A passage-by-passage analysis that traces Plato's depiction of how the most basic forms of human functioning and social justice contain the seed of their evolution into increasingly complex structures, as well as the seed of their degeneration. It also traces Plato's tendency to begin an investigation with models based on rigid distinctions for the sake of clarity, which are subsequently transformed into more nuanced conceptions. This tendency accounts for the apparent incoherence among various parts of the Republic. Although the dramatic changes of style and content after Books 1, 4, 7, and 9 give it an appearance of being a pastiche of material written at different times, and it is often so interpreted, the changes in fact reflect the Republic’s passage through the levels of the “Divided Line.” The overall organization of the dialogue illustrates and imitates the philosophers' ascent from the cave, and their subsequent return to it with altered! perspectives.
Kenneth Dorter received his PhD from Penn State in 1967 and has been at Guelph since 1966. His major interests are metaphysics, aesthetics, ethics, and the philosophical traditions of both the West (especially Plato) and Asia. He has published approximately 50 articles and chapters, and three books on Plato. His current project is a book of comparative studies of Asian and Western philosophies.