This paper examines questions regarding the nature of and need for a certain species of equality within the overall design of Plato’s prescriptive political philosophy, with particular reference to the Republic and Laws. A common, traditional, reasonable and yet incomplete interpretation of Plato relies on the notion that Plato’s political theory and, more particularly, his prescriptions for the city of speech and the second best city rest on an abiding belief in the need for social inequality and political hierarchy, and thereby rejecting in the essence of things equality as a viable political concept. But perhaps a second look at Plato is in order here. This essay attempts to explore those elements of Plato’s conceptual and prescriptive theory that reflect a different attitude toward hierarchy, one that cannot be regarded as egalitarian in any modern sense of the word, but that might evince a facet of Plato that is at the very least open to the possibility of a more egalitarian view of politics and at most directed at promoting a more egalitarian politics that has been largely unrecognized by many of Plato’s readers and overlooked by most of his commentators.
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DOI 10.1163/20512996-90000133
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