Doubt, Plato's "Republic Term Paper

Pages: 6 (1821 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Black Studies - Philosophy

¶ … doubt, Plato's "Republic" is regarded as one of the greatest philosophical writings within western history. It is a foundational document from which all western philosophy has its roots. The purpose of this work was to create a vision of Plato's perfect society. Within it he details the blueprint of a utopian society. This blueprint is a sketch of a society in which the problems he observed in society were eased through established rules and hierarchies. Plato sought both a cure for human society as well as the human personality. Plato's utopia consists of three distinct, non-hereditary class systems. These consist of guardians, auxiliaries and workers, each of whom have a distinct role within the society itself. Guardians consist of both non-ruling guardians and ruling guardians, with non-ruling guardians serving as high level civil servants while ruling guardians act as the policy makers for the entire society. Auxiliaries are the combination of soldiers and minor civil servants. Finally, the bulk of society is made up of workers, which includes the farmer and artisan population as well as the most commonly unskilled laborers. This class division is intended as a mechanism to promote greater harmony within society and to develop a system whereby stability as well as righteous leadership could be achieved permanently. However, the central question on the justice and fairness of such a system lies in how each class lives. The principle question within this particular analysis is to critically examine which class contains the happiest individuals. A careful analysis of these three classes will reveal whether Plato applies fair living standards to each of his social classes.

Term Paper on Doubt, Plato's "Republic" Is Regarded as One Assignment

Plato's principle of specialization leads to a very stratified society. His logic is that the ideal state comprises of individuals who understand their particular position within society and contentedly operate only to their capabilities. The first of these classes is the guardian class. The guardian class is made of the ruling class within Plato's ideal society. They consist of individuals who both control the political policies of the city as well as the higher level "non-ruling" civil servants within this class. At the outset, it would appear that since these individuals are the elites of society, they would be by far the wealthiest and happiest of the three classes. However, Plato anticipates the dissatisfaction that such a class system which favors guardians would bring about. Therefore he argues that the position of guardian comes with severe restrictions. Since they are already gifted with superior natural talents, they have no need for wealth or other external rewards. He maintains that guardians should have no private property ownership. Furthermore, guardians will live and eat at the expense of the government, but draw no salary greater than that needed to supply the most basic of needs. Plato constructs this model so that no one would have any venal motive for seeking such a position of leadership. He believes that through this system, guardians will govern solely from a concern to pursue the greatest welfare for the state. Plato ostensibly maintains that membership within the guardian class should be based exclusively on the possession of appropriate skills. However, he assumes that future guardians will typically be the offspring of those who currently hold similar positions. Understanding this model of the guardian class makes it much less appropriate to contend that by nature they would be happiest. It appears instead that the guardian class is the most restricted of the three classes because they lack the personal freedom to act. Rather their decision making process is completely centered on doing what is best for the city. In effect, Plato maintains that the Guardian class will suffer all the consequences of leadership, and the responsibilities of ruling a city, but not reap any of the rewards. The martyr like approach to Plato's guardian class makes it an unappealing position to inherit and therefore definitively not the happiest class of individuals.

The second class of individuals that Plato creates is the protective class of auxiliaries. This class of individuals consists primarily of soldiers, as well as minor civil servants. Their role within society is to protect and serve the city itself. Soldiers are charged with the defense of the city against both external and internal enemies. The primary characteristic they inhibit is that of courage, the willingness to carry out their orders in the face of danger without regard for personal risk. Auxiliaries are Plato's vision of extremely adventurous, strong and brave individuals who seek to protect the citizens of the city from harm. Again, Plato emphasizes that this class of individuals are chosen from ability rather than heredity, but he further supplements this statement by explaining that physical talent is manifest from generation to generation. This class of individuals does not have as much responsibility as the guardian class, and therefore have much more freedom. In this sense they draw a salary from the government and have the ability to have private property. On the surface level, it would appear that they would be the most affluent as well as influential individuals within the city without the burden of leadership. However, the auxiliary class has the unenviable task of defending the city against external and internal attack. Which means that they must consistently put their lives at risk for the protection of the people? This leads to a state of constant fear, despite their courage, these individuals are the most likely to die. They are also asked at any given moment to sacrifice everything they cherish for the protection of others. Therefore, the risks associated with the auxiliary class are a burden just as much as leadership. Perhaps the possibility of untimely death and the hard life of constantly training and alertness would be worse than the responsibility of governing. The benefit however, of having a highly esteemed position within society as well as a salary provided by the government, might outweigh some of the dangers associated with their class. At best there cannot be a definitive answer of whether or not the auxiliary class can actually be happy.

The final class within Plato's caste system is the worker class. These are the producers of the society, and also the largest class of the three classes. They consist of every type of citizenry with a variety of functions. These include common laborers, carpenters, plumbers, masons, merchants, farmers, ranchers, etc. Plato implies that there are many negatives associated with being within the worker class. Most importantly, the worker class must exhibit the virtue of moderation, because they must follow unquestioningly the leadership of the guardian class. Thus, instead of pursuing their private interests, they must often act on the blind faith that the guardian class knows best how to position them to best serve their own lives as well as the society as a whole. The concept of subordination of personal desires to a higher purpose is inherent within the worker class. However, this is not to say that the worker class is by definition the least happy of the three classes. On the contrary they have many privileges and freedoms that the two other classes cannot possibly attain. Although in general, workers have less property than the auxiliary class, not all workers are subject to abject poverty. Instead, since this class consists of merchants, tradesman and artisans, workers can be abundantly wealthy if they were to devote their lives and abilities to commerce. The chief benefit of the worker class is that they have much less obligations than the guardian and auxiliary classes. They pursue their own course within the limitations placed by the guardian class. This still amounts to significant freedom and the opportunity to choose a variety of roles to perform within their lives. While there are many restrictions placed upon both the guardian class and auxiliary class, the worker class has the least responsibility. They do not have the bear the weight of decision making because societal decision making is conducted exclusively by the guardian class. Nor do they have to worry about their safety because they are being protected by the auxiliary class. Their principle concern is to satisfy themselves and follow the vision of leadership. The lack of responsibilities in itself can be extremely liberating, because it takes the stress of decision making calculus out of the worker class mentality. In effect, workers have the most freedom of the three classes because they have many more choices and fewer responsibilities than the two previous classes. This is not to say that there are no disadvantages to being a worker. Principle among them is that many times life decisions are made by guardians, with little or no sympathy for the individual workers. Thus, workers live the fine line between being both completely controlled as well as independent.

The examination of each specific class shows that there are benefits and costs associated with each class which affects the overall happiness of individuals within each class division. The guardian class enjoys the burden of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Doubt, Plato's "Republic.  (2007, February 19).  Retrieved September 21, 2020, from

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