The Republic': Ideas for Building an Ideal Society

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In describing the ideal society, Plato cited abstract values and concrete systemic reforms. Abstractly, Plato described the republic through the virtues of justice, courage, temperance, and wisdom. This also came in how one’s soul must be ordered, reflecting the society as a whole, with reason and spirit controlling the appetite for pleasure. This laid the groundwork for the guiding principles upon which citizens were meant to live by.

Concretely, reforms must be made as regards government and communal structure.Regarding government structure, “guardians” rule, with the sole aim of public service ensured by barring them from owning any private property. There are two classifications: philosophic leaders and auxiliaries. A philosopher-king deals with legislation and deliberation and is elected on the merits of his wisdom and character, reflected by their natural affinities and academic achievement. This wisdom is exemplified by the auxiliaries, who are in charge of the military.

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On the process of specifically how the Guardians are selected, the selection is made based on a system which divides the society into different roles. To do this, metals are used as a classification system for the citizens. Philosophic rulers possess gold within them and silver in the auxiliaries. Iron and brass, in contrast, is possessed by the farmers and craftsmen. These Guardians are required to undergo different tasks that will test their worthiness and competence as a candidate for guardianship. The Guardians are there to be role models. They are there so that the people will change their behavior and conduct themselves the same as how the Guardians conduct themselves.

Regarding communal structure, there is a commonwealth where artisans, builders, farmers, and anyone with a specialization can live. This commonwealth is a community that pools together its resources so that everyone will be fed, clothed, and sheltered. However, a community that will be big enough to hold all of these people must have a lot of territory. Because of limited territory, there is a need to raid other countries for their land. This raid will lead to war and the auxiliaries will be the ones leading the army.

Additionally, Plato calls for the abolition of the family. This entails the community not knowing how exactly they are related to one another, and thus treating each citizen as family with the philosopher-king as the parent.

Ultimately, it was Plato’s goal to create a society that favors no particular class. Though clear divisions were made among the roles of each individual, the virtues of justice were meant to safeguard the happiness of the society at large. Through all these, whether this republic was possible or not, Plato managed to establish an early idea of a true utopia.

According to Plato, common people are prone to a mob mentality, which leads to the election of substandard leaders. Plato does not subscribe to the idea of democracy because he firmly believes that until people learn to think critically, they should not be allowed to vote. He has observed that in a democracy, people tend to vote without thinking and the candidates they vote for are not suited to fill positions of power. These rulers are almost always corrupt in their belief and only serve their self-interest. Because of this, he insists that people unlock the proper ability to discern only when they gain the wisdom equal to that of a philosopher. Plato believes that the people in positions of power should be philosophers or people who practice philosophy. He means philosophy in the sense that you examine your feelings and ideas so that you will be able to act rationally. Rulers must clarify their ideas so that their resolve will remain strong even when challenged.

Another reason why Plato does not believe in democracy is because one aspect of his model society renders votation obsolete. This is because he has his own concept of selecting Guardians as public servants. He emphasizes that children with gold in them must be educated and trained to be the guardians at an early age. It is because of this early training that disallows letting just any individual run for public office. In other words, an entirely different class of citizens is already set to become the governing class, which both serves as a means of quality control and removes the point of voting for them in the first place.

Plato’s ideas were used as the foundation of much of Western philosophy and thinking. Plato’s The Republic is relevant even until today because his ideas about justice and democracy, among others, could still be applied in our own society. It is also clear that Plato’s goal of ensuring inter-class prosperity is easy to share across generations. His ideas aim to solve fundamental problems that centuries of evolution still has not solved. There is still a need for rulers to think and act rationally. Subsequently, there is still a need for voters to think and vote rationally. To illustrate this, Plato’s undoubtedly radical idea to abolish families puts large emphasis on how one’s reputation may be completely founded upon their ancestry. Although this policy may never be realized, it still manages to highlight the importance of discernment between personal accomplishment and familial influence. Furthermore, securing the happiness of a community as a whole is still one of the greatest concerns of most communities. The Republic prescribes the complete removal of personal gain in the form of private property in relation to public office to ensure the service of leaders is not underhanded. This has a clear connection to Marxist ideals regarding abolishing private property altogether. While a lot of people argue that Plato’s ideal state is a utopia, given a margin of error, many believe it could be realized. And if it is fully realized, corruption will just be a concept. Altogether, it is this combination of fundamentalism and radical experimentation that Plato’s ideas serve as a monolithic framework for societal reform.

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The Republic’: Ideas for Building an Ideal Society. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-republic-ideas-for-building-an-ideal-society/
“The Republic’: Ideas for Building an Ideal Society.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/the-republic-ideas-for-building-an-ideal-society/
The Republic’: Ideas for Building an Ideal Society. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-republic-ideas-for-building-an-ideal-society/> [Accessed 15 Jul. 2024].
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