Plato's Solution to Maintaining the Socio-Political Balance
Plato is among the most celebrated philosophers. His legacy has grown over the years as more people learn about his teachings and life achievements. His life story has always been an interesting subject among many. Also, his notable works such as Republic have remained to be a topic of interest over the years. To date, many scholars and philosophers look up to Plato’s works as a source of information as they go about their works (Russell, 2016). An example of such captivating works is his dialogue on the political framework where he developed his political theory. It is within this context that the paper gives a detailed exposition on Plato focusing on his political theory.
Plato is believed to have been born between 420BC and 424BC. He was born in Athens Greece to a man named Ariston and a woman named Perictione (Nails, 2006). From a tender age, Ariston was very involved in instilling essential life skills in his son. It is for this reason he worked hard and sacrificed a lot to ensure Plato went to school to get educated. In school, Plato is believed to have been a smart student who was very interested in obtaining knowledge (Nails, 2006). At the time, there were no higher education institutions. For this reason, he did not enroll in any higher education school. As he grew, Plato developed a great interest in philosophy. His desire drove him to engage in philosophic studies. It is in this line that he came to meet Socrates. Socrates was his teacher. He had a great admiration for Socrates. This is evident through his works where he constantly refers to works by Socrates (Nails, 2006). Years later, Plato would meet up with Aristotle and become his teacher. As noted by Nails (2006), the three scholars are celebrated for having laid the foundation for western philosophy through their ancient philosophy.
Plato is known for his many works. Among his most prominent include Republic, Symposium, Apology, and Phaedo. His works were mainly based on his assessment of various life aspects. He further referred to works by other philosophers. Apart from Socrates, other philosophers who inspired him to include Pythagoras and Parmenides (Nails, 2006). As part of his studies and endeavors, Plato traveled a lot. He traveled to Cyrene, Italy, and Egypt. He went back to Athens at the age of 40. It is at this point that he founded a higher education institution in Athens known as the Academy of Athens (Nails, 2006). It was the first higher education institution in Greece. Throughout his life, Plato had many interests. One of these is art and literature. Plato was fascinated by ancient art and literature. As a result, he made use of the two in his works. Secondly, he had a great interest in education from a tender age. This is further pointed out by his efforts to develop a higher learning institution. Plato also had a great interest in love and friendship. As manifested in his works, he believed that they are part of what keeps a man going (Nails, 2006). His other interests include justice and politics which he discussed in his details through his various works.
As earlier pointed out, Plato is one of the greatest and most influential philosophers that ever lived in the western tradition. As noted by Russell (2016), most of his works are still used as a case study to understand the present contemporary world better. Among the subjects, he was most passionate about was politics (Barker, 2012). This is evident through the various political dialogues he crafted to share his insight. According to Plato, man is a political being. As such, he argued that man’s nature can only be fulfilled as a result of their participation in the political community (Bloom & Kirsch, 2016). He went ahead to explain that every individual is part of a political community and that whoever did not belong in one was either more or less of a man.
Plato’s political theory was centered on what he felt should be the ideal structure of the political arena. In his theory, he argued that traditional polis was being brought down by other forces such as imperialism, democracy, and individualism. He explained that these forces should work to improve traditional polis rather than deteriorate it (Bloom & Kirsch, 2016). He felt that defending traditional polis is essential than other economic and social factors such as wealth and reputation. This is because the political framework lays the foundation for economic and social factors (Barker, 2012). Further, political aspects shape the development of these aspects either in a positive or negative manner. Over the years, discussions on Plato’s theories such as the political theory have always been a subject of controversy. The controversy raises since unlike other scholars who opted for treaties when sharing insight, Plato chose to share through dialogues (Nails, 2006). As such, people tend to interpret them differently. However, one fact that holds is that Plato has a strong affinity for justice. He believed that a community’s approach towards justice depicts how members of the community live (Ferrari, 2005). To Plato, justice was more of an individual personal matter. He termed it as a factor of the soul. He alluded that justice is not only concerned with an individual’s conduct but also has a lot to do with their internal psychic condition (Ferrari, 2005). As such, Plato felt that for justice to be achieved, focus should also be paid on changing people’s personally. Plato explained that a great relationship existed between justice and the political framework since justice acts as a guide for rulers on how to go about their roles.
Justice is an integral part of the political framework. As such, in a bid to shedding more light on his political theory, Plato describes his view of a just city. He begins by explaining that many societies have their focus on labor. However, according to Plato, this should not be the case. He explains that in a just city, the primary focus should be on education (Bloom & Kirsch, 2016). Other aspects such as labor, should all work to facilitate and enhance education. Plato felt that if more emphasis were placed on education, then there would be an automatic improvement in the political framework (Bloom & Kirsch, 2016).
At this point, Plato states that he believes that people are affected by their environment. He explains that the human nature is to adapt to any changes in the environment to facilitate comfort and ensure survival (Barker, 2012). This belief depicts his belief that people tend to behave based on their society’s political framework. He goes ahead to state that he further believes that people are different. Plato makes it clear that people in a community have different standings on various factors based on their differences in ideologies (Barker, 2012). Similarly, he explains that people are different based on their political standing within the society. Plato states that a group of people are the rulers, others are auxiliaries, while the rest are farmers (Barker, 2012). In this case, the rulers are ranked highest in the political class while the farmers are the lowest. In discussing the difference in people based on their political class, Plato’s opinion is that people in different political classes have different capabilities to achieve virtue. He argues that the rulers have the highest capabilities while the farmers have the lowest (Bloom & Kirsch, 2016). He explains that the development of a just city is meant to elevate people in different classes. However, he feels that even in a just city the political classes will still hold, only that they will be properly balanced (Ferrari, 2005). Plato attributed the current imbalance to poor leadership whereby philosophical aspects were not taken into consideration by the rulers as they went about their mandate. As noted by Russell (2016), Plato strongly felt that for a just city to be attained the political power and philosophic elements must be merged.
Moreover, Plato’s theory takes into consideration the issue of gender in relation to leadership. Plato explains that the issue of gender shouldn’t affect leadership. He states that both a man and a woman can make to be great ruler if his other highlighted factors are taken into consideration (Bloom & Kirsch, 2016). His opinion on the issue of gender point out that he was not gender biased. It is for this reason that he is considered by some to be one of the pioneers of feminism (Ferrari, 2005). As such, Plato seems to have been gender sensitive in that he felt that men and women can perform the same tasks as well and that their difference in performance is based on other factors but not gender. However, he insists that every individual within a society should play the role they are best suited. Alluding to his belief on differences between human beings, Plato states that every individual has that role which he performs best. As such, if all individuals were to perform their best in these activities, then a great socio-political balance would be struck.
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