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.