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Graduate Seminar

CONTEMPORARY INTERPRETATIONS
OF PLATOS REPUBLIC
Dr. V. Adluri
Office: Hunter West, 12th floor, Room 1242
Telephone: 973 216 7874
Email: vadluri@hunter.cuny.edu
Office hours: Wednesdays, 6:00 7:00 P.M and by
appointment
DESCRIPTION:
Platos Republic is considered the foundational text of Western philosophy as well as
political theory and aesthetics. It is also the single most important work of Platos literary
oeuvre, containing sustained treatments of psychology, epistemology, and ontology. This
course will focus on highlighting major themes in the Republic, especially as these have been
understood and interpreted in contemporary Plato scholarship. The course is divided into
two parts. After a general overview of the dialogue, its literary unity, and its historical
influences, we shall take up the following topics for discussion: epistemology, ontology,
ethics, politics, aesthetics, gender, psychology, and soteriology. The aim of the course is to
gain an understanding of the contemporary reception of the Republic as well as its reception
in the broader history of philosophy.

COURSE PREREQUISITES:
Students must have taken an undergraduate course on Plato. They should nonetheless
revise the dialogue before the seminar. For those unfamiliar with the scope of the Republic, I
recommend a look at F.M. Cornfords The Republic of Plato (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
1951). Cornfords division of the dialogue is still considered authoritative. For those
unfamiliar with the basic scholarly approaches to the dialogue, the following works are
recommended: Allan Blooms interpretive essay in The Republic of Plato, 2nd ed. (New York:
Basic Books, 1991) as well as the chapter The Influence and Interpretation of Plato in
Modern and Contemporary Philosophy, in Continuum Companion to Plato, ed. Gerald A. Press
(London: Continuum, 2012), 282-308.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS:
Each student is required to present in class on a topic. The presentation must be
accompanied by: (1) a handout specifying the thesis, (2) a 1-page summary of the relevant
section(s) of the dialogue, and (3) a bibliography. You are expected to take up one thesis,
develop a precise argument, and have a comprehensive bibliography pertaining to your topic
(the list of works under recent interpretations will provide a starting point for further
research.)
Students are also required to complete a final paper (20-25 pages) incorporating my
comments on their presentation. Citations must adhere to the Chicago style.

Primary Sources:
Plato. Republic. Translated with Introduction by C.D.C. Reeve. Indianapolis: Hackett, 2004.
Plato. The Republic. Edited by G.R.F. Ferrari, translated by Tom Griffith. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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In addition, you must have the Greek text. Either the Burnet edition (Platonis Opera, vol. IV
[Oxford: Clarendon, 1902]) or the Adams edition (The Republic of Plato, 2 vols. [Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2010-11]) are suitable, but the Adams edition is preferable.

Commentaries:
In addition to the works listed above under course prerequisites, I recommend some or all
of the following commentaries:
Brann, Eva. The Music of the Republic: Essays on Socrates Conversations and Platos Writings.
Philadelphia: Paul Dry, 2011.
Ferrari, G.R.F. Ed. The Cambridge Companion to Platos Republic. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2007.
Rosen, Stanley. Platos Republic: A Study. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005.
Voegelin, Eric. Plato. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2000.
White, Nicholas P. A Companion to Platos Republic. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1979.

Secondary Literature:
The following works are important for appreciating the Republics literary and historical
context; they will be extensively referred to during the introductory lecture sessions:
Albinus, Lars. The Katabasis of Er. Platos Use of Myths, exemplified by the Myth of Er.
In Essays on Platos Republic, edited by E. N. Ostenfeld, 91-105. Aarhus: Aarhus University
Press, 1998.
Adluri, Vishwa. Initiation into the Mysteries: Experience of the Irrational in Plato.
Mouseion III.6 (2006): 407-423.
Adluri, Vishwa. Tragedies of Self and Polis: Sophoclean Elements in the Republic. Paper
presented at the Tenth International Conference of the International Society for
Neoplatonic Studies, Cagliari, June 2012.
Adluri, Vishwa and John Lenz. From Politics to Salvation through Philosophy. In
Philosophy and Salvation in Greek Religion, edited by Vishwa Adluri, 217-241. Berlin: Walter de
Gruyter, 2013.
Annas, Julia. An Introduction to Platos Republic. New York: Oxford, 1981.
Brisson, Luc. Plato the Myth Maker. Translated by Gerard Naddaf. Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1998.
Howland, Jacob. The Republic: The Odyssey of Philosophy. Philadelphia: Paul Dry, 2004.
Tarrant, Harold. The Origins and Shape of Platos Six-Book Republic. Antichthon 46 (2012):
52-78.

Recent Interpretations:
In addition, these are some of the more influential recent interpretations of the Republic
(note that not all these works are exclusively on the Republic; however, each is significant
enough for contemporary views of the dialogue to consider it here). One or more of these
works will be required reading depending upon your chosen topic.
Annas, Julia. An Introduction to Platos Republic. New York: Oxford, 1981.
Benardete, Seth. Socrates Second Sailing: On Platos Republic. Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1989.
Bussanich, John. Rebirth Eschatology in Plato and Plotinus. In Philosophy and Salvation in
Greek Religion, edited by Vishwa Adluri, 243-288. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2013.
Craig, Leon Harold. The War Lover: A Study of Platos Republic. Toronto: University of
Toronto Press, 1996.

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Ferrari, G.R.F. City and Soul in Platos Republic. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.
Halliwell, Stephen. The Aesthetics of Mimsis: Ancient Texts and Modern Problems. Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 2002.
Halliwell, Stephen. The Life-and-Death Journey of the Soul. In The Cambridge Companion to
Platos Republic, edited by G. R. F. Ferrari, 445-473. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
2007.
Halliwell, Stephen. Plato: Republic Book 10. Warminster: Aries and Phillips, 1988.
Irwin, Terence. Platos Ethics. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.
Janaway, Christopher. Plato and the Arts. In A Companion to Plato, edited by Hugh H.
Benson, 388-400. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006.
Menn, Stephen. Plato on God as Nous. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1995.
Monoson, Sara S. Platos Democratic Entanglements: Athenian Politics and the Practice of Philosophy.
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000.
Popper, Karl. The Open Society and its Enemies, vol. 1: The Spell of Plato, 5th rev. ed. Princeton,
NJ: Princeton University Press, 1971.
Roochnik, David. Beautiful City: The Dialectical Character of Platos Republic. Cornell: Cornell
University Press, 2003.
Silverman, Alan. The Dialectic of Essence. A Study of Platos Metaphysics. Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 2003.
Szlezk, Thomas. Platonic Dialectic: The Path and the Goal. In Platonisms: Ancient, Modern,
and Postmodern, edited by Kevin Corrigan and John D. Turner, 17-40. Leiden: Brill, 2007.
Szlezk, Thomas. Reading Plato. Translated by Graham Zanker. London and New York:
Routledge, 1999.
Strauss, Leo. The City and Man. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978.
Thesleff, Holger. Studies in Platos Two-Level Model. Helsinki: Societas Scientiarum Fennica,
1999.
Vlastos, Gregory. Platonic Studies. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973.
Vlastos, Gregory. Ed. The Philosophy of Socrates: A Collection of Critical Essays. Notre Dame:
University of Notre Dame Press, 1971.
Wender, Dorothea. Plato, Misogynist, Pedophile, and Feminist. In Women in the Ancient
World: The Arethusa Papers, edited by John Peradotto and J.P. Sullivan, 213-228. Albany: State
University of New York Press, 1984.

For those planning to present on the 20th century Continental reception of Plato, any one of
Heideggers several books and articles on Plato (especially The Essence of Truth: On Platos Cave
Allegory and Theaetetus, trans. Ted Sadler [London: Continuum, 2002]) or Gadamers
collected essays on Plato (either Dialogue and Dialectic: Eight Hermeneutical Studies on Plato, trans.
P. Christopher Smith [New Haven: Yale, 1980] or The Idea of the Good in Platonic-Aristotelian
Philosophy, trans. P. Christopher Smith [New Haven: Yale, 1986]) are suitable.

CLASS SCHEDULE AND REQUIRED READING:


Seminar topics will be assigned in the first session. You are required to meet with me at
least 3 weeks prior to your presentation slot to go over your thesis and bibliography;
presentations are due 1 week before your presentation in my mailbox and you must
incorporate my comments before presenting.

Session Topic Required reading

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No.
1. Introductory lecture: structure of the Republic None
2. Platos use of myth and the dialogue form Brisson
3. Sources of Platos Republic I: Homers Odyssey Howland
4. Sources of Platos Republic II: Herodotus, Sophocles Adluri & Lenz;
Tragedies of Self and
Polis
5. Sources of Platos Republic III: mystery cults Albinus; Initiation into
the Mysteries
6. Unity of the Republic Annas; Tarrant
7. Epistemology: Does Plato have a two-world theory? Seminar presentation
8. Epistemology: Platos Theory of Forms and the Republic as a Seminar presentation
middle dialogue
9. Ontology: Metaphysical and analytic approaches Seminar presentation
10. Ontology: Does Plato have an unwritten doctrine? Seminar presentation
11. Ethics: Annas Rawlsian interpretation of Platonic ethics Seminar presentation
12. Ethics: Altruism or selfish eudemonism? Seminar presentation
13. Politics: Critique of totalitarianism Seminar presentation
14. Politics: Straussian and democratic readings Seminar presentation
15. Politics: Social stratification and the philosopher-king Seminar presentation
16. Aesthetics: Is Plato against art? Seminar presentation
17. Aesthetics: Platos analysis of mimesis and his critique of Seminar presentation
reality
18. Gender: Annas and feminist critiques of the Republic Seminar presentation
19. Psychology: The city-soul analogy Seminar presentation
20. Psychology: Eros and the tyrant Seminar presentation
21. Soteriology: The philosopher-king versus Er Seminar presentation
22. Soteriology: Platos eschatological myths Seminar presentation
23. Nietzsches and Heideggers criticisms of Plato as a Seminar presentation
metaphysician
24. Gadamer on the Good in Plato Seminar presentation
25. Concluding lecture None

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