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Introductions should introduce, but sometimes lead to engagements. That is our aim. We want to make Plato’s Republic more easily read by modern readers, but do not want to do only that. For philosophy is like poetry, and cannot be learned second-hand. I can learn all sorts of facts about a poem, but unless I have entered into the poet’s experience, if only in my imagination, it remains dead. Similarly, I shall not see the point of text-book analyses of philosophical doctrines unless I have felt the force of the arguments that led the philosopher to propose them, and have some sense of the objections he encountered and the way he sought to surmount them. That is why we still need to read Plato and Aristotle, as we do Homer and Sophocles, in a way that we do not, save as a historical exercise, read ancient textbooks of medicine or mechanical construction.
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