Reason and Persuasion in NDPR! (Hey, Kids! Plato! once again!)

by John Holbo on December 18, 2009

Hey, did I mention that I (we – Belle and I) published a Plato textbook [amazon]? And that, thanks to me courageously refusing to settle for less, you can read the whole thing free online, even download a complete PDF (print-locked).

Well, I’m mentioning it again because we just got a favorable review for Reason and Persuasion from NDPR, which is very welcome development. “There is no dearth of textbooks offering an introduction to Plato’s thought, but Holbo’s stands apart in the scope of its introductory material and its user-friendly style …” And Belle’s translations get favorable notice as well.

Our book, y’see, contains a larger number of cartoon-y illustrations than your average academic publication, hence risks not getting taken quite seriously, or else getting lumped in with a lot of other cartoon-y illustrated Intros to So-and-So. (That lot are often alright as far as they go, but usually that’s not quite far enough … not for course use.) So I’m happy to read this sort of thing. “One concern I had reading the text with a mind to possibly adopting it for a course is that the introductory material is almost too thorough.”

I’ll take that as a compliment.

Anyway, I am very grateful to NDPR for seeing fit to review the thing, despite its cartooniness; and grateful to the reviewer – Paul Carelli – for taking it straight as well. (Some of my other recent scholarly work is taken less seriously, I fear. Pretty pictures cause small minds to miss a serious message!)

More seasonal, X-Mas posting to follow shortly. (Sorry for light posting. We just moved house.)



Salient 12.18.09 at 3:52 pm

Pretty pictures cause small minds to miss a serious message!

Indeed. But thank you for adding to my budding repertoire of gnome and H.P. Lovecraft jokes. The best I could do was convince someone to write an occult rendering of the Donner fiasco for that icanhascheeseburger site, entitled the Necronomnomnomicon. (And apparently it’s been done. Blast it.)

The people at the coffee-shop all admired my new Squid and Owl messenger bag (we open Christmas gifts early, here.) Many of them asked: “So what is it?” (Referring to Squid & Owl qua Squid & Owl, not Squid & Owl messenger bag qua messenger bag.) My response was: “I’m… not really sure how to describe it. I don’t even really know if the guy who writes and draws it would have a good answer prepared for you. A vignette webcomic, maybe? It comes in both book and convenient Flickr set form.”

And so it went. Someone had a computer with them. Half a dozen people I didn’t know and the baristas and I spent the next twenty minutes staring at the guy’s laptop screen clicking through the first handful of pictures in the set. It was acclaimed by those who stuck around past the third panel. :)


Matt 12.18.09 at 4:30 pm

Congratulations John (and Belle)- it’s a very nice review. I do have to admit I find it amusing to see Plato (or Socrates) presented as accusing _0thers_ of using equivocation as a form of argument, as is said about Thrasymacus, but it looks like a fun and useful text.


y81 12.18.09 at 5:16 pm

Hmm. Does the author consider this a work for high school students (like my daughter, which is why I ask)? College students? Interested adults who read Plato in college but could revisit him?


John Holbo 12.19.09 at 1:04 am

Hey Salient, thanks! I’m glad the bag looks good. I like to think of Squid and Owl as nonsequential sequential graphic non-story story-telling. In short: as wallpaper. Thank you for spreading the glory around.

y81, I do think it would be about as appropriate for high school students or interested adults as any other book you might pick. I think it’s written in an appropriate way and it’s got visual flair. As the reviewer says, it’s more thorough than some introductions. Which means it may be longer. But you just read the parts you are interested in. I think some high school students would find it a bit heavy, but I think those high school students are probably not ready for Plato, who is a bit heavy. Same goes for interested adults. I did my best to write for that sort of reader – that is, the not-already-an-academic-philosopher audience.


mollymooly 12.19.09 at 11:01 am

Very nice, thanks.

Minor point: issuu suggested el tribuno’s lingerie special in”Related”, which may be a side-effect of all those cartoon-y illustrations.


John Holbo 12.19.09 at 11:13 am

yowsa! Well, I guess the idea is that people start by admiring beautiful bodies, then … all that stuff from Symposium.


Kragen Javier Sitaker 12.22.09 at 8:36 pm

I can’t find a link to the PDF on the site you linked to, perhaps because its Flash thingy doesn’t work properly in Gnash. But if the Flash thingy worked properly for someone, why would they want the non-printable PDF?

It might be entirely understandable for you to tell us free-software vegans that your Plato work is only intended for people who are willing to install proprietary Flash (and never mind all those pesky click-through “agreements”), but I hope that isn’t the response you choose.

I hope to have the opportunity to read the book at some point!

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