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Philosophy - Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics - Essay Example

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Plato’s Republic conflicts the modern idea of democracy is the superior form of government primarily because Plato’s opinion of democracy is unfavorable. Democracy, defined in terms of allowing free people to govern themselves, occurs in either a direct or representative form…
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Philosophy - Platos Republic and Aristotles Nicomachean Ethics
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Philosophy - Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics

Download file to see previous pages... Therefore, it seems that democracy leads to anarchy. Further, Plato imagines democracy, which invites everyone as equals to rule themselves, as leading to a nation of power-hungry individuals motivated by selfish interests rather than the public good. Accordingly, Plato imagines democracy leading to tyranny. Either way, it seems democracy leads a society on a slippery slope toward an undesirable end-state. In our modern day democracies, we tend to disagree with Plato in saying that, when well controlled, a democracy neither leads to anarchy nor tyranny. But Plato’s opposition to a modern society is more fundamental. The character Socrates advocates for a state ruled by “philosopher-kings” in a rigid system of castes that does not allow for lateral movement between the different groups in society (484d). This is abhorrent from the perspective of liberal democracy because this neither acknowledges the right of individuals to govern oneself nor to find happiness in whatever pursuits one wishes to follow. This desire for a ruling caste stems from Plato’s view of the philosopher as superior in theoretical knowledge over the other people in the state (539e). Despite all of these differences, Plato’s Republic seeks many of the same ends as modern day democracies, including justice as the chief concern of a government (540e) and freedom as a necessary component of a good state (701d). Plato’s Republic advocates for a three-part division of society into classes of rulers, soldiers, and the common people. The reason for this division is the concept of specialization wherein particular tasks or duties are reserved to those who are the most qualified to perform them. Plato believes in this stratification as a means of achieving the greatest amount with the resources available to society. But this stratification leads to severe limits on the liberties of those within the state. For instance, since the rulers of the city already have possession of a superior intellect, Plato reasons that they should be allowed to hold no property, to live at the expense of the state, and to live only on their most basic needs. Similarly, members of the common class and the soldiering class are not allowed lateral mobility within the classes. They are, from birth, determined to stay within those classes to develop and prosper in aid to the city. Plato suggests that if citizens claim their dissatisfaction with the role in which they are placed, then the state ought to supply them with the falsehood that they are, by nature, assigned to that role based on the differential dispositions of people to fulfill certain roles (415a). Although this is an ideal situation from the perspective of Plato’s Socrates, from the perspective of a modern democracy, it leaves much to be desired. In fact, it seems clear that modern societies believe that individuals should be allowed to pursue whatever path they feel is right for them, regardless of whether they are effective in that social role. Of course, the nature of capitalism dictates that individuals perform acts that best enable them to support their livelihoods, but individuals do not need to act within strict social constraints like those proposed in the Republic. Secondly, a modern movement away from a class system lies in disagreement with Plato’s advocacy of a class system. Although classes seem justified on account ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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