You’ve likely at least heard of Plato’s Republic, even if you’ve never read it before. And if you’re looking at this article, chances are you haven’t read it. And now you’re wondering just why read Plato’s Republic in the first place?
There are many different reasons you might want to read this book and other popular books on philosophy. We’ll get into those in just a minute. If you’re not so sure about reading the whole book, we’ll also give you a little more information about what the book is about.
For anyone who enjoys a good collection of philosophy books, your collection wouldn’t be complete without a copy of Plato’s Republic. After all, it’s one of the top philosophy books of all time. And it’s one that nearly everyone has at least heard of, even if they haven’t read it.
Why Should You Read Plato’s Republic?
Let’s start with the basics; why should you read a book that’s older than the New Testament? And a book about philosophy to boot. There are plenty of reasons that people recommend this book and that philosophy classes are continuing to use and recommend it.
For one thing, this book is a historical text that will appeal to not only those studying philosophy but those who enjoy history in general as well. It’s going to draw you really into the ancient world, which is something you won’t get with any other text.
For another thing, you’ll have some excellent dialogue to read and follow along with. Plato followed Socratic philosophy, which greatly emphasized this type of solid dialogue, and that’s going to be something else you won’t find in other works from the time period or beyond.
While much of the context of the book has been proven to be false over the years, that doesn’t mean that this book is irrelevant. On the contrary, it’s well written, and it’s incredibly thought-provoking. Even if you know the newer tenants of the things that Plato talks about, you will find yourself thinking very hard as you read.
In the line of getting you to think, Plato’s Republic can also be interpreted in different ways, which means you’re going to find plenty to discuss with others who read this text as well. You won’t have to worry about believing everything that everyone else does or that Plato does because there are so many different points of view.
There’s some good humor and some solid and clever wit to be found throughout the pages of this text as well. That’s not including some of the philosophies that Plato had that might seem a little laughable now. Instead, it’s intentional humor that’s interspersed throughout and will make it a more exciting read.
This book details a number of different concepts that you won’t find anywhere else and explores them profoundly and with a great deal of intelligence. It’s clear that Plato was a brilliant person and a profound thinker. And that can actually help you to learn more deep thinking as well.
What is the Main Point of Plato’s Republic?
Now, this is the part where we’re going to dive a little further into the book so you can better understand it. And that starts with recognizing the main point of the book. Overall, it’s clear that Plato is attempting to discuss justice in the societal or at least political sense.
From there, he attempts to create analogous points between this form of justice and individual justice. In his view, there are three distinct classes of people that are found in an ideal society, and when these classes work together in harmony, it creates a level of societal justice.
His view is that individual justice, and political justice are actually mirrors of one another. In this way, each individual is also made up of three different parts: the rational part, the spirited part, and the appetitive part. Therefore, in order to be just, an individual must function in harmony with each of these three parts of the soul.
Plato also seeks to describe pleasure, but in such a way that only a philosopher could achieve true pleasure and that there is no such thing as any other form of pleasure aside from the philosophical. This life, he believes, is also the most just of all.
However, there is some discussion behind this as Plato never truly manages to explain why justice is truly desirable, except that there are consequences to not having it. At the same time, Plato claims that justice is essential and the best form; he does not manage to make this point for the audience to know why he feels this way.
Of course, you’ll want to talk with others about this book after you’ve read it. That’s because everyone will have their own view of just what Plato’s Republic is really all about and whether or not it does an excellent job at conveying those points. As a result, you may find yourself in a rather heated debate about what the subject really is and what it means.
What is the Good in Plato’s Republic?
As you find yourself understanding a little more what it is about Plato’s Republic that makes it so very popular, you might wonder just what the good actually is within this context. After all, there has to be something good about the book for people to want to read it, right?
For one thing, the reasons we discussed above for why to read this book are also why it’s good. Such as getting you and everyone else who reads it to think in entirely different ways and to discuss those ways with others who have other opinions.
Another good aspect of Plato’s Republic is that it seeks to understand the human condition and the world. Whether right or wrong, the idea of seeking out answers is always a good theory, and Plato delves deeply into his views on the subject.
For those who are interested in politics or philosophy, or ethics in general, this is an excellent read as well. Even with many of the concepts different from what we have now found, there is a great deal of depth and thought that goes into this book. Plato has clearly reasoned out his theories, and this makes them even more interesting to read.
Beyond all of this, Plato’s Republic is a historical read that will likely appeal to those who enjoy history in all of its forms. There is a great deal of historical writing included in this context and history in the form of different situations and events that occur throughout the reading.
In regards to what Plato considers ‘the good,’ we find one of the ‘Forms’ that Plato discusses within his Republic. The Form of the Good is regarded as a somewhat elusive concept and is actually a hypothesis that Plato proposes to those reading his book.
In his eyes, good is considered the highest of all of the Forms that he discusses, and it is the one thing that all objects aspire toward. Thus, according to Plato, everything in the world, and all of the different aspects of humanity, strives to achieve ‘goodness.’
How Long to Read Plato’s Republic?
How long will it take you to read Plato’s Republic? Well, that’s going to depend on a whole lot of different factors. For one thing, the book is written in a relatively straightforward fashion. This means that it’s easy to pick up and read the words on the page but understanding them the way they’re meant to be is something else.
While Plato uses simple language, it’s clear that he doesn’t mean for the words to be read in quite as simple of a way. Instead, there is more depth, and it’s essential for the reader to really think about everything being said while reading. This will make the reading process take quite a bit longer.
In general, the average reader is able to finish Plato’s Republic in 7 hours and 49 minutes. This assumes a reading speed of approximately 250 words per minute, which is relatively average. Keep in mind that not everyone reads at this speed, with some people reading far more and some people reading far less.
This also assumes that you are reading the book through but not necessarily looking into the words and seeking the more profound meaning. Pausing to review the concepts that Plato discusses or taking a little time to evaluate the text will most definitely take longer.
If you’re reading this book for school and need to write about it or need to take a test regarding the work itself, you’ll spend even more time reading than the almost eight hours that is considered average. This is because it’s impossible to truly grasp what you’re reading without slowing down.
There are approximately 117,160 words over 528 pages in the complete translation of Plato’s Republic. This is another factor to consider as the original version of the book is not written in English and was not translated until much later. As a result, you’ll need to find the ideal version of the text to get the full context of what Plato is trying to convey.
While the interest level for Plato’s Republic is actually considered between grades 7 and 12, the actual reading level is a 10th-grade level. This means that younger and older readers may be interested and should be able to read the text provided their reading level corresponds with that of a 10th grader.
For adults, that doesn’t mean this is a book to ignore. Instead, there may be more for adults to grasp within the text than there is for younger readers. And they may be able to read through it much faster. The most important thing is just to get a copy and try it.
Wrapping Things Up: Is Plato’s Republic Worth Reading?
All of this brings us back to the original question that we were seeking an answer to. Is this book actually worth reading? The short answer is that it definitely is. After all, you’re going to get a great deal of knowledge from it even without the facts lining up.
With Plato’s Republic, you will learn a great deal about a brilliant and thoughtful man of the era, philosophy in general, society and justice, and a great deal more. Not to mention you’ll be encouraged to think carefully and deeply about the topics at hand. And all of this in a book that’s similar in length to many fiction novels.
Overall, Plato’s Republic has a great deal to offer and is an excellent choice whether it’s something you’re forced to read for school or something that you choose to read as a ‘fun’ book that you can learn from.
Looking for more interesting philosophy books? Check our article here.