Utopias: Plato and the “Ideal State”

Utopias: Plato and the “Ideal State”

June 28, 2021 Off By Felso

According to Plato, the natural cause of the state is that no man is self-sufficient, and therefore he needs the help of others to meet his needs.

For him, the duty of the state is to enable people to live happily together by making them virtuous. However, this can only be achieved by arranging social life according to a moral understanding. According to him, the ideal state; consists of three social classes, namely workers, watchmen and managers. Workers produce by working and meet the material needs of the state. The guards protect the existence of the state inside and outside. The rulers also make the laws and run the state. Citizens who make up the state must be virtuous. The virtue of the workers is “industriousness”, the “courage” of the guards, and the “wisdom” of the managers. “Moderation” and “justice” are social virtues and should be found in every human being. The state is also an educational institution. All citizens are educated according to their abilities. This ideal conception of the state forbids private property and the family for the watchdogs and rulers. However, there is no such prohibition for workers.

Plato made two important changes in the understanding of the ideal state in his work “Nomoi” (Laws) that he wrote in his old age. First, it recognized that it was wrong to forbid soldiers and rulers to freely form families and acquire private property. The second is that he accepts that the unconditional authority granted to the administrators is wrong and argues that the authorities of the administrators should be limited by law.

Plato’s state as a natural order; that is, it thinks like a living organism. According to him, the state is a living organism because every organ of the state can survive only within the whole structure. A state or civil institution separate from the whole cannot survive. Because an organ maintains its vitality as long as it is connected to the body. Therefore, according to Plato, the individual cannot exist outside of society; society also exists with individuals.

Plato defines his ideal state in his work The Republic (Politeia). The classes that make up the state are organized according to the three parts of the human soul. The ability, obedience and production of “matter” and emotion-prone in the human soul; The courageous faculty includes protecting and fighting, and the rational faculty is managing and acquiring knowledge. In contrast to these three faculties of the soul, there are also three classes in the state. Workers, peasants and artisans in return for obedience and production; guards and wardens in return; namely soldiers; The class of rulers and sages comes in return for managing and acquiring knowledge. Plato determined the subjects such as what each class should do, what kind of education they should receive, what kind of property they should acquire, and who they should consist of, with a thousand ideal designs. Since the main virtue of the workers, peasants and artisans who make up the first class is to obey and work, they are the producing class. It feeds, feeds and clothe the state. This group forms the largest majority in the state. They should be trained with knowledge such as handicrafts, skills, agriculture for production. One of the most important characteristics of this group is that they can marry whomever they want, have children and private property; There is no limitation for this class.

In Plato’s ideal state, the second class is the class of body and spirit guards or soldiers endowed with the virtue of courage. Guards, who undertake the task of protecting the state and maintaining its existence, are an important class. Plato gives special importance to the selection and education of this class. Because sometimes the guards may want to seize the state instead of protecting the state. Therefore, their education should not be just physical education. Plato stated that the guards could be both men and women, and suggested that the military training applied to men could be applied to women as well. Since the guards give importance to honor and not matter, he forbids them to own private property and restricts their marriage to special permission. Because the guards who turn to private property may forget their basic duties and attempt to seize the state. Again, since their marriage develops a sense of private property, Plato allows them to marry suitable persons chosen by the state to continue the lineage. Plato argues that as soon as children are born, they should be brought up as the common property of the society or the state, away from their parents and without knowing them. In this way, differences and jealousy will disappear, as children will consider everyone their own parents and everyone their own child.

The ruling class should rule the state on the basis of reason, knowledge and justice. For this reason, their private property and marriage rights were taken away; Because if money greed like private property is involved in the management business, the manager cannot be in a fair and equal administration. Plato, like the watchmen, gives great importance to the education of the rulers. Children should be educated with fairy tales and stories that will enable them to be good-natured, mild-mannered and virtuous at a young age. Then comes music and physical education. Around the age of fifteen, he taught simple arithmetic and geometry problems.