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Plato's The Republic Criticism of Democracy - Essay Example

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One of the greatest minds in Western Philosophical thought is Plato. His work has continuously been referred to in many areas of philosophy. More importantly, Plato's work has, until this very day, exerted certain influences not just on modern thought but on today's society as well.
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Platos The Republic Criticism of Democracy
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Download file to see previous pages Instead, Plato favored the Republic as the best form of government. His depiction of a Republic was one where it was ruled by the lovers of wisdom and/or the lovers of honor. This is quite contrary to today's belief that democracy is the best and the only fully justifiable political system. Today's concept of democracy has been popularized specifically with the American view of democracy as a government of the people by the people and for the people.
As much as it may seem surprising, Plato found inherent flaws in democracy as a political system and as a form of government. More surprising is the fact that although Plato's thoughts may seem to be outdated and ancient, his criticisms of democracy are quite in certain modern democratic societies. Plato's criticism of democracy is hinged on his belief that democracy has the tendency to degenerate into anarchy. This, he believes, is democracy's greatest weakness. Although such a belief may not seem as apparent in today's democratic societies, a deeper analysis of certain democracies today may reveal that there is indeed some truth to Plato's assertions. However, one must not be mistaken in thinking that the flaws of democracy that may be applicable to the modern form of democracy predominant in today's world cannot be changed. These flaws are not fundamental to all democracies today. There are but certain democratic societies that need to alter their political system because of certain flaws that are contrary to the fundamental principles of modern democracy.
Plato views democracy as the second worst form of government. In his work, The Republic, he points out that the biggest weakness of a democracy is that it can easily lead to anarchy. Moreover, because of its essential features coupled with certain attributes of man, a democracy can lead to tyranny. His rationale behind his dislike for democracy is that democracy tends to lead to excessive freedom. Although Plato believes in the significance and true value of freedom, he asserts that with the form that democracy takes, it is not unlikely for people to exercise excessive freedom. When people have the freedom to do as they please, there is that tendency to lead to anarchy.
Democracy is hinged on the ideology that every person has the equal right and equal capacity to lead. However, in Plato's point of view, he sees this as an avenue which may lead to a government that is ruled by individuals in pursuit of personal gains rather than for public good. In The Republic, Plato wrote;
....Is it not the excess and greed of this and the neglect of all other things that revolutionizes this constitution too and prepares the way for the necessity of a dictatorship...
...When a democratic city athirst for liberty gets bad cupbearers for its leaders and is intoxicated by drinking too deep of that unmixed wine, and then, if its so-called governors are not extremely mild and gentle with it and do not dispense the liberty unstintedly, it chastises them and accuses them of being accursed oligarch.
In this sense, democracy is indeed highly corruptible. Democracy, viewed from this light, opens gates to demagogues, potential dictators, and can thus lead to tyranny.
Before, one judges Plato's view, it must be noted that his conception of democracy is based on what he saw in Athenian democracy. In certain respects, not all of his thoughts and ideas may be applicable to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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