Here it is. Yes, a whole book about Plato! Three dialogues, Euthyphro, Meno, Republic book I, translated by Belle Waring, with commentary and cartoony illustrations by John Holbo.
We're publishing with Pearson Asia. I negotiated to reserve the e-rights, with the intention of offering it freely in this manner (blessed confluence of promotion and scholarly/classroom usability.) If you click on the thing you see below, you will not only get a full page view, with various display options but a download option, if you prefer to read a PDF off-line. (I'll say a bit more about availability options and restrictions at the end of this post.) It's hosted via Issuu.com - and a very lovely Flash-based interface they have got:
If anyone has issues with Issuu, please tell me. Seems to work very well.
The whole thing is 388 pages, approx. 20 megs. Like I said, feel free to view and download. What you are getting is actually the final, pre-publication draft. It's done so far as I'm concerned, but if we catch little things in the next week or so, they will be corrected. (I do SO hope nothing big turns out to be wrong with it.) Since I am still editing, I hope some of you will see fit to provide useful feedback. I hope a lot more of you find it useful, enjoyable, get something out of it. And maybe even a few wise heads will see fit to adopt it for course purposes - improve the souls of the young, that sort of thing. Very traditional. Email me about that if you are potentially interested.
Feel free to link - please! link! Link directly to the Issuu.com book page, if you like. But please do me the favor of linking here as well, at the pre-publication stage. I want people to know what the deal is.
The sidebar explains. Basically, I have a few days left to make final final revisions. So you've got to get back to me quick with caught typos, misplaced Stephanus pages (I think a few might have shifted in the last edit, drat) and bright ideas (sorry, this is a lot to ask, and not really the philosopher's way. That thing Wittgenstein said about how philosophers should address each other - 'take your time!' - forget about that. We are going to press.)
Even after that deadline passes, I would still like to collect critiques and comments and review-type response to post here.
Because it's nice to feel reviewed.
Also, I have this idea about introductory texts: they are introductory, I have noticed. They ignore stuff, that's their job, but it would be nice if introductory texts came equipped with little Socratic daimons that said 'no'. Students need to read something straightforward, can't be expected to handle all the sharp elbows of scholarly back-and-forth right at the start. But it would be nice if students didn't just believe that they read. So I'm going to try to collect little critical notes about the individual chapters - here's what got left out, this is too simple, there's an alternative reading that I said nothing about. For an alternative view look here. I'll write some of them myself. Would you like to help?
Let me start us off with a note about chapter 1, which is very short. (My later chapters err in too long department, perhaps.) I talk about early, middle and late dialogues and explain that ours are early (Euthyphro) to early-middle (Meno, Republic book I). I call this a 'standard' view, when really is more the Gregory Vlastos late 20th Century analytic developmental model. There's a good article on Socrates by Debra Nails at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, containing the following paragraph:
Maybe it's because I'm a Berkeley graduate. I'm still sort of in the Vlastos mold, although I do see the problems. Maybe I should add another page to chapter 1, quoting the John Cooper bit? What do people think about the state of the debate?
Finally, a word about availability options and display issues. The idea, obviously, is to make as generous an e-offering as possible, consistent with reasonable expectations of paper sales. Issuu is pretty simple but I am still puzzling out a few things. The search box doesn't seem to be working. (I must be doing something wrong.) Of course, you can download the PDF and search it just fine; that's a workaround.
On the other hand, you can't print the PDF - hey, you are supposed to buy the book - but you can print individual page spreads in the Issuu display mode. It's convenient to be able to print a few pages that you need for some legitimate purpose, I appreciate. (I'm counting on people not hitting the print button 200 times, over a period of hours, to save the cost of a paperback. Help me prove to my publisher that I'm right, that people won't do that.)
A small thing: the Issuu display composes the document spreads wrongly - not the way they will be printed, at any rate - and I haven't figured out how to fix it without getting the page numbering wrong, which would be worse. It doesn't really matter for viewing online, but the chapters are (mostly) supposed to start on the right-hand page. And the page numbers are supposed to be on the outside, not the inside of the page. If you view it in Acrobat Reader, in the two-up mode, you'll see it the way it is supposed to look. (Not a big deal, this discrepancy, but annoying to someone - me, for example - who labored to design the spreads just-so.)
I'll get it worked out by the time the thing is actually printed and for sale. I am opening this site early in part to kick the tires at issuu and make sure it all basically works. (Also, because I want people to know we exist in time to order the book for their classes. We exist! You can get our book by mid-August! Details to follow!)
Issuu seems really good so far. I'm thinking it will be really convenient for educational purposes. It's not just that you can embed the document on your course blog, say, for students to see. You can actually embed the document on the page you want your students to open to. So you can make a post about p. 183, just for example, and make an embed or direct link so that it opens right to page 183. Neat! What do you think?
OK, scratch that. I can make an embed (I could make it even smaller, since it's not actually readable at this size, but I won't bother with that for now):
But apparently I can't make a direct URL link to a page within the book. Oh well. (I'll mess around and see whether that's really how it goes.) But that's still pretty useful, at least for the way I teach my classes..