Plato Essay, Research Paper
One of the most influential minds in western philosophy is that of Plato. Plato lived from 422-347 B.C, was born into an aristocratic family in the city of Athens. He was a student of Socrates and a teacher of Aristotle. Plato followed the basic ideas of Socrates, in which no laws are to be broken despite their relevance. He makes clear why laws should be followed and why disobedience to the law is rarely justified.
Plato wrote a book called The Republic. It contains ideas about a society and citizens who lived within that society would act. He believed in an ideal state. According to Plato it was divided into three classes. They were rulers, auxiliaries, and the laborers. He believed that the rulers should be philosophers because they were the most wise and intelligent thinkers, while the auxiliaries had to be courageous and strong willed. Laborers had the virtue of temperance and they were considered to be the middle management. In Plato s perfect world, slaves didn t exist and women were considered an equal. Within Plato s ideal state, sets of laws for the inhabitants were made in order to allow the society to function to its greatest ability. Plato would have viewed civil disobedience as unnecessary in his ideal state because he believed that laws should be followed, disobedience to the law is rarely justified. Nevertheless, if Plato had felt that there was an imperfect state in which laws may have been unjust, he would have viewed civil disobedience as claiming justice.
Plato would feel that justice is based on the idea of good, which is the harmony of the world. Justice is the order of the state, and the state is the visible embodiment of justice under the conditions of human society. Although freedom is the basis for the good life , civil disobedience is unnecessary because people should follow laws regardless of their importance, just as Socrates believed. Without set laws, people would be unable to live in the manner that would allow everyone to live to the fullest of their abilities. The laws are set to benefit the people and the country.
In a different constitution, laws are absolute necessities in order to prevent and control conflict among different claims of authority within the state. The opposite claims of authority are as follows: parents ever children, upper class over lower class, elders over youth, owners over slaves, stronger over weaker, wise over ignorant, and those blessed by fortune over the rest. Resolution of any conflict among these claims must be made by compromise and rule of the state.
Plato believed that laws should remain consistent and should be set only by those who are willing to follow them. Those who act within the tradition of civil disobedience do not break the law simply for personal gain; they do it to draw attention to an unjust law or morally objectionable government policy. The laws should be made in a way that will benefit everybody in the highest manner possible, and assist them in their pursuit of happiness.
For he who is a corrupter of the laws is more
than likely to be a corrupter of the young
and foolish portion of mankind. Disobedience can
also be justified with the right answers.
Plato believes that if you are disobeying the laws of the city and the minds of others, you are destroying the cities laws and the citizens by doing so.
In Plato s ideal state, he would feel that civil disobedience would have no relevance. He felt this because if the laws were suitable they were only there to help everyone reach true happiness. Considering the fact that every human being has the right to argue and justify their choices, you don t have to necessarily have to obey everything that you are told unless laws will be disobeyed. In addition, no one would have any desire to disobey the laws that were made because no one would disagree with them. He felt that all laws were important, but if they were unjust and not considered very strict in punishment that was to follow the actions, then one is able to defy the law. This is because one should stand up for everything in which they believe.
Man can and does defeat the purpose of the universe. Although he is a creature
of the divine creator, he may so order his life as not to live justly and wisely. The
appetites or passions may gain control of him and refuse to obey the dictates of
his highest part, reason or mind. The ideal is a just man with each part of his nature functioning in its proper way. But man can destroy this harmony.
Justice is based on the idea of good, which is the harmony of the world. Justice is the order of the state, and the state is the visible embodiment of justice under the conditions of human society.
Plato believed that no man willingly commits an unjust crime. One must obey the commands of one s city and country, or persuade it as to the nature of justice. It is not moral to fight against the theory of the city. When a crime is committed, the authorities must distinguish between both the act and the state of mind. An observation of the state of mind must be completed in order to determine what the causes were to provoke a man to commit such a sin. The causes must be classified as intentional or unintentional. An act in which damage was done to others or their property must be followed with compensation for the victim given by the accused party. To know the good is to do the good. Anyone who behaves immorally does so out of ignorance. This compensation must be given in order to restore normal relations between one another. Plato did not believe in capital punishment and, therefore, felt that no punishment was to involve retribution.
As a result, civil disobedience, according to Plato and his ideal state, would be unnecessary. Civil disobedience has brought about important changes in the law and government policy. In Plato s ideal state there would be no need for civil disobedience because the laws would be set in such a way that would benefit everyone. If laws were only set to serve and protect the people, and would not prevent them from following their beliefs, Plato would find no reason why civil disobedience was necessary. On the other hand, if a law was considered to be unjust, Plato would change his perspective to the other point of view.