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Plato's Republic

  • Date Submitted: 08/28/2010 01:31 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 45 
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Plato’s Republic

When one first glances at Plato’s Republic, one may be led to believe that it simply tells of Plato (through the voice of Socrates) rambling on and on about his so-called “perfect” society.   However, this history concerns much deeper themes.   At the time Plato was writing the Republic, he seemed to be bothered by many of the present-day “downfalls” in Athens.   He felt that the democratic government, even the democratic way of life, had failed the Athenian state.   According to Plato, a democracy was merely equality of political opportunity and, he noted caustically, freedom “to do what one likes”, and he believed that democrats were “lacking in principle”.   Under the impression that all forms of existing government were seriously flawed, Plato laid out through argument his view of an ideal – or, in his opinion, a philosophic – society.
Throughout the Republic, several major problems worried Plato: reason (education), appetite (self-control), spirit (courageous drive), and justice.   Plato resolved that reason was most important, since rationality was highly significant in his mind; following reason was appetite, because he believed that without self-control, greed and over-ambition would be present to a large extent, and this would lead to decline; spirit, or audacity, was kept in check by reason and appetite, because Plato feared that it could lead to impudence.  
Claiming that justice was merely the proper balance of the other three, Plato (as well as several of the men nearby during this particular argument) tried to determine what was just and unjust.   Cephalus, a wealthy businessman, believed that justice was “truthfulness and returning anything we have borrowed”.   Socrates refuted this by claiming that it could be right or wrong to do these things.   “For instance,” Socrates replied, “if one borrowed a weapon from a friend who subsequently went out of his mind…surely it would be generally agreed that one not ought to return it?”   Unhappy...


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