Plato's Criticism of Democracy Essay

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Plato's Criticism of Democracy

Plato, having defined his perfect society, now seeks to compare contemporary 'imperfect' societies with his ideal standard. He initially criticises the imperfect society as a whole, before leading onto a criticism of any given individual within that society; the imperfect character. He has already dealt with the Oligarchic society and character and now moves onto Democracy and the democratic character. Plato states that the Oligarchy, where the ultimate desire is for wealth and character governs emotions without reason, will ultimately collapse and become a Democracy. The lower, drone class are exploited by the avaricious oligarchic class: this leads the drones into discontent, and they plot against
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This variety and colour may catch the attention of those who have little understanding of important matters (Plato uses the example of women and children to illustrate his point). However, this lack of order does not encourage the development of well-balanced characters, as Plato demonstrates. Platonic psychology supports the view that any mind should be made up of three hierarchical levels: the desires and emotions being the lowest tier; the character, as decided by upbringing occupies the intermediate tier; and reason is at the top of the hierarchy. Plato further divides the desires into two categories: the necessary, acquisitive desires (i.e., those that benefit us and are essential to life) and the unnecessary, wasteful desires (i.e., those that harm us physically or mentally and can be controlled). With the Oligarchic psyche, the character governs the emotions but without any reason behind it, i.e., the Oligarchic character balances his desires in order to gain the greatest wealth, but he does not really know why he does this. He is driven by motives hidden to him. Plato bases his description of the transition from the Oligarchic mindset to the Democratic mindset upon this psychological theory. The Oligarch is brought up in [a] narrow economical way and at some point he comes into contact with the drone element and their honey of various and refined pleasures. Since he has no rational reason for the suppression of these desires, they grow in strength:
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