Plato's Critique Of Democracy
The Equality of Unequals
In order to clearly understand why Plato seems to find democracy and the democratic soul so objectionable one must first understand the definition of what democracy means. Plato's discord with democracy does not concern the democracy we know today nor does it directly concern Athenian democracy. Rather, it is the Form of democracy in which he criticizes. For a Greek (man), democracy, meant the rule of the people in a much more literal sense than it does for the citizens of most of the modern states which claim to be democracies.
Plato's charge against democracy is simply that it violates the proper order of society by creating an artificial equality. His fundamental criticism of democracy is (essentially) that it is an irrational form of the constitution. It is based on the assumption that every citizen is equally entitled to a say in political affairs, no matter how unsuited he is in terms of ability, character or training . Basically no matter how ignorant a person may be, they still could find themselves playing a significant role in public affairs. The key to a successful political career lay in being able to speak persuasively for this reason the art of oratory or public speaking came to be highly valued.
A system where value and merit are disregarded and instead unconditional equality promoted disgusted Plato. Plato and Socrates both felt that all people were born with knowledge but that not all people were in touch with the knowledge they possessed. It was through a process of questioning that simply made them recall what was already ingrained. Plato throughout the book rejected the idea that all men are equals. Instead of supposing every man is innately good, Plato holds that every man has a right to pursue the good. Socrates and Plato both believed with much support that all men should strive to reach the highest forms knowledge.
Socrates believed in three parts of the individual soul- sensation, emotion, and intelligence. Each part must function in moderation to contribute to the health of the whole. Desire must be inferior to reason, or else it will throw the individual out of balance and lead him into injustice and unhappiness. Emotion can also master desire with the alliance of reason. ...
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