In this engaging introduction, Constance Meinwald shows how Plato has shaped the landscape of Western philosophy. She provides much-needed historical context, and helps readers grapple with Plato’s distinctive use of highly crafted literary masterpieces for philosophical purposes.
Meinwald examines some of Plato’s most famous discussions of human questions, concerning erōs, the capacities and immortality of our psyche, human excellence and the good life, and Plato’s controversial ideas about culture, society, and political organization. She shows how Plato makes a sketch of his theory of Forms foundational in this work, and she offers illuminating readings of texts concerned with the development of the theory and its relationship to Greek science and mathematics.
Throughout, Meinwald draws expertly on Plato’s dialogues to present a lively and accessible picture of his philosophy.
Including a chronology, glossary of terms, and suggestions for further reading, Plato is an ideal introduction to arguably the greatest of all Western philosophers, and is essential reading for students of ancient philosophy and classics.
Table of Contents
1. Life and Works
2. Philosophy, Drama, and Writing
3. Testing Authority: The Legacy of Socrates
4. Platonic Love: Mysteries of Eros in the Symposium
5. Psyche I: From Pre-Platonic Sources to the Phaedo
6. Psyche II: The Divided Soul in the Republic
7. The Good Life: Ethics and Political Theory in the Republic
8. Why Sensibles Are Not Fully Real
9. Forms I: Are Forms Perfect Instances?
10. Forms II: The Continuing Program
Appendix: The "Transcendence" and "Separation" of Forms.
Constance Meinwald is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, USA. She is the author of Plato's Parmenides as well as many articles on ancient philosophy.
'A treasure for beginners and seasoned scholars alike. Newcomers will benefit from being given the historical and cultural context of Plato’s works, and all will gain a greater appreciation of Plato’s philosophical and literary genius from the artful way in which Meinwald shows how the two are connected.' - Paula Gottlieb, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
'This book is the first place I would send students looking for a comprehensive overview. It is elegantly and clearly written, and full of good sense about how Plato should be approached. Meinwald goes to the heart of many important scholarly debates, and so advanced scholars will also find much of value.'- Richard Kraut, Northwestern University, USA
'Meinwald’s Plato is an engaging and elegant guide. It is useful both for newcomers - it is an ideal guide for undergraduate students - and for those who are more advanced. The organization is innovative, and the discussions of Platonic doctrine are accessible and to the point without glossing over problems and controversies in interpretation.'- Patricia Curd, Purdue University, USA
'Constance Meinwald teaches beginners how to philosophize with Plato, whose philosophy becomes relevant and beguiling: the shadows in the cave include sports-cars, and Forms are like the recipes that are more real than the soufflés we bake following them. This wonderfully written, clever and witty book is also inspiring and challenging to scholars: I enjoyed every page!'- Chiara Robbiano, University College Utrecht, The Netherlands