“Republic” and the Crisis of Athen’s Politics

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To what extent is Republic addressing the “crisis” of Athen’s political system?

  • Plato doesn’t believe that democracy is the best form of government
    • Criticizes it of being highly corruptible by allowing excessive freedom and allowing everyone to participate in politics, giving power to those that are power hungry and injust, as well as those that lack competent leadership or proper skills and morals
      • Can lead to anarchy or tyranny
      • Believed it to be highly unstable
  • He believed that the quality of human life would be improved if people were rational and realized that it would be most beneficial to have harmonious cooperation with one another rather than a desire for competition and war
  • Plato was pessimistic about people by nature and believed that the ideal community would be ruled by philosophers since they are able to true and false beliefs and are motivated by their love of knowledge and the common good
    • To prevent and minimize corruption, they wouldn’t be allowed to own private property and would lead very modest lives
    • The philosopher rulers would include both men and women
  • To address social class inequality, Plato decided that his utopian city would be composed of three classes
    • The philosopher rulers would rule and have respect and contemplative leisure, but not wealth or honors
    • The guardians would have military honors, but not leisure or wealth
    • The producers would have family life, wealth, freedom of enterprise, but not rule or honors
      • Each class performs what they are best fit to do and so are unified in one utopian community
  • Four virtues of a good political society: justice, wisdom, moderation, and courage
    • Plato defines justice as each class being given its due and ensuring that each “does one’s own work”

Korab-Karpowicz. “Plato: Political Philosophy”. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Last modified September 5, 2015. http://www.iep.utm.edu/platopol/