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St. Augustine As The True Heir Of Plato

1414 words - 6 pages

Aristotle and St. Augustine have both been influenced by Plato. Their philosophy on morality, politics, and the purpose of life has been platonically influenced. St. Augustine is the true heir of Plato because he has taken Plato’s ideal state, and revealed the implications of the lives that the citizens of the earthly city lead, in the City of God. Plato’s state is an ideal state, that would not function in reality. St. Augustine has taken Plato’s notions, and have furthered the implications of living a life that strives towards a common good. The consequences, whether negative or positive, cannot be seen in the earthly state, but can be seen in the City of God.
The Republic is Plato’s notion of an ideal state. Within the state, there is a hierarchal class system, which provides stability among the classes. Stability is achieved when each class performs their own duties and jobs, and does not interfere with the business of others. There are three hierarchal classes, the guardians and philosopher-kings, the auxiliaries, and the working class. With an increase in the power of the auxiliary class, a system was needed that would control the morals of the guardian class. The guardians are trained up through a strict curriculum which consists of music and gymnastics. Music is used to educate the soul, and gymnastics is used to train the body. They act on behalf of the good of the whole state, because through their education and their pursuit of knowledge, they have the moral capacity to seek “the good”.(505a)
Private property is prohibited among the guardians, for they are meant to survive on the rations of the state (Plato 415c). Collective ownership was allowed, for it promoted common pursuits of common interests. For Plato, aristocracy is the best regime, for it is ruled by the virtuous, which are the Philosopher Kings and Guardians. They are educated through their strict curriculum, and due to the virtues that they learn, they are able to rule in a just manner (Plato 515a). The purpose of life for Plato is to create a just state. Through a broad education, and a democratic government, justice can be pursued. Justice is defined as the harmony that results when everyone is actively engaged in fulfilling his role and does not meddle with that of others (Plato 434e). When each person follows their role in life, stability can be achieved in the state.
Aristotle’s society in The Politics, is that of a realistic society, a city of man. Aristotle defines a citizen as a political animal, which means that for man to optimize the society in which he lives in, he must be politically active (Aristotle 1253a). By nature, they want to cooperate together in society. Aristotle defines a citizen as a person who has full political rights to participate in judicial or deliberative office. (Aristotle 1275b) Each citizen has the ability to possess moral virtues. This is in contrast to Plato’s ideal state, where only the ruling class is able to be politically...

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