Study Guide

The Republic Politics

By Plato

Politics

Plato's Republic is often considered the first work of political philosophy ever written. Plato was also the first guy to imagine a fictional city as a way to think about ideal forms of government and social structure (this model later was turned into the utopian genre by Thomas More).

But just because Plato's Republic is a classic of political philosophy, that doesn't mean it wasn't—or isn't—way controversial. Condemning democracy, championing aristocracy, and abolishing the family as a social unit, Plato's philosophy isn't everyone's cup of tea. Even if you don't agree with him, though, you've got to give it to him: he makes some interesting points, and he makes them well.

Questions About Politics

  1. What are the five kinds of government that Plato describes, and what is their relationship to one another?
  2. What does Plato think the relationship is between politics and philosophy? Are they compatible or incompatible? What role does philosophy have in Plato's vision of the perfect society?
  3. How does Plato organize the citizens of his ideal city? Into what categories does he group people? What basis does he have for these categories?

Chew on This

Plato's suspicion toward democracy is completely justified; he watched a democratic government execute his teacher Socrates.

Plato's conception of politics has a lot in common with issues we deal with today. He even condones lying in political situations if it "benefits" the public.

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