|Socrates and Plato: a medieval portrait|
One of Plato's most famous works shows Socrates in an incredibly long dialogue with friends, the main one being Glaucon. Together they discuss the nature of justice and plan out the ideal city-state, one ruled by philosopher-kings. They also cover some other topics such as different forms of government, the theory of Forms, and the immortality of the soul. "The Cave" is also part of the dialogue, as Socrates illustrates how men see the world and then how a philosopher sees truth.
This work has had an immense effect on Western civilization. I find this rather worrying, since there was almost nothing in the whole book that I agreed with, not even the definition of what justice is. I kept feeling like Kermit the Frog in The Great Muppet Caper: "You know, that's amazing. You are 100% wrong. I mean, nothing you've said has been right."
After much discussion, Socrates and co. decide that justice consists of everyone doing what they are best suited to do, and minding their own business. They then imagine an ideal city-state, and the cardinal rule is (essentially) that no one is going to be allowed to do anything wrong. Of course they're the ones who decide what is wrong and right. Philosophers will rule the state, since naturally they're the only people who can see truth. Everyone else will be taught "noble lies" that will ensure compliance to the perfectly-ordered state.
In addition, it is clear to Socrates that "women and children will be held in common." This seems to mean that marriages will be eugenically arranged by the government, not that promiscuity will reign. The strongest men will deserve more wives, while unfit men may not marry. Parents and children will not know each other; children will be raised in nurseries, and the mothers will nurse all of them in turn. Thus everyone will treat each other like family and there won't be much strife.
After that we have a lot about types of government and Forms. Meh. And at the end there's a rather psychedelic description of eternity, and (as far as I could tell) a theory of reincarnation.
So: Socrates and Plato, you're 100% wrong. I mean, nothing you've said has been right!
|Wiser than Plato.|