Morality And Politics Essay

1971 words - 8 pages

Morality and politics have always been closely linked; even in present day politics, morality often has a part to play. Morality within politics has always been a controversial and highly debated topic by many leading political thinkers. There have been many key thinkers on the subject; however, Plato and Augustine have both an interesting and highly debated view on the argument of whether politics should be focused on morality. Both Plato and Augustine had differing views on the ideas of politics and the role that morality plays within this. These two political thinkers were around in very different times and this is reflected in their views of morality and politics. Plato was born in 429BC and came from a distinguished Athenian family, heavily involved in Athenian Politics. As a pupil of Socrates it was inevitable that Plato would be influenced by Socrates and inspired to go into politics. At the time that Plato wrote, Greece was beset by instability and Plato’s focus was to stabilise the “Polis”, meaning ‘city-state’ and mainly involving Athens and Sparta, which results in an interesting view on morality and politics. Augustine was born in 354AD, in a Rome dominated culture, and had strong Christian beliefs, which heavily influenced his views on morality and politics. This essay will examine both Plato’s and St. Augustine’s view of morality and politics, and whether or not politics should be focused on morality, before coming to a reasoned judgement. Both Plato and Augustine examine whether or not politics should be focused on morality, however, their approach to study and the outcome of their thought leads to very different results. The theory behind these two political thinkers is complex and will therefore need to be examined in order to come to a conclusion on whether or not politics should be focused on morality.

Plato had various different works throughout his life, however, possibly his most famous and influential was the Republic. The method that Plato used in his writing was known as the dialogue method, here Plato writes a dialogue between Socrates and another person and Socrates solves the problem that Plato proposes. Knowledge plays an important role in Plato’s works and it aids in discussing his view on morality and politics, as ultimately knowledge underpins his view of nature, morality and politics. Knowledge for Plato is not about belief or perception; it’s what we know is true, as Hare writes, ‘he thought that what we know has to be real.’ (Hare: 1996:p.33) Plato uses forms to understand knowledge these are best defined by Reeve, ‘forms are intelligible, unchanging objects, accessible to the mind but not the senses.’ (Reeve: 2009:p.62) The form of the good is the most important, which links knowledge to morality and politics, for those with the highest form of knowledge are therefore the most virtuous and the most moral of people. St. Augustine has a different approach to knowledge, morality and politics and his method of...

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