Plato, one of the best known Greek philosophers, was a student of Socrates and a teacher of Aristotle. He’s notable not only for his tremendous insight into philosophy, but his style as well. Instead of explaining his ideas in a long soliloquy, he used dialogue to teach. For his dialogues, he uses Socrates and what we now know as the Socratic method to extract ideas from his characters. In Plato’s Republic, we take a look at what he thinks the ideal society would be. So, let’s take a look at what Plato has to say about his ideal political situation.
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“Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.”–Plato
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For starters, it’s important to understand how Plato writes, like what I mentioned above. He uses his teacher, Socrates, and a dialogue to extract ideas from his characters. In order to do this, he has to use students of Socrates to ask questions. By doing this, he allows readers to enter into the story and see different points of views answered. Rather than reading a long explanation of an idea, you can see how the ideas clash and follow the tension between them. So, you are pulled in more like a story than a philosophical treatise.
More about Plato’s Republic
What does Plato prescribe for the perfect society? Well, we may not find it ideal based on our modern ideas, but he raises many interesting points about human nature. At the beginning, the characters are discussing morality with Socrates. Questions arise about what morality is and whether or not it is a good thing to be moral. After that, we look at an extended allegory of the perfect society that leads us to an understanding of morality. In this work, he shows that morality is something noble and worth pursuing, and that it is good in and of itself.
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