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  1. #1
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    Plato's Political Idealism

    The philosophy of political idealism is the idea that political life (its process and objective) must rest on a moral foundation. That is, the ideal is that which is built on the principle of what ought to be (as opposed to simply, what is the case in actuality, or realism). Political idealism rests on the principle that to achieve the best regime, the state must be founded on the way people should be, for if it is founded on how they actually are, the state will not be perfect (or virtuous) because people are flawed beings. It is a merging of politics and morality. Therefore, the ideal state attempts to create an environment where people can strive to be the best they can possibly be. Plato believes that ideals are goal to strive for and by doing so, the best society will result. These ideals may also serve as a barometer of sorts to evaluate current conditions or state of affairs.

    During the time of Plato, Athens was plunged into a state of war. And during its time of recovery it experienced plague, political unrest and instability. Plato perhaps thought that if only the state were to change its processes to focus on the ideal, of what it should be, perhaps his beloved city would not be in the state that it was. Plato experienced firsthand what he believed to be unjust and immoral practices by the state, or at least those ruling the state. Socrates, Plato’s friend, was ordered to assign with an execution, a sentence that they both disagreed with and thought to be unjust. Later, Socrates was charged with corrupting the youth and impiety, found guilty and sentenced to death. Both Socrates and Plato disagreed with the proceedings. Plato from this point on determined that only those who are the wisest should govern the state else it results in the reality that Plato was experiencing; a reality that Plato thought was immoral and unjust.

    Plato’s ideal state was one in which was ruled by a Philosopher King. This ruler was the wisest and therefore the most virtuous or just. There were three primary classes in his ideal state: the guardians or ruling class, the auxiliary or military class, and the laborers. Plato reasoned that not everyone is created equal and as such, they should be placed into proper classes so that they may do what they do best. He believed that the individual is most efficient if he/she specializes in a function or trade. So instead of allowing a laborer to fight in the military, or soldier to farm, or even a tanner to legislate, everyone was placed into a class, and in the laborer class, each worker specialized in a trade. It was through this process that the state could achieve its ideal state, one where everyone did what they should be doing (in contrast to what they may want to do).

    In addition to the creation of the classes, and therefore the separation of people, Plato also thought it was best to do away with the traditional family unit and instead raise children in a nursery. By doing this, children could be evaluated and their skills determined. If a child’s primary trait was courage, he or she would serve in the auxiliary. If the child expressed desire for knowledge and was determined to be wise and just, the child was destined for the guardian class. All other children were placed in the laborer class.

    Plato reasoned that the reality of human nature was insufficient to allow a state to become truly just and the only way for the state to be just, which was Plato’s objective, was to create a state based on idealism. If the unjust and unwise were to rule, the state could not maintain itself long for it would be subject to the mistakes made by rulers who gave in to their passions and desires. It was only through discipline and morality that the state would flourish and reach its highest potential.
    Last edited by Apokalupsis; September 17th, 2012 at 08:41 PM.
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    I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. - Thomas Jefferson



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