Plato’s Laws: The Discovery of Being

Plato's Laws: The Discovery of Being. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

From the publisher:

The Laws was Plato’s last work, his longest, and one of his most difficult. In contrast to the Republic, which presents an abstract ideal not intended for any actual community, the Laws seems to provide practical guidelines for the establishment and maintenance of political order in the real world. With this book, the distinguished classicist Seth Benardete offers an insightful analysis and commentary on this rich and complex dialogue. Each of the chapters corresponds to one of the twelve books of the Laws, illuminating the major themes and arguments, which have to do with theology, the soul, justice, and education.

The Greek word for law, “nomos,” also means musical tune. Bernardete shows how music—in the broadest sense, including drama, epic poetry, and even puppetry—mediates between reason and the city in Plato’s philosophy of law. Most broadly, however, Benardete here uncovers the concealed ontological dimension of the Laws, explaining why it is concealed and how it comes to light. In establishing the coherence and underlying organization of Plato’s last dialogue, Benardete makes a significant contribution to Platonic studies.