Explain Plato's view of human nature and analyze the role it plays in the Republic.

Essay by dwkim85High School, 11th grade February 2003

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In Plato's The Republic, Plato's view of the city as a macrocosm of the individual creates the basis for his discussion of an ideal government. Making comparisons between the individual and the city, Plato persuades the audience in justifying his utopia. According to Plato, the guardians, who will rule the city, must be distinguished from the rest of the less competent population at birth, placed in an intense education program, and when they are ready, must not possess any money nor family in order to successfully fulfill their roles. Plato views human beings as different individuals each with different abilities. Moreover, only when they properly investigate knowledge, will they be prevented from corrosion and misunderstanding of happiness.

Plato's belief in the inequality among human beings generates the basic principles of his hierarchal social structure. Citizens of the perfect city must be divided into different classes at birth according to their varying innate aptitude.

The city is composed of three classes: the working class, the fighting class, and the ruling class. Plato compares these classes with metals: bronze, silver, and gold. A man born as a gold will forever remain gold until his death, and likewise, a silver will remain silver. There are unique abilities required to be a farmer, and there are men born with these abilities. In other words, Plato believes that there exists a destined occupation for everyone. The ruling class of the city must be carefully chosen for they will make the laws and control every aspect of the city. Thus, Plato states that "the best guardians we must choose those most skilled in guarding the city."(412 c) A man who is born as a farmer cannot be a successful musician nor can he be a ruler of the city. Only the men...