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Direction Point: The philosopher Plato was not a big fan of the Athenian form of government. Please watch the following video that shows The Allegory of the Cave, which depicts Plato’s idea about how ordinary people understand the world about them. Then, read the articles found in the second and third link.

What was Plato trying to communicate through The Allegory of the Cave? What issues did Plato have with Athenian democracy? (This question MUST be done on one page with 300 words).

Why did Plato believe that ordinary people should not be allowed to govern? What types of characteristics should a philosopher-king have? <<<<<< (This question MUST be done on one page with 300 words as well).

This is a reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69F7GhASOdM

Finally, read the excerpt below from (found below)

This is another reference: http://facultyfiles.frostburg.edu/phil/forum/PlatoRep.htm

Reference which also can be used: In mapping out the constitution for his utopian society or state, Plato starts out with a schematic description of the human soul. Every soul, according to him, is composed of three parts: bodily desires and appetites, “spirited emotions” like ambition and courage, and finally the faculty of knowledge and reason. In a healthy individual all three parts fulfill their proper function. Bodily desires and appetites secure the physical survival of a person, the spirited emotions inspire his more far-reaching plans and projects, and the intellectual faculties make sure that all enterprises remain reasonable and under rational control. Plato lays great stress on the disciplining function of reason. Without the self-discipline imposed by reason a person may easily turn into something like a self-destructive glutton, or into a person carried away by foolish emotions and thoughtless ambitions. Informed reason, according to Plato, is the faculty best suited to make all the right and necessary decisions in a person’s life.

The utopian society described in the Republic has a similar tripartite structure as the human soul. Corresponding to the bodily desires and appetites of the soul is the class of people who are involved in the economy of a state. This class constitutes the vast majority of the people, and it comprises such diverse groups as craftsmen, farmers, merchants, manufacturers, and money changers or bankers. Plato classifies all of them as “lovers of money.”

Corresponding to the spirited emotions in the soul is the much smaller class of the armed forces, the class of professional warriors that is responsible for the safety of the community. Plato calls them “lovers of honor.” Their main desire is to gain fame and admiration by serving their fellow citizens—for whom, in extreme situations, they are willing to sacrifice their lives as well as their material possessions.

Corresponding to the faculty of reason is the smallest class of people—scientists, scholars, high-level experts, and similar sophisticates. Plato calls them “lovers of wisdom,” i. e., “philosophers.” Their most passionate interests are understanding and knowledge, and their greatest pleasure a lively life of the mind.

As a just and healthy person is governed by knowledge and reason, a just society must be under the control of society’s most cultivated and best informed minds, its “lovers of wisdom.” Just societies cannot be run by big money or armed forces with their too narrow agendas. Limitless desire for wealth and blind ambition must be watched and contained as potential public dangers. The most informed minds must determine objectively, with due consideration of all points of view, what the most healthy and practical goals for the commonwealth are.

This rule by society’s best minds is the core concept of Plato’s so-called “philosopher kings.” Until now crucial decisions concerning war, peace, and the welfare of society had always been left to corrupt or incompetent politicians, ignorant voters, over-ambitious generals, and other people unsuited to run a state. Bloodshed, hatred, waste of resources, and deplorable conditions had usually been the result. There is no chance for things to become better unless knowledge and reason are put in command—the best knowledge and the most competent reason that society can muster. Lovers of wisdom may not be eager to govern, as their main passions are more intellectual pursuits. But since they are the best trained and best informed minds, they must be obligated by law to run the state—as a sort of committee of technocrats. “Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy, … cities will never have rest from their evils,” as Plato suggests in the Republic. (3)

Plato was fully aware of how outlandish such an idea must have sounded in the ears of most of his contemporaries, an idea that was rendered even more fantastic by his contention that women are as capable of being philosophers and governors as men, and that no member of the government should be allowed to own or accumulate property while in office. Plato himself poked subtle fun at the strangeness of what he was proposing, and some scholars are not sure just how seriously Plato took the proposals of the Republic himself. Still, the book’s discussion of good government provides arguments that give philosophers and political scientists pause. The Republic’s critique of democracy in particular is too substantial to be simply dismissed as eccentric speculation.


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