Of Philosophers and Kings: Plato’s Republic

An expertly-guided, first-hand exploration of one of the greatest foundational texts of Western political philosophy.

Widely regarded as Plato’s masterpiece, the Republic is justly revered for its philosophical content as well as its literary qualities. This course will examine both aspects of this foundational work of Western political philosophy. Participants will read and discuss all ten books of the Republic, retracing Socrates’ inquiry into the nature of justice as its winds its way through a consideration the origin of the state, the various types of state, the types of human souls, and the education proper to rulers — among many other subjects, including Plato’s celebrated “allegory of the cave” and the possibility of a “philosopher-king”.





David Shiner

David Shiner is an retired professor at Shimer College (now the Shimer Great Brooks School at North Central College), where he taught for 40 years and served several terms as Dean of the College. Throughout his teaching career, Mr. Shiner has helped intellectually curious individuals master classic works from all areas of liberal studies — including philosophy, literature, music, sociology and biology — and he regularly receives outstanding course evaluations that emphasize both his understanding of the texts and his ability to bring out the best in students. Mr. Shiner brings to his classes a love of ideas and a penchant for helping adults from all walks of life develop their ability to subject every text to careful critical scrutiny.

Course #: 



  • 11 Weeks


  • 1 hr 45 min


  • Online


US$ 345


  • “Early Bird” reduced tuition (US$ 295) available through September 10, 2017.
  • No class November 22 (Section B).

Section A(Course #: 170902A)

Monday, 6:00 PM CT
Sep 25, 2017 to Dec 04, 2017

Section B(Course #: 170902B)

Wednesday, 6:00 PM CT
Sep 27, 2017 to Dec 13, 2017

Course Documents

Please Note

General Information

Like all Great Discourses discussion courses, this live, interactive online discussion course is designed to facilitate the collaborative close readings of classics in ways that help participants transform the challenging into the exhilarating and elevating through “Aha!” moments of profound discovery. Participation requires an Internet-enabled computer or mobile device. The course is open to adults from all walks of life (and to mature teens with parental consent) and does not require any specialized prior knowledge or experience. Students do a modest amount of reading homework in preparation for each live online class session, but there are no papers, no tests and no grades. The readings and discussion are in English.


Plato. Republic (c. 370 BCE).
Recommended Edition: Focus Philosophical Library, 2007. ISBN: 978-1585102617. (Translated by Joe Sachs.)
View/Buy at: Amazon (US), Amazon (CA), Amazon (UK), Amazon (IN), Amazon (AU)

Please Note

You are responsible for obtaining your own copy of each book used in this discussion course. Most books are available in a number of editions, in both print and digital formats. All editions are acceptable unless otherwise noted, although print format texts are generally recommended. If you do choose to use a digital text, try to access it on a device other than the one you will using to connect to the online classroom.

Additional Readings

This course may have additional short readings that will be used during the first class session as well as during other class sessions. These will be available to you on the dedicated course page at the Great Discourses Collaboratory Online Course Center once you have completed your registration for this course.


To get the most out of this discussion course, you will have to do a modest amount of reading homework in between class sessions — usually about two hours of reading for each hour of class time. No homework is required before the first class session (although some technical and general preparation is required).

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