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615 Posts

Posted - 21 Aug 2006 :  07:04:07  


You must do something with your English, especially if you need to speak in English about matters like those. Try also to discipline your thinking. Don’t just right the first thing that comes to your mind. Read carefully the classical thinkers, prefer to read than to talk, then read again.

Sometimes your ignorance is extremely offending, as when you write that we don’t know the faces of ancient Gods, when everybody knows that not all sculpture and painting is damaged, or when you write about the ‘first translation’ of the Bible, when everybody knows that the New Testament (except for the gospel of Matthew) is originally written in Greek, and even some of the Old Testament books.

Messages like yours usually are deleted, but I left them as examples of bad thinking and ignorance, recognising also in them a good will. Take your good will and build upon it, otherwise you will end a meaningless person.

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1 Posts

Posted - 28 Feb 2007 :  03:52:47  


Politeia is one of those interresting greek words that often changes in meaning in a different context. In a dialogue between Sokrates and a Sophist, I translated the word as "affairs of state". In the end, the politeia, if translated literally, it means "the things that concern the polis", "the matters of the polis", aka politics. Because the translation "affairs of the polis/politics" is rather broad, it can be interpreted differently, like mentioned earlier.

This translation was also mentioned by a very renowned englishman, who's name I've unfortunatly forgotten :\

As for Res Publica, that is just Cicero's translation of the word to latin. I think it is a very accurate translation, the problem comes with people of later ages translating it to "Republic", which no longer means "public affairs", but the political system. The Roman Republic has nothing (very little) to do with the Politeia. I'd much rather prefer the translation "politics", or "political affairs", though unfortunatly the word "politics" has a vastly different feel to it today, then it did back then.

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Don Paarlberg

50 Posts

Posted - 10 Mar 2007 :  12:58:10  


I commend giovanni’s post of 22 Jul 2006 as suggesting what may be the proper answer to a question that long has puzzled me. ΠΟΛΙΤΕΊΑ was Plato’s title of his dialogue, which we know as the Republic. Cicero translated this dialogue into Latin, rendering Plato’s title as Res Publica. The translation is accurate, as Solon notes on 28 Feb 2007. My question long has been: Plato in the ΠΟΛΙΤΕΊΑ champions totalitarian monarchy where citizens have no rights at all, as Cicero surely knew; so how do we get from Cicero’s accurately-translated “res publica” to our modern notion that a republic is a nation of free citizens? Giovanni suggests, I think correctly, that we may be able to find the linkages in Aristotle. He too writes of ΠΟΛΙΤΕΊΑ, saying various Platonic-flavored things about it, as giovanni notes. But Aristotle also claims most un-Platonically that it is a problem to show how governments of men can rule over other men who “. . . are by nature free”. (Politics, A 1255b15-20) Ever since, western philosophies of politics have focused on this Aristotelian problem – for example, Locke in his Essay Concerning Civil Government, and Rousseau in his Social Contract. So it could well be that our sense of “res publica” comes from Aristotle rather than Plato.

(I have no Greek. I’ve spent a good deal of time, though, with English translations of Platonic and Aristotelian texts.)

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615 Posts

Posted - 10 Mar 2007 :  16:51:35  


Neither knowing Greek, nor spending "a good deal of time" with English translations will help you understand Plato or Politeia. This is why not only you, but more "sophisticated' people like Karl Popper, developed the illusion that Plato "champions totalitarian monarchy". Misunderstanding Plato is only one among the symptoms of not understanding the ancient Polis, whence also the irrelevant translation of politeia as res publica. If one wants to learn, it is not impossible to avoid this illusion. Maybe these texts can help you start thinking in a different way, closer to what Plato had in mind:

Elpenor's notes

www.ellopos.com/blog/?p=8">Plato’s supposed despotism

www.ellopos.net/elpenor/koinonia/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=193">Detachment in friendship

www.ellopos.net/elpenor/koinonia/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=194">The City as a family

www.ellopos.com/blog/?p=123">City, Defence, Philosophy, Education

In Plato's words

www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/ancient-greece/plato-totalitarianism.asp">Totalitarianism is ignorance

www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/ancient-greece/plato-tyranny-slavery.asp">Tyranny and slavery

www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/ancient-greece/plato-soul-disease-deformity.asp">Disease and deformity of the soul

www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/ancient-greece/plato-no-retaliation.asp">We ought not to retaliate or render evil for evil to anyone

www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/ancient-greece/plato-homepage.asp">Plato Home Page

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Don Paarlberg

50 Posts

Posted - 13 Mar 2007 :  07:10:01  


That was ignoratio elenchi; your scorn is misplaced. If I had claimed Plato championed tyranny, I would of course have been wrong and the links and texts you supplied would have refuted me. Similarly too, if I had claimed Plato favors violence as a means of establishing the state. Similarly too, if I had endorsed Popper. But you attacked a position I did not take.

I claimed Plato champions monarchy, and the typology of constitutions that he presents in Book VIII of the Republic (550c-69c) makes his views quite clear. I claimed moreover that Plato favors a totalitarian government in which citizens have no rights. And on that latter score Plato repeatedly prohibits to his citizens things which we would consider their rights -- e.g., wealth and private property (422a-23b; 462a-66d); innovations in music and gymnastic (423e-25c); changing jobs (434d); selecting one's spouse (458c-61e); and, of course, having anything to say about how the state should be governed. And Plato's rulers maintain their authority primarily through propagandizing and deceiving their subjects (see, for example, 389b-c). So the text of the Republic does support the interpretive claim that I actually made.

So let's please leave off offensive claims as to who does or doesn't understand Plato.

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