During the second part of Republic, I always had the Nietzche quote in the back of my mind, the one that says Plato is scared of the human reality and therefore hides behind is mathematical logic. I think Nietzche was on to something. Although I still find Platos arguments as unagreeable as when I read the first half, there are a few new things that i’ve noticed, and things that stuck with me. There were times it seemed Plato was slipping up. There were even certain things I found myself agreeing with.
I’ll begin with the things I don’t agree with. I earmarked page 134 as a “dangerous” page. Here Plato brings together his ideas on selective breeding. What is really curious to me is this: Plato previously states that he wants his citizens educated, and to be knowledgable about how the city works. The idea is once they understand the philosophy, they’ll see why things have to be done and they’ll accept that it is for the greater good. And yet, Socrates/Plato proposes to keep the selective breeding secret from the people. So does Plato not have faith in his own philosophy? Sometimes his class system seems to go against his idea of a whole harmonious entity.On the same page he also condones infanticide, and that tends to send up some red flags as well. He goes on to critizise the education system, and I think some of his criticisms are valid. At one point, however, he states that education isn’t about giving a person sight, but instead directing where they look. This is interesting and I think most people today, in our society at least, would believe the opposite.
When it comes to Plato’s criticism of democracy, I actually found myself agreeing with a lot of it. Although HIS doctrine is just as likely to fail, the flaws he points out are legitimate, I think. He predicts huge gaps between the rich and poor. Todays society is proof that this can occur. It seems that in his system, one gets to the “top one percent” through wisdom, skill, and physical competence. That sounds better right? Hmm…. Well, the wisdom and skill part is fair enough I suppose, but at the same time that was the idea behind the free 1st world democracies, and I don’t think Plato would like those.
The definition of a tyrant was interesting because it was very human. Tyranny is associated with flattering others to get something or hanging out with people who flatter you. Someone with a tyrannical nature “lives his whole life as either a master to one man or a slave to another, never getting a taste of true freedom or friendship.” I’m sometimes guilty of hanging out with people because they tell me i’m great, and i’ve also been very kind to people who I thought could get me somewhere. But i still think this statement is one of Socrates wiser ones.
There is one other thing Plato and I can agree on. I believe that if mankind didn’t have as many choices to make they would probably be happier.
See you tomorrow!