Plato’s Philosophies on The RepublicThe cave basically has three regions: the inside, the side and the outside.
The innermost part of the cave represents imagination. Lack of education can only make people imagine what is real or otherwise, or could only make people give vague examples when asked what is just and what is unjust. If people are not properly educated, they are easily deceived by illusions. The side of the cave presents a person’s belief. This is a higher level wherein a person has acquired a form of education and is thus able to form opinions about things surrounding him.
At this point, the person could give real-life examples. The highest form shown is the form of thought and understanding, signified by the outer part of the cave. Here the person gains true knowledge and become a philosopher who knows of the Forms. Such a person had acquired the best and proper training, giving him wisdom and the ability to rule. Such kind of persons, however, must return back to the cave. While it may seem unfair to have a philosopher go back to the cave when he had struggled to make it out, Socrates believes that true philosopher-kings would actually understand the need for it because of certain reasons: that they are striving not for the happiness of only one person but for the happiness of everyone; that philosophers owe gratitude to the people who afforded them such wisdom; and that they would actually want to rule knowing that the city would be less just if they refrained from doing so.In the analogy of the sun, Socrates pointed out the relationship between the sight and the object seen. Through his explanations, we may learn that he deemed our minds as the sight or the eyes and the issues and concepts we think about as the object seen.
Socrates explains, that in order for our eyes to see an object, there must be a source of light to illuminate us and lead us to see. This idea relates to his founding of Kallipolis and the argument of The Republic as it implores that people in order to live a good life must be guided upon by certain rules or laws. Such laws do not restrain or suppress them, but rather, it helps them towards a just and better life.In The Republic we would be able to tell that the Forms are eternal and absolute ideas like there is Good and Evil. They are not particularly seen or heard or sensed but can only be grasped by our minds. Plato illustrates them as paradigms to which we base our opinions or ideologies, something more real than what we see.
He said, “When we were seeking justice and the perfectly just person, as well as injustice and the entirely unjust person, we were actually looking for a paradigm that we could use to judge our own happiness and unhappiness. We should compare ourselves to them in order to evaluate our lives—not with the expectation that they might actually exist.” By saying so, Plato in a way concludes that the Forms are everlasting concepts that could be regarded as the highest degree of an idea and is the cause for everything that we see, hear, and sense in the visible realm.Kallipolis starts out as a just city. This polis has an organized political system, the people assigned to do works best suited for them and the rulers decided upon by successive tests and proper trainings.
But since the rulers would have to rely upon their fallible perception to decide who should rule on the next generation, there will come a time that they will make mistakes and it would be the cause of the city’s fall into timocracy. In timocracy, the people in power would be divided into those who come to desire of wealth and those who vows to stay true to the virtues. To satiate the needs of the bad faction, the rulers would have to distribute the lands and wealth to people and enslave the poor. They would desire to wage wars with other nations to further acquire wealth and this, the excessive love of money, becomes the cause of its fall into oligarchy. The government in oligarchy would be based entirely upon wealth. The more a person is wealthy, the more he is given power to rule.
The city starts to turn out into chaos as the unfit people are put in position and the city divided into the rich versus the poor, each always doubtful of the other. As the two cities continue to struggle, the oligarchy falls and then democracy came. In democracy, wealth is fairly distributed and power to rule is randomly given to people. Everyone is free to arrange their lives as they please and say whatever it is they have in mind. Because no one pays enough attention to the need for proper ruling, democracy ultimately falls into tyranny. At this point, the rich and the poor would turn against each other and the one who incites the revolt against the rich, at the end, would become the ruler— the tyrant. He would kill all the good people in fear and enslave the rest.
But the tyrant would soon be wary of his life for every bad he had done, the people who yearn for revenge upon him increase and as this goes on, those certain people would be the cause of his fall and the tyranny’s fall.Philosophers might be able to tell a person how he should live because they teach only a primary concept to be followed— the search and love for truth. By living a life based on this ideology, a philosopher gains full knowledge of the Forms and gets closest to the ultimate Form of Good. As normal people, we can greatly rely on the fact told by the philosopher for only he had experienced all three pleasures humans seek which are truth, honor, and profit.
Socrates explores the idea of the soul’s immortality in The Republic. He claims that the soul is eternal and no vice or other bad acts would ever be able to destroy it, otherwise no people would be able to survive for long. There is the assumption, however, that life do not end in death but rather, the soul would eventually be given a chance on reincarnation after gaining his due punishment or reward. Socrates explains that only the philosophical persons would be able to choose his next life wisely, all others would be torn between happiness and misery.
In Book III, Socrates condemns poetry as he believes too much of it can corrupt and soften a soul, especially when the certain soul is being prepared and trained for a definite state of body and mind. In Book X, he further condemns poetry, banishing the poets from the just city saying that it corrupts even the best souls with its false images that do not convey the idea of good and explores the worst part of the souls, nurturing it and diverting it from being rational. But while Plato divulge this notion in his piece, The Republic could also be said to be tarnished the same way as it exploits the violent sides of humans— the worst scenarios imaginable that people could do.Liberal representative democracy is different from Plato’s direct participatory democracy in a way that liberal democracy only allows for representatives of the population, people who are not exactly voted by the people, while Plato’s kind of democracy gives position to random people. Everyone is given fair chance at power. The disorganized system of direct participatory is remedied representative democracy as it offers a process through which people who runs for a position are screened.
At the beginning of The Republic, Thrasymachus challenges Socrates to prove that the life of the perfectly just man is better than the life of the perfectly unjust man. Socrates concludes that being just is desirable not only for its consequences but for justice in itself; the most just man being most happy for not only do he have what he need but he also treasure the reality of having no threats to his life and living good relations with companions and family whereas the most unjust man lives a dreadful life in which he lives in terror, fearing for his life for all bad he had done. In explaining, Socrates found an imaginary city that went through different times, continually degenerating while slowly proving the worth of justice.
Eventually his city showed that a person who practice injustice will turn out shrewd and miserable but the one who will try and remain just will live a peaceful and contented life. This practice would also work for an occasional unjust man as an action done with moderation may still lead to a habit.