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Cover zur kostenlosen eBook-Leseprobe von »The Republic«

The Republic

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The Republic is a Socratic dialogue, written by Plato around 380 BCE, concerning the definition of justice, the order and character of the just city-state and the just man. The dramatic date of the dialogue has been much debated and though it must take place some time during the Peloponnesian War, "there would be jarring anachronisms if any of the candidate specific dates between 432 and 404 were assigned". It is Plato's best-known work and has proven to be one of the most intellectually and historically influential works of philosophy and political theory. In it, Socrates along with various Athenians and foreigners discuss the meaning of justice and examine whether or not the just man is happier than the unjust man by considering a series of different cities coming into existence "in speech", culminating in a city (Kallipolis) ruled by philosopher-kings; and by examining the nature of existing regimes. The participants also discuss the theory of forms, the immortality of the soul, and the roles of the philosopher and of poetry in society.

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Apology

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Apology is Plato's version of the speech given by Socrates as he defended himself in 399 BC against the charges of "corrupting the young, and by not believing in the gods in whom the city believes, but in other daimonia that are novel."

Socrates begins by telling the jury that their minds were poisoned by his enemies when they were young and impressionable. He says his reputation for sophistry comes from his enemies, all of whom are envious of him, and malicious. He says they must remain nameless, except for Aristophanes, the comic poet. He later answers the charge that he has corrupted the young by arguing that deliberate corruption is an incoherent idea. Socrates says that all these false accusations began with his obedience to the oracle at Delphi. He tells how Chaerephon went to the Oracle at Delphi, to ask if anyone was wiser than Socrates. When Chaerephon reported to Socrates that the god told him there is none wiser, Socrates took this as a riddle. He himself knew that he had no wisdom "great or small" but that he also knew that it is against the nature of the gods to lie.

Socrates then went on a "divine mission" to solve the paradox (that an ignorant man could also be the wisest of all men) and to clarify the meaning of the Oracles' words. He systematically interrogated the politicians, poets and craftsmen. Socrates determined that the politicians were imposters, and the poets did not understand even their own poetry, like prophets and seers who do not understand what they say. Craftsmen proved to be pretentious too, and Socrates says that he saw himself as a spokesman for the oracle (23e). He asked himself whether he would rather be an impostor like the people he spoke to, or be himself. Socrates tells the jury that he would rather be himself than anyone else.

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Symposium

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Symposium is a philosophical text by Plato. It concerns itself at one level with the genesis, purpose and nature of love, and is the origin of the concept of Platonic love. Love is examined in a sequence of speeches by men attending a symposium, or drinking party. Each man must deliver an encomium, a speech in praise of Love (Eros). The party takes place at the house of the tragedian Agathon in Athens. Socrates in his speech asserts that the highest purpose of love is to become a philosopher or, literally, a lover of wisdom. The dialogue has been used as a source by social historians seeking to throw light on life in ancient Athens, in particular upon sexual behavior, and the symposium as an institution.

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