By R. F. Stalley

Reading the Republic regardless of the fewer generic Laws can result in a distorted view of Plato's political thought. within the Republic the thinker describes his perfect urban; in his final and longest paintings he bargains with the extra distinct concerns concerned with developing a second-best 'practical utopia.' The relative forget of the Laws has stemmed principally from the obscurity of its kind and the obvious chaos of its association in order that, even though strong translations now exist, scholars of philosophy and political technology nonetheless locate the textual content inaccessible. this primary full-length philosophical creation to the legislation will as a result turn out invaluable.

The beginning chapters describe the final personality of the discussion and set it within the context of Plato's political philosophy as an entire. all of the ultimate chapters offers with a unmarried subject, ranging over fabric scattered during the textual content and so drawing jointly the threads of the argument in a stimulating and effortlessly understandable approach. these issues contain schooling, punishment, accountability, faith, advantage and enjoyment in addition to political concerns and legislation itself. all through, the writer encourages the reader to imagine severely approximately Plato's rules and to work out their relevance to present-day philosophical debate.

No wisdom of Greek is needed and just a constrained heritage in philosophy. even supposing aimed basically at scholars, the ebook can also be of curiosity to extra complicated readers because it offers for the 1st time a philosophical, in preference to linguistic or old, observation at the Laws in English.

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In practice Plato n o t only recognizes the need for a settled system of law b u t carries it to extrem es. H e expects the legislator to establish a detailed code th a t will rem ain valid for all tim e w ith little possibility of change (see below , c h a p te r 8). In p art this presum ably reflects the general G reek ad m iratio n for stability in law and P lato ’s own dislike of political change, b u t it m ust also be connected w ith his view o f law as a p ro d u c t o f reason. I f we em phasize the role of reason in providing know ledge of etern al tru th s an d regard hu m an laws as the co u n terp art am ong m en of th e divine o rd er th a t governs the universe, th en we will n o t expect an ad eq u ate legal system to be produced haphazardly by piecem eal legislation.

I f we em phasize the role of reason in providing know ledge of etern al tru th s an d regard hu m an laws as the co u n terp art am ong m en of th e divine o rd er th a t governs the universe, th en we will n o t expect an ad eq u ate legal system to be produced haphazardly by piecem eal legislation. I t m ust be the result o f a single unified vision, an d it therefo re req u ires a wise legislator. O nce he has done his work th ere will be no need for im provem ents or m odifications, because the p rinciples o f reason em bodied in th e law are as perm anent and u n changing as th e laws o f m athem atics or of celestial m otions.

I t is natural to in te rp re t this passage as asserting that a genuine law m ust seek the good of the state and th a t measures which do not seek the com m on good are not, strictly speaking, to be called laws. In fact the THE NATURE OF LAW 27 Athenian is not quite as explicit as this. He does tell us th at c o rru p t states lack genuine constitutions b u t he does not say in so m any w ords that they have no laws — merely th at their laws are not correct (orthos). Other passages suggest the same kind of ambivalence.

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