras
Meno
Euthydemus
Cratylus
Phaedrus
Symposium
Republic
Theaetetus
Parmenides
Sophist
Statesman
Philebus
Timaeus
Critias
Laws
Epinomis *
Greater Hippias *
Letters *
* denotes items whose authenticity is seriously doubted.
The most irritating thing about this collection is the moronic, but mercifully short, Edith Hamilton introductions to the dialogues.
Let us take some examples from her introduction to the dialogue "Euthyphro":
"When Socrates asks what then is piety, he [Euthyphro] gives the answer characteristic of the orthodox everywhere - in effect 'Piety is thinking as I do.'"
Is this really the case? Is that all that Moses, Isaiah, Paul, Augustine, Aquinas, and Martin Luther, to name only a few, had to say on the subject?
Here is another:
"Socrates makes a distinction fundamental in reasoning and often disregarded, that the good is good not because the gods approve it, but the gods approve it because it is good."
There is several hundred years of intense philosophical and theological debate (still continuing) settled in a pretty summary fashion.
Finally, there is this:
"The real interest of the dialogue, however, is the picture of Socrates just before his trial...keenly involved in a discussion completely removed from his own situation."
One of the charges against Socrates was of course impiety.
Read more ›
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By A Customer on December 30, 1997
Format: Hardcover
This is generally considered the standard collection of Plato's dialogues. On the whole it's pretty good, and it's certainly convenient. Just two caveats: (1) Edith Hamilton's introductions to the dialogues must be taken with more than a few grains of salt. She has a sentimental attitude that amounts to saying, "Plato was such a wise and good man -- almost as wise and good as we are!" When it comes to the more difficult dialogues (e.g. Parmenides), she is out of her depth. (2) To get a sense of the difficulties in translating Plato, read the preface to Allan Bloom's translation of the Republic (Basic Books). Bloom is particularly hard on Cornford, some of whose translations are reprinted here. Just keep in mind that, if you want to study Plato more closely, you may have to use more literal translations or learn some Greek.
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Format: Hardcover
You could do worse than to buy this collection -- after all, there are translations of the complete works of Plato into English that date to the 18th century. But you could sure do a whole lot better.

By and large -- and with the exception, perhaps, of what is now the standard translation of Laws -- modern translations of Plato are more evenhanded, better researched, and more frank than old ones. And this edition, unfortunately, has some very old ones indeed, like those of Jowett. Moreover, it includes -- according to no particular logic -- a few works many consider spurious, while omitting others whose status is in debate, and it places the dialogues in an order that is not easy to justify.

The edition to buy, if you want a complete Plato without the benefit of the Greek text (if you want the Greek, buy the Loeb, and know that the facing-pages English translations aren't much worse than the ones offered here!), is the one edited by Cooper and published by Hackett. This one will suffice -- but that one is excellent. Few instructors will insist that you buy some edition in particular, and fewer still will insist that you buy this edition -- so don't, buy that one.
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Format: Hardcover
I still own my copy of The Collected Dialogues of Plato ed Edith Hamilton. I bought in grad school around 1980. After reading the negative reviews and after reading the positive reviews of the more recent Hackett edition Plato: Complete Works , I bought the Hackett. Both editions are about the same price. I'm glad I now have the Hackett.
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