Book Review, Plato – Republic

One of the cornerstones of philosophy is Plato's Republic. In this book, Socrates tells people about humane topics such as righteousness, virtue, happiness, society. This book dates back to Ancient Greece BC. Although it was written in the 600s, what Socrates said about human is still valid.
Plato – Republic

First of all, I want to start with some important information: Plato is Socrates’ student and the person speaking in the dialogues in the book is Socrates, not Plato. In other words, we can say that the thoughts in the book belong to Socrates and were conveyed by Plato.

Of course, we do not know how directly Socrates’ dialogues were written by him, like Plato’s other books. Still, Plato mostly tells us what Socrates lived through.

Socrates is a philosopher who talks with people about issues such as righteousness, virtue, and goodness through dialogue.

Why “Republic”?

The title of the book is State, but the main subject of the book is Human, Righteousness and Goodness. The reason why Socrates talks about the State is actually to study the righteous and the wicked human.

Socrates claims, that it would be more productive to examine something in its most general way than to examine each example individually; therefore, he examines society and the structure of society in order to examine human itself.

As is known, what we call the order of societies is the “Republic” or the “State”. This is why Socrates (theoretically) establishes the State in the book.

Content of the Book

I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.


In his dialogues Socrates examines what is right and wrong, and proves it in a methodological way through “common sense” and logic.

The topics mentioned are:

  • What is righteousness?
  • Types and roles of people according to their nature
  • How should education be in the Republic? and the importance of Education
  • How to say something and “the art of speech”
  • 4 virtues that should be found in the Republic and in the human being
  • Women’s rights (women were considered worthless in ancient Greece) and equality
  • Philosopher King or King Philosopher concept
  • How to reach the idea of good and the Truth (Cave Allegory [Parable])
  • The essence of the soul and the order of the universe (perhaps the most complex part of the book)

It is a book that requires contemplation in particular, in order to understand. It’s a challenging book. It is necessary to keep an open mind and to reflect on the subject being discussed.

Because it is a book about human, written for human; I think we should read by also reviewing our own self and taking our conscience as a guide. Mostly of course, this is the case for philosophy books.

Reading Advice

While reading the book, it will be the most useful to think about the essence and accuracy of the subject, leaving aside whether the things spoken can or can not be done.

In this respect, I think most people, who would consider it unnecessary to talk about impractical things, should not read this book. If you are not interested in the theory and reality of the existence, reading philosophy in general might not be of any benefit to you.

It is necessary to underline some sentences and take notes. If you want to go back to look at the important parts, which you probably will, it will be very useful for you. Also, if you find a part that you have difficulty understanding, it will be easier to understand if you go back and look at the notes you took; personally, this was the method I used.

Apart from that, Socrates is a funny guy. Sometimes his humorous and ironic words made me laugh. In fact, this kind of sarcasm is called “Socratic Irony.” As the most obvious example of this, we can quote Socrates’ “All I know is that I know nothing.”. Whether this statement is true or false, I leave that part to you…

The Death of Socrates (1787), by Jacques-Louis David

Emin Ali Ertenü
Emin Ali Ertenü
Articles: 486

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