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Plato's Second Republic: An Essay on the Laws

Plato's Second Republic: An Essay on the Laws

Current price: $35.00
Publication Date: November 29th, 2022
Princeton University Press
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An argument for why Plato's Laws can be considered his most important political dialogue

In Plato's Second Republic, Andr Laks argues that the Laws, Plato's last and longest dialogue, is also his most important political work, surpassing the Republic in historical relevance. Laks offers a thorough reappraisal of this less renowned text, and examines how it provides a critical foundation for the principles of lawmaking. In doing so, he makes clear the tremendous impact the Laws had not only on political philosophy, but also on modern political history.

Laks shows how the four central ideas in the Laws--the corruptibility of unchecked power, the rule of law, a "middle" constitution, and the political necessity of legislative preambles--are articulated within an intricate and masterful literary architecture. He reveals how the work develops a theological conception of law anchored in political ideas about a god, divine reason, that is the measure of political order. Laks's reading opens a complex analysis of the relationships between rulers and citizens; their roles in a political system; the power of reason and persuasion, as opposed to force, in commanding obedience; and the place of freedom.

Plato's Second Republic presents a sophisticated reevaluation of a philosophical work that has exerted an enormous if often hidden influence even into the present day.

About the Author

André Laks is professor emeritus of ancient philosophy at the Paris-Sorbonne University and teaches at the Panamerican University in Mexico City. He is the coeditor of the Loeb Classical Library's nine-volume Early Greek Philosophy.