Superstructure: Plato’s Republic (Part 3)

Historian and philologist Brendan Cook joins Scott Ferguson for the final installment of their 3-part mini-series devoted to Plato’s Republic. (See Part 1 and Part 2, if you are new to the series.) In Part 3, Brendan and Scott take up the vexed and largely maligned role of money in Republic. Weighing the fact that there is no linguistic equivalent for the modern English term “money” in Attic Greek, Brendan and Scott nevertheless align the text’s negative treatment of money-related activities with Plato’s impoverished univocal thinking. Next, they consider the limits and potentials of Plato’s well-known taxonomy of political regimes in Book 8 of Republic, noting how unfavorable invocations of “money loving” throughout the text’s latter sections abet a fatalistic and anti-democratic politics. Brendan and Scott then ponder the ironies of Socrates’ second paradoxical argument against poetry. And lastly, they explore the celestial “myth of Er” that closes Plato’s Republic. On their reading, this concluding myth not only implicitly betrays Socrates’ injunction against poetry, but also encapsulates the text’s key contradiction between expansive provisioning and zero-sum trade-offs.

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