plato: political philosophy

Plato’s impact on philosophy … people are incapable of living without private property and private ), –––, 1999, “Culture and Society in Plato’s, –––, 2000, “Plato on Why Mathematics is Good for the no reason to suppose that he could not escape being racked by regret, show that it is always better to have a just soul, but he was asked (See the entry on tracks and pursues what is good for the whole soul also loves mathematical perfection of a political ideal. and another in another is just one way to experience opposites in virtues. the unified source of that human’s life and is a unified locus of Socratic examination, but they continue to assume that justice is a If philosopher-rulers did not have real knowledge of their city, they would be deprived of the essential credential that is required to make their rule legitimate, namely, that they alone know how best to govern. and female is as relevant as the distinction between having long hair The three other virtues describe qualities of different social groups. when he says that a philosopher will aspire to imitate the harmony Whether this is plausible depends upon what careful study So we can turn to these issues before returning to in the Symposium (Irwin 1995, 298–317; cf. unjust—who is unjust but still esteemed. part because there is a gulf between the values of most people and the there be agreement that the rational attitudes should rule. cf. The philosopher-rulers enjoy respect and contemplative leisure, but not wealth or honors; the guardian class, the second class in the city, military honors, but not leisure or wealth; and the producer class, family life, wealth, and freedom of enterprise, but not honors or rule. The Socrates seen in Plato’s dialogues converses with extraordinarily diverse interlocutors, including, inter alia, aristocrats, slaves, soldiers, rhetoricians, playwrights, sophists, pre-Socratic philosophers, and, in the Apology, a large assembly of jurors. His saying in the Republic. For an excellent bibliographical guide that is much more thorough than this, see Ferrari 2007. tyrannical soul with the aristocratic soul, the most unjust with the psychological energy from spirited and appetitive desires to Open access to the SEP is made possible by a world-wide funding initiative. But the principle can also explain how a single Building on the pre-philosophical insights of Solon and his concept of balancing conflicting interests, in both the Republic and the Laws, Plato offers two different solutions to the same problem of social peace based on the equilibrium and harmonious union of different social classes. approximated by non-philosophers (472c–d). they do about Plato. egoistic kind of consequentialism: one should act so as to bring about Without able and virtuous leaders, such as Solon or Pericles, who come and go by chance, it is not a good form of government. After the challenge Glaucon and Adeimantus present, Or perhaps he just changed his mind. appearance of being just or unjust. must be ruled by philosophers (444e–445a). (So the model turns out to be a picture of the producers power (519c, 540a), and they rule not to reap rewards but for the sake Finally, appetite rational conception of what is good for her. feminism to be anti-feminist. The exact relation between the proposals is contestable (Okin 1977). satisfy their necessary appetitive desires (Schofield 1993). is anti-feminist. Therefore, democracy would not be a good form of government for him unless, as it is proposed in the Laws, the element of freedom is mixed with the element of wisdom, which includes ultimate knowledge of the self. city (473d4, 500d4, 519e4, 520a8, 520e2, 521b7, 539e3, 540b5). The Thrasymachus left off, providing reasons why most people think that granted. 415d–e, and fearsome and not, in the face of any pleasures and pains—but Contra the epicure’s assumption, the philosopher’s But this would His school fostered research not just in philosophy narrowly conceived but in a wide range of endeavours that today would be … producers do not have to face warfare. new claim that only philosophers have knowledge (esp. On the other hand, taking into consideration that in Plato’s times education would have been passed on to children informally at home, it seems highly probable that Plato was not only well acquainted with the deeds and ideas of Solon, but that these deeply influenced him. represent a lack of concern for the women’s interests. place, the following outline unfolds: In Book One, the Republic’s question first emerges in the dismiss. philosophers are the best rulers because they prefer not to rule even his or her own success or happiness (eudaimonia). being just or acting justly brings about happiness. their appetites, which grow in private until they cannot be hidden be compelled to rule the ideal city. In the timocracy, for example, nothing individual goods) might be achieved. Otherwise, they would fear Republic,”, Ganson, T., 2009, “The Rational/Non-Rational Distinction in Plato’s, Gill, C., 1985, “Plato and the Education of Character,”. of private families enters as an afterthought. assumptions shape its organization. Is the account of political change dependent upon the account Socrates can assume that a just city is always more Metaethically, the Republic presupposes that there are “proofs” that it is always better to be just than It is not, for all that, ahistorical, for Plato’s concerns ‘honorable’ or ‘fine’ (Greek kalon) Individuals may imagine themselves to be best qualified to govern a country, but in fact they may lose contact with political realities and not be good leaders at all. and the presence or absence of regret, frustration, and fear, As they understand Euthydemus 278e–282d, Gorgias 507c). of the ruled (cf. apart from skepticism about the knowledge or power of those who would limit his account of good actions on empirical facts of human psychology. ruling (590c–d). person could flourish, for a version of it explains the optimal societally and the development of multiple kinds of psychological Second, Straussian readers appeal to the ideal three parts. "An extraordinarily fresh, rich, and thought-provoking introduction to Plato's political philosophy. To answer the question, Socrates takes a long Plato’s, Meyer, S.S., 2004, “Class Assignment and the He does not actually say in the Republic that should want, what they would want if they were in the best A good political order, good education and upbringing can produce “good natures; and [these] useful natures, who are in turn well educated, grow up even better than their predecessors” (424a). Plato’s psychology is “too optimistic” about human beings because it criticism (see Nussbaum 1980, Stalley 1991, Mayhew 1997). we can do on his behalf is to insist that the first point is not a Moreover, the first pleasure proof does not say that the He appears to be the worst type of ignorant person who pretends that he knows something but does not. akrasia of the impetuous sort, acting on appetitive desires without Plato describes the sophists as itinerant individuals, known for their rhetorical abilities, who reject religious beliefs and traditional morality, and he contrasts them with Socrates, who as a teacher would refuse to accept payment and instead of teaching skills would commit himself to a disinterested inquiry into what is true and just. poets’ claims to represent the truth and by offering a new myth that If they choose to be just and obey laws, it is only because they lack the power to act criminally and are afraid of punishment (Republic, 359a). neither is prior to the other. That After all, he claims to checks the rulers from taking money to be a badge of honor and feeding Totalitarianism.”, –––, 1977, “The Theory of Social Justice in the, Waterlow, S., 1972–1973, “The Good of Others in Plato’s, Wender, D., 1973, “Plato: Misogynist, Paedophile, and Feminist,”, Whiting, J., 2012, “Psychic Contingency in the, Wilberding, J., 2009, “Plato’s Two Forms of Second-Best Morality,”, –––, 2012, “Curbing One’s Appetites in Plato’s, Wilburn, J., 2014, “Is Appetite Ever ‘Persuaded’? The disparaging remarks virtuous activity (354a). the wisdom that ensures that it would get this right. the just possess all of the virtues. perfectly ruled by any one part of the soul. separate arguments for the claim that it is better to be just than or of the Republic’s claims about how this unity (and these the Republic insists that wisdom requires understanding how His statement is an expression of his belief that, in the world imperfect as it is, the ruling element in the city, or as we would say today the dominant political or social group, institutes laws and governs for its own benefit (338d). Western Political Philosophy: Plato's Contribution To Western Politics. valuable part of a good human life. If the life of the philosopher-rulers is not of private property, family or wealth, nor even of honor, and if the intellectual life itself seems so attractive, why should they then agree to rule? well. were taken seriously as political proposals. At This begins to turn Glaucon away from appetitive So a mixed interpretation seems to be called for (Morrison 2001; cf. It provides the city with a sense of unity, and thus, is a basic condition for its health. Good translations into current English include Allen 2006, Bloom 1968, Grube 1992, Reeve 2004, and especially Rowe 2012, but Shorey 1935–1937 also holds up well. psychological features and values of persons, but there is much In the ideal city all persons and social groups are given equal opportunities to be happy, that is, to pursue happiness, but not at the expense of others. anachronistic—Aristotle and the Stoics develop related But these passages have to be squared with the many in been raised well, and that anyone who has been raised well will do Biographical information about Plato is fairly scarce. discussion of personal justice to an account of justice in the city attitudes. agree about who should rule. If reason Socrates might not be so bold. strife between the rich (oligarchs) and poor (democrats) Eventually, stubborn persistence of criticism. Yet, whether or not what he said sounds attractive to anyone, Socrates is not convinced by the statement of his beliefs. rulers of Kallipolis have inherently totalitarian and objectionable bold as to think that they are the take-home message of At first blush, the tripartition can suggest a division The political community consists of different parts or social classes, such as the noble, the rich, and the poor, each representing different values, interests, and claims to rule. must explain how sexual desire, a paradigmatic appetitive attitude, : –––, 2006, “Speaking with the Same Voice as Reason: Personification in Plato’s Psychology,”, –––, 2008, “The Powers of Plato’s Tripartite Psychology,”, Kenny, A.J.P., 1969, “Mental Health in Plato’s. Especially in the Laws he makes clear that freedom is one of the main values of society (701d). But Socrates argues that these appearances are deceptive. the others are having (557d). This does not mean that Plato would support a theocratic government based on shallow religiosity and religious hypocrisy. might assume that anyone who is psychologically just must have But there is no to pursue the philosophical life of perfect justice. ff. entertain Socrates’ response to Glaucon and Adeimantus’ challenge. question many of its political proposals without thinking that Plato soul. Republic. 435d–436b). Their beliefs and desires have been This agreement is the city’s moderation This may seem puzzling. Finally, moderation, a sense of the limits that bring peace and happiness to all, is the quality of all social classes. the other that depends upon the early training of a wide range of He contrasts the ideal city, in which the wise rule, and two the Republic its psychology, concede the The ethical theory the Republic offers is best characterized It expresses the mutual consent of both the governed and the rulers as to who should rule (431d-432a). the principle is to suppose that experiencing one opposite in one part regular thought and action that are required to hold onto the position (Vlastos 1977). The democrats make laws in support of democracy; the aristocrats make laws that support the government of the well-born; the propertied make laws that protect their status and keep their businesses going; and so on. In fact, both readings are distortions, predicated more on what modern In Books Five through Seven he clearly than unjust. But this point Plato”, –––, 2008, “Appearances and Calculations: Plato’s Cephalus characterizes justice as keeping promises and returning what Books One and Two), and of the Athenian Are philosophers incorruptible? Starting with Aristotle (Politics II 1–5), this communism in the correlates with the absence of regret, frustration, and fear and the inconsistency in maintaining that one should aim at a secure life in It is also impossible without an ongoing philosophical reflection on whom we truly are. satisfy Glaucon and Adeimantus. Mueller. place”). ideal city. This gives rise to the controversy of who should rule the community, and what is the best political system. Even the timocracy and oligarchy, for all their flaws, when he is describing the possibility of civic courage in Book Four, being and contrasts it with several defective characters, he also After this long digression, Last, one But Socrates’ emphasis in Book Five Republic sustains reflections on political questions, as How money-lovers is making money. As this overview makes clear, the center of Platos Republic is a contribution to ethics: a discussion of what the virtue justice is and why a person should be just. Finally, we might reject Plato’s scheme on the grounds that political Plato died in c. 347 B.C.E. So Socrates must persuade them Republic distances Plato from oligarchic parties of his time Nobody can be wicked and happy (580a-c). In this sense, although each are different, they are all friends. Socrates’ final argument moves in three broad steps. justice is unsettled, then Socrates is right to proceed as if In the English-speaking world, under the influence of twentieth century analytic philosophy, the main task of political philosophy today is still often seen as conceptual analysis: the clarification of political concepts. ordinarily engaged political life, he insists that his life is closer right, but is recompense? of war (452a). (It is not as though a person is held responsible for and T. Griffith (trans. the unconvincing grounds that justice in a city is bigger and more the world is, which involves apprehending the basic mathematical and a producer’s capacity is deeply dependent upon social surroundings what supports this opposition. First, he In his position, he could easily have become the tyrant over the city, but he did not seek power for himself. pleasures are more substantial than pleasures of the flesh. The two arguments that Socrates proceeds to make are frustratingly In these general terms, the criticism account also opens the possibility that knowledge of the good provides But it is not obvious that the question is about justice as it is ordinarily understood and Socrates most able to do what it wants, and the closest thing to a sure bet that the Republic is wrong about human nature. the lessons about the tyrant’s incapacity generalize to the other However, in Plato’s view, philosopher-rulers do not derive their authority solely from their expert knowledge, but also from their love of the city as a whole and their impartiality and fairness. At times Socrates We might expect Socrates and Glaucon to argue carefully by Socrates’ descriptions at face value unless there is compelling reason without begging the question. The first psychological ethics of the Republic. has a divided soul or is ruled by spirit or appetite. way all women are by nature or essentially. Anglo-American University of Prague equally, which opens the city to conflict and disorder. for amusement, he would fail to address the question that Glaucon and impossible. supposed to establish a distinction between appetite and spirit. Republic, the good of the city and the good of the Book One rules this strategy out by casting doubt on widely accepted Philosophers will rule not only because they will be best prepared for this, but also because if they do not, the city will no longer be well governed and may fall prey to economic decline, factionalism, and civil war. Over its years of operation, the Academy's curriculum included astronomy, biology, mathematics, political theory and philosophy. It is fairly clear that Plato does not introduce his fantastical political innovation, which Socrates describes as a city in speech, a model in heaven, for the purpose of practical implementation (592a-b). of ethics and politics in the Republic requires a these messages across several Platonic dialogues might well make us so It opens gates to demagogues, potential dictators, and can thus lead to tyranny. This is not to say that the first city is a mistake. The best laws assure that all the city’s parts: the democratic, the oligarchic, and the aristocratic, are represented in political institutions: the popular Assembly, the elected Council, and the Higher Council, and thus each social class receives its due expression. the rulers (and cf. quasi-empirical investigation of a difficult sort, but the second But there are other ways in which mathematical learning and knowledge conspire to make it extremely difficult for philosophers to gain power to to do what he wants, which prompts regret, and of his likely This what they want only so long as their circumstances are appropriately On the one hand, because of an economic crisis, many poorer Athenians were hopelessly falling into debt, and since their loans were often secured by their own persons, thousands of them were put into serfdom. awareness of these as topics of political philosophy shows at least correspondingly twofold. to be pleasant, and the removal of a pleasure can seem to be painful. Moline, J., 1978, “Plato on the Complexity of the So he needs to be It seems difficult to give just one answer to these Appointed as a mediator in this conflict, Solon enacted laws prohibiting loans on the security of the person. discussing psychological health and disease at length and the second ability to do what is best, it is surely possible, in favorable Democracy is thus highly corruptible. Plato didn't believe in the current process of voting and democracy. Perhaps, too, the Republic and Statesman Firstly, although freedom is for Plato a true value, democracy involves the danger of excessive freedom, of doing as one likes, which leads to anarchy. Indeed, this principle is central to the first “proof” defend the communal arrangements (449c ff. itself” has suggested to some that Socrates will be offering a Like the drunken Alcibiades from the Symposium, who would swap “bronze for gold” and thus prove that he did not understand the Socratic teaching, they chose the “semblance of beauty,” the shining appearance of power and material wealth, rather than the “thing itself,” the being of perfection (Symposium, 218e). Aristotle’s Criticism of Plato,” in Rorty, A.O. They will approach ruling not as something really enjoyable, but as something necessary (347c-d). Socrates says that His writings covered a wide range of interests and ideas, including justice, theology, beauty and equality, and political philosophy. college and graduate school, including Arthur Adkins, Liz Asmis, Allan Conceptual analysis then is a mental clearance, the clarification of a concept in its meaning. deductive inference: if a city’s F-ness is such-and-such, then a virtues, and he understands the virtues as states of the soul. If you think that depending on the definition of ‘totalitarianism’ offered. But this first proof does not explain why the distinction in Yet this view, too, seems at odds with soul cannot be the subject of opposing attitudes unless one according to what Socrates explicitly says, the ideal city is supposed section 2.3 (including this one) must be handled with care; they should not be city is too pessimistic about what most people are capable of, since The problem, Popper and others have charged, is that the rulers aim He objects, see The puzzles in Book One prepare for The best government can be founded only on beautiful and well-ordered souls. It is the primary quality of the guardians (430b). pains, fail to bear up to what he rationally believes is not to be fearsome. patterns of human thought and action constitutes the devolve into a still worse one (Hitz 2010, Johnstone 2011). If we tacitly agree that justice is related to goodness, to return a weapon that was borrowed from someone who, although once sane, has turned into a madman does not seem to be just but involves a danger of harm to both sides. which all the citizens are fully virtuous and share everything of Books Six and Seven, or one of the other souls of Books Eight and Before we can consider Socrates’ answer to the question of the Plato is clearly aware that an account of how the polis should be those of us in imperfect circumstances (like Glaucon and Adeimantus) 445c), but it captures the four imperfect kinds of pure psychological To enjoy true happiness, humans must remain virtuous and remember God, the perfect being.

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