By R. F. Stalley
Reading the Republic irrespective of the fewer accepted Laws may end up in a distorted view of Plato's political idea. within the Republic the thinker describes his excellent urban; in his final and longest paintings he offers with the extra precise concerns fascinated about establishing a second-best 'practical utopia.' The relative forget of the Laws has stemmed principally from the obscurity of its kind and the plain chaos of its association in order that, even if sturdy translations now exist, scholars of philosophy and political technological know-how nonetheless locate the textual content inaccessible. this primary full-length philosophical creation to the legislation will for this reason turn out invaluable.
The establishing chapters describe the final personality of the discussion and set it within the context of Plato's political philosophy as a complete. all the last chapters bargains with a unmarried subject, ranging over fabric scattered throughout the textual content and so drawing jointly the threads of the argument in a stimulating and with no trouble understandable approach. these issues contain schooling, punishment, accountability, faith, advantage and enjoyment in addition to political issues and legislation itself. all through, the writer encourages the reader to imagine significantly approximately Plato's principles and to work out their relevance to present-day philosophical debate.
No wisdom of Greek is needed and just a constrained heritage in philosophy. even if aimed essentially at scholars, the booklet can be of curiosity to extra complex readers because it presents for the 1st time a philosophical, in preference to linguistic or historic, remark at the Laws in English.
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Extra resources for An introduction to Plato's Laws
This is especially apparent in Book X w ith its insistence that law is a product o f nature rather than art (888e-890a, 890d). 5 Plato and natural law It is not accidental that in this chapter a num ber of points o f contact have em erged betw een P lato’s theory of law and th at of Aquinas. Scholars have rightly argued that Plato is one o f the founders of the natural law tradition of which A quinas is the m ost im portant exponent (M aguire, 1947; Hall, 1956). Plato shares with the natural-law philosophers the belief that there are objective moral principles valid for all time and for all m en and capable of being discerned by reason; th at there is a fundam ental unity betw een these moral principles and the natural laws that govern the behaviour of the lower anim als and of inanim ate objects; and th a t th e object o f any genuine law is the com m on good w hich involves m aking men virtuous.
1 M oral psychology A t 632e, after establishing th at virtue is the m ain object o f legislation, th e A thenian tu rn s to consider the D orian institutions designed to inculcate courage. As th e C retan and S partan u n d erstand it, courage consists in doing b attle w ith fears and pains, b u t they readily agree w ith the A thenian w hen he suggests th a t it is equally im p o rtan t to struggle against desires and pleasures. In d eed it is the m an who gives w ay to these who has really lost m astery over him self (632e-633e).
In stead he distinguishes betw een w ritten and u n w ritten laws. H e uses this distinction in at least th ree different contexts. (1) Som etim es th e point is th at it is, as a m atter o f practice, in ap p ro p riate to lay dow n form al rules w ith penalties to regulate the details of, say, fam ily life or behaviour in the h u nting field (788b, 7 9 0 a-b , 822d-823a). (2) At 7 9 3 a-d he seems to be m aking the im p o rtan t p o in t th at a legal system requires a background of accepted m oral beliefs, custom s an d conventions.