Essay On Plato And Rousseau

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People have been yielding their basic moral and social rights to a higher power and the concept of a divine being for centuries. In 360 B.C.E., Plato’s Symposium discussed higher power in human culture and, in 1762 Jean-Jacques Rousseau discussed the same concept from a different perspective in The Social Contract. It is significant because, despite the long passage of time between these texts and today, people still yield to a higher power in modern society. In Plato’s Symposium, the idea that the gods hold ultimate power over human life shapes the actions of those in a society. Every aspect of life, from creation to the body’s physical shape to death, is controlled by the gods and could be taken at any moment if humans overstep the boundaries …show more content…

The sovereign power being God or the gods in both cases and the united society being the yielding of rights in favor of mutual benefit for all members of society. These rights are yielded not from physical force but out of a convenience and moral beliefs. Plato and Rousseau emphasize God’s or the gods’ ultimate control over the lives of humans. Both also give the reason for human obedience to the higher power being love, fear, and hope. The humans in Plato’s writing and the citizens in Rousseau’s writing seek to benefit themselves and they ultimately do by giving up some individual right to the whole. However, while Plato focuses more on the emotional aspects of a higher power and obedience, Rousseau focuses on survival and benefit as the reason for the obedience to a higher power. Plato inadvertently describes a hierarchy of power while explaining an origin story (Plato 63-66). On the other hand, Rousseau deliberately presents each level in the hierarchy and justification for each. Both Plato and Rousseau put God or the gods as the highest power with human and then other creatures below them (Rousseau 14-15). The hierarchy of power outlined by Rousseau and Plato is significant because it is still relevant in modern times. Modern culture, specifically the majority of the United States follows a hierarchy of power with God at the top, humans beneath God, and animals below humans. This form is exactly like Plato’s and Rousseau’s power structure. The yielding of individual right to benefit as a whole can also be found in modern culture. The social hierarchy defined by Plato and Rousseau is seemingly timeless and applicable to almost every

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