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Some interesting thoughts re: Plato's Republic

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I'm reading a book from around 1900 by Bernard Bosanquet. It's called "Education in Plato's Republic," and I chose it because Charlotte Mason mentions it briefly in her final book, and she also assigned it to the oldest pupils in her correspondence school. It thought it was all second-hand commentary about the Republic, but there is only about 25 pages of that, and the rest is (heavily footnoted) part of Book II, and Books III and IV from the Republic.

Anyway, I wanted to share some interesting thoughts from that introductory material. I appreciated Bosanquet's perspective. One is for our "schole" friends:


We are all aware, probably, that the word "school" is derived from a Greek word meaning "leisure." This conception of "leisure" s one of the greatest ideas that the Greeks have left us...."To have leisure for" any occupation, was to devote yourself to it freely, because your mind demanded it; to make it, as it were, your hobby. It does not imply useless work, but it implies work done for the love of it. In the modern world (1900!!) leisure is a hard thing to get; and yet, wherever a mind is really and truly growing, the spirit of leisure is there.

This next bit is longer, but I'm fascinated by his perspective. If you're read the Republic, you know that Plato has an educational plan that more less goes up to age 50, which is unrealistic for contemporary schools, including the ones from that era.



We must not treat such suggestions as Plato's literally, which involves pronouncing them impossible, but try to master their spirit....

The method of study is to be specially directed to demonstrating as it were the "reign of law"--the general connection and affinity these subject-matters with one another--and to test in the student the power of grasping such a connection. For a student who has the gift of apprehending a general connection is capable of the higher forms of knowledge; but one who has not, is hopeless....

[discussion of Plato's educational plan up to age 50]

...We must not take these as literal proposals, but we must feel what Plato means. He means that, in the the sense of really doing the best with the human mind, education is a lifelong process....

Plato's formidable curriculum of the mathematical sciences--the mere prelude, as he carefully explains, to real knowledge--is for us simply a type of energetic determination to expand the intelligence by exercising it on the best that is known. He draws his suggestions from the intellectual experience of his day; we, in appropriating their spirit, have before us the whole resources of our own. We shall however catch his intention much more by bringing the true student's enthusiasm to bear upon our life work, than by a vain effort to learn the whole circle of the sciences. Knowledge ceases to be knowledge when it loses unity and relevance.


Just wanted to share--He wrote that over 100 years ago, but I think it's very relevant to our approach to classical education today.

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