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Democracy In Plato's The Republic Essay

1279 words - 5 pages

Democracy in the Republic

In Plato's Republic democracy made a controversial issue in a critique by Socrates. The theory of the soul accounts for the controversy as it states that the soul is divided into three parts: the rational, the spirited, and the appetite which are ranked respectively. The idea of the soul's three parts and the soul being ruled by a dominant part is used as the basis for identifying justice and virtue. However, the theory of the soul is not only used to identify justice and virtue, but also used to show that the virtue within a city reflects that of its inhabitants.
Socrates evaluates four city constitutions that evolve from aristocracy: timocracy, oligarchy, democracy and tyranny. As a result that these four types of cities exist, four additional types of individuals who inhabit them also exist. Although these city constitutions evolve from aristocracy, Socrates deems aristocracy to be the most efficient, therefore the most just, of the constitutions because the individuals within it are ruled by the rational part of the soul.
Timocracy and oligarchy are valued more than democracy by Socrates. Individuals within a timocracy are ruled by the spirited part of the soul and as a result are constantly in search of honor. The spirited part of the soul aides the rational and therefore is valued as the second best part of the soul. The principle of specialization is still apparent among the individuals within the timocratic city but it is not governed as well as an aristocracy.
Oligarchy is valued above a democracy although they are both ruled by the appetite of the soul. Those within an oligarchy pursue necessary appetites whereas democratic individuals pursue unnecessary appetites. Rulers are present within an oligarchy, but they are acquired based on the wealth of the individual, appetites are kept in tact within an oligarchy through frugality. The wealth an oligarchic individual acquires is not squandered on their desires. Only as a result that constitutions do not last forever do these other forms of constitutions and individuals actually exist.
The idea of democracy is frowned upon by Socrates simply because of the amount of freedom the inhabitants possess. Promotion of equality among the rich and the poor voids the principle of specialization and does not allow the city to perform at its maximum potential by Socrates? standards. Socrates believes that ?the goal of a city is not to make a group happy at the expense of another, but to make the city as happy as it can be?. The freedom of the individual can not be a factor if the well being of the city is to be achieved. However, within a democracy, individuals live as they please and retain the legal right to do so.
In a democracy ?there is no requirement to rule or to be ruled?. This creates a state of disorder amongst the inhabitants of the city. Socrates opposes a city without rulers because he believes that only those ruled by reason (the rational part...

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