Editor’s Note: This is a re-broadcast. This episode originally aired in April 2019. 

Plato’s Republic is a seminal treatise in Western political philosophy and thought. It hits on ideas that we’re still grappling with in our own time, including the nature of justice and what the ideal political system looks like. But my guest today argues that The Republic also has a lot to say about manliness, character development, and education in our current climate of safe spaces and trigger warnings. 

His name is Jacob Howland. He’s a professor of philosophy at the University of Tulsa and the author of the recent book Glaucon’s Fate: History, Myth, and Character in Plato’s Republic. We begin our conversation with an outline of Plato’s Republic and how it combines literature and philosophy. Jacob then makes the case that in The Republic, Socrates was attempting to save the soul of Plato’s politically ambitious brother, Glaucon, and why he thinks Socrates failed. Along the way we discuss what Socrates’ attempt to save Glaucon can teach us about andreia or manliness and what it means to seek the Good in life. We end our conversation discussing the way The Republic teaches us of the need to possess not only physical courage, but the courage to think for oneself and stand up for one’s beliefs — a courage that is tested in a time like our own, where it can feel difficult to ask hard questions and wrestle with thorny issues. 

Show Highlights

What made Plato stand out among other Greek philosophers?What makes Plato’s works so readable A primer on Plato’s aims and philosophyThe general outline of The RepublicThe connections between Plato and pop culture (like Tolkien and The MatrixWhy Plato created imaginary cities to use for thought experiments Why Glaucon, Plato’s brother, plays a starring role in The RepublicSocrates idea of manliness, and how it differed from the classic Greek idealThe subtle way Socrates gets his point across What ancient philosophys say about masculinity in our modern world The importance of being playful Is it harder to ask hard questions in our modern world?What it means to be a fully flourishing human being 

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

Howland’s The Republic: The Odyssey of PhilosophyThe RepublicThe SymposiumA Primer on PlatoSocratesXenophonThe Spartan RegimeThe Allegory of the CaveWhat the Ancient Greeks and Romans Thought About ManlinessPlato’s Idea of Greek ManlinessHector and Achilles: Two Paths to ManlinessAristotle’s Nicomachean EthicsAoM series The Spartan WayThe IliadCourage vs BoldnessThe Open Society and Its Enemies by Karl PopperRing of Gyges

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