Plato's Republic in Its Athenian Context

History of Political Thought 33 (1):1-23 (2012)
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Plato's Republic critiques Athenian democracy as practised during the Peloponnesian War years. The diseased city Socrates attempts to purge mirrors Athens in crucial particulars, and his proposals should be evaluated as counter-weights to existing institutions and practices, not as absolutes to be instantiated. Plato's assessment of the Athenian polity incorporates two strategies -- one rhetorical, the other argumentative -- both of which I address. Failure to consider Athens a catalyst for Socrates' arguments has led to the misconception that Plato was dogmatically committed to a single political doctrine for all and for all time
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