REVIEW OF “THE REPUBLIC”,BY THE AUTHOR; PLATO: REVIEWED BY:MUNGAI

To a keen political observer,especially in Africa,Plato’s philosophical dialogue,THE REPUBLIC,makes a perfect dietary delicacy.Just like in his times in Athens,the Athenian democracy condoned and courted the ills that affects the general society which hinders ,acts as a stumbling block to the development of the ideal city.He highlights these vices,castigates them as it is clearly illustrated by his interlocutors.

 

But,my best part of the dialogue happens to be the Thrasymachus’ challenge to Socrates.Thrasymachus,a sophist,who is scornful of those who bow to law and convention,asserts that ,perhaps the virtueuswere simply a mug’s game.Happens might be gained by behaving immorally instead of virtuously.His assertion is that ,”justice is simply what is in the interest of the stronger party”.

 

He likens the leaders like the shepherd fattening up their sheep ,everything they do as rulers -including the rules they set upfor the sheep to follow -is designed not for the benefit of their subjects but for their own advantage.If all regimes are like greedy shepherds ,then the conventional virtues they establish are bad for their  sheep.He also concludes that in such regimes it pays to be corrupt,or,to act unjust.But,these challenge was countered by Socrates who argues otherwise.

 

The Republic,was written by PLATO[427-347 B.C].He stands as one of the early shapers of the whole intellectual tradition of the west.Having came from a family that had long played a prominent part  in Athenian politics,and,it would have been natural for him to follow the same course .He declined to do so ,however ,disgusted by the violence and corruption of Athenian political life ,and,sickened especially by the execution in 395 b.c of his mentor,friend and teacher,Socrates.

 

Inspired by Socrates’ ,inquiries into the nature of ethical standards ,Plato soughtcure for the ills of society not in politics ,but,in philosophy,and arrived at his fundamental and lasting convention that those ills would never cease until philosophers became rulers,or, ruler philosophers.

 

The Republic is widely acknowledged as the cornerstone of westerern philosophy.Presented in the form of a dialogue between Socrates and three different interlocutors,it is an inquiry into the notion of a perfect community and the ideal individual within it.In the conversation other question are raised ;what is goodness;what is reality;what is knowledge?

 

We are concerned with the most important of issues ,the choice between a good and an evil life.

 

The  Republic addresses the purpose of the education and the roles of both women and men as “guardians”.With remarkable lucidity and deft use of allegory,Plato arrives at a depiction of a state bound by harmony and ruled by “philosipher kings”.

 

The Republic explores how Plato viewed his world.That world view was highly controversial and challenging to the views and judgement of most of his contemporaries.Where Plato saw disunity and ignorance in the Athenian democracy ,his contemporaries saw pluralistic freedom and practises of gathering and testing the widest range of views in decision making.

 

Where Plato insisted that constitutional order must be hierarchical,with reason at the top and indignation firmly subordinated ,his contemporaries respected those who engaged in manly and even angry contests for esteem and saw nothing contradictory in a constitution based equality.

 

Where Plato insisted that democracy had no way of bridling the appetites and was driven by it’s appetite for power ,the democrats believed themselves to have a complex system of deliberation and value in which appetite figured ,but did not dominate.


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