Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

THE REPUBLIC

Although sometimes it is difficult for me to remember, I am actually a philosopher, and not just an old retiree blogging away. Next month, I shall start teaching a course on Plato's REPUBLIC in a Duke University Learning in Retirement program [no assignments, no papers, no exams, no pay -- more or less the ideal pedagogical situation.] One old friend and one new one have sent me scholarly papers they wrote on the REPUBLIC, from both of which I learned a good deal. The first is by an old friend and UMass colleague, Bruce Aune: "The Unity of Plato's REPUBLIC", in ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY, 17, No. 2 [Fall, 1997] That one seems to be on line. It argues persuasively, against many critics, that Book One of the REPUBLIC is consistent with, and continuous with, the remainder of the work, despite the dramatic difference in the style of agumentation. The second is by a new acquaintance whom I should like to think of as a friend, though we have not met -- Stephen Menn, in the McGill Philosophy Department -- entitled "On Plato's POLITEIA [this in Greek]", a very long, deeply scholarly, but quite accessible and well-written discussion of Plato's relationship to a large literature, in his day, of writings idealizing or otherwise referencing Sparta. It can be found in PROCEEDINGS OF THE BOSTON AREA COLLOQUIUM IN ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY, Volume 21, 2005.

For those of you out there who are interested in Plato, I strongly urge you to take a look. My thanks to both Aune and Menn, who have done their bit to save me from making a fool of myself next month.

4 comments:

Chris said...

As a philosopher, have you reckoned with Popper's critiques of Plato, Hegel, and Marx, in his two volume series "Open Society?"

I've been meaning to get around to these text myself.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

A long time ago. I was not impressed, I must confess.

J.Vlasits said...

I also have to recommend Eric Havelock's Preface to Plato. I'm currently working through it for a paper on Plato's aesthetics.

Richard said...

If you can find it in the library, there is a very interesting book by one M.B. Foster, called 'The Political Philosophies of Plato and Hegel' (1935). He is hardly a marxist, and is in fact some kind of Christian, but the first two chapters are a penetrating critique of the "techne" analogy in the Republic, and the comparison of politics with medicine (with the consequence that rulers should form a separate class of experts). It's a very metaphysical critique, but it has passages like this:

"But if the ruler can be thus freed from the limitation of the craftsmans' outlook, why not the other demiurges? It was, as we saw, only this assumed limitation of the craftsman's insight which made the introduction of a ruling class necessary at all. Now that one man, the ruler, has been found capable of transcending the limitation of his craft, there is no reason in principle why this same capacity should not be assumed in all. Once assume it, and the class of rules becomes superfluous; the member of the Polis will revert once more to that equality with one another in which they stood in the "first city", before the class of guardians was introduced. The liberation of the rulers themselves from the limitations implied in the analogy of a Techne demands that they should surrender their station of pre-eminence." p. 46.