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Ethics of Plato (#2)

Now we cover Plato’s ethics, moving on from his epistemology, metaphysics and ontology. Plato was the first utopian philosopher, he stated that the ideal state would be a totalitarian one with a somewhat flexible caste system that was justified through a ‘noble lie’. Plato divided people into 3 major categories; philosopher kings who are the intellectual and physical guardians of the city, warriors who enforce the will of these guardians and lastly the working and merchant class who form the backbone of the economy and are permitted to have the greatest material riches. This is in stark contrast to the guardians who live in collective camps and live a relatively ascetic life.

In this ideal city of Plato, while the working class may have the most material freedom they have very little intellectual freedom and are essentially in intellectual servitude to the philosopher king and all those who are seen ‘imitators’, these being poets who Plato saw as simply speaking to the passions of the youth, were banished from Kallipolis so as to maintain the rule of the philosopher king who was seen as being the embodiment of reason and the antithesis of democracy which was seen as a system that was led by the passions of a mob. Plato likened being led by your passions to being dragged around by a group of wild horses.

The cause and effect of this system was the carrying out of the Platonic model of justice. Justice was defined as each fulfilling their own duty so as to ensure the collective prosperity of the polis or city. This particular organizational structure has most likely served as the inspiration for many totalitarian regimes and philosophies throughout history.


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