Philosophers have pondered what makes for an ideal state since antiquity. In fact, the ideas theorized by the ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle over two millennia ago on this subject still resonate strongly today, influencing modern political thought and regime construction. Plato contends the ideal state is one ruled by a class of guardians, or “philosopher-kings”. These philosopher-kings are selected to rule because they are best fit for the responsibility. Aristotle, a pupil of Plato, acknowledges and agrees with Plato on the point that states ruled by philosopher-kings would be ideal states, but adds such states are simply not reasonable. Instead, Aristotle advocates for rule by “polity”: a constitutional government …show more content…
Likewise, children born of guardians deemed unfit to be future guardians are relegated to one of the other classes. By creating a system of specialization in which ability solely determines the citizens’ duties, Plato ensures those who govern his city will not be the beneficiaries of parental and/or class nepotism. For this reason, the city’s political health is protected from the deleterious effects of an inefficient ruling class. This class structure is wholly unconventional, but necessary in Plato’s ideal city. This is due to his position on the equity, or lack thereof, between humans; some people, be it by nature or nurture, are more competent than others and the most competent should rule over those less so for the benefit of the whole. However, Plato knows this system will be fraught if it ignores base human desire. Citizens will not willingly accept being corralled into specific societal roles, especially if they think those roles are unjust or beneath them. Plato’s system cannot work without a “noble lie”. The noble lie promulgated to the citizens of Plato’s city relies on a sort of divine meddling. According to the lie, although everyone in the society is related and should share a familial bond, guardians, auxiliaries, and producers all have different levels of ability imparted onto them by “the god” in the form of intrinsic metals. As Socrates’ says
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The rulers are the most important and must be brought up with a good moral upbringing. Plato believes that it is necessary to tell the rulers falsehoods in their childhood to have them be gentile to their own people and harmful to their enemies. In order to give them a good moral upbringing Plato states that you need to read them stories about the Gods. But because the ruler can only be subjected to good moral ideas, the evil stories will be overlooked. " Aren't there two kinds of story, one true and the other false?" Socrates states," Yes. And mustn't our men be educated in both, but first in false ones?" Plato thinks that children not be confronted with anything evil until its character is already formed, making the children respect honesty and virtue." The young cant distinguish what is allegorical from what isn't, and the opinions they absorb at that age are hard to erase and apt to become unalternatable. For these reasons, then, we should take the utmost care to insure that the first stories they hear about virtue are the best ones for them to hear."
Plato’s idea of civic justice displays a criteria for specialization that holds each individual responsible for producing their own rendition of excellence that leads to a just life, which produces a just city, and ultimately civic justice. Plato describes civic justice as “…doing one’s own work provided that it comes to be in a certain way” (433b-pg.108).
In the Myth of the Metals, people are born with gold, silver, or bronze. These metals determine the role each individual will carry out in their state; gold being guardian or governing body, silver being auxiliary or soldier, and bronze being the working class. Because Plato believes everyone is different in nature, it serves as the justification for the Myth of the Metals where the essential parts of society are assigned to individuals at birth. By placing individuals to their highest natural aptitude (guardian, soldier, and worker) they are able to reach human potential and represent the ideal state. This, Plato suggests, is the philosopher’s best method of prescribing a common belief structure within the cave, and more importantly the royal lie to communicate with the non-philosopher.
In The Republic, Plato builds around the idea of Philosopher Rulers. Even though it is not his primary point, it certainly is at the core of his discussion of the ideal state. The question that arises is, 'Why do you need ideal states which will have philosophers as rulers?' There are many layers to the
Since the proper order of the city has now been established, it is time to turn inward to one’s soul to determine where justice and injustice might lie, and what the difference is between the two. Plato believes, “if an individual has these same three parts in his soul, we will expect him to be correctly called by the same names as the city if he has the same conditions in them” (Cahn 148). Now that Plato has found the four virtues within the larger environment of the city, he now wants to investigate their relationship to the smaller environment of the soul.
Swiss-French writer Benjamin Constant and ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle offer conflicting viewpoints concerning the merits and possibilities of ancient Greek democracy. Aristotle’s political theory attempts to justify his city-state’s political structure by providing a model of the common good, or Chief Aim, his end goal for Athenian democracy. He believed Athenians could reach the Chief Aim as a society by individually learning to be virtuous and then instilling laws and morals based on these ideals. In his lecture, The Liberty of the Ancients Compared with that of the Moderns, Constant highlights that the individual liberties protected in a modern representative democracy are much more important than the political liberties that one was given in antiquity. Constant illustrates that while some ideas of ancient Greek democracy are precious, Aristotle’s political theory is not an obtainable reality and it was beneficial that modern democracies transitioned to a system that protects individual liberty.
The main issue Plato has with democracy, as outlined in The Republic of Plato, is democracy has a uniquely level playing field for all and that this leads to people working toward endeavors that do not suit their best abilities, which goes against Plato’s own image of justice as Plato’s image holds to the idea that justice is primarily found in the community more so than the individual and that it is realized on an individual and societal level when people help to advance society by working toward endeavors that best suit their natural abilities (55). This democratic equality, the author feels, leads to those who are unequipped and unprepared to rule leading the masses. For example, Plato utilizes the metaphor of the ship to show this issue of democracy, that many of the crew, though not equipped to lead, will try to steer to steer the ship and that the struggle will eventually lead the crew to wreck the ship (195-196).
In Plato’s Republic a person duty is determined by their natural ability. Unlike Thomas Mores Utopia, Socrates believes that a person should focus on achieving the most for themselves rather than the community being primary purpose. Plato’s Republic greatly supports the idea of inequality, and shows that social stratification is essential for the movement of the economy. For a country to function, there must be some sort of hierarchy and inequality. In page 118 of the republic Socrates states that he “leaves it to each class to achieve the kind of happiness that nature confers it”(pg. 18). Citizens in each class must work hard to prosper in theirs own class. People in the Republic must have the mentality of working hard for themselves. What they don’t realize is the domino effect that is triggered. As they work more, the classes above them are also greatly impacted because they are able to benefit. Social Stratification is valued in Socrates to a certain extend. Socrates mentions the importance of each member in each class to be apart of neither wealth nor poverty. In Plato’s republic, the importance of not being rich and not being poor is greatly expressed. Socrates gives Adeimantus the example of the craftsman.
“Then, under the influence either of poverty or of wealth, workmen and their work are equally liable to degenerate” (Plato 277). On the other hand, poverty causes the craftsmen to develop a rebel attitude. As such, the will resort to evil deeds in order to sustain themselves in the city. Another class in the city is the soldiers. Plato, through his mouthpiece Socrates, argues that the courage of the people of the city lie in their soldiers. However, courage is not a state in which there is lack of fear. Rather it is a state of knowing and persevering in one’s own convictions. However, for this to happen, soldiers need access to good education, which will strengthen their convictions. Education becomes an important part in ensuring that the soldiers understand their role in the city. “Educating [soldiers] in music and gymnastic; we were contriving influences which would prepare them to take the dye of the laws in perfection” (Plato 286). In other words, without education, soldiers would not be able to make decisions that resonate with their beliefs. Thus, lack of fear alone would not serve a full potential as it forms only a smaller portion of what courage constitutes. The third class of the city is the guardians. According to Plato, “Here, then, is a discovery of new evils, I said, against which the guardians will have to watch” (277). Guardians are portrayed as people who have wisdom to watch over
Plato in the Republic writes about a new form of society which would be based upon the good of everyone, whereby those who are most able should rule. Plato states that "Unless, said I,
Plato suggests the entirety of everything a ruler does is for the advantage of the ruled. He does so in an analogy between the ruler of a society and the pilot of a ship. He writes, “the ruler will consider or command the benefit not of the pilot, but of the man who is a sailor and is ruled" (Plato 21). In putting the society before himself, he tells everyone what is known as the Noble Lie. In it, he claims that everyone in the city belongs to the city because they were born there and that there is a divine sanction to their natural hierarchy. This promotes an expectation of loyalty and keeps everyone satisfied with their standings in life within their trades. Through the Noble Lie, the ruler serves the city by ensuring order continues and that everyone is committed to the continued success of the city.
This paper will argue that money is problematic to Plato largely because his ideal city Kallipolis is filled with virtuous leaders and citizens living in harmony and unity. When money is involved, Plato believes that it is human nature for even the most virtuous leader to lack the will to resist the temptation. Plato discusses the five different types of regimes and constitutions people can live under, Aristocracy, Timocracy, Oligarchy, Democracy and Tyranny. As regimes shift into the next, virtue decreases and corruption in the state arises. When obtaining wealth and acquiring private property is a motivating factor for humans, people start making self-interested decisions; choosing to take part in politics and fighting in wars for personal gains, and not for the benefit of the whole. When education and training is not the priority from an early age, citizens become lazy and there is a divide in the city between the rich and the poor. Plato goes to great lengths to ensure that the city is just by abolishing private property and creating the noble lie.
Democracy is often referred to as the rule of the many, but Aristotle called this definition incomplete. In his book “Politics”, he explained that in a city if the majorities are aristocrats and if they have political authority, then it is an aristocracy not a democracy. He therefore defined democracy as when “free people have authority and Oligarchy as when the wealthy have it” (1290b). Plato viewed Democracy as a flawed system with too much inefficiency that would make any implementation of a true democracy not worth it. While Aristotle viewed democracy as a system that could work if it is limited to certain restrictions and if it is the regime that best fits the culture of the people to be governed. In this essay it will be argued that Plato’s view on democracy as a flawed system is more prevalent or more compelling if the current political arena around the world is observed.
In Book IV of Plato’s Republic, Socrates reasons that the embodied human soul is a tripartite plurality consisting of a rational part, an appetitive part, and a spirited part. An individual, or a society, thrives when these three parts strike a balance. In a just and perfect society, people from each of the three groups must maintain a delicate position compromised of control and influence relative to the other groups. An important feature of Socrates’ ideal city is its lack of intersectionality. Each person in the various classes must complete their specific job requirements, without meddling in outside affairs, in order to maximize the city’s efficiency. The ideal city is made up of the craftsperson, the auxiliary and the guardian ruler classes. The three classes directly parallel the three parts of the soul. The craftsperson represents the appetitive part of the soul, while the auxiliaries parallel the spirited soul and lastly, the guardian rulers embody the rational soul.