Plato’s Republic probably one of the titular titles anyone thinks of when they contemplate ancient philosophy—and for good reason. Unlike contemporaries such as Zeno and Aristotle, Plato’s theories of forms and intense commitment to a political meritocracy still have meaning and application, even over two thousand years after they were written. And unlike even more “modern” philosophers like Kant or Mill, Plato’s political and ethical theories are startlingly modern and mostly devoid of unsavory biases like apologetics for colonialism or musings on the inherent inferiority of the female sex. Plato’s Republic is a masterwork of epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and political philosophy. Any inspiring philosopher really ought to have this title under his or her belt—not only for posterity, but also because it truly is good enough to stand the test of the millennia solely on its own merits.— Jennie
It is the first expression of the concept of a Utopia, a perfect society. It is the first thoughtful examination of the concept of an "inner life." It is the classic discussion of concepts of justice. It is a profoundly reflective work on the nature of philosophy itself. It is 2,300 years old, and one of the greatest books humanity has ever produced. Written around 360 B.C., The Republic--by the Greek philosopher and mathematician PLATO (c. 428 B.C.-c. 347 B.C.)--is the foundational work of Western thought, with notable influences on thinkers and writers as diverse as Shakespeare, Saint Augustine, and Bertrand Russell. It is impossible to overstate its importance, and its wisdom is so intense, wide-ranging, and often seemingly contradictory that it continues to generate heated debate, even controversy, to this day. Essential reading for anyone who wishes to consider him- or herself educated, this is the unabridged Republic presented in the highly readable 1894 translation by Benjamin Jowett.