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The Laws of Plato Paperback – March 15, 1988

ISBN-13: 978-0226671109 ISBN-10: 0226671100 Edition: 1st

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Paperback, March 15, 1988
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The Laws of Plato + Aristotle's "Politics": Second Edition + The Republic Of Plato: Second Edition
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (March 15, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226671100
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226671109
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #268,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Greek (translation)

About the Author

Thomas L. Pangle is the Joe R. Long Chair in Democratic Studies in the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author or editor of numerous books.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Christopher David Kirk on May 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
Plato's "Republic" is used most often in college courses to illustrate Plato's thoughts on politics, but it does not seem to contain a serious political program. The characters in the "Republic" are mostly young men not yet entrusted with political responsibility who are, nevertheless, concerned with justice and how a city would have to be composed in order to be fully just. That such a city could never, in fact, come about becomes less important than the questions of justice and soul that the discussion raises. Obviously (and by Plato's intention) the "Republic" does not present a practical political program. Students relying on this dialogue alone to get a sense of Plato's thoughts on the best regime may be led astray, especially if they are guided by a bad teacher (of which there are many in the universities). The best corrective to this is to read Pangle's translation of Plato's "Laws". In this dialogue an Athenian Stranger discusses various proposed laws with a Cretan who is shortly to assist in the founding of the new colony of Magnesia. The laws and regulations proposed by the Stranger are concessions to the way men are, rather than idealistic portraits of how they should be. The rule of philosopher-kings is not proposed, and the fact that all three interlocutors come from cities that at one time or another were at war with one another introduces a note of distrust and seriousness that is missing in the more playful "Republic"; this seriousness befits the discussion's more practical nature. Pangle's translation is literal and trustworthy where other translations take liberties with Plato's terminology, while the notes ameliorate the limitations of the translation form.Read more ›
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
When one thinks of Plato and his ideas of politics, one naturally gravitates toward his best-known work, the Republic. In that book, Plato set up the ideal city-state, with classes born and bred to specific functions and roles in society, and a sense of philosophical outlook consistent across the board. However, such a society was unlikely to be brought out, in Plato's time and, as it turned out, in any other.

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.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By stephen liem on March 1, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is probably the best translation of Laws out there. The commentary in the end of the translation is superb and fill the void on generally rare interpretation of this works. A few notes on Plato's Laws:
- 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.
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