"So much of Western thought is colored by knowledge of Plato and his forms, it can be frustrating to try and read a philosophy textbook but actually reading Plato is relatively simple and very satisfying."
Everyone should read this book! It definitely stretched my intellectual muscles - after a month out of school it was nice to know my brain still worked.
All of Plato's works are written in the person of Socrates who is a brilliant debater! After talking circles around one of his opponents the man declares that, "For myself . . . I am quite ready to join your side of the quarrel." His discussion of justice and injustice cuts right to the heart of human nature and he goes on to more or less disprove Greek theology and prove Christianity to the best of his ability.
I don't agree with everything in this book but for the most part they are intellectual disagreements. In other words, even when Socrates/Plato is wrong he doesn't annoy me because he's not just some idiot spewing random opinions - he really believes what he's saying and has intelligent reasoning to back it up. He even goes on to discuss the fact that opinions are only as good as the facts that back them up.
However, speaking of my disagreements with Plato, allow me to enumerate some of them. First of all, the entire section on Women and the Family is terribly disturbing. And, apparently, Plato supports abortion and infanticide, which is definitely not just an intellectual disagreement. The root of Plato's problems is his lack of respect for the individual. The good of the individual is constantly sacrificed for the community. But, what Plato fails to realize is that the community is made up of individuals. For example: Plato will sacrifice the happiness of individuals for the happiness of the community. But communities are made up of individuals so if you sacrifice the happiness of the individual you sacrifice the happiness of the community. And soon enough you'll find that you've sacrificed the happiness of every individual in the community and if everyone in the community is unhappy, how can the community be happy? At the end of the day, someone could write a great sci-fi novel about the society that Plato proposes.
That being said, I reiterate that everyone should read this book, if only to get you to think a little.
Some good quotes:
- "the music and literature of a country cannot be altered without major political and social changes"
- "it is in education that disorder can most easily creep in unobserved"
- "and so, because he knows, we can rightly call his state of mind one of knowledge; and that of the other man, who holds opinions only, opinion"
- "they have no right to be annoyed at the truth"
- "he's drawn to complete license (which his tempters call complete liberty)"