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Of Myth, Life, and War in Plato's Republic

Claudia Baracchi

Publication Year: 2002

"Baracchi has identified pivotal points around which the Republic operates; this allows a reading of the entire text to unfold.... a very beautifully written book." -- Walter Brogan

"... a work that opens new and timely vistas within the Republic.... Her approach... is thorough and rigorous." -- John Sallis

Although Plato's Republic is perhaps the most influential text in the history of Western philosophy, Claudia Baracchi finds that the work remains obscure and enigmatic. To fully understand and appreciate its meaning, she argues, we must attend to what its original language discloses. Through a close reading of the Greek text, attentive to the pervasiveness of story and myth, Baracchi investigates the dialogue's major themes. The first part of the book addresses issues of generation, reproduction, and decay as they apply to the founding of Socrates' just city. The second part takes up the connection between war and the cycle of life, employing a thorough analysis of Plato's rendition of the myth of Er. Baracchi shows that the Republic is concerned throughout with the complex but intertwined issues of life and war, locating the site of this tangled web of growth and destruction in the mythical dimension of the Platonic city.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Studies in Continental Thought


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix

A project that, not unlike the one presented here, spanned various lifetimes (various times in life, of life) and involved journeying to many places is the fruit of numberless encounters, exposures, and conversations. On this occasion I wish to mention with heartfelt gratitude the following mentors, colleagues, and friends: John Sallis, Idit Dobbs-Weinstein, Gregg Horowitz, Charles Scott, ...

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pp. 1-17

Yet another work on Plato, on that most universally recognized among the Platonic dialogues—the Republic.The Republic of Plato (so we call it, today, in this part of the world): a seminal text, inaugurating an epoch of which we are still witnessing the development—or is it a twilight, a closure, the coming to an end of its day? In virtue of its circulation and resonance since antiquity, one hesitates ...

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pp. 18-36

It is, then, from out of and through this vision, thanks to the comparison with this image he has envisioned, that Glaukon can form the image of our nature. The envisioning of the cave, the lighting of the dark density of the ground (indeed, of the underground), the imaging of the otherwise inherently invisible receptacle, has a somewhat originary, originating character. ...


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I. On Regeneration

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pp. 39-61

More precisely, the theme under consideration is that of political re-generation—of a movement, that is, striving to re-constitute, to re-configure, and perhaps surprisingly transform the communal organism which is as such already in view. In this sense—let it be noticed already—founding does not appear as fully originary but, rather, as a matter of renewal, of a certain repetition. The task undertaken here, then, is following the way in which ...

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II. The Law of (Re)production

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pp. 62-88

Such an attempt at founding a city that may be called just without any further qualification and at isolating justice in its essence takes place in spite of the circumstances pointed out in the previous chapter. Indeed, it was shown above that the articulation of justice occurs out of injustice and inseparably from it. Socrates, however, does not seem immediately to relinquish the dream of a ...

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There is no doubt that the Greeks sought to explain to themselves the ultimate mysteries “of the destiny of the soul” and everything they knew concerning education and purification, above all concerning the immovable order of rank and inequality of value from human being to human being, from their Dionysian experiences: here is the great depth, the great silence ...

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III. Preliminary Remarks in a Rhapsodic Form

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pp. 91-132

Heterogeneous reflections, occasioned by the final myth as well as Socrates’ statements on poetic matters, converge here, bringing together the theme of myth as restitution and recollection, the question of imitation in its ethical valence, the problematization of the thought of subjectivity in light of the experience ...

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pp. 133-176

Socrates’ narration is in a crucial way connected with the disclosure and unfolding of war.1 But, as was observed above, Socrates’ saying, unlike those other narrations, is not simultaneous with the action it narrates. Rather, it occurs at a certain remove from action and allows for the manifestation of the remoteness of what is ...

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V. Vision

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pp. 177-213

And yet this moment of utter suspension is but the promise and incubation of an other movement. Harbored (carried) within the motionless landscape, protected by the desolate screen of what appears after the war, invisibly, movement is already beginning to unfold anew. This seems to be so, at least, according to the words that Er reportedly said when he came back up to life ...

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VI. (Re)birth

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pp. 214-218

Through Er’s story a vision is shared, the contemplation of the souls’ getting ready to return to that place where one is at war with oneself, fluctuating, oscillating, never of one mind—to the domain of conflict, of change, and of work as which time stretches out, gives itself, passes. (If, that is, the souls ever left behind these traits and modes which essentially define the articulation of becoming ...

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pp. 219-226

Thus, “a tale was saved and was not lost.” Why this is so is not said. No necessity is made apparent according to which the myth of Necessity would be saved, remembered, told. To save a myth is a matter of receptiveness and responsiveness to the unexplainable that comes, of availability to an advent that cannot be appropriated. So much so that, in the end, Socrates even lets go of the ...


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pp. 227-228

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 229-240

General Index

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pp. 241-246

Greek Index

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pp. 247-249

E-ISBN-13: 9780253108791
E-ISBN-10: 0253108799
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253339959

Page Count: 264
Illustrations: 1 index
Publication Year: 2002

Series Title: Studies in Continental Thought