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Plato on the Human Paradox


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About the Author

Robert J. O'Connell, S. J. was a Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University. His has five publications on St. Augustine, as well as several studies of Plato, William James, and Teilhard de Chardin. In 2015 he established the O'Connell established the O'Connell Initiative at Fordham, a forum for intellectual exploration, that brought together scholars of every aspect of capitalism.


"An introduction to philosophy for undergraduates through Socratic/Platonic eyes. . . . one of the best short introductions to Plato available." * -First Things *
O'Connell, the eminent author of several excellent studies of St. Augustine, offers an introduction to philosophy by surveying basic topics in Plato's Apology, Phaedo, Republic III-VI, Meno, and Symposium. The first two chapters explore Socrates' (i.e., early Plato's) moral psychology, ethical theory, and religion. Socrates' theory of virtue (arete) is presented by testing how it resembles or differs from various forms of deontology, teleology, and eudaimonism. While readable and informative, O'Connell's account of Socrates' theory of knowledge and personal religion ignores recent publications such as Socrates, Ironist and Moral Philosopher, by Gregory Vlastos (CH, Nov'91), Plato's Socrates, by T.C. Brickhouse and N.D. Smith (CH, Jul'94), and Socrates and the State, by Richard Kraut (CH, Jul'84). Chapters 3-4 on the Republic discuss Plato's criticisms of poets and sophists and Socrates' rationalistic psychology, as well as present the theory of forms and the doctrine of recollection. Chapter 5 examines Platonic dualism in the Phaedo, and chapter 6 the relation between virtue, freedom, and happiness in the Phaedo and Republic. O'Connell reads Plato carefully; he is a clear expositor of basic issues in the dialogues. But for whom is the book intended? It is not likely to be used as an introductory textbook because it focuses almost exclusively on Plato (without primary texts). It will be of little interest to scholars, since O'Connell ignores Platonic scholarship after 1975. Regrettably, the book is not recommended for university or college libraries. * -Choice *

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