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The People's Choice Essay

1216 words - 5 pages

The People's ChoiceIn this paper I am going to argue that Plato's political philosophy illustrated in The Republic is preferable to Niccollo Machiavelli's in The Prince. Between the political worlds of Plato and Machiavelli, as one of "the masses" the choice is clear that living in Plato's world would be preferable, due to the fervent idealism of its leaders and its focus on the good of the community. While Machiavelli's ideal principality centers around serving self-interest and deceiving the citizens. The comparison between these two works has often been simplified as the battle of "idealism vs. realism". Though that summary does not do the debate justice, in this case Plato's idealism is what should entice "the masses" to live in The Republic. This theory of "idealism" stems from the pursuit of knowledge, which Plato further explains through his use of metaphors including: The Allegory of the Cave and The Analogy of the Sun (Plato 514b-515e). These both touch upon how people have been shielded from the real world and the need for a light to be shined to open up this realm to those of us who haven't found their way out of the dark, so to speak. While the masses ourselves cannot reach this point on our own, the rulers of this created republic, specifically referred to as Philosopher-Kings, can be the ones to guide the people in the right direction to where society should ultimately be. Though the people often are not born with ability and/or have not trained long enough to attain the higher understanding the Philosopher-Kings have, the masses and society as a whole benefits from being led by leaders who have prepared to take on their positions as head of the republic by completing all the stages of training that will give them the skills and wisdom necessary to protect the city, act in the best interests of the people, and guide future Philosopher-Kings. This kind of leadership driven by a strong code of ideals and ethics would make any member of the masses comfortable and secure.The people can feel comfortable living under strong leadership and a clear direction, but even more importantly the best interest of the republic is the most important duty of the Philosopher-Kings. Simply put, each person has their own niche in this society. "The result, then, is that more plentiful and better-quality goods are more easily produced if each person does one thing for which he is naturally suited, does it at the right time, and is released from having to do any of the others." (Republic 376b) From an economic standpoint, this is looked at as specialization. This is where each citizen contributes to society in a specific way based on their strengths and if one person doesn't do their job the community won't run effectively. Though the "Myth of the Metals" (Republic 406e) is used to justify which class certain members of society are born into (gold: the rulers, silver: the auxiliaries, and brass: craftsmen), this story is used for the purpose of...

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