Summary of Plato’s ‘The Republic’

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“The Republic” is a work of “Plato” that talks about his “ideal society” (Plato et. al. , 2003, pp. 1 – 496). According to him an “ideal society” is: 1) one that is ordered/structured, just/reasonable, wise/sensible, courageous/spirited, temperate/controlled; 2) a society that is geared towards the well-being of the whole population and not just one class; and last but not least 3) a society that is ruled by the “philosopher-ruler” (Plato et. al. , 2003, pp. 1 – 496). Plato begins by reiterating that states emerge because nobody is “self-sufficing” (Plato et.

al. , 2003, pp. 53 - 66).

He said that it is necessitated for the ultimate progress of man and for the realization of self-sufficiency (Plato et. al. , 2003, pp. 53 - 66). A man then should do his part for which he is most suited in order to avoid chaos; instead one that is ordered/structured will be experienced (Plato et. al. , 2003, pp. 53 - 66). Furthermore, he mentioned the qualities or virtues of the state, namely: “reason, spirit, as well as, appetite” (Plato et.

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al. , 2003, pp. 53 - 66). Reason, according to Plato will lead to the individual’s wise/sensible attribute while spirit will enhance courageousness and appetite refers to temperance (Plato et. l. , 2003, pp. 53 - 66). The aforementioned virtues actually correspond to the three classes existing in the state (Plato et. al. , 2003, pp. 53 - 66).

Reason is a virtue possessed by guardians/rulers while spirit is held by the warriors/auxiliaries and appetite is seen in the “whole gamut of the society” (Plato et. al. , 2003, pp. 112 - 121). If “justice”, the fourth virtue of the state, is incorporated with the aforementioned three elements then this will direct everybody to carry out the role in the state most suited to his/her nature (Plato et.

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l. , 2003, 130 – 156). Thus if all the aforementioned classes of society are in their proper places then there is justice and then we can truly say that such a society is just (Plato et. al. , 2003, 130 – 156). If however some of the people aren’t performing their own tasks, this will be taken cared of by the ruler (Plato et. al. , 2003, 130 – 156). This is where Plato tells us about “who should be the leader of his ideal state”: First of all, Plato prefers somebody who is a born philosopher (Plato et. al. , 2003, pp. 189 - 334).

The leader must be “the best there is” (Plato et. al. , 2003, pp. 189 - 334). He/she should possess the correct type of intelligence, as well as, ability (Plato et. al. , 2003, pp. 189 - 334). In addition to that, the ruler of “Plato’s ideal state” should be properly educated and extensively trained (Plato et. al. , 2003, pp. 189 - 334). This is necessitated because without an excellent education and training, even if he/she is a born philosopher, there is a possibility that his/her talents or virtues will not be properly developed and will only be wasted (Plato et. l. , 2003, pp. 189 - 334). Third, a leader of an “ideal state” should be not be motivated by money; if he/she owns a private property, he/she should be wiling to give this up (Plato et. al. , 2003, pp. 189 - 334). Fourth, he/she should be able to uphold facts, righteousness, bravery, and self-control (Plato et. al. , 2003, pp. 189 - 334). Fifth, he/she should be willing to passionately do everything he/she has to for the well-being of the commonwealth (Plato et. al. , 2003, pp. 189 - 334).

Moreover, “the Republic” also gave emphasis to “equality”; for Plato it is alright that women “study and train” along with men (Plato et. al. , 2003, pp. 157 – 188). As long as women qualify for a particular post then she may have the same opportunity in education and training that men are offered as well (Plato et. al. , 2003, pp. 157 – 188). Finally, he also pointed out that there should be abolition of families to promote order and avoid the “yours and mine kind of mentality” that may bring about chaos; here, the whole society becomes a “one big happy family” (Plato et. al. , 2003, pp. 157 – 188).


Updated: Dec 12, 2023

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Summary of Plato’s ‘The Republic’ essay
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