Plato 'Republic'

Plato - Political Philosophy - The Republic Plato, The Republic, Political Philosophy Quotes

... what we can be positive about is what we have just said, namely that they must be given the right education, whatever that may be, as the surest way to make them behave humanely to each other and the subjects in their charge. (Plato)

... our purpose in founding our state was not to promote the happiness of a single class, but, so far as possible, of the whole community. Our idea was that we were most likely to justice in such a community, and so be able to decide the question we are trying to answer. We are therefore at the moment trying to construct what we think is a happy community by securing the happiness not of a select minority, but of a whole. (Plato)

... the community suffers nothing very terrible if its cobblers are bad and become degenerate and pretentious; but if the Guardians of its laws and constitution, who alone have the opportunity to bring it good government and prosperity, become a mere sham, then clearly it is completely ruined. (Plato)

Their military training will ensure success in war, but they must maintain unity by not allowing the state to grow to large, and by ensuring that the measures for promotion and demotion from one class to another are carried out. Above all they must maintain the educational system unchanged; for on education everything else depends, and it is an illusion to imagine that mere legislation without it can effect anything of consequence. (Plato)

'Both poverty and wealth, therefore, have a bad effect on the quality of the work and the workman himself.'
'Wealth and poverty,' I answered. 'One produces luxury and idleness and a passion for novelty, the other meanness and bad workmanship and revolution into the bargain.' (Plato)

If they are well brought up, and become reasonable men, they can easily see to all we have asked them to, and indeed a good many things we have omitted, such as the position of women, marriage, and the production of children, all of which ought so far as possible to be dealt with on the proverbial basis of "all things in common between friends".
'Yes, they can deal with all these problems.'
'And once we have given our community a good start,' I pointed out, ' the process will be cumulative. By maintaining a sound system of education you produce citizens of good character, and citizens of sound character, with the advantage of a good education, produce in turn children better than themselves and better able to produce still better children in their turn, as can be seen with animals.' (Plato)

The State which we have founded must possess the four cardinal virtues of wisdom, courage, discipline and justice ... Justice is the principle which has in fact been followed throughout, the principle of one man one job, of 'minding one's own business', in the sense of doing the job for which one is naturally fitted and not interfering with other people. (Plato)

And the quality of good judgement is clearly a form of knowledge and skill, as it is because of knowledge and not because of ignorance that we judge well. (Plato)

So the state founded on natural principles is wise as a whole in virtue of the knowledge inherent in its smallest constituent class, which exercises authority over the rest. And the smallest class is the one which naturally possesses that form of knowledge which alone of all others deserves the title of wisdom. (Plato)

'Assume, then,' I said, 'that this was the sort of result we were doing our best to achieve in choosing our soldier-class, and in educating them physically and mentally. Our whole object was to steep them in the spirit of our laws like a dye, so that nature and nurture might combine to fix them indelibly their convictions about what is dangerous, and about all other topics, and prevent them being washed out by those most powerful solvents, pleasure, so much more effective than soap and chemicals, and pain and fear and desire, the most effective of all. This kind of ability to retain in all circumstances a judgement about danger which is correct by established standards is what I propose to call courage, unless you have any alternative to suggest.' (Plato)

'What the expression is intended to mean, I think, is that there is a better and a worse element in the character of each individual, and that when the naturally better element controls the worse then the man is said to be "master of himself", as a term of praise. But when (as a result of bad upbringing or bad company) one's better element is overpowered by the numerical superiority of one's worse impulses, then one is criticized for not being master of oneself and for lack of self control.'(Plato)

'And, what is more, the greatest variety of desires and pleasures and pains is generally to be found in children and women and slaves, and in the less reputable majority of so called free men.'
'Certainly'
'While the simple and moderate desires, guided by reason and judgement and reflection, you will find in a minority who have the advantages of natural gifts and good education.'
'True'
'This feature too you can see in our state, where the desires of the less reputable majority are controlled by the desires and the wisdom of the superior minority.' (Plato)

'Because, unlike courage and wisdom, which made our state brave and wise by being present in a particular part of it, discipline operates by being diffused throughout the whole of it. It produces a concord between its strongest and weakest and middle elements, whether you define them by the standard of good sense, or of strength, or of numbers or money or the like. And so we are quite justified in regarding discipline as this sort of natural harmony and agreement between higher and lower about which of them is to rule in state and individual.' (Plato)

'...that in our state one man was to do one job, and the job he was naturally most suited for .. And further, we have often heard and often said that justice consists of minding your own business and not interfering with other people.' (Plato)

'Interference by the three classes with each other's jobs, and interchange of jobs between them, therefore, does the greatest harm to our state, and we are entirely justified in calling it the worst of evils.' (Plato)

Justice in the individual is now defined analogously to justice in the state. The individual is wise and brave in virtue of his reason and 'spirit' respectively: he is disciplined when 'spirit' and appetite are in proper subordination to reason. He is just in virtue of the harmony which exists when all three elements of the mind perform their proper function and so achieve their proper fulfillment; he is unjust when no such harmony exists. (Plato)

The principles are important. First, the interest of the state or society counts for everything, that of the individual for nothing. Second, the only difference between men and women is one of physical function- one begets, the other bears children. Apart from that, they both can and should perform the same functions (though men on a whole, perform them better) and should receive the same education to enable them to do so; for in this way society will get the best value from both. (Plato)

We must, if we are to be consistent, and if we're to have a real pedigree herd, mate the best of our men with the best of our women as often as possible, and the inferior men with the inferior women as seldom as possible, and keep only the offspring of the best. (Plato)

And among the other honours and rewards our young men can win for distinguished service in war and in other activities, will be more frequent opportunities to sleep with a woman; this will give us a pretext for ensuring that most of our children are born of that parent. (Plato)

'Is there anything worse for a state than to be split and disunited? or anything better than cohesion and unity?' (Plato)

'Haven't you noticed how, in a trade like the potters', children serve a long apprenticeship, watching how things are done, before they take a hand in the work themselves?'
'Yes I have'
'Oughtn't the Guardians to take just as much care, when they are training their children, to let them see what their duties are and get used to them?'
'It would be absurd if they didn't'
'And besides, any animal fights better in the presence of its young.' (Plato)

The society we have described can never grow into a reality or see the light of day, and there will be no end to the troubles of states, or indeed, my dear Glaucon, of humanity itself, till philosophers are kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands, while the many natures now content to follow either to the exclusion of the other are forcibly debarred from doing so. This is what I have hesitated to say so long, knowing what a paradox it would sound; for it is not easy to see that there is no other road to happiness, either for society or the individual.
(Plato, Republic)

The philosopher is in love with truth, that is, not with the changing world of sensation, which is the object of opinion, but with the unchanging reality which is the object of knowledge. (Plato)

...there are some who are naturally fitted for philosophy and political leadership, while the rest should follow their lead and let philosophy alone. (Plato)

'...we shan't be unfair to our philosophers, but shall be quite justified in compelling them to have some care and responsibility for others. We shall tell them that philosophers in other states can reasonably refuse to take part in the hard work of politics; for society produces them quite involuntary and unintentionally, and it is only just that anything that grows up on its own should feel it has nothing to repay for an unbringing which it owes to no one. "But you," we shall say, "have been bred to rule to your advantage and that of the whole community, like king bees in a hive; you are better educated than the rest and better qualified to combine the practice of philosophy and politics. You must therefore each descend in turn and live with your fellows in the cave and get used to seeing in the dark; once you get used to it you will see a thousand times better than they do and will recognise the various shadows, because you have seen the truth about things right and just and good. And so our state and yours will be really awake, and not merely dreaming like most societies today, with their shadow battles and their struggles for political power, which they treat as some great prize. The truth is quite different: the state whose rulers come to their duties with least enthusiasm is bound to have the best and most tranquil government, and the state whose rulers are eager to rule the worst.' (Plato)

'If you get, in public affairs, men who are so morally impoverished that they have nothing they can contribute themselves, but who hope to snatch some compensation for their own inadequacy from a political career, there can never be good government. They start fighting for power, and the consequent internal and domestic conflicts ruin both them and society.'
'True indeed'
'Is there any other life except that of true philosophy which looks down on political power?'
'None that I know of'
'And yet the only men to get power should be men who do not love it, otherwise we shall have rivals' quarrels.'
'That is certain'
'Who else, then, are we to compel to undertake the responsibilities of ruling, if it is not to be those who know most about good government and who yet value other things more highly than politics and its rewards?'
'There is no one else'
(Plato)

'You must realise, I suppose,' I went on, ' that there must be as many types of individual as of society? Societies aren't made of sticks and stones, but of men whose individual characters, by turning the scale one way or another, determine the direction of the whole.' (Plato, Republic)



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