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Publisher's Summary

More than 2,000 years later, Plato's Republic remains astonishingly relevant to our everyday lives. It poses one question after another that might well have been drawn from the headlines and debates of our nation's recent history: What sort of person should rule the state? Are all citizens equal before the law? Should everyone have equal access to health care? Plato's greater inquiry, however, was into the question of defining justice itself and the reasons why a person would choose a life aligned with that virtue.

These 24 remarkable lectures lead you through the brilliant dialogue Plato crafted both to define and examine the issues with which political philosophy still grapples.

Chapter by chapter, Professor Roochnik introduces you to Plato's literary recasting of his own great teacher, Socrates, and the dialogue through which Socrates and the Republic's other characters create the hypothetical ideal city. It is by dissecting life in this presumably just city - the "Republic" of Plato's title - that the nature of justice itself can be examined.

Many of Plato's ideas will startle contemporary readers, who may recognize in them the foreshadowing of some of humankind's darkest moments. Indeed, some have called the Republic the "great-great-grandfather of all totalitarian experiments." You'll wrestle with Plato's controversial vision, and you'll be surprised just how contemporary these arguments sound.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2005 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2005 The Great Courses

What listeners say about Plato's Republic

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Teaches how to think not what to think!

Never stop learning. This lecture is special because it doesn’t matter if you have already read 'The Republic’ or haven’t read it since either set of people can profit from this lecture. This lecture will scratch that part of the mind that usually lies dormant due to the media’s constant distractions from what really matters. In the lecture, he points out Plato warns against music and poetry and the lecturer characterizes that to be what we today call ‘the media’. Marshall McLuhan was wrong about everything except for when he simplified his most famous expression to really mean ‘the medium is the massage’. So, if at all possible choose your massages wisely. Read books like 'The Republic’ or listen to quality lectures such as this one.

I wish I could crawl back into the cave and open the eyes of my fellow prisoners. In the Allegory of the Cave the fellow captives killed the man, who wanted to open their eyes, and I’m not brave enough to risk death and besides I’m not wise enough to understand the trap we are in, but 'The Republic’ does help open our eyes and this lecture starts you on the journey of learning how to think. All media we have around us, all newspapers, almost all of the new books and almost everything we hear from others is to try to tell us what to think not how to think. Plato’s ‘Republic’ teaches us how to think not what to think. Every human must choose their own reality forming sources, and is it up to each individual to learn how to think. 'The Republic' and expositions like this lecture do just that.

Who won the Cubs game last night? The very fact of asking that question presupposes a whole slew of presumptions least of all that there is an answer. Just as asking the question ‘what is justice’ leads places one would not expect and one could start with ‘the advantage of the powerful’, or do we quickly dismiss the person who responds ‘the advantage of the powerful’s belief’ thus dismissing relativism as real. Plato’s Forms will give Being as Truth and assumes universals such that knowledge will be thought of as universal, necessary and certain or conversely is empirical knowledge about the real world particular, contingent and probable?

The lecture will point out that it is not ‘life is good’. Plato and this lecture will say it is ‘the good life that is good’. The Good is the Form (gestalt, shape, ideal). The Form is Being. Being is Truth and the One and the Good. The question of Being and what it is presupposes an answer. The very fact of asking the question gives Being meaning. All of these kinds of thoughts are within ‘The Republic’ but are made explicit within this lecture. It is up to each of us to determine how to think and find out what is deserving of our attention in order to have ‘the good life that is good’, an examined life worth living.

If I want to understand an equilateral triangle, I can look at a small triangle and measure the sides and angles and make my conclusions, or I can isomorphically consider a large equilateral triangle and gather my truths from that. That’s what Socrates does for justice and the human soul by creating his perfect city within his thought experiment. He’ll conclude that the philosopher is 729 times exactly wiser than the tyrant! This lecture will explain many items from 'The Republic’ that would not otherwise be obvious to most readers of 'The Republic'.

Plato’s ‘Republic’ is almost always taken out of context. This lecture provides the context that is usually missing from those who usually mischaracterize 'The Republic’, and this lecture will show why 'The Republic’ is one of the all time great books in no uncertain terms. An examined life is a good life and this lecture will teach one how to examine ones life and point one towards what is deserving of one’s attention and where one’s meaning in life should lie.

14 people found this helpful

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This book should have a different title

The title is misleading. Namely, it’s not the actual book that’s been presented, it’s just a boring interpretation of the content with lots of annoying, unnecessary comments that divert from the actual book’s content. What a waste of my time to listen to such verbose commentaries. Definitely, would not recommend to other listeners.

10 people found this helpful

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Simply Excellent

The discussion of Plato's Republic reminds us all of what great a great didactic presentation sounds like. For those of us long-since removed from academia, it makes us long for the type of interchanges we had with a golden few professors who "reached" us and made us want more. Though Professor Roochnik is not Lord Richard Attenborough, he is clearly an expert of the subject matter and is a superb teacher. The mysteries of The Republic (the definition of justice, the analogy of the cave, the divided line and the Myth of Er) are clearly elucidated. Enjoyable, informative and reflective.

7 people found this helpful

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Excellent - Enjoyed the nararator

Where does Plato's Republic rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

The best of the 5 that I listened to so far

What other book might you compare Plato's Republic to and why?

I am a novice, can't help you much

What about Professor David Roochnik’s performance did you like?

He was knowlegable yet modest and to the point, objective, not darmatic

Any additional comments?

I have always heard references to The Republic. The actual text is much different than what I expected. I tried reading old texts in the past. It does not work for me. I need the lecture to put it in context, to have the words defined as to what they meant at the time of the writing. This was well done.

5 people found this helpful

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Hilarious in light of Trump

Amazing passage in later chapters, where the lecturer presents an extended review of Plato's analysis of oligarchy, tyranny, and the psychology of the tyrant. Presented in 2013, long before Trump, it is an uncanny and nearly perfect description of Trump's psychology and authoritarian tendencies, the populist appeal to the masses against "the elite", right down to the narcissism, the necessity of getting rid of both enemies and friends alike, the self-dealing and profiteering, the inability to hold friendship or empathy, it's all there, from Plato 2,500 years ago.

But even more remarkable is the lecturer's insistence that this sort of thing could never happen in America, because of the special qualities of American democracy, the separation of powers, the independence of the Supreme Court, and wait for it... that bulwark of democracy, the Electoral College!

Never thought I'd get such a belly laugh from a lecture on Plato's Republic!

4 people found this helpful

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Very good and comprehensive

This is an excellent 24 part lecture on the Republic and in 2016 the Republic still resonates as strongly as it did 2500 years ago.
Socrates and his questions still remain unanswered.
Certain "assumptions” made by Prof Roochnik are questionable but nevertheless it doesn’t impede the mood of inquiry he presents.
The lecture leaves you with a sense of the profound spiritual insight of Plato that resonates with all peoples of all faiths who have brought their spiritual understanding to a deeper universal perspective.
This is both a lecture and subject that needs to not only contemplated or meditated on for a long time but like anything worthwhile to be revisited over and over again.
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose..not much has changed with the human psyche in 2500 years

Well done

3 people found this helpful

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Professor David Roochnik is Superb!

Any additional comments?

A great lecture about a difficult subject told by a superb teacher. I was able to assimilate far more from this lecture than I could ever hope to obtain on my own by reading Plato's Republic.

11 people found this helpful

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One of the best courses I have ever heard!

If you could sum up Plato's Republic in three words, what would they be?

The BEST course

What other book might you compare Plato's Republic to and why?

It's incomparable. It's the basis of political filosophy and one of the BEST books known to men. This course the dr. professor explains in great detail every complex passage in the book, giving light to such difficult subject.

Any additional comments?

I will definitely buy other Great Courses just because of this one. It's one of the best audiobooks I have ever heard, and the professor is so knowledgeable that it's quite impressive how you can understand Plato's Republic so easily. He makes it easy!

13 people found this helpful

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Very engaging Summary

I will listen to this several times as the key concepts of Plato’s book are articulated very well.

2 people found this helpful

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Loved it!!!

Where does Plato's Republic rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is one of my favorite of the " Great Courses " . Dr. Roochnik was a pleasure to listen and made Plato current for the listener! I hated to have the course end. Please, more by this most talented professor!

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Loved it, beginning to end!

4 people found this helpful

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  • Mr. P. A. Gower
  • 01-02-14

Heartily recommended if you are new to Plato

I had gone through Plato's Republic on audible twice and although I had the gist of the main points I felt I hadn't quite understood it. Listening to Roochnik's lectures clarified a lot and then I listened to his lectures and then relevant chapters from The Republic back-to-back which I would recommend.

8 people found this helpful

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  • AHW
  • 05-31-16

Excellent analysis & skilled lecturer

Really well structured and excellent lecture series going through the republic. Prof. David Roochnik is gives a clear and constantly engaging analysis, thoroughly exploring the text, and also setting context and referencing more contemporary ideas in their relation to the republic.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Toms
  • 12-03-18

An amazing lecture series!

Just finished listening to it tonight, leaving the last two post-scriptum lectures for last.

I came to this not having completely read through Republic, so I thought it would summarize the book in more of a bite-size way. Oh boy, was I wrong! And gladly so. The lectures given by Prof. Roochnik start out with a simple rephrasing of ideas and end up being a metaphysical journey through the matter of understanding and being. Certainly a road everyone should walk at some point. That's all I can say without spoiling much.

The only thing I would say is, try to listen to it on headphones or quiet environment. Because of the recording quality, Prof. Roochnik's voice can sound monotonous and fade into the background.

Otherwise, it's absolutely fantastic and I would certainly recommend this!

1 person found this helpful

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  • J A Bennett
  • 07-21-15

A must for philosophers of any level

What did you like most about Plato's Republic?

A must read for any lover of philosophy, it may not come up with many answers but the questions it poses are timeless. It is presented in a way that brings up all the main themes and guides the listener through parts that may be more difficult to understand. This series of lectures is fantastic value (especially when you get it with your free credits!!!!)

Who was your favorite character and why?

Socrates... obviously

What does Professor David Roochnik bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

The narrator is as you would expect of a philosophy tutor, very reserved in what he actually says, being careful to say exactly what he means so as not to throw the listener off and I think his insights into what plato actually meant in parts were very insightful.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It has opened my mind up to ways of thinking that I would have dismissed if I had not known the logical thought path that the ancients went through to come to those conclusions.

Any additional comments?

Think that sums it up.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-12-18

this is not Plato's republic

If you realise that this is the lecture series, not the book, this may well be for you

4 people found this helpful

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  • Iain Sword
  • 07-12-21

Unbelievable

I bought this thinking it was an audiobook and it was the best mistake I’ve ever had! Even better mistake than my daughter but don’t tell her that lol

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  • TheVividDream
  • 06-14-21

Fantastic experience

I thoroughly enjoyed this lecture series. The lecturer shakes us up from our caves in a very engaging and potentially provocative manner. I hope the narrate does another series.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-17-21

Brilliant intro to Plato and Socrates

A great introduction to Western political philosophy and some of its earliest origins. Easily understandable but thought provoking intro to Plato

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  • Cundrie
  • 04-29-21

Clear, well-constructed, enlightening.

I liked the simplicity of hearing one clear voice relating what happens in Plato's Republic while elucidating the themes. The speaker knows when to remind the listener of important ideas. An eye-opener (ear-opener?) for me.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-06-21

Its a lecture, not the book

I thought it would be just a book, but it's not, it's a lecture about it

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  • Sarah Flynn
  • 09-14-18

Loved it. Illuminating.

Loved this course. Has made me fall in love with philosophy. Professor was clear and no waffle, every point he made was relevant and purposeful in building a picture of Plato.

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  • Carlo Spada
  • 01-16-18

Outstanding!

It shoes how Plato’s Republic remains a foundational work throughout western philosophy to this date.