Plato’s The Republic

Plato is a household name within the world of philosophy and in most intelligent conversations, we see his name arise.

However, I personally was stunned by the political ideas of structure and society that he openly publishes under his name, compounding to the fact that Socrates also shares his name to these ideals.

“Excess of liberty, whether it lies in state or individuals, seems only to pass into excess of slavery.”  

Perhaps it is this that is most interesting: The deconstruction of Individuality we find within the Republic. There is constant diminishing of what it means to be an individual, in the form of different regulations set out within the text. Leaders are separated from family, denied the right to silver and gold, for example, to try to handicap the possibility of leaders being tempted into corruption. The concept entirely makes sense, but comes with heavy ethical considerations–particularly considering leaders typically do not take to their role willingly, but are rather assigned to it. Plato theorizes that leaders should feel all citizens are family and therefore should not be partial to just one set of individuals. This comes into the larger overarching principle of the state coming before all, to love the city most.

This overarching principle follows this pattern of deconstruction of the individual–into a part of the city. This has interesting political implications, and we have indeed seen vaguely similar examples of such practices within history today. It seems most examples in history, such as Soviet Russia and Khmer Rouge Cambodia, show drastic failure of this concept of deconstruction of the individual and putting state matter first. However, there are instances in which all these examples have deviated from The Republic’s original formula. The Republic is, as one would argue, a largely well-intentioned text. It theorizes that whilst state should be the first priority, an intellectual state of living. For example, the idea that pleasures of the soul are promoted over the pleasures of the body, shows examples of a society striving to achieve great things.

Thusly, the Republic’s ideas are not only striking but also lend themselves to a very interesting argument. It leads into a discussion of the context of the Individuality within government, within leadership, within a society, and is something seriously worth understanding in order to either use, not misuse and also argue against. This is why I believe it is important to read the Republic.



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