Ferrari, Giovanni R.F.
City and Soul in Plato's Republic.
2003. 130 S. 19,50 Euro. 14,8 x 21 cm. Hardcover. 978-3-89665-170-9.
(Lecturae Platonis Bd. 2)
Prospekt (Druckversion/PDF) / Information leaflet (Print version/PDF)
This short book attempts to say what Plato is getting at in the Republic. Its strategy is to trace one bright thread, the comparison between the structure of a society and that of the individual soul, a theme that runs through the Republic and binds its argument. After some close-drawn critique in chapter two, which fastens on current misunderstandings of the analogy between city and soul, the remaining chapters have a more open texture. They argue for a quite different understanding of how Plato's comparison of city and soul works and of what its point is; they situate the comparison in the larger contexts of ancient rhetorical theory and of intellectual rivalry, above all the rivalry between Plato and Isocrates; finally, they give an account of the tyrant and the philosopher-king as a matched pair who in their different ways break with the terms of the city-soul analogy - a break which reveals the characters and motives of both. The book does not hesitate to apply the results of its inquiry into the city-soul analogy to some very familiar themes in the interpretation of the Republic - the sincerity of its utopianism, the justice of the philosopher's return to the Cave. In lieu of an introduction, the opening chapter offers a study of Glaucon and Adeimantus - of their characters, their desires, their reasons for challenging Socrates - in the course of which the argument of the remaining chapters comes into view. For the city-soul analogy is proposed by Socrates as a response to the brothers' challenge, and it turns out to respond to their deepest needs.
Giovanni R.F. Ferrari is Professor of Classics, University of California, Berkeley
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