Morally Beneficial Cities Essay

3052 words - 12 pages

In the Republic, Plato created a city to demonstrate the goodness that can come about in a society that lived by his moral and societal laws. Plato's argument was that if all citizens of the city upheld his moral ideals then there would be the greatest pleasure for every citizen; pleasure that surpasses the vulgar pleasures of tyrannies, oligarchies, democracies, etc. Plato deemed that the ruler of this city would be the Philosopher King, a man who would take his people out of the cave and show them the sun, the metaphor for the True and Ultimate Good. Plato said that this True and Ultimate Good would allow us to understand the truth and align ourselves with it, creating the ultimate moral society. Plato, however, never seemed to take into consideration how the Philosopher King would recognize the True and Ultimate Good once he found it. The man who left the cave would look into the sun and see the truth; that his life in the cave was far from enlightened. In this metaphor it is important to understand that when the revolutionary man was in the cave, he observed the shadows with his eyes, and with his eyes he also observed the sun later on. Plato says here that the same senses, or thought patterns if we put it into the actual context, can be used to understand and experience the True and Ultimate good. In this there are several flaws. First of all it is doubtful whether the Good1 can be known even by a true philosopher. How is it that one can declare that the Good is attainable, tangible and can be experienced? These are assumptions that are questionable and many existentialists and epistemologists would frown upon such assumptions. Others still would question whether the Good even exists; concluding that all pursuits in this direction would be fruitless. Because of this, discussing the Good may be a thing not worthy of pursuit. There would be too many complications and premises that would have to be granted to the Philosopher King before we can allow him to lead his people into the sunlight. Even Socrates, in the Aplogy, said in his defense,

"I am wiser than this man; it is likely that neither one of us knows anything worthwhile, but he thinks he knows something which he does not, whereas when I do not know, neither do I think I know; so I am likely to be wiser than he to this small extent, that I do not think I know what I do not know."(Grube, 25)

The above quote demonstrates to a certain extent that even Socrates believed that it is possible for him to not know anything worthwhile; yet in the Republic, we assume that it will be him that would be the Philosopher King that would lead the people out of the cave due to his absolute and irrefutable knowledge of the Good. For this reason, it would be more practical to measure the immediate benefits of a philosophical/moral system on a city, much like Plato has done. Much like in the Republic, we must take the moral principles of several philosophers and use them to build individual...

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