Plato the Teacher: The Crisis of the Republic

Plato the Teacher: The Crisis of the Republic

by William H.F. Altman
     
 

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In this unique and important book, William Altman shines a light on the pedagogical technique of the playful Plato, especially his ability to create living discourses that directly address the student. Reviving an ancient concern with reconstructing the order in which Plato intended his dialogues to be taught as opposed to determining the order in which he wrote

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Overview

In this unique and important book, William Altman shines a light on the pedagogical technique of the playful Plato, especially his ability to create living discourses that directly address the student. Reviving an ancient concern with reconstructing the order in which Plato intended his dialogues to be taught as opposed to determining the order in which he wrote them, Altman breaks with traditional methods by reading Plato’s dialogues as a multiplex but coherent curriculum in which the Allegory of the Cave occupies the central place. His reading of Plato's Republic challenges the true philosopher to choose the life of justice exemplified by Socrates and Cicero by going back down into the Cave of political life for the sake of the greater Good.

Editorial Reviews

Choice
How Plato's dialogues ought to be arranged and, accordingly, how they are to be read, has provoked much debate. Some scholars believe that identifying their chronology of composition (the order in which they were written) is crucial to understanding Plato's philosophical development; others believe their dramatic order is of paramount importance. High school teacher Altman opts for a different yet altogether refreshing approach, advocating a paideutic scheme that focuses on the order in which Plato intended his dialogues to be taught. As its title would suggest, Altman's book is, most immediately, an exegesis of Republic; however, its broader purpose is to show that Republic, or more specifically the allegory of the cave, occupies a central position in a complex philosophical curriculum. In his effort to defend this provocative thesis, Altman is impressively successful. His scholarship is impeccable, his familiarity with the Platonic corpus thorough, and his reading of individual passages meticulous. Given its high level of erudition and frequent reference to the original Greek, this book will appeal mainly to scholars; nevertheless, it is a book with which all students of Plato will want to become familiar. Summing Up: Highly recommended.
CHOICE
How Plato's dialogues ought to be arranged and, accordingly, how they are to be read, has provoked much debate. Some scholars believe that identifying their chronology of composition (the order in which they were written) is crucial to understanding Plato's philosophical development; others believe their dramatic order is of paramount importance. High school teacher Altman opts for a different yet altogether refreshing approach, advocating a paideutic scheme that focuses on the order in which Plato intended his dialogues to be taught. As its title would suggest, Altman's book is, most immediately, an exegesis of Republic; however, its broader purpose is to show that Republic, or more specifically the allegory of the cave, occupies a central position in a complex philosophical curriculum. In his effort to defend this provocative thesis, Altman is impressively successful. His scholarship is impeccable, his familiarity with the Platonic corpus thorough, and his reading of individual passages meticulous. Given its high level of erudition and frequent reference to the original Greek, this book will appeal mainly to scholars; nevertheless, it is a book with which all students of Plato will want to become familiar. Summing Up: Highly recommended.
Roslyn Weiss
Plato the Teacher constitutes a major contribution to Plato studies and is striking in its profundity and originality. For Altman, Plato is first and foremost an educator, constructing his corpus as a whole and the Republic in particular so as to maximize their pedagogic punch. An educator can only be an altruist, and, for Altman, Plato’s altruism forms the very core of the Republic, whose essential ethical teaching for us all is found in Socrates’ directive to the philosopher-kings: 'You must go down.' Plato the Teacher abounds in startlingly fresh readings of passages that have grown stale, and is infused with clarity, erudition, and passion.
John Ferrari
I have never read anyone who has attempted to identify Plato quite so fully and so audaciously with the modern democratic spirit as does Altman. His book is impassioned and deeply personal. Flashes of brilliance and insight abound in it, and its vivid, folksy, self-consciously American eloquence is wonderfully engaging.
Jill Frank
Guided by Cicero, as Plato’s 'best student,' Plato the Teacher reads the Republic and specifically its allegory of the cave as an exemplar of Plato’s student-centered pedagogy about justice, addressed to those both inside and outside the text. Sensitive to the dialogue’s language and context, provocative in its freshness, originality, and depth of engagement with the text and its many interpreters, and thoroughly Platonist in its insistence on a transcendent Idea of the Good beyond Being, Plato the Teacher makes a signal philosophical, ethical, and political contribution to the study of Plato.
Francisco Gonzalez
We have here the seemingly impossible: a reading of the Republic that is highly original, because not easily classifiable under any of the interpretative approaches current today, while also representing a return to classic two-world Platonism. This old/new Plato will doubtless provoke needed reexamination and debate among all readers of this inexhaustible dialogue.
Journal Of Philosophy Of Education
William H. F. Altman’s Plato the Teacher presses the question of Plato’s pedagogical purpose further than any other modern scholar, and as a result offers a strikingly original and compelling interpretation of the Platonic corpus. . . .[H]is work is. . .implicitly an alternative to the various ways that scholars have written about Plato on education. . . .Altman’s book blazes a different trail – it offers a Platonic philosophy of education based primarily on how Plato educates his readers, both ancient and modern. [His] engagement with the voluminous scholarship on Republic is impressive. . . .Altman’s passion for studying Plato is evident throughout the work.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780739171387
Publisher:
Lexington Books
Publication date:
02/09/2012
Pages:
512
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.60(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Jill Frank
Guided by Cicero, as Plato’s 'best student,' Plato the Teacher reads the Republic and specifically its allegory of the cave as an exemplar of Plato’s student-centered pedagogy about justice, addressed to those both inside and outside the text. Sensitive to the dialogue’s language and context, provocative in its freshness, originality, and depth of engagement with the text and its many interpreters, and thoroughly Platonist in its insistence on a transcendent Idea of the Good beyond Being, Plato the Teacher makes a signal philosophical, ethical, and political contribution to the study of Plato.
Francisco Gonzalez
We have here the seemingly impossible: a reading of the Republic that is highly original, because not easily classifiable under any of the interpretative approaches current today, while also representing a return to classic two-world Platonism. This old/new Plato will doubtless provoke needed reexamination and debate among all readers of this inexhaustible dialogue.
John Ferrari
I have never read anyone who has attempted to identify Plato quite so fully and so audaciously with the modern democratic spirit as does Altman. His book is impassioned and deeply personal. Flashes of brilliance and insight abound in it, and its vivid, folksy, self-consciously American eloquence is wonderfully engaging.
Roslyn Weiss
Plato the Teacher constitutes a major contribution to Plato studies and is striking in its profundity and originality. For Altman, Plato is first and foremost an educator, constructing his corpus as a whole and the Republic in particular so as to maximize their pedagogic punch. An educator can only be an altruist, and, for Altman, Plato’s altruism forms the very core of the Republic, whose essential ethical teaching for us all is found in Socrates’ directive to the philosopher-kings: 'You must go down.' Plato the Teacher abounds in startlingly fresh readings of passages that have grown stale, and is infused with clarity, erudition, and passion.

Read More

Meet the Author

William Altman teaches Latin at E. C. Glass, a public high school in Lynchburg, Virginia.

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