Plato the Teacher: The Crisis of The Republic

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Lexington Books, 2012 - Education - 489 pages
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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, Plato the Teacher is devoted to the theory and practice of Platonic pedagogy. Breaking with the dominant paradigm of Plato's development whereby the aging philosopher changes his mind and even abandons the idealism of his so-called middle-period dialogues (including Republic), an approach based on reading order considers the late dialogues--i.e., those dialogues that follow Republic in the reading order of Plato's dialogues--as dialectical tests designed to insure that the student has embraced the visionary teaching of his masterpiece. Preceded by a series of elementary dialogues that prepare the student to penetrate its various layers and literally foreshadow its soul-stirring teaching, the crisis of the Republic is the dead center of Platonic education and reveals that studying dialogues in the Academy is merely the prelude to philosopher's noble but dangerous decision to practice justice amidst the shadows of the Cave.Challenging the traditional view that Plato's purpose was to create an ideal City, a student-oriented reading of the dialogue reveals that the definitions of justice based on one man doing one job and maintaining an internal harmony between the soul's three parts depend on an inadequate methodology that Socrates explains with the Divided Line. Once the so-called Shorter Way has been linked to the hypothesis-determined and image-based methods characteristic of the mathematical sciences, the student is free to pursue a Longer Way based on dialectic: above all, a living dialogue with Plato the Teacher who, by pointing to a greater Good that abides forever unchanged, challenges the true philosopher to follow Socrates by going back down into the Cave of political life in order to defeat Thrasymachus and his modern avatars.

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About the author (2012)

William H. F. Altman teaches Latin and World History at E. C. Glass, a public high school in Lynchburg, Virginia.

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