The War Lover: A Study of Plato's Republic
- Publish Date: 1996-06-30
- Binding: Paperback
- Author: Leon Harold Craig
This new examination of the Republic begins with questions ignored by most students of this famous and much-studied dialogue. Why is Plato's most extensive portrait of philosophy pervaded with the language and imagery of war? Why is a discussion supposedly about justice almost entirely about how to educate natural warriors? Why must the philosopher-kings of Kallipolis be first of all 'champions of war'? Why is the supposedly 'feminine drama' of Book Five preoccupied with war? The pursuit of questions such as these brings Craig to an understanding of Plato's teaching about justice, philosophy, and politics that differs radically from what is generally held today.
The search for why the Republic's philosophers come from the ranks of 'war lovers' leads Craig to reassess the relation between the `city in logos' and timocracy (the regime openly dedicated to war), and this reassessment in turn brings a new perspective on Plato's political thought in general. Similarly, analysis of the timocratic man leads to a deeper understanding of the psychology on which the whole dialogue is based, especially its teaching about justice and its treatment of love. Following the dialogue's hint that language provides the `tracks' of ideas, Craig compares the four distinct kinds of love that figure in the dialogue, and thereby helps clarify several puzzling issues, not the least of which is the strange kinship between the philosopher and the tyrant. And through examining the peculiar problems posed by what he argues are two distinct kinds of timocrats - exemplified by Glaukon and Adeimantos - Craig illuminates the rationale underlying both educational schemes sketched in the dialogue: the political one of Books Two and Three and the pre-philosophical one of Book Seven. One chapter explores the analogical and allegorical dimensions of Book Five, as well as its actual political implications; there Craig offers clarification of the contemporary debate about sex roles.
In bringing the Republic vividly to life, Craig shows that Plato's ideas on virtually all questions of permanent interest to human beings provide a corrective to views now in vogue. The War Lover is thus as much a commentary on contemporary intellectual and political life as it is a challenging new interpretation of an ancient text.