Plato's Republic: A Dialogue in 16 Chapters

Plato's Republic: A Dialogue in 16 Chapters

by Alain Badiou
     
 

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Alain Badiou's translation of Plato's Republic is both a work of literary transformation and, implicitly, a powerful and original commentary on Plato. Badiou stands virtually alone among major, modern-day philosophers as a self-proclaimed Platonist, the champion of what he calls a "Platonism of the multiple" rejecting anti-Platonism and most contemporary

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Overview

Alain Badiou's translation of Plato's Republic is both a work of literary transformation and, implicitly, a powerful and original commentary on Plato. Badiou stands virtually alone among major, modern-day philosophers as a self-proclaimed Platonist, the champion of what he calls a "Platonism of the multiple" rejecting anti-Platonism and most contemporary accounts of the thinker. For Badiou, Plato is the first philosopher precisely because he established philosophy's foundation in mathematics and its antagonistic relationship to sophistry. He is the predominant warrior in the eternal battle of philosophy against sophistry, of truth against opinion, and is the progenitor of the living idea of communism. It is also from Plato that Badiou derives his organization of truth into four fields, or sets, of "procedures:" science, politics, art, and love.

Some readers may be scandalized by Badiou's liberties in this translation: his systematic modifications of Greek terms, occasional elimination of entire passages, pervasive anachronistic references (such as AIDS, IPods, and Euros), and other conspicuous transformations. His language (and Susan Spitzer's translation) is dramatically vivid, colloquial, colorful, and at times raw and gritty. Socrates and his interlocutors speak like Europeans or Americans of today or the recent past, and their cultural references are both classical and contemporary. Nevertheless, Badiou's remains faithful to the spirit of Plato's text — and, above all, to Plato's ideas.

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Editorial Reviews

Slavoj Zizek
Badiou's translation of Plato follows the ancient habit of pre-copyright times: it freely changes the original to make it fit contemporary conditions. So instead of sophists, we get corrupted journalists; instead of soul, we get the subject; and instead of Plato's critique of democracy, we get... well, a critique of today's democracy. The result is a resounding triumph: Plato comes fully alive as our contemporary, as someone who directly addresses our issues. This, not aseptic scholarly work, is the mark of true fidelity to our past.
Choice

A must read for students of Badiou.

Library Journal
Badiou (philosophy, École Normale Supérieure, Paris; Being and Event) has provided a lively rendering of Plato's Republic. Gone is the ten-part division in favor of 16 chapters, a prolog, and an epilog. There is now a female character, and the cast is much more active—stealing Socrates's lines or vigorously challenging him. Badiou's Republic is more dialectical than Plato's. Badiou's cast members frequently quote thinkers throughout history as contemporaries or near-contemporaries. His Socrates occasionally contracts Plato. Sometimes Badiou's Platonism is more in evidence than Plato's. Most striking is Badiou's counter to the charge that Plato is a sort of proto-fascist, by characterizing the ideal republic as a communist state and equating the tyrannical with the fascist state. Badiou states that in some cases Spitzer's translation enhanced or even improved upon his French; he calls the English version a "hypertranslation." VERDICT Those familiar with Plato's Republic will still hear Plato's voice in this engaging rendition. Recommended for those readers.—James Wetherbee, Wingate Univ. Libs., NC
Simon Critchley
Here is something really remarkable: a complete reimagining of the founding text of philosophy. This book calls itself a hyper-translation, but it is also a repetition with a difference: an utterly contemporary transposition—and even sublimation—of Plato's Republic. It is always our task to breathe life into the ancients. They feed on our blood. Badiou shows himself a master of vampirism.

Slavoj iek

Badiou's translation of Plato follows the ancient habit of pre-copyright times: it freely changes the original to make it fit contemporary conditions. So instead of sophists, we get corrupted journalists; instead of soul, we get the subject; and instead of Plato's critique of democracy, we get... well, a critique of today's democracy. The result is a resounding triumph: Plato comes fully alive as our contemporary, as someone who directly addresses our issues. This, not aseptic scholarly work, is the mark of true fidelity to our past.

Slavoj Žižek
Badiou's translation of Plato follows the ancient habit of pre-copyright times: it freely changes the original to make it fit contemporary conditions. So instead of sophists, we get corrupted journalists; instead of soul, we get the subject; and instead of Plato's critique of democracy, we get... well, a critique of today's democracy. The result is a resounding triumph: Plato comes fully alive as our contemporary, as someone who directly addresses our issues. This, not aseptic scholarly work, is the mark of true fidelity to our past.

France Magazine
A highly entertaining intellectual exercise.

Consciousness, Literature and the Arts - John Vignaux Smyth
[An] amusing, erudite, and intelligent book.

Berfrois - Daniel Tutt
What Badiou's translation of Plato leaves us with is a resounding passion for the truth. It leaves us with a rare sense that politics can once again be associated with courage and justice, and that we have an agency at our disposal that comes in the passionate work of bringing the idea of equality (communism) into existence.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231160162
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
01/22/2013
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
1,239,725
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Eleanor Kaufman
The hypertranslation serves on one level as a readable rewriting of one of Plato's most significant texts while on another it serves as a novel articulation of Badiou's consistent interests and sources of inspiration.

Meet the Author

Alain Badiou is professor emeritus at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris and the University of Paris VIII (Vincennes-Saint Denis). One of the most well-known philosophers of our time, he is also a novelist, playwright, and political activist.

Kenneth Reinhard is associate professor of English and comparative literature at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the coauthor of The Neighbor: Three Inquiries in Political Theology and After Oedipus: Shakespeare in Psychoanalysis.

Susan Spitzer is a frequent translator of Badiou's works, most recently, Five Lessons on Wagner, and the play, The Incident at Antioch.

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