This book springs from the happy confluence of two sources: my teaching the Republic every semester in PHIL 101 at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire and my offering a three-session class on the Republic to Chippewa Valley Learning in Retirement in the fall of 2013. Dr Mike O’Halloran, the indefatigably cheerful and intellectually curious retiree who thought the group would enjoy a presentation on philosophy turned out to be correct: the sessions were well attended and well received—if subsequent requests for more philosophy sessions are any indication. Although some philosophical friends were skeptical at my plan to devote an entire ‘intro’ course to the Republic, many students seem to have found the experience worthwhile, so I have continued with this somewhat old-fashioned way of introducing students to philosophy. This book has been shaped by my experience with both kinds of audiences. I thank the students it has been my privilege to teach over the years and the CVLR audiences for their questions, feedback, criticisms, and their laughing at some of my jokes.

Many friends have helped in a variety of ways. Erica Benson, the life partner than which none greater could be conceived, provided insightful feedback on the entire manuscript, created the figures for the Divided Line, and talked me off the ledge more than once. Geoff Gorham has used parts of the manuscript in some of his courses and has given feedback and encouragement, as has his wife, the philosopher Amy Ihlan. Rod Cooke unwittingly served as a ‘responsibility buddy’ during a sabbatical, regularly asking me how it was going and when it might it be finished. My colleagues at UW–Eau Claire—Kristin Schaupp, Matt Meyer, and Steve Fink—models of collegiality all, have been sources of intellectual stimulation and delight during trying times in higher education. I gratefully acknowledge the support of the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire Faculty Sabbatical Leave Program, which supported me during the 2017–2018 academic year, during which time the bulk of this book was written. I conceived the book as a philosophical instance of The Wisconsin Idea, a guiding principle of the University of Wisconsin system, which bids faculty and staff to ‘extend knowledge and its application beyond the boundaries of its campus’. I have tried to do that here, to help general readers with little to no background in philosophy to understand this philosophical masterpiece. Thus I am most grateful to Open Book Publishers for publishing it, since I too believe that ‘knowledge is for sharing’. I thank Alessandra Tosi for her wisdom, guidance, and patience; the two readers for their helpful suggestions, Anna Gatti for designing the cover; and Melissa Purkiss for her careful proofreading and her excellent editorial judgment.

I have benefitted from some wonderful teachers over the years, starting in high school with Frank Townsend, who gave me my first glimpse of the life of the mind, continuing through my undergraduate education at Shimer College with Eileen Buchanan and Harold Stone, who provided such fine, living models of inquiry and engaged classrooms, and lastly in graduate school at Syracuse, where Michael Stocker and Jonathan Bennett showed me what doing excellent philosophy looks like. I am grateful to them all, and to all the other fine teachers I haven’t space to name individually.

I thank Hackett Publishing for their kind permission to quote so frequently from the Grube-Reeve translation of the Republic. Lastly, I thank the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at UW-Eau Claire for financial assistance with the publication of this book.

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