Plato's Republic: A Dialogue in 16 Chapters

Overview

Plato's Republic is one of the best-known and most widely-discussed texts in the history of philosophy. But how might we get to the heart of this work today, 2,500 years after its original composition? Alain Badiou breathes life into Plato's landmark text and revives its universality. Rather than producing yet another critical commentary, he has instead worked closely on the original Greek and, through spectacular changes, adapted it to our times. In this innovative reimagining of Plato's work, Badiou has removed...

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Overview

Plato's Republic is one of the best-known and most widely-discussed texts in the history of philosophy. But how might we get to the heart of this work today, 2,500 years after its original composition? Alain Badiou breathes life into Plato's landmark text and revives its universality. Rather than producing yet another critical commentary, he has instead worked closely on the original Greek and, through spectacular changes, adapted it to our times. In this innovative reimagining of Plato's work, Badiou has removed all references specific to ancient Greek society -- from lengthy exchanges about moral courage in archaic poetry to political considerations mainly of interest to the aristocratic elite -- and has expanded the range of cultural references. Here, philosophy is firing on all cylinders: Socrates and his companions are joined by Beckett, Pessoa, Freud, and Hegel, among others. Together these thinkers demonstrate that true philosophy endures, ready to absorb new horizons without changing its essence.

Moreover, Badiou -- who is also a dramatist -- has transformed the Socratic dialogue into a genuine oratorial contest. In his version of the Republic, the interlocutors do much more than simply agree with Socrates. They argue, stand up to him, put him on the spot, and show thought in motion. In this work of dramatic scholarship and philosophy, we encounter a modern version of Plato's text that is alive, stimulating, and directly relevant to our own world.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

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.

Choice

A must read for students of Badiou.

Choice

A must read for students of Badiou.

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.
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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231160179
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 1/6/2015
  • Pages: 400

Meet the Author

Alain Badiou is emeritus professor of philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. One of the most well-known philosophers of our time, he is also a novelist, playwright, and political activist. He is the author of The Incident at Antioch/L'Incident d'Antioche: A Tragedy in Three Acts/Tragédie en trois actes.

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.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction Kenneth Reinhard vii

Translator's Preface xxiv

Author's Preface to the English Edition xxix

Preface xxxi

Characters xxxvi

Prologue: The Conversation in the Villa on the Harbor (327a-336b) 1

1 Reducing the Sophist to Silence (336b-357a) 14

2 The Young People's Pressing Questions (357a-368d) 45

3 The Origins of Society and the State (368d-376c) 63

4 The Disciplines of the Mind: Literature and Music (376c-403c) 76

5 The Disciplines of the Body: Nutrition, Medicine, and Physical Education (403c-412c) 93

6 Objective Justice (412c-434d) 106

7 Subjective Justice (434d-449a) 131

8 Women and Families (449a-471c) 148

9 What Is a Philosopher? (471c-484b) 162

10 Philosophy and Politics (484b-502c) 183

11 What Is an Idea? (502c-521c) 197

12 From Mathematics to the Dialectic (521c-541b) 224

13 Critique of the Four Pre-Communist Systems of Government. I: Timocracy and Oligarchy (541b-555b) 245

14 Critique of the Four Pre-Communist Systems of Government. II: Democracy and Tyranny (555b-573b) 263

15 Justice and Happiness (573b-592b) 291

16 Poetry and Thought (592b-608b) 316

Epilogue: The Mobile Eternity of Subjects (608b-621d) 337

Notes 355

Bibliography 368

Index 371

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