Let me get this out of the way: I hate the Republic and Plato. I find Socrates arrogance ridiculous and his inability to be held accountable for his opinions irritating. Despite how much I disliked reading the Republic, and how it scares me to think of how much our society is built off of his ideas, his book did make me think, which is all I really ask from a book.
I found the debate that Plato brings up about opinion versus knowledge really interesting. The idea of true knowledge is something that has motivated both “good and bad” leaders (politicians, religious leaders, etc.) throughout time. I find his idea that knowledge is the greater, true power that only philosopher kings know form curious because who decides what the true form is? But, how is a conclusion drawn on what the true form of an object is, unless it is taken from peoples opinions and perspectives. And, doesn’t Socrates demote opinions as being merely the power to opine? Socrates and his cohorts/robots, discuss the virtues and education, but how on earth would he be able to decide what the true form of a cat (per say) is? Perhaps I’m looking at this from a simplistic view, but if he is saying that people don’t know what is real in a grand philosophical approach, and that we are all just looking at shadows on a wall, wouldn’t that include a mundane object such as a cat?
I find his allegory of the cave one and book one of the Republic, the most interesting parts to be honest. This is mostly because of how the first few books are supposedly a mistake and I like to think of what the books impact would be without those first few chapters. If Plato was trying to show how he is all knowing (gee, doesn’t that sound familiar to another very popular book in our society?) then why would he demonstrate how he can be challenged? I found the literary style very convincing for the first few chapters, and felt as if “oh, maybe I really don’t know anything about anything, and this guy has all the answers?” And then I realized that the way he wrote his arguments enabled the reader to be slowly convinced that he is completely confident and right in his “knowledge”. I found it interesting how when the characters just started agreeing with him constantly, and didn’t put up any debate (because all of the debate was lead by Socrates) I questioned his ideas more than when other character’s such as Thrasymachus brought up aspects for debate.
Anyway, that was my rant on Plato, I hope it made you think and not just roll your eyes.