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Date & Time

Friday, October 12, 2018
6:00 PM


Seminary Co-op Bookstore


Free and open to the public


Seminary Co-op Bookstore
(773) 752-4381


Jonny Thakkar discusses his book, "Plato as Critical Theorist." He will be joined in conversation by Jonathan Lear. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.

Presented in partnership with The Point

At the Co-op

About the book: What is the best possible society? How would its rulers govern and its citizens behave? Such questions are sometimes dismissed as distractions from genuine political problems, but in an era when political idealism seems a relic of the past, says Jonny Thakkar, they are more urgent than ever. A daring experiment in using ancient philosophy to breathe life into our political present, "Plato as Critical Theorist" takes seriously one of Plato’s central claims: that philosophers should rule. What many accounts miss is the intimate connection between Plato’s politics and his metaphysics, Thakkar argues. Philosophy is the activity of articulating how parts and wholes best fit together, while ruling is the activity that shapes the parts of society into a coherent whole conducive to the good life. Plato’s ideal society is thus one in which ideal theory itself plays a leading role.

Today’s liberal democracies require not philosopher-kings legislating from above but philosopher-citizens willing to work toward a vision of the best society in their daily lives. Against the claim that such idealism is inherently illiberal, Thakkar shows that it is fully compatible with the liberal theories of both Popper and Rawls while nevertheless pushing beyond them in providing a new vantage point for the Marxian critique of capitalism.

About the author: Jonny Thakkar received his PhD from the University of Chicago's Committee On Social Thought in 2013. He has subsequently taught at Princeton University, the University of British Columbia and at Swarthmore College, where he is currently an assistant professor of political science. He is one of the founding editors of The Point, an award-winning journal of ideas based in Chicago, and he has also written for Aeon and the Los Angeles Review of Books. His first book, "Plato as Critical Theorist," was published by Harvard University Press in May 2018.

About the interlocutor: Jonathan Lear is John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and the Department of Philosophy at the University of Chicago. He is also the Roman Family Director of the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society.