Plato's Repulic, Book V

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ABSTRACT: This paper discusses the viability of certain aspects (the sex lottery) of Plato's Republic, book V. It is college level 'A' paper.

Book V of The Republic finds Socrates explaining the practical details necessary in the creation of an ideal polis. He proposes a system for population control and human eugenics based on a lottery of sorts which will determine who will mate with whom and when. The lottery is "rigged" by the rulers in order that the best of the "herd" will mate much more frequently than others. However, only the rulers of this society will know the lottery is rigged. This system will presumably assure that children will be conceived as the result of reason, not irrational behaviors such as love or lust, and will produce the best possible future generations (Plato 458d – 460c). I argue that Plato's lottery would not have worked in his time, nor would it work now because the desire to propagate was and still is a human instinct propelled by passion, not something that can simply be reasoned away. While Plato proposed that licentiousness would be forbidden and matrimony given the highest degree of sanctity (458e), I do not think that would be enough to stop a massive rise in sex crimes and passionate affairs. Instead of a just society, Plato's proposal would have created one of fear, self-doubt and lack of trust in the government and is not something I would advocate implementing. While we can never really know how this utopia would have "played out" in Plato's time, the negative effects on a society when passions are forcibly controlled can be illustrated in a modern sense by the Catholic Church and our penal system. Plato wrote that guardians would be "drawn together by a necessity of their natures to have intercourse" (458d) and yet, their sexual interludes should be limited by the use of the lottery. It is important to point out that since reliable and accessible birth control is a recent luxury, Plato was not simply advocating for...
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