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Plato's Arguments Against Democracy

Info: 1029 words (4 pages) Essay
Published: 27th Oct 2021 in Philosophy

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Plato believed that corruption is not accidental, however it is intentional. He was against democracy which means, 'the rule of many'‚Äč. Plato believed only a natural leader should rule not an artificial leader chosen by a democratic vote. Plato's disagreements with democracy ultimately led to his outline of what he believed to be a just city. He provides opinions and reasons on his opposition to democracy and focuses on the cure for a corrupt one, supplies reasoning on what makes a truly wise person, utilizes the educational process and social positions to establish harmony, and then conducts his opinion/vision on his perspective of a just city and its' requirements.

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To begin with, Plato was opposed to democracy for a few reasons. The only conditions for the Athenian democracy were, one had to be a man, born Greek, and own property. This did not sit well with Plato because to him it made no sense whatsoever. For instance, having many people decide who can rule with no political experience is like having many people choose who is going to fly an airplane. Only individuals that were professionally taught should be chosen from to fly an airplane. Plato believed Athenian democracy is a social disease and the only cure for it would be justice. According to Plato, the problems with democracy were universal incompetence and political selfishness.

In addition, universal incompetence means the abuse of authority to cover up ones' own treacherous actions. If just about any Greek man that owned property was able to rule, then governing is subject for corruption. Political selfishness is when governing is basically based on the love of money and power rather than the love of justice. This can result in absolutely no self-control as well as too much freedom. Plato believes that if the wise were to rule, that these problems would be nonexistent.

He also outlines what he thinks a person should acquire in order to be considered wise by also indicating social classes.

In fact, one should attend to the needs of the soul before they do of the body for the soul is eternal. However, without reason, this could not occur. According to Plato, reason is what makes us human. Therefore, a healthy soul would be when reason dominates and rules individuals' appetites (food/drinks/sex/etc.), passions, and emotions. One must have a healthy soul to be virtuous which is defined by Plato as a form of human perfection. He then lists three different types of virtues and associates them with the three different social positions to find harmony in the just city.

First, the virtue of appetites equal to moderations is being able to control ones' love of pleasure. This virtue would be associated with the productive class which is ranked the lowest class in the social positions of the just city. The productive class is ranked the lowest because it is governed by the love of money resulting in no political power. Although they would receive no political power, they will be able to obtain property. Doctors, lawyers, farmers, and architects are some examples of the types of people to be placed in this class.

Next, the virtue of passion equal to courage is the ability to control our anger and fear of danger. The virtue of passion is associated with the guardian class. The guardian class is filled with those who love honor for example the army or policemen. This class will not acquire any property, but they shall have relative power to protect and uphold the laws. The guardian class is ranked above the productive class due to their unity and team spirit.

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Lastly, wisdom is associated with the wise. Wisdom is made up of two components, intellectual perfection and moral goodness. Those who are truly wise would not have any property neither would they care to have any. These are truly humble individuals who are absolutely at peace within themselves which is why they are ranked the highest in the just city. Typically, philosophers would be part of the wise class and be the only class to have absolute political power. He justifies the rule of the wise by arguing that wisdom represents the highest most noble condition of human nature and how a natural leader should be the one to lead. A wise individuals' primary concern is their duty to society.

Eventually, Plato establishes requirements for what he considers necessary for the wise ruler. First, one must have general education until the age eighteen. Second, one must have two years military experience. Third, one must have completed ten years of math and science. Fourth, individuals must have completed four years of philosophy and finally, an individual needs fifteen years of admin experience in politics. Therefore, for a person to become a wise ruler they would have to be about fifty years old or over which was unfortunate because in that period people usually lived to about seventy years of age.

Furthermore, Plato's idea of the just city is not enough. He then speculates how to fit people into the role of the just city and how it would form harmony. His idea of a just city is where no conflict would occur. Plato believes everyone is fitted for the role in the just city through the educational process. The educational process is about establishing a perfect fit between your individual talents, natural talents, and social need. By doing this he figures everyone would be happy doing what they are naturally good at and there would be no disruption because there would be one man for one job.

To conclude, Plato was a republican. His goal was to make the world a better place and overthrow corruptness. He strongly believed the wise should rule due to their moral character and logic. Wise men are natural leaders and those are the only people that should be able to rule. Plato did not like the thought of an artificial leader chosen by democratic vote which is why he imposed the idea of the just city. To Plato, the just city being in effect would promote harmony for everyone because all individuals would be happy doing what they are naturally gifted to do.

 

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