Plato Essay, Research Paper
Plato was born about 429 BC. He came of an Athenian family that was aristocratic on both sides. His father, Ariston, was believed to have descended from the early kings of Athens. Perictione, his mother, was distantly related to the 6th- century BC lawmaker Solon. When Plato was a child, his father died, and his mother married Pyrilampes, who was an associate of the statesman Pericles. It is said that his original name was Aristocles, be we are told that his wrestling instructor named him ‘Plato’ on account of his robust figure, but this report can not be confirmed.
He was educated along the required lines of his aristocratic background: reading and writing, music and gymnastics, politics and strategy, and literary arts. As a young man Plato had political ambitions. He twice attempted to enter Athenian political life: first under the “Thirty” and again when democracy was restored shortly afterward. But he became disillusioned by the political leadership in Athens and after meeting Socrates, probably in about 407, became one of his disciples and turned to the study of philosophy.
After witnessing the death of Socrates in 399 BC, Plato and some of his fellow pupils took temporary refuge with the philosopher Eaclides of Megara. After which, he left Athens temporarily and traveled to Italy, Sicily, and Egypt for around twelve years. It was in 387 that he met King Dionysius I of Syracuse and became a close friend of Dionysius’ brother-in-law Dion. Plato was said to have gotten into an argument with Dionysius and was sailed to Aegina to be sold as a slave. It was not until Archytas, a close friend of Plato, paid his ransom, that Plato was set free. Archytas was a well-known Pythagorean philosopher and mathematician.
On his return to Athens, he began teaching near the tomb of Academus outside the city, for which he Academy took it’s name. It was in 387 that the Academy was built in Athens, the institution often described as the first European university. It provided a comprehensive curriculum, including such subjects as astronomy, biology, mathematics, political theory, and philosophy. Plato then devoted most of the last four decades of his life to his school. After his death, he was even buried inside of it.
He did, however, take tow further visits to Sicily. On the death of Dionysius I in 367, Dion summoned him to try to make his nephew, the young Dionysius II, into the ideal philosopher-king; but Dionysius grew jealous of the friendship between the two older men and compelled Dion to leave Syracuse. Apparently, Plato then returned to Athens. He went back one more time for different reasons.
The concluding years of his life were spent lecturing at the Academy and writing. He died at about the age of 80 in Athens in 348 or 347 BC. It is said that his death took place at a wedding party or while he was engaged in writing.
Plato wrote many books, all in dialogue form; philosophical ideas were advanced, discussed, and criticized in the context of a conversation or debate involving two or more persons. The earliest collection of Plato’s work includes 35 dialogues and 13 letters. The authenticity of a few of the dialogues and most of the letters has been disputed.
The dialogues may be divided into early, middle, and later periods of composition. The early periods of composition consist of six different dialogues. All of these dialogues have Socrates as the main character and discuss mainly Socrates’ philosophies. Included in this group of dialogues are Charmides, Lysis, Laches, Protagoras, Euthyphro, and Book I of the Republic. Charmides is an attempt to define temperance while Lysis is a discussion of friendship. Laches is a dialogue about the pursuit of the meaning of courage and Protagoras is just a defense of the thesis that virtue is knowledge and can be taught. Euthyphro is a consideration of the nature of piety. The first book of the Republic is a discussion on justice.
The dialogues of the middle and later periods of Plato’s life reflect his own philosophical development. Most scholars attribute the ideas in these works to Plato himself, although Socrates continues to be the main character in many of the dialogues. The writings of the middle period include seven different dialogues like Gorgias, which is a consideration of several ethical questions Plato was asked. Meno, another dialogue, is a discussion of the nature of knowledge. The Apology was Socrates’ defense of himself at his trial against the charges of atheism and corrupting Athenian youth; while Crito was Socrates’ defense of obedience to the laws of the state. Phaedo is the death scene of Socrates, in which he discusses the theory of Forms, the nature of the soul, and the question of immortality. The Symposium was Plato’s outstanding dramatic achievement, which contains several speeches on beauty and love. The Republic was Plato’s supreme philosophical achievement, which is a detailed discussion of the nature of justice.
The works of his later period include the Theaetetus, a denial that knowledge is to be identified with sense perception, Parmenides, a critical evaluation of the theory of Forms, and Sophist, further consideration of the theory of Ideas, or Forms. Philebus was also a work of Plato’s later period. It is a discussion of the relationship between pleasure and the good. Timaeus, also a member of the later period, is Plato’s views on natural science and cosmology. The Laws was a more practical analysis of political and social issues.
Much of Plato's reasoning for philosopher-rulers centres around his belief that society should be rational and just. It would be important to note that ˜justice' as referred to by Plato in his work and by other philosophers at the time, does not directly compare with the modern meaning. ˜Justice' as it was then, was more what today we would call ˜righteousness' or ˜goodness'. The aims of this essay are to examine the reasons behind Plato's beliefs and the extent to which they are justifiable for the modern day as well as for ancient Greece.
Much of Plato's work is written in the form of dialogues, with Socrates, Plato's tutor, cast as the main character. It is sometimes not clear, "where Socrates finishes and Plato begins . However, concerning the subject of philosopher-rulers, I believe this distinction is not necessary. References to Socrates, especially regarding Republic, can be taken as Plato's beliefs expressed through the character of Socrates and not the man himself. It is also important to note at this time, that the poleis (singular polis), or city-states, were nothing like the modern day ˜city'. The closest modern comparison would be the nation-state and not the city.
This essay will first see Republic as a discussion of justice. Plato's conclusion of justice led him to differentiate individuals' souls into three parts that he relates directly to the polis. This will be examined along with some of the criticisms offered. Following from this, Plato's ˜theory of forms', its basis and conclusions as well as its distinction from Aristotle's views, will be discussed. Once Plato's theoretical basis is laid down, the structure he applies to his state will also be considered. This uses the ˜three-parted soul' as a framework, the polis being split into three ˜tiers' with philosopher-rulers at the top. Reasoning, practicality and criticisms of this are all discussed. The structure of the state is very iEssays Related to Plato - Philosopher King
CritoPhilosophy 101Crito, as reported by Plato, is an account by where Crito is attempting to influence Socrates that it is just to escape from prison to avoid certain death by execution. Crito, a longtime devoted friend and believer of Socrates' ethical teachings presents a compelling argument to escape. Although the arguments of Crito have merit, they have not convinced Socrates that he should escape from prison. Socrates and Crito are both in unanimity that the sentence was in fact unjust. Socrates demonstrated his true character in the "Crito.".2. The Plato's Unjust Ideals into Happiness
Even after thousands of years Plato and Socrates teachings are asvalid in today communities as it was in their times. Through Crito, Apology, and theRepublic, Plato reveals that even though the unjust ideals may beenticing it will bring a just happiness. Even though the judges were willing to let him live underthe conditions he would stop practicing philosophy, he stillrefuse these conditions. In the Crito, Socrates teaches us once you disobey the lawyou must be ready to accept the punishment. However, if he didescape from prison such as Crito suggested the polis would have.3. Plato's Socrates
We learn all this from Plato's dialogue "Crito".In Plato's "Republic" Socrates is trying to prove that it is better to be just than to be unjust even if the unjust man is admired, notable, and pleased and the just man is loathed, punished, and rejected. Socrates' statement, expressing his moral philosophy was "virtue is knowledge.". This theory can be more clearly viewed in Plato's work "Crito". The dialogue "Crito" narrates Socrates' last days, immediately before his execution. Socrates' friend Crito offers to him escaping from prison.4. The Philosophies of Socrates
One of his best students, Plato, however, recorded what had occurred on that last day of Socrates' life. In Plato's "The Apology", Socrates was put on trial and charged with undermining state religion and corrupting young people. Explaining his mission as a philosopher, Socrates reports an oracular message telling him "No one is wiser than you (Plato).". Socrates would rather die than give up philosophy, and the jury seems happy to grant him that wish. In fact, Socrates' sees his death as liberation from the shackles of life for his last wish was for Crito to sacri.5. Crazy Old Men
Crazy Old MenAccording to Plato, one studies philosophy in order to pursue happiness. The thoughts and ideas expressed in this philosophy paper allow the readers to understand and contradict Plato's real views concerning the laws of the state. Plato's dialog transmits his learning's through Socrates' teachings. Plato calls this dialog the "Crito". Crito is a friend and a follower of Socrates.6. Conflict between Political Life and Philosophy
In Plato's writings of Socrates' episodes of dialogue, a dispute between politics and philosophy arises, namely, an argument between Socrates and the political constituents of Athens, Greece. Crito, trying to convince him to escape the likes of death, gives reasons to Socrates to escape his unjust sentence. Crito states to him that Socrates must escape on account that he has debts he must fulfill to certain associates of his as well as himself and his family. Although he does agree to Crito's remark that the court is an evil court that laid him upon death, Socrates te.7. Plato's Apology
ApologyBy PlatoIn Plato's Apology, Socrates is on trial, being prosecuted on the charge of impiety. Finally he proposes a penalty of three thousand minas for which his friends Plato, Crito, Critobulus, and Apollodorus would "offer full security.". This is a testament to Socrates' dedication to his philosophy and to how nothing could sway him to turn his back on his own beliefs and morals, not even the possibility of being put to death for his actions. Plato was so impressed by this that he felt it necessary to emphasize this. Plato thought Socrates was a good citizen w.8. The Historical Socrates and Athenian Democracy
Only through the writings of his students have we any idea of his philosophy. In the writing of Plato much thought is given to the concept of Socrates' opinion of Athenian democracy. Therefore, "wealth does not bring goodness (or virtue), but goodness (or virtue) brings wealth and every other blessing, both to the individual and to the state" (Apology, 30 b, pg. 53).The following passage is found in Plato's Crito, in which Socrates is in prison awaiting death. Crito, a friend of Socrates, strives to persuade him to escape. If Socrates dies by way of the death penalty, Crit.9. An Overview of Plato's Apology
ApologyBy PlatoIn Plato's Apology, Socrates is on trial, being prosecuted on the charge of impiety. Finally he proposes a penalty of three thousand minas for which his friends Plato, Crito, Critobulus, and Apollodorus would "offer full security.". This is a testament to Socrates' dedication to his philosophy and to how nothing could sway him to turn his back on his own beliefs and morals, not even the possibility of being put to death for his actions. Plato was so impressed by this that he felt it necessary to emphasize this. Plato thought Socrates was a good citizen w.10. The Early Life of Socrates
When society thinks of philosophy, Plato's name will come to mind almost immediately. As a whole we must remember that Plato had a teacher, a mentor, someone to guide his journey into changing history for the better. Plato's teacher forced people to call everything into question using moral values. Socrates "last battle" is known as the Apology written by Plato. To except life as it already is would be considered a disgrace.Plato's description of Socrates awaiting execution is known as the Crito.11. A Tribute to Socrates
Socrates was a teacher of Plato's, and the dialogue is written in a tribute fashion. This is a backbone to Western philosophy. (Tredennick, pg. 70) Finally, his mates Plato, Crito, and others put up a fee of 3000 drachmae. Plato, like Socrates, never wrote anything down, he believed in a "living philosophy". This living philosophy continues to inspire, maybe some day it will be the way of the world.12. Thesis: The Life and The Society of Socrates
Rhodes, InstructorAlbany State UniversityNovember 22, 1999 ForewordThesis: Exploring Socrates and his philosophies give the seeker a new understanding of the life and society in which Socrates lived. Plato, Aristotle, Xenophon, and Aristophanes). There are four scholars who captured Socrates' life and teachings in their works: 1) the writings (Memorabilia and Symposium) of the Greek historian and pupil of Socrates, Xenophon, 2) dialogues by the philosopher, Plato (also pupil a of Socrates), 3) Clouds, a comedy by Aristophanes, and 4) the writings of Plato's pupil, Aristotl.13. The Death of Socrates and Socrates Impiety and Corruption of Youth
Plato. In The Last Days of Socrates, Plato uses Socrates' own voice to explain the reasons that Socrates, though innocent in Plato's view, was convicted and why Socrates did not escape his punishment as offered by the court. Socrates thinks that to stop his philosophy would be an injustice against his god's command to seek out wisdom. In "Crito," Socrates speaks for the laws of Athens. We know that Plato and many others continued to philosophy even after Socrates' death.14. Antigone Versus Socrates in the Crito
Antigone's predicament coincides in many ways with Socrates' ethical dilemma in Plato's "Apology" and the "Crito.". In the Crito, Socrates must choose between obedience of the state and obedience to his family and goodness of the gods. However, while Socrates' takes in account both sides of the argument in the "Crito" and "Apology," Antigone's argument has some flaws. Thus Socrates in the Crito recognizes the validity of, exercising one's own moral judgment when it results from careful reasoning from philosophy -- as well as following the opinion of th.15. The Life and Death of Socrates
Crito noticed that Socrates in a way was beginning to think as a philosopher, always looking for the meaning of things. Socrates agreed with Anaxagoras, but wanted more answers and explanations. Crito once said "Socrates is the only one of all Athenians who knows where he is going and is all packed up, ready to go.". The outcome was unjust in the eyes of Socrates. Meletus was the one who brought the idea of a trial of Socrates forth.16. Socrates' Views of The Soul
He preferred philosophy to the sciences. To Socrates, all philosophy began with the confession of ignorance. Philosophy was regarded by Socrates as passionate search for wisdom that affected every aspect of life. Socrates believed that philosophy was best done in conversation. I feel that one of Socrates' greatest gifts to us was that he said that all philosophy begins with the confession of ignorance.17. The Three Great Philosophers "Socrates, Plato, Aristotle"
Of course, although some may see their philosophies and beliefs to be inapplicable to today's society, Socrates', Plato's, and Aristotle's philosophies changed the way people think, and greatly affected the development of many western cultures, and even our own. Socrates even made it clear that even if it was ordered by the court, he would never stop conversing about philosophy. His friend, Crito, tried to convince him to escape the city of Athens, so that he would be able to learn more about the world and talk about his philosophies. His name was Plato.18. Plauto Thoreau and King
Plato, Martin Luther King and Henry David Thoreau each had widely differing ideals relating to the government, its necessity and the responsibility of citizens towards this government. Each philosophy mentioned above will then be examined for its applicability to the issue of the war in Iraq and the responsibility of citizens to take action.Plato's work focuses on the philosopher Socrates, who has been condemned to death for "corrupting the youth" of Athens. Crito attempts to encourage his escape, but Aristotle refuses, on the grounds of his own personal set of ethics. He does.
Summary: Plato wrote that "Society originates because the individual is not self-sufficient and no two of us is born exactly alike." These two assumptions are the basis for Plato's ideal society, in which different persons specialize in different skills. Plato proposed that philosophers are the right candidates to assume the responsibility of ruling the society, for he assumes only the philosophers have the wherewithal to perceive and work toward the society's common good while avoiding influence from worldly desires in the process. But are Plato's assumptions and proposals in this regard truly feasible?
"Society originates because the individual is not self-sufficient and no two of us is born exactly alike." How do those two assumptions/principles lead to Plato's ideal society being ruled by philosophers? Are you convinced by his claim that Philosophers should rule"
A good starting point will be to consider what Plato means by these two assumptions. The first assumption states that the individual not self-sufficient (369b). This is the basis by which cities form; communities of human beings are created because every man has needs that he cannot cater for by his own means, which ensues in the association of the needy. Plato believes that humans are social beings, or natural cooperators.
The second assumption states that "no two are born exactly alike (370a-b)." This explains why the cities formed are heterogeneous rather than homogeneous. Each person has a different aptitude which ascribes each to a different.
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Plato 's Theory of Forms
Plato 's Theory of Forms basically states that Forms of objects represent the greatest and most fundamental form of reality and are not simply the objects or materials that people perceive through sensation Forms are basically the highest level of reality that cannot be understood and defined through merely using the human senses. Instead one has to grasp the essence of the thing itself in to understand its form (University of Washington. 2006
In other words. forms are things or objects of reality that cannot be
defined by simply touching. smelling. tasting. seeing. or hearing them but. as Plato states in his theory. by getting acquainted with them
For example. A ' is lady and B ' is a statue and both A and B are beautiful. Assuming that this is a true statement. it can be deduced that both the woman and the statue share a common property which is beauty. Since they are both beautiful. Plato calls this common property as beauty itself ' which is different from the individual beauty of the woman and the statue. In short. as Plato states in this theory. one can only say that the woman is beautiful ' or the statue is beautiful ' if and only if he or she has a prior acquaintance with beauty itself. which they can identify with the woman or the statue
Plato 's theory of forms is basically substantiated by two evidences which are the argument based from human perception and the argument based from perfection. The argument from human perception basically states that one can perceive or describe two objects as being the same or sharing the same property because they have a basic idea of what that property is (Bratman et al. 2006. The best way to illustrate this argument is the example of the woman and the statue stated above
The argument from perfection. on the other hand. basically states that there exists an ideal or perfect form of an object which serves as the guide or concept for one to perceive or describe something. Although this ideal or perfect form may not be seen. it gives a person an idea of how to describe the property of a certain object (Bratman et al. 2006
For example. no one has ever drawn or seen a perfect circle or a perfectly straight line. However. everyone knows what a perfect circle and a perfectly straight line really is. In other words. although the circles and lines that people see are not perfectly circular or perfectly straight. they have an idea of what their ideal forms are because these serve as guides for them when they draw or perceive the circle or the straight line
Furthermore. possibly the best illustration of Plato 's theory of forms is his Allegory of the Cave. In the Allegory of the Cave. Plato tells the story of prisoners in a cave only see the shadows of objects in front of them. As these shadows move and change.
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24 October 2013
The Magnificent Philosopher King
Education is a vital component of contemporary society in the pursuit of peace, harmony and ultimately justice. One must be wise enough to understand the principles of justice. In the Republic, Plato portrays the importance of education for being just through his justification for what the Philosopher King knows. The definition of justice is based on the people’s education, experience, and going through the process of shaping a just soul. In order to reach justice, one must experience and learn from the best moments of life to really appreciate it as well as have the wisdom to recognize it. The Philosopher Kings exemplify all of these traits and have an understanding of the world as it is, giving them the strongest foundation for understanding justice. Plato argues for the importance of education for justice in the Republic, emphasizing education in the forms for reaching justice; justice is the harmony between the three parts of the soul. As a result of having a harmonious balance between the three parts of the soul, one is able to achieve Plato’s view of justice.
The main focus of education, from an individual’s perspective, is to gain knowledge. Reason is the most important aspect needed for a person who is seeking to understand justice and know how to achieve it. Plato points out that every soul contains three parts: appetite, spirit, and reason. In addition, Plato states that there are three classifications of people in a just city: Philosopher King, guardians, and workers. The difference amongst people in each of these classes is the balance in their soul of appetites, spirit, and reason. The Philosopher King uses a noble lie, known as “the myth of the metals,” as a way to determine where each person goes. It is noble because it is necessary for there to be a hierarchy within the city, but it is a lie because the gods do not actually do the.
This content was written by a student and assessed as part of a university degree. E-IR publishes student essays & dissertations to allow our readers to broaden their understanding of what is possible when answering similar questions in their own studies.
What is Plato’s Argument for the Conclusion That Philosophers Should Rule?Is it Persuasive?
The purpose of this essay is to examine whether or how far Plato’s argument that philosophers should be the rulers of the Republic is valid and persuasive. In The Republic. Plato argues that kings should become philosophers or that philosophers should become kings, or philosopher kings, as they possess a special level of knowledge, which is required to rule the Republic successfully. The essay will argue that Plato’s argument for the philosopher kings’ rule is neither persuasive nor realistic in theory, but that traces of the characteristics of his ideal form of rule do appear in the modern state. To set out this argument, the essay will firstly consider Plato’s argument for the philosopher kings, as well as its limitations, and secondly and finally consider what characteristics of the philosopher kings’ rule are valid and realistic in terms of the modern state.
In Plato’s work, The Republic. there is a systematic questioning of being, as The Republic itself is an attempt to answer a problem in human behaviour: justice. To deal with the problem of justice, Plato considers the ideal polis, a collective unit of self-government, and the relationship between the structure of the Republic and the attainment of justice. Plato argues that philosopher kings should be the rulers, as all philosophers aim to discover the ideal polis. The ‘kallipolis’, or the beautiful city, is a just city where political rule depends on knowledge, which philosopher kings possess, and not power. Although theoretically it would be ideal if the Republic and the modern state were ruled by knowledge, and not power, power is crucial in the make-up of political activity. This is one of the flaws of Plato’s argument, which the essay will discuss. The question of who should rule emerges, to which the essay will conclude by saying that, in terms of Plato’s argument, the philosopher kings should not be the rulers, as Plato is advertising an undemocratic political system led by a benevolent dictator. At the same time, it is inevitable to pick out some features of the modern state congruent to those of the ideal polis.
The definition of democracy is key in understanding Plato’s argument for rule by philosophers. Nowadays, most modern states are democratic, in the sense that people have a say in the running of the state. Since Plato’s time there has been a debate regarding what democracy is: whether it is the idea of majority rule, or what has come to be known as the ‘Madisonian view’ that democracy involves the protection of minorities. To Plato, it all boils down to what democracy means, literally. Democracy is ‘the rule by the demos’, where ‘demos’ can be understood as ‘the people’, and as “‘the mob’…the unfit” (Wolff; 2006, 67). As Wolff argues, “Making political decisions requires judgement and skill. It should, Plato urges, be left to the experts.” (Wolff; 2006, 67). To further emphasize this, Plato uses the ‘craft analogy’, drawing on the allegory of the ship. In Plato’s The Republic. Socrates sets out an example of a ship led by men ignorant of navigation, who
“don’t understand that a true captain must pay attention to the seasons of the year, the sky, the stars, the winds, and all that pertains to his craft, if he’s really to be the ruler of a ship. And they don’t believe that there is any craft that would enable him to determine how he should steer the ship, whether the others want him to or not, or any possibility of mastering this alleged craft or of practicing it at the same time as the craft of navigation. Don’t you think that the true captain will be called a real stargazer, a babbler, and a good-for-nothing by those who sail in ships governed in that way?” (Plato; 2007, 204)
With this allegory, Plato is not only stressing the idea that specialization is key to the running of the Republic, but also that philosophers were unappreciated in 420 BC Athens, and thus useless because the world would not use them and their knowledge. It also stresses the dangers of liberty and equality, as well as the unnaturalness of democracy.
Plato’s idea of specialization is also linked to justice, which he considers to be structural, as political justice is a result of a structured city, where individual justice is a result of a structured soul, and where each member of the polis has a “specific craft for which he has a natural aptitude” (Reeve; 2009, 69). “Ruling … is a skill” (Wolff; 2006, 68), which requires special training available to few. At the same time, philosophers must possess qualities that enable them to rule; for instance, they must be able to recognize the difference between friend and foe, good and bad. Above all, philosophers must “love wisdom” (Nichols; 1984, 254), as the rule of the wise leads to the reigning of justice, as philosophy becomes sovereign. Justice is a virtue, as is knowledge, which requires understanding. Understanding refers to goodness, and thus, knowledge and goodness are one. The philosopher kings have virtue as they have knowledge, and thus, according to Plato, their rule is justified.
Criticizing Plato’s Argument
Plato’s argument is very much in line with what he defines as democracy, the rule of the unfit. His argument may be valid, in the sense that he explains that these philosophers have “capacity to grasp the eternal and immutable” (Plato; 2007, 204), while common men are blind as they have “no true knowledge of reality, and no clear standard of perfection in their mind to which they can turn” (Plato; 2007, 204-205). Nevertheless, this argument is not persuasive or realistic in contemporary politics and the modern state, for a number of reasons.
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, all modern states stress that today democracy is defined as “government ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people’” (Wolff; 2006, 62). Therefore, all states have not only become supporters of the representative model of democracy, whereby voters determine who will represent them at governmental level, but have also adopted a pluralist attitude towards politics. In fact, the state is, in theory, no longer an instrument in the hands of an elite, or in the hands of Plato’s philosophers, but a public and neutral arena where interest groups come together to argue and discuss policies, which are “mainly economic” (Dryzek and Dunleavy; 2009, 41). Ideally, these interest groups should have the necessary knowledge to bring about political change, but it is very hard to determine and quantify the necessary knowledge to bring about such change. As Wolff argues, “no one can be absolutely certain about anything at all. All claims of knowledge…are fallible” (Wolff; 2006, 70). Also, being a philosopher, and knowing about logic, ethics, metaphysics and political philosophy, does not necessarily make you an expert on the interests of the people. It is the people who, in theory, rulers are aiming to represent and support. Plato is obviously not concerned with a representative form of rule, but nowadays it is necessary, though difficult, to ensure that all the ruled are represented, at least to a certain extent, by their rulers.
Plato also argues that a specific education, available to few, will allow these few to become philosophers, but again this would create a ruling class that is not representative of the ruled. At the same time, it is hard to find a government that is 100% representative of its population. Take the members of the Chamber of Commons, many of whom have attended elite schools such as Eton and Oxford: they are not representative of the population, but are those running the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, Plato’s argument has transcended time, as the Chamber of Lords, as well as the Senate, in bicameral systems, is an arena of experts who check and amend laws made by members of Parliament. Arguably the real experts are those who are aware of the people’s interests, and voting will indicate these interests, since, as Mill argued, “the fallacy here is to think of the people as a homogenous mass with a single interest…we are not like this” (Wolff; 2006, 64).
Finally, the main flaw in Plato’s argument, which renders it highly unpersuasive, is the fact that he is describing and arguing in favour of what Voltaire defined as a “‘benevolent dictatorship’, where an enlightened despot, without the need to consult people, would nevertheless govern in their interests” (Wolff; 2006, 62). In terms of the modern state, where people are continuously asking for a greater say in the running of government, and with a negative view towards totalitarianism due to the happenings of the 20 th century, Plato’s argument becomes increasingly inapplicable. As Karl Popper argued, it is wrong to place political power in the hands of an elite. Nevertheless, it is also unrealistic to claim that an elite does not exist today, as, for instance, there are always several main political parties who take turns running governments.
Plato argues that “there will be no end to the troubles of states… humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in the world… and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands” (Plato; 2007, 192). Perhaps, Plato’s argument for a group of knowledgeable persons who have the ability to bring about happiness and justice in the Republic is ideal, but extremely unrealistic. As Aristotle argued, man is a political animal and it is inevitable for us all, not just for an elite of old men, to be interested and have a say in politics, as it is a force which inevitably affects us all. Plato’s argument is asking us not only to be disinterested in the political process, but also to leave our rights and opinions in the hands of a benevolent dictator. For this reason his argument is not only unpersuasive but is also unrealistic.
Dryzek, John, Dunleavy, Patrick, Theories of the Democratic State. First Edition (Basingstoke; Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)
Nichols, Mary P. “The Republic’s Two Alternatives: philosopher kings and Socrates”, Political Theory. vol. 12, no. 2, May 1984, Pages 252-274
Plato (Author), Lee, Desmond (Translator), Lane, Melissa (Introduction), The Republic. Second Edition with new Introduction (London; Penguin Classics, 2007)
Reeve, C.D.C, Plato. in Boucher, David, and Kelly, Paul, Political Thinkers: From Socrates to the Present. Second Edition( Oxford; Oxford University Press, 2009)
Reeve, C.D.C, Philosopher-Kings: The Argument of Plato’s “Republic”. First Edition (Cambridge, MA; Hackett Publishing Co. Inc. 2006)
Wolff, Jonathan, An Introduction to Political Philosophy. Second Edition (Oxford; Oxford University Press, USA, 2006)
 Philosophy, from the Classical Greek ‘philosophia’, literally means “love of wisdom”.
Written by: Giulia Matassa
Written at: University of York
Written for: Dr. Tim Stanton
Date written: December 2012
the philosopher-king plato
. Epicurus, and Epictetus (Chapter 8). Perictione is believed to have been Plato ’s mother, and we hear in her work echoes of Socrates’. as about the inﬂuence other forgotten and overlooked women philosophers may have had on their more famous peers. In the.
the philosopher-king plato
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schofield philosopher kings and other classical paradigms
In telling the various stories which make up this book I have been helped, stimulated and encouraged by a huge number of friends and colleagues. Some of what I owe to some of them is indicated as its arguments unfold. But I count myself exceptionally.
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