The Role of Money in Plato’s Republic, Book i

A Materialistic Approach

in Historical Materialism
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Seaford’s recent work has revived and further substantiated a line of argument that had been developed by Marxist scholars claiming a central role for money in the genesis of philosophical thought. In a nutshell, this line of argument holds that beneath the abstractions in which philosophy breathes and with which philosophy works we can trace the real abstraction of the money form as embodiment of abstract social labour. Following this perspective, I will try to demonstrate the role money plays in Plato’s Republic, focusing on Book i.

Historical Materialism

Research in Critical Marxist Theory

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References

AnnasJulia An Introduction to Plato’s Republic 1981 Oxford Clarendon Press

CopelandEdith Ayres ‘The Institutional Setting of Plato’s Republic International Journal of Ethics 1924 34 3 228 242

CornfordFrancis Macdonald ‘Psychology and Social Structure in the Republic of Plato’ Classical Quarterly 1912 6 4 246 265

CornfordFrancis Macdonald ‘Was the Ionian Philosophy Scientific?’ The Journal of Hellenic Studies 1942 62 1 7

DetienneMarcel LloydJanet The Masters of Truth in Archaic Greece 1996 New York Zone Books

EngelsFriedrich ‘Law of Value and Rate of Profit’ 1977 Marx 1977

GernetLouis GordonR.L. ‘ “Value” in Greek Myth’ Myth, Religion and Society 1981 Cambridge Cambridge University Press

GutglueckJohn ‘From Pleonecia to Polupragmosunh: A Conflation of Possession and Action in Plato’s Republic American Journal of Philology 1988 109 1 20 39

JosephHorace William Brindley ‘Plato’s Republic: The Argument with Polemarchus’ 1966 [1935] Sesonske (ed.) 1966

MandelErnest ‘Introduction’ 1976 Marx 1976

MarxKarl NicolausMartin Grundrisse: Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy (Rough Draft) 1973 Harmondsworth Penguin

MarxKarl FowkesBen Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Volume i 1976 Harmondsworth Penguin

MarxKarl Capital 1977 [1959] III Moscow Progress Publishers

MarxKarlEngelsFriedrich Collected Works 1987 29 Moscow Progress Publishers

MeikleScott Aristotle’s Economic Thought 1995 Oxford Clarendon Press

MillettPaul Lending and Borrowing in Ancient Athens 1991 Cambridge Cambridge University Press

MüllerRudolf Wolfgang Geld und Geist. Zur Entstehungsgeschichte von Identitätsbewußtsein und Rationalität seit der Antike 1977 Frankfurt Campus

Plato BuryR.G. Laws 1926 Cambridge, MA Harvard University Press two volumes

Plato ShoreyPaul The Republic 1930 Cambridge, MA Harvard University Press two volumes

RedenSitta von ‘The Piraeus – A World Apart’ Greece and Rome 1995 42 1 24 37 ii

ReeveC.D.C. Philosopher-Kings: The Argument of Plato’s Republic 1988 Princeton Princeton University Press

SchofieldMalcolm Plato: Political Philosophy 2006 Oxford Oxford University Press

SeafordRichard Reciprocity and Ritual 1994 Oxford Clarendon Press

SeafordRichard Money and the Early Greek Mind: Homer, Philosophy, Tragedy 2004 Cambridge Cambridge University Press

SeafordRichard ‘Monetisation and the Genesis of the Western Subject’ Historical Materialism 2012 20 1 78 102

SesonskeAlexander ‘Plato’s Apology: Republic i 1966 [1961] Sesonske (ed.) 1966

SesonskeAlexander Plato’s Republic: Interpretation and Criticism 1966 Belmont Wadsworth Publishing Company

Sohn-RethelAlfred Geistige und körperliche Arbeit. Zur Theorie der gesellschaftlichen Synthesis 1973 Frankfurt Suhrkamp

Ste. CroixGeoffrey Ernest Maurice de The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World 1981 London Duckworth

ThayerH.S. ‘Plato’s Quarrel with Poetry: Simonides’ Journal of the History of Ideas 1975 36 1 3 26

ThomsonGeorge The First Philosophers: Studies in Ancient Greek Society 1972 [1955] London Lawrence & Wishart

ToscanoAlberto ‘The Open Secret of Real Abstraction’ Rethinking Marxism 2008 20 2 273 287

VlastosGregory ‘Slavery in Plato’s Thought’ The Philosophical Review 1941 50 3 289 304

WellesC. Bradford ‘The Economic Background of Plato’s Communism’ Journal of Economic History 1948 8 S1 101 114

WoodEllen MeiksinsWoodNeal Class Ideology and Ancient Political Theory: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle in Social Context 1978 Oxford Basil Blackwell

2

Sohn-Rethel 1973; Müller 1977. For a discussion of the relevance of Sohn-Rethel’s analysis of real abstraction to contemporary capitalism and debates about the status of abstraction cf. Toscano 2008, pp. 279–82. For a brief summary of Sohn-Rethel’s main argument on real abstraction cf. Seaford 2012, pp. 78–82.

3

Seaford 2004. More recently Seaford 2012.

5

Marx 1977, pp. 826–7.

6

Marx 1976, p. 494.

7

Müller 1977, p. 20.

8

Müller 1977, p. 17.

9

Sohn-Rethel 1973, p. 75.

10

Marx 1976, p. 187.

12

Seaford 2012, p. 82.

13

Vlastos 1941, pp. 293–4.

15

Engels 1977, pp. 897–900.

17

Mandel 1976, pp. 14–15.

19

Joseph 1966, p. 6; see also Annas 1981, p. 18.

20

Sesonske 1966, p. 40.

21

Reden 1995, pp. 35–6.

22

Copeland 1924, p. 231.

23

Sesonske 1966, p. 42.

25

Marx and Engels 1987, p. 488.

28

Millett 1991, p. 153.

30

Thayer 1975, p. 4, and Detienne 1996, p. 107.

31

Gutglueck 1988, p. 27.

32

Marx 1977, p. 399.

33

Marx 1977, p. 596.

34

Schofield 2006, p. 263.

35

Marx 1973, p. 222.

37

Marx 1977, p. 598.

40

Marx 1973, p. 105.

41

Cornford 1912, p. 248.

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