Friday, August 04, 2006

Dialogues Of Plato – Plato (Edited by: Justin D. Kaplan)

i really had a hard time figuring out whether to categorize this book as a work of fiction or non-fiction. first i thought to myself this book features the philosophies of plato, and philosophy as we all know is generally termed non-fiction. then, i thought to myself, plato made use of well-renowned greek historical figures – his teacher, socrates the most prominent among them – which furthers the cause to categorize it as non-fiction for historical books (with the exception of historical novels) are usually deemed as such. but despite these arguments, i was forced to classify the book as a work of fiction because even if plato is discussing philosophy and uses real historical people, he is actually expressing his philosophies by telling fictional stories of historical figures having fictitious conversations with each other.

one might argue that the words plato is putting in the mouths of these historical figures may be consistent to the general sentiments and values of these persons. but the mere fact that the real-life characters’ words were not quoted from them verbatim cast a doubt on the book’s reliability as a non-fictional work.

but why am i even putting importance on such an insignificant aspect as the categorization of the book when this has absolutely no weight when compared to the book’s glaring significance to the field of philosophy. maybe it’s because of the difficulty of the topics discussed in the book that i feel hesitant to talk about them for fear that i may be unmasked for the pretentious fool that i am. perhaps i may even go on further in saying that i am intimidated by the gargantuan task of discussing plato that i find myself stalling and simply filling up some space.

but enough of this nonsense and let me just discuss some of the finer and simpler points of the book. plato, in 1 or 2 of the featured dialogues, tells about the importance of a balance in a mind that practices wisdom, a body that possesses strength, and a soul or spirit that is indefatigable. he relates how all 3 – mind, body and soul – should receive equal and proper training in order for one to be in harmony with oneself and with others.

plato also preaches the value of temperance – what, in simpler terms we may call self-control. i, personally can relate to this teaching as i usually have a huge appetite for food.

these are just a few or a sample of some of the words of wisdom to be gained from the book. i’d like to say more but i fear i may be going over my head in discussing them.

rating: 3 of 5 stars * * *
too deep for words.

1 comment:

rob said...

I'd like to read this, but my previous attempts at reading 'classic' writings (Machiavelli 'The Prince', Allegory of the Cave, etc.) left me bored and hanging wanting to get to the point right away. I need more patience.