Res Publica

Plato's Republic in Classical German Philosophy

By Günter Zöller

Subjects: German Idealism, Plato, Philosophy, Political Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Hardcover : 9781438458816, 136 pages, May 2015

Table of contents

Note on Citations
1. The Polity: Plato and the Republican Legacy
2. The Ideal Republic: Kant and Plato
Ancients and Moderns
The Prehistory of the History of Philosophy
From Categories to Ideas
From Plato’s Ideas to Kant’s Ideas
From Plato’s Republic to Kant’s Republic
Kant’s Republicanism
3. The Real Republic: Hegel and Plato
Philosophy and Its History
The Real and the Ideal
Reason and Reality
Plato’s Republic
4. The People’s Republic: Fichte and Plato
An Inner Platonism
Citizens and Human Beings
The State and the Nation
State and Realm
Appendix: “Plato's Republic” (ca. 1807) by Fichte

Analysis of Plato’s influence on the political thinking of Kant, Hegel, and Fichte.


In Res Publica, Günter Zöller offers a concise and perceptive analysis of the influence that Plato's Republic had on the political thought of three leading German philosophers rarely discussed together—Kant, Hegel, and Fichte. He investigates how these three thinkers engaged with one of the founding texts of Western political philosophy to offer their particular interpretations of the forms and norms of the political organization known as the "commonwealth" or res publica. Professor Zöller contextualizes the encounter between an ancient thinker and his modern descendants to demonstrate how the ongoing dialogue between ancient republican thought and nineteenth-century German Idealism extends to the modern era.

Günter Zöller (b. 1954) is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Munich (Germany). He studied at the University of Bonn (Germany), the École normale supérieure (Paris, France), and Brown University (United States) and has held visiting professorships at Princeton University, Emory University, Seoul National University, McGill University, the University of Bologna, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Huazhong University of Science and Technology. He is the author, editor, and coeditor of thirty-five books and the author of three hundred articles in classical German philosophy.


"...fascinating … provides insight into the history of the reception of Plato's Republic, and the importance of that text to the formation and development of German Idealism … [this] is an excellent book." — Polis