Plato Republic

Through the reading of Plato Republic, it can be seen how Plato seeks to create a just state (Kallipolis), with the specialisation of people, and the rule through philosophers. This brings me to question how well Plato’s just state would work in our present day if it were to be established. Although Plato provides interesting theories and ideas such as the myth of the metals (Gold being the philosophers, Silver being the auxiliaries, Bronze being the producers), it is not ideas which are feasible in today’s society. This is because the theories such as the myth of the metals limits people’s creativity and motivation to innovate as they are suppose to only do work which suits their class of metal. This would be problematic if applied to the present day, since it would mean that there is less elasticity in job finding, and also limit in advancements such as technology. Plato believes a just society must also have just people, which would mean people who have control over their appetites. This would be counter productive in today’s society, since if everything were to be under strict control, and limited what people can do, it would remove the idea of freedom and also create a society which ironically seems much like Plato’s allegory of the cave. People are unable to see beyond what Plato or the philosophers allow them to see, meaning that new philosophers never see the forms that Plato sees, as the city is controlled by Plato’s ideals meaning that they cannot see beyond Plato’s views.

One comment

  1. I agree that Plato’s views are quite constraining! I want to complicate things just a bit, though. When Plato talks about justice in the soul, it can seem like he is saying that we really shouldn’t have appetites at all, or that they should be severely curtailed. But I think what he means is that they should be under the control of reason in the sense that we should use our reason to determine when it’s good to fulfill some appetites but not others, and in what ways. To me, Plato is describing the difference between someone who just goes along with their whims without thinking carefully about long-term effects for him/herself or others, and someone who has a more reflective approach to their appetites. I tried to say this in seminar, but I’m not sure I was clear! So I don’t think the just person needs to be quite as constrained as it might otherwise seem.

    In addition, about the last point above: it’s true that people in the state wouldn’t be able to see/hear/read anything beyond what is allowed in the state, and that most people couldn’t grasp the forms. But does that necessarily mean that future philosophers can’t see the forms? Taking Plato’s view as right for a moment, if studying mathematics, geometry, astronomy, etc., leads one to be able to finally get a sense of the forms and then the form of the good, then couldn’t those who went through that education see those forms? Or are you suggesting that no philosopher-ruler would have a full grasp of the forms, so that if they focus the city on their view of the forms, that’s still not the real view and so others can’t get the real view either?

    On another note, can you please activate a plugin that allows those who make comments to check a box to say they’d like to receive a notification via email that someone has replied to their comment? Otherwise the person who comments would have to remember to come back to your post to see if you or others have replied (most of us aren’t going to remember to do that!). When you’re logged into your site, go to the dashboard, then “plugins” on the left, and find one called something like “subscribe to comments,” click “activate,” and you should be good to go!

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