Plato’s Republic: Political Manifesto or Psychological Model? [1/2]   Leave a comment

Introduction

Plato’s Republic has been cited as one of the foremost political programs to create a “Perfect Society” the ideal Totalitarian/Authoritarian Society in which Individual Liberties are stripped and extreme Collectivism takes over. However, what if this so-called Political Manifesto was not of a Political Nature at all, but rather a Psychological Model? Suddenly the notion of the Wise and Enlightened Overlord ruling over the large unenlightened mass of men would have to go from an external socio-political context to an internal moral, psychological, and even spiritual context. The aim of this post is to prove the latter, in order to correct the misconceptions of it being the former.

Contradictions With Plato: The Brief Context of Plato

It is my belief that actions in the earlier third of ones life dictates what one will be doing in remaining two-thirds of ones life. The information provided in this section of the post is based on The European Graduate School’s Biography of Plato. In the world Plato came of age in, he witnessed and participated in The Peloponnesian War. After the War he did join the Athenian Oligarchy of the Thirty Tyrants but after a very brief amount of time left it seeing the violence that was ensuing from it. Plato traveled for 12 years of his life, learning the various philosophies, arts and sciences of his day only to open up his own school, called The Academy in Adulthood which was geared toward the various Philosophies, Arts, and Sciences in hopes of brining together thinkers from across Greece in order that they may work toward creating a better society.

Granted the fact that Plato did teach Political Science, I am still not fully convinced that The Republic was primarily a Political Manifesto but rather a Psychological Model using Political Rhetoric to describe it. The fact that, Plato grew up in a time when The Persian Empire was threatening the very way of Greek Life, should be somewhat telling of his very real awareness of oppression, especially when we consider the fact that the Persian Empire was indeed a recognized World Power of its day! Consider also the fact that after the war, Plato saw how the other half lived while siding with the Thirty Tyrants of his Athenian City-State, only to renounce it upon seeing the violence that was created between these Tyrants, the Citizenry, and The Athenian Democrats. Now it has been said, that after Socrates was executed under the Athenian Democratic Regime this was “the final nail in the coffin” so to speak which made him desire to want to leave politics especially of the Athenian kind forever. All of this occurred well before Plato reached the his “Middle Period” which is the same Period in which he wrote The Republic.

Now despite the fact that Plato has written about his concerns of Human Freedom in The Republic, I would argue that a distinction ought to be made. I contend that Plato was concerned about a kind of Arrogant and Libertine kind of Freedom as opposed to True Freedom which would be grounded in an Objective Moral Code and Self-Control. According to my contention then I am one in agreement with Plato on this issue, that Freedom cannot be thought of in terms of merely arbitrarily “doing what I want to do, in anyway I want to do it” and simple self-direction, a kind of “my will be done!” kind of arrogance. There is and ought to be a recognized distinction between Libertarianism and Libertinism.

Finally let us also ask the question, how could a man who is able to Philosophize in such a Context seek to get rid of that Context while saying that in the future there will still be Philosopher Kings? I contend that those Philosopher Kings will not be wise by any transcendent standard, but will be confined to the worldly understandings of wise, any benevolence will be lost to power over people since his wisdom would be worldly not transcendent.

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Posted October 15, 2011 by jimbo9889 in The Objectives

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