Plato is among the most
celebrated philosophers. His legacy has grown over the years as more people
learn about his teachings and life achievements. His life story has always been
an interesting subject among many. Also, his notable works such as Republic have
remained to be a topic of interest over the years. To date, many scholars and
philosophers look up to Plato’s works as a source of information as they go
about their works (Russell, 2016). An example of such captivating works is his
dialogue on the political framework where he developed his political theory. It
is within this context that the paper gives a detailed exposition on Plato
focusing on his political theory.
Plato is believed to have been
born between 420BC and 424BC. He was born in Athens Greece to a man named
Ariston and a woman named Perictione (Nails,
2006). From a tender age, Ariston was very involved in instilling
essential life skills in his son. It is for this reason he worked hard and
sacrificed a lot to ensure Plato went to school to get educated. In school,
Plato is believed to have been a smart student who was very interested in
obtaining knowledge (Nails, 2006). At the
time, there were no higher education institutions. For this reason, he did not
enroll in any higher education school.
As he grew, Plato developed a
great interest in philosophy. His desire drove him to engage in philosophic
studies. It is in this line that he came to meet Socrates. Socrates was his
teacher. He had a great admiration for Socrates. This is evident through his
works where he constantly refers to works by Socrates (Nails, 2006). Years later, Plato would meet up with Aristotle and
become his teacher. As noted by Nails (2006), the three scholars are celebrated
for having laid the foundation for western philosophy through their ancient
Plato is known for his many
works. Among his most prominent include Republic, Symposium, Apology, and
Phaedo. His works were mainly based on his assessment of various life aspects.
He further referred to works by other philosophers. Apart from Socrates, other
philosophers who inspired him to include Pythagoras and Parmenides (Nails, 2006). As part of his studies and
endeavors, Plato traveled a lot. He traveled to Cyrene, Italy, and Egypt. He
went back to Athens at the age of 40. It is at this point that he founded a
higher education institution in Athens known as the Academy of Athens (Nails, 2006). It was the first higher education
institution in Greece.
Throughout his life, Plato had
many interests. One of these is art and literature. Plato was fascinated by
ancient art and literature. As a result, he made use of the two in his works.
Secondly, he had a great interest in education from a tender age. This is
further pointed out by his efforts to develop a higher learning institution.
Plato also had a great interest in love and friendship. As manifested in his
works, he believed that they are part of what keeps a man going (Nails, 2006). His other interests include
justice and politics which he discussed in his details through his various
As earlier pointed out, Plato is
one of the greatest and most influential philosophers that ever lived in the
western tradition. As noted by Russell (2016), most of his works are still used
as a case study to understand the present contemporary world better. Among the
subjects, he was most passionate about was politics (Barker, 2012). This is evident through the various political
dialogues he crafted to share his insight. According to Plato, man is a
political being. As such, he argued that man’s nature can only be fulfilled as
a result of their participation in the political community (Bloom & Kirsch, 2016). He went ahead to
explain that every individual is part of a political community and that whoever
did not belong in one was either more or less of a man.
Plato’s political theory was
centered on what he felt should be the ideal structure of the political arena.
In his theory, he argued that traditional polis was being brought down by other
forces such as imperialism, democracy, and individualism. He explained that
these forces should work to improve traditional polis rather than deteriorate
it (Bloom & Kirsch, 2016). He felt
that defending traditional polis is essential than other economic and social
factors such as wealth and reputation. This is because the political framework
lays the foundation for economic and social factors (Barker, 2012). Further, political aspects shape the development
of these aspects either in a positive or negative manner.
Over the years, discussions on
Plato’s theories such as the political theory have always been a subject of
controversy. The controversy raises since unlike other scholars who opted for
treaties when sharing insight, Plato chose to share through dialogues (Nails, 2006). As such, people tend to interpret
them differently. However, one fact that holds is that Plato has a strong
affinity for just. He believed that a community’s approach towards justice
depicts how members of the community live (Ferrari,
2005). To Plato, justice was more of an individual personal matter. He
termed it as a factor of the soul. He alluded that justice is not only
concerned with an individual’s conduct but also has a lot to do with their
internal psychic condition (Ferrari, 2005).
Justice is an integral part of
the political framework. As such, in a bid to shedding more light on his
political theory, Plato describes his view of a just city. He begins by
explaining that many societies have their focus on labor. However, according to
him, this should not be the case. He explains that in a just city, the primary
focus should be on education (Bloom &
Kirsch, 2016). Other aspects such as labor, should all work to
facilitate and enhance education. Plato felt that if more emphasis were placed
on education, then there would be an automatic improvement in the political
framework (Bloom & Kirsch, 2016).
At this point, Plato states that
he believes that people are affected by their environment. He explains that the
human nature is to adapt to any changes in the environment to facilitate
comfort and ensure survival (Barker, 2012).
This belief depicts his belief that people tend to behave based on their
society’s political framework. He goes ahead to state that he further believes
that people are different. Plato makes it clear that people in a community have
different standings on various factors based on their differences in ideologies
(Barker, 2012). Similarly, he explains
that people are different based on their political standing within the society.
He states that a group of people are the rulers, others are auxiliaries, while
the rest are farmers (Barker, 2012). In
this case, the rulers are ranked highest in the political class while the
farmers are the lowest.
In discussing the difference in
people based on their political class, Plato’s opinion is that people in
different political classes have different capabilities to achieve virtue. He
argues that the rulers have the highest capabilities while the farmers have the
lowest (Bloom & Kirsch, 2016). He
explains that the development of a just city is meant to elevate people in
different classes. However, he feels that even in a just city the political
classes will still hold, only that they will be properly balanced (Ferrari, 2005). Plato attributed the current
imbalance to poor leadership whereby philosophical aspects were not taken into
consideration by the rulers as they went about their mandate. As noted by
Russell (2016), Plato strongly felt that for a just city to be attained the
political power and philosophic elements must be merged.
Moreover, Plato’s theory takes
into consideration the issue of gender in relation to leadership. Plato
explains that the issue of gender shouldn’t affect leadership. He states that
both a man and a woman can make to be great ruler if his other highlighted
factors are taken into consideration (Bloom
& Kirsch, 2016). However, he insists that every individual within a
society should play the role they are best suited. Alluding to his belief on
differences between human beings, Plato states that every individual has that
role which he performs best. As such, if all individuals were to perform their
best in these activities, then a great socio-political balance would be struck.