The War Lover: A Study of Plato’s Republic

ISBN: 0802079423
ISBN 13: 9780802079428
By: Leon Harold Craig

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This new examination of the Republic begins with questions ignored by most students of this famous and much-studied dialogue. Why is Plato's most extensive portrait of philosophy pervaded with the language and imagery of war? Why is a discussion supposedly about justice almost entirely about how to educate natural warriors? Why must the philosopher-kings of Kallipolis be first of all 'champions of war'? Why is the supposedly 'feminine drama' of Book Five preoccupied with war? The pursuit of questions such as these brings Craig to an understanding of Plato's teaching about justice, philosophy, and politics that differs radically from what is generally held today. In bringing the Republic vividly to life, Craig shows that Plato's ideas on virtually all questions of permanent interest to human beings provide a corrective to views now in vogue. The War Lover is thus as much a commentary on contemporary intellectual and political life as it is a challenging new interpretation of an ancient text.

Reader's Thoughts

J. Robert Larmer

The War Lover is a really phenomenal commentary on Plato's Republic. As a martial artist it's difficult to articulate the connection between philosophy and war. Both involve rigorous mental exercise, both involve pushing one's capabilities beyond what they are, both have no end result - the journey proceeds but does not finish. Both separate the boys from men, those who would dabble and those who would engage seriously with the object.I guess its this connection which is very clear in my head which I find impossible to really put words to that makes this commentary so good. Craig really gets at this higher truth contained in the Republic; the warriors journey is one of ascending the divided line and perpetually pushing of his own abilities. He also really gets into timocracy and the two kind of timocrats - the honor lover and the victory lover - which forms the bulk of his discussion. Much of the commentary reiterates the dialogue and it is accessible even to a political science student such as myself.My only criticism is that the whole argument hinges on reading Plato as suggesting that the disintegration of the perfectly just city in speech is hierarchical. I don't think we can take this for granted. Timocracy might be the regime which follows the perfectly just city in speech, but democracy is the only other regime where philosophy is present - suggesting that it might be the second best regime. I get what Craig is saying and I like it, but it does hinge on this (often uncontested) premise.Of course the Republic is like a beautiful woman who becomes more beautiful the more time you spend with her. When you find a commentary that shows you something the two of you might talk about which has been on the tip of your tongue for some time, it's quite a treat. Recommended.

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