Plato, one of the three well known founders of western philosophy in Ancient Greek. He is the student of Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle. After his master’s
death, Plato was totally disappointed with the existing form of government, then he traveled among countries and finally he established he own school in Athens.
In all of his books, there are only two length works, the Republic and the Laws.
In the Republic, we can easily see that, Socrates had a great influence on Plato. All the parts start with a socratic conversation about the nature of justice and then extend the content to different fields, such as virtues of justice, wisdom, courage, and moderation. However, the main core of Plato’s philosophical idea is political science. What he
persued all the life is the “truth” which could explain the whole world and could never
Key words: Plato, Republic, Philosophy
Plato and His Republic
Since he is a western philosopher in ancient times, the exact place and time of Plato's birth are not known, but it is certain that he is the son of wealthy and influential Athenian parents. At first, the name of Plato is Aristocles which comes after his grandfather, but later his wrestling coach, Ariston of Argos, dubbed him "Platon", meaning "broad," on account of his robust figure.And also, Diogenes said that “Plato” may name from the breadth of his eloquence, or because of his very wide forehead.
As one of the most important Greek philosophers, Plato began his philosophical career as a student of Socrates. And after the master died, Plato travelled to Egypt and Italy, studied with students of Pythagoras, and spent several years advising the ruling family of Syracuse. Eventually, he returned to Athens and founded his own school of philosophy at the Academy. For the students there, Plato guide their progress through mathematical learning to the achievement of abstract philosophical truth.
Actually, Plato has a great many famous articles, but the Republic impressed me
most. It is the centre around which the other dialogues may be grouped; here philosophy reaches the highest point to which ancient thinkers ever attained, and the Republic is the third part of a still larger design which was to have included an ideal history of Athens, as well as a political and physical philosophy. Plato, was the first who conceived a method of knowledge, although neither of them always
distinguished the bare outline or form from the substance of truth; and both of them had to be content with an abstraction of science which was not yet realized. Also Plato may be regarded as the "captain" or leader of a goodly band of followers; for in the Republic is to be found the original of Cicero's De Republica, of St. Augustine's City of God, of the Utopia of Sir Thomas More, and of the numerous other imaginary States which are framed upon the same model. In his earliest literary efforts, Plato
tried to convey the spirit of Socrates's teaching by presenting accurate reports of the master's conversational interactions, for which these dialogues are our primary source of information. The sciences of logic and psychology, which have supplied so many instruments of thought to after-ages, are based upon the analyses of Socrates and Plato. Early dialogues are typically devoted to investigation of a single issue, about which a
conclusive result is rarely achieved. Thus, the Euthyphro raises a significant doubt about whether morally right action can be defined in terms of divine approval by pointing out a significant dilemma about any appeal to authority in defence of moral judgments. The Apology offers a description of the philosophical life as Socrates presented it in his own defense before the Athenian jury. The Crito uses the circumstances of Socrates's imprisonment to ask whether an individual citizen is ever justified in refusing to obey the state.
The word "republic" is from Latin: Res publica means "public matters" or "the state." In Greek, the title was the Politeia, which means the Constitution, but in reality the Republic does not only about politics. The Republic, which consisting of ten
books, and each begins with a socratic conversation about the nature of justice but rage directly from justice to an extended discussion of the virtues of justice, wisdom, courage, and moderation as they appear both in individual human beings and in society as a whole. The delineation of Socrates in the Republic is not wholly
consistent. In the first book we have more of the real Socrates, such as he is depicted in the Memorabilia of Xenophon, in the earliest Dialogues of Plato, and in the Apology. He is ironical, provoking, questioning, the old enemy of the Sophists, ready to put on the mask of Silenus as well as to argue seriously. But in the sixth book his enmity towards the Sophists abates; he acknowledges that they are the representatives rather than the corrupters of the world. He also becomes more dogmatic and constructive, passing beyond the range either of the political or the speculative ideas of the real Socrates. In one passage Plato himself seems to intimate that the time had now come for Socrates, who had passed his whole life in philosophy, to give his own opinion and not to be always repeating the notions of other men. There is no evidence that either the idea of good or the conception of a perfect State were comprehended in the Socratic teaching, though he certainly dwelt on the nature of the universal and of final causes; and a deep thinker like him in his thirty or forty years of public teaching, could hardly have falled to touch on the nature of family relations, for which there is also some positive evidence in the Memorabilia. The Socratic method is nominally retained; and every inference is either put into the mouth of the respondent or represented as the common discovery of him and Socrates. But any one can see that
this is a mere form, of which the affectation grows wearisome as the work advances. The method of inquiry has passed into a method of teaching in which by the help of interlocutors the same thesis is looked at from various points of view.
Plato is most true to the character of his master when he describes him as "not of this world." And with this representation of him the ideal State and the other paradoxes of the Republic are quite in accordance, though they can not be shown to have been speculations of Socrates. To him, as to other great teachers both philosophical and religious, when they looked upward, the world seemed to be the embodiment of error and evil. The common sense of mankind has revolted against this view, or has only partially admitted it. And even in Socrates himself the sterner judgment of the multitude at times passes into a sort of ironical pity or love. Men in general are incapable of philosophy, and are therefore at enmity with the philosopher; but their misunderstanding of him is unavoidable: for they have never seen him as he truly is in his own image; they are only acquainted with artificial systems possessing no native force of truth — words which admit of many applications. Their leaders
have nothing to measure with, and are therefore ignorant of their own stature. But they are to be pitied or laughed at, not to be quarrelled with; they mean well with their nostrums, if they could only learn that they are cutting off a Hydra's head. This moderation towards those who are in error is one of the most characteristic features of Socrates in the Republic. In all the different representations of Socrates, whether of Xenophon or Plato, and the differences of the earlier or later Dialogues, he always retains the character of the unwearied and disinterested seeker after truth, without which he would have ceased to be Socrates.
In the Repubic, Plato points out that the present world we can feel is just the reflection of the shadow in the higher level world. He also claims that in that world exists the idealest truth which achieves the real brightness more than the darkness. For instance, the sweet food we taste is just the shadow reflected by “sweet truth”, and the
sun we see is simply the ghost reflected by brightness itself. The “truth” should be
regarded as a permanent thing which is perfect and stable. Since they are perfect model, there is no reason to change them or let them evolute. The argument of the
Republic is the search after Justice, the nature of which is first hinted at by Cephalus,
the just and blameless old man -then discussed on the basis of proverbial morality by Socrates and Polemarchus — then caricatured by Thrasymachus and partially
explained by Socrates — reduced to an abstraction by Glaucon and Adeimantus, and
having become invisible in the individual reappears at length in the ideal State which is constructed by Socrates. The first care of the rulers is to be education, of which an outline is drawn after the old Hellenic model, providing only for an improved religion and morality, and more simplicity in music and gymnastic, a manlier strain of poetry, and greater harmony of the individual and the State. We are thus led on to the conception of a higher State, in which "no man calls anything his own," and in which there is neither "marrying nor giving in marriage," and "kings are philosophers" and "philosophers are kings;" and there is another and higher education, intellectual as well as moral and religious, of science as well as of art, and not of youth only but of the whole of life. Such a State is hardly to be realized in this world and would quickly degenerate. To the perfect ideal succeeds the government of the soldier and the lover of honor, this again declining into democracy, and democracy into tyranny, in an imaginary but regular order having not much resemblance to the actual facts. When "the wheel has come full circle" we do not begin again with a new period of human life; but we have passed from the best to the worst, and there we end. The subject is then changed and the old quarrel of poetry and philosophy which had been more lightly treated in the earlier books of the Republic is now resumed and fought out to a conclusion. Poetry is discovered to be an imitation thrice removed from the truth, and Homer, as well as the dramatic poets, having been condemned as an imitator, is sent into banishment along with them. And the idea of the State is supplemented by the revelation of a future life. To sum up, as a philosopher, Plato and his Republic mainly
focus on the political science and they made a great contribution to the later fondation of the political science.