Plato’s Republic

The first ‘utopia’ in our tradition, Plato’s Republic imagines a city-state in psycho-social alignment with ideal reality. This dialogue contains one of the most extensive accounts of ‘the theory of forms’ that includes the famous allegory of the cave.


  • Six weekly small-group sessions
  • Read a set passage before the evening talk and discussion
  • All readings from The Republic (available for purchase)
  • Online using ZOOM (during Covid-19 restrictions)
  • Not for beginners—take Reading Plato before doing this course

This class ran in Winter 2020 and will run again in the summer. Watch this space for details.


Course Outline

1st Session             | Justice in the State and in the Person

Page 427d to 444e

The just society with its three classes—philosopher-rulers, their military auxiliary and citizen-tradies—achieves harmony through modelling on the just psychology.
How is health psychology expressed in a just state?

2nd Session            | What is a Philosopher?

Page 471c to 487a

Society can move towards the ideal by placing philosophers in charge, as only they seek to know not just appearances but absolute reality.
What is the differences between appearance and form, belief and knowledge?

3rd Session            | Why Philosophers are not valued

Page 487b to 502c 

Switching into allegorical mode, Plato explains why those who are most competent to govern don’t bother competing for government, and how the ‘philosophical nature’ is corrupted by society.
How does society corrupt the philosophical nature?

4th Session             | The Divided Line and the Cave

Page 502d to 521c

True philosophers must be nurtured through an education program, the ultimate object of which is the mystical ‘form of the good’. Allegories of sunlight turn the mind’s eye towards this ultimate sources of being and knowing.
What is meant by to ‘turn the mind around’? (p. 518d)

5th Session             | Philosopher’s Education Program

Page 521c to 535a

The philosophers’ education in mathematics is only preliminary to the highest method called ‘dialectic’.
What is meant by dialectic?

6th Session             | Democracy and Tyranny

Page 562a to 592b

All forms of government tend to degenerate towards democracy, and then finally tyranny.
How does democracy contain the seeds of tyranny?