Tag Archives: Paul Shorey

The Ideal

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The noun “idea” came to English in the sixteenth century, via Latin, from Plato’s ἰδέα: so the dictionaries tell me. An older version, “idee,” came from the French idée. The adjective “ideal” came via the French idéal from the Latin ideālis, but this seems to have been a native coinage, derived from no Greek term. Leo Strauss corroborates this in a passage that I quoted in “Nature”: “ ‘ideal’ is not a Platonic term.” Nonetheless, in translations of the Republic that are still in print, Benjamin Jowett and Paul Shorey use the word “ideal.” This may blur the distinction between two activities:

  • Making something, such as a meal or a bookshelf, according to a recipe or plan.
  • Creating something brand-new.

I looked at the first creation myth of Genesis in my previous post, whose title quoted the Bible on God’s judgment of what he had created: “It Was Good.” The goodness of the world, I suggested, did not lie in its fitting a plan, since a plan would have had to be spoken into existence, and this is just how the world itself came to be.

I don’t know about God, but if we have a basis for calling something good, we might call this basis an ideal. However, I also don’t know whether this is what Plato actually has in mind when his translators use the term “ideal.”

Bookshelves on one wall, window on another
Hacıosman, Tarabya, Sarıyer, İstanbul
November 12, 2022

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On Plato’s Republic, 7

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(Note added October 23, 2022.) As I return to the analysis of the philosopher in the Republic, I think of two or three recent encounters with resistance to what I would call philosophical thought. See my comments added at the end. Meanwhile, here is a table contents for this post:

The Philosopher

We are going to define the lovers of knowledge or wisdom: the philosophers. Socrates’s definition is at Stephanus 480a, at the end of our seventh reading in Plato’s Republic. The reading constitutes, of Book V, the latter part, beginning at 472a. Socrates concludes,

Τοὺς αὐτὸ ἄρα ἕκαστον τὸ ὂν ἀσπαζομένους
φιλοσόφους ἀλλ’ οὐ φιλοδόξους κλητέον.

We might translate the first part word by word as follows.

τοὺς αὐτὸ ἄρα ἕκαστον τὸ ὂν ἀσπαζομένους,
those-who-are itself therefore each thing-that-is being delighting-in.

The whole sentence then is literally,

Therefore those who are delighting in each thing that is being, itself,
are to be called philosophers, but not “philodoxers.”

Here are five published translations; take your pick.

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On Plato’s Republic, 6

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Book V of Plato’s Republic features three of what Socrates calls waves or breakers:

  1. That women serve alongside men as guardians.
  2. That women be bred with men like animals and not know their children.
  3. That philosophers rule as kings, or kings become philosophers.

Such outlandish injunctions will have Socrates swept away, though he does not say by whom or what.

Our sixth scheduled reading covers the first two of the three waves, in Stephanus pages 449a–71e. Socrates is induced to spell out details adumbrated in the last reading, Book IV, concerning the sharing of women and children among the guardians.

Four dogs at the edge of the sea, or in it
Wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice
Profesörler Sitesi, Altınova, Balıkesir, Turkey
September 20, 2021

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On Plato’s Republic, 5

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Our fifth scheduled reading in the Republic is Book IV (Stephanus pages 419–45). Socrates speaks

  • with Adeimantus, through the completion of the construction of the city in speech;
  • with Glaucon, after he insists (427d) that Socrates join in the search for justice in the city; they find it and map it back to the individual.

Three dogs sit in the shade of a beach umbrella
Intellect, spirit, and appetite
Profesörler Sitesi, Altınova, Balıkesir, Turkey
September 13, 2021

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Badiou, Bloom, Ryle, Shorey

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The discussion having been postponed for our fifth reading in the Republic, I give here some remarks that started out as part of my commentary on Book IV. The remarks concern

  • the translations of the Republic that I have been reading, mainly those of
    • Alain Badiou (b. 1937), translated in turn from the French by Susan Spitzer;
    • Allan Bloom (1930–92);
    • Paul Shorey (1857–1934);
  • the “Interpretive Essay” that accompanies Bloom’s translation;
  • a 1969 review of Bloom’s translation and essay by Gilbert Ryle (1900–76), who embarrasses the profession of philosophy (if it be a profession).

I quote also Christopher Hitchens; A Guide to Plato’s Rupublic, by Daryl H. Rice; Agnes Callard; Martha Nussbaum; and Henry David Thoreau.


Palm trimmed
Profesörler Sitesi, Altınova, Balıkesir, Turkey
September 13, 2021

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