Plato’s Republic, discussion

by Edie Wadsworth on January 1, 2013

It’s finally here! You’ve been so patient and I apologize for the Helter Skelter way I run a bookclub. Welcome to my life!
Because we’re behind, here’s what I recommend.
We’re gonna skip Julius Caesar for now and discuss it in the summer, which means that we’re moving on to Virgil’s Aeneid for January. Hopefully, we’ll get back on track.
Hope you enjoy the Plato videos. They are the product of many hours of reading and lectures and pondering. I wish I was smarter and it wouldn’t take me so long to work through these hard books. There’s a reason they’re called classics and there’s a reason that not many people read them. Congratulate yourself for even trying.
Now, without further adieu, I give you my very personal review of Plato.

So, my little nerdy friends, let’s dive into The Aeneid. You know you can’t wait!
I’m reading this translation:

Mwahhhhhhh!

P.S.  There’s a Stanford lecture series on The Aeneid on iTunes and it’s free!  I just started it myself.  Here’s the link!

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stacey January 2, 2013 at 9:00 pm

Hi Edie!
Hope you had a Happy Holiday! Who’s version of Virgil are we reading? Have to download it to my Kindle! Blessings-
Stacey

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2 Jennifer January 2, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Hi Edie, having trouble with video two. It says, “This video is marked private.”

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3 Michelle Starling January 2, 2013 at 10:43 pm

I’m impressed. I don’t think I’m up to Plato yet. I’m the Cost of Discipleship (well kind of reading it for 3 months now) and I just started True Spirituality by Francis Shaeffer. Both of those are a lot for my mind to digest. Maybe oneday I’ll read Plato. It was so nice to meet you at the Nutcracker and I hope your Christmas and New Year was great.

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4 Kathryn C January 3, 2013 at 12:46 am

Thanks for the videos – fascinating stuff. I think I may give up on Plato this time – with Christmas and all I just could not get into it. But with your videos (and maybe some extras lectures) I’ll tackle it again later. It is weird when you start a book and have a completely different take on it from maybe how it is supposed to be read. So with fresh enthusiasm and more insight I might make it through next time. Heaven knows where you find the time to read all these books, do the research and post such clear concise videos (all for us), but thank you very much. You are such an inspiration to me – 2012 was my year to expand the (education/literary) horizons and get back into reading, thanks to your book club. I have also purchased a few Teaching Company videos (they have the best sales!!). So I’m excited to continue on in 2013. Happy New Year!

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5 Ruth January 3, 2013 at 9:01 am

Hi! Edie-I love these videos and your insight to Plato. This was one book I definitely had difficulty with. At times I did feel lost because he seems to pass from one topic to the next without really tieing up the loose ends. I thought I was missing some grand point from his dialogue that would wrap it all up. It did cause me to have to go back a few times and reread it. I made it almost all the way through-I think I only have one book left. This one was a challenge and I was thankful for the extra time. Now I finished A Dirty Life which was good and am reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s biography. Need to find my copy of the Aenid.
Thank you for all the effort and time you put in with the book club so you can pass on your wisdom to us.

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6 Jennifer January 3, 2013 at 11:55 am

It is so helpful to hear your perspective and thoughts on this book. I’m not finished — put it down for the holidays — but I plan to pick it up again thanks to your videos. I admit to feeling a bit lost and confused in the beginning books. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain things a bit. It’s sooo very helpful and great motivation to see it through!

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7 Jessica@DesignersSweetSpot January 3, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Interesting choice of books, I looked at my shelves and for some reason I don’t have any Plato. How can that be? I must check this one out from the library. Going forward with Virgil, I recommend the translation by Robert Fitzgerald. Also, for those who don’t have time to read the entire book, look into “Insearch of the Homeland” by Penelope Lively. It’s a beautifully illustrated children’s version.

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8 Jessica@DesignersSweetSpot January 3, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Interesting choice of books, I looked at my shelves and for some reason I don’t have any Plato. How can that be? I must check this one out from the library. Going forward with Virgil, I recommend the translation by Robert Fitzgerald. Also, for those who don’t have time to read the entire book, look into “In Search of the Homeland” by Penelope Lively. It’s a beautifully illustrated children’s version.

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9 Katherine @ Whitehall January 3, 2013 at 11:02 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your perspective in these videos. Your depth of study is evident, and I love the way that you lay out important highlights of The Republic.

I agree that it is important to keep in mind that the talk of building a city is a giant metaphor for explaining how we order our souls. You are so right that this is relevant today. I think Plato has so much insight for us. We can also look at our own modern society and make a similar analysis of how we prioritize our souls in modern America.

I listened to a lecture about King Saul and how he was warned by God that as his soul went, so went his house, and as his house went, so went his kingdom. In our republic today, we are all individual leaders (not lead by a king, only short-term representatives who are meant to serve and ensure our liberty), and as our souls go, so goes our families, and our society. This is found all throughout Plato’s Republic.

I love that you brought up the style of story-telling. Plato (talking about Socrates) is an enlightened person, and as the Cave Allegory illuminates (no pun intended), the person who is unchained and learns the truth about reality is no longer accepted by those that are still chained. When he tries to tell others of reality, he is either mocked as a fool, or attacked as a threat to their order. People do not like to be told what is right and true when they are not open to seeking knowledge. People want to discover for themselves. Through parables and allegories, people are free to discover the truth for themselves. If Plato/Socrates were to tell us the truths as he understood them, no one would be interested.

I don’t think people care what Plato think, even those of us reading this book, trying to discern what Plato thought. We all read, trying to understand his point, and head check ourselves every step of the way to see if we agree or not. If we do agree, then Plato is wise; if we don’t agree, then he is hard to read and full of it. The allegories and dialogue format are what gives life and continued relevance to his work. It gives us a chance to be a member at the table, silently weighing in with our own opinions.

Gosh, I could just keep going. But I will try to keep this appetite for long winded comments at bay.

Thank you so much Edie!

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10 Jacque Boldt January 4, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Hi Edie! I am curious if you had to suggest one piece of literature for both fiction and non-fiction that everyone should read, what would it be? I know you’re a classical homeschooler, so we have some educational ideals in common. I am making a reading list for my New Year’s resolutions, and I am stuck. There are too many excellent options, and I am a SAHM with an infant (soon to be toddler), a toddler, and one in school, so my time is significantly limited. Any suggestions?

Thanks!
Jacque in Minnesota :)

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11 Julie Earnest January 4, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Your timing was good for me as I just finished the book last night. Like the two previous months’ selections, this was a first-time read for me. I gave it one careful reading, but I’m still left with a jumble of thoughts. Here are a few of them:

1. I seek to teach my own children in a way that produces excellence with a taste for truth and beauty, so his admonition to cultivate the character of the young with only the most wholesome stories was of particular interest to me. Another voice from the more recent past, Charlotte Mason, of course, advocated the same thing.
2. I loved that he so stressed the eternal and immutable and divine. Plato recognized that there is a ‘form of the good’ which we should seek to know. This is the sun in the Simile of the Sun and the source of light in the Simile of the Cave. As a pagan, he does not acknowledge or even seem to recognize the one true Jehovah God as this divine power, but, as a Christian I could identify Him that should be the object of all my educational and spiritual endeavors.
3. The section addressing eugenics flat out surprised me. I was too uneducated to know that whole discussion was in there.
4. It’s easy to see the four character types alive and well among us today. In fact, I see some of the characteristics alive and well IN ME. I marvel at how writings so ancient (and uninspired) can so squarely hit the nail on the head even today!

That is all. I’m looking forward to next month’s selection. Thanks for organizing the book club, it’s given me the motivation to delve into some of these tougher works that I would otherwise have continued avoiding.

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12 Cheryl January 6, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Edie–I just discovered your awesome blog today and have spent the day stalking it. Thank you so much for sharing as much of yourself as you do. Since I’m new, I supposed I’ll just jump right in with Vergil. Is there anything I need to know–a sign-up or anything?

I’m a “retired” actuary, a Southern mama with four kids at home, and a former evangelical turned happy Lutheran. And we are in the middle of the biggest home renovation I ever want to live through, so all your decorating ideas are incredibly helpful. So thank you so much, again. Looking forward to participating!

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13 laura@libertyfarmchronicles January 6, 2013 at 8:52 pm

It’s no secret. The difficulty of the book, and personal circumstances in the last several months have left me precious little time to get beyond Part II. I’m surprised at how slow I’m going. I am typically an avid reader, and don’t often get this waylaid. Frankly, it’s been good for me in a humbling and productive way.

Julie, I chuckled out loud when I read that you were too “uneducated” to know that the discussion of eugenics factored into the text. What a great way to phrase what I think is your surprise and initial exposure. I think I’m too uneducated to take most of it in, let alone highly charged topics like that!

Katherine, head checking ourselves every step of the way seems good counsel. I like how you said that. And, I’ve written and rewritten this comment so many times because a long winded something takes me over too…

Jessica, Penelope Lively’s book is a great suggestion. Hopping over to Amazon right after this so I’ve got something to share with my kiddos.

I so appreciate what everyone has to say here. Y’all are just so stinkin’ cute and smart! Edie, especially you – thank you for your kindness to us. Helter Skelter style is my favorite, and the school of Edie rocks!

In the end, I have a love hate relationship with this amazing book. I will finish it. I think I’ve got enough momentum to make it through. It’s gonna take awhile since I’ll get started on The Aeneid.

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14 VaGirl2 January 8, 2013 at 10:14 am

Thank you Edie for all the time you give to us. I have been encouraged by your videos to pick Plato back up…I really have struggled with this read. I, too, was surprised at the discussion of eugenics…and wondered how this writing may have influenced our human race going forward…? I was thinking how eugenics has been used in evil ways…

Not sure if I will actually finish Plato, looking forward to my copy of The Aeneid to arrive any day now…I can always come back to Plato some day…

Rock on!

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15 Carol Adams January 8, 2013 at 11:56 am

The podcast link is unavailable? :(

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16 Betsy Molitor February 19, 2013 at 7:56 pm

Grace and peace to you! Your writing and photos have been lifegiving to me over the last few weeks. I would love to know more about your book club and how I might jump in. Are you open to newbies?
by grace alone,
Betsy from CO

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