Friday, June 20, 2014

Reason and Persuasion: Three Dialogues by Plato by John Holbo

If you follow me on Google+ (link leads to my Google+ page for your convenience), you might know that I take Coursera courses occasionally. One course which I took (and really really enjoyed) was Reason and Persuasion: Three Dialogues by Plato held by the National University of Singapore (NUS).

I took the course because Plato and Socrates influenced so much of Western philosophy. There's a quote by Alfred North Whitehead which states:
The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.
So obviously I had to take the course. And this was the assigned reading, provided free of charge by the lecturer John Holbo (who also wrote the book, with some help from his wife).

This book consists of a translation (which is in easy-to-read English) of Euthryphro, Meno and Republic Book I, as well as summaries and John Holbo's explanation of the different passages.

What I liked about this book (and the course) was that it was very easy to understand. Not a lot of technical terms are used, and there are many illustrations (and quite some humor) used in the explanation sections.

And this book actually came in handy. I'm currently studying a book called The Greek Ideal of Man for English class (which I'm not doing so good in, since it's basically a Japanese test for me) and the things talked about in this book - like the shadows in the cave analogy. It made the class more interesting for me, since I knew what the book was talking about and could agree/disagree with the arguments in the book.

For someone who was new to Plato and Socrates, this book was a great introduction - approachable and understandable. I highly reccomend this (and the associated Coursera course) for those who are interested in diving into Platonic and Socratic philosophy.

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