The Republic: A book review by Bob Morris

The Republic: The Influential Classic
Plato, with an Introduction by Tom Butler-Bowdon
Capstone Publishing Ltd (2012)

A timely and timeless affirmation of what is real…and a rejection of what is not

Those who have read one or more of the volumes that comprise Tom Butler-Bowdon’s 50 Classics series already know that he possesses superior reasoning and writing skills as well as a relentless curiosity when conducting research on history’s greatest thinkers and their major works. For these and other reasons, I cannot think of another person better qualified to provide the introductions to the volumes that comprise a new series, Capstone Classics.Unlike so many others, he provides more, much more than a flimsy “briefing” to the given work. In the 15-page Introduction to this volume, he poses and then responds to key subjects and related issues such as these in order to create a context, a frame-of-reference, for Plato’s insights:o  The relevance to our own times of a book written almost 24 centuries ago
o  Plato’s concept of justice as expressed by Socrates
o  Personal balance of reason (intellect), spirit (soul), and desire (heart)
o  Interdependencies of the “state” (one’s society) and the individual
o  The defining characteristics of the “ideal state”
o  How and why a system of public education must empower the health of the state and its leaders
o  Plato’s views on the rights of women and children
o  The meaning and significance of The Allegory of the Cave in Plato’s time and its relevance to our own

In his “Final Comments,” Butler-Bowdon has this to say about The Allegory: “Plato’s parable of the cave is a precious reminder that most of us go through life chasing shadows and believing in appearances, when beyond the superficial world of the senses awaits timeless and perfect truth. Plato has Socrates make the case for philosophers being the only ones who can ascertain this truth through the study if the Forms, but today, of course, we all have access to education, books, and ethical or spiritual teachings, and each of us is equipped to contemplate the eternal.”

As indicated earlier, Tom Butler-Bowdon’s purpose in this introduction to this edition (translated with an analysis and introduction by Benjamin Jowett, Oxford University Press, 1908) is to create a context, a frame-of-reference, for Plato’s insights. He does so brilliantly as well as in each of the other volumes in the Capstone Classics series that have been published thus far.

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