How Plato’s “The Republic” Describes Today’s Society

Posted by on November 15, 2015 in Corruption, Government with 11 Comments

Julian Websdale | Waking Times

WIKI - PlatoThe Republic (Greek: Πολιτεία, Politeia) is a Socratic dialogue, written by Plato around 380 BC, concerning the definition of justice and the order and character of the just city-state and the just man. It is Plato’s best-known work and has proven to be one of the most intellectually and historically influential works of philosophy and political theory. In it, Socrates along with various Athenians and foreigners discuss the meaning of justice and examine whether or not the just man is happier than the unjust man by considering a series of different cities coming into existence “in speech”, culminating in a city (Kallipolis) ruled by philosopher-kings; and by examining the nature of existing regimes. The participants also discuss the theory of forms, the immortality of the soul, and the roles of the philosopher and of poetry in society.

In The Republic Plato describes four types of government – monarchy, oligarchy, tyranny, and democracy. The Allegory of the Cave is a discussion on human mentality and the body politic, our thinking and being. There are four types of people in the cave, though nowhere in the text are the characters overtly counted. In the cave there are the captors and captives. The captives in the cave are controlled and know nothing in life but the cave, worse they only know one wall of the cave. The captors use a fire to cast shadows on the wall the prisoners face to keep them captivated and distracted by a made up reality. Among the captives there are the chained and the unchained. The chained are held in place so that they can only look straight ahead and are convinced of the reality and moreover importance of the shadows. The unchained are transfixed with the images and convinced of the reality and moreover the importance of the shadows to the point they don’t need chains. They are held by shadows, like elephants onto a string. Both the chained and unchained captives have no interest in their actual existence as captives in a cave. They are not conscious, they are not aware of self or their surroundings, or the captors, they are only aware of and concerned with the shadows.

The captors hold the captives with shadows, as distractions. There are the chained captives, the unchained captives and the captors who hold them. The fourth character in the allegory, the fourth distinct part of the set, is the freed prisoner. The freed prisoner, after being in the cave his whole life, finds himself above ground and is at first pained by sunlight and then begins to see. First he sees only shadows as that is what he is accustomed to, then reflections, then the objects casting shadows and then finally the total of his surroundings, himself, others and the stars and the sun. The freed prisoner learns about sunlight and the dependence of all things on it.  He learns about the basic tenets of reality and that the sun is the true light, not the captors’ fire. The freed prisoner learns about simple conditions of reality and the things which the captors’ shadows represented. He becomes conscious and understands his place in the world. He realizes he was deceived his whole life and that everyone he had ever known from the cave is imprisoned and deceived as well.  And he has to return.

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11 Reader Comments

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  1.' Peace & Love says:

    Dear person reading this I hope your day has been going well, if not, I hope it gets better. You are an amazing person who will inspire others to do great things so keep up the hard work. I know you may feel unimportant or insecure at the moment but know that you are a beautiful human being inside, outside and you are important. Just trying to be nice on the INTERNET, sometimes we just need such a message!!!

  2.' Rita McMillan says:

    Thought provoking

  3.' Charmaine Paulson says:

    Thank you for being kind.

  4.' Jamielee Chapin says:

    We have become a Nation merely based on unethical and immoral practices; our gross division and unity reflects this as well.
    We are a great Nation in distress and in mourning.
    As a Nation and as life itself will always contain diversity; it requires a balance of flexibility and unity.
    When we inherit a leader that will lead with morals and values intact, repair from within, replace what is absent and rebuild; installing a future we can apply it to, the healing process will begin and ultimately we can adapt a level of wholesomeness, unity and succeed as a Nation…..

  5.' Dave Draycott says:

    Could describe any society, any place, any time. Which is, I suppose the trick of being a philosopher.

  6.' Rhoslynn Mowatt says:

    Worth reading

  7.' Neeraj Istwal says:

    People live according to atmosphere they gathered all round ..their needs took three imagination across the limits..society changed with the time n adopted many so called definition.

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