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Socrates's Kallipolis Essay

1539 words - 6 pages

“If you are willing, let’s first find out what sort of thing justice is in cities, and afterward look for it in the individual, to see if the larger entity is similar in form to the smaller one” (Republic 368e8-369a2). This idea that there will be more justice in a city as compared to a single person sets Socrates off on an extended tangent trying to create the just city, Kalliⲑpolis. Theoretically, he was making a utopian society. By utopia, I mean that the city possesses perfect elements, or more simply put, there would be no better city. In some respects this is true. For instance, the selection of the rulers is rather utopic. Furthermore, for the time, the treatment of women is relatively better than the average society. While at some points the women are treated like objects, in general women are better off. However, many of Kalliⲑpolis’ other aspects lead to dystopia. Dystopian societies are the opposite of utopias, where they are a city or society that possess disturbing qualities that usually lead to repression and unhappiness. This can be best seen with the strict class structure and censorship of information. This paper will analyze Kalliⲑpolis based on four points: selection of ruler, treatment of women, strict class structure, and censorship of information, to show that while for the time it might have been a better city then was available, by modern standards it is actually a dystopia.
In actuality, Socrates created two cities in the Republic. The first city is relatively small in size, with no luxuries. The small population produces enough material to trade and cover the basics of ancient life. However, Glaucon objects to this city and calls it a city fit for pigs (Republic 372d4-5). Socrates then consents to create a second city, the luxurious city, which is a grand city that covers all needs. This city was used for all of the further discussions of Kalliⲑpolis. It is important to note that Socrates states when switching cities, “Yet the true city, in my view, is the one we have described: the healthy one, as it were” (Republic 372e5-6). Socrates is admitting that the simple city is utopic, and that the luxurious one will not be perfect. Nevertheless, he still continues to try to make the luxurious city into Kalliⲑpolis.
In order to provide for the inhabitants of the luxurious city it must be large. Yet, to be large enough to do this, Kalliⲑpolis will have to take more land from other cities and then fend off their jealous neighbors (Republic 373d7-10). This requires a large army, originally called the guardians, because of the ideas of specialization and that for citizens to be soldiers would detract from their main jobs (Republic 374a3-6). Guardians have to receive special physical and mental training in order to be, as Socrates says, “gentle to their own people and harsh to their enemies” (Republic 375c1-2). However, the Guardians mental training is where the majority of the censorship of information occurs in Kalliⲑpolis....

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