Hi all, I hope everyone is keeping well. I have finished a reading of Plato’s Republic and have to say it a truly fascinating read. While the republic is the basis for a constitution making a sound argument for it, its primary goal was to distinguish what pays best injustice or justice—defining what a good man or good life is. Going into detail about what a philosopher is, what knowledge is and should be laying out how a philosopher king should be educated—live his life and how exactly knowledge, justice and a good life is its own reword. Though some of the detail of how his republic would be set out is rather well troubling—its premise is sound. I don’t presume to be the arbiter of what the republic teaches or of Plato’s philosophy, nevertheless here are some of the things I have taken away from it.

The first take away is that of a constitution is good and sound as long as it doesn’t go to far, it is in my view the best from of government that can take the form of a Republic such as in the U.S.A or in the form of a constitutional monarchy such as the United Kingdome and its commonwealth. I think a constitutional monarchy better describes Plato’s Republic than a republic as it was a philosopher king he proposed after all, the difference being that the line of succession wasn’t hereditary. Rather the philosopher king would be selected from the best of the guardian class that has been educated from birth passing many tests along the way to prove his or her character. Yet the guardian class had many restrictions placed on their live that were in the law of the constitution, some rather disturbing my view. Yet for all that one thing did stand out for me that was something remarkable for its time, that being gender equality. In Plato’s republic men and women were seen as capable of preform all the same tasks, jobs and roles in society even the role of soldier or guardian as Plato puts it. The disturbing feature however of Plato’s republic and the cases of going too far are, that every person of any of the three classes of society were that each individual could only preform one job to which they were suited and would be forced to do this job wither they liked it or not, their role chosen by the state. The guardian class had no family or property of their own, there children and property did not belong to them rather belonged to the whole community. They guardians were reworded for achievement by virtue of being a guardian by having all there needs met by the rest of society and being awarded sexual partners, the more one performed well the more opportunity for copulation—what’s worse was that in the republic the person being selected by the person being reworded could not refuse by law. (a rather disturbing prospect.) This was done only in the guardian class, and as there was no family unit and no knowledge of who’s one’s genetic family were other restrictions to prevent you from copulation with one’s son or daughter. This was done by grouping the guardians by age and calling it a generation. Yet none to prevent one from copulating with brother or sister, infact one was to view all other guardians and society at large as family. The whole system there is flawed and rather disturbing.

Further to such laws was that of entertainment and art, which was strictly controlled by the state. It being feared that because art in all its forms painting, poetry, music and play were part of the education of all citizens of the republic, that it had power to corrupt the mind. Witch let’s face it isn’t untrue we know the power of propaganda today, yet it would destroy creativity should the state having such control over entertainment and beauty—as in any fascist or communist government to exist. Plato or in the dialogue Socrates argued that such as art and subsequently poetry were third removed from truth or the form of the things it represents, the artist had no knowledge of the form, they could paint a shoemaker or bed and have no knowledge of the craft. First in line is the form which can only be known by the user, only the user can say how something should function and how such a thing should appear, second is the craftsman who can on instruction replicate the form, yet this is only a copy of the from and not the thing itself. Last is the painter who is akin to the poet who makes a copy of a copy in less detail and without knowledge of the from; the artist or poet would only know the appearance. Witch makes one wonder how in any from art, poetry, music and play could exist at all in Plato’s republic. Yet I understand it would be under the direction of the philosopher king that such things could be crated in this paradigm, as only the philosopher king and the guardian class would have knowledge of the forms. Yet for all that a constitution is still sound in principle, provided it doesn’t go to far. A constitution is supposed to be an immutable set of laws that govern the roles and reasonability’s of government and citizen putting limits on such entities as not to infringe to much on the lives of the common person. Granted Plato went far beyond that in his idea of a perfect state, such as the Magna Carta did not. A constitution can insure in its law, the rights that people have as citizens and limits of the state–the right to life, liberty, justice and property placing limits on governmental powers. Insuring all people are treated fairly under the law, granted it takes time to achieve such things we have an evolving consciousness and set of ideas. Yet we got there in the end.

The thing I found most enlightening about the republic was how it applies to individual, its primary argument was what pays better? A just or unjust life. A good life versus a bad life. It is good to view the philosophical aspect of the republic as a guide to how to govern one’s own life. A good life is life spent in pursuit of the truth, to a good man anything but the truth is detestable. To know the truth is to seek out knowledge of the forms, to know the thing in itself. But such a person is rare in any society and most spend their life in the depth of the cave, what they know of reality is but a shadow of the true forms cast on the cave wall. Nevertheless it is far more honourable to seek out the truth than be content with the appearance of something. The truth pays for itself in ways far greater than to live a dishonourable and deceitful life. The unjust man pays for his injustice in both this life and the next according, to Plato, in old age such a person as the unjust is disgraced and has nothing of value or true worth. In the life after spends a thousand years for each sin in the underworld, while those that have not sinned spend as much time in heaven. One of the more interesting things I found about this part of Plato’s philosophy was that in the myth of Er in which Plato articulates the punishment and rewords of the afterlife. Those that were tyrants and murderers, and other such people would enter the underworld and never leave, impaled on thrones at the portal to the underworld to tell the tail to those leaving of why they were there. Those of lesser sin spent a thousand years for each sin. Once one’s time is spent in ether heaven or hell the eternal souls meet in a meadow and exchange experience before heading to pick out a new life to spend on earth. Patterns of life are laid before each individual, patterns that come with their own corresponding character and in lots, one has to choose what ones life will be. It was said that the ones who spend their thousand plus years in in the under world would pick good life’s having known suffering and gained winsome from it. Those that had been in heaven and had lived a good life in past through being a product of a good sate chose the life of tyrants and other poor life’s. The implication is that through suffering one learns to pick a good life and that suffering is a necessary part of gaining knowledge in life. Each soul was made to choose their own destiny so that they could not blame God or the fates for their lot, once they had chosen and their choice set, they travelled to the river of forgetfulness and ordered to drink—falling asleep and being swept away to their new lives. Their fates are already sealed by their own choices. I find this myth deeply fascinating and believe it has a valuable lesson to teach, we are all of us responsible for our own life, our own sufferings and choices. It’s only we who can choose better knowing that suffering is a lesson in itself to learn from.

I’m not fully sure what to make of all this yet so don’t want to write to much about it, yet I feel its worth sharing. In terms of justice and injustice, injustice never pays in the long run. Plato saying that any short-term gain is offset by reputation destruction and being trapped by the lower forms of mind and the desires. One in this sense is not truly free and freedom is one of the highest forms of good, one according to Plato should govern the self with reason governing the lower forms of mind rather than them controlling you. Tending to each parts needs as any good governed state would, placing limits on all parts. Only then when one has become a master of the self can one live a good life, a just life.

Anyway, this is just what I have taken away from it, I’m sure iv done a poor job of articulating it so I recommend that one have a read of Plato’s Republic for oneself. Thanks for reading my ramblings, as always pleas comment and let me know your thoughts on the topic. What aspects do you think I’m missing or what perspectives do you think would help me understand Plato’s Philosophy. For all its short comings there is a lot to be learned from Plato’s Republic and other writings, even if it is why ideals of utopia are a very dangerous thing. Stay well all.

Published by Engine Mortale

Engine Mortale is my chosen pseudonym, I’ve chosen a pseudonym because I think it most appropriate as some of work will be rather personal. I figured this was the best way. I’m an autodidact, my to prominent fields of study’s are behaviour and philosophy, most recently art and poetry have been of keen interest. I hope genuinely that some good comes out of my out of this thing i call a life, if nothing else just that.

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