Laurence Houlgate’s ultimate goal in Understanding Plato is to introduce beginning philosophy students to the nature of philosophy and philosophical method by providing them with a careful and critical description and analysis of four of the Socratic dialogues (Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno), and Plato’s Republic. Understanding Plato is a “companion” in the sense that students can consult it for commentary and guidance while reading the original classic works.
This book is the first in a series of companion volumes offering students both a description and critical analysis of some of the classics of ethics and political philosophy. A forthcoming volume will be devoted to John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government. Another volume will discuss John Stuart Mill’s ethical theory in Utilitarianism and his discussion of the limits of state power
over the individual in On Liberty. Chapters in all volumes in the series will conclude with a set of questions for thought and discussion.
Other volumes on the classic philosophers will be added to the series as requested by readers and for as long as time and expertise can be found.
The hope is that a critical study of the classics will show that philosophy is not after all a random enterprise in which anyone can say
whatever comes into their head because they can identify no method on which to base a rational conclusion or refutation.