Contemporary World Issues Free Example

Platonic Republic

Nowadays, with the development of human society and complication of its structure, there were emerged the ideas about the inevitability of social inequality. Thus, in general, understanding of social justice, as well as attitude to social inequalities, is one of the most characteristic features of any national culture and civilization. This issue is important for any state without exception. Moreover, the most important events in the life of any country took their place precisely under the slogans of the struggle for justice and the elimination of unfounded inequalities. In such a way, these events left their imprint on the world history, and it is important to trace the topic’s deep ancestry in the ancient world.

The process of understanding society and public life begins at the origins of human history. Society becomes the object of analysis of people even before the individual itself. This is conditioned by the fact that in the primitive state, the personality hardly distinguishes oneself from the clan, although the person begins to reflect and evaluate. Ideas about society are deepened as a person develops, when the basic question of social life is designated. This question asks either society is more important, or a person plays the leading role in its uniqueness, individual identity of perception and reflection of reality. In these ideas, the positive assessment of equality and the negation of inequality reflected in the myths clearly dominated.

Observing historical context of the issue, it can be said that in the middle of the first millennium BC, awareness of the inevitability of social inequality resulted in a conceptual rationale for its necessity. In the East, a critical rethinking of social attitudes inherent in mythological consciousness was carried out in the teachings of Buddha, Confucius, Zarathustra, which became a rational justification, and then religious and ethical support, supporting social stability in the society that had overcome primitive unstructured society.

In the West, social thought reached its apogee in Athens, in the V – IV centuries BC, in the works of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Two major directions that interacted throughout the history of social thought took their shape in their teachings (Pappas, 2003). The first one is putting forward and justifying the idea of the priority of a common, public interest. It is presented, first of all, in the teachings of Plato, who considered this idea in the famous work “The Republic”.

For the purpose to be more detailed in the process of exploration of this issue, it can be said that in Plato, society is likened to a “huge man”. The three beginnings of the human soul (rational, furious, and lusting) in an ideal state are also similar to the three beginnings (deliberative, defensive and businesslike), which in turn correspond to the three estates – rulers, warriors, and producers (artisans, farmers). Justice, according to Plato, is that each class is engaged in its own business (Pappas, 2003). Inequality with the help of “noble fiction” is justified as natural, originally predetermined (Plato, 1943). Although all people are born of the earth, but some people have gold mixed in their character, which means they must rule; others have silver, and therefore they become warriors; while the third has iron and copper mixed in their souls, and they are meant to be producers. All estates serve to preserve the unity and stability of society. The state, Plato believed, should not indulge in the ambitions of individual, albeit strong individuals (Plato, 1943). The state should subordinate all members of society to the service of its preservation.

In an ideal state, social inequality becomes a means of maintaining social stability, but it is not at all benefiting the higher strata. For Plato, the subject of freedom and higher perfection turns out to be not a separate person, or even a class, but only the whole society, the whole state as a whole (Cairns et al, 2007). Plato’s utopia is not a theory of individual freedom of citizens, but a theory of total freedom – the freedom of the state in its totality, integrity, and indivisibility. In Plato’s understanding, the integrity of the state is based on the total responsibility of unequal to each other members of society for the fate of this state.

To continue, it can be said that the problem of social stratification in sociology is one of the most significant. The study of this problem is inextricably linked with identifying the causes and consequences of social inequality, with the analysis and characteristics of the social structure of society, with an understanding of the content of social justice, and finally with the identification of the prospects for the social development of society. All existing societies are characterized by an unequal distribution of material and symbolic goods, remunerations and opportunities both in relation to individuals and between groups within society (Cairns et al, 2007). Unfortunately, social inequality is a permanent feature of human society. In all the diversity of inequalities in society, inequalities of natural opportunities and social positions differ, as well as inequalities that form and do not form a hierarchical order.

As it was mentioned earlier in this assignment, for a long time, scientists have thought about the nature of relationships between people, about the plight of most people, about the problem of the oppressed and oppressors, about justice or the injustice of inequality. Pappas, exploring Plato’s position on social inequality, wrote that Plato was very intensely pondering the stratification of people on the rich and the poor (Pappas, 2003). According to Plato’s position, the state is like two states. One is the poor, the other is the rich, and they all live together, building all sorts of wiles to each other. Plato was the first political ideologue who thought in terms of classes. In his work “The Republic”, Plato argued that the right state can be scientifically justified, and not grope, fearing, believing and improvising. Plato assumed that this new, scientifically designed society would not only implement the principles of justice, but also ensure social stability and internal discipline. That is how he represented a society led by rulers.

Moreover, tracing the issue of social inequality deep ancestry in the ancient world, it can be also stated that society, according to Plato, has a class character (Plato, 1943). All citizens are in one of three classes – rulers, soldiers and officials, workers (farmers, artisans, doctors, actors, etc.). The rulers were divided into ruling and non-ruling groups. All these basic layers (classes) were assigned to follow specific rules and perform specific functions. Wise rulers acted as parents in relation to the other two classes. Plato ruled out any possibility of class status inheritance and assumed full equality of opportunities for all children, so that each had equal chances to show their natural abilities, and was trained to fulfill one’s own role in life. If such a selection and training could be performed perfectly, then the recognition of the absolute power of the winners would be fair. To avoid the influence of the family, Plato proposed the abolition of the family in the class of rulers, and he established that members of this group should not own any private property other than the minimum necessary so that they do not protect their own interests. They should focus only on public welfare.

In such a way, in the idea of justice and social equality, developed by Greek philosophy, the element of inequality prevails. In the works of Plato, the rule that individuals do not take what belongs to another, and in turn, do not lose their own is justly recognized. Justice and social equality included in self the ideas that each person has and does what belongs to him because it is unfairly to take on the occupation of another person.

In summary, analysis of the causes of social inequality and ways to eliminate it has been the subject of research of many prominent thinkers. Even Plato and Aristotle, the great philosophers of ancient Greece, ascertained and allowed the division of society into the rich and the poor, but pointed to the inadmissibility of extreme wealth and extreme poverty, as this makes society unstable. Plato explained the inequality of people by the initial inequality of their souls and, consequently, the varying complexity and significance of the functions performed by people.

To conclude, we have explored different ways in which social justice and social equality / inequality were treated in the ancient world. We have demonstrated the fact that Plato designed a highly stratified society, in which the characteristic features of the ruling class were equality of opportunities (chances), the complete elimination of private property and a concentration on the general welfare. In such a way, the concepts of social justice and social equality / inequality are associated with historically changing perceptions of inalienable human rights. Justice implies a requirement of conformity between the practical role of a person or a social group in society and their social position, between their rights and duties, deed and reward, work and remuneration, crime and punishment, the merits of people and their public recognition. Justice always has a historical character, rooted in the living conditions of people (classes).

 

Works Cited

Cairns, D., et al. Pursuing the Good: Ethics and Metaphysics in Plato’s Republic. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007.

Pappas, N. Philosophy Guidebook to Plato and the Republic. London: Routledge, 2003.

Plato. Plato’s The Republic. New York: Books, Inc., 1943.

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[Accessed: January 23, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: January 23, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: January 23, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: January 23, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: January 23, 2020]