Monday, January 29, 2007

Still More Plato Notes

I. Plato’s political theory

A. Plato defines a just society to illustrate what a just life would be, since the principles of political science and the principles of psychology are the same.
The soul of the person is a miniature version of the structure of society.

B. The good life cannot be lived apart from the state.
C. State should be built around a division of labor.
1. Those whose first inclination is to be governed by the rational part of the soul should be Guardians, in the ruling class. However, they get the least in terms of economic gain. (Since they are not guided by their appetites, they should not need to indulge their appetites so much). These are the philosopher-kings; the idea is that those who rule should love wisdom above all.
2. People on the second level are the auxiliaries, those whose first thought is to follow the spirited part of the soul. They are ambitious, assertive, and desire honor. They are the police-soldiers of the state.
3. On the third level there are the producers, people governed by appetites. (Clearly the most numerous of the three groups). They get more riches than anyone else but no political power. In fact the lovers of guardians are justified in telling lies to these people to get them to do what is in their best interest.
D. How do you get an ideal state? Plato tried to teach a prince, it didn’t work. You just have to be lucky enough to get a king in there who happens to be a lover or wisdom.
E. And even then the idea society will eventually disintegrate. In fact what will happen is that it will disintegrate into a democracy. Instead of the country being run by those who are most competent, a democracy will “promote to honor anyone who merely calls himself the people’s friend.”
(But that never happens in an actual democracy).

II. Plato believes that the order of the universe points to a wondrous regulating intelligence.
A. The supreme cause is called the demiurge
B. It does not, however, create the universe out of nothing.
C. Imposes the forms on the chaotic “Receptacle.”
D. The order of the universe points to a mind behind it all.

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