I will discuss the extract 557a to 561e from Book VIII of the Republic by Plato, arguing that although the points laid out are logical and at least party valid, the overall argument, that the order of the city takes precedence over the freedom or perhaps even the happiness of the people is still in question. This extract specifically looks at Democracy, however in order to analyse this I will first explain its place in the broader argument.
Book VIII, following the description of a just city, i.e. an Aristocracy, in Book VII, explains the birth and structure of the four kinds of unjustified constitutions and the degeneration through them. In order of the least to the most unjust (and therefore in order of “degeneration”), these constitutions are Timocracy, Oligarchy, Democracy and Tyranny. Alongside these, Book VIII describes the corresponding man who would live in each city. The individuals in the latter cities are considered less “just” as their actions are less for the good of the city and more to "gratify… the desire of the moment" as in democracy. This is related to the structure in their education as it becomes less planned and so they are less capable of performing the role they eventually choose, compared to how skilled they would have been if they had been educated for that role their entire lives, as in Plato’s supreme city.
In this supreme city, from an early age each individual receives the education required for the position in society they will hold, which is enforced by the Myth of The Metals. This is a fictional story, (explained in Book III), told to the masses claiming that they are each born with a metal mixed in with their soul that will dictate to which social class they belong: Gold is linked to the guardians, Silver to the auxiliaries and Bronze (or iron) to the producers. Plato recommends the Myth of the Metals as a way of limiting effective personal preference so that each individual will receive the education...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document