The Republic, By Plato Essay

1030 words - 5 pages

Plato’s ideal society is one that depends on the just actions of its people. In his utopia, all men and women are able to maximize their potential and in turn utilize their talents and skills for the good of all. Happy citizens form a happy society. This perfect society has been both praised and criticized on the basis of some radical elements it possesses:
The citizens of Plato’s ideal society are able to curb their self-interest, and because they are happy, or at least psychologically conditioned to believe that they are, these people choose to join in the collective effort and submit to the philosopher-king’s rule for the benefit of all. Philosopher-kings are in power by virtue of their ...view middle of the document...

In light of relatively recent history, wherein strictly communist and totalitarian states with striking similarities to the society advocated by Plato have come to existence and may still be existing (e.g. North Korea), one cannot say that this type of society is impossible to establish. However, history also shows, with the fall of other near-perfectly communist societies (i.e. Russia and China), that this type of human existence is highly undesirable, and no amount of propaganda can conceal a people’s ebbing desire for family, freedom, and all the other trappings of a “less ideal” society. Nevertheless, going back to the question that got Socrates started: “Is a just man better off?” his perfect society provides significant points that are relevant to policy-making today.
Plato’s perfect society emphasizes the importance of education and equal opportunity in terms of employment. On this, we agree. The term philosopher-king also hints at the two most important attributes I believe a society’s leaders must have: wisdom and political will.
Simply put, a perfect society is one with happy people comprising it. It is the means by which this happiness is achieved that is the dilemma. Happy people enjoy what they do, and figuring out what one likes doing may be hard if one is crippled by ignorance and boxed out of employment opportunities. The perfect society must provide comprehensive and practical education for all of its citizens. This allows the people to realize their creative, technical, and intellectual potential and apply it to the fields which truly interest them. With knowledgeable and competent individuals working in all industries, optimal efficiency and general contentment can be achieved in more aspects of community life. A sense of equality, acceptance, and cooperation cannot be forced unto people from different backgrounds. It will manifest on its own once barriers to free thinking, informed expression, and open interaction are taken down.
Competent leadership is essential to the sustainability of an ideal society, and political competence cannot...

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