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Plato and Socrates on Government

In a number of dialogues, Plato presents his mentor Socrates guiding his listeners on analyses of the subject of government, the meaning of despotic government, and the ways to guard against despotic government. The solution offered in The Republic would not be such as to please us today, for we would see the hierarchical structure of that society and its training and placement of Guardians to oversee the masses and to be the government as a form of despotic action. This could lead many to assume that the study of Greek political thought should be dropped from the curriculum because it recommends some form of despotism. The ideal presented may be an all-knowing statesman or an ideal constitution, but in either case the effect is to impose an iron rule on every aspect of the life of the citizen. The citizen is indeed even denied a moral protect because this despotism has been imposed and justified in the name of morality or virtue. However, this point of view ignores the vital importance of understanding the nature of the various arguments throughout history both in support of and against a free government. Whether despotic or not, the governments suggested by Plato and other Greeks served as the foundation for the free governments of the liberal West today because these writers framed the arguments in clear terms, analyzed the meaning of freedom, correlated that meaning with specific government institutions, and created models by which to test these ideas. Three dialogues by Plato serve to show how these ideas were developed and tested.

In several dialogues, Plato describes the last days of Socrates's life as he is tried, convicted, and executed for challenging the accepted philosophical conceptions of Athens in his day. Socrates expresses a belief in divine law. Plato details the way Socrates always sought to be true to himself and his principles. In his argument before the court in The Apology, it is evident that he bel...

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Plato and Socrates on Government. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 16:55, December 07, 2021, from