Plato’s Idealistic Republic

After a long flight and careful examination I have finally finished The Republic. Now that I’ve finally finished Plato’s text and read his long winded arguments I can finally critique him.
What I found consistent with the text is that Plato is obsessed with objective truths. He cannot fathom the notion that there is no single answer to any question. For example according to him everything in this world must be either “good” or “evil”, or a person is either “Just” or “Unjust”. There are no shades of gray in his morality code. Furthermore he believes that every scenario can only have a single outcome. According to his own system every Democracy will eventually devolve into a Tyrannical system, but this isn’t a destined equation. Wouldn’t his praised Timocratic or Obligarchy governments be what we today define as tyrannical governing systems? Would we consider only those who posses property rightful to dictate it’s citizens? Wouldn’t majority of these leader rule based only on their own needs? Plato is stubborn in his thinking and cannot come to terms with the complicated subjectivity of the real world.

Plato is an idealist who firmly believes that all human emotion can be suppressed with enough will power. In Book X, he states that poets and poetry are not ideal for his society. Plato believes that poetry often invokes negative emotions such as sadness or grief and fosters sympathy to those who succumb to it.  Plato believes that if a father loses a child and falls into hysteria than it is not ideal for either himself of those around him. The rational thing to do is to move forward and continue with our lives, This is absolutely true, what good comes of grief? But could any loving father master this discipline? Absolutely not! Plato does not realize that human beings decisions are mainly subject to our emotions. Grief for loss isn’t by any means a good thing but it is a necessary one. Grieving is just a part of life, and any attempts to avert it can only lead to worse emotions. Would any man be capable of completely controlling their emotions? Is a Philosopher King even possible?

To Plato, a philosopher or proper ruler is one who lacks all characteristics of humanity. If he cannot understand his people’s emotions should he really be fit to rule? Plato’s vision of an ideal human state lacks all realism. He simply cannot deal with the fact that human nature and imperfection cannot be tamed.



Julian Figueroa’s take on Plato’s Republic

I gotta say, I really enjoy Plato’s Republic so far. We’ve only done stuff from a more imaginary standpoint (I know, I know, subject to debate) in terms of Greek literature so it is quite refreshing to have something besides just a dramatic/actiony story for our next read.

Plato had a concept of an ideal state based on logic and living in accordance with certain duties to more than one’s self. He wanted a governing power that founded on a trained elite who would govern wisely and in which art and music would be forbidden that destroyed one’s individuality. After having seen how his friend and teacher Socrates was executed by the Athenian democracy, Plato disillusioned himself with the notion that men could govern over themselves freely since they were prone to being tricked by demagogues, swindlers, and con men into acting against their true intentions… Granted, the book certainly is impractical in depicting the kind of world Plato would have liked to see but all the same there is no disputing that, as one of greatest philosophers who ever spawned on this planet, we still find ourselves arguing not whether we can ever achieve a perfect, utopian state, but whether we can expect a government and society to hold integrity in regards to its character and policy.


That is the real issue at stake The Republic presents to us… at least from what I can see thus far. That being said… this was a tough slog so far. I had to read over at least 2-3 times to derive true understanding from this book so far… Plato often seems to transcend us in thinking even at our best, eh? The footnotes in the copy we have to read helped a bit though.

If only we had presidential hopefuls that were even a fraction as wise and laconic as Socrates… sigh….


What are your guys’ thoughts so far? I’m reading through a few of your blog posts so expect comments soon…

Republic (Part One) Response

So much like everyone else, reading this first half of Plato was quite challenging to say the least. I’d say that the first book was definitely harder to get through than the rest of it though. I have never read any of Plato’s work, but I now know that it will most likely be philosophical, or require quite a bit of detailed analysis (not saying there’s anything wrong with that). I also felt that I had to focus really hard to clearly understand what was going on. Basically, it was kind of a task to concentrate while reading this book.

But anyways, much like other people who have posted, I too, have heard about Socrates prior to reading the Republic, but I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of him yet. Speaking on the Republic as a whole, I realized that this book proposes many questions that people have yet to find the answers to. The Republic’s meaning is still undefined which further strikes people’s attention.

What particularly caught my interest was the heated conversation of what it means to be just and unjust with Socrates and Thrasymachus. Reading their continuous refutes of each other’s beliefs and statements was of great interest to me. However, I did find that for many aspects of their debate, there were oftentimes moments where I would need to re-read a certain argument a few times, just to fully understand and make sense of it. But asides from that, I found their different perspectives intriguing. For instance, like how Socrates argued that justice is a virtue and injustice is a vice, whereas Thrasymachus disagreed and stated that those who are unjust will prosper over those who are just. Another aspect that was of interest to me was the way Socrates argued. I’m not too sure about what everyone else though, but I found his questioning somewhat like a lawyer interrogating the accused. From what I read, Socrates had a very persuasive and intimidating approach, which clearly seemed to work, upon having Thrasymachus blush in the end. With that being said, I particularly agree with Socrates’ views on justice.

Another idea that was of interest to me was the concept of a perfect city and Socrates’ perspective regarding societal ways. According to Socrates, an idealistic state is restricted to censorship of religion, ideas, and stories, just to list a few. I do not necessarily agree with his views, though I enjoyed viewing this topic from a different perspective; to challenge my stance.

Although being a difficult read, the Republic so far is an interesting book that definitely needs to be further analyzed. See you all in the seminar!

Republic Part 1 Oh the Irony

I have never read Plato’s work personally, though I have heard of him and my IB Theory of Knowledge class did go over his Allegory of the Cave by discussion and by watching ‘The Matrix’ (Only the first one). So going into The Republic, I was rather unprepared for the amount of processing my poor brain had to do.  At this point though, I am enjoying the Republic, though I am becoming steadily uneasy at the content being presented within the dialogue as it does not conform to my views on government (not that I could possibly give a good judgement on).

Having been in IB Theory of Knowledge, we briefly went over Plato and Socrates in discussion, which I am quite used to.  However, the rhetoric and logic presented within The Republic astounded me and yet made sense.  The reasoning was sound and I found myself agreeing with what Socrates/Plato was arguing about.

As Book 1 ended though and Book 2 began, my interest only grew.  I mean, creating a perfect city in which to test their theory of justice and injustice would do that to your interest.  However, as the book began to progress, my eyes went O_O and a crinkle appeared on my brow.  I agreed with the points of a good polis or city such as it should not be so luxurious.  As roles began to be addressed, I still agreed with what they were suggesting.

It was when they reached what the Guardians should learn and not learn that I began to become increasingly worried.  I admit, my modern perspective is not allowing me to understand Plato’s view, but in my opinion, censorship of certain aspects is never a good thing.  The very reason I am able to write good essays was because my parents encouraged me and exposed me to a variety of works and a variety of views.  The training of the guardians, just reminded me of the Hitler Youth.  Basically training dogs of the state.   I also disagreed that the state would work because it was so logical.  My view (though unproven) is that humans do not always think logically and therefore, they do not always do logical things.  The city Plato is suggesting would work provided everybody was logical enough to understand his/her role, but humans who do not think logically would not be able to stand this city.  The only way this city would possibly work, is if the humans were replaced by Star Trek’s Vulcans who are supposed to always think logically.  Thus my admiration for Plato turned sour.

Yet, I also understood some of Plato’s points about the Guardians.  In real life, during the time of the Roman Empire, their was an Emperor called Marcus Aurelius (You may have heard of him in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator in which Maximus (Russell Crowe) announces himself as a general of Marcus Aurelius).  He was in fact, as most historians describe him, philosopher turned king and was one of the most successful Roman emperors.  Reading Plato actually made me realize that Marcus Aurelius’s reasons for suppressing the Christians may have possibly been the same reason why Plato is arguing for the suppression of Homeric texts (mega speculation here and going on a wild limb).  The populace, or the guardians should not get ahold of the wrong information and it must be censored or in the Christians case, wiped out.

For people wondering why I said Oh the Irony in my title.  Here is why.  For a piece of work to be called Republic, implying a government made up from elected members of a populace, Plato’s polis, is extraordinarily totalitarian and NOT a republic, and yet this work is called Plato’s Republic.  Oh the irony.

So all in all I found Plato’s Republic a very interesting read, though the content that was suggested furrowed my brow for a couple of hours.

Plato’s Republic (1/2)

Honestly, I really enjoyed reading (the first half of) Plato’s republic. It confused and intrigued me, and what most interested me about it was the way in which arguments were presented. Being a former member of the debate club, (yes… I’m just that nerdy) the many different devices one may use to convince someone to agree with your opinion has always spiked my curiosity. So, although I have to get it off my chest that the lack of quotation marks seriously frustrated me at some points as I tried to keep track of who was talking, I really liked this… book? I find I’m now hesitant to call each of our readings a “book” or define them in any way other than simply as literature as they may be merely disguised as a book, and in fact be something else.

            I have of course heard a lot about (Plato’s portrayal of) Socrates before opening Republic, but was still not quite prepared for his incredibly unique way of arguing. I found myself having to reread certain passages to try to follow the chain of arguments leading to the opposition being convinced or unconvinced. Hopefully that wasn’t just me? There were, however, many familiar aspects I found in way the debate went on, the defining of terms being one.

            I tried to view the description of this grand, ideal state without any particular bias of my own opinion, for a change, as I really just wanted to focus on the development of the argument and the presentations of ideas. However, this didn’t entirely work, and I’d still like to comment on a few literal elements of the argument. First off, the idea of anything being perfect is absolutely ridiculous, just to get that opinion out of the way. But Socrates valiantly tries to describe and envision the ideal state, and spends a great deal of time describing it, and the people within it. I found the suggestion of every person having only one occupation interesting, as I know very few people who have stuck with one profession their entire life, having known it was right for them from the beginning of their education. This is assuming everyone will only ever want to do that one thing which they are best at. However, I must also say that I was glad at last to have seen an argument put forth advocating that women are equal to men, and therefore the positions of “guardians” should be multi-gendered. One thing I’m not entirely sure of is, is Socrates using this ideal city merely as a device to prove his argument, or is this supposed to be something he genuinely believes to be feasible?

Over and out,


Plato’s Republic was another tough read, and I agree with some of the other posts, in that,  it required so much concentration and patience just to get through it. That being said, the book definitely raises a few important questions and takes a close look into issues that hold relevance in our modern society, so, at the end of the day it’s a worthwhile read, in my opinion. It’s transcendence through time and culture are reflective of it’s poignant remarks and essentially unresolvable conflicts. This struggle of thought is enough to keep this book’s ideas in my head because it’s very nature demands deeper analysis of it’s contents and personal struggle with the issues it raises. Plato’s Republic is the perfect example of a book that remains alive because we haven’t found it’s meaning  yet.

Plato’s discussion of justice and injustice was particularly interesting to me because the points of logic the were making, all strung together well and all made rational sense. Valid points were supported by valid points and, when either person disagreed, a logical statement was made in return which the the other person actually took into consideration. However, taking the sociological perspective and applying to the society at large doesn’t work by sitting in the living room and reasoning out, point by point why society is the way it is. What’s not taken into account in the discussion is the idea of a non scientific, but still valid, way of attacking the argument. The part of us that just doesn’t mix with the idea that injustice disguised as justice is right is what the either man takes into account. Nor does either man take into account the societal conflict that is inevitable if certain members of society are constantly treated to injustice and told it’s justice. Ultimately, I think the biggest thing missing from these great logical debates is a practical real world application, which often tends to complicate even the most well thought out plans. Especially when the plans deal with humans who are volatile, in a sense, because they are subject to emotion and a change of ideals which is an, almost always, immeasurable detail. Overall I enjoyed reading the republic so far and look forward to the rest of the book.


Republic – Plato

Having read the Allegory of the Cave earlier I had a slight idea as to what I should expect from this book. However that did not prepare me at all for what I was about to read. Argument after argument and image after image. Reading this book makes your head start to spin a little bit (in my opinion!) and yet it is so interesting to read that when rereading countless paragraphs it was not a task but a genuine want to understand what exactly was happening!

What I found most interesting was the idea of the unjust being more profitable and happier because of this profitability. Growing up hearing about corruption and injustices and the like its easy to see why this argument makes sense – the unjust end up having more and thus materially and perhaps socially are more profitable and happy and yet it is a sad but true thing that the just are the ones who end up suffering because of their morals and values. Without the threat of something, the afterlife or god or something, anything, the unjust could end up living incredibly fortunate lives and it is an interesting thing to note that even at that time this was something which, while sad, was true and appeared true. The idea that injustice is for the individual whereas justice benefits the mass is interesting and upon further thought it makes sense, when one is selfish and wants to benefit oneself then one would be unjust and take without cause from others and corruption begins. However when one wants the good of someone other than themselves than that person is just because their actions are benefiting the masses, not the individual.

Another idea which interested me greatly was that of the perfect city – where the media and religion were controlled to such an extent that the people only heard and knew only what they are allowed and a select few decide this – this reminds me so much of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and 1984 by George Orwell. It’s like Winston being made to change the old news because the enemy changed again. The people are only taught certain things in a certain order and special attention is paid to music and physical exercise (the obsession with mini-golf?). Perhaps this is just me but I don’t think that this would make the perfect city because someone, somewhere will begin to question everything and then eventually things will begin to fall apart. Then again at the same time if the people were to know every singly thing wouldn’t the world settle into a sort of chaos? How can we know the line to draw between what people should and shouldn’t know? People talk about free speech and knowing everything that is happening all over the world and yet at the same time when people find out certain things a part of them always wishes they didn’t know. Is it possible that having a world in which everything you know and abide by is dictated is the best way for us all to live?


Julianna’s Thoughts on Plato’s Republic, Part 1

To say the least, The Republic has not been the simplest of works to tackle. However, despite difficulties and confusion, it offers interesting notions on  society, as well as the importance of justice and virtue.

One aspect that I found interesting was simply how overly idealized the city of The Republic is. I understand that it is meant to be a theoretical model, but Plato factors in virtually no aspects of human nature. He completely negates human greed or selfishness, assuming that humanity will work for the good of the city, and be unconcerned with their own desires. I find this difficult to swallow, almost, as it is so removed from reality. His depictions of children being removed from their families and each indiviudal sticking to his or her own trade, longing and understanding that he will always be stuck in the same aspect of life, all to better the city, brought about thoughts of Marxist ideals. My opinions of Marx are almost the same as with Plato, in that both forgot to factor in human emotion.

However, instead of a utopia, as Marx intended, Plato’s world reminded me of a glorified dictatorship. His ideas of the guardians protecting and being all-knowing in a sense, whilst everyone must abide by their rule, appeared to be strickingly similar to the Nazi regime. As well, the business of removing children from their family seemed horrifically Spartan in nature. It seemed that Plato was far more concerned in a nation of mindless, law-abiding automatons than with a realistic working of the cities.

The narcissism of Plato towards philosophers invoked a chuckle. Plato, who seemingly appears to create Kallipolis in order to demonstrate the ideal city, holds only those who have studied philosophy to be worthy of protecting the city. This assumption that all other humans are beneath the great knowledge of the philosopher was slightly appalling. It is understandable that he believes that only those who understand the nature of man should rule, but Plato refers to the average man as if his intelligence were comparable to a dog. I found this praise of the philosopher to be a blatant attempt at demonstrating self-righteousness.

Finally, I do agree with Plato in his beliefs regarding justice. One particular section discussed the fear that the unjust have as they reach old age regarding death. I agree that despite the early pay-off of being unfair or deceitful, the just will always prevail, be it in the afterlife or later in the present.

All in all, I cannot say that Plato has dramatically altered my perspective on society, but rather introduced me to a dictatorial, overly idealized city, which, in a sense, foreshadowed latter dystopias, such as communism and Nazi Germany.

Platos Republic: Logic and George Orwell

I’m really enjoying reading the Republic right now. I like reading things I disagree with because I can feel clever with my sort of pseudo-intellectual criticism. However, it was only  at around books 4 and 5 that I began to look really closely at what i’m sure is going to be discussed a lot in the next week, and that is the very Orwellian, fascist-esque (that’s not a word is it) nature of Plato’s perfect city. The whole book reads as a very well planned doctrine, and I imagine Plato hunched over a writing desk, getting excited imagining people using it as a model for all the real cities in the future. Socrates demonstrates an interesting logical tactic, and there were a number of ideas near the beginning that had me agreeing and such, but as I progressed into this book a lot of things began to come together in an ominous way.

In the eyes of Socrates (and therefore Plato, I would guess) an ideal city is based on strict censorship of stories, ideas, religion, music, and citizens relations. The Guardians must “guard as carefully as they can against any innovation in music and poetry or in physical training that is counter the established order.” and “considerable use of falsehood and deception for the benefit of all they rule.” This in itself is an immense, massive, gigantic issue that so many people have grappled with forever: Does one group of people know what is best for the group below them? Can benevolent dictatorships ever work, even if the leaders truly believe they?

One main difference in Socrates idea as opposed to a regular fascist state, and something that could be seen as a conflict in his ideology, is that he wants his citizens to be knowledgeable. If they are knowledgable, they will understand that the way they are living is the way that is best for them. This, like a vast majority of arguments I read in “The Republic” is a realistic idea in theory, but when you factor in that humans are, well, human, it seems fairly realistic. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Sometimes I felt like Socrates assumed were too human, and that our humanity is so standard and ongoing that it can become some sort of formula. I do agree that as a race we humans have become fairly predictable, and looking at similar cities to the one Socrates creates, I can predict that this one might fail.

Soon enough I got to selective breeding, the use of terms like “superior and inferior class”, and the idea of parentless children being controlled by the state. My sentimental self wanted to say something cliche like “what about love?” The last thing I thought was interesting was the fact that this “perfect city” is still going to be one of war. hmm. I’m of a particular mindset right now about this book, but i’m only halfway and it’s likely that during our discussion my opinion will radically shift. That’s what’s been happening the last few classes, in any case.

I really look forward to it




This book is definitely an interesting one to read as it contains subject matter that is still yet to be fully resolved today. I myself am enjoying it thoroughly, though reading it on a bus where I’m prone to motion sickness has proved to make the experience a bit more nauseating than it would be otherwise. The content is indeed heavy and requires some measure of concentration to absorb properly, but the arguments themselves are mostly based on chains of simple variable logic that can be connected together without having to scan every word. With that said, I’ll give my thoughts on some of the arguments discussed.

Somewhere in the book, there is an argument brought up against Socrates that injustice is by nature more profitable than justice due to the “naïve” and “exploitable” nature of justice itself. There was also talk of a 2D classification diagram which was rather interesting and amusing to read, but that’s beside the point. Anyway, it was argued that injustice is by far more profitable than justice because injustice can gain the advantages of justice (i.e. public support) and at the same time possess the advantages of injustice. Justice, on the other hand, cannot possess the advantages of injustice and will also likely not possess the advantage of public support according to the argument presented. Thus, injustice that cloaks itself as justice is by far more profitable than justice itself and anyone who follows justice is a complete and utter fool who is naïve and cannot handle the moral strains of committing injustice.

While this argument can be pretty convincing when viewed by itself, its flaw lies in the fact that it doesn’t see the bigger picture. Socrates presented a very effective counterargument (half the contents of which I can’t recall at the moment) detailing exactly what that bigger picture is. To paraphrase it without all the complicated metaphors and moral jargon, injustice is by nature something which only takes away but cannot contribute. Because it cannot contribute, it is nothing more than a parasitic existence that cannot survive without its host (i.e. justice). Because it cannot survive without justice, the advantage of injustice is also fundamentally insecure and prone to unstable lapses in the degree of advantage provided. Furthermore, the advantage gained from the parasitic injustice is of a lesser level to the advantage gained by the nonparasitic and contributing justice should it associate with other nonparasitic and contributing justices. Thus, it can be depicted like this

Justice + Injustice = Advantage for Injustice, Disadvantage for Justice

Injustice + Injustice = Disadvantage for Injustice

Justice + Justice = Great Advantage for Justice

Though injustice can profit from the contributions of justice, that profit is smaller than the potential gain that could be produced from multiple justices working together. We see then that rather than calling justice naïve and weak, it would be far more appropriate to call injustice small-minded and useless due to their inefficient philosophy. This also connects to the part of the book where Socrates talks about the ideal city, which is in essence a city full of justices working together to prosper mutually. I won’t go too much into this topic here as that would take far more words than I’m willing to write for a blog entry, but the problem with Socrates’ argument may be that he is neglecting to view the smaller picture. Though absolute justice and ideal efficiency is great, there is a certain level of the human consciousness that cannot be measured and compared to a standard. That’s all for now.