An introduction to Plato's Laws by R. F. Stalley

By R. F. Stalley

Reading the Republic regardless of the fewer popular Laws can result in a distorted view of Plato's political thought. within the Republic the thinker describes his excellent urban; in his final and longest paintings he offers with the extra certain issues concerned with constructing a second-best 'practical utopia.' The relative forget of the Laws has stemmed principally from the obscurity of its sort and the obvious chaos of its association in order that, even though reliable translations now exist, scholars of philosophy and political technology nonetheless locate the textual content inaccessible. this primary full-length philosophical advent to the legislation will accordingly turn out invaluable.

The beginning chapters describe the final personality of the discussion and set it within the context of Plato's political philosophy as a complete. all the ultimate chapters bargains with a unmarried subject, ranging over fabric scattered during the textual content and so drawing jointly the threads of the argument in a stimulating and conveniently understandable approach. these subject matters contain schooling, punishment, accountability, faith, advantage and enjoyment in addition to political concerns and legislations itself. all through, the writer encourages the reader to imagine seriously approximately Plato's rules and to work out their relevance to present-day philosophical debate.

No wisdom of Greek is needed and just a restricted history in philosophy. even though aimed basically at scholars, the publication can also be of curiosity to extra complicated readers because it presents for the 1st time a philosophical, instead of linguistic or historic, observation at the Laws in English.

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5; A quinas, Sum m a Theologiae, lae 2ae, 95, 2 & 4). W here does P lato stand on this question? In the M inos, 314e, Socrates is m ade to m aintain th a t there cannot be a bad law and thus to com m it him self to th e natural-law position. T h a t dialogue is probably spurious, b u t the same d octrine is affirm ed in the Hippias M ajor, 284a285b, w hich m ost scholars now accept as genuine. g. 6 4 4 c-d , 645a, 659d, 714a, 715d, 728a). g. g. 63 1 c-d , 690c, 853a). T h e fullest tre a tm e n t of this problem is betw een 712b and 715d.

In other w ords we need to know what purpose it serves. This is obviously th e case w ith artefacts such as knives. We cannot know what a knife is w ithout knowing the purpose or function for w hich it is designed — in this case cutting. A knife may therefore be said to be defined by its function. It is characteristic of such item s th at the line between being a bad specim en of its kind and not being a specim en at all is blurred. For exam ple, we can say that a good knife cuts well and that a bad knife cuts badly.

This would be nonsense if the virtues were all one and therefore identical with one another. Even w ithout the doctrine of the unity of virtue, this ranking of the particular virtues would require explanation. (4) Sim ilarly, the assertion that justice results from a m ingling of wisdom, tem perance and courage is both obscure in itself and inconsistent w ith the claim that virtue is one. VIRTUE 46 (5) W hen he first lists the four virtues (630a-b), the A thenian in clu d es sophrosune, tem p eran ce, b u t w hen he repeats the list at 631c h e refers instead to a ‘tem perate condition o f the soul involving re a so n ’.

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