Dissertation, University of Warwick (1995)

Authors
Athanasios Samaras
University of Georgia
Abstract
Both Plato's theory of virtue and his attitude towards democracy -the two being correspondent- change significantly as we move from the middle to the late dialogues. The Republic is a substantially authoritarian work which expresses an unmitigated rejection of democracy. Its authoritarianism is deeply rooted in the fact that its ethical and political assertions are justified on a metaphysical basis. Plato suggests that virtue and metaphysical knowledge legitimize political power, but both virtue and knowledge are so defined as to be attainable only by a tiny minority. In the Politicus Plato reasserts the superiority of a complete virtue grounded on philosophical knowledge, but seriously questions the attainability of this ideal. In the closing part of this dialogue Plato demonstrates an interest in history and in this respect the Politicus anticipates the Laws, where political theory is not justified by metaphysics, but is informed by historical experience. More specifically, Plato attempts to reproduce on a theoretical level a legislation similar to the actual historical legislation of Solon and he underlines the need for a moderate state involving elements from different constitutions. Because Plato adopts a historical perspective in the Laws, his earlier authoritarianism is severely curtailed (though not completely abandoned). So, despite still holding a low opinion of democracy, Plato does use some democratic elements in his Magnesian constitution and the predominant conception of moral virtue put forward in the Laws is not the highly exclusive virtue of the Republict but a virtue falling within the capacities of the ordinary citizen. In comparison to the state of the Republic the city of the Laws is for Plato only a "second best". Even so, however, the latter dialogue with its moderation, its rejection of absolutism and its surprisingly modern emphasis on the accountability of all officials constitutes a contribution of lasting interest to Western political thinking
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 56,016
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

A Fallacy in Plato's Republic.David Sachs - 1963 - Philosophical Review 72 (2):141-158.
Plato on Not-Being.G. E. L. Owen - 1999 - In Gail Fine (ed.), Plato 1: Metaphysics and Epistemology. Oxford University Press.
The Cretan Plato.Laszlo Versényi - 1961 - Review of Metaphysics 15 (1):67 - 80.

View all 11 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Wisdom and the Laws: The Parent Analogy in Plato’s Crito.Sandrine Berges - 2004 - Yeditepe'de Felsefe (Philosophy at Yeditepe) 3.
Plato on the Sovereignty of Law.Zena Hitz - 2009 - In Ryan Balot (ed.), The Blackwell Companion to Greek and Roman Political Thought. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 367-381.
Plato: The Necessity of War, the Quest for Peace.Henrik Syse - 2002 - Journal of Military Ethics 1 (1):36-44.
Plato, Hegel, and Democracy.Thom Brooks - 2006 - Bulletin of the Hegel Society of Great Britain 53:24-50.
Plato and the Virtue of Courage.Linda R. Rabieh - 2006 - Johns Hopkins University Press.
On the Teaching of Virtue in Plato’s Meno and the Nature of Philosophical Authority.Abraham Stone - 2010 - New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy 10 (1):251-282.
The Dialogues of Plato. Plato - 1986 - Bantam Books.
Plato on Education and Art.Rachana Kamtekar - 2008 - In Gail Fine (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Plato. Oxford University Press. pp. 336--359.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2012-10-16

Total views
44 ( #226,838 of 2,403,592 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #551,240 of 2,403,592 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes