The Republic Book Summary - The Republic Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

The Republic summary


One of the most important philosophical texts ever written

4.5 (528 ratings)
21 mins

Brief summary

The Republic by Plato is a philosophical text that explores the nature of justice and the ideal society. It proposes that a just society is one where each person performs their designated role and pursues virtue through education and communal living.

Table of Contents

    The Republic
    Summary of 9 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 9

    Socrates questions and dismantles the definitions of justice that his dialogue partners propose.

    How do you define justice? No matter how well considered your response may be, Socrates would probably be able to dismantle your definition. Throughout the dialogue between him and his interlocutors, he examines and questions several definitions of justice.

    The first definition comes from Polemarchus, who claims that justice is to give each person what they are owed. In response, Socrates tries to undermine this definition by finding exceptions to it. What if weapons are owed? Although one should return what one owes, one should not offer weapons to someone who is insane and threatening to harm someone.

    So, the definition of justice as “giving what is owed” doesn’t always hold.

    Polemarchus then provides another answer: Being just means assisting friends and harming enemies. To this, Socrates queries whether there are circumstances under which it is moral to do harm. He finds that there aren’t. Animal trainers, he says, don’t benefit animals they harm; likewise, people become less moral if harmed. Additionally, one can mistake friends for enemies, and enemies for friends, and therefore end up benefiting those one meant to harm.

    So, since harming someone isn’t beneficial and our judgments cannot be absolutely accurate, this second definition also falls apart.

    The third definition, posited by Thrasymachus, is that justice is whatever is advantageous to the ruler.

    Socrates questions whether this definition also applies to those in other positions – such as, say, a doctor. The health of the patient, rather than the doctor’s benefit, should be the doctor’s main concern. A ruler that seeks to benefit himself, instead of his people, is not a just ruler. Like the doctor, the ruler should aim to do good for his “patient,” i.e., the city.

    This third definition is also inadequate and so the first attempts to define justice come to an aporia, an impasse in the dialogue.

    Want to see all full key ideas from The Republic?

    Key ideas in The Republic

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is The Republic about?

    Plato’s Republic (c. 380 BCE) is a dialogue in which Socrates and his interlocutors discuss the attributes and virtues that make for the most just person and for the most just form of government. The Republic also examines the relationship between the citizen and the city, and considers how this relationship bears on philosophy, politics, ethics and art.

    The Republic Review

    The Republic (380 BCE) explores the ideal society and the concept of justice. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It presents thought-provoking arguments and philosophical ideas, stimulating readers' minds and fostering critical thinking.
    • Diving deep into human nature and discussing topics like political philosophy and the role of education, it offers valuable insights into society and governance.
    • The book challenges traditional beliefs and invites readers to question the status quo, sparking intellectual curiosity and encouraging personal growth.

    Best quote from The Republic

    So long as I do not know what the just is, I shall hardly know whether it is a virtue or not, and whether the one who has it is unhappy or happy. – Socrates

    example alt text

    Who should read The Republic?

    • Anyone interested in history
    • Anyone interested in classical philosophy
    • Anyone interested in politics

    About the Author

    Plato, Socrates’s most famous student, was a philosopher and mathematician during the Greek classic period (5th – 4th century BCE). He wrote over 30 dialogues and philosophical texts on a wide variety of subjects, including love, knowledge, ethics, politics, metaphysics and theology.

    Categories with The Republic

    Book summaries like The Republic

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    31 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    The Republic FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Republic?

    In The Republic, Plato explores the concept of justice and the ideal society.

    How long does it take to read The Republic?

    The reading time for The Republic depends on the reader's pace, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Republic a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Republic is a timeless masterpiece worth reading. It delves into profound philosophical questions and offers insights into governance and human nature.

    Who is the author of The Republic?

    Plato is the author of The Republic.

    What to read after The Republic?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Republic, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Analects by Confucius
    • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
    • The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
    • Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
    • How to Think Like a Roman Emperor by Donald Robertson
    • Politics by Aristotle
    • Meditations on First Philosophy by René Descartes
    • The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt
    • Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche
    • The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith